UFC on FOX 11: "Werdum vs. Browne," which takes place tomorrow night (Sat., April 19, 2014) inside the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, will name the next heavyweight number one contender when Fabricio Werdum tangles with Travis Browne.
Will an extended layoff hurt "Vai Cavalo" against the red-hot "Hapa?"
In the co-main event, Miesha Tate tries to stay alive in the women's 135-pound title chase when she takes on fellow Strikeforce import and former division number one contender Liz Carmouche. Both ladies are coming off tough losses in their previous outings.
Coming up short in "The Sunshine State" will send one of them into the bantamweight dark ages.
Elsewhere on the card, Edson Barboza tries to make a statement -- and crack the division top 10 -- against venerable lightweight Donald Cerrone, while ex-Olympian Yoel Romero looks to continue his winning ways against a very game middleweight in Brad Tavares.
Who wins? I'm glad you asked ...
265 lbs.: Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum (17-5-1) vs. Travis "Hapa" Browne (16-1-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Fabricio Werdum has very little going for him coming into this fight. Two of his biggest wins in recent memory came against Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Nelson. "The Last Emperor" was kind enough to plop down in his opponent's guard with reckless abandon, and "Big Country" was knocked around because of his discrepancy in size.
In addition, I'm not putting much stock in last year's armbar win against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who I think we can all agree is over the MMA hill and has been for quite some time.
Compounding the problem is the fact that "Vai Cavalo" hasn't seen the inside of the cage for 10 months, during which time Travis Browne had two fights against Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem. Not only did "Hapa" win those contests, he finished them by way of knockout.
Is he perfect?
No, but Browne keeps getting better from bout-to-bout and his size -- as well as his athleticism -- may be unrivaled among heavyweight contenders. If you told me this fight was guaranteed to make it to the ground, then my prediction would be about two sentences long, because that's a place Werdum -- who has long terrorized the Abu Dhabi grappling circuit -- does his best work.
I'm not so sure it gets there.
If the Brazilian had some kind of unstoppable blast double that could drive Browne to the floor without pause, this would be a completely different fight. But he doesn't, which means they have to first slug it out on the feet and exploit the openings that present themselves.
And like he did against "Demolition Man," trainer Greg Jackson has already forecasted them.
Werdum has a solid chin with above-average hands, but his inability to control the tempo of striking exchanges was exposed in slap fights against "Bigfoot" Silva and "The Reem," among others. I think he spends too much time trying to figure out how to get this thing south, allowing Browne to drop him with something nasty.
Assuming "Hapa" doesn't get overzealous looking for the finish, he should probably get it.
Final prediction: Browne def. Werdum via technical knockout
135 lbs.: Miesha "Cupcake" Tate (13-5) vs. Liz "Girl-Rilla" Carmouche (9-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: This has been a difficult fight to predict, for the simple reason that UFC has not been kind to either lady. To be fair, looking bad against Ronda Rousey is not a knock on an athlete's career, since everyone looks bad against "Rowdy."
And both fighters had a couple of shining moments.
For Miesha Tate, it was taking the champ into the third round at UFC 168, something no other fighter had done before her. For Liz Carmouche, it was that "oh shit" face lock in the opening frame of their UFC 157 title tilt. But the similarities end there.
Technically speaking, Carmouche is not a very good fighter.
But what she lacks in skill she makes up for in strength and tenacity. There is a reason they call her the "Girl-Rilla" and she has the kick ass/take names-type of approach you would expect from an ex-Marine. Unfortunately, over half of her wins have come against fighters with losing records.
Not gonna cut it.
Tate is the better fighter, but has a tendency to do some boneheaded things inside the cage. I understand that as a wrestler, she instinctively shoots when the going gets tough, but she has much better hands than Carmouche and should exploit that weakness.
Why risk getting mugged on the mat?
I believe "Cupcake" can submit "Girl-Rilla," too, but only if she softens her up with strikes. Hopefully, she's been watching a lot of tape on the Alexis Davis fight and is not still hung up over the losses to Rousey. If she can meet those requirements, this fight is hers to lose.
Final prediction: Tate def. Carmouche via submission
155 lbs.: Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (22-6) vs. Edson Barboza (13-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Here's an interesting stat for Donald Cerrone fans: "Cowboy" has nine wins inside the Octagon. Three of those opponents have since been cut by the promotion, another three have dropped down to featherweight, and the last three aren't even ranked in the top 15 of his division.
Cerrone is an exciting fighter with a flashy style, but let's not overstate his accomplishments.
Barboza has also done a pretty good job of knocking around the middle of the pack and I think people put too much stock in his loss to Jamie Varner, who did a good job of bumrushing the Brazilian en route to the upset. Outside of that, and an early scare against the venerable Danny Castillo, he's been aces.
As far as the striking exchanges?
Cerrone might be the more technical striker, but Barboza has more dynamic strikes; meaning, I would favor his ability to find a home for his kicks when the shit hits the fan and both men are firing on instinct. If "Cowboy" really watches zero tape -- something I have trouble believing if he's coached by Greg Jackson -- then he's going to be in trouble.
While Cerrone is busy trying to impress everyone, Barboza will be scoring points, something his adversary won't figure out until it's too late.
Final prediction: Barboza def. Cerrone via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Yoel "Soldier of God" Romero (7-1) vs. Brad Tavares (12-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I don't think it's any secret that Brad Tavares is a tough guy. And while there is not a lot of fanfare around his quiet ascension to the top of the middleweight division, you can't knock a guy who is 12-1 and has won five fights in a row.
In most divisions, that's enough to get you a title shot.
Part of the reason he's not the toast of the 185-pound town is the decisions, as Tavares has gone to the scorecards seven times in his UFC career. By contrast, "Solider of God" has seven finishes and damn near kills everyone in the process.
I would tell you to ask Derek Brunson, but he can't answer, because his jaw is wired shut.
But that doesn't mean he's going to win. For a guy who was so dominant as an Olympic wrestler, he has yet to land a single takedown inside the Octagon, probably because he's too busy swinging for the fences, which is why he's been taken down himself on multiple occasions.
And Tavares has a knack for avoiding the shot.
If he doesn't get lulled into a bar fight, the Hawaiian can win the decision. He's got serviceable hands and a stable base, and it doesn't take long for Romero to empty his tank. That's the price you pay when you're built like a brick shithouse and being 36 years old doesn't help.
He might look like a world-beater in the opening frame, but this is a three-round fight.
Final prediction: Tavares def. Romero via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 11 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" online, which is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 5 p.m. ET and then main card FOX action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.