There is always something special about a combat sports card which features heavyweights in the main event. That is exactly what we have with UFC 155 on Saturday, Dec. 29 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Junior Dos Santos will attempt to defend his UFC Heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez, the man he won it from in November 2011. Anytime two hard-hitting heavyweights collide, there is always the chance for fireworks.
Before the big guys tangle, there are a host of other potentially entertaining bouts on tap. Here are my predictions for each of them.
Cariaso has a good fan following, and he's a very skilled, hard-working fighter, but his lack of power troubles me. That is especially the case in this fight.
Moraga is the bigger guy—if the word "bigger" is even appropriate when discussing 123-pound men—and he has heavy hands.
Cariaso has never stopped an opponent by KO or TKO in UFC competition, and his quickness and skill will not get him passed Moraga's wrestling and striking ability.
Don't let Moraga's simplistic description of his strengths fool you: "I come from the hood," per UFC.com.
Prediction: John Moraga by decision
I don't see this fight lasting long. If the main event doesn't feature the KO of the night, this one may be the leading candidate.
Duffee is very strong, and he has displayed KO-power in the past. All seven of his MMA wins have come by KO. That said, both of his losses have come in the same fashion.
He was KO'd by Mike Russow and Alistair Overeem in 2010. He brings the fight to his opponent, and De Fries should expect nothing less on Saturday night.
This isn't necessarily De Fries cup of tea, though.
He's primarily a submission artist who will be looking to take the fight to the ground, but the more athletic Duffee will catch him before he can implement this game plan. This one could be nasty.
Prediction: Duffee by KO
Max Holloway has replaced Cody McKenzie as Garcia's opponent in the bout. McKenzie may have been an easier draw for Garcia because of his weak striking. Now, the 33-year-old veteran will have to contend with the more aggressive Holloway.
Garcia desperately needs a win, as he has dropped three fights in a row. More futility could lead to him receiving his walking papers from the organization.
Holloway is an up-and-coming fighter who impressed me with his second-round TKO of Justin Lawrence at UFC 150.
Garcia is so tough, and he's difficult to stop, but I see Holloway controlling all three rounds.
Prediction: Holloway by decision
Jury is undefeated in 10 MMA bouts, and he brings a very nice all-around game into the Octagon.
He is facing an experienced opponent in Johnson (18 MMA bouts), but he has shown a weakness to submission attempts in the past.
Five of Johnson's six losses have come by way of submission. That plays right into the hands of Jury. While he is solid in his stand-up game, Jury has forced his last two opponents to tap out.
I predict he'll make it three submission wins in a row in this one.
Prediction: Jury by submission
This is another fight that has the potential to end as the Knockout of the Night. Both Guillard and Varner are known for their tremendous striking ability and fearless approach.
At times, Guillard's decision-making baffles me. He had Donald Cerrone beaten in his last fight but stopped applying pressure after he dazed him. I declare, he is truly his toughest opponent.
This fight is going to come down to which man lands the big shot first. That's always such a fun dynamic.
In perhaps the biggest toss-up of the evening, I'm going with Guillard. He's the better athlete, and I give him the slight edge in striking power.
Prediction: Guillard by KO
I love Bloodworth's name for combat sports, but I don't give him much of a chance in this fight. Perez is an exciting 23-year-old striker/submissions artist.
What I saw of Bloodworth against Mike Easton in October 2011 wasn't impressive, as The Hulk overpowered him with a combination of speed and aggressiveness.
Though Perez doesn't bring the bulk and raw power Easton does, he is exceptionally quick and versatile with his attacks.
Perez is the one to watch over the next year or two in the bantamweight division.
Prediction: Perez by TKO
This could be a great fight. Pickett is one of the hardest punchers pound-for-pound in MMA. Wineland is no slouch as a striker, but most of all, he's tough as nails.
The man that looks like Adam Levine's evil twin has been stopped only once in his career, and that was because of an injury.
Both men have tremendous grappling backgrounds, so this fight could play out in a hodgepodge of ground and stand-up fighting. It really is difficult to predict the winner of this bout, but I'm going to go with Wineland.
Pickett is 34 years old, and Wineland's quickness and counter-punching ability will be the difference.
Prediction: Wineland by KO
The Crippler is one of my favorite fighters, but he is 32 years old, and he's been in a ton of wars. Does he have enough to turn back a once highly thought of 28-year-old?
I think he does.
Brunson looked very good in his first nine MMA bouts. He displayed strong striking and seemed to have the building blocks to improve in other areas.
Following two disappointing losses in Strikeforce, including a 41-second rout at the hands of Ronaldo Souza, Brunson isn't so scary anymore.
He's somewhat custom-made for Leben, and The Crippler will KO him in the second round.
Prediction: Leben by KO
I've never been a major fan of Okami. He certainly looks the part of a major contender and potential champion. He's big, strong and skilled, but he lacks the it-factor to push him through tough fights.
He had completely dominated Tim Boetsch in their bout in February, but he ran out of gas.
Boetsch showed toughness and grit to come back for the late stoppage, which is part of the reason Boetsch is fighting further down the UFC 155 card.
This is actually the second time Okami will have faced Belcher.
The two men met in UFC 62 back in 2006. It was both Okami and Belcher's UFC debut, and Okami won a three-round decision.
This time, things will be different. Belcher has won three fights in a row, including a TKO of Rousimar Palhares in May 2012. He will score a definitive KO victory over Okami in the second round.
Prediction: Belcher by KO
Boetsch is a warrior who makes up for what he doesn't have in physical ability with heart.
Costa is one of my favorite relative newcomers to the UFC. He's incredibly skilled as a stand-up fighter and an all-around good athlete. The winner of this fight will have a good shot at challenging for the middleweight title in the near future.
Costa has won four fights in a row since losing his UFC debut back in March 2011.
He is the more skilled stand-up fighter in this bout, and that is the way this fight figures to be fought. Boetsch is a good wrestler, but he is at his best when he's brawling.
Unless Costa gets careless, he should win an easy decision over Boetsch.
Prediction: Philippou by decision
If you want to see some beautiful groundwork, this is the fight you want to see. Both of these UFC veterans are submissions experts, and this could turn into a clinic in submission attempts and reversals.
In that category, I'd give Lauzon the edge. Because of that, Miller may choose to turn this fight into a stand-up encounter, which will give him his best chance of victory.
Lauzon isn't a great athlete, and he struggles in a stand-up fight, as he was knocked out cold by Anthony Pettis in February at UFC 144.
That said, he isn't as dynamic a striker as Pettis, and I don't think he can keep this fight from going to the mat. He's capable of winning it there, but I don't think he will.
Prediction: Lauzon by decision
In the rematch, Velasquez will be intent on making Dos Santos prove he can handle himself on the ground. Even though Velasquez packs a major wallop in his punches, he has to realize he can't trade with Junior in the middle of the Octagon.
If Dos Santos can thwart Velasquez's attempts to grapple, he will set-up another KO victory. He's taller, quicker and the better overall striker when you factor in quickness.
Who gets their way?
I'm going with Velasquez in this one.
He has tasted Dos Santos' power, he respects it, but I don't think he's fearful of it. He will out-think the champion, get the fight to the ground, and he will regain the title via decision.
Prediction: Velasquez by decision
Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games