Nate Marquardt vs. James Te Huna:
Mike Drahota: With both fighters having lost their last five combined bouts (including four finishes), I’m not entirely sure why the UFC is trying to shove this down fans’ throats as a legitimate main event, but they are. Regardless, Te Huna should hold a massive advantage in power here. He’s cutting down from light heavyweight, and just fought Glover Teixeira last year. Marquardt, on the other hand, has looked like a shell of his former self after quitting testosterone-replacement therapy. His chin is failing him, and that’s far from a good thing against a slugger like Te Huna. I’m picking Te Huna via first round TKO.
Rory Kernaghan: The result of this bout is really dependent on which version of Nate Marquardt shows up to fight. If 'The Great' is on form we could well see a big knockout in his middleweight return. Taking nothing away from James Te Huna, but he can be a little average at times. A victorious return to 185 pounds, and a third round TKO win for Marquardt.
Brian Cox: I don’t think there’s much to say about this fight other than it’s going to be a stand-up battle and the loser is probably going to be out of a job. I think the knock on both these fighters, particularly Marquardt, is heart. At points in his career “The Great” has looked quite literally that, great. However, he tends to fold in big fights. Te Huna is pretty much the same as Marquardt, as he’s been stopped by every big name fighter he’s faced. Regarding a call, I’m going to say that Te Huna falls well within Marquardt’s wheelhouse of fighters that he can (still) beat and that he will be mentally prepared to fight. For those reasons, I’m going to pick Nate Marquardt by way of second round TKO.
Buster Evans: I honestly see this as being a completely one-sided encounter and apart from a miracle there's no way I can see Nate Marquardt pulling off the win. Te Huna is a terrible matchup for him in his return to middleweight. He's bigger, stronger and such be able to keep the fight standing where I see him destroying the former UFC title contender. Expect Te Huna to dominate from the start before finishing the fight in brutal fashion. Te Huna via KO round 1.
Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens:
Mike Drahota: This is a potentially fast-paced, hard-hitting affair that could see Swanson finally earn a UFC featherweight title shot. But Stephens has looked impressive since moving down to 145 pounds, and could be a dark horse contender if he can score his biggest win here. Swanson has dealt with a few nagging injuries that have kept him out of action since last July, and that could play a factor here. But if shows no ill effects of his elbow surgery, I expect him to fight smart against Stephens, picking his spots on the feet to avoid “Lil’ Heathen’s” power and using his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the ground. It’s close, but I’m taking Swanson via unanimous decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Cub Swanson stands on the cusp of a featherweight title shot, but the same could be said for Jeremy Stephens if he can beat the streaking So-Cal native. I have a gut feeling that 'Lil' Heathen' has the power advantage and will be hunting with hooks. Don't be surprised if this one gets very messy, as Swanson has some very nasty stand-up of his own. In the end, I feel like Swanson has more game, and he wins the unanimous decision.
Brian Cox: Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens is going to be a great fight. I fail to see how it won’t be the case. I think this fight is going to be about Swanson’s better technique on the feet against Stephens’ power and aggression. I think Swanson will use his footwork to keep Stephens at a distance, while darting in-and-out to take advantage of any opening he is given or can create. For his part, I think Stephens is going to want to turn the fight into a brawl and make it up-close and personal. I think a Stephens win will likely come from the inside with a powerful shot, however, if he finds himself stifled on the feet, he could well move the fight to the ground. In turn, I don’t see Swanson attempting to move the fight to the mat. For me, I think Swanson’s superior boxing will nullify Stephens and keep the fight standing and at distance. As such I’m picking Cub Swanson by way of third round TKO.
Buster Evans: I'm so pumped for this fight, I can hardly wait! Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year given both of the fighters’ styles. "Lil’ Heathen" has looked very impressive since dropping down to 145 pounds, but he faces a big step up in competition against " Beautiful Destruction,” who is one of the top guys in the division. Stephens has the power to stop his opponent but I think that's going to be easier said than done. Expect Swanson to do the most damage on the feet before sinking in a submission. Swanson via submission round 4.
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