Welcome to August, fight fans! We’ve got an event with a pretty heavy international flair in wonderful Salt Lake City. The prelims start up at 7 p.m. ET on Fight Pass, including a top featherweight match up between Cub Swanson and Crusher Kawajiri. The regular prelims will be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 8 p.m. ET, featuring heavyweights in action, featherweight sex-fiend Teruto Ishihara, and King of the Deseret, Court McGee. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET, also on FS1, and begins with strawweight action as Maryna Moroz welcomes Danielle Taylor to the Octagon. The co-main event is another featherweight clash between Rony Jason and Dennis Bermudez. The main event is a bantamweight fight between the exciting Yair Rodriguez and the exciting hair Alex Caceres.
Now that we know who is fighting and when, let’s jump into the staff predictions. Be warned, though, that the team did very poorly last time out. Four of our six pickers went 0-4, while resident time warlock Jason Nawara used a 2017 Sports Almanac to go 3-1.
2016 Important Results:
Jessica: 137-109-4 (56 percent)
Burnsy: 101-103-3 (49 percent)
Ryan: 5-1 (83 percent)
Jason: 48-37-1 (56 percent)
Bill: 24-15 (62 percent)
Jared: 16-17 (48 percent)
Jackman: 7-5 (58 percent)
Enrique: 7-5 (58 percent)
Jamie: 16-13-1 (55 percent)
Justin: 13-4 (76 percent)
Marty: 20-12-1 (62 percent)
Parker: 3-4 (43 percent)
Team Davis: 72-56-3 (56 percent)
Featherweight – Cub Swanson vs. Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri
Jessica: This might be the only good fight on the card, and it’s kind of buried in the Fight Pass prelims. I’m not saying that Kawajiri will put on a Frankie Edgar-type performance, but I believe in CRUSHER enough to think that he can take down Swanson enough times and punch him up a bit on the ground. Kawajiri wins by third round TKO.
Jason: I agree with Jessica, this is the best fight on the card. I don’t understand why this isn’t headlining. They should be? Either way, Kawajiri has long hair now, so I’m picking him.
Bill: This is definitely my pick for fight of the night and it’s very close to call for me. I love Kawajiri, but I think Cub will get a victory here and put himself in the discussion for a title shot. You don’t mess with a dude with palm trees tattooed on either side of his treasure trail.
Jared: I’m sure that most of my cohorts here have done a sufficient job of marking out for Crusher, but let’s be real, Swanson has only lost to the 2 best non-champions in the division in the past 4 years. He ain’t losing this shit.
Strawweight – Maryna “Iron Lady” Moroz vs. Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor
Jessica: I’ve seen Moroz fight before, so sure, why not, I’ll take her to win. And yes, I realize that I used this logic when Moroz made her debut, which she won. SHUT UP, DAD. Moroz submits Taylor in the second.
Jason: Why was this card even created? This is like some horrible thing Joe Silva pitched to Dana before the sale, and Dana was like, “sure, honey. You can go put that nice card on the fridge.” Except in this case the card is a fight card and the fridge is our fragile fight fan psyches. Taylor wins.
Bill: Taylor is going to absolutely eat Moroz’s lunch. This might be the second most interesting fight of the evening, which is to say “mildly interesting.” I’m hoping that this ends up being one of those cards that blows us all away when we weren’t expecting it, because on paper it’s garbage.
Jared: I don’t know much about Taylor other than that she has higher-than-average number of TKO finishes for a strawweight (meaning more than 1), but you gotta give the edge to (octagon) experience here. Moroz.
Middleweight – Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith vs. Joe “Capo” Gigliotti
Jessica: WHO? Man, I’m not sure if I can pick Smith, who’s on deck for a loss based on his past six UFC fights. On the other hand, at least I know he exists. Ehhh, I can’t do any worse than last time, so I’ll take Smith to win by decision, but I do want it on record that if this was Tracy Williams, I’d be all over that Hot Sauce like, uh, hot sauce on wings?
Jason: Jon Fitch, Hatsu Hioki, Ryan Jimmo (RIP), Brian Ebersole, TJ Waldburger, Anthony Njokuani, Melvin Guillard and so many others have been cut by the UFC in the last few years, and still Trevor Smith fights on. I think he gets the win because #chaos.
Bill: Yeah I don’t know how anyone other than CM Punk gets to have a nickname that’s the same as a pro wrestler’s nickname. The fact that he looks like Tommaso Ciampa further complicates matters. But I’m picking Smith nonetheless.
Jared: I feel like Trevor Smith is one of those generic white guy athletes that commentators praise for being “a hard worker” and “the last guy at the gym” for lack of anything more notable to say about him. I mean, he’s got a cool nickname and a win over Dan Miller, but that was over a year ago and he hasn’t fought since. Gigliotti, on the other hand, is a 7-0 killer who hasn’t gone the distance once. This looks like one of those classic cases of a journeyman being sacrificed to a prospect, and I’ll take Gigliotti.
Welterweight – Santiago “Gente Boa” Ponzinibbio vs. Zak Cummings
Jessica: Apparently both these dudes aren’t as trash-bad as my brain remembers them as? At least, record wise. So they’ve won fights but I don’t really remember them, which probably means I zoned the heck out. So I guess I’ll take Zak and his dadly face to win a decision I will promptly forget.
Jason: This is just the worst card in recent memory. This is the type of card you get in a city in which dancing is illegal. It’ll probably still be full of fun knockouts, but what about this card?! Cummings. WTF.
Bill: I’m so sad his nickname isn’t “Gentle Boa.” Also I’m not typing his last name, so Cummings to win.
Jared: The safe bet seems to go with Ponzinibbio here, but Cummings is tougher than a sandpaper massage and I’m just not sure that Ponzi is the guy to put him away here. Cummings via grizzle.
Middleweight – Thales Leites vs. Chris Camozzi
Jessica: Tallest Ladies is going to beat up Ini Camozzi and I’m gonna just be like ‘oh, ok. kewl’ Leites wins by second round submission.
Jason: 100% correct, Jessica. Camozzi taps in the second and still comes out looking good in the eyes of the fans for whatever reason.
Bill: Hey, Thales Leites! I know that guy! Jessica and Jason know what they’re talking about. Thanks for playing, Camozzi.
Jared: The winner of this fight really boils down to which Thales Leites shows up to the party. If it’s the dude who was choking and knocking out fools left and right when he first reentered the UFC, than I could see Leites easily rocking Camozzi with a looping overhand right and submitting him in the scramble. If it’s the Leites who basically let Michael Bisping and Gegard Mousasi jab him to death, I like Camozzi’s chances a lot better. Since Camozzi has the momentum and has looked a lot better lately, I’ll take him.
Featherweight – Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez vs. Rony Jason
Jessica: Bermudez kinda hit his ceiling against Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens. Jason is lower than that and he’s gonna get wrestle-smushed. Bermudez wins by second round TKO.
Jason: A smothering, decision win before bedtime for Bermudez … Oh wait we have one more fight!
Bill: Whoever made the decision to nickname Bermudez and didn’t go with “Shorts” is fired, forever, effective immediately. If Rony doesn’t enter to “Pony,” he’s officially my least favorite fighter. Bermudez takes this one and we all move on with our lives.
Jared: Bermudez will win the fight, but Jason will win the post-fight brawl with the locker room door.
Bantamweight – Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez vs. Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres
Jessica: I’m convinced this could be a main event in Utah, and I’m also convinced it’s a fight in UFC. I just don’t understand how it’s a main event in UFC. I think Rodriguez is going to trick people into thinking he’s just going to run out and throw a flying double jump mule kick, but that’s impossible when Caceres is in the midst of some strenuous grappling. I’m taking Bruce Leeroy to win by third round submission.
Jason: Yair Rodriguez is my new favorite fighter. I like Caceres, I like his story, but Rodriguez makes the Yair on your arms stand up. He’s electric, baby! Yair Rodriguez via something we’ve never seen before in the first.
Bill: Yeah, I just want a good fight here. I think Rodriguez has a chance to become a legit star with an exciting win here. It’s going to be a win for him, just a question of how impressive it is.
Jared: Can I just be the first to say that I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, when I learned three days ago that Bruce Leroy was headlining a UFC card. Sure, he’s being served up on silver platter for the UFC’s flashiest striker since Uriah Hall, but still, something tells me you’re going to be able to hear a mouse f*cking on cotton in the Vivint Smart Home Arena by the time this fight kicks off a 1:30 in the morning.
Obviously, I’m going to take Rodriqguez by flying holy sh*t did you even see that bro, but what do I know? 2016 has shown us that using actual analysis to determine who will win an MMA fight is as arbitrary as flipping a coin. Tyron Woodley just destroyed Robbie Lawler without breaking a sweat. Holly Holm has lost 2 straight fights. Eddie Alvarez torched Dos Angels, a guy from Cleveland beat the Fedor Killer and MICHAEL BISPING IS THE MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, you guys. It’s like McGregor losing suddenly made *every* top fighter have a crisis of confidence. I might as well be letting my Ouija board make these picks.
Performance of the Night
Jessica: Teruto Ishihara (I LOVE YOU MY B*TCHES), Bermudez
Jason: Rodriguez, Leites
Bill: Swanson, Taylor
Fight of the Night
Jessica: McGee vs. Steele
Bill: Kawijiri vs. Cub