*Note: I will not be picking the Andrew Gusmao fight as I do not know anything about his opponent.
Luke Cummo v. Tamdan McCrory: Cummo is 6-5, 3-3 in the UFC, with 5 wins by stoppage and gained his fame on TUF. He is mostly a stand up fighter but is no slouch on the ground coming out of Matt Serra's camp. Tamdan is 10-1, 1-1 in the UFC, with all 10 wins by stoppage. He is also mostly a stand up fighter but is solid on the ground. This should be a good stand up battle. It will be interesting to see how Tamdan rebounds after his first loss. My bet is even though Cummo is more experienced Tamdan is more talented and will want to come back even stronger. My pick here is Tamdan by decision. Tamdan will get back on the winning track here as Cummo nears ever closer to falling out of the UFC.
Ben Saunders v. Ryan Thomas: This was supposed to feature Saunders and Jared Rollins in a match between TUF 6 competitors but Rollins got hurt and was replaced by Thomas. Saunders is 5-0-2, 1-0 in the UFC, with 4 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Thomas is 9-1 with all 9 wins by stoppage. This is his first fight in the UFC. He is mostly a ground fighter. Everyone's first time in the UFC is a little rough and coming in on a short camp doesn't do Thomas any favors. My pick here is Saunders to keep rolling in the UFC by TKO in round 3.
Chris Wilson v. Steve Bruno: Wilson is 13-3, 0-1 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Bruno is 11-3 with 10 wins by stoppage. He is making his debut in the UFC as well. He is also a pretty well rounded fighter. Again, I'm never a fan of first timers. I think Wilson will rebound nicely after his opening loss in the UFC. I'm picking Wilson by KO in round 1.
Cheick Kongo v. Dan Evensen: Kongo is 11-4-1, 4-2 in the UFC, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is a great stand up fighter. Dan is 10-2 with 8 wins by stoppage. He is also mostly a stand up fighter. This is another fighter making his UFC debut. I think Kongo will rebound from his loss in a big way here. I'm picking Kongo by TKO in round 1.
Jason McDonald v. Demian Maia: Jason is 20-9, 4-2 in the UFC, with 18 wins by stoppage. He is a slick submission fighter. Maia is 7-0, 2-0 in the UFC, with 6 wins by stoppage. He is also a great ground fighter. This might be a boring match to some but it could wind up being a great fight if neither of them want to go to the ground. However, even if it does go to the ground people should get to see some great BJJ. Jason is a very talented fighter but Maia has looked really good. I think I have to pick Maia here to stay undefeated. My prediction is Maia by submission in round 2.
Manny Gamburyan v. Rob Emerson: This is a battle between TUF alums. Manny is 8-2, 2-1 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is a good submission artist. Rob is 7-6, 1-0 in the UFC, with 3 wins by stoppage. He is a fairly well rounded fighter. I think Manny is the better fighter here. I'm picking Manny to win by decision.
Brock Lesnar v. Heath Herring: Everyone says there are no easy fights in the UFC but there hasn't been anyone with a tougher first two bouts than Brock Lesnar. First he had to fight a former UFC champion and now he has to fight a legend at heavyweight in Heath Herring. Brock unfortunately doesn't have the leeway Cain Velasquez or even Kimbo Slice has in terms of warm up fights. With his pay scale he had to be thrown to the wolves immediately. Lesnar actually looked good in his first fight even though he got submitted. He looked strong and freakishly athletic for his size. He just needed more training. Lesnar was brought in almost as a side show at first with most of the MMA fans hating him. But after his fight with Mir no one is taking him lightly anymore. Herring is always a question mark. His 4 fights in the UFC have not been spectacular but he is always a tough out. I think Lesnar has a much better shot against Herring than Mir but I'm really torn. Let's break out the stats before I make a pick. Lesnar is 1-1, 0-1 in the UFC, with his 1 win by TKO. He is a great wrestler with serious ground and pound skills. Herring is 28-13, 12-5 in PRIDE, 2-2 in the UFC, with 23 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. This should be a very interesting match. I don't think Lesnar will wait long to take this to the ground. However, Herring doesn't have nearly the same ground skills as Mir so I think Lesnar will punish Herring on the ground. I'm going to go way out on a limb and pick Lesnar by decision.
Kenny Florian v. Roger Huerta: As soon as this fight was announced everyone began tagging it as a fight of the year candidate. These are two of the fastest rising stars at lightweight. This fight has serious title shot implications. In my opinion the winner of this fight should get a shot but most likely they'll need one more top notch win before a title shot. Even so, it's still your basic eliminator bout. Roger has long been UFC's face for Latino MMA however as his contract's end draws closer he has drawn the ire of some UFC big wigs with his strong stances on insufficient pay and less than desirable treatment. It will be interesting to see if he wins what might happen moving forward. The UFC has been very heavy handed in these situations in the past but is he a big enough star that they can't afford to lose him? It depends who you ask. All that drama aside let's get into the stats and the pick. Florian is 9-3, 7-2 in the UFC, with all 9 wins by stoppage. He is a great ground fighter but is solid on his feet too. Huerta is 25-1-1, 6-0 in the UFC, with 19 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a stand up fighter but is not bad on the ground. As much as I love "Ken Flo" I think Roger will be too much athletically for him. Kenny will probably want to take this to the ground but I don't think Roger will let him. I think Roger will pound on Kenny and pick him apart standing but Kenny is incredibly tough. I'm picking Huerta by decision keeping his unbeaten streak in the UFC alive and his title shot moves one step closer. The question is will the UFC want to give it to him with his contract up in the air and his latest remarks made against the promotion? We'll all have to wait and see.
Georges St. Pierre v. Jon Fitch: Georges is undoubtedly one of the best fighters on the planet when his head is right. However, Fitch has been unbelievable in the UFC and shows no signs of slowing. This is a collision course of massive proportions. Georges is trying to prove he's the best in the world and Fitch is looking for his first title as well as the record for longest winning streak in the UFC (knocking off UFC innovator and legend Royce Gracie if he can get his 9th win in a row). Georges is 16-2, 10-2 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. He has one of the best all around MMA games in the world. Fitch is 19-2, 8-0 in the UFC, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a great wrestler and solid striker. The question here really is who can impose their will on the other? They are both supremely conditioned athletes. They both are great wrestlers. The question marks really lie in who can be the more effective and/or dangerous striker and when they're on the ground can Fitch's wrestling neutralize Georges' BJJ? I think this will be an absolute war and another fight of the year candidate. However, as good as Fitch is, I give the edge to St. Pierre. I'm picking St. Pierre by TKO in round 3.
This should be a great night with the big three fights garnering a ton of attention but they should live up to the hype barring some unforeseen problem. My pick for fight of the night belongs to Florian v. Huerta. My pick for KO of the night goes to Chris Wilson. My pick for submission of the night goes to Demian Maia. I'll be totally dialed in for this one. I've been waiting for these three fights for months now ever since they were announced. Stay tuned for my UFC 87 review on Sunday. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...