UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch” takes place Saturday, Feb. 26, at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia (Sunday in Australia). The main event has welterweight title implications as former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn takes on top 170-pound contender Jon Fitch.

The UFC 127 co-main event features a bad blood match between England’s Michael “The Count” Bisping taking on UFC veteran Jorge “El Conquistador” Rivera in a middleweight showdown that will move the winner one step closer to the championship.

The ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) staff weighs-in with their thoughts on the main card and gives their expert prediction on each bout.

B.J. Penn (16-7-1) vs. Jon Fitch (26-3, 1 NC)

ODDS: B.J. Penn +160 vs. Jon Fitch -200

DENNY HODGE: It seems like everybody is taking Fitch in this one. He’s bigger, stronger, and has the ability to put Penn on his back, over and over again. His top control is stifling and grinding. However, I never bet against Penn, and while he has been plagued by inconsistency, he usually shines when confronted with a big challenge. It seems like he can’t get up for every fight, but he will in this one. Penn by TKO. Yeah… I said it.

BRIAN FURBY: I’m hesitant to bet against BJ in this one. After his dominance over Hughes, and then bringing in Hughes to help him with his camp, I think he’s taking the fight seriously enough to take out Fitch. I have concerns about BJ’s stamina in the later part of the fight, but that said, I think he’ll end it early. Penn by submission in Round 2.

KELVIN HUNT: ehh..I love BJ Penn…but I just have a hard time seeing him win this fight. IF he can keep the fight standing, then he surely has a shot…but Fitch is Fitch…and seems to find a way to get the fight to the ground to grind on folk like a young R. Kelly. Penn hasn’t shown the ability to do much off his back, and Fitch doesn’t take many chances anyways. So while Penn could beat Fitch standing possibly…I see this going the typical Fitch route of him winning a decision.

RICHARD MANN: Fitch is not a lights out wrestler. Unlike his teammate, Josh Koscheck, he is not going to double leg someone and plant them on their head. However, he has adapted his wrestling for MMA extremely well. He latches onto guys. When he can’t take them down, he scrambles into advantageous positions. Against Thiago Alves, a guy Koscheck struggled to get down, Fitch was able to take the back a few times when he couldn’t drag his opponent down. Joe Rogan is right when he always says that Penn has great takedown defense. His ability to balance on one leg is truly prodigious. He might be able to stay upright, but he doesn’t disengage from his opponent. For example, Kenny Florian did not come close to taking Penn down, but he did keep him pinned to the fence for long periods of time. So, I expect Fitch to use his diverse offensive wrestling to take positions on Penn and win a decision. It is a style that Penn has struggled with before. My only fear is that Fitch has listened to the bozos who complain about his style and steps out of his comfort zone. Pick = Jon Fitch.

JOHN BUHL: Penn has great defensive wrestling and strong boxing, but I think he’ll have trouble in both areas because of Fitch’s size and reach. Although Penn looked good last time out against Hughes, Fitch is a more well-rounded fighter and a tougher match-up stylistically. Fitch by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: If B.J. Penn needs to keep this fight standing if he’s going to win. The thing I like about B.J. these days is his attitude. In his last fight he said right before he went in the cage he didn’t care if he won or lost, but he just wanted to show people his fighting spirit. That really is a great way to look at it, especially for fans who are most concerned about watching good entertaining fights. Penn can pick Fitch apart if it stays on the feet. However, I don’t think it will stay there. Fitch should be able to put Penn on his back and grind this thing out. One of the main reasons Frankie Edgar was able to keep putting B.J. down was because of his speed, and timing his shots. Fitch won’t have that same speed luxury, but I still think he will end up putting B.J. down and using his ground and pound. One factor that could disrupt that scenario though is if Fitch, because it’s a main event on PPV, really feels the pressure to try and make the fight exciting and tries to stand with B.J. I think he’s smarter than that though, and will pick winning over over entertainment. Fitch via decision.

Michael Bisping (21-3) vs. Jorge Rivera (18-7)

ODDS: Michael Bisping -350 vs. Jorge Rivera +275

DENNY HODGE: Rivera is not a guy that is going to come in and overpower Bisping, but he will stand in the pocket and bang. Will Bisping use his footwork and movement to pick and choose his exchanges, or will he fall into exactly what Rivera wants and engage in a toe-to-toe slugfest? I don’t think Bisping will lose his head in this one, despite the trash talk coming into the bout, and his movement will be the difference as he picks Rivera apart from the outside en route to a unanimous decision victory.

BRIAN FURBY: If you are new to the ProMMAnow.com staff picks, you may not know how I feel about Bisping. Simply stated, he’s an asshat, and I will never pick him to win a fight. Even Bisping doesn’t buy into his own hype anymore. Just look at a recent comment of Bisping’s from the UFC 127 press conference, “I’m…an idiot…silly…and stupid…” Ok, maybe I got a little creative with my use of ellipses, but we can all read between the lines, Michael. You know how people feel about you. Although it has no true bearing on the fight, I think Rivera’s pre-fight videos have been hilarious, and it’s not hard to tell he’s gotten under Bisping’s skin. Rivera has reinvented himself over his last few fights, and I’d like to see him take out Bisping early. Rivera by TKO in Round 1.

KELVIN HUNT: Rivera is a huge underdog, but I don’t know why. He certainly can stand with Bisping and hurt him with his power. Bisping will be Bisping and try to outwork Rivera and probably win the decision, but I can definitely see Rivera stunning Bisping and finishing him off. So think it’ll be like the Bisping/Leben fight, and it may turn out that way. But Rivera’s standup is a bit more technical than Leben, plus he’s a savvy veteran. I want to pick Rivera BAD…but I’m go with Bisping via decision.

RICHARD MANN: For a guy who likes to get on his bicycle, Bisping struggles with properly moving away from his opponents. He lost to Dan Henderson, because he circled into Henderson’s only effective punch. He lost to Wanderlei Silva, because he ran backwards in a straight line when “The Axe Murderer” came running at him. Rivera may be an aging journeyman, but he can still hit with a ton of power and make annoying YouTube videos. I favor Bisping, because I trust that he has shored up his defense problems on the feet. This may be a leap of faith, so call me Indiana Jones. Also, Bisping is an extremely underrated grappler, while Rivera is a guy who got submitted by Lee Murray. Pick = Michael Bisping.

JOHN BUHL: Good luck to Rivera and all, and it’s good to see a fighter that’s worked as hard as he has and paid his dues get a shot in a co-main event. That being said, Bisping really is a step above him skill-wise. I don’t think Rivera has the punching power that Dan Henderson does to get the KO. Bisping by decision.

JACK BRATCHER: I really like Jorge Rivera and his story is touching. It would be amazing if he were to pull this off, but unfortunately, I don’t think he will. Bisping has only lost to big name guys; Wanderlei, Rashad (both decisions) and then the big KO loss to Dan Henderson. The only bad thing could be is if Bisping circles into that power hand like he has a tendency to do. Surely he’s learned his lesson by now. I think Bisping is technically the better striker and will out-point Rivera ¬†for a decision.

George Sotiropoulos (14-2) vs. Dennis Siver (17-7)

ODDS: George Sotiropoulos -340 vs. Dennis Siver +260

DENNY HODGE: I’m all aboard the Sotiropoulos war wagon. He is 7-0 in the UFC, and has shown improvement in each outing. His stand up is now very effective, especially for what he needs it for, which is closing the distance and getting the fight to the ground. Siver is a powerful guy and will need to establish his kicks early to keep Sotiropoulos at bay and out of range. Sotiropoulos will establish his jab early, take the fight down and do work from top position. Sotiropoulos by submission.

BRIAN FURBY: Unless Siver lands a big shot early, GSot will cruise to a submission win, probably picking up a bonus in the process. Sotiropoulos by submission in Round 2.

KELVIN HUNT: I like this fight. Siver’s a good kickboxer and is absolutely huge. His size could help him…or possibly hurt him if he starts to fade in the fight. Sotiropoulos has the edge on the ground and I think his length standing will be a factor for Siver. I like Sotiropoulos to submit Siver here…RNC.

RICHARD MANN: I’ll admit that I was late to jump on the Sotiropoulos hype train, but now I am Denzel in “Unstoppable.” Siver is mostly a striker. It is pretty obvious they are bringing him in to lose to the hometown guy. Look for Sotiropoulos to get on top and finish with a submission.

JOHN BUHL: Seeing as how the UFC has hinted at Sotiropoulos being in line for a title shot in the near future, this is a strange match-up. Siver brings some good striking to the table, but he really hasn’t beaten anyone in the UFC that I’d say is above average in the 155 division. Sotiropoulos by submission in round 2.

JACK BRATCHER: The majority of Siver’s losses, four to be exact, have come by way of submission. It has been about four years since he’s lost via decision and he actually won his last fight via submission, so it does seem he’s improving with his grappling. That being said, he will be in a lot of trouble once this fight hits the ground with George Sotiropoulos. This should be a fun style match-up to watch as its a very good striker vs. a very good grappler. In the end, Sotiropoulos should be able to continue his undefeated streak in the UFC with a submission over Siver.

Chris Lytle (40-17-4) vs. Brian Ebersole (46-14-1, 1 NC)

OODS: Chris Lytle -265 vs. Brian Ebersole +205

DENNY HODGE: Everybody knows what you are going to get when Lytle enters the Octagon. He usually walks away with some form of a “fight-night” bonus, and brings the pain every time he fights. Ebersole took this fight with about two weeks to prepare, stepping in for Carlos Condit. He will try to use his wrestling to get Lytle on the mat, but will have difficulty when the fight is on the feet. Look for Ebersole to get a takedown or two, but Lytle’s work off his back will be enough for him to reset, get in the pocket, bang, and win. Lytle by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Lytle will use his solid striking to upend Ebersol and set up a submission win. Lytle by submission in Round three.

KELVIN HUNT: Two wiley veterans going at it. Lytle’s been depending more on his underrated ground game, most of Ebersole’s losses are by submission. Lytle via submission after they stand and bang for a bit.

RICHARD MANN: If Ebersole goes for a cartwheel guard pass will Armando Garcia come out of nowhere and declare the fight a work. Lytle will be the better striker and grappler. A lot of people are not expecting much from Ebersole, but he is a game fighter. I favor Lytle, but I would not be shocked to see this one go three rounds. Lytle has taken a step back recently. Sure, he is on a five-fight winning streak, but he has struggled at times. I might be the only person who complains about fighters slugging it out for bonuses. Lytle has a slick boxing game and a dangerous submission arsenal. Fighters like Kevin Burns and Marcus Davis really had zero shot against him. However, he indulged them in a brawl. My worry is that these unnecessary brawls have taken away Lytle’s ability to blitz a fighter like Ebersole. Pick = Chris Lytle.

JOHN BUHL: It’s hard to put into words how disappointed I am that Carlos Condit had to pull out of this fight with an injury. He and Lytle would’ve put on a great show. With Lytle’s underrated grappling and granite chin, I don’t see a way for Ebersole to win this, even if Lytle makes a couple of mistakes. Lytle by third round submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Brian Ebersole began his pro MMA career in 2000. He fought 15 times in 2002. The guy has stayed very busy throughout his career and has put together an impressive record. The Illinois resident will make his UFC debut this weekend against another veteran who has also stayed very busy over the years. The one major difference of course between these two is the level of competition each has been CONSISTENTLY facing. Both guys are very well-rounded and both are coming in with nice win streaks going. This could be “fight of the night” as these two veterans go toe-to-toe and bang it out. I expect a real war here, but I see Lytle winning either via TKO or hurting Ebersole then submitting him.

Kyle Noke (18-4-1) vs. Chris Camozzi (14-3)

ODDS: Kyle Noke -215 vs. Chris Camozzi +175

DENNY HODGE: Both TUF vets, Noke and Camozzi will look to derail the UFC unbeaten streak of the other. Camozzi will take the fight to the ground early, and will have to beware of the submission game of Noke. This will be a back-and-forth affair, and in the end, Camozzi will eke out a close decision victory.

BRIAN FURBY: My split decision pick for this card. Camozzi wins by split decision.

KELVIN HUNT: Noke via decision.

RICHARD MANN: Before the rise of George Sotiropoulos, I would have sworn up and down that Noke was the top Australian prospect. Sure, he struggles against guys who look for takedowns, but Camozzi is not that type of fighter. Noke should be able to land cleanly on the feet and secure a stoppage victory. Pick = Kyle Noke.

JOHN BUHL: This fight’s a toss up. Based on a coin flip I just did, I’ll go with Noke by decision, via takedowns and a strong top game.

JACK BRATCHER: Did you know Kyle Noke is one of only two guys to ever defeat George Sotiropoulos? It’s true; via decision back in 2006. Anyways, he will defeat Chris Camozzi. And although his nickname is “KO”, he actually has more wins via submission and that’s what I see for Camozzi’s future, a loss to Kyle Noke via decision. By the way, I just thought of a good name for a band: “Noke beats Camozzi”.

Ross Pearson (13-4) vs. Spencer Fisher (25-6)

ODDS: Ross Pearson -175 vs. Spencer Fisher +145

DENNY HODGE: Pearson was humbled by Cole Miller in his last outing, but will be fighting a guy that is more likely to stand and trade with him, in Spencer Fisher. Fisher ended a two-fight skid in his last fight, besting Curt Warburton by decision at UFC 120. Pearson will use his movement and footwork to get in and out on Fisher, and will win the fight by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Another contender for Fight of the Night. Two tough guys ready to put on a good show. I like Pearson in this fight by a slight margin because he’s eager to bounce back from his loss to Cole Miller. Given my love for picking split decisions, I’ll go for one here too. Pearson wins by split decision.

KELVIN HUNT: I hate to go against my native North Carolina guy in Fisher, but I think Pearson will try to rough him up inside and grind out a decision win.

RICHARD MANN: I am apprehensive about picking Pearson. I thought he would use a physical and grinding game to defeat Cole Miller and I was seriously wrong. With that being said, I am taking him to defeat Fisher. “The King” looked pretty terrible in his last fight and struggles against fighters that want to clinch up with him. Of course, Pearson’s only real accomplishment is winning an extremely weak season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” so who really knows. Pick = Ross Pearson,

JOHN BUHL: Pearson is probably the slightly better athlete, but Fisher has a big experience advantage and I think still has enough left in the tank to find a way to win this one. As we saw against Cole Miller, Pearson is tough to take down, but he also leaves himself open on the feet. If Fisher can out-strike Sam Stout, he’ll beat Pearson. Fisher by third round submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Here’s an interesting fact. Spencer Fisher hasn’t finished a fight on his feet since 2006 when he beat Dan Lauzon at UFC 64. Conversely, Pearson stopped Aaron Riley via TKO (doctor stoppage) in 2009 at UFC 105. This should be a fun stand-up rock em’ sock em’ robot type of battle. Spencer is known for his boxing and exciting stand-up game and our own Jeff Joslin has worked with him in the past. But Pearson comes from that British Team Rough House stock that is tough, durable and loves to bang and I think he’s going to be too much for Fisher. Pearson via TKO.

NOTE: All UFC 127 fight odds provided courtesy off ProMMAnow.com sponsor LINESMAKER (www.linesmaker.com).

7 thoughts on “ProMMAnow.com UFC 127 staff picks”
  1. Agree with Richard on every pick.

    The one thing I see coming into this event hurting Fitch is his new Vegetarian diet. There are reports that he had to cut very little weight for this fight, and if that’s true than the huge size advantage he would have enjoyed becomes very little. Just like when Tyson Griffin decided to drop some muscle to be closer to the limit (and eventually dropping to FW) I think this could take away some of Fitch’s weapons.

    However, this isn’t enough to make me change my pick.

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