It is finally here. UFC 171 fight week is upon us.

On Saturday, March 15, the UFC will be broadcasting live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas. UFC 171 will have four preliminary bouts aired on UFC Fight Pass, followed by four preliminary bouts on Fox Sports 1. The five-bout main card will take place on pay-per view, and it will feature a clash for the UFC welterweight title between Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.

Hendricks is coming off a controversial decision loss to then-champion Georges St-Pierre, whereas Lawler enters the fight riding an impressive three-fight winning streak. This will mark the first time in nearly six years a fighter not named St-Pierre will be considered the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.

The co-main event of the evening features a battle between welterweight contenders Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley. Condit is coming off a “Fight of the Night” TKO victory over perennial contender Martin Kampmann, and Woodley is coming off a “Knockout of the Night” victory over former title contender Josh Koscheck. This fight has major title implications. It has been announced that with a victory, Condit would secure the next shot at the UFC welterweight title.

Rounding out the evening’s main card will be a lightweight fight between Diego Sanchez and Myles Jury, a welterweight showdown between Jake Shields and Hector Lombard and a light heavyweight tilt between up-and-comers Ovince St. Preux and Nikita Krylov.

In this edition of the Round Table, The MMA Corner’s very own Sal DeRose, Kyle Symes and RJ Gardner break down all of the action set to take place.

LHW: Nikita Krylov (16-3) vs. Ovince St. Preux (14-5)

Symes: I have to give Nikita Krylov props for his performance against Walt Harris. Not only because he absolutely blasted Harris in devastating fashion, but because he physically looked like a different fighter from the one that competed at UFC 164. The former heavyweight will be making his UFC light heavyweight debut, and I would assume that means he will stay in shape for this contest. He will be stepping in after Thiago Silva decided to throw his career (and life) away with his personal issues.

Standing across from Krylov will be Ovince St. Preux. A professional since 2008, OSP was an interesting prospect during his time under the Strikeforce banner. A former NCAA Division I football player for the University of Tennessee, OSP has always possessed natural athleticism. It’s served him well. St. Preux is on a three-fight winning streak, with two of those wins coming by way of knockout.

Both guys have the ability to throw heavy leather, but it will be interesting to see if OSP tries to use his length (his reach is 82 inches, compared to Krylov’s 77.5-inch reach) to keep the Ukrainian at bay.

Although he looked great against Harris, Krylov is still a bit of a mystery following his dreadful showing at UFC 164. At only 21 years of age, Krylov has the ability to be a pretty decent fighter and has plenty of time to develop his MMA game.

OSP’s southpaw stance might give Krylov a headache initially, but Krylov will catch him with a right hand to take the knockout victory.

DeRose: Krylov’s two UFC appearances have been absolute polar opposites of each other. He completely botched the first fight, but came out in his second contest and looked every bit like the prospect people expected.

Krylov’s first fight in the UFC against Soa Palelei remains the only time he has gone past the first round, and it was a very overwhelming extra couple of rounds for Krylov, who faded like no other. Although Krylov’s striking is not something to be scoffed at, his cardio seems to be lacking. It will be interesting to see if this fight goes past round one and if the weight cut down to 205 pounds is more detrimental to his cardio.

The reach advantage for St. Preux is massive in this fight. He should look to stay on the outside, away from Krylov’s power, and wait for him to fade later in the fight. If St. Preux can get out of the first round, Krylov will once again be in unfamiliar waters. That will help to not only give a cardio edge to St. Preux, but also a possible mental advantage as Krylov continues to get use to the later rounds.

Krylov will look to bring this fight as close as possible, but staying away from the clinch with someone as strong and as athletic as St. Preux is a must. Krylov will need to find a home for his heavy hands.

I’m more inclined to pick St. Preux here given his experience, especially since he fought Gegard Mousasi and was able to survive. Krylov’s striking isn’t Mousasi levels of good. St. Preux by TKO in the third.

Gardner: Krylov is a young fighter with a lot of upside. Everyone should be keeping a close eye on him, because he could become a factor at light heavyweight in a couple of years. All of Krylov’s wins have come in the first round.

St. Preux is a truly elite athlete. His combination of size, strength and speed at light heavyweight have proven to be a deadly blend. As his skills continue to evolve, he will only become more dangerous.

Both of these fighters are looking to make a statement in the deep and competitive UFC light heavyweight division. If Krylov can close the distance and get inside of St. Preux’s reach, then he has a great chance to win this fight. However, St. Preux knows how to play to his strengths. He will pick Krylov apart on the outside, eventually dropping the Ukrainian. St. Preux wins this one by TKO in the second round.

WW: Hector Lombard (33-4-1) vs. Jake Shields (29-6-1)

DeRose: I don’t know what to expect from this fight between Hector Lombard and Jake Shields. It could go in either direction, depending on how Lombard proceeds in this fight.

Lombard is 2-2 in the UFC thus far, and this will be his second fight at the 170-pound level. He went in and knocked Nate Marquardt unconscious back in October in the first round at UFC 166. Lombard needs to show up with that same mentality against Shields. He needs to stay off the mat and away from the patented Shields ground game that has become infamous among fans. Lombard’s advantage in this fight is in his striking, where he obviously is far ahead of Shields.

Lombard’s two UFC wins have come in the first round, and both were knockout victories. His two UFC losses were split decisions. Shields, meanwhile, is on a roll lately when the fight goes the distance. He took his last two fights by split decision, so Lombard will be best served taking the fight to Shields often and early.

Shields will have to look for a way to get Lombard to the ground without taking the power shots Lombard will seek to land. Shields has one of the best ground games at welterweight and certainly possesses the advantage over Lombard in that regard.

Shields has powerful wrestling and Lombard has shown he has problems stopping the takedowns (see the Okami fight). It could go either way, whether it be Lombard with a first-round TKO win or Shields by decision, but I’ll go with the latter, taking Shields to win. Hopefully it isn’t another split decision.

Gardner: Love him or hate him, Shields is simply a winning machine. He make not be exciting and he may not be entertaining to the casual fan, but he gets the job done in the cage.

However, he is going to have his hands full with the former Olympic judoka and powerful knockout artist. Lombard’s heavy hands give him a great shot to pull of the upset, but, as Sal pointed out, Lombard has shown difficulty in handling wrestlers like Shields.

Ultimately, Shields is going to grind out yet another decision victory. If he can survive Dan Henderson’s best shot, then he will be able to weather an early storm from Lombard. His suffocating style and relentless grappling attack will just be too much for Lombard to overcome. Shields wins, but, because of his lackluster style, he will not make any headway towards another title shot.

Symes: Lombard has one job to do, and that is to not let Shields do what Shields does best. As Sal and RJ pointed out, we all know Shields’ ground game is his bread and butter and that Lombard will want to avoid going to the mat in this one.

Luckily for Lombard, he has pretty good takedown defense. I suspect Shields will have a tough time initially in getting the former Bellator champ to the mat. But, with all that hulk-like muscle mass, Lombard isn’t left with very much oxygen for his body to go a hard three rounds. Will his gas tank be able to handle Shields’ relentless, grinding style? I would go with a no.

Lombard won’t have to worry about that, though, after taking Shields’ head off as Shields fires off one of those sloppy striking combinations he’s so fond of throwing. Lombard won’t have to fear Shields’ takedowns like most do, because he knows he can defend them. Lombard will catch Shields coming in and pounce on him for the TKO victory.

LW: Myles Jury (13-0) vs. Diego Sanchez (24-6)

Gardner: This is an intriguing lightweight match-up. Diego Sanchez is always exciting, and Myles Jury is an undefeated up-and-comer looking to rocket up the rankings.

Sanchez seems to always be in the running for the “Fight of the Night,” and his tenacity in the cage is unmatched. Add good technique and a granite chin, and you have a tough test for any fighter in the UFC. Coming off a “Fight of the Year” loss to Gilbert Melendez, Sanchez will enter into this bout on a mission to make a statement.

On the other side of the cage is Jury, a fighter I really like. Undefeated in his career and 4-0 in the UFC, he is well on his way to title contention. If he is able to get past Sanchez, he will likely find himself in the thick of the title hunt.

It’s difficult to pick against Sanchez in this match-up. His aggressive in-your-face approach is going to throw Jury off of his game. Jury will make things interesting, and I expect to see some really fun and technical grappling exchanges. Ultimately, however, Sanchez’s striking and experience will overwhelm the youngster. Sanchez wins by unanimous decision.

Symes: I’d like to echo what RJ said about Jury being well on his way to title contention. He appears to be one of the few fighters to compete on recent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter that may make it long term in the Octagon.

As is the case of any fight involving Sanchez, the main focal point will be whether his opponent can handle the tempo that Sanchez brings to a fight. I’m pretty sure if you checked under Sanchez’s skin, you’d find some form of Terminator technology—the guy doesn’t quit coming forward.

I agree with RJ that Sanchez’s in-your-face style will throw Jury off-balance to begin the fight. It’s one thing to prep yourself for someone who has a high-octane style, but it’s quite another to survive it. It’s a good bet none of the guys Jury has faced throughout his career fight at the same level and intensity as Sanchez.

On the other hand, Sanchez’s brain is fried. After his war with Melendez, Sanchez resembled one of those old boxers you’d see on an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that need subtitles. That granite chin of his is one day going to give way, and it’s not going to be pretty. Is Jury the type of fighter to knock Sanchez out cold? Probably not, but at this point he may not have to be. We all saw Chuck Liddell’s granite chin fail him in his later years, and we could be on the cusp of seeing that with Sanchez.

If Jury can pull this off, then he’ll see his name skyrocket up the rankings and he will be “in the mix,” as UFC President Dana White likes to say. However, that won’t be the case here. Sanchez is the more talented grappler, and that should negate any of Jury’s takedown attempts. Even if Jury lands the crisper punches, Sanchez’s power shots will leave the most visible damage, which helps him just eke out a split decision win.

DeRose: There’s no denying that Jury is on his way up the ladder with a win over Sanchez. Yet, I’ve never really been impressed with Jury as a fighter, and this is a huge leap up in competition for a fighter who is coming off a win over Mike Ricci.

Jury is now navigating the big-boy waters in the UFC’s lightweight division, and he will certainly have his work cut out for him. Jury is going to look to bring this fight to the mat as quickly as he can and utilize his jiu-jitsu to out-grapple Sanchez. All of Sanchez’s brawls aside, that is actually a tough thing to do. Jury has outwrestled and beaten guys on the mat before, and he could certainly do it here.

Sanchez will look to keep this on the feet and maintain constant pressure on Jury. The mental aspect of seeing Sanchez coming at you throwing bombs must be extraordinary. Sanchez should look to make this a brawl—his chin is going out just yet.

So, it comes down to one of two scenarios: Jury wrestling Sanchez to the mat enough and gaining adequate position to score a TKO or win by decision, or Sanchez making this fight a brawl in another edition of “How Crazy is Diego Sanchez?” I’ll take Sanchez’s brawling ability to win out. Sanchez by TKO in the third.

WW: Carlos Condit (29-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (12-2)

DeRose: This showdown between Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley could be a really great fight between two top welterweights. Both fighters have the power and striking capabilities to knock the other one out cold.

It all depends on which Woodley shows up in this fight—the Woodley who timidly fought Jake Shields or the Woodley who has two great knockout wins in the UFC. Woodley would be wise to utilize his major advantage in this fight—his wrestling. Woodley has a much better chance for victory if he can get his wrestling going early in this fight to sap the strength and energy out of Condit.

Woodley is at a three-inch reach disadvantage in this fight. Against a fighter like Condit, that could be a death sentence. I would normally say Woodley should look to clinch up and try to batter or take down Condit from the clinch, but Condit’s clinch game is something that is very dangerous in its own right.

Woodley needs to find those openings to shoot, rather than rely on landing something awful on Condit’s chin. Woodley needs to go back to what made him an undefeated 10-0 as a Strikeforce welterweight that fought Nate Marquardt for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight belt.

Condit’s game plan will be to utilize that reach advantage and do what he does best, which is to bring his A-game striking ability to the cage and wow fans while breaking down Woodley mentally in the striking game. Condit uses everything in his striking game and is excellent at mixing it up with different strikes. Kicks, knees, elbows, punches—Condit has it all in the striking department.

Condit’s last two losses were to Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, two very good wrestlers and great fighters overall. In those two fights, Condit was only able to stop a total of four takedowns out of the 23 attempts pressed upon him. That stat makes me a little nervous to pick him. Instead, I’ll take Woodley by decision.

Symes: Sal is correct in saying that Woodley’s best chance at victory lies in the utilization of his wrestling. Hendricks gave up his striking power in an effort to get takedowns to score points against Condit, and that approach is something Woodley would be wise to emulate.

However, as we’ve seen from plenty of wrestlers in the UFC, once they get a knockout victory, they suddenly fall in love with their striking. Josh Koscheck and Rashad Evans are two examples of guys who forgot what brought them to the dance in an effort to try and get the one-punch knockout. I can’t say I blame them. After all, landing one punch to end the fight is often times a heck of a lot easier to do than taking down high-caliber fighters.

If Woodley comes into this contest thinking he’s simply going to run through Condit like he did Koscheck, then he’ll face a rude awakening. Condit isn’t going to stand and trade bombs like Koscheck did. Instead, Condit is going to use his footwork and angles to land his pinpoint strikes.

Even if Woodley uses his wrestling game, he could still find himself in a world of trouble. Condit isn’t the type of fighter that will let people just lay on top of him. He’s extremely active from the bottom with elbows, reversals and submissions. It will be no easy feat for Woodley to take out Condit.

I see this fight going much the way Condit’s fight with Hendricks went, where it comes down to what the judges value more, effective striking or takedowns. Condit should do enough on the feet to win that portion of the scoring criteria, and he’ll avoid enough damage on the ground once Woodley gets him there. Condit by split decision.

Gardner: This is the fight I am looking forward to more than any other fight on this card, including the title bout.

Woodley is a tough, talented, athletic wrestler with serious knockout power, but Condit is on another level. If Woodley wants to have a chance in this fight, then he is going to have to find a way to close the distance and get Condit to the mat without taking much damage. Once there, Woodley is going to have to be on his game, because, as Kyle pointed out, Condit is very dangerous and active off his back.

Condit is simply a fighter in every sense of the word. He goes out there to finish his opponents, something you have to respect. He has one of the most dynamic and powerful striking games in the welterweight division, and his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is top notch. The only chink in his armor is his wrestling game, which just happens to be his opponent’s biggest strength coming into this fight.

Woodley’s wrestling will not be enough to overcome the complete package possessed by Condit. Condit is one of the best fighters in the UFC when it comes to using his length to his advantage. He utilizes powerful kicks and a strong jab to keep his opponents off-balance. When an opponent does close the distance, Condit is a monster in the clinch and an animal off his back. Condit wins this one via second-round TKO.

WW Championship: Johny Hendricks (15-2) vs. Robbie Lawler (22-9)

Symes: What an intriguing story we have for the UFC 171 main event. Johny Hendricks is the guy many feel was screwed out of the UFC welterweight title after the scorecards were read following his five-round battle with Georges St-Pierre. He’ll have a chance at redemption when he faces savvy vet “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler.

Once a young, up-and-coming prospect in his initial UFC run, Lawler spent years on the outside looking in, but he finally got his chance to fight in the Octagon once more at UFC 157. Lawler proceeded to go on a 3-0 run that saw him take out big-name guys like Josh Koscheck and Rory MacDonald and absolutely destroy poor Bobby Voelker with a head kick. Lawler’s story is one that’s easy to sell for the UFC heading into UFC 171, and the promotion has done a fantastic job of propping him up as a conquering hero that’s returned home.

I’m with the minority (or at least it seems so) in thinking that “Johny Hendricks screwed Johny Hendricks” in his title fight with GSP. Hendricks coasted in the fifth round instead of making an emphatic statement to close the fight. Had he been more aggressive in that final frame, it could’ve possibly swayed the judges in his favor. Yet, it’s a funny thing to lose by split decision in the UFC. It tends to motivate a fighter for their next contest.

Everyone can say to not leave it in the hands of the judges, but it means nothing until you’ve been on the losing end of a controversial call. Hendricks wants to avoid facing that same nightmare, and he should be looking to put away Lawler early and often.

The problem for both men is that they’re facing a fellow southpaw. If you think it’s odd for an orthodox fighter to face a southpaw, well, it’s similar when two lefties square off. They’re simply not accustomed to seeing strikes come from those angles.

Lawler is the more diverse, dynamic striker of the two. The two fighters can be considered 1a and 1b in terms of punching power at 170 pounds, so it may be a simple case where the man who lands first gets the “W.”

Although the UF—and most fans—would like to see this end by crazy knockout, I believe Hendricks will come into this fight looking to utilize his wrestling game more. Lawler’s ground game has improved tremendously, but Hendricks is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in MMA today. Sure, his amateur wrestling hasn’t necessarily translated well to MMA wrestling, but if Hendricks will get the takedown if he looks for it.

This fight has the potential to end at any second, and that knowledge will keep fans on the edge of their seats. Lawler has only been knocked out once (his infamous faceplant at the hands of Nick Diaz), but that will change after this battle. Hendricks will use a combination of wrestling and strong punches from close range to take the fight by TKO.

Gardner: Kyle’s implication that Hendricks got screwed by the judges would be an understatement, but I agree with my colleague on the fact that Hendricks did it to himself in a lot of ways. Had he laid it on the line in that final round, I believe he would have swayed the judges in his favor.

I am absolutely drooling over this match-up. In many ways, Hendricks and Lawler are mirror images of each other—solid wrestlers with true one-punch knockout power. I’m in agreement with my cohort that Lawler is the more diverse striker, but the wrestling edge goes to the two-time national champion Hendricks. Not that wrestling will really come into play in this fight, however, as I fully expect these two to leave it all in the cage and slug it out like the gladiators that they are. This contest has the potential to be a “Fight of the Year” candidate.

Traditional wrestling will not be a major factor in this affair, but the same can’t be said of the clinch game and dirty boxing. That is where Hendricks will win this battle. His physical strength and devastating short punching power will be enough to earn him the UFC title he so badly wants, and he will win it in impressive fashion. Hendricks by third-round knockout.

DeRose: Sure, Hendricks got screwed on the scorecards, but ultimately it is his fault for coasting in the fifth and leaving this fight in the hands of the judges. Scoring in combat sports is always going to be a problem, and hopefully Hendricks has dealt with it and moved on.

Hendricks is a great fighter with potent striking skills that would knock off any of the four presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore. His wrestling is also among the best, if not the best, in the welterweight division. When you have as many avenues of victory as Hendricks does, it’s hard to pick against him.

Lawler also has knockout power. Much like his opponent, he can take a punch as well. Lawler is another fighter with good wrestling, but can he stop the takedown of Hendricks? Furthermore, can he stop Hendricks with a one-punch knockout? I’m not fully convinced of that.

If I was ever to use the term “barn-burner,” it would be for this fight. It comes down to who wants it more and who has a better advantage. Hendricks has better wrestling, and he is more capable of landing the one-punch knockout. Fear the beard—Hendricks by TKO in the fourth.

Preliminary Card
FW: Daniel Pineda (18-10) vs. Robert Whiteford (10-2)

Gardner: To open the UFC 171 action, we get a featherweight bout between Robert Whiteford and Daniel Pineda. Both fighters are coming off losses and the loser of this fight will likely be given their walking papers, so there is a lot on the line here for both men. I’ve never been overly impressed with Pineda, and I just have a gut feeling about Whiteford in this bout. Whiteford squeaks out a split decision.

DeRose: Having watched Pineda and watching a couple of Whiteford’s bouts, the pick in this fight is clear. Pineda is 2-3 in his last five fights and is coming off a loss to Diego Brandao in a fight he could have potentially won. Pineda has experience against better competition, and he will capture the win by decision.

Symes: I will agree with Sal’s point of view and pick Pineda by virtue of his strength of schedule. With both guys going for broke, Pineda will land a clipping shot that drops Whiteford and allows Pineda to get the TKO victory.

MW: Robert “Bubba” McDaniel (21-7) vs. Sean Strickland (13-0)

Symes: Robert “Bubba” McDaniel is a guy who has been given every chance to succeed from learning under Greg Jackson’s tutelage to being an early favorite to win The Ultimate Fighter 17. McDaniel has thus far not met the expectations placed upon him, but he’ll have the chance to do so against Sean Strickland. McDaniel just lost to a better fighter in Brad Tavares, who is on a roll right now, and McDaniel will bounce back in a big way against Strickland. McDaniel via unanimous decision.

DeRose: Strickland brings in his King of the Cage middleweight championship to the UFC for his first big test in the world’s biggest MMA promotion. He is a first-round finisher who owns eight first-round victories. McDaniel certainly hasn’t met expectations by any means in the UFC thus far, and Strickland will look to take the opportunity McDaniel has pretty much failed to seize. I like Strickland’s finishing ability, and I like him for the win in the first round by TKO.

Gardner: I have to side with Sal. McDaniel is a fighter with a wealth of talent, but he crumbles under the bright lights when the pressure is on. Strickland has been a beast on the regional circuit, and this is his chance to shine. Strickland will take this opportunity and run with it, winning this fight in the first round via knockout.

FlyW: Will Campuzano (13-5) vs. Justin Scoggins (8-0)

DeRose: This is a great test for Justin Scoggins. In this fight, he draws a UFC and WEC veteran in Will Campuzano, who is a solid fighter in his own right. Scoggins, coming out of American Top Team, has some great striking skills and owns some highlight-reel knockout finishes. You could go to any of his seven finishes and be impressed. Scoggins can avoid the mat and throw one of his many different types of kicks to get a win. Scoggins by decision.

Gardner: Campuzano is 0-3 in his UFC career, and I don’t see him getting a win in this fight either. Scoggins is too dynamic and too powerful for him. Campuzano is tough enough to not get finished, but Scoggins will be able to batter him for all three rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Symes: Campuzano is one of those examples of a fighter who’s talented enough to win on the regional level, but can’t hang in the big leagues. It’s not that Campuzano is a bad fighter. He’s just not good enough to sustain a career in the Octagon. Scoggins ends this by TKO in the second.

LW: Renee Forte (8-3) vs. Francisco Trevino (11-0)

Gardner: Closing out the UFC Fight Pass portion of the preliminary card is a lightweight fight between TUF Brazil cast member Renee Forte and the undefeated Frank Trevino. Forte is coming off a knockout loss and is 1-2 in the UFC. If he loses this one, then it’s back to the Brazilian fight circuit. Trevino has yet to taste defeat in a career in which he has gone 11-0 with eight of his wins coming by finish. Trevino wins this one with a second-round TKO in his UFC debut.

Symes: I’m really not impressed with the overall quality of guys that have came into the UFC from the TUF Brazil seasons. Those editions of the reality series seem to be filled with guys who can’t hang in the UFC, and it looks like Forte will soon join that list. Trevino by TKO.

DeRose: Let’s make it three for Trevino by TKO. RJ mentioned Forte’s 1-2 mark in the UFC, but we can look even further and see that the Brazilian is just 2-3 overall in his last five fights. Forte’s win over Terry Etim wasn’t all that impressive. Trevino is undefeated and has shown some skill on the regional circuit.

WW: Alex Garcia (11-1) vs. Sean Spencer (11-2)

DeRose: Sean Spencer is riding a two-fight winning streak after dropping his UFC debut to Rafael Natal. Spencer has shown some solid boxing skills and takedown defense thus far in his career, and he will certainly need those skills against Alex Garcia, who owns 10 finishes overall. Garcia has a high ceiling and certainly has some skills just waiting to be unleashed. Garcia extends his five-fight winning streak with a TKO victory in the second round.

Symes: Garcia’s tendency to finish fights is what stands out in this pairing. If a fighter is going to rise above the prospect/prelim status, they have to finish guys at that level of competition. I’ll pick Garcia based on his finishing ability and the fact that he’s receiving excellent coaching at Tristar gym.

Gardner: Spencer has shown he is a tough competitor, but Garcia is a hungry finisher, and I like that. Garcia is going to be a beast in the welterweight division in another year or two, mark my words. Garcia wins this one by first-round TKO.

FW: Dennis Bermudez (12-3) vs. Jim Hettes (11-1)

Symes: Dennis Bermudez simply can’t catch a break with his placement on fight cards. The man is on a five-fight winning streak with one “Fight of the Night” ( and “Fight of the Year” candidate) and one “Submission of the Night” bonus to his credit. Jim Hettes will struggle to keep up with Bermudez. The former TUF finalist wins by decision.

Gardner: I have to disagree with Kyle. Bermudez is a beast who is on one hell of a hot streak, but Hettes has more weapons. Hettes wins this one via submission in the first round.

DeRose: I thought Bermudez showed a lot during his time on TUF. Here he is with a five-fight winning streak and some pretty good names sprinkled among the victims in that run. Hettes may have more weapons, but Bermudez’s wrestling will be the difference maker in this fight, without a doubt. Bermudez by decision.

Women’s BW: Jessica Andrade (10-3) vs. Raquel Pennington (4-3)

Gardner: The only women’s bout of the evening is a fight between Raquel Pennington and Jessica Andrade. Both ladies are coming off wins, and they are looking to work their way up the UFC women’s bantamweight rankings. I am going with Andrade in this fight because of her well-roundedness and her ability to finish fights. Andrade wins this in the second round by submission.

DeRose: Yeah, Andrade is the pick to make. She is the better fighter wherever this contest goes. Pennington has the better chin and can drag this fight into a slugfest, but Andrade should avoid that brawl and work her way to a decision victory.

Symes: I will agree with my colleagues in that it would appear that Andrade is the better overall fighter right now. Pennington’s toughness is without question, and she would be best served to make this into a stand-up battle. Unfortunately for Pennington, Andrade will drag her to the mat and lock in a choke. Andrade by submission.

WW: Kelvin Gastelum (7-0) vs. Rick Story (16-7)

Symes: Kelvin Gastelum has been asking to fight Rick Story for quite some time, which makes me believe he and his camp know something we don’t. Story is a fighter who can handle the lower-level type of fighter, but struggles once he faces better competition. Is Gastelum on the same level of competition as the fighters who succeed against Story? No, not yet. However, Gastelum will win, and the victory will earn him future main-card status. Gastelum by decision.

DeRose: I’m not so sure about Gastelum in this fight. Story has fought better competition before and won, so this fight comes down to who emerges as the better wrestler. Ultimately, that man will be Story, who will mix in his takedowns with some action on the feet. Story by decision.

Gardner: This is going to be a major test for Gastelum. It’s already been said more than once, but Story has fought and defeated some pretty tough competition. However, I think the youngster, Gastelum, pulls this one out. Their wrestling is going to cancel out, and the bout is going to be decided on the feet. Story has more power, but Gastelum is more refined. Gastelum will do enough to win a unanimous decision.