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UFC 168: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Sean SmithAnalyst IDecember 27, 2013

UFC 168: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva are set to meet again at UFC 168.

    In July, Silva saw his legendary middleweight title run ended by a Weidman left hook while he was pretending to be wobbled. Now that Weidman has earned his respect, "The Spider" should enter the Octagon as a more focused fighter on Saturday.

    Whether that makes a difference in this matchup or not, it's what makes UFC 168 the company's most highly anticipated event of 2013.

    As the world's top MMA promotion gets set to finish its calendar year strong, Bleacher Report's own Riley Kontek, Scott Harris, Craig Amos, James MacDonald and Sean Smith joined up to bring you predictions for every bout on the UFC 168 main card.

Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    This definitely has all the makings of a Fight of the Night. The big question here is going to be whose cardio is greater. Diego Brandao has been known to be super aggressive out of the gate, which can cause him to suck wind down the stretch. Poirier, meanwhile, always comes into fights in good physical condition. His technique will be more effective than Brandao's power, earning him a decision over the winded Brazilian.

    Poirier, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    One day, Brandao may learn that he doesn't have to be a bull in a china shop to win fights and his style may indeed be costing him victories. I don't think Saturday will be that day. Poirier stays poised and picks the big guy apart with diverse striking combinations.

    Poirier, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    It took me a lot longer to buy Poirier as a legitimate title threat at featherweight than most, but in retrospect, I chalk that up to a general lack of intelligence on my part. After he convincingly dispatched Erik Koch back in August, I like his chances against Brandao.

    Poirier, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a big step up in competition for Brandao. The Brazilian isn’t wanting for talent, but he may very well be exposed here unless he adopts a more methodical approach. Should he approach the fight like a man trying to make his dinner reservation, Poirier will have his way with him. With that in mind, I expect “The Diamond” to run away with the fight from the middle of the second round, after a competitive opening round.

    Poirier, Unanimous decision



    Sean Smith

    Brandao has the talent to be a future featherweight contender. However, he may be getting his shot at becoming one too soon. Poirier is a big step up in competition for Brandao, who has still been working on a glaring weakness in his conditioning. Brandao will look like a title threat early, but Poirier can pull away in the later rounds as long as he survives the opening-round onslaught from the Brazilian. 

    Poirier, Unanimous decision

Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    This has the feel of a gimme fight, don't it? Jim Miller is one of the crown jewels of the lightweight division, and at this point, Fabricio Camoes is an expendable asset. Everything Camoes does well, Miller does better. I really think this may go to a decision, but for the sake of not looking like "Mr. Decision" between the prelim and main card picks, I will say Miller stops him late.

    Miller, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Scott Harris

    Miller has the heavy wrestling game to topple Camoes and keep him pinned to the ground. It would be fun to see a vale tudo veteran like Camoes have a real UFC run, but at this point it seems he's just not up to the task. He'll drown in the deep water against a win-hungry Miller.

    Miller, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    On a main card with several close, tough-to-call matchups, this one stands out as an easy pick. Though Camoes sports an impressive ground game, the fast-action, well-rounded Miller just has too many tools.

    Miller, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a tough matchup for Camoes. I’m hoping the fight will be competitive, but I can see Miller turning it into a grappling match and taking a lopsided unanimous decision.

    Miller, Unanimous decision



    Sean Smith

    This is an odd bit of matchmaking. Fabricio Camoes, coming off a loss to Michael Johnson, will now meet Top 10 lightweight Jim Miller. It should be a nice tune-up fight for Miller, who is looking for his first win in 12 months.

    Miller, Submission, Rd. 1

Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    Travis Browne is getting a ton of press lately after what he did to Alistair Overeem. That's well deserved, but the young Greg Jackson disciple is taking on Josh Barnett, who has been around the block a few times and collected the skulls of his conquered. His wrestling is likely better than that of any man who has faced Browne, and he will show it here. Barnett earns top-contention chatter with a late tap of Browne, who's been known to gas down the stretch.

    Barnett, Submission, Rd. 3

     

    Scott Harris

    My big upset on Saturday's main card is predicated on the fact that Barnett won't be able to execute his typical game plan. Browne will overwhelm Barnett on the feet and pre-empt any thought of a three-round dirtfest. Knockout of the Night, right here.

    Browne, TKO, Rd. 1

     

    Craig Amos

    I lack confidence in making this pick. I've been back and forth, back and forth. In the end I'm going with Barnett. Scratch that—I like Browne to score a knockout...er, Barnett. Barnett is the pick.

    Barnett, Unanimous decision

     

    James MacDonald

    This is a tough fight to call. The outcome all depends on whether Barnett can consistently get his paws on Browne. If the former UFC heavyweight champ is able to impose his smothering grappling game on the Hawaiian, there’s only going to be one winner. Then again, Browne has shown repeatedly that he can end the fight in the blink of an eye when given space to strike. Barnett’s experience should serve him well here, though, and I expect him to get the W.

    Barnett, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    Although Barnett has a ton of mileage on him, he continues to perform well against stiff competition. Browne has shown solid takedown defense, but I don’t believe he’s seen a better wrestler than Barnett. We haven’t seen Browne on his back much, but chances are he won’t be ready to handle Barnett's grappling experience, should they end up on the ground.

    Barnett, Submission, Rd. 1

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    Do I really need to break down this fight much? Rousey is not a wrestler, but she is a great takedown artist from her judo background. A throw, some ground-and-pound and an armbar later, Rousey is stamping herself a date opposite Cat Zingano.

    Rousey, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    Scott Harris

    I really think Tate is in Rousey's head at this point. In their first fight, Tate was overwhelmed by emotion, and it cost her. This time, it will be Rousey. Will it win the fight for Tate? No. But it will propel her into the second round, which is uncharted territory for Rousey's opponents to date.

    Rousey, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    The dynamic of this rematch may be different in the sense of whom fans want to win, but the outcome will remain the same. In fact, I'm thinking this one is over quicker than the first one was.

    Rousey, Submission, Rd. 1

     

    James MacDonald

    Getting this fight to the second round would constitute something of a victory for Tate. That’s not to say that a win is out of the question for “Cupcake,” but it’s hard for me to imagine her leaving the cage on Saturday night with two functioning arms. I’m going to be bold and say that Rousey is forced into the second round for the first time in her career. Besides that, the rest should go according to the script.

    Rousey, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    The first fight between Rousey and Tate told me everything I need to know about this matchup. Both fighters are going to look to go to the ground, and Rousey is much more capable of finishing once these female bantamweights hit the canvas.

    Rousey, Submission, Rd. 1

Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Riley Kontek

    The first time around, I said Weidman would take Silva's belt. This time around, I am scared that Weidman has awoken the sleeping beast. He has the perfect game to beat Silva again, due to his wrestling, strength and solid striking. However, "The Spider" won't be clowning around in this bout and will be looking to be as lethal as ever on the feet. Weidman is the future of the UFC middleweight division, so I will stick with my original horse and say he pulls off a decision, albeit one that's somewhat close.

    Weidman, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Lost in this debate between the "Chris Weidman got lucky" camp and the "I despise Anderson Silva" camp is the fact that Weidman was winning the fight before The Clown Fail Heard 'Round the World. He'll follow the same playbook—put Silva on his back, hold him there, pound on him—on Saturday, minus the submission fishing. Weidman has the tools and the will to get it done.

    Weidman, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    This is Weidman's fight to lose. If he takes his chances on the feet, hoping for a repeat of the first contest, he could gift this fight away. If he commits to using his takedowns to control the action, he'll remain the middleweight champion.

    Weidman, Submission, Rd. 4

     

    James MacDonald

    I picked Weidman to win last time out, but the irony is that, even in victory, I saw enough holes in his game at UFC 162 to make me question whether he can repeat his summer heroics. So I’m going with my gut and predicting that Silva will earn a late stoppage. But in all honesty, I won’t be surprised whatever the outcome.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 4

     

    Sean Smith

    Weidman was able to capitalize on Silva letting his guard down like no other fighter had been able to do. At the same time, the former champ got a little more carried away than usual in July. He also quietly stuffed two of Weidman’s three takedown attempts. A more respectful, focused Silva will find a way to regain his championship.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2

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