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UFC on FOX 15 predictions, preview, and analysis

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Hooray for FOX!

UFC on FOX fight cards are often my favorite, simply because fans are treated to above-average line ups that don't cost a dime and best of all, usually wrap up by 10 p.m. ET, leaving enough time to get the heck outta Dodge and go someplace to get shit-faced.

Ya' know, if you're into that kinda thing.

"Machida vs. Rockhold" is no different, despite the late change to the co-main event. Sure, we all wanted to see Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero bang it out for a spot in the 185-pound title chase, but there's also something gratifying about watching the grappling equivalent of a snuff film.

And Chris Camozzi earns top billing.

Elsewhere on the four-fight main card, Max Holloway looks to establish himself as a legitimate contender at 145 pounds against the venerable Cub Swanson, a tough out for any up-and-coming fighter in the featherweight division. The same can be said for the women's strawweight battle pitting Felice Herrig opposite Paige VanZant.

Old school, meet new.

The action gets underway tomorrow night (Sat., April 18, 2015) inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, following a stellar seven-fight preliminary offering split between the FOX network and UFC Fight Pass (more on those fights here).

With that out of the way, let's get to work.

185 lbs.: Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida (22-5) vs. Luke Rockhold (13-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: As I mentioned in the preview you didn't read and don't care about, this is one of those fights that makes me excited to be a combat sports fan. Tomorrow night's headliner has a sort of Ryu vs. Ken feel to it, in that it pits a laser-focused traditionalist opposite a talented but oft-douchey American.

And I would argue, based on existing skill sets, that both combatants are evenly matched.

It's tempting to pick the ex-Strikeforce champ, who is not only much bigger, but also much younger than his formidable foe. What gives me pause is the ladder he climbed to get here. His UFC wins consist of Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch, and Costas Philippou, who are a combined 3-6 over their last three.

And their median age is 35.

The biggest test of Rockhold's career came against Vitor Belfort, a test he failed spectacularly. If you argue that Belfort was jacked up on TRT and that fight should not be counted, then we may as well strip those wins over Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, too, and take him out of the UFC 187 co-main event.

In fairness, Machida has also been toying with the second string since dropping to middleweight, but his run at 205 pounds includes some of the best fighters in the game today, and win or lose, you just can't substitute that kind of experience.

And I will say the Machida who went nuts in the final minute of round five at UFC 175 beats any middleweight on the planet, including Weidman.

Therein lies the problem and why this fight has the potential to suck.

Both Machida and Rockhold excel when their opponents do the heavy lifting. This could easily be a game of cat-and-mouse for the first few rounds with lots of circling and very little action. Let's not pretend "The Dragon" hasn't been in some boring fights.

If Rockhold is going to win, he's going to need a finish because he's fighting the master of keep-away. A ground war would surprise me since both combatants favor the hands, but perhaps that's a back-pocket trick to be pulled in search of a sub.

Machida usually looks good and at times, looks great. Based on his resurgence at 185 pounds, as well as his experience on the big stage, this is one horse I have to bet by its record.

Final prediction: Machida def. Rockhold via split decision

185 lbs.: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (21-3, 1 NC) vs. Chris Camozzi (20-9)

Nostradumbass predicts: So here is a rematch that is approaching Cain Velasquez vs. Bigfoot Silva 2-levels of absurdity, but I can't really come down too hard on anyone involved, simply because the promotion needed a warm body to keep Ronaldo Souza in "The Garden State."

I'm okay with that.

The big question for any do-over is: What's changed since they last fought? Well, Souza went on to win his next three fights, while Camozzi went on to lose his next three. That pretty much toe-tags any and all "analysis" as far as this second go-round is concerned because let's face it, we're looking at a mismatch.

It feels like a matter of "when," as opposed to "if."

But in some ways, that may favor the underdog. If Souza believes he can end their fight via submission at his discretion, he may opt to keep it standing to sharpen his striking skills, because you really can't (read: shouldn't) go balls-to-the-wall in the gym and hey, give the fans something to cheer for.

That leaves Camozzi with a puncher's chance.

It's not much, but it exists. That's probably why Team Souza will just say "fuck it" and wrap things up early, because the Brazilian is 35 years old and way too close to a title shot to start dicking around with his spot in the middleweight pecking order.

Somebody get the smelling salts.

Final prediction: Souza def. Camozzi via submission

145 lbs.: Cub Swanson (21-6) vs. "Blessed" Max Holloway (12-3)

Nostradumbass predicts: UFC featherweight No. 1 contender Conor McGregor has 16 finishes in 17 wins. The only fighter in the last eight years to take him the distance? MAX MOTHERFUCKING HOLLOWAY. That's important to note here, because the Hawaiian is as durable as they come.

Dustin Poirier snuck in a submission a few years back, but "Blessed" has never been knocked out.

Since Cub Swanson's ground game resembles the time Jack Burton got stuck under one of David Lo Pan's knights, there is no threat of submission heading into this three-rounder. Well, at least not for Holloway. Swanson is a talented boxer with erratic movement and that makes him tough to pin down.

Play his game, get KTFO like Ross Pearson and the increasingly-brittle Dennis Siver.

At 31 years old, I think we've seen the best Cub Swanson we're going to see. That's not a knock on his abilities, because he's a top 10 featherweight all day. Unfortunately, he's not well-rounded enough to graduate to the next level (see Edgar, Frankie) and that leaves him keeping the gate.

The same one Holloway is going to drive through on Saturday night.

"Blessed" is eight years younger and improving in all aspects of MMA. While I think this is an even contest in the striking department, the time is going to come when these two collide against the cage or get tangled up on the mat. That's when Holloway does what he did to Andre Fili.

And what Jens Pulver did to Swanson.

Final prediction: Holloway def. Swanson via submission

115 lbs.: Felice "Lil' Bulldog" Herrig (10-5) vs. Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (4-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: I'm a fan of women's MMA, but this bout does not belong on the main card. I do, however, understand its appeal. The strawweight division is still new and exciting and Paige VanZant is getting a ton of mainstream attention, which must be capitalized on.

Oh hello, Reebok.

But star power and technical ability do not always come together on the MMA abacus. VanZant is a below-average striker and as green as you would expect a 21-year-old strawweight to be. Working in her favor is a blistering pace and a natural blood lust that can transform a messy affair into a crowd-pleasing dogfight.

Felice Herrig will be the means to that end.

The "Lil' Bulldog" is the better striker and has dangerous Muay Thai, though you wouldn't know it based on just one knockout win across a span of 15 fights. Herrig sports a serviceable ground game that peeks its head out every now and again but the truth is, she's a decision machine.

Plan on going the full 15 minutes in this one.

Skill-for-skill, Herrig is the better fighter and has much more experience, including some gritty battles on TUF 20. But the better fighter isn't always the winning fighter, and I'm convinced that if we get the same "12 Gauge" who unloaded on Kailin Curran, VanZant is going to be too fast, too furious to lose on the scorecards.

Judges like "busy work."

Final prediction: VanZant def. Herrig via unanimous decision will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 15 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, and then the remaining preliminary card balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET before the FOX main card start time at 8 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 on FOX 15 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Machida vs. Rockhold."

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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