* Junior Dos Santos over Roy Nelson, round two, knockout Man, do I ever want to pick Nelson in this fight. There's not much to dislike about Big Country; he's a big ol' fat guy who also just happens to be a superb MMA fighter. He can trade with anyone standing, and if the fight goes down to the ground, Nelson isn't just a BJJ black belt, but one of his top strategies is to wrestle his giant gut on top of you in a crucifix and pummel you with elbows. I love it when MMA fighters have a 'finisher,' so to speak, and Nelson's Gut Crucifix is pretty high up on the list. While it wouldn't surprise me if Nelson won, it, well, would kinda surprise me since Junior just might be the best heavyweight in the world. JDS is on a monster roll and a win here will put him in line for the next title shot against the Brock Lesnar/Cain Velasquez winner. Though, to be fair, a win for Nelson would make him the next challenger as well. It'd be great to see Nelson pull it out, but Dos Santos brings just a bit too much to the table. Did I just make a 'bring to the table' joke in a fight involving a fat guy? Yep, that happened.
* Rafael Dos Anjos over Clay Guida, decision As much as I dislike picking against Roy Nelson, I might dislike picking against Guida even more. It's hard to hate Guida, who's one of the most purely entertaining and exciting fighters in the sport. The guy has something of a lay-and-pray style, but he hides it with constant motion and activity, plus he's known to pull off the odd finish once in a while. Guida is also pretty much the definition of a gatekeeper, so this fight will tell us if Dos Anjos is a contender at LW, or is still just best known as the guy who got Popeye-kayoed by Jeremy Stephens two years ago. I think Raffy Two Angels does just enough to eke out a decision, and then goes on to fight another top LW contender like George Sotiropoulos or Evan Dunham.
* Jon Fitch over Thiago Alves, decision Controversial pick for a Jon Fitch fight, I realize. Apparently the winner of this will get the next welterweight title match once St. Pierre and Koscheck are done with the next TUF season, which doesn't make sense for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Jake Shields is now in the UFC and is a fresh title opponent. Secondly, Fitch and Alves have both been destroyed by GSP in such convincing fashion that it's hard to see what a rematch would accomplish. Alves, in fact, hasn't fought since losing to St. Pierre at UFC 100 thanks to a variety of injuries. A win over Fitch would be impressive, sure, but does it make sense for him to go title loss, win then....another title shot? Fitch has at least gotten a few (dull) wins since his loss to GSP, but still, the last time they met, Fitch had his face tenderized for five rounds. Though this is a fight between the 2nd and 3rd best WWs in the world, it doesn't seem like that interesting a fight, to be honest. Fitch's dullness has even spread to fight scenarios, as well as the fights themselves. Unfortunate. Also, Alves missed weight yet again, so I'm hesitant to even consider him a welterweight at this point. Once Fitch beats him, maybe the fat bastard will finally move up a division.
* Ricardo Almeida over Matt Hughes, decision Did someone invent a time machine and sent us all back to 2005 when we might've cared about this matchup? It's hard to see what Hughes brings to the WW division anymore, and it's not like Almeida is a young pup who can use the rub from beating a legendary name. Almeida has won three in a row, in fairness, so a win here sets him up nicely for a match against a contender in the fall. In fact, here's my scenario --- Almeida wins here, and then presuming that Jake Shields beats Martin Kampmann in October, Shields gets the next WW title fight and Almeida then battles the Alves/Fitch victor. I'd guarantee this scenario happens if Alves wins, given the aforementioned oddity of Alves getting another title shot so quickly. Would this be unfair to Jon Fitch? Probably. But he's boring. Maybe Hughes will win and then at least Fitch can console himself with facing a legend.
* Anderson Silva over Chael Sonnen, round one, murderdeathkill There's been a lot of talk about why Silva occasionally loafs around in the cage, a la his last fight against Demian Maia. Some say he's bored by the lack of competition when he fights the likes of Maia, Patrick Cote or Thales Leites, but turns it up against tougher guys (i.e. Forrest Griffin or Dan Henderson). Some say that Silva takes it easy against fellow Brazilians like Maia or Leites and was content to ride out easy decisions rather than knock them out. Others say Silva is just a douchebag who's too into his own hype and doesn't give enough of a crap about the fans to bother giving a professional showing.
Whatever Silva's reasons might be, I think we can count on him giving a focused performance on this card since Chael Sonnen has gone and pissed him off. Sonnen has been giving WWE-style interviews left and right bashing Silva (as well as everyone from Lance Armstrong to liberals) and claiming he's going to teach Silva a lesson. It's possible Silva might learn a few things about hand bones if he breaks his hand on Sonnen's face, but otherwise, Sonnen is going to be eating his words. There is really nothing that he brings to the table that Silva won't be able to counter. Sonnen will attempt takedowns and try and ground-and-pound attack that led him to a surprise win over Nate Marquardt, but Silva will be able to submit him if they spent too much time on the mat. If they spent much time standing, Sonnen is being knocked cold, simple as that. I give credit to Sonnen for trying to promote the fight as best he can, but like the sign says, don't feed the bears. Vintage Anderson Silva is showing up at UFC 117 and Sonnen is getting finished. Just look at that MMA Weekly picture at the top of the post --- Silva is wearing a pink shirt and backwards cap and still looks like a complete bad-ass. Someone call an ambulance.
Undercard picks.... * Johny Hendricks over Charlie Brenneman, decision * Stefan Struve over Christian Morecraft, round two, submission * Phil Davis over Rodney Wallace, round two, submission * Dustin Hazelett over Rick Story, round three, submission * Tim Boetsch over Todd Brown, round one, knockout * Ben Saunders over Dennis Hallman, round one, knockout