Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez:
Mike Drahota: There’s no doubt that this is the premier flyweight matchup that the UFC could have put together. Both fighters are well-rounded combatants with excellent wrestling, grappling, and striking. This one may take place mainly on the feet. Johnson has looked like a dominant champion ever since cutting down from bantamweight, but if anyone can end his reign, it’s Benavidez. It’ll be far from easy, however, and Benavidez needs to prove that his striking has improved enough under Duane Ludwig to negate “Mighty Mouse’s” significant speed advantage. He’ll put forth a valiant effort, but I say Johnson takes this one with another decision win.
Rory Kernaghan: Joseph Benavidez is a tough, heavy-handed challenger; with much improved striking since Duane Ludwig joined Team Alpha Male. Only thing is, he is going up against the Champion Demetrious Johnson. ‘Mighty Mouse’ already beat JB once for the inaugural Flyweight title and I expect him to do the same on Saturday. Look for Johnson’s amazing footwork and speed to make the difference. ‘Mighty Mouse’ by decision
Brian Cox: This is rematch of Johnson’s 2012 UFC 152 split decision promises to be a test of the evolution of Benavidez’s skills. The bout will come down to whether or not he’s figured out “Mighty Mouse’s” timing, and footwork. Last time out, “JB” was hard pressed to catch up with the champ, getting him tagged and taken down most of the night. Perhaps Benavidez’ coach Duane Ludwig has figured the puzzle out, but then again, Johnson may be a puzzle too difficult to solve. Benavidez has to cut the ring off, pick his moments and land the big shot. He also needs to turn this fight into a brawl and not a boxing match. I hate picking one over the other, but I think the champ will be too fast and will prevail over five. For those reasons, I’m picking Demetrious Johnson by way of (yet another) split decision.
Buster Evans: Since Benavidez lost to Johnson at UFC 152 he’s been on a tear, winning three straight with two vicious finishes. Johnson has gone on to win a unanimous decision over John Dodson and most recently submitted John Moraga. In their first fight the big difference was Johnson’s footwork as he was able to get in and land strikes without being hit. That was before Duane Ludwig became head coach at Team Alpha Male; the camp’s striking has dramatically increased since then. I think that’s going to be the difference here. I’m picking Benavidez to out-strike “Mighty Mouse” and finish him later on. Joseph Benavidez by TKO in round 4.
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald:
Mike Drahota: This highly anticipated bantamweight showdown will most likely determine the next title contender after the muddy championship picture gets sorted out early next year. Faber has gone about his business and beaten all of his competitors that weren’t champions; however, McDonald appears to be a special talent. The young knockout artist has some seriously scary power for a man of his size. But it’s more than difficult to knock out “The California Kid.” McDonald hasn’t shown all that many weaknesses as of yet, but if he does have one it’s his submission defense. Renan Barao locked him up in a swift arm triangle that McDonald simply had no answer for. Faber’s a master of chokes; that’s bad news for “Mayday.” Faber via round 2 submission.
Rory Kernaghan: Urijah Faber has long been one of my favorite fighters. ‘The California Kid’ is an exciting, explosive and dynamic fighter with a character to boot. Michael MacDonald is a solid competitor with a very impressive record, but I’m not sure that is enough. Faber has fought consistently at a very high level, scoring 29 victories overall. I expect a very exciting bout against MacDonald, with Faber emerging the winner by way of submission in round three.
Brian Cox: Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald is going to be another furious fight. Faber is the much more experienced veteran and McDonald is the supremely confident yet considerably younger fighter. McDonald’s greatest tool might be his overriding belief in himself. He’s not afraid of Faber and he really believes he can beat the legend. However, in looking at Faber’s last fight, he was seriously challenged and overcame it with flying colors in a brilliant performance. I think Faber is going to be too much, too soon for McDonald. He’s fought the best 135-pounders in the world in championship bouts. In short, I think Faber simply has too much experience and skill for McDonald. For that reason I’m picking Urijah Faber to take home the win with a second round submission.
Buster Evans: I think this will be a difficult fight for both men that it could go either way. The thing that makes me unsure is Faber and his record of being unbeatable outside of title fights. Faber will have a massive experience advantage over his opponent. McDonald has more than enough power to put him away but I think Faber will be too smart for that. Faber by submission in round 3.
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