UFC 140 staff picks

Whether it is Brian Furby’s prediction that Tito Ortiz will knockout Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in round two or Jack Bratcher’s prediction that Lyoto Machida will stop the meteoric rise of Jon Jones, you can never be quite sure what the “ staff picks” will look like until you read them. We follow no molds or rules and often go with our heart over our mind. We might not always be right, but we are never always wrong (at least not all of us at the same time). And our staff picks for UFC 140 are as follows…

Mark Hominick (20-9) vs. Chan Sung Jung (11-3)

ODDS: Hominick -450, Jung +325

GARY THOMAS: Mark Hominick is a tough guy with a lot of heart and a good deal of inspiration going into this fight. Jung is just as tough and has been a part of one of the most memorable fights in MMA history. I don’t see Jung submitting Hominick and if thats the case Hominick will win and get himself back in contention for the title. Hominick by Decision.

RICHARD MANN: Predicting MMA fights can be a tricky business. Hominick should be able to own this fight on the feet. He will be able to avoid the onslaught from Jung and land his own slick counter shots. However, when is the last time we saw judges reward someone in that situation? Look for Jung to win this fight with pure aggression like Leonard Garcia. Chan Sung Jung by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: This could be a very entertaining fight, but I think it will be largely one-sided. Hominick is faster and has better technical striking, but the Korean Zombie is hard to finish. Hominick by unanimous decision.

JOSH CROSS: This should be an incredibly entertaining fight to watch from start to finish. Both guys are known for being relentless and not afraid to stand and bang. I think Chan Sung Jung has the best chance of winning this fight if he takes Hominick down constantly throughout the fight limiting the time these two remain standing. That being said, I don’t think this fight will spend much time on the ground, and that is why I think Hominick will be able to control most of the action and ultimately get the win. Pick: Hominick via Decision.

KELVIN HUNT: Mark Hominick via TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: I’m a bit surprised Hominick is such a huge underdog with the oddsmakers. Maybe they know something I don’t because I just don’t see that big of a gap between these two. In fact, if you’re a gambling man or woman, you might want to lay a few ducats on the dog in this one. The Zombie is popular with the fans because of his willingness to slug it out, but Hominick should have the technical advantage on the feet thanks in large part to his former coach Shawn Tompkins. This will be Hominick’s first fight back since the loss of his friend and mentor and it is hard to pick against someone in his situation. Hominick via TKO.

Claude Patrick (14-1) vs. Brian Ebersole (48-14-1, 1 NC)

ODDS: Patrick +100, Ebersole -130

GARY THOMAS: Brian Ebersole hasn’t lost since 2008. I like his style and grit. Claude Patrick hasn’t lost since 2002 and will be on home turf for this fight. I like Ebersole to win this fight and up his stock further. Only if he has the cool chest hair going on though. Ebersole via Decision.

RICHARD MANN: Patrick might be the more skilled fighter on the ground, but Ebersole’s physical game is going to be the story of this fight. Against Dennis Hallman, and his over-sized cup, Ebersole struggled early. However, once he was able to land some blows the tide turned. Look for the same story to play out here. Ebersole by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Patrick has a solid record, but many of his wins were against mid-level competition at best. He’ll be able to get Patrick down and either work out a quick submission or TKO win. Ebersole by TKO in Round 1. 

JOSH CROSS: I anticipate that this fight will consist mostly of grappling since that is where both fighters have had the most success in previous bouts. I really think this fight is going to be both won and lost on the ground. In looking at both fighters I think that Ebersole is more experienced than Patrick and I think that will allow him to control the fight and ultimately get the win. Pick: Ebersole via Decision.

KELVIN HUNT: Brian Ebersole via submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Ebersole has lost quite a few fights by submission, nine to be exact, and that is where Patrick excels. However, TWAS (The White Anderson Silva) seems to have found his stride since arriving in the UFC earlier this year. He has a unique style and should be able to fend off Patrick’s submission attack long enough to pick up a three round decision. Ebersole via decision.

Tito Ortiz (17-9-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-5)

ODDS: Ortiz +160, Nogueira -200

GARY THOMAS: The People’s Champ returns after a less than impressive outing against Rashad Evans. Lil Nog is riding a 2 fight losing streak. This is a coin flip so I gotta go with Tito Ortiz. Ortiz by Knockout in Round 2.

RICHARD MANN: Some things just stick in MMA. For some reason people still think that Ortiz is a “cardio machine.” The man has been basically gassed after round one in every fight since UFC 51. To make matters worse, his game is almost entirely based on strength takedowns. Once he hits the wall, he can’t use his wrestling game. If Nogueira can make it out of the first round, he will be able to dominate Ortiz on the feet for the next two. Nogueira by decision.

BRIAN FURBY:  If anyone has ever read any of my staff picks, it’s no secret who I’m going to pick here. Tito can win this fight, but he has to be careful. Lil Nog has excellent striking, and Tito has had problems with some solid strikers. However, his biggest problems have come from counter-strikers (Liddell and Machida). If Lil Nog tries to take the fight to Tito early, Tito can score a takedown and unleash some of the ground and pound I’ve been waiting to see over his last four or five fights. It will happen. Tito by TKO in Round 2.

JOSH CROSS: The winner of this fight I believe is going to be determined by where the majority of this bout takes place. Nogueira has had problems in the past with wrestlers like Ortiz, and if Tito can get Nogueira to the ground, I think Ortiz will win it. On the other hand though, I think if Nogueira can keep the fight standing he has the best chance to win as I think he has a striking advantage over Ortiz. So what happens? I think Nogueira will be able to keep Ortiz from taking him down and ultimately finish the fight. Pick: Nogueira via TKO.

KELVIN HUNT: Another hard fight to predict. Nog has always had problems against wrestlers that can take him down and nullify his ground game. Enter Tito Ortiz’s skill set. I’m just not sure what Tito has left in the tank at this point. Nog’s not going to knock him out I don’t think or submit him. If the fight goes to the judges Ortiz definitely has a shot at winning it….I’m going with Ortiz via UD. 

JACK BRATCHER: I’m going to go crazy here. Ortiz has had submission of the night and fight of the night in his last two outings. He has said he would like to get KO of the night against Lil Nog. Call me crazy, but I think he just might do it. He’s been working hard with boxing coach Jason Parillo and although Nog is a Brazilian boxing champ, I think Ortiz might just catch him with something big. Even if he doesn’t get KO of the night, I’m leaning toward an Ortiz TKO victory.

Frank Mir (15-5) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6-1, 1 NC)

ODDS: Mir -240, Nogueira +190

GARY THOMAS: Heavyweights Frank Mir and Big Nog come in looking for a possible run at the title. Neither has time to waste. Frank Mir looked sharp against a lackluster Roy Nelson. Nog was looking real good against Brandon Schaub. I think Mir still has more gas left in the tank and lines himself up for a match-up with a top tier heavyweight and gets another title shot in 2012. Frank Mir by Knockout in Round 3.

RICHARD MANN: Mir does not struggle unless he comes up against a physical fighter that can wear him down. Nogueira does not have that game now, and he never really did before. Big Nog showed a big flash on the feet against Brendan Schaub, but his punches were still coming slow. Mir should be able to avoid big shots on the feet and land his own. Mir by TKO.

BRIAN FURBY: I think this fight will go largely like their first fight did, with Mir using his improved striking and strength to overpower Big Nog. Nogueira has some of the best BJJ in all of MMA, but instead, he’ll choose to strike with Mir and that will be his downfall. Mir will want to finish Nog quicker in this fight than than the first, and he’ll succeed. Mir by TKO in Round 1.

JOSH CROSS: It’s hard for me to see this fight playing out much differently than the last meeting these two had in 2008 when Mir won via TKO. While Nogueira is coming off of a knockout win over Brendan Schaub, not only did Nogueira look slow in parts of the fight, but he also go rocked a few times by Schaub. If Mir gets a chance to land a similar punch I think he’ll be able to do what Schaub couldn’t do and that is knock Nogueira out. I think Nogueira will be just too slow in this match and Mir will be strong enough to finish the fight again. Pick: Mir via TKO.

KELVIN HUNT: Hard fight to predict…I watched the Nog/Schaub fight again and Nog had really good head movement in that fight…seemed a bit quicker as well…will be interesting to see how he looks on Saturday night. I wonder if Mir is in shape for this fight as he’s gassed a bit in his last few match-ups. If Mir’s not in shape Nogueira can win this fight if he’s not knocked out early like last time. I’m have to go with Mir here via TKO, but I’m secretly rooting for Nog!

JACK BRATCHER: Look for Mir to put on a repeat performance against Nog. The first time Mir beat Nog, he considered it the biggest win of his career. Then when it came out that Nog was not 100 percent, and it was a slap in the face to Mir. He wants to prove the first win was no fluke. Mir’s boxing has improved leaps and bounds over the last couple years and he shouldn’t have any trouble with Nog on the feet. Nog can be very dangerous on the ground, but the only way he’s going to get the fight to the ground is if Mir knocks him down. Mir by decision.

Jon Jones (14-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (17-2)

ODDS: Jones -450, Machida +325

GARY THOMAS: I really can’t say much about the main event that hasn’t already been said or hashed over. Jon Jones is the best fighter I have seen ever and who’s to say he’s even in his prime yet? I don’t think Machida can evade Jones and his wild striking in this fight. Jon Jones retains his belt via Knockout in the 4th Round.

RICHARD MANN: Even though Machida is only 1-2 in his last three fights, a lot of people are still excited for this fight. Unlike Jones’ other opponents, Machida presents and interesting style match up on the feet. He normally does a good job of staying out of an opponent’s range and landing economical strikes. Jones showed against Quinton Jackson that he can struggle to score takedowns from the clinch. Machida is an underrated grappler. So this fight will remain on the feet. However, even on the feet, Jones should be the favorite. In Machida’s first fight against Mauricio Rua, he showed that strikes from distance give him trouble. Jones has an impressive kicking arsenal and is much longer than someone like “Shogun.” Jones by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: I’ve seen various betting lines on this fight have Machida from a +425 underdog to a +205 underdog. Like many people, I think this is due more to Jones’ dominance as opposed to a lack of skill on the part of Machida. Machida is elusive, and he’s put on some muscle for this fight in addition to training with some high level wrestlers to get ready for Jones. No word on whether “Master” Steven Seagal has been helping Machida prepare for the fight, but I’m sure they’re keeping that a secret. Regardless, I think this fight will see Jones win, but I’m concerned about whether the fight will be exciting or an odd mix of the two of them trying to be elusive. I think Machida put on the extra muscle as part of a plan to push the pace more, but ultimately, I think Jones’s skill set is too much for Machida to handle. Jones by TKO in Round 2.

JOSH CROSS: I think this is one of the biggest challenges for Jones yet. We haven’t seen how Jones will fare in a matchup with the style Machida has. That being said, I think Jones will be able to overwhelm Machida with his offense, which will cause the most problems for the former champ. I think Machida definitely has a chance to win, but I think the odds of him dethroning Jones are very slim. Pick: Jones via TKO.

KELVIN HUNT: I think Machida will put up a better fight than most think using his footwork and speed to avoid damage on the feet….not sure he can stop Jones from taking him down though. Once it’s on the ground I think Jones will be too big and too strong. He either stops Machida via TKO there or submits him. 

JACK BRATCHER: I think we may just see Jones get hurt in this fight for the first time in his career. The enormous pressure that must be on this guy seems incredible. Machida has been there. The one thing Jones does really well is mix up his game. Technically Machida is the better striker. He’s also a better submission artist. But Jones’ wrestling, athleticism, power, patience and accuracy make him such a dangerous opponent. Still, I could see him getting caught by a Machida punch or kick. Jones does at times open himself up, and all it takes is one shot in the right place — and Machida does very well at taking advantage of openings…. ask Rashad, and ask Couture. — Here is something to think about… Rashad Evans has great wrestling… so does Jones. Rashad Evans has fast fast hands, power, and can knock you out with his kicks… look what Machida did to him. He turned Rashad into probably the most embarrassing highlight reel in the history of MMA that has been photoshopped more than any other KO I’ve ever seen. Call me crazy, but never count out a man who drinks his own urine. Machida via TKO.

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