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UFC 184 predictions, preview, and analysis

Esther Lin

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), as it so often does, heads into uncharted territory tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 28, 2015) with its UFC 184: "Rousey vs. Zingano" pay-per-view (PPV) event, scheduled for the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

That's where women's mixed martial arts (MMA) will be featured in both the main and co-main events for the first time in the promotion's 21-year history. We can thank Chris Weidman for that, as the oft-injured "All American" was forced to bail on the "Golden State" gala earlier this month.

The good news is, Ronda Rousey -- queen of the women's bantamweights -- is faced with a formidable challenger. While everyone looks like a tomato can when compared to the "Rowdy" one, it's not like Cat Zingano is Jan "Cuddles" Finney being fed to Cris Cyborg.

In addition, what the co-main event lacks in star power it makes up for in consequence. A win for boxing import Holly Holm, particularly a violent knockout finish, and the fans will be sold on "The Preacher's Daughter" as the next big thing at 135 pounds.

Worth 60 bucks? Let's see...

135 lbs.: "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey (10-0) vs. Cat "Alpha" Zingano (9-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: If you're looking for a fair and balanced analysis of the UFC 184 main event, complete with keys to victory for each combatant, you should probably just stop reading and go to some other site, because I'm not going to waste your (or my) time.

This is going to be a slaughter.

Without even talking about skill sets, we have to first acknowledge that Ronda Rousey has finished nine of her 10 fights inside the first round, while Cat Zingano has only won two of her nine fights in the opening frame, her last finish coming nearly five years ago.

Those are the facts, and they are undisputed.

As we saw in wins over Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes, it usually takes a few minutes for Zingano to get warmed up, and it's not uncommon for her to take some abuse before hitting her stride. Good luck getting away with that against the deadliest female fighter on the planet.

Now here's the bad news.

"Alpha" does her best work in the clinch, a place where the Olympian has been known to take fighters and murder-death-kill them straight into the canvas. Even if "Rowdy" stopped training judo for this camp and never trained it again for the rest of her career, it would still take the rest of the division 10 years to catch up.

Zingano included.

There is nothing the challenger can do in a six-week camp to compensate for the grotesque gap in skill sets. Aside from her invincible ground game, Rousey can now box, too, recently scoring back-to-back knockout wins over Sara McMann and Alexis Davis.

There is nowhere Zingano can take this championship fight where she will hold an advantage and in the challenger's absence of one-punch knockout power, this finish becomes a matter of when, not if.

Round one sounds about right.

Final prediction: Rousey def. Zingano via submission

135 lbs.: Holly "The Preacher's Daughter" Holm (7-0) vs. Raquel "Rocky" Pennington (5-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: So here we have the long-awaited (and much ballyhooed) debut of former professional boxer, Holly Holm, who immediately gives the women's bantamweight division its first elite-level striker, something a few of the men's divisions could stand to gain, as well.

But all that glitters is not gold.

While Holm pretty much had her way with the gals in the "sweet science," she was not the kind of devastating force you would expect from the way she's been repackaged for MMA. Of her 33 wins inside the ring, just nine ended by way of knockout, a mere 23 percent.

Don't expect her to land that one-hitter quitter.

Fortunately for "The Preacher's Daughter," she's been able to transmogrify her boxing skills into a frightening kickboxing attack, planishing five of seven regional clogs by way of furious feet. That's her path to victory here, as well, but don't expect Raquel Pennington to just roll over.

"Rocky" is about as tough as they come.

Unfortunately, grit is a poor substitute for talent, and she was already lit up like the Times Square Christmas tree when she faced another pugilistic crossover, Jessica Rakoczy on TUF 18. One thing that continues to plague her is an inability to pull the trigger in a big spot.

That said, I was encouraged by her recent submission win over Ashlee Evans-Smith.

If Holm doesn't fall victim to Octagon jitters or take an adrenaline dump at the two-minute mark, I would expect her range and athleticism to prevail. While I believe Pennington is smart enough to avoid the sitting-duck syndrome, I won't rule it out, either, as 15 minutes moves awfully fast these days.

Final prediction: Holm def. Pennington via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Josh "Kos" Koscheck (17-8) vs. Jake "The Juggernaut" Ellenberger (29-9)

Nostradumbass predicts: What's interesting about this fight is how often I hear from my colleagues, "Man, what the heck happened to Jake Ellenberger?" Personally, I was never that impressed to begin with, so his recent cold streak is not that surprising.

Following his upset win over Jake Shields in 2011, "The Juggernaut" has just three wins over competition that is a combined 5-10 over their last five fights. Not exactly the stuff of legend. Added to that is the fact that he's now dropped three straight -- with two finishes -- and currently wasting his time (cough) "training" with Mickey Rourke.

Sounds legit.

That's not to suggest that Josh Koscheck has been born again. He's now 37 years old and coming off back-to-back knockout defeats, but I believe his recent skid was attributable to burnout, having racked up a staggering 23 fights since graduating TUF.

It's important to note that his last three losses came to Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler, and Johny Hendricks.

"Ruthless" is the welterweight champion, while "Bigg Rigg" and "The Chosen One" are ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the 170-pound division, respectively, and I'd even argue he won that 2012 fight against Hendricks. Even if his chin has deteriorated, he's still one of the best wrestlers in his class.

And that right hand can sure pack a wallop.

This contest, at its core, is a showdown between two fighters who can wrestle and punch hard. That means we could have ourselves a first-round knockout, or a protracted affair with very little offense. Regrettably, I'm siding with the latter and taking "Kos" as the sentimental pick.

But not with any sort of confidence.

Final prediction: Koscheck def. Ellenberger via split decision

170 lbs.: Alan "Brahma" Jouban (10-3) vs. "Filthy" Rich Walsh (8-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: This is a bit of a puzzling match up considering both Alan Jouban and Richard Walsh are 1-1 inside the Octagon and probably better suited for a FOX Sports 1 or UFC Fight Pass card. I know the running gag puts Jouban on PPV because he's so damn handsome, but I don't do bromosexual jokes, so let's move on.

While Jouban is still a little rough around the edges, I do like what I've seen in the stand up thus far. Seven of his 10 wins have come by way of knockout/technical knockout, including his highlight-reel showstopper against Seth Baczynski last August.

Walsh has done some banging of his own, but hasn't finished a fight in over two years.

"Filthy Rich" can take away his opponent's range and make this fight dirty -- and win -- especially if he gets it going early and often, something that has hindered Jouban in the past. That said, I think "Brahma" will come out with a little more fire than usual, considering he has a chance to perform on the PPV stage.

If he can stay off the ground against his powerful foe -- and I think he can -- this one should be in the bag.

Final prediction: Jouban def. Walsh via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson (17-3) vs. Gleison Tibau (33-10)

Nostradumbass predicts: Imagine how depressing it must be to find out you're fighting Gleison Tibau. A win over the hulking Brazilian does nothing for you in the lightweight standings, and a loss keeps you from moving on to bigger and better opportunities.

On top of all that, he's just not very fun to fight.

That's because he can win most contests by Tibau-ing, using his outstanding wrestling and brute strength to mug-and-slug his way to the scorecards. It is not, however, a foregone conclusion, as Michael Johnson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Jim Miller have all managed to prevail.

As can Tony Ferguson.

"El Cucuy" was an accomplished collegiate wrestler who has evolved significantly as a mixed martial artist since graduating TUF 13. In addition, his speed and athleticism can aid him against the Brazilian roadblock in much the same way it did "The Menace."

A similar result would not surprise me.

Tibau is good at making his opponent's uncomfortable and off balance. But he comes into this fight on short notice and may be surprised at Ferguson's speed, which will lead to an even bigger surprise when he realizes "El Cucuy" has power, too.

Nighty-night.

Final prediction: Ferguson def. Tibau via knockout

That's a wrap.

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 184 fight card tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 28, 2015) RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.

For previews and predictions of the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC 184 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Rousey vs. Zingano."

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.

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