Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum:

Mike Drahota:

The excitement for this heavyweight title fight is justified given that we haven’t seen dominant champion Velasquez for almost 20 months now. Most are picking him to steamroll through Werdum without missing much of a beat, and while I think it’s tough to argue with that sentiment, I’m not sure that it’s going to be as much of an easy walkover as expected. Werdum has undoubtedly risen to new heights in recent bouts under Rafael Cordeiro at King’s MMA, and although he’s usually a substantial underdog in most of his fights, he always finds a way to beat some of the top heavyweights in the world as of late.

Velasquez’s pressure will be an entirely different animal to deal with in the cage, however, but a lot of that could depend on how effectively Velasquez adjusts to the time off. Because of that and Werdum’s improvement, I think that ‘Vai Cavalo’ has much more of a chance to win than most predictions I’ve seen. Still, I don’t think he’ll be able to overcome the champ’s pressure or motivation at being called a ‘fake Mexican.’ Velasquez via unanimous decision.

Rory Kernaghan:

Cain Velasquez has proved himself as one of the most dominant champions in MMA today, and I don’t think Fabricio Werdum will be the one to knock the Mexican from his perch. ‘Vai Cavalo’ may have got his striking game on point in recent showings, but Velasquez has been at an elite level on the feet for years now and I don’t think his Brazilian foe has the chops to stand and trade at UFC 188. Wrestling clearly goes to Velasquez too, but then there’s always the savage submission skills of the BJJ expert to watch out for. Nonetheless I expect a brutal fight for Werdum, as the champion retains the belt with a fantastic first round knockout in Mexico.

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Mike Henken:

For me, this bout fully depends on the health of the champion. After 20 months away from the sport due to injury, there are a lot of questions about how Cain Velasquez will look, but if he’s healthy, I believe he gets the job done. However, I also believe that Fabricio Werdum has a better chance than most people are giving him. On the feet, Velasquez is just a monster. He never stops going forward, and frequently lands accurate and powerful shots at a pace that breaks to-level fighters. Werdum has improved his striking immensely at King’s MMA, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land some big shots, but it will be tough with Velasquez’s pressure. The champion definitely has the wrestling advantage, and is brutal with his top control and ground and pound. On the ground, Werdum is the superior as he is one of the very best submission artists in mixed martial arts history, but I just don’t see Velasquez getting finished. I think this will be a close and exciting fight between two all-time greats, but I see Velasquez unifying the belts via unanimous decision.

Jason Selby:

I do not think this fight will even be close. Werdum has been training in Mexico for 2 months, taking the time to get used to the altitude. Nothing can prepare a fighter to face the onslaught that is Cain Velasquez. Despite being out of the octagon for close to two years, Velasquez has shown from past fights that he can overcome the ring rust factor. Velasquez is going to impose his will with intense pressure, world class wrestling, and 20,000 screaming Mexican fans on his side. I can see the first round being close, but the later this fight goes, the more I see it going to Velasquez. Velasquez by Round 3 TKO.

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Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez:

Mike Drahota:

It’s too bad we didn’t get to see these two warriors duke it out in their prime, as age and a rapidly improving 155-pound talent pool has left both Melendez and Alvarez just a cut bellow the true elite of the division. Nevertheless, this is a great and potentially exciting co-main event in Mexico where I expect both fighters to lay it all on the line in an effort to stay relevant. Melendez has faltered in two of three UFC bouts and Alvarez lost his only bout in the promotion, making this a sink-or-swim proposition for both men. For those reasons I foresee a war where neither fighter is willing to give an inch and will be content to stand in the center of the Octagon and trade blows. Melendez may have the slight wrestling advantage, but I’m not entirely sure he’s even going to use it all that much. It’s close once again, but I have to go with ‘El Nino’ by split decision.

Rory Kernaghan:

Eddie Alvarez vs. Gilbert Melendez is sure to provide fireworks, and I believe the difference in this fight will be technical ability and speed. ‘El Nino’ has a great chin and some real power, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to hang with the former Bellator lightweight champion. Speed will also be the key for ‘The Silent Assassin’ in the striking exchanges, and I think he’ll be able to pick apart the ex-Strikeforce boss with relative ease. It won’t be pretty, and I also don’t think there’ll be a finish in this fight, as Alvarez batters Melendez en route to a unanimous decision victory.

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Mike Henken:

This is a very interesting and close fight between two former champions. Melendez, who is of Mexican descent, will have the fans on his side and will likely look to implement his go-forward, never stop, Mexican style of fighting. “El Nino” has strong, and powerful, yet sometimes wild striking, decent wrestling, and solid submissions. Alvarez, on the other hand, is a more crisp and fluent boxer with great knockout power, but also likes to brawl. The former Bellator champion may have the wrestling advantage, but I believe Melendez nullifies that with his mat skills. This is a tough one to call for me as I can see it going both ways. Both men are hungry to put recent losses behind them and get a win, but I see Melendez stealing a decision win after an entertaining war in front of the Mexican faithful.

Jason Selby:

This has been a fight in the making since long before both of these superstars brought their talent to the UFC. Both Melendez and Alvarez are coming off losses, so expect this fight to serve as a proving ground for both men. Although Alvarez is in the best shape of his career, I see Melendez taking control of this fight. Melendez is a well-rounded fighter with championship experience in the UFC. He has been looking to fight in Mexico for years, and I can’t see him letting this opportunity slip. Melendez by unanimous decision.

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