UFC 157: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Kyle SymesCorrespondent IIIFebruary 22, 2013

UFC 157: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    UFC 157 and the history that will be made are just around the corner.

    The card will, of course, be headlined by the first women's bout in UFC history as Ronda Rousey looks to add another arm to her collection. Standing in her way will be former U.S. Marine Liz Carmouche, who will look to spoil Rousey's coming-out party.

    As important as the main event is for the progression of women's MMA, UFC 157's co-main event may be of equal importance. Ageless knockout artist Dan Henderson will face off against Brazilian enigma Lyoto Machida to determine who challenges for the light heavyweight title in their next contest.

    In a bantamweight clash, former WEC champion Urijah Faber looks to get back into the win column as he takes on the veteran Ivan Menjivar. Both men are talented and have excellent cardio, so expect a quick, action-packed bout.

    Court McGee, a John Hackleman prodigy, will make his welterweight debut after finding mixed success at middleweight. He faces Josh Neer in what can only be described as a "loser leaves town" matchup.

    Kicking off the main card will be perennial bad boy Josh Koscheck welcoming Robbie Lawler back to the Octagon. Lawler will be making his first UFC appearance since UFC 50.

    I've joined Bleacher Report MMA featured columnists Scott Harris, Sean Smith, McKinley Noble, Damon Martin and John Heinis in making predictions for the main card of UFC 157, which can be found at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view.

Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler

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    Scott Harris: I'm just as big of a fan of violence as the next guy, which would explain why I enjoy Robbie Lawler. His problem has never been offense, though. If he can't get the big shots off early, he tends to fade. Unfortunately for Lawler and his second UFC run, Josh Koscheck happens to specialize in wearing his opponents down. 

    Koscheck, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith: If Paulo Thiago can catch Josh Koscheck, then Robbie Lawler definitely has the ability to finish this fight early. However, Koscheck is experienced enough to avoid taking risks against a dangerous opponent like Lawler. He will use his wrestling to dominate this fight on the ground.

    Koscheck, unanimous decision

     

    McKinley Noble: Looking at his record, Josh Koscheck seems to be doing just fine at 15-6 in his UFC career, but his recent fights tell a different story. He let Johny Hendricks take a winnable decision from him, nearly caved to punches from Matt Hughes and barely got past Mike Pierce. But even then, he's still miles ahead of Robbie Lawler.

    Koscheck, unanimous decision

     

    Damon Martin: This fight really comes down to strategy for Josh Koscheck. If he employs a smart game plan like he did against Paul Daley and doesn't try to prove he can stand with a knockout artist, Koscheck can out-wrestle and out-muscle Robbie Lawler around the cage for the full 15 minutes.

    Koscheck, unanimous decision

     

    John Heinis: Is this fight actually going to happen? Josh Koscheck, a former UFC welterweight title challenger, can't get the Rory MacDonalds, Carlos Condits or Nick Diazes of the world? That's fine, but come on, Joe Silva, the best guy available was Robbie Lawler? This one should be over quickly.

    Koscheck, TKO, Round 1

     

    Kyle Symes: This fight will be a test of how much pride and confidence Josh Koscheck has. If he's smart, he will use his wrestling to take Robbie Lawler down at will. I'm banking on him sticking with his guns in this one after a tough loss to Johny Hendricks.

    Koscheck, unanimous decision

     

    Staff picking Koscheck: 6

    Staff picking Lawler: 0

Court McGee vs. Josh Neer

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    Scott Harris: It doesn't get much more loser-leaves-town-y than this matchup. Court McGee should be huge as a welterweight, but will that translate to physical dominance? I think it will against a cagey veteran in Josh Neer, whom I believe may have lost his big-league fastball following two very bad first-round losses.

    McGee, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith: The first fight after changing weight divisions can be difficult for a fighter, but it should help Court McGee here in a bout with a veteran opponent who appears to be fading. Josh Neer is scrappy and can definitely make this interesting, but McGee should be able to muscle his way to his first win since September 2011.

    McGee, unanimous decision

     

    McKinley Noble:  Both Court McGee and Josh Neer have had some bad luck against tough opponents (Mike Pyle, Costa Philippou, Nick Ring), but McGee is the better fighter. In an ideal world, neither man gets cut with a loss. Unfortunately for Neer, the new UFC is Dana White's world.

    McGee, unanimous decision

     

    Damon Martin: Court McGee is dropping down to 170 pounds for the first time, but he should make weight without issue because he did a test cut before ultimately taking this fight. McGee is a grinder who can put his weight on opponents and work them to the ground when necessary. Josh Neer's best days are behind him, and unless he can uncork a big punch to finish this one, he's probably going to end up frustrated throughout the fight.

    McGee, unanimous decision

     

    John Heinis: While neither of these guys is anywhere near the title picture, it's a little surprising that both have lost two fights in a row. Josh Neer's chin isn't what it used to be, and while his jiu-jitsu skills are still pretty sharp, Court McGee has way better stand-up and strong takedown defense. This is another fight that looks obvious on paper.

    McGee, unanimous decision.

     

    Kyle Symes: Although I'm nervous to pick Court McGee based on the fact that it's his first time at welterweight, I don't envision him having problems with making 170 pounds. Josh Neer isn't the same fighter he once was, and I believe McGee has the takedown defense to keep it standing and the striking skills to finish the fight.

    McGee, TKO, Round 2

     

    Staff Picking McGee: 6

    Staff Picking Neer: 0

Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar

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    Scott Harris:  Everyone loves to lob verbal bouquets in the direction of Ivan Menjivar, but I think Urijah Faber will have too much for him in a bout both men are hungry to win. Faber won't be able to outlast a fellow cardio beast in Menjivar, but he should be able to overpower him with punches and big takedowns.

    Faber, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith: Urijah Faber's championship days may be behind him, but he's still an elite bantamweight and will have a chance to prove it now that he's getting a step down in competition for the first time in a while. Ivan Menjivar's wealth of experience will make him tough to finish, but he's not quite on the same level as "The California Kid" athletically.

    Faber, unanimous decision

     

    McKinley Noble: Mark this down as the main-card fight I'm looking forward to most. Urijah Faber and Ivan Menjivar both have bad habits of dropping decision losses, but I'm not giving up on "Mr. Butt Chin" for losing to Renan Barao. Both men are damn near impossible to finish, but Faber fortunately just needs to win two rounds here.

    Faber, unanimous decision

     

    Damon Martin:  Facts are facts, and the truth about Urijah Faber is that he's never lost two fights in a row in his entire career. And when you look at whom he's faced after losses, it's not like the guy is going up against tomato cans. Faber can't quite get over the championship hump, but he feasts on anybody not wearing a gold belt around his waist. Ivan Menjivar couldn't pull the trigger in his last fight, and I believe he'll be just as likely to shoot blanks in this one.

    Faber, submission, Round 3

     

    John Heinis: Ivan Menjivar is slightly underrated, and Urijah Faber is on the decline, but "The Pride of El Salvador" just can't seem to beat a name opponent. Meanwhile, Faber hasn't lost a non-title fight in a long time.

    Faber, submission, Round 3

     

    Kyle Symes: Not being able to beat two of the best bantamweights in the UFC (Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao) is nothing to get upset about. Urijah Faber clearly isn't a championship-level fighter anymore, but I don't expect him to have any issues with Ivan Menjivar.

    Faber, unanimous decision

     

    Staff Picking Faber: 6

    Staff Picking Menjivar: 0

Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida

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    Scott Harris: This is a great purist counterweight to the brave new world of the main event. I'd love to see some fireworks here, but I just don't think that's going to happen. I think we'll see the more cautious incarnation of Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida as he stays out of H-bomb range and scores whenever Dan Henderson moves in for a takedown or standing exchange.

    Machida, unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith: With an H-bomb waiting to detonate, Dan Henderson can never be counted out of a fight. However, he's been out of action a long time for a fighter of his age and may have trouble landing his looping punches against the usually evasive Lyoto Machida. The Brazilian should be able to nip and tuck his way to a decision win over the granite-chinned Henderson. 

    Machida, unanimous decision

     

    McKinley Noble: Amazingly enough, Dan Henderson has never been finished in a professional MMA fight via strikes or knockout. And while Lyoto Machida has the speed, striking ability and footwork to win this, I just don't see a finish happening here. Testosterone's a hell of a drug.

    Machida, unanimous decision

     

    Damon Martin: As much as I still want to see Dan Henderson face Jon Jones, I just don't like his prospects of getting there by way of beating Lyoto Machida. Henderson has serious power in his right hand and will throw it often, but I doubt Machida will be there to get hit with it. "The Dragon" can avoid damage by circling away from Henderson's power and pop-shotting him from the outside.

    Machida, unanimous decision

     

    John Heinis: I'm a big Dan Henderson fan (really, who isn't?), but I have a bad feeling this could look a lot like when his old Team Quest teammate, Randy Couture, fought Lyoto Machida. "Hendo" isn't going to land any big, telegraphed shots on Machida, and he hasn't scored a takdown off a shot in ages. This should be a one-sided affair. 

    Machida, unanimous decision

     

    Kyle Symes: I think people are forgetting that an aging, slow Mauricio Rua clipped Lyoto Machida with a right hand to take the UFC light heavyweight title. Although I was very impressed with Machida's one-punch KO of Ryan Bader, "The Dragon" will be the one taking a nap at UFC 157. Henderson only needs to time one of Machida's advances and land a decisive KO strike.

    Henderson, TKO, Round 2

     

    Staff Picking Henderson: 1

    Staff Picking Machida: 5

Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche

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    Scott Harris: It would be foolish to pick anything but another first-round submission win for Ronda Rousey. I know no one wants to hear about moral victories, but Liz Carmouche has acquitted herself and her sport very well in the run-up to this fight. Hopefully, she has earned herself a long-term foothold in the UFC regardless of what happens in this fight.

    Rousey, submission, Round 1

     

    Sean Smith: Liz Carmouche can practice defending armbars all she wants, but it won't make up for the years and years of experience that Ronda Rousey has had making people tap from them. Rousey gets this fight to the ground early and does her thing.

    Rousey, submission, Round 1

     

    McKinley Noble: Poor Liz Carmouche might kill the UFC women's division in its first fight. Rousey is a monster submission artist and grappler, but I'm incredibly wary of her horrid striking and porous combinations. Maybe it's stupid to bet against her, but I was never arrogant enough to call myself a predictions expert.

    Carmouche, TKO, Round 1

     

    Damon Martin: This is Ronda Rousey's arrival, and it won't be spoiled no matter how much people are worried about the upset. Liz Carmouche is tough, but she doesn't strike me as ready for this fight. A few more wins and some more experience would have done her a world of good. Rousey is just too much for her right now.

    Rousey, submission, Round 1

     

    John Heinis: There isn't a good reason not to pick Ronda Rousey by first-round armbar here, other than if you're trying to be annoying. Everyone knows what's going to happen, even if Liz Carmouche doesn't care to admit it.

    Rousey, submission, Round 1

     

    Kyle Symes: Leading up to this fight, Liz Carmouche and her camp have been talking about her impressive top game, ground-and-pound and ability to defend the armbar. I'm sure her training partners are good fighters, but they're not Olympic-level athletes who have been doing the move for years. The person to take down Ronda Rousey is someone with a scary striking game and a Chuck Liddell-esque level of takedown defense—Carmouche has neither of those.

    Rousey, submission, Round 1

     

    Staff Picking Rousey: 5

    Staff Picking Carmouche: 1