A panel of Sportsnet.ca MMA contributors give their picks for Saturday’s UFC 155 main card.
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
Carlin Bardsley: Velasquez, TKO, Round 4. The strategy for both men is clear. Velasquez wants to keep JDS on his back, JDS wants to keep Cain on the end of his punches. In a classic style vs. style matchup, Cain will be able to keep JDS looking at the lights.
Adam Martin: Dos Santos, TKO, Round 2. Not much has changed in a year. Expect the same thing to happen as in their first fight, with dos Santos taking out Velasquez via knockout, although it will likely happen in the second round this time not the first.
E. Spencer Kyte: Dos Santos, TKO, Round 2. I’m not sold on Velasquez being able to take “Cigano” down and keep him there while avoiding the champ’s powerful strikes. While I think we’ll see more action than the first fight, the outcome will ultimately be the same.
Mike Johnston: Velasquez by decision. Such a tough call here. JDS is a poor stylistic matchup for Cain, but this time around his wrestling and measured tenacity will be a factor. This won’t be the last time these two men meet inside the Octagon.
Ryan Young: Dos Santos, KO, Round 3. Sure there were a lot of variables in the first fight, but dos Santos convincingly scored the knockout. I’m sticking with what I’ve seen with my own two eyes, dos Santos landing a fight-ending blow.
Shawn Smith: Dos Santos, KO, Round 3. Velasquez will not make the same mistake he made in the first bout, but I still think Dos Santos will find a way to finish.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Velasquez, Decision. Cain uses revenge and every tool in his arsenal to edge out a win and take the title back.
Brad Taschuk: Velasquez, TKO, Round 3. If Cain manages to get that first takedown, or initiate that first clinch, he’ll start dos Santos on a path of attrition the champ hasn’t experienced before.
James Brydon: Dos Santos, TKO, Round 1. I wasn’t a believer before his fight against Frank Mir. Now I am. It will last longer than 64 seconds, but Junior’s power will again be too much for Cain.
Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon
Carlin Bardsley: Miller, Submission, Round 2. This has all the makings of a scintillating ground war. A drinking game based on sub attempts and reversals will leave the players in no condition to drive. On that note, look for homebrew aficionado Miller to take it.
Adam Martin: Miller, Decision. A tough fight to predict, but ultimately Miller should be able to grind out Lauzon for a unanimous decision win and keep his spot among the top contenders at 155 pounds.
E. Spencer Kyte: Lauzon, Submission, Round 2. Earlier this week I talked about Lauzon’s inability to get over the hump, but Miller has struggled to do the same. In this battle of similar fighters, I’m going with Lauzon, the more aggressive of the two, to sting Miller with strikes and latch onto a fight-ending choke late in the second.
Mike Johnston: Miller, Decision. Their wrestling and jiu-jitsu could end up cancelling each other out and Miller’s wrestling could be the difference. Lauzon is more explosive but Miller has what it takes to nullify that.
Ryan Young: Miller, Decision. It should be an explosive first round but once things settle down I expect Miller to take control with his striking and takedowns. His ability to avoid Lauzon’s submission attempts is his key to victory.
Shawn Smith: Miller, Decision. Miller is bigger, stronger, a better wrestler, and arguably a better boxer. I expect Miller to bully Lauzon.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Lauzon, Decision. Fight of the Night and Lauzon’s size will be the key to him emerging victorious.
Brad Taschuk: Miller, Decision. Lauzon’s improved gas tank won’t have him getting finished here, but also won’t allow him to win the later rounds against the scrappy Miller.
James Brydon: Miller, TKO, Round 3. I give Miller the edge in every area and I think he’ll wear down Lauzon and eventually stop him.
Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou
Carlin Bardsley: Boetsch, Decision. Philippou’s star is on the rise, but Boetsch will avoid going
toe-to-toe and grind him out against the cage. Look for Boetsch to win ugly.
Adam Martin: Boetsch, Split decision. In what should be a competitive standup fight, I see Boetsch’s aggression being a key factor here as he uses a well-round mixed martial arts attack to earn a tight decision.
E. Spencer Kyte: Boetsch, Decision: Philippou is tough to put away, but Boetsch will use his size advantage and superior grappling to get the best of his replacement opponent.
Mike Johnston: Philippou, Decision. Philippou has the more technical striking and is equally as strong as Boetsch. With his improved takedown defence, Philippou can win on points.
Ryan Young: Boetsch, Decision: Boetsch isn’t flashy but he always enters the Octagon with a well prepared game plan. This time around that plan will likely involve muscling Philippou around and getting the fight against the cage and to the ground.
Shawn Smith: Boetsch, KO, Round 2. Philippou is a tough fight, but is seemingly one-dimensional so far throughout his UFC career. Boetsch simply has more tools.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Boetsch, Decision. Boetsch’s pressure and strength will be too much for Philippou.
Brad Taschuk: Boetsch, Decision. The Barbarian is an enormous leap in competition for late replacement Philippou, and I see the kicking, wrestling, and experience edges being too much for Costa to overcome.
James Brydon: Boetsch, Decision. I believe Boetsch is more durable and too smart to get into a trouble against the scrappy Philippou.
Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami
Carlin Bardsley: Belcher, Decision. While there isn’t much of an appetite for a five year old rematch, Belcher will still enjoy getting this loss off his record. Look for “The Talent’s” tenacious attack to carry the day.
Adam Martin: Okami, Decision. A rematch six years in the making and I expect the outcome to be the same. Okami will use his size and strength to push Belcher around the cage and score enough to win.
E. Spencer Kyte: Belcher, TKO, Round 2. “The Talent” has looked fierce in his last two wins, and while Okami is a tough out, Belcher has shown a penchant for finishing throughout his career. He’ll mix up his strikes, catch Okami with something heavy along the cage, and pound out a victory.
Mike Johnston: Belcher, TKO. Belcher continues to be one of the most overlooked middleweights. He has improved enough to stay off his back and his striking is some of the most dangerous at 185.
Ryan Young: Belcher, Split decision: There’s no doubt he’ll spend some time on his back but I believe Belcher can mount enough offence when he’s free of Okami’s grappling to win over the judges.
Shawn Smith: Okami, Decision. This should be a close competitive bout throughout, but Okami’s improved boxing and ability to take the fight to the mat could prove the difference.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Belcher, Decision. I think Belcher has improved more and recent years and has more ways to win.
Brad Taschuk: Okami, Decision. For all of the evolution both fighters have gone through since their UFC 62 battle, I still see Okami being the bigger, stronger, more skilled wrestlers, and that should carry him to victory.
James Brydon: Belcher, TKO, Round 2. I believe Belcher has really evolved as a fighter since their first meeting but I don’t think Okami has. At least not enough.
Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson
Carlin Bardsley: Leben, TKO, Round 2. With Leben’s personal problems behind him, look for him to come out with something to prove and find a home for his dreaded left hand on Brunson’s jaw.
Adam Martin: Leben, KO, Round 1. We don’t know where Leben’s head is at but Brunson doesn’t have much of a chin and Leben is extremely heavy handed. He should be able to storm Brunson early and pick up a big KO win.
E. Spencer Kyte: Leben, TKO, Round 1. If “Jacare” Souza can drop Brunson in just 41 seconds, the returning Leben and his massive power should be able to do the same, though it might take a little longer.
Mike Johnston: Brunson, Decision. There’s a lot of question marks in this one with Brunson being unproven against top competition and Leben coming off yet another failed drug test. If Brunson can implement his wrestling he could surprise Leben.
Ryan Young: Leben, Knockout, Round 1. Mix in the fact Brunson is coming off a big 41-second knockout loss, will likely be facing Octagon jitters, and is facing the ultra-aggressive “Crippler,” and you can see why I don’t like his chances.
Shawn Smith: Leben, KO, Round 1. Leben is coming off an extended layoff, but he should be able to defeat a late-notice Brunson.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Leben, KO, Round 2. The Crippler has too much power for Brunson and will look to make a statement in his return.
Brad Taschuk: Leben, TKO, Round 1. Given Brunson’s lack of a striking game and him taking the fight on short notice, there are too many variables going in Leben’s favour.
James Brydon: Brunson, Decision. Opportunity knocks, and the newcomer Brunson will take advantage and stun the past-his-prime Leben.
Carlin Bardsley is a writer for MMASucka.com and the host of a daily MMA radio show on NextSportStar.com. Follow him on Twitter @CarlinBardsley.
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.
E. Spencer Kyte is a regular contributor to ufc.com, UFC Magazine, and Fight Magazine, and writes the MMA blog Keyboard Kimura. Follow him on Twitter @spencerkyte.
Ryan Young is the lead reporter for MMA360.ca and a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @YoungRyan4.
Shawn W. Smith is the senior writer at MMASucka.com and has contributed to Train Hard, Fight Easy and Fighters Only magazines. Follow him on Twitter @shawn_w_smith.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.
Brad Taschuk is an MMA freelance writer and contributer to Sportsnet.ca. Follow him on Twitter @bradtaschuk.
Mike Johnston is a Digital Content Editor and MMA blogger for Sportsnet.ca. Follow him on Twitter @MikeyJ_MMA.
James Brydon is Managing Digital Editor and MMA blogger for Sportsnet.ca. Follow him on Twitter @James_Brydon.