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UFC Fight Night 43-44 preview and quick picks for weekend MMA doubleheader

Strap in for another wild weekend of fights as UFC airs two live combat sports events in one day. Just make sure you brew plenty of coffee if you plan on going the distance...

Esther Lin

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues to cram mixed martial arts (MMA) events down our throats, in much the same way Satan tried to stuff Homer Simpson full of doughnuts in Treehouse of Horror IV.

So, you like UFC, eh? Well, have all the UFC in the world!

First up is UFC Fight Night 43, which I won't be watching, because I'm not a fucking vampire and I like to go to bed at a reasonable time. And I'm certainly not going to be shotgunning cans of Red Bull for "Marquardt vs. Te Huna" on Fight Pass. Get all the details for tonight's event, as well as live results, right here.

On the flip side...

We have UFC Fight Night 44 at a more reasonable hour, featuring the "Swanson vs. Stephens" main event (results and start times here). As we head into tomorrow's doubleheader, let's take a closer look at the headliner and co-headliner from both cards, as well as the quick picks for each main card offering.

Shall we?

185 lbs.: James Te Huna (16-7) vs. Nate "The Great" Marquardt (32-13-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: No, that's not a mosquito buzzing around your ear. It's the faint and distant whine of my speeding wahmbulance, en route to Vector Arena with 200 cc's of awfuloxide. Seriously, is this the kind of main event that is going to compel folks to sign up for Fight Pass?

I better not get started or I'll never stop, so let's just focus on the fight itself.

Nate Marquardt is a pretty sizable underdog and it's hard to overlook his recent slump. But I'm not ready to close the coffin just yet, because the same guy who went limp at the hands of Hector Lombard and Jake Ellenberger, is the same guy who went Mortal Kombat on Tyron Woodley and Wilson Gouveia.

I'll put either of those combos up against any finish in the sport.

But he's not going into this fight looking for a knockout, because why should he? James Te Huna has a staggering five submission losses in seven total defeats and "The Great" ends nearly half of his wins by way of tap, nap or snap. If his corner tells him to do anything other than clinch, takedown and sub, they should all be fired.

Te Huna has a solid jaw and bricks for fists, but unless he lands early and clean, this will likely play out the same way as the Alexander Gustafsson loss at UFC 127.

Final prediction: Marquardt def. Te Huna via submission

265 lbs.: Soa "The Hulk" Palelei (21-3) vs. Jared "The Big Show" Rosholt (10-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: It's easy to get excited about the run Soa Palelei has put together. 11 straight wins -- with 11 straight finishes -- is pretty damn impressive. Then you scroll down the list and well ... he's knocked out a dentist, a guy over 50, the 6-16 Henry Miller, a fighter whose name is "Suk," and of course, Bob Sapp.

"The Hulk" is guilty of shooting fish in a barrel.

What helps him offensively is his ground game. Palelei is an accomplished freestyle wrestler with devastating ground and pound (just ask Pat Barry). But taking this fight south won't be that easy, as Jared Rosholt knows a thing or two about the mats himself, having run the table for Oklahoma State.

This one is likely to be a stalemate.

That means we'll see some heavyweight striking on display (shudders) and Rosholt has just three knockout wins in 11 professional fights (and two decisions inside the Octagon). All things being equal -- including chins -- I wouldn't be surprised to see this drag on for three rounds to end in a ho-hum decision.

Final prediction: Palelei def. Rosholt via unanimous decision

Nostradumbass quick picks:

145 lbs.: Hatsu Hioki (27-7) vs. Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira (17-4): Hioki is 3-3 under the UFC banner and can't finish a fight. If Oliveira can resist the urge to act like a jackass inside the cage, he should be able to win a close decision.
170 lbs.: Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker (11-4) vs. Mike "Biggie" Rhodes (6-2): Rhodes has just one fight in UFC and it's a loss and while Whitaker has fallen on hard times, I think having the crowd in his corner will help propel him to an early finish.

That about does it for this card.

For UFC Fight Night 43 results and live coverage click here. Odds and betting lines for "Te Huna vs. Marquardt" can be located here.

Now let's kick it on over to the UFC Fight Night 44: "Swanson vs. Stephens" event (full fight card here), which takes place inside AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, at 7:30 p.m. ET (Prelims) on FOX Sports 1.

Drum roll please...

145 lbs.: Cub Swanson (20-5) vs. Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens (23-9)

Nostradumbass predicts: I feel kind of bad for Cub Swanson, who continues to dazzle inside the cage, but can't seem to convince fight fans he's a major player at 145 pounds. The quick knockout loss to Jose Aldo in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is usually the one they throw in his face, but it goes a little deeper than that.

Swanson also has a pair of high-profile defeats to Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, and along with "Junior," those are the three best guys in the entire division. But the people he has trounced -- like Ross Pearson and Dustin Poirier -- still outshine anything Jeremy Stephens has done since dropping to 145 pounds.

Cubby is enjoying the second longest win streak of his career and has four finishes in his last five wins.

"Lil Heathen" has certainly looked good in his last couple of fights and the fact that he can destroy someone with one punch has not changed, but two of this three wins as a featherweight have come by decision, so the one-hitter quitter is not a foregone conclusion.

Inconsistency is.

Stephens debuted at the same event that saw Chuck Liddell lose to Rampage Jackson, and since then, has always hovered around .500, so until I see a legitimate "run" in his new division, I'm not sure I'd be willing to sign off on a potential victory in "The Lone Star State."

Durability and power just isn't enough these days.

Final prediction: Swanson def. Stephens via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum (8-0) vs. Nicholas "Nico" Musoke (12-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: What's interesting about Kelvin Gastelum is how long it took for people to start taking him seriously. Unspectacular wins on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) seemed like a precursor to destruction once he started facing bigger and better talent in "the real world."

Heck, some fans still think his name is "Kevin."

But his success -- which was overshadowed by Uriah Hall's failure -- made itself known earlier this year in Dallas, thanks to a coming-out performance against Rick Story in Gastelum's new home of 170 pounds. "Horror" is one of the toughest outs in the division (he once beat Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves in back-to-back fights) and gave the ex-TUF champ the stiffest of tests.

And he passed.

Things don't get any easier against Nicholas Musoke, a talented Swedish slugger who is all-too familiar with flying under the radar. "Nico" already has two wins under the UFC banner, including a submission victory over the venerable but since deposed Alessio Sakara.

But Musoke also holds a previous loss to the overhyped and not-so-TUF Cathal Pendred, the second defeat of his career, so he's certainly not invincible. Neither is Gastelum, but until I see the recipe for upending him, I have to believe it hasn't been discovered yet.

Final prediction: Gastelum def. Musoke via unanimous decision

Nostradumbass quick picks:

185 lbs.: Andrew "Highlight" Craig (9-2) vs. Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira (7-3): In my opinion, "Mutante" got stopped by CB Dollaway because he thought he was the cat's meow and was going to just run right through him. He learned a valuable lesson about respecting the game, and will come back and smash the inconsistent Craig.
145 lbs.: Hacran "Barnabe" Dias (21-2) vs. Ricardo "The Bully" Lamas (13-3): This is a great match up on paper and could be real war, but Lamas has faced -- and beaten -- much better opposition. "Bully" by UD.
185 lbs.: Clint Hester (10-3) vs. Antonio Braga Neto (9-1): This is a classic striker vs. grappler pairing and one of the more compelling match ups on the undercard. I think Hester, who already has three wins in UFC, stays off the mat and boxes his way to a decision.
155 lbs.: Joe "Excalibur" Ellenberger (14-1) vs. James "Moonwalker" Moontasari (7-1): Two guys making their Octagon debuts tomorrow night and one carries the moniker of John Boorman's medieval classic while the other is named after that Michael Jackson flick with weird robots and creepy claymation. I'll stick with sword-boy FTW (UD).

That's a wrap.

For UFC Fight Night 44 results and live coverage click here. Odds and betting lines for "Swanson vs. Stephens" can be located here.

Agree? Disagree? Don't care? Not watching? Let's hear your approach to this weekend's MMA double-feature in the comments section below.

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