Capping off a successful 2013 for the Ultimate Fighting Championships is UFC 168, featuring a pair of intriguing rematches in the main and co-main event. Once again Jordan Cieciwa (@FitCityJordan) and I (@LynchOnSports) go head to head in our picks for this weekend's event in Las Vegas. Let us know which side you're on! Either #TeamLynch or #TeamJC, tweet us on Twitter. Also feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Chris Weidman (c) vs. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Championship)
James Lynch TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)
Current middleweight champion Weidman looks to prove that lightning can strike twice as he battles former champ Silva in one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history.
Their first encounter at UFC 162 back in July was not your average championship match. The 38-year old Brazilian title holder was taunting the American up and comer by leaving his hands down and demanding the challenger engage with him in a slugfest. This over confident tactic would prove to be Silva's downfall as the 29-year old Long Island, New York native would catch the Brazilian and knock him out in the second round.
For Silva, it was the first knockout loss in his 38-fight career. Two big questions surround this rematch: The first being was Silva his own Achilles heel with cockiness? Or is the undefeated American truly that talented in defeating a seemingly unbeatable middleweight kingpin?
If you watch the fight closely, it appears Silva was winning the majority of the fight and by the second round, Weidman was slowing down quite a bit.
I'm of the belief Silva lost the fight for himself and while no doubt Weidman is talented, I don't believe the Blackhouse product will make the same mistake twice.
One guarantee I can make is this fight will not go the distance, but expect the former champion to emerge victorious.
Silva via third-round knockout.
Jordan Cieciwa TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan)
Not sure if you tuned into last weekend's TSN 1290 " The Weigh-In", but I'm excited to write down what I perceived to be the best quote on the Weidman vs. Silva situation.
Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva's ego, he still hasn't beat the legend. The first time they met Weidman won the fight with striking, if he thinks he has a chance at winning that way again, this fight will be done in the first three minutes of the first round.
Anderson Silva got to the top of the pile with precision striking. The only chance Weidman has is the same shot every other guy in the division seems to have. Out wrestle Silva, control him, frustrate him, and avoid his miracle punches or last second submissions.
I still don't think Weidman is good enough to control the entire fight. His first mistake will be the win for Silva.
Silva via fourth round submission
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Miesha Tate (UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship)
The two coaches for Season 18 of the Ultimate Fighter finally clash to close out the year, as the face of Women's MMA Rousey, battles 27-year old challenger Tate.
These two women first met back in March of 2012 in Strikeforce, when then 135lb champion Tate was making the first defence of her title.
Rousey, who was 4-0 at the time, engaged in verbal warfare leading up to the fight. The then 25-year old would backup all that talk with a first round submission of Tate to take home the title. Since then Rousey has remained undefeated, going a perfect 7-0 with wins over Canadian Sarah Kaufman and Liz Carmouche.
No doubt her Olympic Judo pedigree and high level jiu-jitsu have served her well in taking the top spot in the bantamweight division.
Since the loss, Tate has had a very lackluster showing in her last two fights. She had a very uninspiring win over newly retired fighter Julie Kenzie and was defeated by Cat Zingano in her UFC debut, losing by TKO at the TUF 17 finale.
In fact if it weren't for Zingano suffering an injury prior to the filming of The Ultimate Fighter Season 18, Tate wouldn't have received this title shot.
Expect Rousey to emulate a similar game plan as their first fight, by getting this contest to the ground and going in for the submission.
Rousey via second round submission.
Well here we go, a rematch that I really want to see.
Rousey did no favours for herself on "The Ultimate Fighter" from a PR stand point, but she did a great job of making this a fight I want to see.
Tate is in this fight somewhat by accident. Her loss to Cat Zingano saw her controlling the first two rounds, and then the tides turned fast for a TKO and the lost opportunity to coach and have a rematch Rousey.
Zingano eventually had to bow out of TUF 18 after an injury.
This leaves Tate with something to prove and an evolving skill set to hopefully avoid the one-sided attack of Rousey.
Unfortunately, Rousey is really good at MMA, her striking has never looked sharp, but she has also never had to put it into action.
Tate is going to have to stay away from Rousey and hope that she has enough power in her punches to KO the champ. I don't think that will happen, instead this will be another typical outing for Rousey. Stalk, over power, submit from a clinch takedown.
Rousey via first round arm bar.
Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne
In a matchup that could easily produce the next challenger to the heavyweight title, former UFC heavyweight champion Barnett looks for his third-straight win, when he takes on the very durable Browne.
The 36-year old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt had an impressive UFC return in his last fight, defeating Frank Mir in the first round back at UFC 164. The win over Mir was Barnett's tenth in his last 11-fights, with his only blemish being a unanimous decision loss to former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier in 2012.
For years Barnett was considered one of the best heavyweight fighters outside the UFC and was never offered a contract because of his steroid use back in 2002 during his first UFC stint. Now back with the promotion, a win over Browne could propel Barnett to a title shot once again.
Meanwhile in his last contest, the Jackson/Winklejohn product Browne had a comeback of the year performance in his win over Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night 26. After suffering a number of devastating blows to the head courtesy of the former K1 champion, the 31-year old would bounce back and head-kick knockout Overeem to win the fight and improve to 6-1-1 in the UFC.
While Browne has a significant height advantage and a two-inch reach, Barnett has the experience edge over the Hawaiian, who has just 17-fights under his belt. Both fighters have knockout power, with the slight edge going to Browne, but Barnett is the better wrestling and possesses a better ground game.
Like with many fights, experience usually triumphs youth and I think we'll see that in this fight. Expect Barnett to neutralize Browne's standup arsenal on route to a unanimous decision victory.
Barnett via unanimous decision
This will be the Fight of the Night. Josh Barnett will mix it up with anyone; he is an angry and aggressive man. He also has the skills to back it all up.
Travis Browne is putting together an impressive career, and a legitimate reason to be called a title contender. Browne had a lot of difficulty early on in his match-up with Alistair Overeem, at the start of the year.
It's got the hype of being the best comeback of the year.
Fighting a MMA Superstar and person with the talent of Overeem has set Browne up to be ready for the strength, and skill of Josh Barnett.
That being said, Josh Barnett is probably one of the most underrated threats for the UFC heavyweight title. He spent most of his career out of the UFC spotlight, to the average fan, that means he's not "good". The truth is, Barnett's style is unique, and his aggressive attack takes most guys by surprise. This will be a battle, but cage control and aggression will be Barnett's.
Barnett via unanimous decision
Fabricio Camones vs. Jim Miller
Looking to propel himself back into title contention, the always durable Miller looks to make a statement Saturday night when he faces off with 33-year old Team Nogueira product Camones.
While it may say Miller is coming off a "No Contest" to Pat Healy in his last bout, it really was a loss as he was dominated for three rounds by the 30-year old Healy and eventually submitted in the third round.
Because the Athletic Commission believes Marijuana is a performance enhancing drug, Healy was suspended and the bout was turned into a "No Contest".
Throughout his MMA career, Miller has always been known as that fighter who can't seem to get over the hump. While he does have impressive wins over Joe Lauzon, Melvin Guillard and Gleason Tibau, he has lost to Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard.
Camones meanwhile has had a number of injuries and actually hasn't competed inside the octagon since July of 2012 where he lost a unanimous decision to Melvin Guillard at UFC 148.
Both fighters are well versed on the mat, but it's Miller who has the edge in his wrestling and striking. In addition, the fighter with the longer layoff generally loses to the fresher fighter.
Expect Miller to get back in the win column by grinding out a unanimous decision victory.
Miller via unanimous decision.
I'm a huge fan of Pat Healy, which is why in my eyes he won the Miller fight, and the THC they found in his system had no bearing on that fight.
That was a three round clinic put on by Healy. I don't think Fabricio Camones has the ability to do that to Jim Miller.
Miller has the unique ability of being extremely durable, he can take a beating and still wind up imposing his will on his opponent. This fight should never see Miller needing to prove he is tough, his danger will be in being submitted.
I can't see Camones winning this in a decision. Miller has never been KO'd, but Nate Diaz did catch him with a submission. That's Camones chance, use that Team Nogueira background and slip in a submission. Problem is that I don't see that happening.
Miller via nanimous decision
Diego Brandao vs. Dustin Poirier
Ultimate Fighter Season 14 winner Brandao battles American Top Team product Poirier in a featherweight affair.
Brandao is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Pineda back in August at UFC Fight Night 26 where he improved his UFC record to 4-1.
Poirier meanwhile is coming off a dominating performance over Erik Koch at UFC 164 where he dropped the 25-year old twice on route to a unanimous decision victory.
For the 26-year old Brazilian, Poirier provides a big step up in competition and will no doubt look to keep this fight standing in hopes of catching the durable 24-year old.
That's easier said than done though as "The Diamond" has never been knocked out through his 17-fight career.
In addition, the 2012 Fight of the Year winner has both the height and reach advantage going into this fight.
No doubt this will be a competitive matchup, but Poirier should have more tools in his arsenal to edge out a close decision victory.
Poirier via unanimous decision.
If you have been watching Poirier's career, you'll know that the kid is talented. He has headlined a UFC event, and contended with the best in his division. He looked fantastic in his last showing against Erik Koch.
On the other side of the octagon is Diego Brandao, who set up a slick submission against Pablo Garza for a win. That victory doesn't compare with being in a fight with Cub Swanson, Chang Sung Jung, or Erik Koch.
Poirier has been getting better and better over the past two years. I think he is a step ahead of Brandao and he'll prove it in this fight with a knockout win.
Poirier via 3rd round knockout
Lynch: Hall, Tibau, Siver, Howard, Voelker, Peralta
JC: Hall, Tibau, Siver, Bahadurzada, Voelker, Payan
Agree or Disagree? Let us know your picks in the comments section below.