Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman: Pre-Fight Analysis

Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman As a huge fan of women’s MMA, I’m always excited to see the women get the headlining spot and I’m happy to see Strikeforce giving these athletes their due. Since.

Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman

As a huge fan of women’s MMA, I’m always excited to see the women get the headlining spot and I’m happy to see Strikeforce giving these athletes their due. Since medaling in Judo at the 2008 Olympics, Rousey has burst onto the MMA scene finishing all five of her fights via armbar in the first round. She has some of the best and most explosive grappling in the world of women’s MMA having proved it over and over again. She grapples to finish and not to just control the fight. However, her inexperience in the striking game has been apparent and that could be a problem for her against former champion Sarah Kaufman. Kaufman is one of the best technical strikers in the world and she has shown that repeatedly throughout her career. Her only loss came when she relinquished her title to Marles Coenen via armbar submission in the third round.

This fight has a couple of clear paths it can follow. Rousey will undoubtedly be looking to get this fight to the ground and use her world class Judo to finish the fight. The key will be whether or not her takedowns and throws will be enough to get the fight where she wants it. If she can get Kaufman down, the fight will likely be over quickly as even accomplished grappler Meisha Tate was no match for Rousey on the ground. But Kaufman has worked hard to develop an excellent defensive wrestling game in order to keep her fights standing. As a striker, she obviously has to be able to stay on her feet to execute her gameplan. If she can avoid Rousey’s throws and stuff the takedowns, this fight will get interesting very quickly. Kaufman will have as much of an advantage on the feet as Rousey has on the ground. Rousey has never been hit hard enough to put her in trouble and Kaufman definitely has the ability to do that. It will be very interesting to see what happens if Kaufman can test Rousey’s chin.

The bookmakers have Rousey as a huge favorite at -600 with Kaufman at +450. I know that Rousey has looked unstoppable thus far but she hasn’t faced anyone with the technical striking and defensive wrestling of Sarah Kaufman. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think Kaufman has a real chance to win this fight. This is they type of fight where we will find out early which course the fight will follow. Either Rousey will be able to get Kaufman to the mat and dominate from there or Kaufman will be able to keep the fight standing and show why she is considered one of the best technical boxers in women’s MMA. Either way, this fight is going to be a landmark. If Rousey dominates Kaufman the way she has every other opponent thus far, she will be solidly established as one of the best pound for pound female fighters in the world. But if Kaufman can pull off the upset, Rousey will be exposed and forced to go back to work on developing a full MMA game instead of just relying on her Judo.

Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson

In another seemingly significant mismatch, veteran and former middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza faces prospect Derek Brunson. Souza’s only loss in Strikeforce came when he dropped the belt to Luke Rockhold and he rebounded from that loss by defeating Bristol Marunde via submission in the third round in his last appearance. Souza has long been one of the best middleweights in the world and might be the best grappler at 185 lbs. His striking is decent but he has always been at his best when he can take his opponents down and work his submission game, which could make this a more interesting fight than expected because his opponent is an excellent wrestler. Brunson is a former collegiate wrestler who achieved at a high level in Division II. His striking has improved since entering MMA and he was undefeated before accepting a last minute fight against veteran Kendall Grove in ShoFight two months ago. He lost that fight via a questionable split decision and one has to question the logic behind a prospect accepting that type of fight. But regardless, he gets a huge opportunity to rebound against Souza.

This fight presents an interesting matchup of styles. Souza will likely struggle to get Brunson to the mat given the latter’s amateur wrestling pedigree. And Brunson will be hesitant to use his best weapon because he won’t want to spend too much time on the ground with Souza. That combination of factors could result in a striking match, which still benefits Souza but eliminates his best offensive attack. Souza comes into this fight as a huge favorite at -485 with Brunson at +385 and that seems appropriate given the gap in experience. But any time fighters are forced to avoid their strengths, upsets can occur. That said, Souza should have a comfortable advantage on the feet and will likely earn the victory but Brunson does have the power to land a knockout punch if given the opportunity. Either way, it will be interesting to see how this fight plays out given the fighters’ styles.

Tarec Saffiedine vs. Roger Bowling

The second fight of the night is likely to be one of the better fights on the card as Tarec Saffiedine and Roger Bowling face off in the welterweight division. With Tyron Woodley losing to Nate Marquardt for the vacant middleweight title, the winner of this fight could move into the title picture with an impressive performance. Saffiedine brings a well-rounded game to the cage and he will look to use that against Bowling. His most recent victories have both come via decision against Scott Smith and Tyler Stinson. He is a capable stand up fighter with solid Muay Thai enhanced by his length and reach advantage. As a Team Quest fighter, he also has excellent wrestling is capable of taking the fight to ground if he doesn’t like the way the striking is going. Bowling has a similar skill set except that his stand up game is mostly boxing and he has more power in his hands than Saffiedine. He can also take the fight to the ground if necessary but prefers to box.

Saffiedine is a significant favorite coming into this fight at -290 with Bowling the underdog at +245. That line seems to be a little too far in favor of Saffiedine. Bowling has the power to end any fight and Saffiedine has show susceptibility to punching power in the past. He was hurt bad by Tyler Stinson in the first round during his last fight and if Bowling is able to land as cleanly as Stinson did, the fight will be over. But Saffiedine does have the more well-rounded game both on the feet and on the ground and that should be enough to earn him a decision victory. The key will be to use his length to control the distance and avoid Bowling’s power. But if he lets Bowling get inside, we could see an upset.

Ovince St. Preux vs. T.J. Cook

To get Strikeforce Rousey vs. Kaufman started, two light heavyweights coming off of losses look to rebound as Ovince St. Preux faces off with T.J. Cook. St. Preux has long been one of Strikeforce’s prized prospects but lost in his last appearance against Gegard Mousasi, which was his first big test. This fight seems to be an effort to get St. Preux back on the winning side as Cook has just two Strikeforce appearances and was less than impressive in losing his last fight to Trevor Smith. Cook had no answers for Smith’s wrestling attack and that plays directly to St. Preux’s strength. Expect St. Preux to use his wrestling to ground Cook and attack with ground and pound from there. St. Preux will be looking for the finish or at least a dominating decision to show that he is still a serious prospect at 205 lbs.

None of the major books have a line on this fight but it’s safe to say that if they did, St. Preux would be a huge favorite. This is a bounce back fight set up for him to win and win impressively. But Cook won’t go along willingly and he has the ability to land some dangerous strikes. The struggle for him will be keeping the fight standing and that will likely be his downfall. Once St. Preux gets the takedown, he will look to pass and strike his way to victory.

UFC 150 Pre-Fight Analysis

Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar Because of Frankie Edgar’s willingness to give immediate rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard, he gets one against Ben Henderson despite the long list of potential opponents waiting for.

Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar

Because of Frankie Edgar’s willingness to give immediate rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard, he gets one against Ben Henderson despite the long list of potential opponents waiting for a title shot. But the first fight was entertaining enough that most fans are willing to tolerate the rest of the division being held hostage so that Edgar can get a second chance at Henderson.

We know who both of these fighters are at this point in their careers and the outcome of this fight will be determined solely on gameplan and execution. Neither fighter is significantly better than the other in any area and the key in fights like this is finding a way to create openings to score. This fight represents the future of MMA as two fighters who have high level skill sets in all areas fight for slight advantages through five close rounds. The only significant advantage gained by either fighter in the first fight was when Henderson landed an upkick at the end of the third round, which seems unlikely to be repeated. Both fighters have excellent striking with Edgar probably having a slight advantage in the boxing but Henderson having a slight advantage in the kicking game. Henderson also has the reach advantage but keeping Edgar on the outside has proved nearly impossible. Both are excellent wrestlers and frequently change levels to keep their opponents off balance. Once on the mat, both are capable of doing damage with ground and pound. But both are also excellent at getting back to their feet and neither fighter was able to maintain any significant ground control in the first fight.

This fight will likely play out similarly to the first fight with both fighters happy to engage on the feet but looking to mix in takedowns when the opportunity presents itself. Henderson proved to have a slight advantage in most positions in the first fight and one would expect that pattern to continue in this fight. Because of that, he comes in as a solid favorite at -210 with Edgar at +175. However, Henderson in no way dominated the first fight so a win for Edgar would not be a surprise. The first fight was won because Henderson took advantage of of a few small openings to outscore Edgar. If Edgar can tighten up those minor mistakes and instead create a few small openings of his own in this fight, he could easily reverse the outcome and regain his title. Whatever the outcome, this fight will be back and forth. Both fighters will win rounds and both will be successful at different points in the fight. The key will be whose execution is tighter and who was able to learn the most from the first fight. Henderson deserves to be the favorite but Edgar could easily walk away the champion. And if he does, the lightweight division will be even more convoluted than it already is.

Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard

If you’re an MMA fan, you’re excited about this fight. Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard are two of the most exciting fighters in the sport and only a glitch in the fabric of the universe could extinguish the fireworks these two are almost certain to light from the moment this fight begins.

Cerrone’s only loss since coming to the UFC was against Nate Diaz who is currently awaiting the winner of the headlining lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. He followed that loss with a dominant decision victory over Jeremy Stephens. Cerrone was never challenged in that fight and appeared to be sparring with Stephens by the third round. He destroyed Stephens leg with kicks and seemed to finish every combination with a baseball bat to Stephens’ thigh. He’ll be able to use the same strategy against Guillard who will be at a similar reach disadvantage and is also not a threat to take Cerrone to the mat. Cerrone has a clear grappling advantage in this fight and Greg Jackson will certainly be imploring his fighter to put Guillard on his back and work for a submission. Whether or not Cerrone listens will likely depend on whether or not he feels threatened by Guillard’s power.

Guillard was on the brink of a title shot before losing back to back fights via first round submission to Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. And his performance last month against Fabricio Camoes was not impressive. He earned a bizarre unanimous decision victory with all three judges scoring the fight 30-27 despite the fact that Camoes clearly won the second round and the third round was incredibly close. Regardless, he will look to build on whatever momentum he gained from that fight in this fight against Cerrone. Guillard’s game is largely based on the power in his hands. If he finds his opponent’s chin, he usually wins but if he doesn’t, he struggles. He will be at a significant reach disadvantage in this fight and will need to use speed and movement to find his way inside and land combinations. He is capable of doing it but it will require a level of execution he hasn’t shown since leaving Jackson MMA for the Blackzillions.

Cerrone comes in as a significant favorite at -350 with Guillard getting +290. This fight will likely play out similarly to Cerrone’s previous fight against Jeremy Stephens. He will use his reach to keep Guillard at distance and pick him apart with combinations that end with destructive leg kicks. If Guillard has success closing the distance, look for Cerrone to take him down and work his submission game. And if Cerrone is only interested in winning, that is the more intelligent strategy. But he’s never been interested in simply winning the fight so look for him to make it a kickboxing match unless he feels threatened. But either way, this is likely to be a great lead in for the main event.

MMAFix Staff Picks – UFC on Fox 4

Mauricio Rua (-350) vs. Brandon Vera (+290) Ryan Poli: I get the feeling that Vera will use this big opportunity to get a big upset win. However, I’m not predicting a win based on a.

Mauricio Rua (-350) vs. Brandon Vera (+290)
Ryan Poli: I get the feeling that Vera will use this big opportunity to get a big upset win. However, I’m not predicting a win based on a gut feeling. Shogun is the favorite for a reason and from a logical perspective, he should win the fight. Shogun by decision. Winner: Mauricio Rua

Alan Wells: This line is way too close. Shogun should destroy Vera. If he doesn’t, his days as a top contender are over. Simple as that. Normally, I would never bet odds this strongly in favor of one fighter but I actually think there’s value here considering the real talent disparity. Winner: Mauricio Rua

Emily Kapala: The oddsmakers have it right by picking Rua over Vera. He is the highest value pick, and he is going to come out with the win August 4. The winner of this fight could be a lightweight title contender. Winner: Mauricio Rua

Elise Kapala: The fight between Vera and “Shogun” Rua will be an interesting fight. With Shogun once again fighting for a title contendership spot, I think he will utilize his Muay Thai to defeat Vera. Winner: Mauricio Rua

John Rivera: If this fight had happened six years ago then it might be more deserving of main event status. As it is I’m not sure why Bader/Machida isn’t the headliner. Regardless, this should be an entertaining affair. Unless you’ve been living under a f**king rock then you know who Shogun is. His legendary five round brawl with the great Dan Henderson is widely considered throughout the MMA community to be one of the best fights in the history of the sport and if you youtube Infinite Warriors, you’ll see why this is some seriously epic sh*t.

Right so we all know Rua is a badass amongst badasses. Because of this A LOOOOOOTTT people think Shogun will show up and violently molest Brandon Vera much as Thiago Silva did. This is most likely what we’ll see on fight night, but if we’re lucky we’ll see something else….we’ll see a Brandon Vera that we haven’t seen in a while: the one who started his career knocking out heavyweight’s left and right, the one who went three close rounds with all-time great Randy Couture, in short the one that comes to fight.

Both guys are technical strikers with very solid grappling skills, but here’s the kicker. Shogun can take all the damage Vera can dish out and keep coming forward whereas the opposite is simply not true. Vera, while a great fighter and athlete, simply hasn’t shown the kind of aggression and tenacity needed to put a guy like Mauricio Rua away. I see Shogun taking a first round tko win unless by some miracle old Vera shows up to make it a fight in which case I still have Shogun grinding out a decision victory. Winner: Mauricio Rua

MMAFix Staff Pick: Mauricio Rua (5-0)

Lyoto Machida (-330) vs. Ryan Bader (+270)
Ryan Poli: Bader Proved that he is among the elite when he defeated Rampage Jackson. However Machida already defeated a strong wrestler in Randy Couture, and Machida’s performance against Jon Jones was far better than Bader’s. Machida by KO. Winner: Lyoto Machida

Alan Wells: This fight is the opposite of the first in terms of betting value. I don’t think Bader will pull off the upset but he is undervalued here in my opinion. I’m picking Machida to win but if I’m gambling, I’m putting my money on Bader. Winner: Lyoto Machida

Emily Kapala: Once again, the oddsmakers are right on key by picking Machida. He will definitely shine as a potential title contender in the lightweight division. If you’re going to put money on a fight August 4, this would be the fight to do it on. Winner: Lyoto Machida

Elise Kapala: The fight between Machida and Bader is also expected to be an excellent fight. I think it will be a very close fight, seeing as both fighters have excellent striking ability but also defensive game. I think Machida will come out with the victory, though. Winner: Lyoto Machida

John Rivera: Right off the bat I’m thinking…uhhh Lyoto wins by 2nd round SICKASSKARATEDEVASTATION! All one word and yes it is a technical term.

Ok let’s be serious. Ryan Bader is a bad dude for sure. He is STRONG, to say the least. his wrestling pedigree as an NCAA Div. I All-American wrestler speaks for itself, and any opponent he faces needs to be wary of his knockout power. That said, they call Lyoto Machida the Dragon for a reason….and that reason is because he is a monster who will terrorize you and all of your friends right before he MURDERS EVERYONE!!

Ok, let’s try to be serious this time for real…..Machida possesses vastly superior striking and incredible defensive/counter wrestling skills. He has a black belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu, a highly unorthodox style that remains difficult to emulate in training, and trains with arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the history of the UFC, Anderson “The Spider” Silva. With losses in three of his last four fights, Machida will try to make a statement with a finish. Bader will have to be truly impressive to fight off the second round tko blitz that Machida will be looking for. If he does he will have to use repeated take downs and clinch work against the cage to try to make a case for a decision. I see Machida winning either way. Winner: Lyoto Machida

MMAFix Staff Pick: Lyoto Machida (5-0)

UFC on Fox 4 Pre-Fight Analysis

Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera The headlining fight for UFC on Fox 4 is one of the stranger UFC main events in recent memory. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is one of the more inconsistent fighters on.

Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera

The headlining fight for UFC on Fox 4 is one of the stranger UFC main events in recent memory. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is one of the more inconsistent fighters on the UFC roster. He has a 4-4 record in the UFC but one of those wins was over Lyoto Machida for the light heavyweight title. He is an MMA veteran and was one of the better pound for pound fighters in the world earlier in his career but has not been able to maintain that level of performance with any regularity since coming to the UFC. But the really strange part about this main event is his opponent. Putting Brandon Vera in the main event of a nationally televised card is questionable at best. But following that questionable decision by announcing that the fight will be to determine who gets the next title shot is simply absurd. Thankfully, the UFC has backed off that announcement and instead stated that whoever among Vera, Rua, Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida puts on the more impressive performance will receive the title shot. But even that seems a little silly given that current champion Jon Jones has already destroyed all four of these men within the last two and a half years.

Rua comes into this fight looking to get another chance to at the title he held briefly in 2010 and early 2011. His biggest asset is his muay thai, which he perfected in the early days of global MMA at the famous Chutebox academy in Brazil. His biggest liability is his cardio, which has been suspect in several fights over the past few years. Fortunately, he’s basically facing a lesser version of himself in this fight. Vera is also mainly a muay thai practitioner so this fight should take place on the feet. If Rua enters the cage in decent shape he’ll be able to handle Vera fairly easily. Vera will be in the best shape of his life as he is viewing this as his best opportunity to fight for a title. Once a vaunted prospect at heavyweight, Vera has proven to be a middling light heavyweight and has only a victory over Eliot Marshall to show for his last four UFC appearances. Even he must know he doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the title picture but if he can somehow land a Hail Mary knee, he might earn the chance to get beat up by Jon Jones again.

Rua is the favorite coming into the fight at -350 with Bader at +290 and this is a perfect example of what is wrong with the oddsmakers who set the lines for MMA. No rational explanation exists to justify why the odds for this fight are basically the same as the odds for the fight between Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida. Bader is far more likely to upset Machida than Vera is to upset Rua. But for some reason, the odds say those two outcomes are equally likely. Regardless, this fight has an air of inevitability around it, which is unfortunate for a main event on an important card like this. Both men are muay thai artists but Vera is not on the same level of Rua. If Rua enters the cage in fighting shape, he should be able to finish Vera. If he enters the cage in decent shape, he should be able to win a decision. The only way this fight ends with Vera getting his hand raised is if Rua shows up out of shape or if Vera lands a miracle.

Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader

On a card headlined by an egregious mismatch, the second-billed fight between Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida will be the most anticipated contest of the night for most MMA fans. Machida is a former champion looking to get back on track after following a sixteen fight win streak to open his career with a loss in three of his last four fights. One of those losses was a close decision to Quentin Jackson that many scored in favor of Machida but the other two were decisive losses to Mauricio Rua and Jon Jones in championship bouts. Bader’s situation is somewhat similar in that he followed a twelve fight winning streak to open his career by losing back to back fights to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz before bouncing back with consecutive victories over Jason Brilz and Quentin Jackson. An impressive performance by either fighter could earn a rematch with champion Jon Jones.

Machida is one of the most interesting fighters in any weight class. He employs a unique striking style grounded in traditional martial arts. He attacks from unusual angles with unusual strikes and often hurts his opponents because they don’t see his strikes coming. He doesn’t throw with explosive power but instead does his damage by landing a varied but accurate array of punches, kicks and knees that keep his opposition off balance. Because most of his fights take place in the standing position, he has not had much opportunity to display his ground game. However, he should not be underestimated on the mat as he has some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the light heavyweight division. His defensive wrestling is solid and because of that, he rarely ends up on his back but if he does, he is still a threat. Against a wrestleboxer like Bader, expect Machida to keep the fight standing and try to assert an advantage on the feet. He will likely look to avoid Bader’s power while picking him apart from distance until he can land something clean enough to hurt him. But if he doesn’t, he’ll be content to use his excellent movement and footwork to control the pace of the fight and earn a decision victory on points.

If Machida is exceptionally unorthodox, Bader is exceptionally orthodox. He came to the sport from the wrestling world having competed at a high level in college. Since coming to the UFC, he has added an excellent boxing game to compliment his wrestling. His boxing is highlighted by dangerous one punch knockout power in both of his hands. If he lands cleanly, he can finish any fight in an instant. In this fight, he’ll have the wrestling advantage and will need to use that to keep Machida guessing. The more he changes levels and forces Machida to think about defending takedowns the better his chances of winning will be. Machida has solid defensive wrestling so Bader may not be able to get him down and keep him down often but he needs to mix in takedowns and try to keep this fight on the inside as much as possible. He’ll need to find ways to close the distance to land his punching combinations as Machida will undoubtedly look to use his movement to stay on the outside. If Bader can find his way inside and make this an ugly fight with lots of pummeling for position against the cage and battling for takedowns, he could grind his way to a decision. And of course, if he finds Machida’s chin cleanly with a punch, he might not only win the fight but also earn his first shot at a UFC belt.

Machida enters this fight as the heavy favorite at -330 with Bader coming in at +270. Machida does have the advantage in every area other than wrestling but that doesn’t mean this fight’s outcome is predetermined. Bader’s hands can end any fight and he has the quickness to catch Machida. He also has the wrestling to force Machida against the cage and control him from there. But the more likely outcome of this fight will see Machida using his movement to keep Bader at a distance and pick him apart from there.

UFC 149 MMAFix Picks

Renan Pagado (-190) vs. Urijah Faber (+165) Elise: The main event of UFC 149 will truly be worth the price of PPV. The title of the Interim Bantamweight belt goes to Faber or Barao. Although.

Renan Pagado (-190) vs. Urijah Faber (+165)
Elise: The main event of UFC 149 will truly be worth the price of PPV. The title of the Interim Bantamweight belt goes to Faber or Barao. Although Faber is considered the underdog in the fight, I say Faber by decision or Barao by submission choke in the 3rd or 4th round. Winner: Faber

Emily: The oddsmakers are right on in choosing Renan Barao as the favorite. Not only will he come out with the victory, but he is the highest value bet. We will no doubt be seeing him fight for the bantamweight title as soon as the champ recovers. Winner: Pagado

John: This is a tough one. Renan Barao is the clear favorite mainly due to his sick ass 29 fight win streak, and don’t get me wrong he is a bad dude, but people need to remember that we’re dealing with the alpha male of team Alpha Male—so show some respect b*tches!! Both of these guys are finishers, but I think they’ll more than likely cancel each other out in that regard. It will all come down to the takedown battle. If the “California Kid” can score enough takedowns to keep Barao from really getting going on the standup, I think he is good enough to avoid his opponent’s rather spectacular submission game for the decision victory. If he can’t, then Barao will pick him apart the whole time while periodically stuffing takedowns for a unanimous nod from the judges. I give a slight edge to Barao for his standup, but I definitely don’t think the betting line is where it should be for this fight. Urijah Faber is a killer, period! He fought Mike Brown for five with two f*cked up hands and went five with Aldo at 145lbs…that said I still have Barao coming up with the decision. Winner: Pagado

Ryan: The day Barao beat Brad Pickett, I knew he would be champion. I think Faber is of the elite, but Barao is a 135 pound Jose Aldo, and Aldo gave Faber a beating. Barao by decision. Winner: Pagado

Alan: Faber is a fan favorite and it’s always hard to pick against him but Pagado is superior in almost every area. He’ll win this fight relatively easily probably taking at least four rounds on the way to a decision. If the line was a little more lopsided, I might be inclined to take a flyer on Faber but +165 isn’t enough to make it worth it. Winner: Pagado

MMAFIX Staff Pick: Pagado (4-1)

Hector Lombard (-390) vs. Tim Boetsch (+320)

John: Replacing the injured Brian Stann, Tim Boetsch is going to have his hands full with Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard. On an impressive 24 fight win streak of his own, Lombard has the power to put the “Barbarian” away, but as Boetsch showed in his last bout against former title challenger Yushin
Okami, you can beat the sh*t out of him the whole fight, and he can still knock you out in brutal fashion. Lombard, a former Olympian, has the resume to beat Boetsch on paper. The question here is whether or not Lombard f*cks people up the way he does because he has been fighting lower level competition or because he really is just that good. Either way we’ll find out Saturday.

Even though I’m rooting for Boetsch, I have to go with Lombard by first round KO or second round TKO—bro, he called out “the Warmaster,” heavyweight Josh Barnett….that’s right heavyweight.

For those of you who don’t understand, this means two things:

1. Hector Lombard has huge balls
2. Hector Lombard is just about the rawest motherf***er out there….sometimes you just have to believe in the crazy person.

Winner: Lombard

Ryan: I think that people make Lombard out to be better than he really is, and he hasn’t quite proved himself to be in the top 10 of the division yet. With that However, Tim boetsch is only in the top 10 from a crazy come from behind KO of Yushin Okami. With that being said, I agree with Lombard being the favorite, but not sure if the it’s too much in the favor of Lombard or not. Lombard knows if he is impressive in this fight he could get a title shot, so look for Lombard to end this fight quite. Lombard by TKO. Winner: Lombard

Alan: Like everyone else, I’m picking Lombard to win. But I love the line on Boetsch. Lombard hasn’t faced anyone near this caliber and this is his first UFC appearance. If I’m betting this fight, I’m going with Boetsch and hoping for the upset. He’s an underdog but not a +320 underdog. This is a perfect low risk high reward type of betting situation. Winner: Lombard

MMAFix Staff Pick: Lombard (3-0)

UFC 149 Faber vs. Barao: Pre-Fight Analysis

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Pagado This headlining fight for UFC 149 was originally supposed to be a featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Eric Koch but after an injury to Aldo, the UFC decided.

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Pagado

This headlining fight for UFC 149 was originally supposed to be a featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Eric Koch but after an injury to Aldo, the UFC decided to manufacture a replacement title fight out of nothing by creating an interim bantamweight belt to be held while Dominic Cruz is sidelined. After an ill-conceived attempt to spark a buzz over who Urijah Faber would face for the interim title, the UFC announced that Renan Pagado would be the opponent as expected.

Faber is a known commodity. His looks and personality combined with his early dominance of the featherweight division have made him one of the more marketable stars in MMA and he deserves a huge portion of the credit for pushing the growth of the lighter weight classes. Not only has he aided that growth through his performance in and out of the cage but his Team Alpha Male gym has become the best gym on the world for small former wrestlers looking to make the transition to MMA. Faber has solid wrestling and an impressive arsenal of submissions to compliment that wrestling. At the height of his career, he earned his victories by taking his opponents down and finishing either via submission or occasionally ground and pound. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have already passed his peak at age thirty three and has struggled in recent years with hand injuries early in fights. He has not been able to deal with either Dominick Cruz or Jose Aldo losing by decisions in each of his last two title fights. In Pagado, he faces a fighter who is often compared to Aldo. If he wants to earn the victory, he will have to show the unpredictable yet technical game that he brought the cage in his prime. He will need to get Pagado off balance and bring the fight to the ground. From there, he will need to find a way to maintain control. A finish seems unlikely but if he can control Pagado, he could scramble his way to a victory.

Renan Pagado is the exciting up and comer in the bantamweight division. He is widely considered to be the biggest threat to Dominick Cruz and some would even consider him the favorite in that fight. But first, he’ll have to deal with Faber. Pagado lost the first fight of his career and has not lost since then compiling a twenty eight fight unbeaten streak and a seventeen fight win streak. His game seems to have no significant holes. He is a dangerous striker with a diverse arsenal of kicks and punches. His takedown defense in excellent but he isn’t afraid to go the ground because his jiu-jitsu is some of the best in the division. In this fight, he will likely have a slight advantage everywhere the fight goes except maybe in the scrambles and the transitions. He will probably settle in to a strategy of trying to defend the takedown to fight Faber on the feet the same way Cruz and Aldo have done in the past. If he does that, he should have a clear advantage and be able to earn the decision. Faber is incredibly durable so if Pagado can somehow earn the finish, that would be a serious statement.

The bookmakers have Pagado as a solid favorite at -190 with Faber at +165. Keeping it that close shows respect for the former champion and a certain amount of caution as Pagado has yet to face competition on Faber’s level. But in reality, that line could shift further in favor of Pagado and no one would argue. The most likely script for this fight is that Pagado will keep the fight on the feet and strike his way to victory. But if Faber can turn this into a scramble fest and keep Pagado off balance, he could pull off the upset and earn the right to face Cruz for a third time.

Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch

In the only fight to benefit positively from the injuries that infected UFC 149, Hector Lombard replaces Michael Bisping to face Tim Boetsch in a matchup of top middleweights. The winner of this fight is likely to jump to the front of the line along with Chris Weidman as the top contenders to challenge Anderson Silva for the title.

Since dropping to middleweight, Boetsch has looked great earning consecutive victories over Kendall Grove, Nick Ring and former title challenger Yushin Okami. The last victory in particular elevated his status in the division and a win over the highly regarded Lombard would put him in the foreground of the title picture. Boetsch has shown a well rounded ugly game that lives up to his nickname as the “Barbarian.” He has finishing power in both hands and his boxing is deceptively technical. He mixes wrestling with his boxing and has shown the ability to bring fighters to the mat and control position. Once on the ground, his ground and pound is some of the best in the division and he is a constant threat to end the fight. In this fight, he will likely want to avoid engaging with Lombard on the feet. He will need to use his boxing to set up a takedown and control Lombard on the ground. If he can do that, he will ground and pound his way to a decision victory. But if he can’t and is forced to stand with Lombard, he could be in serious trouble.

Lombard comes to UFC aboard one of the louder hype trains in recent memory. He has destroyed his competition in lesser organizations compiling a twenty five fight unbeaten streak and twenty fight win streak. Most recently, he has dominated fighters like Trevor Prangley, Jesse Taylor and Faleniko Vitale in Bellator. He has devastating power in his hands and finished six of his seven opponents in Bellator. His strategy will be simple. He will look to keep the fight standing and box with Boetsch. We should get an idea quickly as to how Lombard stacks up against UFC competition. This will be by far the biggest test of his career and we should know early in the fight how he will respond. We’ve seen a myriad of fighters move to the UFC from smaller organizations and immediately have the weaknesses in their games exposed. That is a real possibility in this fight. But if Lombard comes in and earns a victory, he will establish himself as a real contender at middleweight and will have to be included in the title discussion. And if he earns an impressive victory, the UFC will have a tough decision as to who deserves the next shot at Anderson Silva.

The line on this fight currently has Lombard as a huge favorite at -380 with Boetsch at +315. Obviously, the bookmakers are impressed with Lombard’s performance against lesser competition and expect him to bring that level of explosiveness to his UFC debut. Boetsch is in trouble every second that this fight stays on the feet and no one will be surprised if Lombard lands a huge combination to end his night. But if Boetsch can wrestle Lombard to the mat and keep him there for a few minutes at a time, he could steal this fight.