Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne:
Mike Drahota: Although this title eliminator bout features the No. 2 and No. 3-ranked heavyweights in UFC, I don’t think it’s that close in reality. Werdum has fought sparingly on the path to his lofty ranking, but Browne has done the exact opposite, picking up three straight “Knockout of the Night victories over dangerous opposition. While Werdum clearly has a massive edge on the ground, we’ve seen what happens to fighters who try to take “Hapa” down – they get knocked out cold with a barrage of elbows. Werdum hasn’t fought since beating an obviously over the hill Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira last June; he’s in for a rude awakening here. Browne via knockout round one.
Rory Kernaghan: Travis Browne, in my opinion, is a lock for this fight. Fabricio Werdum is a top-level fighter no doubt, but I think he is hungrier, stronger, and much faster than Werdum. ‘Vai Cavalo’ is a wicked submission specialist, but the fight starts on the feet and I expect it to end there. “Hapa’s” length and superior striking will see Browne take the first round knockout.
Brian Cox: Travis Browne has some murderous elbows and knees, and obviously a lot of KO power. However, his greatest asset might be his heart; “Hapa” has a ton of it. Fabricio Werdum is a fighter’s worst nightmare on the ground and has developed a solid stand-up game recently. Werdum will have to respect “Hapa’s” power and length, and cannot afford to be sloppy or slow in his takedown attempts. For his part, Browne needs to do the obvious and keep the fight standing. However, I believe Werdum will be able to get the fight to the ground and once again demonstrate his grappling prowess. As such, I’m picking Fabricio Werdum by way of a second round submission.
Buster Evans: No matter how much Fabricio Werdum tries to make out that he wants to strike with Travis Browne, we all know this is a classic striker vs. grappler match-up. Werdum’s striking has unquestionably improved a lot in the last few years but he is nowhere near the level of Browne, who is easily one of the best strikers in the heavyweight division. On the other hand, we all know that the Brazilian is light years ahead of most on the mat. That means it all comes down to whether or not Browne can avoid the takedown and keep the fight standing. I think he is going to do just that and absolutely demolish Werdum on the feet. Browne via knockout round two.
Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche:
Mike Drahota: The first two UFC women’s bantamweight title challengers are badly in need of a win heading into their UFC on FOX 11 main event; together they’ve only won one out of their last five bouts. Carmouche was outclassed by Alexis Davis last November, and while Tate’s striking may not be on that level, it is getting better. She nailed Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano with some hard shots before ultimately losing, and I think Carmouche is going to provide an easier test. I say Tate takes this one by decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Miesha Tate will look to bounce back from her second loss to Ronda Rousey as she faces Liz Carmouche; only problem I see here is that Carmouche is far too big and strong for ‘Cupcake’. I expect Carmouche to mash Tate against the fence and dirty box her way to a decision win.
Brian Cox: Miesha Tate is a well-rounded fighter with a lot of heart, but she’s tended to come up short in big fights recently. Liz Carmouche shares those same attributes. Both like to throw down and are comfortable wherever the fight goes, and both have solid gas tanks. I believe this fight is equally matched and will go to the fighter that simply wants it more. This bout might determine which of them is a legitimate contender, and which is merely a bantamweight gatekeeper. As I think Tate has more to prove and lose, I believe she’ll show up the more motivated and hungry fighter. For those reasons I’m picking Miesha Tate by unanimous decision.
Buster Evans: To be honest, I don’t really understand why the UFC has opted to book Carmouche vs. Tate as the co-main event with both ladies are coming off losses, when the card features fights like Barboza vs. Cerrone and Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov. But nevertheless, I like the “Girlrilla” here and I think she takes the win tomorrow night. Carmouche via unanimous decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza:
Mike Drahota: Cerrone has appeared to have righted the ship after a largely inconsistent run, and Barboza has won three straight after his shocking UFC 146 loss to Jamie Varner. There’s no doubt that Cerrone has a lethal; mix of kickboxing and jiu-jitsu skills, that’s not on trial. What is on trial is his motivation and mental preparedness, given the fact that he’s faltered against mostly every true top name he’s faced in MMA. While Barboza isn’t a household name quite yet, he’s ready to be one. Expect a war that ends with Barboza proving his loss to Varner a fluke. I’m picking Barboza by round one technical knockout.
Rory Kernaghan: Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone are putting on “Fight of the Night”; I’d bet on that. As long as both fighters’ chins hold up, I expect a thoroughly exciting three-round affair. I’m finding it hard to separate the two in terms of striking skill, but my gut tells me Cerrone takes this. Anything can happen, and Cerrone has had motivation issues before, but I think ‘Cowboy’ will take home the decision win.
Brian Cox: With solid stand-up, ground skills, and conditioning, Cerrone has all the tools and talent in the world to become lightweight champion. If there’s a knock on “Cowboy,” it’s his focus, and I think that’s what this fight is going to come down to. Cerrone and Barboza both possess the skills to put their opponents lights out. I have to go with Cerrone. I think he is at a point in his career where he wants to prove himself as being something more than simply a good, ranked fighter. However, Barboza is no walk in the park. For “Cowboy” to get the win, he’ll have to bring his ‘A’ game and he can’t afford to let his pace drop. I think Cerrone is going to prove the hungrier fighter. As such, I’m picking Donald Cerrone by way of third round TKO.
Buster Evans: I’m so pumped for this fight, I expect it to be an all out war and will most likely be “Fight of the Night”. If it stays standing, Barboza is going to dominate on the feet and I can see him finishing “Cowboy”. But, I’ve got a feeling Cerrone will try and get the fight to the mat where he should have the grappling advantage. If he can do that he should be able to outwork the Brazilian for the decision. However, I don’t think he will be able to get Barboza down so I’m picking “Junior” to take a TKO in the second.
Photo Credit: Winslow Townson for USA TODAY Sports