Here we go! The last big event of the year and the next to last overall. UFC 181 is a pretty solid card featuring two title fights and great match ups. Who could be mad at a card with Faber, Pettis, Lawler, Hendricks and even Todd Duffee! The main card will air on pay per view with the prelims on UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1.
The weigh-ins take place later today but before they hit the scale and before you decide who you think will win, take a look at our highly educated staff picks. Well, maybe the educated part is a stretch but we’ve heard of most of the people on the card!
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Anthony Hamilton vs. Todd Duffee – Heavyweight
@KelvinHuntMMA : Todd Duffee, because I’ve never seen the other dude fight. Pick – Todd Duffee
@PROMMA :Duffee has been out of action for two years dealing with Personage Turner Syndrome He won KO of the Night on his 2012 UFC return win over Phil De Fries at UFC 155. His only losses by the way were a pair of KO’s to Mike Russow (UFC 114) and Alistair Overeem (Dynamite!!) back in 2010. He looked much improved against De Fries. Hamilton is coming off a TKO win over Ruan Potts in August, following a submission loss to Alexey Oleinik in his UFC debut in June. Duffee is a freak of nature who was just really starting to I believe peak when he got sidelined. Look for this 28-year-old to still do big things in this sport. Pick: Todd Duffee
@GaryThomasMMA :We all know that Duffee has that hard hitting knockout power. He’s had some issues though and has been inconsistent. Hamilton can grind on you or he can explode and finish you off. He knocked out Smealinho Rama with a slick head kick demolished Ruan Potts with body shots. I am a Hamilton fan and I think he has enough to get one over on Duffee. Pick- Anthony Hamilton
Travis Browne vs. Brendan Schaub – Heavyweight
Kelvin Hunt : Schaub won’t be able to get away with laying and praying in this one. His chin is suspect and Browne will find it. Pick – Travis Browne
Jack Bratcher: Since moving to California and embracing jiu-jitsu the way he has Schaub has taken his mental game to a new level and his physical skills have followed. Browne has moved his camp too, yet they both lost their last fights to older guys so not sure what that means except they are still developing. Schaub’s fight with Arlovski was fairly close whereas Browne got tooled by Werdum hard. Oddsmakers actually have Browne a pretty heavy favorite in this one. I disagree. Pick- Brendan Schaub
Gary Thomas: So Schaub isn’t impressed with Browne training with Rousey’s crew. Other than Rousey those cats haven’t been very successful but Browne is a monster. He has the skillset that feel will neutralize Schaub’s boring style. I agree with Kelvin, Travis will find that sweet spot and put “Big Brown”to sleep. Pick- Travis Browne
Anthony Pettis (C) vs. Gilbert Melendez – Lightweight Championship
Kelvin Hunt: The long layoff is the only concern for me..I’m honestly suprised Pettis made it to the fight without getting hurt again. He will have the speed and striking advantage and is also better on the ground.Melendez has a puncher’s chance or will have to lay and pray to win. Pick – Anthony Pettis
Jack Bratcher: Would love to see Melendez as UFC lightweight champ, but I think Pettis’ speed and striking will be the deciding factor. Melendez’s primary way to win this fight would be with his wrestling but at this stage of his game Pettis should be able to deal with that (like he dealt with Bendo — oh and Gilbert has a close split decision loss to Bendo). Neither guy has fought in about a year. Pick – Anthony Pettis
Gary Thomas: You are hard pressed to find someone with the athletic ability that Anthony Pettis has. Sure he’s had some injuries but he is so damn impressive when he fights. Melendez is good but isn’t on the same level. He has a chance but it will have to be a perfect storm for Gil to find a win. I don’t really see this lasting long either. Pick – Anthony Pettis
Johny Hendricks (C) vs. Robbie Lawler – Welterweight Championship
Kelvin Hunt: I think the long layoff is going to be a big factor for Hendricks to overcome.Lawler has been really active against good competition during the same time frame. The first fight was hella close, granted Hendricks fought with a torn bicep.If he doesn’t use his wrestling Lawler puts him away late via TKO. Pick – Robbie Lawler
Jack Bratcher: Hendricks is the slight favorite having won a unanimous decision over Lawler in March. He tore his bicep prior to that fight and underwent surgery afterward. To go five rounds and win a decision over a guy like Lawler — all while your bicep is torn is more than impressive. A 100% Hendricks should be well-rounded and powerful enough to defeat Lawler, maybe even KO him. And that is saying a lot. Of course, Lawler could do the same, and I’d love to see him as champion but Hendricks is favored for a reason. Pick – Johny Hendricks
Gary Thomas: This is a hard fight to call. You gotta give credit to the champ for beating Lawler with a torn bicep. You gotta give Lawler credit for running through some of the best in the division while Hendricks was out. It’s cliche to say but the time for Lawler is now. I’ve counted him out before in his career but I think we can all agree he is at the pinnacle right now. Pick – Robbie Lawler.