This card is more stacked than a can of Pringles.
Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 45-20
Bourbon Ben Kiely: 41-24
Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) vs. Stipe Miocic (14-2)
DM: I’ve just got a feeling.
If Fabricio Wedum can drag this to the ground then it’s over! A fight against Cain Velasquez (after he beats Travis Browne) is booked, Velasquez gets injured and Alistair Overeem comes in for the next heavyweight title fight.
But I’ve just got a feeling that Stipe Miocic is defensively sound enough to be able to sprawl and punish every attempt of Werdum to turn this into a grappling match.
As impressive as Werdum was against Cain, I think his status as heavyweight champion is more of an indictment on the state of the division than it is an honest reflection of his talent, as undeniable as that is.
I believe Stipe’s boxing is crisper, he’s gritty enough to weather early storms and Werdum turns 39 this year (that’s less of a belief than it is a good and proper fact). I’ll take the upset and yet another underwhelming heavyweight champion. Miocic by decision
BK: It’s funny how Werdum is the champion, the bookies’ favourite, the fighter with the more impressive form, has beaten arguably the best ever UFC heavyweight in the form of Cain Velasquez and is nothing short of elite on the ground, yet everyone seems to be picking against him.
I’m in total agreement with the consensus. I just feel Miocic’s stellar fight IQ, his outstanding wrestling pedigree, his advantage in the striking department and his ability to dance around the cage like a featherweight will see him home to victory.
It won’t be easy by any stretch, but this could be his best opportunity to claim the most coveted prize in the game. Miocic by decision
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza (22-4, 1NC) vs. Vitor Belfort (25-11)
DM: Fun fact for all four of you who read this article every time Ben and I throw it together – ‘Jacare’ is my favourite fighter.
His superiority on the mat is not even worth discussing, he’s aggressive enough on the feet to push Vitor backwards and he’s actually got an impressive enough chin to gulp down any early Belfort flurries.
I can see Belfort attempting to cut off the Octagon early and will probably clip ‘Jacare’ but Souza’s inside trip is a thing of beauty, as is his pass to side control.
‘Jacare’ will clinch, drag it to the mat, scythe through Belfort’s guard, grab a kimura and get this over in one. Souza via submission (round one)
BK: Darragh sure loves his Jacare, and so do I for this fight.
TRT-free “Dad bod” Belfort looks like he’s on the decline. You get the feeling that if he doesn’t win via barrage of wild haymakers in the first round, he’s not going to get the victory.
I envisage Jacare using his aggression against him, pulling guard and getting the quick submission. Either that, or Belfort will prove me wrong and kick his dome into orbit. Jacare via submission (round one)
Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino (15-1, 1NC) vs. Leslie Smith (8-6-1)
DM: Poor Leslie. Cyborg via TKO (round one)
BK: If you didn’t know already, you’re about to find out. RIP Leslie Smith. Cyborg via murder (round one)
Mauricio Rua (23-10) vs. Corey Anderson (8-1)
DM: Yep, it’s 2016 and these two guys are ranked in the top 15 light heavyweights in the world.
This is a weird one because Anderson beat Tom Lawlor in March but if that fight hadn’t happened then I’d probably pick Anderson here.
Anderson looked awfully sluggish and content to ride out a decision against Lawlor, who was simply a fantastic match-up for the TUF 19 winner.
‘Shogun’ is one of my favourites of all time and I did finally start turning the corner into picking against him last year but I see him bowing out in a blaze of glory, albeit lazy clinchwork glory, here. ‘Shogun’ by decision and *fingers crossed* retirement
BK: Time to pack it in, Shogun. You were great once, but the new breed is a scary bunch.
Anderson’s a young an energetic, young prospect on the rise while Shogun’s a brittle, battle-worn veteran who one haymaker away from spending the rest of his days in a retiremnet home being fed mashed apple while his nurse reads him UFC recaps from the “good ol’ days”. Anderson via KO (round one)
Warlley Alves (10-0) vs. Bryan Barberena (11-3)
DM: Don’t be fooled by the Northcutt win, Bryan Barberena is, quite simply, not as well-rounded a fighter as Warlley Alves.
I actually see Alves as the superior fighter in all areas – he’s more efficient on his feet than Barberena, better able to deal with ground exchanges, more athletic and doesn’t have the pressure of a ‘Super’ Sage.
Barberena’s derailment of the Northcutt train was fun but I think Warlley is right on track to push his undefeated record to 11 in devastating style. Alves via KO (round two)
BK: Barberena’s not as good as the Northcutt win might have you believe, whereas Warlley is looking more and more like a complete mixed martial artist every time he steps inside the Octagon.
Unless the Brazilian comes down with a bad case of strep throat, I can only see one outcome for this fight. Alves via KO (round one)