Off the heels of a successful event for the UFC's debut on FOX Sports 1, the promotion is back at it again this Wednesday evening with UFC Fight Night 27.
A pivotal rematch in the welterweight division headlines the event, which has five Ultimate Fighter alumni on the main card. Once again Jordan Cieciwa and I go head to head in our picks this week and are aiming for a better result. My #TeamLynch prevailed on the last event going a lackluster 7 for 13 compared to #TeamJC who went 4 for 13.
As always you can follow me (@LynchOnSports) or Jordan (@FitCityJordan) if you agree or disagree, also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann
Lynch: Former UFC interim welterweight champ Condit aims for redemption Wednesday night as he faces off with muay-thai specialist Kampmann. This is a rematch of their April 1st 2009 encounter back at UFC Fight Night 18, in which the Dutchman spoiled the promotional debut of the 29-year old Condit, winning a closely contested split decision. Both fighters badly need a win, as the Jackson/Winklejohn product is on a two-fight slide, while the Las Vegas resident is coming off a devastating first round knockout at the hands of Johny Hendricks at UFC 158.
If Condit can follow the blueprint that Nate Marquardt, Paul Daley and of course Hendricks used in their victories against Kampmann, we could see a quick finish if the former WEC champ is able to connect early. However the later this fight goes, the more "The Hitman" becomes the favorite, as he is well known for outworking his opponents and earning late finishes (as per his wins over Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger). Despite all this, Condit should still win this fight as he's proven in his losses to St-Pierre and Hendricks that he's extremely difficult to finish. I think we'll see Condit play it safe throughout the fight, pick his shots and earn a unanimous decision victory.
Condit via unanimous decision
JC: Kampmann was all but forgotten it feels like after Hendricks knocked him out in under a minute. He was hot off the heels of three impressive wins. Now he finds himself staring at his biggest challenge and rematch since 2009, in Carlos Condit. Condit needs a win, and has the talent to finish what he started in 2009. In my opinion that fight was his and is another shining example of why fighters can't let judges decide their fate.
Kampmann, although an excellent kickboxer, seems to be susceptible to the KO in big fights. That's great news for Condit; he's got the complete game and should be able to finish this fight with a big punch or kick. There is no quit in Carlos Condit, he is always improving, and I truly feel he will be able to set up and land enough strikes to make the fight his, this time. As it did in 2009, this should go the distance, but be very exciting.
Condit via unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Lynch: In a matchup that will likely contend for "Fight of the Night" honors, former WEC title challenger Cerrone squares off with the Brazilian Dos Anjos. "Cowboy" is coming off an impressive victory over Strikeforce import K.J. Noons in which he brutalized the 30-year-old over three rounds to earn the judges' decision. The Kings MMA fighter meanwhile is coming off a controversial victory against Evan Dunham, in which many pundits (including myself) thought the 31-year old was robbed by the judges.
Despite the 28-year old being a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Cerrone actually has more submission wins throughout his career with 13 (compared to 8 for Dos Anjos). With that said, the edge in this fight goes to Ceronne, who has more technical striking and I think we'll see that on display over the course of three rounds as he'll have his hand raised for his second straight victory.
Cerrone via unanimous decision
JC: If you listen to the "Weigh In" on TSN 1290, you'll know how big of a fan of Donald Cerrone I am. Hardest working guy in MMA, always takes the fight, and more often than not puts on a great show. With that said, Rafael Dos Anjos has strung together five impressive wins, beat some top competitors, and always brings a good fight. Dos Anjos has an amazing group of athletes to train with at Kings MMA, and I think he will be the better prepared fighter. I'm expecting control to go to Dos Anjos, and he will take home a win.
Dos Anjos via unanimous decision
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Brian Melancon
Lynch: A bout in which both fighters are looking for their second UFC victory, Ultimate Fighter 17 winner Gastelum takes on Strikeforce veteran Melancon. The 21-year old Gastelum is coming off an impressive upset win over TUF 17 tournament favorite Uriah Hall, which saw him effectively use his wrestling to grind out a decision. The Ricco Rodriguez trained Melancon had an equally impressive debut by knocking out TUF 11 alum Seth Baczynski at UFC 162.
With 15 fights between the two of them, this will definitely be a showcase for the future of the welterweight division. Because of his superior wrestling, I see Gastelum having his hand raised at the end of this fight as he should effectively get the takedown numerous times over three rounds to emerge victorious.
Gastelum via unanimous decision
JC: The cast of the Ultimate Fighter have been looking a little weak as they come across higher ranking talent. Gastelum surprised a lot of people with his wrestling and win against Uriah Hall. That wrestling won't be enough to control Brian Melancon. His Strikeforce experience and last second win over Seth Baczynski (4:59 of the first) has me thinking this fight will go his way.
These two need to put on a good show and convince fans and UFC management that they have what it takes to be in this welterweight division. The next fights for these two will be against the likes of Condit, Kampmann, Ellenberger and more. It's a tough division, and these two fighters need to up their game a lot to convince me they deserve to be talked about as contenders.
Melancon via 3rd TKO
Court McGee vs. Robert Whittaker
Lynch: A pair of Ultimate Fighter tournament winners will be going to war, as TUF 11 champion McGee matches up against TUF Smashes winner Whittaker. The Pit fighter rebounded from a two-fight slide at UFC 157 in his welterweight debut, dominating Josh Neer over three rounds. Aside from losing to Costa Philippou at UFC on FX 2, McGee really should be 5-1 inside the octagon, as his other loss to Nick Ring at UFC 149 was extremely controversial.
Physically both fighters are similar in height, but the 28-year old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt does possess a five-inch reach advantage. Even with Whittaker finishing 10 of his last 11 victories, McGee should win this fight with his striking and his ability to grind out a grueling fight.
McGee via unanimous decision
JC: I don't know what it is about Court McGee, but I like him. He's got some solid ground game, which he displayed in his first two wins in the UFC. I also really feel that he beat Nick Ring and should be further along than he is in his career. With that said, Whittaker at 22-years-old looks very impressive. He is well rounded, and ends fights with either punching power or submissions and control.
This will be a very entertaining fight as both these fighters need to remain impressive if they want to stick around and move up the ladder. At 28, McGee is in his athletic prime, and I think that this fight will come down to how he uses that advantage. McGee will control the ground, and win a decision.
McGee via unanimous decision
Brad Tavares vs. Robert (Bubba) McDaniel
Lynch: TUF 11 alum Tavares goes to war with TUF 17 alum McDaniel in a middleweight affair. Despite his lone blemish to Aaron Simpson at UFC 132, the Hawaiian has quietly amassed a 5-1 record in the 185lb division, and a statement win over a 27-fight veteran like McDaniel could propel him up the middleweight ladder. For the Jackson/Winklejohn product McDaniel, he's looking to prove that his successful UFC debut over Gilbert Smith wasn't a fluke.
It's no secret Tavares has the edge in his standup, while the 30-year old is superior on the mat, with 16 submissions on his resume. Despite "The Menace" having a two inch height and one inch reach advantage, Tavares should win this fight as he's battled tougher competition and looked good doing so. The 25-year-old should find his range sometime in the second round and finish with the TKO victory.
Tavares via second round technical knockout.
JC: Bubba McDaniel has a ton of experience in the fight game. His resume is impressive in volume, but it lacks what Tavares has, high level UFC wins. Brad Tavares has some fairly impressive wins, and only has one loss. That loss was a decision to the "A Train" Aaron Simpson. This fight needs to stay standing for Tavares to utilize his edge in striking. That being said, there is no better place on the planet to practice your takedowns than at Jackson/Winklejohn academy.
The best in the business come through there. If McDaniel takes this to the mat, it will get interesting. If not, it should be a very controlled stand up win for Tavares, and probably an exciting finish for the fans. It's Tavares time in the UFC that will get him the win.
Tavares via third round TKO
#TeamLynch: Perez, Andrews, Thatch, Hioki, High, Cummings, Trujillo
#Team JC: Perez, Andrews, Thatch, Elkins, High, Cummings, Bowling
Also be sure to tune into the "Weigh-In" on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg every Saturday as Jordan and I go toe to toe discussing the hottest topics in MMA.