UFC 143 staff picks

The staff weighs in with their thoughts and predictions on the fights at UFC 143 headlined with an interim welterweight title bout between NIck Diaz vs. Carlos Condit.

Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit

KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight here and it will be a war. The main question is can Condit keep up with the pace of Diaz? Diaz beats everyone that’s not a dominant wrestler and Condit doesn’t fit that bill. Condit will give him a hell of a fight, but I think Diaz wins a decision or becomes the first to stop Condit via TKO late in the fight.

BRIAN FURBY: Carlos Condit.

RICHARD MANN: The former Strikeforce champion should be able to take this one based on cardio alone. In Condit’s only fight past round 3, he looked absolutely gassed against Hiromitsu Miura. Condit has a chance early. Of course, Diaz can take a ton of punishment, but he has been caught and dropped before. Look for Diaz to come on in the championship rounds and put the fight away. Diaz by TKO.

JOSH CROSS: I’m really looking forward to this matchup and I know GSP is too. Both fighters are very close in their skillset in my opinion and this should be a very exciting, close, and entertaining fight. I think it will be a close fight to call, but I have to give Diaz the edge in my opinion. Diaz’s conditioning is arguably the best in the sport and I think that’s why he’ll be able to push the pace of this fight from the first bell to the last. In the end I think Diaz comes away as the winner, which sets up one of the most anticipated fights of the year. Pick: Diaz via Decision.

DENNY HODGE: I have a feeling this fight will turn out similar to the Nate Diaz/Donald Cerrone fight. I think that Condit will need to utilize his kicking game to be effective on the feet, but that will be easier said than done against Nick. Diaz will apply constant pressure and make Condit fight going backward which will be a tough task for “The Natural Born Killer.” The cardio edge for Diaz is a significant factor as well, but I believe that Diaz will finish this before it even gets into the championship rounds. Look for Diaz to back Condit into the cage and go to work with his patented body shots. Condit will try to counter with knees in close but will be overwhelmed and finished in the third. Diaz by TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Diaz’s boxing should be too much for Condit. Diaz via TKO or possibly decision.

Fabricio Werdum vs. Roy Nelson

KELVIN HUNT: I think Werdum is the better all around fighter. He has better cardio, better strikes, and I give him the edge on the ground. Nelson could catch him with a big punch, but other than that I think Werdum takes the decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Roy Nelson.

RICHARD MANN: Nelson’s size and skill set is designed to win fights like this. Werdum might be the better grappler on paper or at ADCC, but Nelson should be able to own the clinch and top position. This fight will probably not be very exciting, but it should be a very big win for Nelson. Nelson by decision.

JOSH CROSS: While this fight could easily have some exciting exchanges, I really don’t see Nelson having much more than a puncher’s chance to win this fight. Werdum has defeated some world-class strikers and grapplers in his career and I just don’t see Nelson coming away with the victory in this bout. Upsets can happen (just ask Werdum), but I’m not expecting one in this fight. Pick: Werdum via Decision.

DENNY HODGE: I’m just not sold on Werdum. Yes he’s world class on the ground, but Nelson is no joke when fights hit the mat either. Nelson’s top control is very good, and I believe that he will mix in takedowns with his stand up to grind out a decision victory over Werdum.

JACK BRATCHER: Fabricio Werdum.

Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce

KELVIN HUNT: I wanna pick Pierce badly…just have a feeling about this fight. However, I have to go with Koscheck via decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Mike Pierce.

RICHARD MANN: Koscheck should be able to avoid Pierce’s wrestling game with his superior athleticism and quickness. On the feet, Koscheck will never be a K-1 level striker, but he should be able to land a huge one-two against Pierce. Koscheck by TKO.

JOSH CROSS: I think this is going to be a tough fight for Pierce to win. While Pierce does have knockout power, I think Koscheck will be able to weather the early storm, take the fight to the ground, and wear Pierce down. If Koscheck can do that I think he’ll be able to grind out the win. Pick: Koscheck via Decision.

DENNY HODGE: Pierce is a very tough competitor and will likely look to push the pace early and try to overwhelm Koscheck. Unfortunately for him, Koscheck has been in the cage with the best in the world and will be able to avoid the power of Pierce and weather the early storm. I believe that Koscheck won’t fall for an in-the-pocket war with Pierce, and will employ his takedown game and overwhelm Pierce with ground-and-pound from the top. Koscheck by TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Koscheck via TKO. Kos should be able to nullify Pierce’s wrestling and finish him with strikes.

Renan Barao vs. Scott Jorgensen

KELVIN HUNT: Jorgensen is definitely Barao’s biggest test and I think he’s capable of winning, but I think Barao is going to be too much here and will win a decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Renan Barao.

RICHARD MANN: Pretty much everyone wants to see Barao win, because he is seen as a legitimate challenger to Dominick Cruz’s dominance. However, the Boise State alumnus is going to upset everyone. He is by far the best fighter Barao has faced. He should be able to use his wrestling game to score a victory. He might not be able to get takedowns, but he should be able to control the pace with clinches and his front-head lock series. Jorgensen by decision.

JOSH CROSS: This fight not only has major implications in the bantamweight division, but it’s also going to be a very tough fight for either man to win. I think Barao is the better striker, which will provide problems for Jorgensen throughout this bout. While both fighters have the ability to win on the ground, I think Jorgensen will eventually make a mistake first, and Barao will capitalize. Pick: Barao via Submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Jorgensen via decision.

Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks

KELVIN HUNT: Herman’s been in a roll….I think the edge in experience will be too much for the young Starks. He might be able to grind out a decision win, but I think Herman submits Starks.


RICHARD MANN: Starks provides an interesting test for Herman. He is a solid wrestler, and Herman usually makes his money with his top game. However, the TUF 3 veteran might have a little bit of an advantage on the feet and is an underrated grappler. This fight might be close, but Herman should be able to pick up a W. Herman by decision.

JOSH CROSS: Starks, who is currently undefeated, will be in for the biggest test of his career Saturday night when he steps into the Octagon against Herman. I think Herman has the most well-rounded skill set of the two, and I think he’ll also be able to use his experience to make adjustments to his game on the fly and ultimately hand Starks his first loss. Pick: Herman via Submission.

JACK BRATCHER: Ed Herman via submission.

Matt Brown vs. Chris Cope


BRIAN FURBY: Matt Brown.

RICHARD MANN: Brown is certainly not a world beater, but he has enough game to score a victory here. He has a veteran’s grinding game, and that should lead him to a win over a guy who might not even belong in the UFC. Two unrelated thoughts: 1. People who think Brown beat Dong Hyun Kim are still wrong. 2. The nickname “Immortal” is one of the worst in MMA. Brown by decision

JOSH CROSS: I think Brown’s most glaring weakness is his ground game, but I don’t see that being much of a factor in this fight. I think this fight will be decided standing, and I think that favors Brown. I think ultimately Brown will be able to use his reach advantage and experience to pick Cope apart and earn a much-needed win at this point in his career. Pick: Brown via TKO.

JACK BRATCHER: Brown via decision.

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