Twenty years ago, the world was introduced to something new. Little did those viewers know what 20 years would bring. There was the roller-coaster ride of ups and downs for the sport of mixed martial arts, from its debut to the call for a complete ban on the competition and on to the boom in popularity that came with the era of The Ultimate Fighter and stars like Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. There was also the evolution of the sport from a tournament format featuring fighters from various martial arts disciplines competing to see which discipline was superior to the current non-tournament format featuring fighters who strive to take the best from each discipline and combine it to form the perfect mix.

It could be argued that no one has done the latter to a greater extent than UFC’s long-reigning welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre. “GSP,” as he is simply known, has worked with world-class strikers, wrestlers and coaches to hone his skills. He is known for flipping the script on his opponents, attacking the weakest aspects of their games and even challenging them where they are supposedly known to have the biggest edge.

When St-Pierre steps across the threshold and into the eight-sided cage in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 16, he will embody what has come of the sport in 20 years’ time. He’s been a dominant champion, yet one who has relied on all aspects of the game to maintain a stranglehold on the belt he covets. But can he once again turn away a credible challenger, this time in the form of Johny Hendricks? Or will Hendricks’ combination of wrestling and a murderous left hand crush a chin that was once toppled by Serra, another powerful striker.

The answer to those questions comes in the evening’s main event. Meanwhile, the answer to who is next could be partially solved in one of the other contests of the evening’s main card, which features Robbie Lawler, who looks to keep his surprising run going when he meets GSP teammate Rory MacDonald.

Rounding out the pay-per-view broadcast, Josh Koscheck and Tyron Woodley seek to right the ship after recent losses and climb back up the welterweight ladder, Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen square off in the co-main event and flyweights Ali Bagautinov and Tim Elliott clash in the opening bout.

The festivities kick off at 6:45 p.m. ET with three preliminary card bouts live via Facebook stream. The action then moves to Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET for four additional prelim fights, before heading to pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET for the main card.

The MMA Corner’s Justin Fuller, Dan Kuhl and Bryan Henderson break down the entire lineup in this edition of the Round Table.

FlyW: Ali Bagautinov (11-2) vs. Tim Elliott (10-3-1)

Fuller: The flyweights have had a hard time gaining an equal footing with the fan base since the divisions inception. Some attribute it to their perceived inability to finish fights, which is why John Dodson is seen as one of the weight class’s few potential superstars. Of course, if finishes are what the fans crave, then Russian prospect Ali Bagautinov has the perfect recipe.

In 13 professional outings, Bagautinov has nine finishes and has only been defeated twice, but never himself stopped. The sambo expert is not only able to submit his opponents, but can stop them with strikes as well. He did not fail to disappoint in his Octagon debut either, scoring a third-round TKO over Marcos Vinicius.

His opponent, Tim Elliott, is no slouch, having faced more recognizable competition. Although their professional records are similar, Elliott will be making his fourth UFC appearance, making him the more experienced fighter on the big stage. Although Elliott has finished opponents in the past, he’s yet to do it in the UFC.

One of Elliott’s biggest weapons is his wrestling, which is an advantage he will likely not have against Bagautinov. I foresee the Russian star continuing his climb up the ladder and impressing us with a highlight-reel finish over the higher-ranked Elliott. You can’t always believe the hype, but there’s a reason it exists in the first place, and that’s because sometimes it turns out to be true.

Kuhl: I’m not sure if Greg Jackson is seeking out these Russian fighters or if it’s the other way around, but Bagautinov is another name on the roster of Russian up-and-comers coming out of Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque. So far, Adlan Amagov and Rustam Khabilov have remained undefeated in the promotion, and Bagautinov is right on their heels. Most of these guys are decorated martial artists with an International Master of Sports in some fighting modality, but Bagautinov is the most decorated yet, holding this designation in five different fighting styles in stand-up and ground fighting. He also won the gold medal in the World Combat Sambo Championships last year, is a Russian BJJ champion and has won several other competitions both prior to and after starting his pro MMA career. Needless to say, this guy can fight his ass off.

Elliott may not have near the pedigree that the Russian brings to the table, but he is a Midwestern mixed martial artist with a wrestling background, and he is a tough, tough kid. His only loss in the last four years and 11 fights was to former No. 1 UFC flyweight contender John Dodson, and that was by decision. Elliott has a great camp at Grindhouse MMA and brings a great training background into the Octagon. But, will it be enough to take out the Russian?

Probably not. I really like Elliott and what he brings to the table, but Bagautinov is an expert in just about every nook and cranny of fighting. He is a complete beast and has an unusual number of flyweight stoppages for a reason. I have Bagautinov taking this one by first-round TKO.

Henderson: I have to disagree with Justin’s assessment of Bagautinov’s UFC debut. He did score the third-round finish, but Vinicius was sputtering by that point. The larger Brazilian was arguably ahead on the scorecards and was the one scoring the takedowns earlier in the fight. In other words, Bagautinov was slightly disappointing in his first outing. However, he was fighting a former featherweight who enjoyed a noticeable size edge over the Russian. Bagautinov will be tasked with something completely different against Elliott.

Bagautinov will still give up three inches in height and an inch and a half in reach, but that’s significantly less, especially in terms of reach, than what he had to overcome against Vinicius. Elliott will have to rely more on wrestling skill, whereas Vinicius could just use size to bully Bagautinov.

Bagautinov’s striking and his sambo background form a great mix. The Russian should be able to score with takedowns, but he needs to prove he can do it against a top-tier opponent who isn’t completely gassed. Elliott fits that profile and has the wrestling background to stifle Bagautinov’s attack. Elliott can push the pace more than Vinicius without tiring, and his wrestling pedigree could create a headache for Bagautinov.

Elliott, in his UFC debut, wasn’t finished by Dodson, one of the UFC flyweight division’s most proven finishers. I don’t see Bagautinov succeeding where Dodson failed. That turns this into a grinding fight. Elliott has a reach advantage, and he’ll have to use it to set up takedowns or back Bagautinov into the cage and create clinch opportunities. Bagautinov has high potential as a counter-striker, so Elliott will have to be wary of getting caught as he presses forward.

Although Bagautinov’s decorated combat sports background makes him a threat to Elliott in every aspect of this fight, Elliott has a cage savvy that impresses me. After Bagautinov’s slow start against Vinicius, I’m hesitant to give the Russian the nod. If Elliott sticks to a conservative game plan and doesn’t leave his chin exposed or get careless on the mat, he can come away with the decision win.

WW: Josh Koscheck (17-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-2)

Kuhl: I’m not really sure where the UFC is going with these main card match-ups that fall into the “fight for your job” category, but this could very well be one of those fights. Maybe the promotion hopes that fireworks will fly when guys know their jobs are on the line, and that could very well be the case when Josh Koscheck and Tyron Woodley meet on Saturday night.

Koscheck is coming into the Octagon off back-to-back losses to Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, both of whom are fighting the same night. In his last five fights, he’s 2-3 and a loss at UFC 167 could surely put him at gatekeeper status, at best. Woodley is entering the cage at 1-2 in his last three fights, and the guys who merged over with Strikeforce have yet to make it in the UFC with back-to-back losses.

From a match-up standpoint, both men are NCAA Division I All-American wrestlers, hold a nice mix of wins by any of the three methods, and have the ability to fight their hearts out for three full rounds. The biggest differentiator is their respective experience levels.

Koscheck has faced the best welterweights in the world on multiple occasions. The list of world-class fighters that he has faced is so long, just scratching the surface would include GSP, Hendricks and Matt Hughes. Woodley has faced some quality opponents, with notable wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Paul Daley, but the two best guys he’s fought, Nate Marquardt and Jake Shields, beat him by knockout and split decision, respectively. The Shields decision was controversial, but Woodley was unable to finish the former Strikeforce champ.

All the signs point to Koscheck taking this one by out-pointing Woodley on his way to a decision victory.

Henderson: In this case, I think star power overrules fight records in the UFC’s estimation of what makes for a main-card pay-per-view fight. Koscheck might be on a rocky road over his last five outings, but the experience that Dan highlighted is certainly a factor in the TUF alum’s inclusion here. As for Woodley, this is a guy with a mixed bag of skills that can sometimes result in slick submissions or knockouts, as he displayed in the early part of his Strikeforce career and in his lone UFC win to date, in which he steamrolled through Jay Hieron via a 36-second knockout.

In some ways, the 31-year-old Woodley is like a younger Koscheck, but with more dimensions to his game. Whereas Koscheck entered TUF as a wrestler and then developed a striking game, Woodley entered the sport as a wrestler with a high level of submission acumen and has rounded out his skill set with explosive striking. The problem for Woodley isn’t one of less experience than his adversary. No, it’s more a matter of how he’s fared on his way to the big show.

Woodley narrowly escaped bouts with Nathan Coy and Jordan Mein with split decision wins under the Strikeforce banner. He wasn’t so lucky in the split verdict against Shields. He can be a highlight-reel fighter on some occasions, but on other occasions, he just looks flat.

Koscheck may be 2-3 over his last five, but those three losses came against the current champ, the current No. 1 contender and the suddenly surging Robbie Lawler. In fact, to find a time where Koscheck lost to a fighter well outside the top 10, one has to go all the way back to 2005 and Drew Fickett in the fifth fight of Koscheck’s career.

Koscheck’s chin has proven weak on a couple of occasions, and that makes the power striking of Woodley the biggest factor in this fight. If Koscheck can avoid getting rocked, he has the ability to wear Woodley down over the course of the fight. I’m going to echo Dan in saying that this turns out to be a grinding decision win for Koscheck.

Fuller: Woodley has shown moments of greatness in the past, but his inconsistency to deliver is what has kept him from being seen as a serious threat to the division. He has the talent and the skill set, but he just needs to string together a couple wins in the UFC and the drums will start banging to a different beat. The win over Hieron definitely put him back on the radar, but he’s going to need a win over someone more recognizable to not only keep getting big fights, but to potentially keep his job. Luckily for him, Koscheck fits the bill.

Koscheck, due to his star power and status as a TUF 1 alum, may not necessarily be fighting for his job, but seeing as how this is the first time in his career where he’s suffered back-to-back losses, the pressure is definitely on to perform. He has been knocked out in the past, making his chin questionable, but he’s also gone the distance with heavy hitters like Hendricks and Daley, so he also knows how to avoid damage when need be.

While it’s not clear who will have the wrestling advantage in this bout, I’d have to give it to Koscheck because he’s not only the more experienced fighter, but he’s also faced more top-level wrestlers than Woodley has over his career. This not only makes his experience that much more meaningful, but it also may just be the edge needed to come out on top of this one.

It’s possible Koscheck will look to land that big looping right hand and make a big statement about his significance and status as a top-10-worthy fighter, but considering what’s at stake for this fight and how dangerous a guy Woodley truly is, I anticipate him to try to grind this one out for three rounds and win by decision. But I’m going to officially call it s split decision win for Koscheck.

WW: Robbie Lawler (21-9) vs. Rory MacDonald (15-1)

Henderson: Nobody could have foreseen Robbie Lawler’s recent run in the UFC. After a 3-5 mark as a middleweight under the Strikeforce banner, it could even be said that he wasn’t deserving of a spot on the UFC roster. But Lawler, win or lose, is always a threat to create a highlight-reel moment, and so the UFC opened its arms to him. In a return to the welterweight division, he repaid the promotion with impressive finishes of Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker. Now, he tries to play spoiler to Rory MacDonald, a welterweight even further up the 170-pound division’s ladder of contenders.

MacDonald has only lost once in 16 career appearances, including seven UFC outings. That loss came against former UFC interim champion Carlos Condit in what was a dramatic comeback for Condit. The 24-year-old Canadian submitted Mike Guymon in his UFC debut and has scored TKO victories over Che Mills and Mike Pyle. The remainder of his UFC fights have gone the distance, with MacDonald edging Nate Diaz, B.J. Penn and Jake Ellenberger on the scorecards.

Lawler is the type of fighter who is either going to get dominated and lose or get dominated and still win. That’s because he has one lethal asset—knockout power—that can change the momentum of any fight in the blink of an eye. He used it to score a “Knockout of the Year” in a 2010 comeback win over Melvin Manhoef, and he has used it to pick up two wins since returning to the UFC. If he cannot connect, however, he’s going to be at the mercy of MacDonald’s clinch, wrestling and grappling attack.

Barring the always-possible knockout bomb from Lawler, MacDonald should find his hand raised at the end of this fight. He’ll find a way to get Lawler to the ground and either submit him or dominate him en route to an eventual decision win.

Fuller: MacDonald’s stock seems to rise higher and higher each time he’s booked for another fight, and deservingly so. He’s 15-1 in pro MMA bouts and 6-1 in the UFC with five straight wins. But MacDonald is young and still developing as a fighter. He’s able to finish in convincing fashion against game opponents like Mills and Pyle, but he seems to disappoint in the big fights somehow, even when he wins.

It could be that he’s lacking the killer instinct to finish, like in the Penn fight, or it could be that he gets more focused on what his opponent is capable of rather than on what he’s capable of and produces a one-sided snoozer like we got when he fought Ellenberger. Either way, both of these are indicators of someone who is more focused on the “W” than on finishing, and it’s only a matter of time before a guy like that runs into a guy who’s not afraid to engage, no matter the risk.

Lawler has not just looked good at welterweight, he’s looked absolutely phenomenal. Despite his less-than-stellar record, the guy has been given a second chance at life and he’s fighting like it. He may be the older fighter in this bout, but, at 31, he’s not old by any means. When you consider the fact that there’s only a handful of guys currently on the UFC roster who made their Octagon debuts before Lawler, it’s safe to say that experience is on his side going into this fight.

Without a doubt, the one thing Lawler has on his side is killer instinct, and, unlike Bryan, I don’t see MacDonald being able to control this fight on the ground to grind out the win or work a submission. I think Lawler’s time spent at middleweight gave him the experience necessary to compete at a higher level in his natural weight class of 170 pounds, despite the mixed success at 185.

Recently, Lawler hasn’t done well in fights that go the distance, and he’s been stopped via submission, but then again those three-round losses were to much larger opponents than MacDonald, and those submission losses were to far better jiu-jitsu practitioners such as Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jake Shields. That’s why I see Lawler being able to stuff or recover from the takedown, and if he doesn’t get the early knockout, he’ll get it in the second or third round, because he’s going to keep MacDonald on his heels the whole fight.

Kuhl: I flip-flop on MacDonald a lot. I see his goofy outfits and weird attitude and tend to think he’s just a fluke. Then, I see his record and watch tape. This guy is a freak of nature, much like another Tristar guy that I thought was fluky back in 2005. MacDonald is the real deal, and he is not small compared to Lawler. He has a one-inch height advantage and a 2.5-inch reach advantage. Lawler may have won a couple in a row, but he’s no Vitor Belfort.

At 24 years old, MacDonald is being groomed by the current welterweight champ to be his successor and keep that belt in Canada. He’s already taken out a couple of top-10 guys and Hall of Famers, and he’s just getting started.

Lawler is going to have a hell of a time getting inside on his opponent, and if he does, he’s either gonna catch heat or he’s going to the mat to get submitted. I may flip-flop on MacDonald, but I firmly believe Lawler’s resurgence is about to come to a screeching halt.

I’m going with Bryan and calling this one for MacDonald by submission.

LHW: Rashad Evans (18-3-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-13-1)

Kuhl: What originally seemed to be a big joke, with Chael Sonnen moving up to 205 pounds, is now churning out some intriguing match-ups. Nobody thought the biggest mouth in the biz would have anything to offer Jon Jones, but after Vitor Belfort almost submitted the champ seven months prior, there was this little inkling in the back of peoples’ heads that Sonnen might have had a chance. Well, that was not the case, but what Sonnen did to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in August was very much real. He submitted the former champ in the first round.

Rashad Evans brings a similar skill set to the Octagon, but is much better with striking and submissions than Sonnen. Two and a half years ago, Evans was right there. He was at the helm of a title shot and had a very real chance of winning the belt that Jones now dons. He was coming in as a NCAA Division I wrestler, with black belts in BJJ and Greg Jackson’s patented gaidojutsu. He is a winner from season two of The Ultimate Fighter and is a former UFC light heavyweight champ. Before he knew it, he got sidelined with injury, and his training partner, Jones, swept in and took the belt. His reality went sideways fast, and after earning that title shot, he lost back-to-back matches to Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, before pulling off a split decision over an aging Dan Henderson. The point of all of this is that Evans has not been the same since his camp at Jackson’s got weird and he left. Sonnen’s story is a bit different.

In Sonnen, we have a NCAA Division I wrestler who was very talented and well thought of on the WEC circuit. He quickly became the loudest talker in the business once he moved to the UFC. The unofficial former WEC middleweight champ has won every fight that he has gotten without his mouth, but the three title fights that he talked his way into resulted in a loss.

Sonnen and Evans have the same problem, head trash. Both have failed in the face of great adversity, yet have no problem performing when the pressure is much lower. Well, in a great match-up for the fans, the pressure couldn’t be lower. Even with a win, Evans is looking at probably another fight before he gets another shot at the title, and Sonnen is supposedly making the move back down to middleweight, so this fight doesn’t mean a lot to him in regards to title contention.

I see both men coming out, pressing hard and taking the fight to the other. Evans will win in the stand-up game, Sonnen will out-wrestle him, and everyone knows that Sonnen’s biggest weakness is submission defense. I have Evans outworking Sonnen for three rounds on his way to a unanimous decision.

Fuller: What makes this match-up so interesting is not only Sonnen’s sudden rise in the light heavyweight rankings, but also Evans’ lackluster performances as of late. He squeaked past Henderson and was upset by “Lil Nog” in a forgettable performance. Meanwhile, Sonnen goes on to talk his way into a main-event fight opposite former light heavyweight champ Shogun Rua and doesn’t fail to impress. So win, lose or draw, where do we go from here?

Neither man is at risk of losing their job. Sonnen already has his next fight booked and Evans is still one of the UFC’s top draws, right alongside Sonnen. But if either man wants a title shot at any division, then they better perform impressively come Saturday night. Evans has hinted at the idea of dropping to middleweight, and no one doubts that Sonnen is an instant top-five fighter if he goes back to 185 pounds. But if Evans loses, then few people will care what weight he decides to fight at next. Of course, Sonnen could lose, go on to fight Wanderlei Silva, and then make the move back to middleweight and still be seen as a threat to the top fighters in the division.

I’m not sure if Sonnen will necessarily have the wrestling advantage and be able to score the takedown, as he’ll be the smaller fighter, but I am sure he’ll be able to stop any of Evans’ takedowns. Evans should have the advantage in the stand-up, but the way he’s performed lately indicates he may not have the same swagger and confidence in his hands like he did when he knocked out Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin in 2008. But then again, as Dan pointed out, with the pressure not being as high for this fight, we could see a more comfortable and effective Evans.

If Sonnen can’t get the takedown early on, then he’s still smart and effective enough to avoid Evans’ attacks in the stand-up. I see Sonnen utilizing his wrestling to work the clinch and using his dirty boxing and shot inside the pocket to do damage. Evans never responds too well when he takes big shots and isn’t the aggressor, so I see him being rattled by the onslaught and unable to effectively counter. This will cause him to be more standoffish and allow Sonnen to win by unanimous decision by continuing the same attack for two more rounds.

Henderson: The last two performances from Evans have left a lot to be desired. If we were talking about the Evans who entered into a title contest versus Jon Jones, I’d say Sonnen has no chance. But we’re not. We’re talking about an Evans who can’t seem to truly get his offense going and doesn’t appear to have the same dynamic striking that led him to the title. The only man Evans has finished since dropping the belt is Tito Ortiz, and that’s hardly a great accomplishment.

Sonnen’s submission win over Rua was impressive, but he’s hardly turning into a submission ace. His game plan will focus on his wrestling, an aspect of his game that he has used to great effectiveness throughout his career. Evans is going to want to stay at range and strike with Sonnen, but the outspoken Sonnen will stay in his face with takedowns and clinch work.

The one thing Evans can’t do is to allow Sonnen to dictate this fight. Sonnen’s recent losses have come via TKO against Jones and Silva, both of whom turned up the dial on their offense and overwhelmed Sonnen with strikes. Evans is capable of a similar strategy if he can keep some distance and throw punches. If Evans can’t do this, and I don’t think he will, then Sonnen is going to slowly grind away at him en route to a decision win.

WW Championship: Georges St-Pierre (24-2) vs. Johny Hendricks (15-1)

Fuller: On Saturday night, Georges St-Pierre looks to make his ninth consecutive title defense of the UFC welterweight championship. Some of the previous eight contenders were seen at the time as legitimate threats to his strap—fighters like Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves. There were others who were questionable choices and were maybe the best the UFC had to offer at the time, such as Dan Hardy and Josh Koscheck. Then there were the x-factor opponents like Carlos Condit and Jake Shields, and we weren’t exactly sure how the fight was going to play out until it started. And then it played out like almost every other fight, with GSP getting his hand raised after five rounds.

Even with such a consistent outcome and a murderer’s row of victims behind him, I can honestly say I have never been more excited for a GSP fight than I am for this one. Johny Hendricks is without a doubt the No. 1 contender. He has the power, wrestling, experience and killer instinct to make short work of the champ, but then again, it’s been over six years since anyone defeated GSP and nearly a decade ago when he suffered his first and only other loss at the hands of then-champ Matt Hughes. But as we learned at UFC 162 with Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, every reign must inevitably come to an end.

This will be no walk in the park for either fighter, nor will it be a boring affair. These two men have touted their superior wrestling skills, which means that even if one is more dominant in the takedown, it is unlikely the other will be unable to stand back up and keep the fight exciting. Hendricks has the power to end the night with a single punch, but GSP has demonstrated a crisp boxing game in the past, like when he fractured Koscheck’s orbital bones with five rounds of jabs.

Although Hendricks has defeated three of those eight previous title contenders, he also seems to fade when fights go the distance, and he’s never been in a five-round affair. This brings into question his cardo, but the issue isn’t cardio, it’s his pace. He alway looks to keep the fights intense and is always looking for a finish. When you fight that way, your body is going to start slowing down later in the fight, regardless of your cardio training.

This presents both a problem and an opportunity for GSP, who is good about keeping his composure during long battles, but also has to deal with the challenge of an opponent who will press the attack the whole time and isn’t afraid of the takedown or getting hit, and Hendricks can take some big hits, too, as we learned in the Condit fight.

As hard as this fight is to call, I’m going to say it will end early and in a big way for Hendricks. It could likely end up being a back-and-forth with GSP getting the nod, but something tells me not this time. We will see a new UFC welterweight champion on Saturday night.

Henderson: Could we see a new champ by the end of the night? It all depends on whether Hendricks can connect with that big left hand. Otherwise, I’m not so sure. I certainly don’t share the confidence of my colleague in that regard.

Hendricks has had a strong UFC run, but it’s his shortcomings that give me pause when considering his chances at victory on Saturday night. Yes, he dominated Condit, and, yes, he has scored some very impressive knockouts. However, look at the trend in his fights. He worked to split decisions over wrestlers Koscheck and Mike Pierce. He eked out a majority decision over T.J. Grant, a skilled fighter, but one who had to drop to 155 pounds to find true success.

Hendricks has such a huge reputation for the left hand, but what many forget is that he hasn’t dominated the competition to the utmost. If just a couple of those judges had leaned the other way, Hendricks wouldn’t even be in this position right now. I’m not saying he doesn’t belong here, but he sure has cut it close with arriving at this destination.

That’s why I see St-Pierre emerging with yet another victory. The champ has translated wrestling to MMA in a way that no other man has, plus he has a knack for dissecting his opponents and coming up with the perfect game plan. It’s a guarantee that GSP has watched the Grant, Koscheck and Pierce fights. Ditto for the lone loss Hendricks suffered to Rick Story.

St-Pierre knows what it’s like to lose when he gets rocked, but that loss to Serra also provided GSP with a sense of caution. He’ll make his first priority staying out of range of Hendricks’ left hand. As long as he does that, he’ll out-wrestle and out-box Hendricks en route to a unanimous decision.

Kuhl: Having analyzed this fight already, I’m going to summarize this one, short and sweet. GSP has the advantage in experience, speed, lateral movement, MMA-centric wrestling, striking with knees and feet, and submission grappling. He has fought tougher opponents throughout his career, he’s faster getting in and out of the pocket, he has higher percentages of takedowns landed and takedowns defended, and, with black belts in so many fighting modalities, he has a much larger quiver with more creative arrows. \Hendricks has a solid traditional wrestling background and heavy hands.

Hendricks will have better stamina in this fight than in the past, but to Justin’s point, if he keeps his usual pace, five rounds will be a challenge, which is where GSP lives these days. Also, to address the Anderson Silva comparison, Silva got his usual cocky BS going, which GSP never does, and I’m still not convinced that Weidman deserves that strap, just as I don’t think Hendricks will be deserving either. That being said, I’m a huge sports fan and am a “scoreboard” purist, and the scoreboard doesn’t lie, so Weidman can have his day, but Hendricks will not be so lucky. Like Anderson Silva, GSP transcends the rest of the herd, and it’s the fighter himself that creates a unique symbiotic relationship of training, skill and intangibles. Hendricks, in my eyes, like Weidman, is another wrestler with heavy hands and some decent submission skills. He’s your prototypical American fighter.

GSP is going to stay out of Hendricks’ wheelhouse, moving in and out of his range, frustrating the challenger for five rounds and keeping the strap in Canada. GSP by unanimous decision.

Preliminary Card
LHW: Cody Donovan (8-3) vs. Gian Villante (10-4)

Henderson: The fight between Gian Villante and Cody Donovan could determine who continues to collect a paycheck and who hits the unemployment line. Both men dropped their last fight to Ovince St. Preux, though Donovan did so in much more convincing fashion when he fell victim to a first-round knockout. Neither man is headed to a future as a title contender, but Donovan has the more dynamic game. Yes, he was knocked out by OSP, whereas Villante only suffered a majority decision loss, but Villante’s loss was ugly. The wrestler kept his hands low and appeared gassed as the fight went on. Donovan, despite the loss, demonstrated good power and an aggressive ground game in his Octagon debut. Villante will need to test Donovan’s iffy chin, but if he can’t connect, it’ll be Donovan who scores a TKO or outworks Villante for the decision.

Kuhl: Donovan is a BJJ black belt under his good friend, Nate Marquardt, and is a tough fighter. His loss to OSP was something of a fluke, as Donovan was dominating until OSP flipped him over and knocked him out on the ground. It was a freak occurrence, to say the least. Villante has a solid wrestling background, having attended Hofstra with current champ Chris Weidman, who is also an MMA teammate, but Donovan is just a tougher, more talented, better-trained fighter. I’m going with Bryan on this one. Donovan by TKO.

Fuller: I’m going to agree with Dan here and say that Donovan’s loss to OSP was a setback, and we have yet to see his full potential. Nine times out of 10, Donovan wins that fight. Villante, on the other hand, has shown us all he has to offer. He was around Strikeforce for a while, and his biggest win there was over an undersized Trevor Smith. Not sure if the loser here gets their walking papers or not, as both guys don’t exactly break the bank on payroll, but if the fight is boring, then anything can happen. So, I guess it’s a good thing I’m going to also call this one for Donovan by TKO, in highlight-reel fashion.

BW: Sergio Pettis (9-0) vs. Will Campuzano (13-4)

Fuller: There’s little I remember about Will Campuzano’s last WEC/UFC run and even less I know about Sergio Pettis, other than the fact that he has a famous last name. Whatever Campuzano did during his time away from the UFC seems to have worked, as he racked up five straight wins with three stoppages. As for Pettis, the reason for the hype behind his debut has just as much to do with his record as it does with his brother being the lightweight champion. He’s undefeated at 9-0 with six stoppages, and he seems to be a legitimate threat to both the bantamweight and flyweight division. It remains to be seen if Pettis, at 20 years old and largely untested against established fighters, has the same championship material as his brother. This one is hard to call, and I’m not sold on if the hype is worth buying or not, so I’m going to give it to Campuzano by knockout or TKO in the third, simply because he’s a member of Team Alpha Male and they seem to have a penchant for helping good fighters get better.

Kuhl: I’ll help Justin out a bit here. Campuzano has had a lackluster career against any opponents that have ever mattered, and Pettis is a bad mamma-jamma, who fights out of Roufusport with not only his brother, but also Ben Askren, Erik Koch, Rick Glenn and a whole host of top-tier coaches, including Duke Roufus. Pettis can fight on the ground and on his feet, and he won the RFA flyweight championship with a 51-second knockout. Pettis is the real deal and his UFC debut has been long anticipated. Frankly, Campuzano is little more than a stepping stone, and I see Pettis taking this one handily with a first-round submission.

Henderson: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Campuzano has had a lackluster career against any opponents that have ever mattered. That would apply to his bantamweight run. He earned his way back to the UFC with the help of a move to flyweight and a streak that saw him beat Joshua Sampo and win the Legacy flyweight title. He then moved back to bantamweight and eked out a split decision over Dream veteran Hideo Tokoro. The frustrating aspect of this match-up is that it feels like it should take place at 125 pounds, not 135. At the smaller weight class, I’d give Campuzano a much better set of odds. At bantamweight, though, Campuzano just doesn’t have the track record to support his chances for a victory. Pettis takes this via submission.

WW: Jason High (17-4) vs. Anthony Lapsley (22-5)

Kuhl: Anthony Lapsley is a promotional newcomer and Jason High is entering the Octagon for only the third time. That’s pretty amazing for two guys that combine for nearly 50 pro fights. High is a NCAA Division I wrestler out of Nebraska, and Lapsley was a high school state champ. High is 32 years old and Lapsley is 33, and between the two of them, they have appeared in Strikeforce, Bellator, Dream, Affliction, Titan and countless other large promotions. Both men have the majority of their wins by submission, but I’m going with High on this one for experience alone. He has been in the Octagon, Lapsley may be looking at some jitters, and High has the superior camp. High will take this one by a close decision in a technical ground battle.

Henderson: Both of these men have lengthy resumes, but it’s High who impresses me more. He’s seen action against a consistently higher level of competition over the last four years than Lapsley has seen at any point in his career, and he has emerged with a 10-4 mark in that span. High is the better wrestler and has the deeper set of experience. The other thing I like about High is his more balanced results when it comes to his method for victory and the fact that he has only been submitted once in his entire career, whereas Lapsley wins by submission but loses via submission as well. High might indeed have to settle for a close decision, but there’s a good chance that he could score the submission win instead.

Fuller: High may be on his second tour in the UFC, but he had a good run against legitimate opposition in between stints, which included three straight under the Strikeforce banner. Lapsley has had less recognizable success, having come up short in a couple of bigger fights. It’s undoubtable that High is the favorite to win this, but there’s a reason the UFC brought in Lapsley. Clearly the promotion likes what it has seen, so I’m going to pick the underdog, Lapsley, in this one by second-round submission.

BW: Edwin Figueroa (9-3) vs. Erik Perez (13-5)

Henderson: It’s somewhat surprising to see Edwin Figueroa still on the UFC’s roster despite a 2-3 run with the promotion and a current two-fight skid. He could put on an exciting fight versus Erik Perez, but Perez is doing well and should be able to use this as a rebound fight after his split decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki. Perez has never been knocked out and Figueroa has never been submitted, so look for this one to go the distance in entertaining fashion. Perez will take the judges’ nods.

Fuller: Unlike Bryan, I’m not too surprised Figueroa is still around, if for no other reason than because he’s cheap. When you cut guys like Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami, you’re also cutting six-figure purses from your budget, but with Figueroa, you’re only out 10 grand if he loses, 20 if he wins. That’s not to say he’s not at risk of losing his job with a loss, but the fighters with smaller paydays seem to be getting more second chances than the established veterans are as UFC President Dana White continues to thin the herd. Perez is probably more secure, seeing as how he’s one of the Mexican nationals on the payroll and the UFC is trying to break into that market. Since I’m calling this one for Perez via unanimous decision anyway, the argument is pointless. Figueroa will probably get his walking papers, while Perez lands a big-name fight with the win.

Kuhl: Perez won his first three UFC fights by stoppage before dropping a split decision to a top 15-ranked bantamweight in Mizugaki a few months ago. He is a great up-and-comer with a deep arsenal of finishes. One of Figueroa’s two wins was by split decision in a fight that wasn’t that close, but Alex Caceres was docked two points for groin shots. Perez is a finisher and Figueroa was recently finished. I have Perez taking this one by TKO.

WW: Brian Ebersole (50-15-1) vs. Rick Story (15-7)

Kuhl: Any mildly educated fan of the sport knows that Rick Story is a UFC vet. He is a tough fighter who has only been stopped once in his career, which was a submission at the hands of fourth-degree BJJ black belt Demian Maia. Not a lot of people know that even though this will only be his sixth fight under the UFC banner, Brian Ebersole has been in 67 pro MMA fights, spanning nearly 14 years, yet he’s still only 32 years old. Both of these guys have mostly gone to decision under the UFC banner, and there is no reason to think anything different in this bout. I’m going with the quality versus quantity on this one and taking Story on all scorecards.

Fuller: Story is a game opponent who’s been around the Octagon-shaped block, to say the least. He had a great run a couple years back, but hasn’t been able to return to form. Ebersole may not have the same amount of UFC cage time as Story, but he wasn’t exactly just fighting cans his whole career beforehand either. Ebersole was on a good run before his split decision loss to James Head, and I think that was just a bump in the road. We’ll see him do much better in the future. However, I don’t think that future will start with Story. Like Dan, I see the UFC veteran besting the MMA veteran on his way to a back-and-forth decision victory.

Henderson: Story continues the theme of fighters on this card who have hit rough patches in their UFC careers. The Brave Legion fighter is just 2-4 over his last six, with his only wins coming against Quinn Mulhern and Brock Jardine. There may have been a time when Story beat the likes of Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves, but that seems like a distant memory now. In Ebersole, Story is fighting a veteran who also tends to employ an unorthodox style of striking and likes to play mind games. Ebersole is a man who went into the fourth round with Hector Lombard just as Lombard was a few fights from entering Bellator. He’s also a man who has only suffered two losses since May 2007. It’s going to be a nailbiter of a decision, but I’ll go against the grain and say the scorecards will go in Ebersole’s favor.

MW: Ed Herman (21-9) vs. Thales Leites (21-4)

Fuller: The UFC doesn’t employ many journeyman-level fighters unless they can put on exciting fights, and that’s exactly where Ed Herman comes in. Of course, the promotion doesn’t bring back many fighters it cuts either, and it took one-time middleweight title challenger Thales Leites seven fights and four years to work his way back into the UFC. Between Herman’s wrestling and Leites’ jiu-jitsu, it’ll be interesting to see who tries to take it to the ground first and what happens. Of course, if Herman can keep it standing, I see him being able to win on the feet, but not able to land the big shot. Herman via unanimous decision.

Henderson: Leites earned his way back to the UFC with a run that included wins over Dean Lister, Matt Horwich (who also handed him a loss earlier in that stretch), Jesse Taylor, Tor Troeng and Jeremy Horn. Herman has never really impressed me, and although he is skilled on the mat, he has also suffered six of his losses there. Leites has a lot of momentum and the superior ground game, which will lead him to a submission win by the midway point of this contest.

Kuhl: Herman might have a wrestling background, but he, like Leites, also has a black belt in BJJ and is a submission specialist. The thing I like about Herman is that he’s also a leave-it-all-on-the-table type of fighter. He brings the fight to his opponent every time, and his only submission losses in the last six years are to Demian Maia and freaking Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, both highly decorated Abu Dhabi gold medalists. Leites beat Horn and Lister by decision? That means nothing when he’s facing the fiery Herman. Herman also has a much broader arsenal of submissions, whereas Leites spends a lot of time in triangle world. Herman is going to bring the heat up top, Leites is going to take him down, and Herman will win by submission.

LW: Donald Cerrone (20-6) vs. Evan Dunham (14-4)

Henderson: Donald Cerrone has already suggested that he’ll head to featherweight, which takes some of the spark out of what could be his final lightweight encounter, in which he’ll face Evan Dunham. Dunham had a good stretch early in his UFC career, but has been inconsistent lately. Cerrone hasn’t exactly been dependable for the win either, but he’s still only losing to top contenders. After Cerrone’s disappointing showing versus Rafael dos Anjos, it is possible that Dunham could come out with the win, but Cerrone should take the decision by outpointing Dunham on the feet while avoiding Dunham’s takedown attempts.

Kuhl: One of the most frustrating things about Cerrone, as Bryan pointed out, is his inconsistency. He’s probably one of the most inconsistent top guys in the sport. There are times that he comes out looking unstoppable, and there are times that he looks drab and boring. Dunham is very similar in that respect. Both of these guys are tough fighters with amazing striking and ground skills, but both have fallen victim to long, drawn-out decisions, and this fight is shaping up to be no different. Both will be overly confident and trying to make a statement, and, honestly, this could be either guy’s night. I’m also going with Cerrone to take this one by decision.

Fuller: Dunham seems to consistently find himself in fights with questionable decisions, win or lose, and Cerrone seems to consistently land big fights and always be one or two more wins away from a title shot. That said, I think regardless if Cerrone moves to featherweight or not, each guy needs an impressive win here to remain relevant at any level. The “Cowboy” has already seen his rank drop to No. 10, and it’s unlikely even with a win that Dunham will take his place. I’m going with Dunham by unanimous decision.

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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