With Leather Staff Predictions: UFC Fight Night 43 and 44 – Who Are These People?

The MMApocalypse returns with another double-header card because UFC is wearing ALL OF THE CRAZY PANTS. If you want statistics and particulars about the events, check out the official UFC Fight Night 43 and Fight Night 44 pages at their respective locations.

Holy cow there are a lot of fights in a short amount of time, so the geniuses at With Leather Staff Predictions decided to combat a bunch of fights by getting a bunch of pickers involved! As always, I’m the very comparable Jessica “Leg Lobster Kick Mobster TKO” Hudnall. The recently engaged and always enraged Ashley “Burnsy” Burns. A man who’s always on the look out for another hot and spicy Italian sausage to engulf, Vince “Film Drunk” Mancini. The writingest fighter (But not fightingest writer, that’s Hemingway), Danny “Boy” Downes. He’s prone to giving Joe Rogan intense fits of rage, it’s the internet’s own Spilled Bag of Ice! Writer for Fightland and master pyromancer, Chris Rini!


Jessica: 126-65-2 (65%)
Burnsy: 124-66-3 (64%)
Vince: 62-29-1 (67%)
Danny: 92-45-1 (67%)
Eric: 32-20-1 (60%)
Ghost: 6-7 (46%)

UFC Fight Night 43

Light Heavyweight – Gian Villante vs Sean “The Real OC” O’Connell

Jessica: A dude what can’t spell JOHN (The most common problem in MMA) from the glorious, defunct Hofstra football team versus the hidden brother and true heir to the O’Connell acting fortune. I’m going with Villante because he’s a Serra-Longo guy, and it is only under extreme circumstances that I don’t pick Serra-Longo guys. Villante wins by punching a hole through O’Connell’s fucking chest in the third, getting him the TKO win.

Spilled: While O’Connell has only one loss in his last several fights and Villante has been hitting a bit of a “win lose win lose” pattern, Villante has fought higher caliber opponents. Based on that, I think Gian gets a 2nd round TKO with Strong Island power and Matt Serra and Ray Longo buy da kid a canoli!

Danny: Villante

Burnsy: Disclaimer, I may make it for the main card around 5 AM because I have a golf tournament in the morning, so I have to wake up and have some bourbon anyway, but no promises. That said, I am in full on coin-flipping mode. Villante, because “The Real OC” reminds me of The OC, and that show was terrible because it led to Leighton Meester marrying that one guy instead of me.

Vince: I may have to sacrifice my lead on the altar of not knowing who the hell 80% of these guys are. I’ve heard of Villante and I vaguely remember O’Connell doing okay against Ryan Jimmo before he got TKO’d. Let’s go with Villante, he’s faced stiffer competition. (*shrugging guy emoticon*)

Featherweight – Ian “The Whirlwind” Entwistle vs Daniel “The Hangman” Hooker

Jessica: Thank you, Fight Pass. For just $10 per month, I get to see a Hooker blow on an Ent’s “whistle” in choppy 240p at 2AM. Truly, we are living in a glorious age. I’m picking Hooker because of how multifaceted the word is. It can mean a rugby position, it can mean an olde timey catch wrestler, and it can also mean your mom (Getting in on this joke before Mancini). Hooker wins by decision.

Spilled: The local guys I’ve never heard of. Both have the majority of wins coming from submission though “Enty” has more. Hooker also has some KO/TKOs but Entwistle has not been KO’d yet. So I’m gonna have to with Entwistle. He has two recent wins by heel hook and he’s fighting a guy named Hooker. “Enty” via Heel Hooker in the 3rd.

Danny: Entwistle

Burnsy: Hell yes, a strong battle of nicknames. Finally, I can answer the question: “What would win in a fight – nature or a guy with a noose?” Entwistle it is!

Vince: No idea who either of these dudes are. I’m choosing Entwhistle because “Ian Entwhistle” sounds like some Lord of the Rings-type shit, and they’re fighting in Peter Jackson country.

Welterweight – Neil Magny vs Rodrigo “Monstro” de Lima

Jessica: GOD DAMN IT, MORE NEIL MAGNY? WHAT FOUL DEED IN A PAST LIFE DID I COMMIT TO BE BURDENED BY AN UNRELENTING STREAM OF NEIL FUCKING MAGNY FIGHTS? Rodrigo de Lima wins by not being Neil Magny, to hopefully rid me of Neil Magny (Until he signs with Bellator and becomes an unstoppable champion there). De Lima takes this by decision. Seriously, though, fucking Neil Magny?

Spilled: de Lima via 2nd round submission… or Magny via decision. That may not be a definitive prediction but it is a prediction.

Danny: Magny

Burnsy: de Lima is making his debut and Magny has won two in a row. So Magny, obviously.

Vince: I’m still waiting for Magny to show me something, and trying to remember who Monstro even is. I’ll guess I’ll go with Monstro. That’s how good Neil Magny’s last few fights have been.

Welterweight – Chris “The Savage” Indich vs Vik “The Spartan” Grujic

Jessica: In ditch is where “The Savage” is going to be after Grujic beats him up for fifteen minutes. Vik wins by decision.

Spilled: Holy shit. I’m only on the 4th fight? I need a nap. Indich via Unanimous decision, mate. For y’know… reasons and stuff.

Danny: Grujic

Burnsy: The Savage and the Spartan? Is this Demolition Man? Because there was that scene where the lady at Taco Bell called John Spartan a savage? You haven’t seen it? You should. It’s pretty rad. I’ve made my stance against the nickname “The Spartan” pretty clear already, so Indich out of pure spite.

Vince: Really? TUF Nations castmates? There’s a reason no one watched that season, you know. Grujic, I guess, because at least I remember his face, unlike Indich.

Flyweight – Richie “Vas” Vaculik vs Roldan “The Executioner” Sangcha-an

Jessica: Vaculik had the unfortunate luck of running into my main man, Tank Scoggins, and there’s no shame in losing to him. I don’t know anything about Sangcha-an, but it looks like he mostly beat up on random folk from the Philippines, so I don’t have a lost of trust in his abilities. Vaculik wins by second round submission, maybe a Sangcha-ankle lock.

Spilled: Come on. Roldan is coming from the Philippines and Vaculik is only coming from Australia. Vaculik via 1st round RNC and Sangcha’an’s jet lag.

Danny: Vaculik

Burnsy: Ummmmmmmmmm, Vaculik, I guess, since he’s fought in the UFC one time and Sangcha-an has only fought four times total.

Vince: No idea. I’m taking Vaculik because I’m racist.

Lightweight – Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews vs Dashon “Flyboy” Johnson

Jessica: I don’t think you can be Celtic if you’re from Australia. That’s just common sense, right? Johnson wins by second round KO to hopefully correct this egregious mistake.

Spilled: Two undefeated guys. Johnson 9-0 but coming from California and Matthews 4-0 from Australia. Matthews is “The Celtic Kid” and Johnson is “Fly Boy.” Hmmmm… Matthews via controversial decision. You need at least one per card.

Danny: Jake Matthews

Burnsy: Jesus, I have no clue. I’ll take Johnson because he has more fights.

Vince: Two dudes undefeated against competition we’ve never heard of. I guess I’ll take the American, Johnson.

Welterweight – Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker vs Mike “Biggie” Rhodes

Jessica: I’m probably only second to Downes on this prediction panel when it comes to being overly-fond of guys what train with Duke Roufus, and that’s because Downes actually trained with Roufus. Rhodes is gonna hypnotize Whittaker with his hand speed and head movement and punch him in the face until Robert is ready to die. Rhodes wins by second round KO.

Spilled: Biggie follows me on twitter and I interviewed him so he has those 2 things going for him. His last loss was a short notice fight so not the best indication of his skills. Whitaker is tough, well-rounded and durable. I think this goes the distance and Biggie gets the nod.

Danny: Biggie (who earned that nickname because he’s a former fat kid) was a former training partner of mine at Roufusport. Soooooooo, it probably won’t come as a shock that I’m going to pick him here. Whittaker has talent, but he lets his left hand hang too much. Rhodes will effectively counter strike, and exploit Whittaker’s sloppy MMA boxing to a decision.

Chris: I like Whittaker, he was a solid guy on TUF, won the Smashes and seems to have a good work ethic, which one of the dividing lines between mainstays and guys who don’t have wikipedia pages. Mike Rhodes doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, and while that doesn’t mean he’ll never have one, Whittaker is coming off of two losses to veterans.

I think this fight is a chance for Whittaker to get back on track. The UFC doesn’t like their TUF winners to fizzle out so I’m picking Whittaker. He might want to play it safe and stick with a solid win rather than highlight reel KO. Whittaker by Decision.

Burnsy: I think Whittaker takes this one, because it’s a pink slip fight.

Vince: Hey, can we skip the undercards next time we pick a double header? I refuse to research this one. Whittaker.

Featherweight – Hatsu “The Iron Broom” Hioki vs Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira

Jessica: I remember first catching a snippet of Hioki submitting Mark Hominick with a mounted triangle in Canadia and I was like “ok, this dude is cool”, and I probably still have twinges of hope that he’ll be that kind of awesome again. Oliveira is another fave of mine, so this is a tough fight for me to pick since I mostly go on heart instead of brains because I’m a dummy. Since both guys are good grapplers, we’ll probably get a crappy kickboxing match, and “Do Bronx” has pretty good striking, so I’ll give him the decision.

Spilled: Hioki has never been finished in his 36 professional fights. Which doesn’t mean he won’t get finished by Oliveira by I don’t see it. I think Hioki keeps the pressure on and Oliveira begins to wilt. Hatsu Hioki by Unanimous Decision or 3rd round TKO.

Danny: Both these fighters don’t really know what it means to pace yourself. They both come in aggressive in wild. When that’s the case, you have to pick the guy with more firepower. Oliviera has the power and speed advantage and he’ll use that do win a decision.

Chris: This is the battle of two guys who can’t quite crack the upper echelons of their divisions. However, Oliveira’s losses have come to higher quality, and larger opponent than Hioki and he put on a great performance even in losing to Frankie Edgar at UFC 162 en route to a FOTN decision.

Hioki has a better resume with Shooto and Sengoku championships but he’s also got more mileage. 36 fights into his career he is also 6 years older than ‘do Bronx’ and this may be factoring into his current span of six straight decisions in which he is 3-3.

At the end of the day Oliveira is younger and after tasting the limelight against Edgar I’d suspect hungrier. Oliveira by Decision.

Burnsy: I like Oliveira a lot. I think he has a ton of potential, and his record only looks bad recently because he took on Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar in back-to-back fights, before he bounced back with a win. He’ll put it together here and get the W again.

Vince: Christ, finally, two guys I’ve heard of. Do Bronx has mad skills and has only lost to the best of the best, so I’m going with Oliveira.

Heavyweight – Soa “The Hulk” Palelei vs Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt

Jessica: My anger at Palelei for beating up Pat Barry has basically subsided since he’s proven to be kind of awesome. Rosholt hits most of my key components for a fighter I’ll like without question (Is fat, is a wrestler), but I’ve gotta go with Palel-e-i-e-i-o. He’s got the punch of an old Frank Sinatra, and the voice of a young Frank Sinatara, Junior. Soa wins by KO in the second.

Spilled: Soa via 2nd rd hulk smash. He’s just too big and strong for Rosholt and he’ll use that power to get the better of any grappling scrambles.

Danny: It’s hard to imagine that Rosholt was a standout wrestler at Oklahoma State. Maybe NCAA heavyweight talent is as shallow as Bellator’s. Paleilei still gets a bad rap for his terrible debut against Nikita Krylov, but he has brutal ground and pound. He doesn’t have the most technical wrestling, but’ll put Rosholt on the mat pick up the first round TKO.

Chris: This is a strange pairing in which Rosholt came in with big expectations and has consistently Askren’d his way off the media & fan’s radar. Soa needed a grassroots lobby to get back into the UFC and has now KO’d three straight opponents since returning.

Maybe it’s because this card isn’t for me (a North American) but in the paper thin HW landscape, I feel like a guy with 3 straight finishes should be getting some more camera time. UNLESS he’s about to get exposed by a wrestler who’s going to drag him into deep water and maul him. Rosholt by 3rd round TKO.

Burnsy: Rosholt’s one of those guys that, when he’s on a card, I think, “Wait, didn’t I just watch this guy fight?” But I guess that’s because he fought in April and I watch a lot of events for a second time when I’m bored. That said, I want this fight to be awesome. I want these guys to pour everything they have into it and give us one for the ages. And I want Soa to win it so he’ll sing.

Vince: I can’t remember having seen Rosholt in a fight that I wasn’t better off fast forwarding. I think Palelei is going to overwhelm him with vowels.

Middleweight – Nate “The Great” Marquardt vs James Te Huna

Jessica: Nothing like a main event where the fighters are on a combined 5-fight losing streak. Really makes things feel important. Marquardt has pretty much used up all of the goodwill he earned by punching Demian Maia out of the sky and unleashing Tekken combos on Wilson Gouveia and Tyron Woodley. James The Tuna at least has a snazzy Men In Black walkout to make me forget how ferociously he got starched by Shogun Rua (Spoiler alert, Tuna forgot that fight, too). I’ve cut ties with Nate, so I’m taking Tuna to win by third round TKO.

Spilled: I’d never count Nate “The Great” out. He’s on a hell of a skid since his win over T-Wood in Strikeforce but he’s got the skills and experience to beat Te Huna. That being said, smart money is on Te Huna for a KO/TKO win. He’s really only lost to the top guys in the world and a three loss skid is not an easy mental barrier to overcome. The main thing Te Huna has going against him is that his nickname isn’t “The Big Tuna”.

Danny: It’s strange to think that you have a main event that could be a loser leaves town match. Marquardt has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s never really been to string any momentum together. James Te Huna may not ever be an elite member of the division, but he’ll do enough to get the second round TKO.

Chris: The last time Nate Marquardt was making waves in the UFC’s MW division, Anderson Silva didn’t know who Chael Sonnen was. Nate is closing in on 50 professional fights and has taken a serious amount of damage in his last 3 fights. Saffiedine painted a Jose Aldo portrait all over his legs and both Ellenberger and Lombard put him to sleep. The man who once helped GSP prepare for title fights is a veteran who deserves respect but the years have a way of catching up with every man.

Te Huna has all the markings of a fighter who separates Top 10 fighters from the rest. It’s an inauspicious position but at 32 he’s only got 4 losses in the past 7 years: Hector Lombard, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira & Shogun Rua. He wins whenever the names are not elite and I think it’s going to happen again. Te Huna by TKO.

Burnsy: Nate “The Not So Great As Of Late” Marquardt is in trouble. This is a pink slip fight for him, and I don’t think he can win it. Te Huna and a fond farewell for Nate.

Vince: I really want Nate Marquardt to get it together, but I also think Te Huna is a guy who can be really dangerous if he gets his mind right. I just don’t think I can pick Nate after his last few fights.

UFC Fight Night 44

Heavyweight – Oleksiy “The Boa Constrictor” Oliynyk vs Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton

Jessica: The real Freight Train would have an advantage because an exceedingly SMOOVE BELLAY would make it hard for Oliynyk to grapple him to bits. I don’t think a R&B (or H&B if you’re Renato Laranja) singer has the kind of skills necessary to fend off the master of the no-gi Ezekial choke. Oliynyk wins by first round submission.

Spilled: Oliynyk is 48-9-1 and on a 9 fight winning streak. How do you not pick a 37 year old Russian with that record? That’s 44 more fights than Anthony Hamilton (who’s only 3 years younger) has. Oliynyk by armbar in the 1st round.

Danny: Oliynyk

Burnsy: Oliynyk simply has the career numbers on his side. Also, I’ve heard of him.

Vince: Olivnyk because he sounds Russian.

Flyweight – Ray “The Tazmexican” Borg vs Shane “Insane” Howell

Jessica: Borg looked pretty good (IN PERSON. WHICH IS THE HTML TAG FOR EXTREME SMUGNESS?) last time out, and Howell is making his first venture down to flyweight. Borg will be too speedy and win a decision, though I don’t think any assimilation will be happening.

Spilled: Ray Borg has the name of a Star Trek villain and his nickname is THE TAZMEXICAN Devil! The Borg via 2nd rd RNC over Shane [no nickname] Howell.

Danny: Borg


Vince: I remember The Tazmexican’s nickname. Which is more than I can say for Shane Howell. Borg.

Middleweight – Marcelo “Magrao” Guimaraes vs Andy “Tank Mode” Enz

Jessica: Big Andy is gonna unanimously take care of Guimaraes and stack Enz to the ceiling.

Spilled: Will it be the Enz of the line for Guimaraes? Heyyyy yoooo! I dunno. Guimaraes via split. *shrug*

Danny: Enz

Burnsy: Enz has fought more recently, so he’s warm. Thank you for your confidence, Pulitzer committee.

Vince: Guimaraes because he’s Brazilian. Seems logical enough.

Bantamweight – “Brutal” Johnny Bedford vs Cody “The Renegade” Gibson

Jessica: I’ve moved on from making fun of Bedford for getting knocked out on TUF and thinking he was in Ohio when he woke up and now make fun of him for those creepy weirdo baby feetprints tattooed on his ribs. Gibson makes me think of two rad things: Lorenzo f*ckin Lamas and mid-90s WCW, so Gibson wins by submission in the second.

Spilled: Bedford has more experience and he’s durable I’m gonna pick him by unanimous decision unless Gibson finds a submission. Or one of them knock the other out… Or it’s ruled a no contest via unintentional eye poke.

Danny: Bedford

Burnsy: Bedford’s last fight again Rani Yahya sucked for all the wrong reasons (a stupid NC because their noggins knocked) so he owes us.

Vince: Beford looks like a guy I’d wake up to after getting drugged and kidnapped in Appalachia. Dude creeps me out. Bedford by scariness.

Lightweight – Colton Smith vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Jessica: I know we’re in the midst of some World Cup shenanigans (PREDICTION WRITTEN BEFORE THURSDAY, REMEMBER TO CHANGE IF GERMANY BEATS USA AND AMERICA NO LONGER CARES ABOUT SOCCER FOR 3.9 YEARS), but dang if I don’t want Colton Smith to get thrown down some stairs and into a well. Stupid TUF 16 rears its terrible head once again. Ferreira wins by decision.

Spilled: 3-3 Smith and 9-0 Ferreira. Anyone else get the feeling they’re looking to get rid of Colton? I’m predicting a completely dominant win for Ferreira via unanimous decision.

Danny: Ferreira

Burnsy: Colton Smith sounds like the name of a Dynasty character. It also sounds like a guy in danger of losing his third in a row and having his bags packed for him. Ferreira wins and Smith rides off into the sunset.

Vince: Colton Smith is a hell of a grinder, but you’ve got to wonder if he’s gotten as far as that will ever get him. Ferreira.

Lightweight – Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger vs James “Moonwalker” Moontasri

Jessica: Burger Brother Junior! Little Joe is going to wrestle the heck out of Moon-man and snag a decision victory through Burgin’.

Spilled: Ellenberger via 3rd round TKO via wanting to get out of Jake’s shadow.

Danny: Joe Ellenberger has overcome a lot to get to this point. A rare blood disorder, injuries and a nickname that reminds me about one of the worst casinos in Las Vegas. Moontasri isn’t going to get in the way. Plus, I bet he had stupid hippie parents who changed their name to Moontasri because of their ki or some other new age nonsense.

Chris: Ellenberger has been through a lot just to get into the UFC but like in that movie ‘Rudy’ you’re not allowed to root against the guy. He overcame so much to get here, and Moontasri is a short notice fill in. He’s the sacrificial lamb for Joe’s homecoming. Ellenberger by TKO.

Burnsy: Obviously, we have to pick Ellenberger or we’re dicks.

Vince: I’ll pick Ellenberger because everyone else did. Easy peasy.

Middleweight – Clint “Headbussa” Hester vs Antonio Brago Neto

Jessica: Hester has some fantastic hair and also pretty good striking. Neto’s gonna get his head buss’ed and lose by second round TKO.

Spilled: Neto via Guillotine or Hester by KO. The coinflip says Hester by KO.

Danny: Hester may be a “Headbussa,” but he relies too much on power alone. He’s rounded his game out, but his jiu jitsu and grappling won’t be able to withstand the BJJ champ Neto. ABN wins by submission.

Chris: like Clint, he’s everything people want to see deep down: A boxer with takedown defense. He’s on a 3 fight win streak with two finishes and a pounding decision over Andy Enz. It’s a shame the 169 card was so lackluster because some good performances were overlooked, Hester’s included.

Braga Neto is a submission specialist without a threatening takedown. If he gets caught with a good strike before being able to get this fight to the ground I see him getting frustrated and put to sleep. Hester by KO.

Burnsy: Three straight emphatic wins to start his UFC career for Hester, so I don’t see that stopping.

Vince: Damn, I don’t trust a boxing specialist to not get taken down, OR a BJJ specialist to know any takedowns. I’m a BJJ guy, so let’s go Neto.

Featherweight – Hacran “Barnabe” Dias vs Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas

Jessica: I think this might be the patented Joe Silva/Sean Shelby Squash Match of the evening. Lamas just recently fought for the title, and while Barnaby Jones is ok, he’s not good enough to deal with Lamas and his righteous mullet. Lamas wins by first round KO.

Spilled: Dias vs Lamas could be a barnburner and a closer fight than a lot of people imagine. I see Lamas edging out a unanimous decision.

Danny: Rooting for someone called the bully is like rooting for the blonde haired kid in the Karate Kid. Unlike William Zabka, Lamas won’t get fooled by some gimmicky nonsense. He pushes Dias around and cruises to the decision.

Chris: Lamas gave his all against Jose Aldo and was thoroughly outclassed. He did however show the resolve necessary to win a fight at any time, and mounted a Homminick-like comeback in the 5th round. That kind of tenacity, along with scalps like Koch and Swanson on his resume spell a bad night for Hacran Dias. Lamas by Decision.

Burnsy: Lamas was rightfully pissed that he didn’t get a ranked opponent after fighting for the Featherweight title, so he’s going to put a big, old point on this one.

Vince: A win over Swanson and five rounds with Aldo? Yeah, I’m taking Lamas.

Middleweight – Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira vs Andrew “Highlight” Craig

Jessica: Most times I see Craig’s picture, I think he’s Justin “NSANE1” McCully and I laugh and laugh. Caesar the Mutant wins by third round TKO by not making me think of a giant dorkus with red cornrows.

Spilled: I like Craig I’ve interview him and he’s one of those guys that’s more than the sum of his parts. Craig by third rd TKO.

Danny: Like a lot of ripped Brazilians in the UFC, Ferreira looks great on the beach, but can be inconsistent inside the Octagon. He has a ton of power, but gasses out and leaves himself vulnerable. I just don’t think Craig has the ability or power to hurt Ferreira. He may outlast Mutante, but it will be too little, too late. Ferreira takes the UD.

Chris: Both of these guys are going to throw strikes intended to finish. They were both finished in each of their previous bouts and are big guys accustomed to winning.

This isn’t going to be pretty, so I’m flipping a coin. Ferreira by KO.

Burnsy: On one hand, Mutante just lost his first UFC fight after starting 3-0. But he also got knocked the F out by CB Dollaway. On the other hand, Craig is pretty inconsistent, but has proven that he can be the better fighter. God, I guess that’s the nicest way I can pretend I have any clue who will win. Craig, I guess.

Vince: I thought Craig actually looked pretty good for *most* of the Barnatt fight. I feel like he has to have a speed advantage here. Craig.

Welterweight – Kelvin Gastelum vs Nico Musoke

Jessica: Kelvin is super-duper rad, and I’ll never not make the terrible joke that Musoke is some kind of shitty Greek casserole. Kelvin is gonna run the Kelvin Special on Nico (COUSIN!), which means: 1. Punch dude in head 2. Dude gets wobbly 3. Jump on dude and choke him the fuck out. Gastelum wins by first round submission.

Spilled: Gastelum always finds a way to get it done. Another win for the bad guys as KG gets a 3rd anaconda choke.

Danny: Gastelum’s wrestling will be too much for Musoke to control. The former bail bondsman smothers the Swede to a decision.

Chris: Guy in the co-main doesn’t have a wikipedia page? Gastelum by submission.

Burnsy: My boy Kelvin didn’t look that great in his split win over Rick Story, so he’ll come back strong and be all, “What’s up? I’m the greatest because Burnsy says so!”

Vince: Some guys (*cough* Pat Barry *cough, cough*) are great at snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, others just seem to have a preternatural ability to win. Gastelum seems like the second type, and he’s young enough that you have to expect him to be improving every fight. Gastelum.

Featherweight – Cub Swanson vs Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens

Jessica: I’ve got to admit, I’m kind of a bad fight fan since I’ll latch onto one thing about a fighter and make that my opinion far past the point it’s relevant. For example, when I think of Cub Swanson, I think of the time he got double jump kneed by Jose Aldo in six seconds and the fact that he was the 1 in Jens Pulver’s 1-7 record for his last UFC/WEC run. Of course, Swanson has gotten a LOT better since then. Stephens hits really hard, but to me, he’s still the guy that Dana White tries to bail out of prison an hour before his fight. I guess I’ll take Swanson with a fourth round TKO, even though he’s got that terrible SO CAL tattoo with palm trees growing out of his crotch.

Spilled: I don’t like Stephens ever since he beat up my lovely friend Dan Downes and also before that when he seemed too dense to get Dannyboy’s sense of humor. Jeremy can always knock someone out but I think his power is overstated. He’s done well at 145 but Cub is knocking on title contention’s door… or ringing it’s doorbell perhaps? Maybe texting Title Contention late at night saying, “You know you want me! I can go five rounds, baby!” 145 is Cub’s home and he’s dispatched much tougher opponents without a lot of trouble. Swanson steamrolls Stephens to a 1st or 2nd round TKO.

Danny: Both these guys have completely recreated themselves. Stephens went from a middling gatekeeper at lightweight to a potential contender at featherweight. Swanson, too, has retooled his game and far exceeded expectations. Stephens has the pure power advantage, but he still has sloppy footwork. Swanson will be able to dart in and out and avoid the big haymakers. He clips Stephens late with a counter right hand and follows up with some more punches to secure the TKO.

Chris: Cub has been fighting off that Aldo KO for 5 years. Even though he’s got a loss to Mendes by decision and was subbed by Lamas it’s that 7 second double flying knee that really put him to the back of the pack.
At this point though, with 4 finishes and a dominant decision over Dustin Poirier we have to let it go.

Stephens has highlight wins and difficult losses to top competition. If Cub really is the rightful heir to the #1 contender spot then there’s no way this goes to Lil’ Heathen unless they agree to a firefight.

Cub has been masterful and his dismantling of Dennis Siver looked like a man headed for his peak. Cub via TKO.

Burnsy: Someone named Cub has to win. *adjusts Cardinals hat, gets knocked out by a child*

Vince: Stephens throws heat, but I feel like Cub Swanson has been undervalued for five years. Stephens is also notorious for his sparring sessions being basically full-on MMA fights and seems really tough. I give Stephens the edge of power and toughness, and Swanson the edge in technique and speed. I’m picking Swanson and expecting a great fight either way.