Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi:
Mike Drahota: This bout is an interesting one, perhaps the finest UFC Fight Night main event we’ve seen to date. With two of the best all-around striking games in all of MMA, both of these men could legitimately contend for the UFC middleweight title in the future. Machida looked more than solid in his divisional debut against Mark Munoz, and Mousasi is the former DREAM middleweight champion. However, coming off of ACL surgery and a long layoff, I think that “The Dragon” is going to be a bit too quick to the punch for Mousasi. “The Dreamcatcher” could struggle to find his timing early on, so if Machida remains aggressive, this should be his fight to lose. Mousasi has never been knocked out, so my pick is Machida by unanimous decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Lyoto Machida has some of the best striking in MMA and I’ve been saying that for a while. Mousasi has long been regarded as one of the best fighters outside the UFC, and his debut against Ilir Latifi was a squash match for sure. He faces in ‘The Dragon’ a challenge that will determine whether he is truly top level, and in my opinion Machida will take him out. Look for slick movement and counter punching en route to a third round TKO for Machida.
Brian Cox: Machida is more the chess master and Mousasi more the gunslinger. I think Machida will play his normal counter striking game. I think Mousasi will be the one that comes forward and makes the fight happen. However, as he does, I think he’ll look to keep his range and damage Machida from the outside. I don’t think the fight will be a brawl or ground fight. I think these two will stand and trade. As both are talented strikers and smart fighters, neither may end up falling prey to the other’s talents. I think Machida has the better chance of stopping this fight. ‘The Dragon’ looked amazing in his first outing in the UFC’s 185-pound division. As such, he’s fresh, where Mousasi, although now healthy, hasn’t fought in nearly a year. Machida is in the right weight class and has a lack of ring rust. I’m picking Machida by round two KO.
Buster Evans: I’m so pumped for this fight. I can’t wait. In my opinion both Machida and Mousasi have what it takes to become the middleweight champion, I also think they are the two most talented fighters in the division. This fight really could go either way, but I think it will all come down to whether or not Mousasi can catch Machida; and I have a feeling he will. Mousasi also has the better jaw of the two, so I’m going with “The Dreamcatcher.” Mousasi will catch “The Dragon” midway through the fight and finish him with strikes. Mousasi via TKO in round two.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Francis Carmont:
Mike Drahota: Another great middleweight tilt, “Jacare” has absolutely been on fire since dropping his Strikeforce middleweight title to Luke Rockhold in September of 2011. He’s finished his last five opponents, including two UFC wins over Yushin Okami and Chris Camozzi. While Carmont has won six straight UFC bouts and is an absolutely monstrous middleweight, two of those wins could have easily gone the other way. Carmont has a better shot than most people are giving him, but I think that “Jacare” is just too much of a beast right now. Souza by round two TKO.
Rory Kernaghan: Francis Carmont and Ronaldo Souza is a very interesting middleweight match-up for the UFC Fight Night 36 co-main event. Souza has found his striking and is a powerful threat at 185 pounds, and Carmont is a technically sound range fighter. I expect “Jacare” to have the advantage in most positions, and if he is able to get past Carmont’s long arms and legs, he should bring home the win. My prediction? Carmont gets taken down and subbed in round one.
Brian Cox: The co-main fight between “Jacare” Souza and Francis Carmont is going to tell us a lot about one of these two fighters. Souza is on a tear and has looked like an absolute beast in the UFC’s Octagon. That said, Carmont himself is on a roll. Souza is a wizard on the ground and has developed a powerful standup game, to go with his ground mastery. For his part, Carmont is the bigger fighter and may be able to determine if the fight stays standing or goes to the ground. I think Carmont will opt to take the fight to the mat and hope that his top-heavy ground game can neutralize Souza’s Jiu-jitsu. I think Carmont will be able to take Souza down, control him and grind out a victory. As such, I’m picking Francis Carmont by way of unanimous decision.
Buster Evans: When this fight was first announced, my initial thoughts were: “Carmont has no chance of winning.” I thought “Jacare” would dominate him on the feet and on the ground. But the more I thought about this fight, the more I found myself thinking about Carmont’s huge size advantage and whether he could possibly smother the Brazilian for three straight rounds. I do think there is a good chance that could happen, but I’m going to go with Souza because I think he’s going to catch “Limitless” and put him to sleep. I’m going with a Souza TKO in round two.