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06th Feb 2016

The card formerly known as UFC 196: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don’t have to

Big Rigg vs. Wonderboy


It’s not quite one of the most anticipated main events of all time but, hey, who are we to complain?

UFC Fight Night 82 takes place in Las Vegas on Saturday night as a pair of very talented, but very stylistically different, welterweights look to stake their claim for a title shot.

Here’s what our MMA writers’ records for the year look like thus far. 

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 7-7  

Bourbon Ben Kiely: 7-7

Johny Hendricks (17-3) vs. Stephen Thompson (11-1)

DM: If Johny Hendricks’ had a worse chin, I’d probably plump for Stephen Thompson here but I think the reportedly more considered weight cut that he’s gone through this time around will actually make Hendricks’ already granite jaw even more ludicrous.

On the feet, the advantage obviously goes to Thompson but I don’t think he has the power to put Hendricks away which is essentially the only way to stop him.

Hendricks will probably get lit up in the first round, continue to come forward before his corner tells him to start shooting on some doubles.

Once the grappling game is initiated, there’s only one winner and I don’t think ‘Wonderboy’ is going to be able to keep the former champ away from his hips for five rounds.

Hendricks by decision

BK: It’s important to note hat I’m writing this before the weigh-ins. If Hendricks has been laying off the deer meat this camp then he should ease past Wonderboy.

Thompson is a phenomenal athlete, but Hendricks is a wrestler-boxer who has an IQ that would allow him to become a member of the combat sports equivalent of Mensa, if such a thing existed. He’s genetically engineered to defeat flashy strikers, especially one who’s struggled against wrestlers in the past.

If I were Tyron Woodley, I’d strongly consider taking another fight because he’ll be waiting a long time to get the one Uncle Dana “promised” him if Hendricks turns in a big performance here.

Hendricks via KO (round three)

Roy Nelson (20-12) vs. Jared Rosholt (14-2)

DM: Non-MMA fans will see this as two fat fellas kicking the head off each other but this bout has a fascinating technical element to it.

Jared Rosholt is NCAA Div 1. wrestler so, yes, he probably can take ‘Big Country’ down. The problem is that he’s never come up against as decorated a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner as Nelson.

Most fighters try to use brute force to get Rosholt off their chest but Nelson will use technique to sweep or reverse position.

I like Nelson’s jitz more than I like Rosholt’s wrestling and the striking element of this is no contest.

Nelson via TKO (round one)

BK: Rosholt is a solid wrestler, but is he powerful enough to take down a huge ball of blubber with a low centre of gravity like Nelson?

Probably not.

Big Country via big KO (round one)

Ovince St Preux (18-7) vs. Rafael Cavalcante (12-6-1NC)

DM: What secrets does Ovince St Preux know about the UFC that have inspired them to give him such a favourable match-up?

OSP is, quite frankly, a better fighter than Feijao.

Cavalcante is 35, with a 1-3 UFC record, and has shown very little since his octagon debut. What relevance being popped for stanozolol has to do with that, only he knows.

OSP is a significantly larger light heavyweight and he fights long well. He wins this any way he wants.

OSP via TKO (round one)

BK: Feijao is having an absolutely torrid time in the UFC of late. Interestingly, the former Strikeforce champion’s dip in form began after he tested positive for anabolic steroids. Funny that.

OSP can stand and bang, grind opponents to dust and is very dangerous on the ground. It will take a Hail Mary haymaker or something of that ilk for the Brazilian to win this fight.

OSP via submission (round three)

Joseph Benavidez (23-4) vs. Zach Makovsky (19-6)

DM: There’s something strange going on at Alpha Male. The Sacramento gym seems to produce amazing athletes, all of whom fall just short of world champion level.

Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joey Benavidez are destined to float around the top five of their divisions until retirement.

Benavidez isn’t going to cause DJ any sleepless nights any time soon but he should have enough output on the feet and grappling know-how to keep Makovsky off of him.

Benavidez by decision

BK: It’s very cruel of the UFC to match “Fun Size” up against Joseph Benavidez directly after losing to John Dodson. He’s jumping from the fan straight into the Benavidez!

Benavidez has only lost to two fighters in his storied career, Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz, who happen to be two of the greatest fighters in the history of the lighter divisions. He should get the win here and perhaps he’ll get one last shot at Mighty Mouse.

If not, a title eliminator against Henry Cejudo would make a whole lotta sense.

Benavidez by decision

Jo Ben tap

Misha Cirkunov (10-2) vs. Alex Nicholson (6-4)

DM: This one’s just too early for romantic ol’ Alex Nicholson in my opinion. 

Nicholson has a tendency to get wild with his striking and if he over-commits on the feet then he’ll end up getting taken down and frustrated for fifteen minutes.

It was lovely to see Nicholson get engaged last night but that’s all he’ll be celebrating by the end of the weekend.

Cirkunov by submissin (round three)

BK: Nicholson has a fantastic record with all but one of his victories coming by way of first round finish. The other was a second round TKO.

However, this is a huge step up in competition for the Spartan.

Cirkunov via submission (round two)

Mike Pyle (26-11-1) vs. Sean Spencer (12-4)

DM: Mike Pyle is old as shit and, while I’ve picked him against him to my detriment before, I don’t see how he starts winning now that he’s turned 40.

Sean Spencer should have beaten Cathal Pendred and he’s more well-rounded than a 40-year-old Pyle. In their prime, Pyle takes this but I think that Spencer has the ability to outpoint the veteran.

‘Black Magic’ will keep his strikes coming at a reasonable enough volume to keep Pyle uncomfortable and work towards a decision.

Spencer by decision 

BK: Spencer’s arguably the better striker, but he’s not packing much power at all. Even when he rocked Cathal Pendred, he never looked like he had that killer instinct to finish the Punisher.

Pyle is massively talented on the mat, while Spencer’s takedown defence is highly suspect. If Pyle can endure the punishment on the feet and score the takedown, we should see his BJJ prowess shine.

Pyle via submission (round two)

Mike Pyle KO Neer

Artem Lobov (11-11-1-1NC) vs. Alex White (10-2)

DM: All I need to back any Irish fighter or honorary Irish fighter is a puncher’s chance.

And Artem Lobov has much more than that. But the Russian-born SBG fighter’s left hand is obviously his best weapon and if he connects, then you go to sleep. Simple as.

Alex White’s record is much better than Lobov’s but he’s not on the level of ‘The Russian Hammer’.

Lobov via KO (round one)

BK: Hold on, another Spartan? Is this Sparta? (Don’t answer that the way the world expects you to, although I don’t know you reader, I know you’re better than that.)

Huge fan of Lobov, great personality, always comes to fight, rarely if ever involved in a dull fight. However, he just hasn’t shown that he is UFC calibre yet. That being said, there’s nothing that would make me happier than for him to prove me wrong against Spartan number two.

White via decision

Artem Lobov 16/8/2014