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Team World is making a run now, but the U.S. still holds a monstrous edge in the total score. That makes it crunch time. The World has to do some damage right here.
Well, that will be tough. Because, you know, Jon Jones. And those other guys too. But mostly Jon Jones.
Jon Jones (U.S.) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (SWE): Jones def. Gustafsson (9-1)
Don't look at me, I wasn't the one who picked Gustafsson.
Neither was Hunter Homistek, who explains why this is an easy selection...for most of us.
Jon Jones is better than Alexander Gustafsson everywhere this fight goes. Making matters worse, Jones' greatest strength (his wrestling) aligns with Gustafsson's greatest weakness, ensuring that this will be a beatdown of grand proportions. The American takes it, and he takes it easily.
Rashad Evans (U.S.) vs. Glover Teixeira (BRA): Teixeira def. Evans (8-2)
All of us actually think Evans takes this. We were just way too scared that Teixeira would learn about the result, so we fudged the scoring a little.
Dan Henderson (U.S.) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (BRA): Henderson and Nogueira tie (5-5)
Nogueira holds a victory over Henderson from way back in 2005, but a lot has changed since then.
The pick probably would have been a clean sweep for Hendo if we had voted a year ago. Since then, however, Nogueira has come up in the world, while Henderson has come down.
Apparently they are now equals. Rock, paper, scissors again.
Phil Davis (U.S.) vs. Lyoto Machida (BRA): Machida def. Davis (9-1)
Hunter Homistek explains the rationale behind picking "The Dragon" to win this one:
Phil Davis is not on Lyoto Machida's level. Against elite light heavyweight Rashad Evans, Davis fell flat, and his latest fight against Vinny Magalhaes showed nothing that leads me to think he can hang with somebody of Machida's caliber.
While Davis is the better pure wrestler in this fight, Machida's own grappling skills are severely underrated, as he has shown in ragdolling opponents like Thiago Silva and Rameau Sokoudjou. Machida is too elusive (yeah, I said it), too technical, too well-rounded and too seasoned for Davis.
As it happens, the two fighters will meet later this summer.
Chael Sonnen (U.S.) vs. Mauricio Rua (BRA): Sonnen def. Rua (7-3)
Rua hasn't aged particularly well as a mixed martial artist. That's the price of multiple knee surgeries and a penchant for getting into wars. He's still fighting at a fairly high level, but Sonnen's wrestling is likely to give him problems in this matchup.
That's why I picked Sonnen to win, and I don't doubt that Rua's decline combined with the stylistic challenges he'll face is what prompted the majority of voters to side with the American.
Rua and Sonnen will do it for real later this summer.