MMA

UFC 189 And TUF 21 Finale Picks: Which Champs Will Be Crowned?

Because the UFC is insane, there are two events in one weekend, UFC 189 on Saturday, and The Ultimate Fighter season 21 finale on Sunday. Thanks to that insanity, the predictions for both events will be contained in the same post. Let’s jump into the cards and figure out who’s going to win!

Important Standings of Note:

Jessica: 423-284-4 (60%)
Burnsy: 430-264-5 (62%)
Vince: 208-133-2 (61%)
Ryan: 10-5-1 (66%)
Danny: 161-77-1 (67%)
Spilled: 81-60-2 (57%)
Sydnie: 16-12 (57%)
Chris: 44-15-2 (74%)
NY Ric: 36-26-1 (57%)
Ghost: 6-7 (46%)
Seth: 32-15 (68%)
Biss: 41-39-1 (51%)
Jared: 63-39-1 (62%)
Melanie: 22-10 (69%)

Lightweight – Yosdenis “The Pink Panther” Cedeno vs Cody “The Fist” Pfister

Jessica: Man, I’ve got nothing with this fight. I guess I’ll go with Yosdenis to win by third round TKO.

Burnsy: I’m picking Cedeno because it’s absurd that Pfister’s nickname is The Fist and he doesn’t spell it Pfist.

Vince: Two dudes I’ve never heard of who have fought a bunch of other dudes I haven’t heard of, my input is going to be very valuable here. I’ll take Yosdenis, because according to Sherdog, he fights out of the Blackzilians camp, while The Pfist fights out of “Nick’s Fight Club.” I like to think Nick is Nick Riviera, and Nick’s Fight Club is an alternate name for Upstairs Hollywood MMA Academy.

Jared: Cedeno by my time-tested rule of him having a Wiki page.

Flyweight – Neil “2Tap” Seery vs Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka

Jessica: This is kind of a tough one to pick. On one hand, Louis Smolka won with a dang super kick his last time out. On the flip side, Neil Seery is a million years old and still works down at the docks. I’ll go with OLD MAN STRENF here and say that Seery takes a decision win.

Burnsy: Shout out to Smolka for using my patented C-Tates dialect for his nickname. I’ll give him points for that and make him my Stone Cold “Meh, I Guess” Pick of the Week.

Vince: I keep picking against Seery on account of he looks 75 years old, but he’s brought the fight the last few times I’ve seen him and made me look like a big jerk.. Meanwhile, Smolka has only one loss, a split decision to title contender Chris Cariaso. I’m going to choose Smolka coming off a KO victory in his last fight, despite his misspelled nickname. Kendall Grove does that too. I think it’s a Hawaiian thing?

Jared: Every fabric of my being is telling me to go with the guy who won his last fight by Sweet Chin Music, but Seery is just too damn entertaining a fighter (and the much slicker boxer to boot) to pick against here. Seery via decision.

Bantamweight – Cody “No Love” Garbrandt vs Henry “Bure” Briones

Jessica: Garbrandt looked solid against Marcus Brimage, so that’s enough for me to back him. Cody wins with a second round KO.

Burnsy: I, on the other hand, was impressed by Briones’ win over some guy named Guido, so I’ll pick him to choke Cody out.

Vince: “Bure” isn’t your usual nickname, so I looked it up: “People started calling me that in hockey leagues, because I supposedly had similarities to Russian hockey player Pavel Bure.” Neat! Anyway, Garbrandt is a -700 favorite, so I’m going to go ahead and pick him.

Jared: “No Love” looks like every SoCal, dude-bro, destroy-a-Buffalo-Wild-Wings-cause-I-looked-at-his-girl doucher I’ve ever met, which doesn’t even make sense because he’s from Ohio and I’ve never been to California. But I’ll be damned if the guy isn’t a complete stud in the cage. Briones, on the other hand, DOES NOT HAVE A WIKI PAGE. How many times do I have to say this before it becomes a universally excepted fact? Do I have to utilize my social media savvy? Garbrandt via destruction. #NoWikiNoPicki

Welterweight – Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred vs John “Doomsday” Howard

Jessica: MARVEL VERSUS DC UP IN HERE! Pendred is a dingus, so here’s to Howard beating him up and getting a second round TKO.

Burnsy: Let’s see, Pendred’s 4-fight winning streak versus Howard’s three-fight losing streak and a pink slip. The Punisher is going to send Howard packing.

Vince: Both these guys are reaaaal boring fighter (sorry, guys). Doomsday is a stocky Muay Thai fighter who clinches a lot and Cathal Pendred is a… wrestler, I guess? His main skill lately seems to be an uncanny ability to win gift decisions. He’s looked so mediocre in victory that no one even brings up that he’s on an eight-fight win streak. I have to figure that streak is going to end soon, but I don’t think it’s going to be against Doomsday. Howard is giving up too much size and his takedown defense isn’t good enough to keep from getting layed on by Pendred. I predict a clinch fest that Pendred wins by split D.

Jared: John Howard is on a 3-fight skid and I’m *still* picking him to win based solely on the fact that Pendred finds a way to screw me over every time he steps in the octagon, whether it’s in his terrible performances or his inexplicably awarded victories. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that “Doomsday” is from Dorchester, the place I’ve called home for nearly half a decade, or that he once broke Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s nose. U-S-A! U-S-A!!

Welterweight – Mike “Quick” Swick vs Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia

Jessica: Swick hasn’t fought since 2012, while Garcia’s best win is Sean Spencer, which isn’t good. Screw it, I’ll take Mike to win by second round Swickotine.

Burnsy: Garcia went three with Neil Magny, which is pretty impressive even if he was dominated. That’s about all I need to give him the win over Swick, since I’m worried he doesn’t even remember what shape an octagon is.

Vince: How do you handicap a fighter who hasn’t fought in three years? I want to believe Swick has another win in him at 36. But Garcia looks powerful. And I don’t know how much Garcia’s loss to Magny counts, he looked like he hurt his knee halfway through. Garcia.

Jared: Mike Swick has had *two* 2 ½ year layoffs in the past five years. Count ‘em, two. Garcia is someone Joe Rogan will inevitably describe as a “monster.”

Welterweight – Matt “The Immortal” Brown vs Tim “Dirty Bird” Means

Jessica: WOO, VIOLENCE, WOO! These are two top-notch gangly violence monsters at 170 pounds, so it’s super awesome that Joe Silva is smashing his action figures together and making explosion noises. Brown’s a better version of Means, though, so Matt’s going to TKO Means in the second.

Burnsy: This is such a crucial fight for Brown, because while he has gone the distance in his last two fights, against the champ Robbie Lawler and the former champ Johny Hendricks, he needs to show us that he’s capable of rebounding. Means is a great test because he has all the momentum right now with four wins in a row. So I’m expecting Fight of the Night in this one, and I think that Brown will come out on top and then wait in line for the welterweight title log jam again.

Vince: I’m high on Tim Means, who’s a mean, gritty bastard. But as Jessica says, Brown is a better version of him. I have to go with Brown.

Jared: The line on Matt Brown is insane right now – he’s only sitting around a -200 favorite against a guy who, all due respect, is a poor man’s Matt Brown. Tim Means has looked stellar against mediocre competition lately, whereas Brown has looked mediocre against stellar competition, but both guys like to do the same thing – control in the clinch and work their muay Thai — and Brown is just better at it. Brown via TKO in the second

Bantamweight – Brad “One Punch” Pickett vs Thomas “Thominhas” Almeida

Jessica: Look, it’s two guys that knocked the heck out of Yves Jabouin! Of course, Pickett did it back in 2012, and he hasn’t looked that great since then. I thought Almeida had an inflated record after beating up random dudes on regional Brazilian cards, but he’s looked solid in the UFC. Almeida wins with a third round TKO.

Burnsy: There it is, my undefeated fighter siren. Almeida will go to 3-0 in the UFC and 19-0 all-time, but it will be a tough one.

Vince: I love Brad Pickett and his wonderful hats. But enough to pick him over this kid who’s 18 – 0? Of course, Pickett is a huge step up from all 18 of those opponents. Almeida looked like he was having some trouble with Gorman’s hands in his first UFC fight, and Pickett seems a lot quicker than Gorman. Ergo, I’ll take the mad hatter.

Jared: It’s hard not to feel for Brad Pickett here. He’s one of the most reliably entertaining fighters in the UFC and seems like a real stand-up guy outside of it, but as he was sacrificed to a Brazilian phenom named Renan Barao back in 2011, he is now being sacrificed to another Brazilian phenom in Almeida, while riding a two-fight skid no less. All that said, Pickett at +1000 is borderline criminal. He’s going to get busted up, no doubt, but he’s fighting a relatively untested prospect, not the The Big Show for Christ’s sakes. Almeida

Welterweight – Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson vs Brandon “Rukus” Thatch

Jessica: Nelson got roughed up by the kind of bigger Rick Story, while Thatch got grappled into paste by the tinier Ben Henderson. I think Gunni will struggle to get Thatch to the ground, and if the fight remains on the feet, Rukus should do terrible kickboxing related things to Nelson. Thatch wins by second round TKO.

Burnsy: I’m stunned that my colleague Jessica would pick against Gunnar Nelson. Just stunned. Gunni bounces back and resumes his quest to be the greatest fighter to ever earn my “Love and Affection.”

Vince: I was really high on Nelson before the Rick Story fight. Plus he’s the emotional favorite for Burnsy and I, being the name twin (reincarnation?) of our favorite singer. Real talk though, I haven’t been impressed enough by what I’ve seen of Thatch to pick him here.

Jared: This is a toughy. Thatch has proven that he can be shut down by a takedown-heavy attack, but that was against Ben Henderson, who, while being a natural lightweight, is still Ben fighting-with-a-toothpick-in-his-goddamn-mouth-like-it-ain’t-no-thang Henderson. On the other hand, Nelson is an insanely talented grappler whose striking defense can best be summed up by the cat on the left in this gif.

Either Thatch is going to crack Nelson early or he’ll get grapplef*cked for three rounds. As much as my heart wants to see the former happen, I think the latter is a bit more likely.

Featherweight – Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez vs Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens

Jessica: Bermudez is going to wrassle all over Stephens and choke him out. Probably in the second round.

Burnsy: This is a wonderful card, but this fight is about as predictable as they come. At least I think so. Bermudez will simply be too much for Stephens.

Vince: I think this is a much closer match-up than my colleagues are giving it credit for. Stephens is as tough as they come, and he kind of scares me, like he’d beat me up for a parking space. Bermudez seems more like a lovable, good-natured dolt. I’m going to give the dolt the benefit of the doubt because of his speed, but I wouldn’t rule out a Stephens knockout.

Jared: Another striker vs. grappler matchup where I’d like to favor the striker, but after seeing Stephens get dominated by Charles Oliveira in his last fight, I don’t see him fending off the grapple-heavy attack of Bermudez here.

Welterweight Title – “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler vs Rory “The Red King” MacDonald

Jessica: Lawler showed really good take down defense against Johny Hendricks, and while they aren’t the same type of grappler, MacDonald isn’t as good of a wrestler as Bigg Rigg. Rory will struggle, gas out like he does, and then it’s time for Robbie Lawler Punches. Robbie will crack open Rory’s head and collect the prize inside with a third round KO. Say it with me now – ROBERT. GLENN. LAWLER. ULTIMATE. FIGHTING. CHAMPIONSHIPS. WELTERWEIGHT. CHAMPION. 2015.

Burnsy: I love how the UFC is so hitched to McGregor’s success that when Jose Aldo bowed out due to injury, instead of promoting this fight like, “By the way, here’s another awesome title fight between two great fighters,” they just went ahead and pumped more excitement into an interim title fight. I love McGregor as much as the next fight fan, but let’s give Robbie and Rory some credit. That said, Robbie gets the win so we get Lawler and Hendricks again.

Vince: Rory MacDonald seems like he could’ve been a spree killer in another life. It’s a fun shtick you don’t see in many other fighters. It’s tough, because MacDonald fights smart and seems like he learns every time and comes back better. But Lawler is such a power puncher and so athletic that you never want to pick against him against anyone. Buuuut, since the fight was so close last time, it seems to me the question here is who can make the better adjustments. That sounds more like MacDonald to me.

Jared: Can someone explain to me why MacDonald is being listed the favorite here? Is it because he lost the last time these two fought, or do enough people out there honestly think he holds a huge advantage over Lawler in the kickboxing department? This is ludicrous, and Robbie Lawler’s career resurgence is the only thing *more* ludicrous than the idea that it would come to an end against the “Red King.” Anyone who picks against Lawler here isn’t a true MMA fan and should just giiiiit out.

Interim Featherweight Title – “The Notorious” Conor McGregor vs Chad “Money” Mendes

Jessica: It’s the age old struggle. Not “wrestler versus striker,” something that runs even deeper.

The non-athletic versus the insanely athletic. I expect Mendes to get McGregor down pretty easily and control him on the ground. The threat of the take down will make Conor eager to sprawl, and he’ll duck right into a devastating uppercut with one of those concrete blocks Chad has at the end of his arms. McGregor will get wobbled and Mendes will latch onto a fight-ending submission. Mendes wins by second round guillotine because he’s been keeping up with his Brozilian Joe-Jitsu practice.

Burnsy: I think a mistake has been made in promoting McGregor this quickly, because if and when he loses, he will look super foolish. I don’t want to see that, though, so I’m picking him to win a sort of meaningless interim title.

Vince: I love Conor. But Mendes is also from the 559, so I also feel compelled to root for the hometown guy. My brain says… the jury’s still out. We haven’t seen Conor fight a wrestler anywhere near this good, or an all around fighter this good, for that matter. Do people remember that Mendes has only lost to Aldo, and actually looked pretty good in that fight until he got rocked after the bell rung? That doesn’t necessarily mean Conor can’t beat him, he’s run through everyone else and he has a fantastic chin. And Mendes is giving up a lot of reach here, which may make takedowns harder. Still, I’m taking Mendes until I see Conor beat a high-level wrestler.

Jared: My brain’s telling me that Mendes should take this with relative ease, but I’ve got a confession to make, you guys: I’m a big fan of Conor McGregor. The trash talk, the suits, the tings he predicts; I love all of it. The guy injects a much needed personality into a sport dominated by personalities like, well, the guys in the co-main event (but mostly Rory MacDonald). And unlike, say, Chael Sonnen, McGregor has actually been able to back up the talk so far. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Mendes has far more ways to win here, and he’s clearly fought the better competition, but McGregor has that kind of unbreakable will and attitude that is a rarity in any sport (and usually a sign of a champion). Which is why I’m going to go with my heart here and pick him to win.

Performance of the Night

Jessica: Brandon Thatch, Chad Mendes

Burnsy: Matt Brown, Conor McGregor

Fight of the Night

Jessica: Matt Brown vs Tim Means

Burnsy: I’ll pick McGregor vs Mendes since Jessica took the obvious one.

Flyweight – Darrell “Mongoose” Montague vs Willie “Whoop Ass” Gates

Jessica: Montague has pretty much only lost to flyweight title challengers (Horiguchi, Dodson, McCall), but I think he’s too stumpy for Gates. Plus, c’mon, WHOOP ASS is a great nickname. Gates wins by decision.

Burnsy: I’m gonna pick a guy named Whoop Ass every time. Especially since this might be a pink slip fight for the Mongoose.

Welterweight – George “The Silencer” Sullivan vs Dominic “Shonuff” Waters

Jessica: Here’s what I learned while looking up Dom’s record – he was on TUF 16. Shows how much of that season I’ve blanked from my mind. Anyway, Sullivan last lost to Tim Means, which was probably a little too much for him. Waters should be George’s speed. Sullivan wins with a second round TKO.

Burnsy: I’ll take the Silencer’s experience over Shonuff’s Last Dragon-esque nickname. Sometimes you have to actually focus on the in-octagon accomplishments.

Middleweight – Dan Miller vs Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith

Jessica: Dan once did this to a man’s neck, while Smith had this done to his. Smith will be lucky to walk out of this fight with his neck still connecting his head to his body. Miller taps Trevor with a first round guillotine.

Burnsy: Well, the last time we saw Miller fight was in 2013 when Jordan Mein scored a first round TKO against him. Hot Sauce’s last fight was in November, when he was KO’d in the first by Caio Magalhaes. And that’s putting it nicely. Hot Sauce looked like he went to Sleepy Time Land on a chariot made of night night juice in a matter of seconds. So I really don’t know what to make of this one. I guess Smith has less rust on his 34-year-old wheels than Miller.

Bantamweight – Russell Doane vs Jerrod “J-Reazie” Sanders

Jessica: Doane’s only lost to Iuri Alcantara, who is pretty flippin’ good. I’ll take Russ to snag a third round TKO win.

Burnsy: Doane. I’m not picking an adult named J-Reazie.

Middleweight – Josh “Anqa” Samman vs Caio “Hellboy” Magalhaes

Jessica: I just noticed that Magalhaes looks a little like Rami Malek, star of Mr. Robot on the USA Network, characters welcome (Do I not get extra money for stuff like that?) Anyway, I’ll take Hellboy to punch Josh “The Fish” Salmon in the face and get a second round KO.

Burnsy: Speaking of Caio, I’ll just go ahead and pick him to do what he did to Hot Sauce again.

Featherweight – Maximo “Maxi” Blanco vs Mike “El Cucuy” De La Torre

Jessica: This is tough. Maxi is a headcase and could easily do some illegal stuff to get him DQ’d. On the flip side, MkDLT isn’t the real El Cucuy (That’s Tony “Son of Kimbo” Ferguson, bruh). I’ll take Blanco to win with a second round TKO.

Burnsy: I feel like both of these guys are good to just blow it in any fight, but Maxi has a two-fight win streak going so I’ll stick with him.

Strawweight – Angela “Your Majesty” Magana vs “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson

Jessica: Michelle Waterson’s various displays of flexibility make me sick. However, she is the former Invicta atomweight champ, and that’s pretty snazzy. Magana’s an okay kickboxer, but this feels like a gimme fight for Waterson. I’ll say Michelle wins with a second round TKO.

Burnsy: Her Majesty can’t seem to buy herself a win lately. I don’t really know anything about The Karate Hottie, but that’s strong nickname game, and if it rhymes, I pick it.

Welterweight – Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal vs Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira

Jessica: Miami hustle, baby! Masvidal is going to kick Vitor Belfort’s protege in the face a lot and knock him out in the third.

Burnsy: Masvidal lost a very close one to one of my favorites in Al Iaquinta, while Mutante was blapsed by rising star Sam Alvey. Masvidal should be able to manage this fight and pull out the win this time.

Welterweight – Michael Graves vs Vicente “The Silent Assassin” Luque

Jessica: I remember so little about TUF 21, and it just finished last week. I’ll go ahead and chalk up Graves’ meh performance to “house jitters” and say he wins a decision.

Burnsy: Coin flip, so I’m taking Luque.

Welterweight – Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman vs Hayder Hassan

Jessica: Hassan is basically the only thing I know about this season. Dude’s got bricks for fists, and I’m taking him to put Usman to sleep in the first.

Burnsy: Yeah, I’m not picking against Hassan in any fight. This dude is a hell of a guy and I want him to have a long, wonderful career in the UFC.

Welterweight – Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger vs Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson

Jessica: Thompson is a really dynamic striker, and I don’t see Ellenberger being able to deal with that and get take downs. Thompson wins with a second round KO.

Burnsy: Wonderboy! Wonderboy! Wonderboy!

Performance of the Night

Jessica: Thompson, Miller

Burnsy: Hassan, Magalhaes

Fight of the Night

Jessica: Masvidal vs Ferreira

Burnsy: Ellenberger vs Thompson

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