Ronda Rousey (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)The MMA Corner Round Table: UFC 175 Preview and Predictions Kyle Symes July 2, 2014 Events, Previews, Spotlight UFC 175 is on tap, and the promotion is presenting a stacked card as usual for its Fourth of July weekend card. The main card is headlined by two title fights. The main event is a middleweight contest between reigning champion Chris Weidman and former UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. Originally scheduled for earlier this year, the fight had been pushed back following Weidman’s injury and subsequent surgery. Preceding the middleweights will be perhaps the UFC’s biggest star, Ronda Rousey, defending her UFC women’s bantamweight title against the surging Alexis Davis. Rousey remained undefeated after stopping Sara McMann by TKO at UFC 170. It marked the only time Rousey has won by anything other than an armbar. Davis, meanwhile, has won five straight, including wins over Jessica Eye and Liz Carmouche. Further down the card, Stefan Struve will make his return from a heart condition that forced “Skyscraper” to sit on the sidelines since March 2013. He takes on former The Ultimate Fighter competitor Matt Mitrione in a heavyweight feature bout. Uriah Hall looks to continue to validate the hype as he faces Thiago Santos, and Marcus Brimage will make his bantamweight debut against Russell Doane to kick off the main card. The preliminary portion of the card, which takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, will be highlighted by a bantamweight scrap between Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres and former WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber. It all starts with two preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass. The action moves to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET for the remaining preliminary bouts, then shifts to pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET for the main card. The MMA Corner’s Vince Carey, Rob Young and Kyle Symes break down the entire lineup in this edition of the Round Table. BW: Marcus Brimage (6-2) vs. Russell Doane (13-3) Young: Featherweight Marcus Brimage got blasted by promotional newcomer Conor McGregor over a year ago and hasn’t fought since. He sustained an injury in training after that fight which required surgery and an eight-month layoff before he could get back to training. Although Brimage does have some quality wins in his former weight class over Jimy Hettes and Maximo Blanco, he will not only be battling the aforementioned ring rust, but, in making his bantamweight debut, he will also face the usual challenges of being in a lower weight class—dealing with generally faster guys, not necessarily having the same speed advantage anymore, potentially unforeseen cardio issues due to the weight cut, and so on. Russell Doane looked good in his UFC debut, escaping a triangle choke attempt late in the first round only to come back in the second with a triangle of his own, choking out fellow newcomer Leandro Issa in Singapore. Doane appears to have legit knockout power in his stand-up, and his submission skills are impressive, although his aggressive style seems to open him up to submissions from his opponents. Luckily for Doane, Brimage doesn’t seem all that interested in submissions. Considering the issues Brimage has been dealing with, I’ll give the edge to Doane in this fight. The Hawaiian by first-round submission. Carey: It’s easy to forget after watching the footage of McGregor using Brimage’s face as a speed bag over and over again, but Brimage was a pretty serviceable featherweight. This drop to bantamweight could turn him into a title contender. Sure, the 135-pound weight class is deep, but Brimage always seemed a bit undersized for 145. If his punching power sticks around after the weight cut, he’s going to be very dangerous. Doane looked admittedly fantastic in his UFC debut against Issa earlier this year, but he’s going to be facing a pretty sizable step up in competition against Brimage. There’s no doubt that the young Hawaiian has a ton of talent, though, and his 11 stoppage wins in a variety of different ways prove just how versatile and dangerous he can be. Rob provided a lot of reasons to be wary of Brimage in this fight, from his long layoff to his first attempt at a drop to a new weight class, but Brimage’s punching power and takedown defense match up extremely well against Doane. “The Bama Beast” earns a lopsided 30-27 decision win by controlling the striking game. Symes: Normally a fighter having a long layoff would be a bad thing, but in this case it may be a good thing. Brimage is making his bantamweight debut, and the time off would’ve allowed him to figure out the best way to take the extra weight off. It’s always nice being able to figure out how to cut weight when there’s not the pressure of an upcoming fight weighing on your mind. Doane looked impressive in his UFC debut and has shown the ability to finish the fight during his career on the regional scene, but he is taking a step up in competition. It won’t be as big of a step as my colleagues are making it out to be, though. Brimage is a good fighter, but let’s not confuse him with a guy who was surging up the featherweight rankings. It will be interesting to see if Brimage’s knockout power carries over into the bantamweight division. However, don’t expect this fight to be fought on the feet for very long. Brimage is making his debut in a new division and is coming off a long time on the sidelines, but he’s a better fighter than Doane at this point in his career. Brimage by decision. MW: Uriah Hall (8-4) vs. Thiago Santos (9-2) Carey: Uriah Hall made a name for himself by brutally destroying a few of his fellow castmates on the road to The Ultimate Fighter 17 finals, including a spinning head-kick knockout over Adam Cella that will be played on UFC highlight reels until the end of time. However, his success on the show hasn’t completely translated into success in the Octagon, and after losing close decisions in his first two official UFC bouts, it took a first round beatdown of Chris Leben for Hall to get back on track. He’ll likely be a major favorite against Thiago Santos this weekend. Santos has gone from a career low to a career high in his two UFC fights. After getting starched and then choked unconscious in under a minute by Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira in his UFC debut, Santos came back and bulldozed an opponent of his own when he liver-kicked Ronny Markes and left him laying on the mat in under 60 seconds. With under two full minutes of actual fight time for Santos in the Octagon, it’s tough to really know how good he is, but his last fight at least proved that he’s dangerous. Since both of these guys prefer to earn their victories by knockout, I’m expecting this fight is going to remain upright. Hall has a small advantage if that’s the case. Admittedly, it’s hard to judge Santos’ striking on less than two minutes of Octagon time and his TUF run, but Hall hits like a truck and has only been finished by the current middleweight champion of the world. Considering Santos was hurt on the feet by Ferreira, who doesn’t exactly throw bombs, I have a hard time seeing him surviving against Hall. Hall is going to land something destructive and earn another highlight-reel knockout. Symes: Hall was given the right opponent to look good against in his fight with Leben. Hall isn’t a naturally “move forward and attack” type of fighter, which only feeds into the people who question his aggression. But not every fighter has to be an overly aggressive bloodthirsty animal. My colleague is right—it’s tough to figure out how good Santos is. He was thrashed by Ferreira and was able to drop Markes in under a minute. Hall fans, on the other hand, know what to expect. Hall’s going to use a tactical game plan that involves utilizing proper technique over raw athleticism. This might allow Santos to hang in the fight longer than he should, but Hall is still going to pick him apart. Hall by second-round TKO. Young: With the inconsistency of both Hall and Santos that my fellow panelists have touched upon, this match-up is really hard to call. Making Leben, of all people, quit on his stool is no small feat. Leben was known as someone whose chin was effectively a button that activated his berserk mode. On the other hand, we have Hall’s cringeworthy performance against Kelvin Gastelum. I’m going to side with Kyle and give Hall the edge based on his technique, but I’m going to predict a unanimous decision outcome, not a finish. HW: Matt Mitrione (7-3) vs. Stefan Struve (25-6) Symes: This will be Stefan Struve’s first fight since March 2013 after dealing with health issues that put his career on hold. He’ll likely enjoy a warm reception from the fans which should help give him some extra energy on fight night. Struve’s still stuck in the rut of being a middle-of-the-pack fighter despite having all the potential in the world to become something more. Everyone knows about his size and length, but he also possesses a dangerous grappling game. However, we all know by now that Struve doesn’t know how to use his reach properly and hasn’t been able to get past the hump of being an average-to-good fighter in a shallow division. The same can be said of Matt Mitrione. Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter, “Meathead” hasn’t progressed as well as he would’ve liked. He’s shown he’s capable of beating lower-tier opponents, but every time he’s stepped up in competition, the results have been horrible. The fight against Brendan Schaub was particularly bad, with Mitrione looking completely lost on the ground. Although there’s been a bit of back and forth between these two, I don’t expect either to come in overly emotional. Mitrione has demonstrated knockout power in the past, and Struve’s lack of defense at times could be his downfall in this fight. But Struve won’t play the stand-up game for too long with Mitrione. In his fight with Lavar Johnson, another fighter with a nonexistent ground game, Struve actually pulled guard to get the submission. Considering Mitrione is exactly the type of fighter Struve has feasted upon his entire UFC career, Struve can be expected to look to take this fight to the ground as soon as he’s able to. Once on the mat, Struve will secure a submission win. Young: Struve seems like he will never be able to “fight tall” at this point in his career. Luckily, he’s fighting Mitrione and may not need to. Kyle hit the nail on the head with Mitrione’s ground-game deficiency. If Struve has any kind of fight IQ left in that brain of his after Mark Hunt finished with it, he’ll get this fight to the ground and pull off a submission. I don’t mean to say that Mitrione won’t be difficult for Struve, though. The guy is a legit athlete and can get the knockout from time to time. The takedown and submission by Struve just stands as the more likely path. First-round submission for the “Skyscraper.” Carey: It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Struve to reach his full potential, but at 26 years old and coming off a health condition that has to seriously make you reevaluate your career choice, I have a feeling we’re going to see the best Struve yet on Saturday. Like Rob, I’m not trying to slight Mitrione, who’s actually a solid UFC heavyweight in his own right, but Struve has been on the verge of becoming a legit heavyweight title contender a couple of times now and I think his next push is where he finally breaks through. Mitrione is almost the definition of a middle-of-the-pack UFC fighter at this point, and although “Meathead” can likely stick around and cash a few more UFC checks before his career is out, Struve has another half-dozen years of his prime to look forward to. He should dominate this one. On the feet, Struve should be able to use his sizable reach advantage to keep Mitrione and his heavy hands away from him. The ground game obviously will belong to Struve as well, and I’d expect him to try to get the fight there and play it safe anyway. This is a heavyweight fight, so there’s always a chance that one big punch from Mitrione cancels out all of the advantages Struve has both standing and on the mat. However, I don’t see that happening. I’ll make it three for three for Struve. He picks up a quick submission win and jumps back into the heavyweight top 10. Women’s BW Championship: Ronda Rousey (9-0) vs. Alexis Davis (16-5) Carey: If one of my fellow panelists wants to pick Alexis Davis here, more power to them. As for me, I’m not picking against Ronda Rousey until she turns 40 or ends up fighting a cyborg at some point (and I’m not talking about one with the last name Justino). Outside of a sketchy minute or two against Liz Carmouche, Rousey has gone almost untested so far in her MMA career. Although Davis is certainly one of the best women to ever get into the cage with “Rowdy,” she won’t do any better than the rest of Rousey’s victims. After proving that she’s able to finish a fight with something other than an armbar her last time out against Sara McMann, Rousey has somehow become an even more daunting task for Davis to try to overcome. Davis is a very good fighter, though. Her five-fight winning streak has been solid enough to earn her a title shot in a shallow 135-pound division. Still, even though she’s showcased a warrior’s spirit and some improved skills in her recent wins over Jessica Eye and Carmouche, it’s hard to see Davis making any waves against the relentless attack that Rousey brings to the table. If “Ally-Gator” is going to win this fight, she’s going to have to use her jab and her takedown defense to keep “Rowdy” off of her long enough to try to find an opening. Rousey isn’t battle tested past the first couple of rounds, but she looks to finish so quickly that it’s hard to imagine Davis keeping her at bay long enough to force her to gas out. Unless Rousey makes a mistake on the mat and allows Davis to lock in an early submission, there’s no way the champ loses this fight. Rousey by submission. I have a feeling it will come inside of a couple minutes. Young: I agree with most of what my colleague had to say about this fight. He’s being a bit too kind to Davis, though. In my opinion, the last time Davis looked better than just okay in a fight against someone that mattered was when she finished Amanda Nunes in Strikeforce. I actually do feel that Rousey is beatable, but with the skills Davis has displayed to date in MMA, I don’t see how she could possibly be the one to top Rousey. I’ll boldly predict that Rousey armbars Davis in the very first round. Symes: Make it a clean sweep for Rousey. Until Rousey fights Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, there’s really no reason to pick against her. She’s shown she’s capable of dealing with strikers and grapplers during her run to the top. If Davis wants to have any chance at victory, then she needs to rely on her jab and footwork to keep Rousey away. The only problem with that strategy is that very few fighters are capable of “fighting tall” in MMA. I like that Rousey showed she can strike while in the clinch in her fight with McMann. It shows she’s progressing as a fighter. Davis will now have to worry about strikes from the clinch to go along with the judo throws. Don’t expect this to be a competitive affair. Look for Rousey to use her normal swarm tactic and secure another submission victory. MW Championship: Chris Weidman (11-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (21-4) Young: Champion Chris Weidman and challenger Lyoto Machida were originally slated to fight for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 173, but Weidman had to pull out due to a knee injury which required minor surgery. Damn near every fighter will tell you that they’re at 100 percent for their fight in the lead-up to it, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Something tells me that Weidman was rushed into this fight before he was 100 percent ready to go so that the UFC would have a marketable pay-per-view main event for at least one of its big weekends of the year so far. Weidman’s MMA wrestling and overall ground game is precisely what opens people up to his strikes. He’s not necessarily an elite striker, but he usually ends up making his opponents so conscious of his takedown and submission threats that striking opportunities open up as a result. Machida needs to be mindful of this. Historically, Machida has had superb takedown defense against anyone who isn’t named Jon Jones. His generally elusive style and tendency to stand outside of normal striking range while waiting for his opportunity to attack inherently makes it necessary for his opponent to work much harder for a takedown. He frustrates lesser opponents into overcommitting to an attack, like Ryan Bader did only to run into a stiff fist. Machida is a unique fighter who presents a unique challenge to anyone who faces him. Every fighter who has defeated Machida has done so in their own unique way. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua kept his distance in their first fight, battering Machida with leg kicks while still taking a measured, technical approach, always keeping his cool. Rua arguably did enough to win a decision, but the judges unfortunately disagreed. In their second fight, Rua changed up the game plan, baiting Machida into throwing a big punch and countering it, leading to a cathartic TKO win. Rua’s manager, Eduardo Alonso, described it as doing “a Machida on Machida.” Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s controversial decision victory over Machida hinged mostly on Jackson’s superior footwork, cutting off the cage and cornering Machida repeatedly, which no other fighter before or after has accomplished. Phil Davis won by getting a couple takedowns. Jon Jones, of course, is Jon Jones. The point is that there is no one way to solve the “Machida Puzzle.” Weidman just needs to come up with a path to victory that is compatible with his skill set. If there was one approach that Weidman could come close to emulating, it’d be the Phil Davis one, but with some actual offense to go with it. If Weidman’s knee is actually okay, I could see him securing some difficult takedowns on Machida and eventually submitting him in the second or third round. Symes: Excellent points made by Rob in his breakdown of this fight. The “Machida Puzzle” has been extremely difficult for opponents to figure out. His karate style allows him to attack quickly and back out before his opponent has the chance to counter. It’s also not just the fact that Machida is so quick with his strikes, he’s also extremely accurate. The Brazilian also has enjoyed staying upright for most of his career due to his takedown defense, which is among the best in the game. Even when we’ve seen fighters, such as Shogun and Davis, take him down, Machida was able to avoid facing any real danger. With all that said, Weidman is exactly the type of fighter that has the tools to solve the puzzle presented by Machida. Weidman has the grappling game to take him down and threaten him with punches and submissions. Weidman has shown that he’s a capable striker as well. That slicing elbow he used to drop Mark Munoz needs to be replayed if anyone wants to question his talents as a striker. Furthermore, Weidman has the mental capacity to avoid falling into the traps set by Machida. Whereas some fighters will be influenced by fans booing or become frustrated by Machida’s elusive style, Weidman has shown he won’t fall into those mental traps. He avoided letting Anderson Silva in his head during their contests, and if Weidman can avoid trying to rush a breakdancing Silva, he should be able to avoid becoming frustrated by Machida’s style. This fight, just as nearly every one of Machida’s fights, comes down to his opponent’s ability to cut off the cage. Machida suddenly becomes less elusive when the cage gets cut in half. Weidman’s talents, combined with the teachings of Ray Longo and Matt Serra, are enough to give Weidman the edge in this one. It won’t look pretty—it’s very hard to look good against Machida—and Weidman is coming off the injury layoff, but the American will be able to do enough to take a close decision. Carey: Both of my colleagues did a great job at breaking this one down, but Kyle made an especially great point when he brought up the patience that Weidman was able to show against Silva during his last two fights. If anyone is more dangerous than Silva while going backward, it’s Machida, and Weidman needs to be incredibly mindful of a counterattack each and every time he throws a strike. Even though stepping forward against Machida is extremely dangerous, Weidman is going to need to cut off the cage if he wants to win this fight. Like Kyle, I have faith in his coaches, Longo and Serra, to make that happen. Getting within striking distance of Machida is usually the hardest part about fighting “The Dragon,” but Weidman is smart enough and possesses decent enough footwork to make it happen. Machida is still always just one quick twitch away from landing a knockout blow, but Weidman should be able to smother him a bit and make him uncomfortable. If Weidman is able to get Machida to the mat and keep him there, he may have a chance to pull off a submission. However, I have a feeling Machida’s ability to scramble and get back to his feet is going to make the submission game a moot point here. Weidman will definitely get the fight to the floor a few times, but I doubt he keeps it there for more than a minute or two. In the end, I’m going to have to agree with Kyle and pick Weidman by decision, but don’t be surprised if the usual controversy that seems to follow Machida’s decisions pops back up here. Weidman will push forward more often, throw more shots and even mix in a takedown or two, but a few timely counters by Machida could put the champion in trouble and make the scorecards closer than many think. Preliminary Card MW: Guilherme Vasconcelos (3-1) vs. Luke Zachrich (13-3) Symes: Although the Brazilian, Guilherme Vasconcelos, only has four fights on his record, he’s faced some pretty solid competition. Luke Zachrich should enjoy a size advantage over Vasconcelos, but that won’t help him much in this fight. Vasconcelos’ ground game will be the deciding factor. He’ll put the taller fighter on the mat and claim the decision. Carey: As Kyle suggested, the key to this fight is for Vasconcelos to try to get it to the mat. Zachrich is no slouch on the ground. Zachrich earned over half of his career wins by submission, but Vasconcelos is still likely going to be the superior grappler. The Brazilian is especially dangerous when things get hectic on the mat. If they remain upright, the fight starts to lean a little more towards the American, but Vasconcelos is just explosive enough to give Zachrich fits if he remains aggressive in that department. This fight is probably going to be a lot closer than I’m making it seem, but Vasconcelos will take a decision. Young: Vasconcelos’s short record can be a bit deceiving, since the guys he has beaten all have solid records themselves. Zachrich may have lost his UFC debut to Caio Magalhaes, but Magalhaes also has a damn near impeccable record against some tough guys. I, too, expect Vasconcelos to get this fight to the ground and go for the submission, but I expect Zachrich to hold his own in that regard, at least enough to put this fight in the hands of the judges, where I see it being scored unanimously in favor of the Brazilian. MW: Kevin Casey (8-3) vs. Bubba Bush (8-2) Young: Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt Kevin Casey was terrible during his Strikeforce Challengers run. He was terrible on The Ultimate Fighter, too, but then defeated some overmatched competition under the RFA banner. Now, he will most likely take another “L” against Bubba Bush. Bush’s only real loss in his MMA career is to current UFC fighter Andrew Craig back in 2011. Seeing as Bush has a good amount of KO/TKO victories on his record, I fully expect him to establish his superiority in the stand-up game, exhibit good enough takedown defense to stop any of Casey’s takedown attempts, and get some type of stoppage win due to strikes. I’ll predict a Bush TKO in the second round after Casey has gassed out. After that, I’ll predict that Casey gets his UFC walking papers yet again, so to speak. I’m actually kind of disappointed that Robert “Bubba” McDaniel was cut by the UFC and subsequently shackled by Bellator, because I would’ve loved to see them set up a Bubba vs. Bubba match afterwards. Carey: Wow, harsh words from Rob. I’m not sure I disagree with any of them, but they were definitely harsh. Rob mentioned how Casey has been gifted a huge opportunity here after defeating some lackluster RFA competition, but Bush hasn’t exactly been fighting world-class competition either. Still, Bush has definitely earned his spot inside the Octagon with four straight stoppage victories and a middleweight title reign in Legacy FC, and he will likely extend that streak on Saturday night. Casey didn’t look to be UFC caliber the first time he stepped into the Octagon, and he hasn’t improved enough during a three-fight RFA stint to change anything. Bush by second-round TKO. Symes: Rob dropping the hammer down on Casey! As Vince pointed out, Casey didn’t look like UFC material during his first stint, and winning a few “easy” fights on the regional level isn’t enough to make me think any different this time around. I like the fact that Bush comes into this fight with four straight finishes. He’ll keep the momentum going and take this one by TKO. BW: Rob Font (10-1) vs. George Roop (15-10-1) Carey: George Roop has defied the odds and held onto his UFC roster spot for a long time now, and it’s probably time to accept that the 6-foot-1 bantamweight is legit competition for almost anyone at 135 pounds. At 32 years old, Roop is running short on chances at jumping into title contention. Now that he’s back in the win column after defeating Dustin Kimura, he needs to get a winning streak going. It won’t come easy against Rob Font, a well-rounded fighter out of Team Sityodtong, but Roop’s experience against some top-tier competition makes me think he’ll be too much for the UFC newcomer to handle. Symes: Indeed, Roop has been in the UFC for quite some time. He’s flown under the radar in his post-WEC days, but he has put together a nice run as of late, winning three out of four. Font is also on a nice roll and trains under Mark Dellagrotte. Font will be making his bantamweight debut. Despite the fact Font faces a much more seasoned fighter, he’ll pull off the upset win. Young: As with all Roop fights, I had to double-check Wikipedia to make sure he hadn’t dropped to flyweight yet. Roop is a very inconsistent fighter with a win/loss record that is almost Sam Stout-esque. He has a good stand-up game that has provided him with great stoppage wins over Chan Sung Jung, former WEC champ Brian Bowles and one time almost-title contender Josh Grispi. Font has a pretty solid record as far as regional shows go, and he has decent stand-up. Font also appears to have a knack for finding the chin of taller, rangier fighters, and Roop has been stopped via strikes a few times recently. I’m siding with Kyle here and picking Font by second-round TKO. MW: Chris Camozzi (19-7) vs. Bruno Santos (13-1) Symes: Fans over at SB Nation likely remember Bruno Santos from when he was ranked at No. 5 on Bloody Elbow’s scouting report in 2011. The hype train may have stalled a bit after he dropped his UFC debut, but it will come completely off the rails against his latest opponent, Chris Camozzi. Camozzi is riding a two-fight losing streak, but he’s good enough to take out Santos. Camozzi by decision. Young: From what I’ve seen of Santos, he seems like a jiu-jitsu guy who can’t really get the submission. He wins his fights largely by decision due to his jiu-jitsu style takedowns and positional dominance. Santos is just the type of fighter that does very badly in the UFC, and he should be a walk in the park for Camozzi. I’ll take Camozzi by decision as well. Carey: For the sake of fight fans everywhere, Camozzi better have his takedown defense up to par heading into this one. Santos isn’t a flashy fighter and he hardly ever scores a stoppage win, but he’s excellent at shutting down an opponent’s offense and making them look terrible in the process. The decision loss in his UFC debut certainly killed a lot of the hype behind the Brazilian grappler, and I don’t think he earns any back here. Camozzi may be a middle-of-the-pack middleweight, but he’s fought and defeated far better competition than Santos over the past few years. Camozzi’s takedown defense will hold up, and he’ll claim the decision. WW: Ildemar Alcantara (20-6) vs. Kenny Robertson (13-3) Carey: Ildemar Alcantara has had a solid start to his UFC career, going 3-1 inside the Octagon since making his debut early last year, but he’s going to need to string together a few victories in order to break into the mix in a crowded 170-pound division. His recent win over Albert Tumenov was a solid start, but he’s facing a seasoned Octagon veteran for the first time in his career in Kenny Robertson. This fight will show us if Iuri’s bigger brother can match his sibling’s success. Robertson’s 3-3 UFC record may not jump off the page, but the way he’s finished his fights definitely does. He’ll be looking to put Alcantara away quickly here. Robertson may be able to pull off the win if he gets this fight to the floor and can use his grappling, but Alcantara hasn’t been finished on the mat yet. It’s more likely the Brazilian survives the early storm and strikes his way to a decision. Young: Tumenov was most likely a tougher opponent for Alcantara than Robertson will be. Robertson has lost to some middle-of-the-pack guys and his only path to victory appears to be via submission. Alcantara has never been submitted in his entire pro MMA career going back to 2005. In addition, Robertson is a late replacement, filling in for an injured Santiago Ponzinibbio. The opponent change was reported on June 9, which means Robertson most likely hasn’t had the optimum amount of training time for this fight. Considering all of this, my prediction is the same as Vince’s: Alcantara outstrikes Robertson to a lopsided unanimous decision. Symes: I’ll roll with the Brazilian in this one as well. Alcantara has faced bigger guys than Robertson (he’s fought Wagner Prado and Fabio Maldonado) and that would lead me to believe he’ll have a strength advantage. If Alcantara can avoid Robertson’s constant takedown attempts, he should be able to bully around Robertson for a decision win. BW: Alex Caceres (10-5) vs. Urijah Faber (30-7) Young: Putting this fight in the prelims while Brimage/Doane and a Thiago Santos who didn’t obliterate Eric Prindle’s nether region inhabit the main card is a bit of a head scratcher. Caceres has shown a significant amount of improvement in pretty much every fight he’s been in since defeating Cole Escovedo. He has won a few fights he was not expected to win. Faber, of course, has been obliterating anyone who doesn’t train at Nova Uniao. When this match-up was announced it was met with derision across the interwebs, but Caceres has become accustomed to the underdog role and I have a feeling it’ll end up being much more competitive than expected. With the advances we’ve seen in Caceres’ ground game, I don’t see Faber pulling off a submission, and I don’t see either one of them being finished by the other guy’s strikes. There’s also the looming question of just when Father Time will finally catch up with Faber. He’s 35 years old now, and the lighter weight classes seem to be especially hard on the older guys. I’m going with the upset and picking Caceres by a very close unanimous decision. Symes: I can admire Rob going out on a limb and picking “Bruce Leeroy” against Faber. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to join him on that limb. Faber simply doesn’t lose outside of title fights, and that won’t change against Caceres. Father Time is far from catching up with Faber, who has yet to show any indication of slowing down. Even if the fight will be more competitive than most are imagining, I don’t see Caceres being better than Faber at any aspect of MMA. Faber by TKO. Carey: Caceres is a legit top-10 bantamweight, but as badly as I want to roll with Rob and pick the upset here, I’ve got to go with Faber. As Kyle pointed out, Faber really hasn’t shown any indication of slowing down. That means he’s still one of the five best bantamweights on the planet. Caceres has shown some real improvement and his craftiness on the mat could put Faber into trouble once or twice, but he’s just not ready to beat an opponent of Faber’s caliber. I’ve got the Team Alpha Male leader by third-round submission, but don’t be surprised if both guys end up going home with a bonus check at the end of the night.