UFC on Fox 10: B/R Staff Predictions for Main Card

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

UFC on Fox 10: B/R Staff Predictions for Main Card

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    The UFC returns to Fox with a solid card from Chicago, as UFC on Fox 10 comes to you live this Saturday. Headlined by former UFC champ Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson, the card promises to be a must-see event this weekend.

    Also on the card is a heavyweight showdown between former top contender Gabriel Gonzaga and rising prospect Stipe Miocic. The winner will be one step closer to the title picture.

    Rounding off the main card is a lightweight bout between Donald Cerrone and Adriano Martins, as well as a featherweight showdown between banger Jeremy Stephens and wrestler Darren Elkins.

    So, to give you Bleacher Report's take on this show, we have assembled our crack team of predictors to give their thoughts on the event. Alongside me will be our normal crew of Scott Harris, James MacDonald, Sean Smith and Craig Amos. Let's get it on!

    Note: Here are the prelim predictions from Riley Kontek.

2014 Staff Records

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    Andre Penner/Associated Press

    A strong 6-0 showing at UFC Fight Night in Atlanta last week shot James MacDonald up to a tie for first. Scott Harris went from first to worst with his last picks and will look to rebound with a strong showing in Chicago.

    It's early in the year, so everything is real close. Here are the overall records for 2014:

    Riley Kontek: 8-2

    James MacDonald: 8-2

    Craig Amos: 7-3

    Sean Smith: 7-3

    Scott Harris: 6-4

Jeremy Stephens vs. Darren Elkins

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Kontek: I know that Darren Elkins is a wrestler, and the best way to exploit Jeremy Stephens is on the ground. I know this. However, there is something just way too enticing about the knockout power of Stephens that has me biased here. I will take him in the upset, as he catches Elkins on the feet. Whether or not this pick hurts my overall record this year remains to be seen.

    Stephens, TKO, Rd. 1

    Harris: Jeremy Stephens is on quite a run since dropping to featherweight. But so is Darren Elkins. He was derailed against Chad Mendes, but I can't be too mad at him for that. I think he'll dirty it up against Stephens and pound out a decision.

    Elkins, Unanimous Decision

    Amos: This fight is a good test for Elkins, who is know for grinding down opponents. How will he fare when he's met by a foe that is not so easy to grind? Well, I expect him to hold his own, but I don't expect him to pass the test. Stephens keeps on running at 145.

    Stephens, Unanimous Decision

    Smith: We’ve seen Elkins stopped by a heavy hitter like Stephens when he met Chad Mendes. We’ve seen Stephens shut down by a grinder like Elkins when he met Gleison Tibau. I guess I’ll take Elkins’ chin over Stephens’ defensive wrestling.

    Elkins, Unanimous Decision

    MacDonald: Other than having his momentum halted briefly by Chad Mendes, Darren Elkins has been on a bit of a tear in the UFC. Said tear has consisted almost exclusively of grinding decisions, but it’s an impressive record nonetheless. In contrast, Jeremy Stephens could scarcely be less of a grinder. Every strike seems designed to separate the opponent’s head from his shoulders. Unfortunately, I don’t see Elkins allowing “Lil’ Heathen” to make much use of his power. Expect another grinding win from the 29-year-old.

    Elkins, Unanimous Decision

Donald Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Kontek: I am glad Donald Cerrone has found the fire and passion he claimed to have lost because he is a killer when focused. He is taking on a guy who is no joke in Adriano Martins, so he is going to need that fire. On the feet, Cerrone is calculating and deadly. On the ground, he is very underrated, though I would suggest not getting in a grapple fest with Martins. Cerrone outpoints the Brazilian on the feet to start off his 2014 campaign.

    Cerrone, Unanimous Decision

    Harris: I think a lot of people like Donald Cerrone here based on nothing more than muscle memory. Of course he's a dangerous fighter, but I get the feeling from recent interviews that he's looking past a dangerous fighter in Adriano Martins. That's not safe, especially given Cerrone's track record of unevenness. Martins and his jiu-jitsu are about to shock the world. Sound the alarms.

    Martins, Submission, Rd. 2

    Amos: I, as I'm sure many of you are, am shocked to see Martins' name show up as a winning pick on this slide. Granted, the man has skills, but did you see how good Cerrone looked last time out? Did you? He was better than ever. Martins is in for a real shellacking.

    Cerrone, TKO, Rd. 2

    Smith: This matchup should help pad our prediction statistics. Wait, what? We’re not all going with Cerrone? Despite having only one UFC win, Martins does have some legitimate experience under his belt, but he’s still not ready to take on a Top 10 lightweight right now. The much more accomplished Cerrone pockets some easy money and builds momentum against the Brazilian.

    Cerrone, TKO, Rd. 2

    MacDonald: This is a closer fight than many perhaps realise. Martins is by no means a gimme, particularly coming into the contest with so much momentum on the back of a six-fight win streak. That being said, I’m putting my money on Cerrone continuing the form we saw against Evan Dunham last time out.

    Cerrone, TKO, Rd. 2

Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Kontek: It's old guard versus new blood. It's Brazilian versus American. It's Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic. Just so I don't offend my American brethren, I will go with Miocic here. Even if I wasn't being xenophobic, I would go with Miocic based on athleticism, striking and takedown defense. That being said, Gonzaga has been super dangerous as of late, so Miocic should proceed with caution.

    Miocic, Unanimous Decision

    Harris: For my money, this is the biggest mismatch on the card. Stipe Miocic has the speed, skill and overall athleticism to overwhelm Gabriel Gonzaga and the savvy to avoid mistakes, which in this case would include a protracted grappling match. Gonzaga has a home run swing but also strikes out a lot. Miocic is a frozen rope down the third-base line.

    Miocic, Unanimous Decision

    Amos: Gonzaga's chin is called into question every time he competes. And that's fair—skilled heavyweights prone to being knocked out are always a bit of a wild card. If Miocic takes a steady, methodical approach as he did opposite Roy Nelson last year, he should land enough that he eventual connects with one that ends the contest.

    Miocic, KO, Rd. 2

    Smith: A solid collegiate wrestler, Miocic has the wrestling to avoid going to the ground with Gonzaga, which will be important considering the Brazilian’s top-notch jiu-jitsu credentials. When he had problems securing takedowns against another up-and-coming heavyweight, Travis Browne, Gonzaga was knocked out in the first round. Miocic is capable of delivering similar punishment on Saturday.

    Miocic, TKO, Rd. 1

    MacDonald: I have been a bigger believer in the potential of Miocic than most, and equally, I have been a bigger critic of Gonzaga than most. Therefore, you can probably see where this is going. While the Brazilian has looked terrific recently, I maintain that the ceiling is pretty low on his potential. On the flip side, Miocic has displayed enormous potential, boasting a potent mixture of boxing and wrestling. I can see this fight ending early in favour of the American.

    Miocic, TKO, Rd. 1

Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Kontek:  I will be completely honest with you; this matchup should be extremely close and could go either way. Josh Thomson is incredibly underrated, and Benson Henderson is, well, the former champion. Thomson is probably better on the feet, even though Henderson will set up with strikes to get Thomson on his back. Henderson has proved he can last five rounds, so his cardio should be a factor.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision

    Harris: Josh Thomson has "happy to be here" written all over him. Benson Henderson is decidedly unhappy to be here. He'll go to his usual well—attacks from the clinch, leg kicks, takedown defense—and get his usual result.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision

    Amos: Thomson really surprised me when he knocked out Nate Diaz, but not enough that I'll back him here. Look for Henderson to use his more diverse striking attack to keep Thomson off balance and get back into the win column with a well-earned decision victory.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision

    Smith: I disagree with the popular sentiment among MMA fans that Henderson is boring, but he sure does go to decisions frequently. This one will be decided on the scorecards as well. Despite his recent submission loss to Anthony Pettis, Henderson is too good on the ground to tap in consecutive fights. He’s also a bit more unpredictable than Thomson with his striking, which should be the difference in a highly competitive matchup.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision

    MacDonald: Given that Thomson has been telling anyone who will listen that he has had a horrendous training camp, it would take a brave/silly individual to pick him to win here. It goes without saying that Henderson will be extremely motivated to get back to winning ways after tamely surrendering his title last time out. If the real Thomson shows up, this could go either way. If not, there’s only going to be one winner. I’m banking on the latter.

    Henderson, Unanimous Decision