Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva:
Mike Drahota: I like this fight on paper, although I’m doubtful that is has the strength to carry an entire event. In any case, Erick Silva has been touted as one of the welterweight’s division best up-and-coming prospects for a few years now. Problem is, he’s 29 and has only beaten mid-level at best competition in the UFC. He failed miserably against the only two legitimate fighters he’s faced (Jon Fitch and Dong Hyun Kim), and Brown is probably better than both. With six straight wins, he certainly has more momentum. Returning from injury with a chip on his shoulder, “The Immortal” is flabbergasted that he still isn’t getting any respect. This fight could be his coming out party. I’m picking Brown via TKO in round two.
Rory Kernaghan: Matt Brown and Erick Silva are set to throw down, and I didn’t have much trouble making my mind up on this one. ‘Indio’, all hype aside, is a talented young fighter with a very bright future. The grizzled veteran and technical brawler Brown is going to have his work cut out for him, in my opinion. I think Silva is too fast on the feet, and too technical on the mat. ‘The Immortal’ is always a dangerous foe, but I don’t feel he has the advantages over Silva that he has with recent competition. Silva mixes it up and finishes by strikes in round two.
Brian Cox: Matt Brown has proven himself to be a virtual killer over his last six fights. “The Immortal” has developed into a well-rounded and highly efficient fighter, and one that is constantly looking for the finish. Erick Silva is of a similar ilk. Like Brown he’s good everywhere, sports a high finishing rate, and has a ‘bring it’ type of fighting style. The match is a big test for both. For Brown it’s a chance to take the thunder of a rising star and re-affirm his own contender status. For Silva, it’s a chance to string together his first back-to-back victories in the brand and to finally begin to deliver on the promise of his talent. For me, I think the “X” factor in the fight is going to be will. Regarding it, I have a tough time seeing Matt Brown being denied a win in his home state of Ohio. I think “The Immortal” has struggled far too long to allow Erick Silva to rob him of what him of his title shot destiny. As such, and for reasons of pure heart and determination, I’m picking Matt Brown by way of a first round TKO.
Buster Evans: Erick Silva takes a huge leap up in competition tomorrow night when he faces welterweight dark horse Brown. On paper, this is a total mismatch and the two shouldn't even be in the cage together. But anyone who has watched Silva knows he can hang with the best, despite not having any victories over elite competition. This is all going to come down to the Brazilian being able to play it smart and avoid Brown's power early on. If he can do that, he should be able to outpoint his opponent to take a decision win. But, that's easier said than done against "The Immortal," who is an ultra-aggressive striker. Brown via KO round two.
Costa Philippou vs. Lorenz Larkin:
Mike Drahota: This is a solid-match-up of two tough power strikers. They haven’t actually shown enough of a well-rounded game to defeat the best in the Octagon, but each fighter should be content to stand and trade here. With both fighters coming in off a loss, the pressure will be on to get back into the win column in Cincinnati. Philippou has repeatedly stated that he fights for money rather than to be champion, and it’s shown in his last two bouts. Larkin, on the other hand, is eager to prove his last bout was a fluke. I think the Strikeforce import is about ten times more motivated than Philippou, so I’m going with Larkin via TKO in round one.
Rory Kernaghan: Costa Philippou vs. Lorenz Larkin is a match up between two middleweights that really need a win on Saturday. Both guys coming off losses will hopefully bring them more motivation than they showed in their most recent outings. For me, ‘The Monsoon’ has far too many tools for Philippou to deal with; wrestling, striking and speed are all advantages that the Strikeforce crossover has to bring to the table, and I believe Larkin takes the decision.
Brian Cox: The co-main event is an important match for both Costas Philippou and Lorenz Larkin. For Philippou it’s his chance to stop a two fight losing streak, keep his ranking, and maybe even save his job. For Larkin, it’s an opportunity to begin to find his voice in the UFC’s middleweight division and to cull his first victory over a ranked fighter. I think the match will be contested on the feet and will be more of a brawl than a technical affair. I believe that a huge chunk of the fight will transpire up against the cage and in the clinch. For me, I see both fighters as evenly matched, with neither having any particular advantages to speak of. I think when it’s all said and done, the win will go to the fighter that wants it more. As such, I’m going to side with Costas Philippou on this one and say that he takes home the win by way of a unanimous decision victory.
Buster Evans: I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's co-main event and I'm expecting an all-out war. On one hand, we have Costa Philippou, who is looking to hurt everyone he faces inside the cage. On the other hand, we have Lorenz Larkin, a super athletic middleweight with a precise striking game. The chances are this fight will stay on the feet, so that means it all comes down to whoever has the edge striking. Despite being the less diverse of the two, I think Philippou will be able to do more damage before getting a finish later on. Philippou via TKO round three.