What a titanic card this is going to be. If you're not literally wetting yourself with pleasure at the very idea of this fight card then I'm afraid I need to inform your parents that you've died inside and are now in a persistent vegetative state. I know that half of Americans will want to pull the plug, while the other half will believe that you have a right to life, no matter how empty, pointless and unthinking it might be.
Indeed, an all-heavyweight card is absurdly exciting. I haven't been this eager since I discovered internet pornography. This promises to truly be an epic moment in UFC history... which means that according to Murphy's Law (or Godwin's Law, or whatever law you want to use) that it will fall flat on its face and suck. Insert head exploding gif here.
MMAPlayground.com: Brown 1,108 (69%)/-180 vs Pineda 507 (31%)/+170
I know everybody thinks Mike Brown is going to win. But then again everybody thought that old lion Miguel Torres was going to win, too. Let's face facts. You're living in the past, man. Whatever you think about the quality of competition Pineda has faced lately, he has two first-round victories in the UFC, while Brown's claim to fame in recent times is beating Nam Phan. This is going to go down something like this: Pineda is going to light Brown up on the feet in the first, take him down in the second, and then get the "uncle" tap.
Pineda by submission round 2
MMAPlayground.com: Teixeira 904 (55%)/-100 vs Kingsbury 751 (45%)/-125
This is a hard fight to call. I'm loathe to buy into the Teixeira hype, mainly because the last time I did that with a Brazilian fighter, he got choked out by Gabriel Gonzaga in the first round. But Teixeira seems to come with more grappling bona fides and even bigger knockout power. Kingsbury was badly outgunned against Fabio Maldonado but managed to win by picking the judge's favourite weapon: takedowns. That option likely won't be available to Kyle this time. Leaving the edge with the rookie.
Teixeira by KO round 2
MMAPlayground.com: Volkmann 982 (59%)/-105 vs Sass 691 (41%)/-125
Man, who did Volkmann piss off to be on a Facebook card after a five-fight win streak? Oh yeah, Dana White. And Barack Obama. And all the fans for his stupid jokes and lay and pray. Don't get me wrong, he's a good lay and pray fighter and he'll win by that method. I think Paul Sass is a great fighter and submission specialist, but there's just no way 41 per cent of people should have confidence he will find a way to sub Volkmann. That's silly.
Volkmann by boring decision
MMAPlayground.com: Hardy 1033 (58%)/-100 vs Ludwig 739 (42%)/-130
I don't hate Dan Hardy by any stretch of the imagination and a part of me actually feels sorry for him, but I can't see how he gets the win here. Ludwig is a veteran and just happens to be a world Muay Thai Champion. Amir Sadollah learned that to his chagrin, as did Josh Neer before doing the sensible thing and submitting him. If Dan Hardy had any other weapon in his arsenal but kickboxing I might give the nod to the Englishman. But he doesn't.
Ludwig by kickboxing clinic decision
MMAPlayground.com: Miller 1,300 (72%)/-255 vs Dollaway 501 (28%)/+235
Boy is Miller taking a step down in competition. Not that he doesn't deserve it after displaying all the stamina of an infant girl in his last bout against Michael "Spits" Bisping. I know everybody thinks Miller is going to win here, but I don't see it. His return to prime time showed an ability only to survive a beating for two rounds and the punching power of Jake Shields. Speaking of which, Miller hasn't had a legit win since before he met Shields three years ago. The last time he fought and won against a fighter who isn't Sakuraba was in 2007 against Tim Kennedy. Dollaway, meanwhile, while no world beater, has fought UFC talent the entire time. Interestingly, both fighters' last win was Sept. 25, 2010.
Dollaway by decision
MMAPlayground.com: Barboza 1,422 (92%)/-640 vs Varner 126 (8%)/+600
They're taking the very talented Barboza along very slowly, especially for a fighter with a 10-0 record, giving him a man who hasn't fought in the pro league since UFC 68. I realize Varner is replacing the injured Evan Dunham, but he's a can in comparison. Varner's most impressive win in recent memory is over Drew Fickett at XFC, which isn't saying much. He has a storied history against Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson, but while those two have advanced their careers in the UFC, Jamie has stumbled. Barboza will lay a smackdown on Varner that should make his return to the UFC brief.
Barboza by decision
MMAPlayground.com: Brandao 1,357 (81%)/-410 vs Elkins 317 (19%)/+370
I think the Brandao hype train is a little excessive to be honest. I mean, I'm surprised 81 per cent think he'll win, especially when this is Elkins' fight to lose. He should have this one in the bag. I say he should, but that doesn't mean I'm picking him. Brandao has a certain element of unpredictability that he demonstrated time and again during the Ultimate Fighter reality series. And despite his poor record, it seems clear he's found a groove in recent fights, albeit against mainly nobodies. I see Diego throwing wildly the whole fight, getting taken down, and going back and forth until he clips Elkins.
Brandao by TKO round 3
MMAPlayground.com: Johnson 645 (53%)/-100 vs Struve 566 (47%)/-130
I'm taking Johnson in this fight for the same reason I would have taken Mark Hunt. Struve, while a decent fighter, is a slow starter. Johnson, meanwhile, has cardio for one round and throws every punch into that effort. It's simple math, really. Either Johnson gets the KO in round 1, or Struve gets the submission in round 2. You pick.
Johnson by KO round 1
MMAPlayground.com: del Rosario 759 (51%)/-120 vs Miocic 737 (49%)/-120
No surprise this is the hot bout. Miocic is taking a step up in competition here against the undefeated Strikeforce fighter, but Shane hasn't fought in over a year. It will be a question of ring rust and cardio and who can break the stalemate on the feet. Stipe has good wrestling and power, but Shane is no slouch in those departments either. If I have to pick someone it's del Rosario, who I think has demonstrated his jujitsu game is a dangerous addition to the heavyweight division in the UFC.
del Rosario by submission Round 2
MMAPlayground.com: Nelson 1,280 (83%)/-255 vs Herman 268 (17%)/+235
Finally, a can for Big Country to crush. After Peewee's last mediocre performance, I don't see how Nelson can lose this. He can land the big shots, take Herman down, and pound him out. This fight shouldn't last long, even if Herman plays keepaway tag for a while.
Nelson by KO round 1
MMAPlayground.com: Velasquez 1,461 (90%)/-620 vs Silva 154 (10%)/+580
While Big Foot is no can, he's well out of the league of the former Heavyweight champion of the UFC. Velasquez can win this on the feet, on the ground, and anywhere else it goes (outer space?). Cain will probably want to shoot in immediately, take Silva down, ground and pound, and finish him up with a flurry of punches. Silva's jujitsu won't be a match for Velasquez's base and punching power.
Velasquez by KO round 1
MMAPlayground.com: dos Santos 1,499 (88%)/-440 vs Mir 207 (12%)/+400
The worst mistake anyone can make is underestimating Frank Mir, as he has proven time and again that he's got the resiliency, ingenuity, and elite level grappling to pull out the big wins. Having said that, Junior is on another level. As far above as Jon Jones is from the rest of the Light Heavyweight division, it's hard to imagine a contender for this belt that could give Junior even the slightest run for his money. Added to this fact is that Junior hits like a brick shithouse on the end of a giant swing and Mir's chin gets suspiciously rocked in every fight. It won't be a close match.
dos Santos by KO round 2
Are you surprised I have finishes in all the heavyweight fights? Don't be. This will be a short night with that much power inside the cage.
I don't know what the real betting lines are but if they follow playground there are some obvious steals:
Frank Mir at +400 is worth a few bucks, especially given his propensity for upsets.
CB Dollaway at +235 is attractive, since Miller looked horrible in his last fight.
Darren Elkins at +370 is a steal. He's probably going to win.
Daniel Pineda at +170 is worth a token copper.