So ... after thoroughly embarrassing myself with that Renan Barao pick last week (The Pride still won't return my calls), I'm back to
play it safe redeem myself.
That should be relatively easy, since nobody is picking Bethe Correia to upset Ronda Rousey in the UFC 190 pay-per-view (PPV) main event. If they are, trust me, they're simply trolling because this fight is about as close to a lock as you can get.
Even "The Pitbull" is adding "Rowdy" to her parlay.
But if the championship squash match has you on the fence about shelling out $60 bucks for this latest PPV card, then perhaps you should consider some of the other fights on the docket. Two of them feature TUF guys you've never heard of, while the other three play like old-timers day at Yankee stadium.
It's kind of telling that the most competitive fight of the seven, taking place this Saturday night (Aug. 1, 2015) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the strawweight curtain jerker between Jessica Aguilar and Claudia Gadelha.
Let's break them down anyway.
135 lbs.: "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey (11-0) vs. Bethe "The Pitbull" Correia (9-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: This match up is dumb and only happening because Holly Holm can't finish a fight -- or properly talk trash. This idea that title shots are based on merit is laughable in 2015 and we need to look no further than Bethe Correia to prove it.
Like the Goodmen said, "Give it up."
"The Pitbull" -- owner of just two finishes in nine wins -- has three victories under the UFC banner. The first was Julie Kedzie, who retired after losing four straight fights. The second was Shayna Baszler, who was cut after dropping three consecutive bouts, not including her submission defeat to Julianna Pena on TUF 18.
The third was Jessamyn Duke, who also lost on TUF before going 1-3 inside the Octagon.
This is the fighter who is going to unseat Ronda Rousey? "Rowdy" has finished all 11 of her victims and needed less than two minutes to crush Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis, and Sara McMann. She's also an Olympic medalist who learned how to knockout her opponents using her fists.
There isn't much I can say that we haven't already said about 100 times since this fight was booked. Maybe if Correia had beaten someone of note, like Miesha Tate or the aforementioned Zingano, I could present a halfway-decent case for the Brazilian.
But she hasn't, and I can't, so make sure you don't get up for a beer or anything when this one starts, it's going to be over quickly.
Final prediction: Rousey def. Correia via technical knockout
205 lbs.: Antonio Rogerio "Minotoro" Nogueira (21-6) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (22-10)
Nostradumbass predicts: I realize that I'm old and crotchety, but I still can't believe how many fight fans are creaming themselves over this fight. Bro, this is gunna be fight of da night! Uh ... might be time to start facing the facts.
Mauricio Rua is washed up.
I know that's difficult to say out loud and trust me, I get no enjoyment from typing it. But his record over the past five years is embarrassing. After getting his revenge against Forrest Griffin in summer of 2011, the Brazilian dropped five of his next seven and has been finished three times.
Including a devastating knockout loss to Ovince Saint Preux last November.
That said, he's still a dangerous striker with knockout power inside the first five minutes (just ask James Te Huna) but his defense is way too shaky. His opponent, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, has not been subjected to the same level of violence in recent fights.
Though I will concede that his near-death experience against Anthony Johnson equals three ordinary knockout losses.
Both have a paint-by-numbers submission game, but we're unlikely to see it here. These veterans have already gone on record to make it known they will bang it out on the feet. If that's the case, I favor "Little Nog," who is better defensively and likely has the better chin.
More importantly, he has the better cardio.
I expect "Shogun" to survive and I do think the constant layoffs will disrupt Nogueira's timing, but I'm not anticipating the 15-minute barnburner some fans are expecting this to be.
Final prediction: Nogueira def. Rua via unanimous decision
155 lbs: Fernando "Acougueiro" Bruno (15-2) vs. Glaico "Nego" Franca (12-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: Fernando Bruno has that Gleison Tibau thing going for him in that he likes to
bore us grind the shit out of his opponents until they are exhausted or make a mistake. That said, he's got zero knockouts to his name and that's just not going to cut it these days.
I'd say he's "still learning" but at age 33 and already doing work at Nova Uniao, I really don't think he is.
Glaico Franca, on the other hand, is more well rounded and a giant for a lightweight, which will play a factor when you consider "Acougueiro" used to compete at 145 pounds. He's also nearly a decade younger and far superior as an athlete.
If he doesn't do something dumb and get stuck in a choke, he's going to light this dude up.
Final prediction: Franca def. Bruno via technical knockout
135 lbs.: Dileno Lopes (18-1) vs. Reginaldo Vieira (12-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: You know the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed..." If you vaguely remember Dileno Lopes, it's because TUF: "Brazil 4" is the second time the Brazilian appeared on the combat sports reality show -- though I'm sure he would like to erase the memory of getting KTFO by Rony Mariano Bezerra in season one.
Since then, he put together an impressive 8-1 run with seven finishes and fought his way into this weekend's live finale. Opposing him is Reginaldo Vieira, who was also finished by "Jason" when they tangled on the regional circuit back in 2011.
He rebounded with a 6-1 run, with all six wins coming by way of submission.
Both fighters are talented grapplers and not-so-talented strikers, so they may cancel each other out both on the feet and on the floor. That won't make this fight any less exciting (I hope) and I'm favoring the more-experienced Lopes, who is backed by Nova Uniao.
Final prediction: Lopes def. Viera via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (34-9-1) vs. Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (25-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: This is a tough fight for me -- as well as a lot of other longtime fans -- because I remember how excited I used to be watching Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira compete under the PRIDE banner. These days, I find myself hoping he simply gets out of the cage alive.
That's not meant to be shtick, because people can die in combat sports.
The Brazilian is just 2-4 since Cain Velasquez knocked him out back in 2010 but more importantly, he's been finished -- violently -- in back-to-back fights. "Minotauro" won a lot of his fights in his prime because he was able to sustain an inordinate amount of damage, then come back and tap his exhausted foe.
It was kind of like Homer Simpson vs. Drederick Tatum.
But that was nearly a decade ago and Nog no longer has that legendary chin. He's older and slower, so his boxing doesn't have the same pop it once did and his submission game -- while still dangerous -- is only as good as his aging reflexes.
Sorry to sound so depressing, but this is where we're at (proof).
Assuming Stefan Struve doesn't have another locker-room meltdown, I believe this is his fight to lose. Nogueira is no stranger to choking out beanstalks, evidenced by his submission win over Semmy Schilt, but again, this is not 2002 under PRIDE rules.
"Skyscraper" has a tremendous reach and won't need a concerted effort to find his opponent's chin -- though he has a bad habit of getting too close during exchanges and often folds under a punchy blitzkrieg. That may explain why he's been KTFO six times in his career, but that's not how Nogueira boxes and shouldn't be an issue.
If, however, he rushes in for the kill on the first knockdown, he's likely to get tapped.
Struve is an underrated grappler himself, but I don't think he'll risk playing around on the ground when he holds a substantial advantage on the feet. A patient, calculated approach is what I assume are the marching orders from his coaches.
The rest is up to him.
Final prediction: Struve def. Nogueira via technical knockout
265 lbs.: Soa "The Hulk" Palelei (22-4) vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (18-7-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Their combined age is 72 -- just want to get that out of the way before we talk about anything else. Now then, we should probably go ahead and recognize the decline of Antonio Silva, who has looked putrid in recent years.
After upsetting Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce, "Bigfoot" is just 2-5-1. More telling is that he was finished in all five of his losses and his draw against Mark Hunt was marred by a positive drug test. That said, he does benefit from favorable matchmaking here, as Soa Palelei is not the technical striker like some of his previous foes.
The hard-hitting "Hulk" is more of a "take you down and pound you out" type of fighter.
That could be a bit more challenging -- but not impossible -- against the massive Brazilian. Palelei has just one loss in his last 13 fights, thanks to superior wrestling by Jared Rosholt. Silva is slow and sloppy these days, but he has been fighting superior competition.
Palelei has yet to fight anyone in the top 10 of his division.
That would have me leaning toward Silva had this been the "Bigfoot" of old, but that giant head has become such an easy target, I can't shake this vision of Palelei going for broke as soon as the fight gets underway and finding a home for one of those Aussie oven mitts.
Final prediction: Palelei def. Silva via knockout
115 lbs.: Jessica "Jag" Aguilar (19-4) vs. Claudia "Claudinha" Gadelha (12-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: What a shame it is that no one -- including UFC -- is talking about this fight, because the winner is likely to move on to fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the 115-pound title. It also tells us where Jessica Aguilar is at, in the grand scheme of things.
Prior to her arrival, "Jag" was widely-considered the best strawweight not competing under the UFC banner.
But she's here now and draws a considerable test her first time out. Claudia Gadelha lost a very close split decision to the aforementioned Jedrzejczyk and insists the rematch will go much differently. A dominant performance tomorrow night in Rio will certainly make me a believer.
Easier said than done.
Aguilar -- who ran the table in World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and hasn't lost a fight in nearly five years -- is tough as nails and probably one of the better wrestlers in the division. What worries me is that her signature wins over Megumi Fujii came when the Japanese legend was already pushing 40.
She also topped TUF 20 champ Carla Esparza, but that was by split decision back in 2011.
There is no denying her skill as a fighter and outside of Jedrzejczyk and Valerie Letourneau, Gadelha has recycled her fair share of cans. But when I look at their past performances and where they're at in 2015, I can't help but see "Claudinha" as a younger, more dynamic version of Aguilar.
Sort of a "Jag 2.0"
And I can't, in good conscience, pick a fighter with losses to Angela Magana and Lisa Ellis, even if they are ancient history.
Final prediction: Gadelha def. Aguilar via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 190 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time 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 190 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Rousey vs. Correia."
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.