UFC Fight Night 81 Predictions: Who Will Be Undisputed Bantamweight Champion?

TJ Dillashaw champ
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Hey fight pals. We’ve got a Sunday night of fights, which is a little unusual, but let’s just go with it, okay? Fight-stivities kick (and punch) off at 6 p.m. EST on Fight Pass, so let’s take a look at who will win these fights.

2016 Important Results:

Jessica: 6-6 (50 percent)
Burnsy: 7-5 (58 percent)

Light Heavyweight – Francimar “Bodao” Barroso vs Elvis “The King” Mutapcic

Jessica: Among dudes named Elvis, I put Mutapcic in third place in terms of combat sports prowess, behind Sinosic and Presley. I’m taking Barroso to win by third-round TKO.

Burnsy: One of Burnsy’s patented nickname rule violations right out of the gate — don’t ever call yourself The King. Unless you are a reigning champion or a fighter who has been around a long, long time and held many championships, you ain’t a King. Bodao wins, unless that means King and I’m just an idiot (spoiler: I always am).

Bantamweight – Rob Font vs Joey “KO King” Gomez

Jessica: My Liege! I pledge my fealty to Gomez, and he’s going to put out Font’s lights in the second. WITH IMPACT!

Burnsy: Okay, “KO King” is slightly better than The King, because he’s being specific. He’s not saying, “All ye bow down” or whatever, as much as he’s saying, “I am royalty when it comes to ending a fight by hurting your brain.” And when it comes to living up to this nickname (apparently new, because Sherdog has him listed as another “War Machine”), Gomez is legit. Six pro fights all ended in the first round by KO or TKO. Have we found that monster we’ve been waiting for, the one that we thought we had in Johny Hendricks before all of the weight troubles? I don’t know, sure, why not? Anyway, Rob Font loses this because he doesn’t have an awesome nickname like “Welcome to Helvetica.”

Featherweight – Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa vs Augusto “Tanaquinho” Mendes [UPDATE: Mendes is out and Kyle Bochniak is in]

Jessica: Apparently Mendes is some kind of grappling demi-god. Part of me thinks it would be super hilarious if he got one hitter quitter’d by Rosa in under a minute, but the part of me that thinks Man Grabs are neat wants to see Mendes break dance all over Rosa on the ground. I’ll go with Mendes to lock up a second-round submission.

Burnsy: Okay, Mendes is out and some guy named Kyle Bochniak is in, so I’ll take Boston Strong in Boston coming out to the Boston song to the cheers of all the Boston bros.

Light Heavyweight – Ilir “The Sledgehammer” Latifi vs Sean “The Real OC” O’Connell

Jessica: I think I’m more interested in what Sean will do at the weigh-ins instead of this fight. I’m not even going to offer a guess, because he’s always changing things up. Another nose boop would be appreciated, though. As for the fight, I’ll say that Latifi’s super freaky power will put OC out cold. License to Il wins with a second-round KO.

Burnsy: Like Sam Alvey, O’Connell’s charm is sorely underappreciated in the UFC. He’s just one of those guys you love to cheer for because he doesn’t take it as seriously as the so-called badasses. But the Real OC has been a bit of a badass lately, winning his last two fights by TKO, so maybe this is an upswing, and the man with the best weigh-ins in the biz is going to become a light heavyweight contender. This is a fantastic test for him, because Latifi can end guys quick, and he has twice in his last three fights. I’m sticking with O’Connell. Boop.

Lightweight – Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder vs Daron “Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank

Jessica: OH HECK YEAH! I know I assumed that Felder versus Barboza would result in a tornado forming due to all the spinning sh*t, but the fight was still decent. I think this bout will be more to Felder’s skill level, and I expect some Rad Stuff here. Sorry, Hermione’s Cat, but I see the Irish Dragon taking this one with a second-round KO.

Burnsy: Interesting, it’s a double pink slip fight. Both guys have lost two in a row, but Detroit Superstar has been a dud in his last two, giving up the rear-naked choke twice. I’ll give Felder the edge for not being a sitting duck.

Featherweight – Maximo “Maxi” Blanco vs “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders

Jessica: Sanders gets points docked for the “Cool Hand” nickname because DUDE, how on earth are you going to take one of Paul Newman’s most well known, beloved and best roles and just slap it on before heading into battle. If this was a normal opponent, I would probably predict that Maxi does something mind-numbingly dumb to get himself DQ’d, but nuts to that and nuts to Luke Sanders, who probably can’t even eat five, let alone 50 eggs. Blanco wins by first-round KO.

Burnsy: The undefeated fighter siren is not going off for Sanders, whose hands have not been checked for exact temperature, as I will not pick the man making his UFC debut. Maxi will pad his victory total in this one.

Lightweight – Chris Wade vs Mehdi “The Sultan” Baghdad

Jessica: I’ve at least seen Wade fight before. Chris all the Wade, by decision, I guess.

Burnsy: “The Sultan” is kind of like “The King.” Sultan has won seven straight, finishing all of them, so I’ll give him the edge here. But if he loses, I take away nickname approval.

Light Heavyweight – Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch vs Ed “Short Fuse” Herman

Jessica: This is basically Welp, The Fight. I’m going with Boetsch because he won’t have to worry about finishing quickly so he can run back and INYUKCHUK into Ben Rothwell. He’ll be patient and whomp Herman en route to a decision win.

Burnsy: BOETSCH, he growls as he unloads his lunch in the trash can. This fight’s going to suck, so I’ll probably be cleaning dishes or something while it happens. I guess Tim wins to rebound from his embarrassing loss to Hendo.

Welterweight – Patrick “The Predator” Cote vs Ben “Killa B” Saunders

Jessica: Ohhhh dang! I hope Saunders can do some good grapples here, because while I would like to see him work his Muay Thai clinch knees, I don’t know if he should put his brain at risk against Cote’s punching power. If Killa B can get the fight to the ground, he should 10th Planet all over Patrick and snag a first-round submission.

Burnsy: Orlando’s own Ben Saunders, I’ll always pick the Killa B.

Lightweight – Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson vs Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo

Jessica: With Gleison Tibau failing drug tests (Gee, who could have ever predicted such a thing?), Trinaldo must now shoulder the burden as “Stocky Lightweight Brazilian Kinda Wrestler That Wins Split Decisions.” When a wrestley man faces a British striker, I almost always go with the grappler, and this time is no exception. Trinaldo wins by decision.

Burnsy: Over his last six fights, Pearson has literally been win one/lose one, so based on that scientific analysis, he’s set to lose this one.

Heavyweight – Travis “Hapa” Browne vs Matt Mitrione

Jessica: NOOOOO! DON’T DO THIS TO ME, JOE SILVA! I used to like Mitrione, but then he said super terrible things, so now I revel at his defeats. I used to “whatever” Browne, he lost in hilarious ways, and then he got accused of domestic violence. I’m not really looking forward to either man winning, but I’m going to continue to put stock in Chael Sonnen’s Gypsy Curse on “Hapa” and say that Mitrione wins with a second-round TKO.

Burnsy: I won’t pick Browne to lose because of the fact that he’s accused of beating his wife, or how he handled the confirmation that he’s dating Ronda Rousey like a f*cking caveman. “Me man, she woman, she mine.” I’ll pick against Browne because he’s a gassed out dud who shrinks in fights that matter. “I’m a statement maker.” Cool, bro. Mitrione, all stupid things said aside (at least he apologized and agreed to be less ignorant), can win this if he just makes Browne last longer than a round.

Lightweight – Anthony “Showtime” Pettis vs Eddie Alvarez

Jessica: It’s the Eye for an Eye match! Get it, because Pettis said he couldn’t see when RDA was beating him, and Alvarez got one eye swollen shut against Giblert. I’m pulling for Eddie, since any time he wins, it makes me believe more and more that other Bellator dudes like Michael “Dreamboat” Chandler could also do well in the UFC. Eddie’s a good boxer with decent wrestling, but I don’t think his grappling is good enough to completely neutralize Pettis’ skills on the ground, so Eddie shouldnl’t play around down there. It should stay on the feet for the most part, which makes me very concerned for EA. He didn’t do well against Cowboy Cerrone’s length and kickliness, and Pettis kersploded Cowboy with kickboxing. I’ll sort of reluctantly take Pettis to win via third round TKO.

Burnsy: Screw it, let’s shake the lightweights up a little. Alvarez wins and gets the title shot next. That’ll be fun, right?

Bantamweight Title – TJ Dillashaw vs Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz

Jessica: Oh dip! I’m still not sure this fight is really happening, since there’s always plenty of time for Dom’s ligaments and tendons and muscles to rebel against him and snap, shear, tear, shatter, and otherwise fail at being a working part of his anatomy. This could be a super high-energy fight, with two guys who have crazy footwork opening up weird angles on one another. It could be an intense grappling match, as both guys have solid wrestling skills. Or, it could be a 25-minute Shamrock/Severn 2 homage as they circle, dart, bump, hop, feint and sidestep around each other, both men hoping to bait the other into an attack that can be countered. Cruz doesn’t get hit very often, but he’s usually flopping through the air too much to sit down on his own counters and straight up blast a dude. He does have a super sick-nasty knee tap, though, which I really like. Dillashaw probably hits harder (Though it still took 900 hojillion punches before he stopped Barao last time), but he’s only used his crazy footwork against people that don’t really move around a lot. Cruz’s last title fight was a win over friggin Mighty Mouse (Who was still working full time at a warehouse at the time, just stating the facts), so he’s used to dealing with tiny, fast, squirmy dudes. I’m typing a lot of words because I still haven’t convinced myself who will win. If TJ (Or, more accurately Bang Ludwig) is smart, he’ll hold back on the head shots and go for leg kicks (I’m not just saying that because Cruz has knee issues or because of my own personal hashtag brand). However, if Cruz starts taking any kind of punishment he doesn’t like, that aforementioned super sick-nasty knee tap is always there to get the fight to the ground and mitigate any power advantage Dillashaw has on the feet. After roughly a million words and probably more thought and analysis I’ve put into a fight pick, I’m going with Cruz to win a very wrestle-heavy decision and GET HIS BELT BACK.

Burnsy: On one hand, Cruz never loses. On the other hand, he’s also never healthy. My fear here is that Cruz wins and then misses another year with an injury. I’ll take Dillashaw to be more prepared and hungrier. I’m not confident about it, but this is science, so it is what it is.

Performance of the Night

Jessica: Felder, Mendes

Burnsy: Saunders, Pettis

Fight of the Night

Jessica: Pettis vs Alvarez

Burnsy: Latifi vs O’Connell