Roy Nelson vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira:
Mike Drahota: This definitely has the potential to be a heavy-hitting affair, as both fighters’ relevancy is essentially on the line. “Big Country” has lost two straight while “Big Nog” has been plagued by injuries and losses in four out of his last seven. Despite Nelson’s extensive grappling background, he hasn’t submitted a foe since 2006. He’s already conceded the submission edge to “Minotauro,” so it seems he’ll look to keep this fight standing. He always has that overhand right that can change a fight, but it’s pretty obvious that he’ll be looking for it. Given the chin of both of these fighters, a finish is going to be tough to come by. Still, “Big Nog” has been on a major decline, an aspect that makes me think Nelson wins this by round 2 TKO.
Rory Kernaghan: UFC heavyweights Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are probably a pretty even match at this stage in their careers. If they had met a few years ago in Pride’s era, I would have give Nogueira the easy win, but as it stands I’ll still give him the slight edge. Nelson can take a big punch, but I don’t think his chin will win him the fight, to be honest. I expect a long beatdown for ‘Big Country’ as he looks to land his patented right hand to no avail. “Big Nog” by decision all day.
Brian Cox: I think the bout will be a competitive. Both fighters have knockout power, and submissions skills. However, I think Nelson might be a little stronger in all three departments with the exception of straight-up boxing. I believe the fight will take place on the feet and never go to the mat. As such, I think this will be a contest between Nelson’s kickboxing and Nogueira’s boxing. It would be wise for Nogueira to avoid a brawl with “Big Country” and use his technical skills in an effort to pick Nelson apart. However, Nelson’s come-forward style and resilient chin make him a hard fighter to keep at range, and an even harder one to knock out. As such and for reasons of Octagon generalship, I think I’ll have to go with the American fighter in this one. Roy “Big Country” Nelson by way of unanimous decision.
Buster Evans: Although I think “Big Nog” is the more skilled mixed martial artist, I like “Big Country’s” chances of winning here. Nogueira is the better boxer of the two, but he has slowed down a lot in the last few years and I think Nelson is going to catch him. The Brazilian’s best chance of winning is to get the fight on the mat but that’s going to be easier said than done against Nelson, who’s proven to be extremely difficult to take down in the past. Look for Nelson to be patient with his striking before putting “Minotauro” out cold in the first. Nelson via KO round 1.
Clay Guida vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri:
Mike Drahota: This is a potentially awesome featherweight match-up between to fighters at completely different points in their careers. Guida has looked less than stellar in losing three out of his last four, while Kawajiri has been on a tear, winning six straight since losing to Gilbert Melendez in late 2011. Guida has his back against the wall, but we’ll have to see if even that’s enough for him to come out of his shell. He looked decent but overmatched in his last bout against Chad Mendes, and should have an easier test here. But, it won’t be much easier, and I think that “Crusher” has a ton of confidence working in his favor. That leads me to believe that Kawajiri takes this one by split decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Tatsuya Kawajiri and Clay Guida have very similar styles of fighting, and could easily win an end of night bonus. “Crusher” has fought in the biggest promotions in Asia, “The Carpenter” has been part of some amazing fights in the UFC, and both men come in with a great chin and an iron will. I expect Kawajiri to be on the offensive and for Guida to use his footwork and look for the counter. As tough as Guida is, I don’t see him getting past “Crusher.” Should be a great fight, and I’m picking Tatsuya Kawajiri to edge out a decision.
Brian Cox: Both Guida and Kawajiri have a ton of experience and heart, and both can fight standing or on the mat. Guida’s greatest tools are his pace and his chin. And as usual, I expect him to come out and try and run his opponent ragged. However, in doing so, Guida will be running headfirst into a stronger and more technically savvy fighter, and certainly one with more knockout power. I believe Guida will likely come out and pepper Kawajiri from range, darting in and out, while trying to finish the latter part of the rounds with takedowns. As I see it, Kawajiri will either need to catch Guida coming in or try and reverse him on the ground when taken down and try to submit him. However, I think Guida’s chin and wrestling will prevent “Crusher” from doing either. As such, I’m going to pick “The Carpenter” to rule the day. Winner by unanimous decision, Clay Guida.
Buster Evans: This one has me intrigued. Guida has been incredibly inconsistent with his recent showing. Despite losing in his last fight to Chad Mendes, the former Strikeforce champion still put in a strong effort. Kawajiri has looked a force to be reckoned with since dropping down to featherweight. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Crusher” pull off a submission win, but I think Guida will do just enough to scrape a decision. Guida via unanimous decision.
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