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PROMMA.INFO UFC 104 staff picks

A selection of the PROMMA.INFO staff has taken the time to give their predictions for UFC 104 which takes place this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. At least two of the preliminary fights will air live on Spike TV, in addition to the main card, which will broadcast live on Pay-Per-View.

Be sure to join us right here on Friday for a live stream of the UFC 104 weigh-ins, and then Saturday night for the live play-by-play, followed by the post-fight press conference. Here are our UFC 104 staff picks:

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

DUSTY ADAMS: Man I like Machida a lot but after he won the title I said I felt Shogun could beat him (check the comments section) and I’m sticking with him. Machida will hit him with solid shots but Shogun has a great chin. I think his conditioning is back too. Shogun unanimous decision.

JEFF HOWARD: Let me start off by saying that I personally do not see Rua as being near the number one contender in the light heavyweight division. I’m still not sold on this being the “Machida Era,” but he should breeze through Rua. Rua hasn’t showed the best cardio as of late, i.e. his fight vs. Mark Coleman. Machida should win via TKO in the 1st or 2nd round.

DENNY HODGE: This should be explosive!! If Shogun comes in with his usual aggressive style, he will play right into Machida’s game plan. If Shogun has a chance, it will be with him being a bit more cautious and with him picking his spots and chances to be offensive. I don’t think the Machida riddle will be solved in this one, and see Machida capitalizing off a Rua mistake ending the fight by TKO in the second round, and thus extending the Machida era just a little while longer.

RICHARD MANN: Shogun is going to come out like a ball of fire and throw wild combinations. None of them will land. He has no way to close the distance on Machida, and if you watch Shogun’s fights his striking defense is a liability. Machida will catch Shogun with some shots and finish the fight in the third round. The Dragon will still be the champion.

JACK BRATCHER: Shogun will get absolutely annihilated much like Rashad Evans did. Unlike others, I AM sold on the Machida era. I’ve been singing the praises of Machida from the beginning. Personally, I think he is far and above anyone at in the light heavyweight division and that’s why he’s the champ. He is a complete fighter not only with technique but as a person; mentally, physically, and spiritually. At this point, I just can’t see anyone beating him. It’s going to take something very special and unique to compete with what Machida has to offer. Someone will have to surprise him with something crazy. Going toe to toe with The Dragon is certain death! First round (T)KO for Machida.

Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell

DUSTY ADAMS: Rothwell is tough and a bit underrated to me but Cain is hungry and his hand speed and takedowns will be too much. Velasquez TKO second round.

JEFF HOWARD: This could quite possibly be the fight of the night. For the fans that do not know Rothwell, never judge a book by its cover. Rothwell is amazingly athletic for his size and shape. With that said, I still believe that Velasquez is the real deal and will win this fight. Cain’s stamina and tenacity will be what wins in this heavyweight matchup. With Rothwell winning 14 of his last 15 fights, this fight will not be an easy one for Velasquez. I could see Rothwell winning via submission, but I have picked Cain to win by unanimous decision.

DENNY HODGE: Rothwell obviously has a huge experience advantage over the up and coming Velasquez. Both guys are hungry and for different reasons, but I just don’t see Rothwell being able to overcome Velasquez dumping him on his back over and over again, and that’s if he manages to get up after he’s put there. That being said, Rothwell is a very tough guy and will push this to a decision, but a decision that he will ultimately come up a bit short on. Velasquez by unanimous decision.

RICHARD MANN: There is no doubt in my mind that Cain Velasquez can take Ben Rothwell down. Back in his collegiate days, he had great matches against Steve Mocco and Cole Konrad. However, Velasquez will not even have to take the fight to the ground. He is a developing striker that moves well. He got tagged several times by Cheick Kongo, because he didn’t move his head. Rothwell is an okay striker, but he will not be able to make Velasquez pay in the same way. Velasquez will surprise some people on the feet and then finish Rothwell on the ground.

JACK BRATCHER: Velasquez’s striking seems to be improving, as well as his power hopefully. This could be a close fight. I think it will go to a decision. I think Velasquez will have trouble finishing Rothwell but ultimately will get the unanimous decision.

Josh Neer vs. Gleison Tibau

DUSTY ADAMS: Why is this fight on the main card over Bader and Schafer? Anyway I think Neer’s toughness will frustrate Tibau and cause him to make mistakes. Neer second round submission.

JEFF HOWARD: I keep looking at this fight asking myself, why is this on the main card? Unfortunately I cannot come up with a viable answer. Both fighters really need an impressive win here, but I am afraid this will play out to be a long and boring fight. Josh Neer by split decision.

DENNY HODGE: Neer always brings it in the Octagon, and Tibau is coming off a controversial loss to Guillard, and will be looking to push the pace in order to avoid another disappointing loss at the hands of the judges. Neer won’t be easy to put away, but will have trouble getting off in the stand up game with the smothering style of Tibau. This one will go the distance as well, with Neer adding a close win to his stats.

RICHARD MANN: In his last fight, Josh Neer proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he can’t stop a takedown to save his life. Gleison Tibau will take him down and nullify Neer’s guard and take a decision victory. Neer has developed an active guard, but Tibau is a power top-position grappler.

JACK BRATCHER: This one is a bit of a toss up for me. I’m going to go with a (T)KO win by Josh Neer. I think he will land some of those heavy shots and take out Tibau in the second or third.

Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher

DUSTY ADAMS: Just the fact that he’s in Greg Jackson’s camp gives him an edge to me. Fisher always comes to fight but I see Stevenson winning a unanimous decision.

JEFF HOWARD: Fisher is a true warrior and is not afraid to put himself in harm’s way to put on a good show. BUT, Stevenson desperately needs a win here to stay relevant. I think that Stevenson will use his superior ground skills and keep the fight on the ground, not allowing Fisher to control the tempo. Stevenson by decision.

DENNY HODGE: Fisher likes to stand and bang but won’t get much of an opportunity with Stevenson. I see Stevenson taking this one to the ground early and often en route to a submission victory over the very game Fisher.

RICHARD MANN: After avoiding an 0-3 skid by defeating Nate Diaz, Joe Stevenson appears to be on his way back to the top. Spencer Fisher is the perfect match up for Stevenson. Although he is not a great wrestler, he will be able to takedown Fisher at will. Once there he will be able to pass guard and land enough meaningful strikes to win. Do not expect Fisher to be finished. In his career he has only been finished by Hermes Franca’s haymaker.

JACK BRATCHER: Stevenson seems to be back on track. I’m giving him this one by unanimous decision. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be that exciting. Spencer will want to bang, Joe Daddy will put him on his back and grind out the decision.

Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

DUSTY ADAMS: “Rumble” could ultimately prove to be a big challenge to GSP but that’s down the road some day. Johnson is way too big for Yoshida to handle and his striking is superb. Johnson KO first round.

JEFF HOWARD: As I have gone with the upset in the last fight, I will not in this one. Johnson is on a roll and is a way bigger welterweight. His punching power is what will win this and quick. I have Johnson winning via KO in the first.

DENNY HODGE: This one could get interesting… Yoshida is giving up a lot of reach to Johnson, and Johnson has shown his KO prowess in the past. Can Yoshida use his judo to get Johnson to the canvas to set up some sub attempts? I don’t see it, especially with Johnson’s wrestling skills. This one will be one sided, with Johnson utilizing his very crisp and diverse striking skills to put Yoshida away in the second round by TKO.

RICHARD MANN: MMA fans and pundits love big power, and therefore they have been very high on Anthony Johnson. When he hits people they absolutely melt. It seems like Yoshiyuki Yoshida is tailor made for Johnson considering he was starched by Josh Koscheck. However, Johnson is more than suspect on the ground. Since his last fight, Yoshida has been working extensively on the ground in preparation for ADCC. He may not be able to take Johnson down, but at some point during the fight he will find a submission and finish the fight.

JACK BRATCHER: I don’t think Johnson will have much problem finishing Yoshida off via (T)KO, probably in the second or third round.

Eric Schafer vs. Ryan Bader

DUSTY ADAMS: Bader will take Schafer down which is probably where Schafer wants to be. Not necessarily on his back but on the ground where he can transition into a better position. Bader will be hard to submit because of his strength but I think he can. Schafer by sub second round.

JEFF HOWARD: It seems everyone has Bader as a lock in this fight, but, as usual I will go against the grain and go with Schafer in this fight. Bader is great as a pure wrestler, but Schafer has some serious ground skills and should not be over looked. I am going for the upset here with Schafer winning via submission in the third.

DENNY HODGE: I’m going to go with the upset in the Bader/Schaefer fight. Bader has the obvious advantage in wrestling, but may want to test the waters on his feet against Schaefer. If Bader falls back on his wrestling, I see Schaefer using his ground skills to upset Bader, by submission in round 3.

RICHARD MANN: On this level, Eric Schafer most of his wins come by dominating weak grapplers. Bader will be able to get on top and land enough shots to win. Schafer won’t have anything on the feet, and he won’t be able to dominate on the ground.

JACK BRATCHER: Bader is a big bad dude with serious power. He is still developing as a fighter and has yet to reach his full potential, but he is damn sure on his way. I was at Bader’s open workout in Nashville. Even though he’s known mostly for his wrestling, the dude hits and kicks like a mack truck. Bader by knockout in round one or two.

Antoni Hardonk vs. Pat Barry

DUSTY ADAMS: Both solid kickboxers with HARD leg kicks. Hardonk’s ground game has improved where as Barry has admitted to not picking it up as well. Still I like Barry’s striking over Hardonk. barry TKO first round.

JEFF HOWARD: Two former K1 fighters, so this should be a standup war. I give the edge and the victory to Pat Barry. I think Barry will hang with Hardonk on the feet and get it to the ground. Barry by submission (choke) late in the second round.

DENNY HODGE: Two guys with amazing leg kicks. This one won’t even come close to going to the ground and should be an all out war on the feet. Look for Barry to impose his will on his way to a decision victory over Hardonk.

RICHARD MANN: Both of these men are kickboxers, and they have trained together in the past. Antoni Hardonk is the bigger fight with the longer reach. On top of that, he has also spent more time training the MMA game. If it stays on the feet, Hardonk will keep the diminutive Barry at the end of his leg kicks. If it goes to the ground Hardonk will have the advantage.

JACK BRATCHER: Barry by first round (T)KO with overwhelming strikes.

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