UFC On Fox 9 Predictions – Inside Fights Staff Weighs In On Main Card

As always it’s time to figure out who’ll win, and who won’t on Saturday night’s Fox card. The Inside Fights has smashed their heads on the table until something useful has come out. Thus, coming on the heels of our previews of the undercard and the four main card fights (here, here, here, here and here)

Joining me for this week’s picks:

Daniel Sohn
Ryan Frederick
Adam Keyes

UFC Flyweight Championship –

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez

Keyes: This was clearly the only match left to make in the flyweight division and the only one that made any sense considering how close their first encounter was. Both Johnson and Benavidez have improved in the interim, but while Benavidez will always hold the power advantage and have the ability to end the fight with one punch unlike Johnson, I can’t see Benavidez being able to adjust to the rapid movement and seamless level changes that Johnson possesses quickly enough to grab a hold of this fight. Johnson by way of decision. Johnson

Sawitz: I like both of these guys and the conventional wisdom is that Johnson is just a bit better. Based on their first fight that would be the case but the interesting thing is that Benavidez has really tuned up his striking since their first fight. He was always known for having great hands but he’s looked so much better since Duane “Bang” Ludwig joined Team Alpha Male. Johnson, on the other hand, hasn’t improved dramatically in any one area that pronounced but still has elite speed and excellent all around abilities. The key will be how much Benavidez’s hands have improved, and how he adjusts his movement from the first fight, than anything Johnson does. This was a fight that many people scored for Benavidez and was a definitive 48-47. Johnson will take at least two rounds and Benavidez can probably take two on his own. The key will be who can take that swing round. “Mighty Mouse” has proven, time and time again, that he has that final gear that few champions have and I think he pulls it off. Johnson

Sohn: Benavidez would be the champion if it wasn’t for Johnson. He’s an elite, top notch fighter, but Mighty Mouse is just a hair better. Some guys are so good that they beat everyone else, but can’t quite get over that last hurdle. Benavidez (and Faber) is one of those guys. Johnson

Frederick: I liked their first fight and both have improved since then. Benavidez has been showing his power of late under the coaching of Duane Ludwig but Johnson is still very hard to hit. I have the feeling these guys are destined to fight again especially since I think Benavidez will get the win in this second bout. It is a toss-up and Johnson certainly has the gameplan to win, but Benavidez will switch it up and fight a smarter fight this time to win it. Benavidez

Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald

Keyes: This one is going to be close and I have had a real tough time picking a winner. Faber will hold the grappling advantage, as well as having an edge in experience over his opponent, whereas the much younger McDonald will be the quicker fighter with fight-changing power in his gloves. My pick has been changing on a daily basis, but right here and now I’m going to have to stick my neck out on the line and go for McDonald by KO/TKO. McDonald

Sawitz: Urijah Faber has this knack of continuing to beat every guy who’s elite at bantamweight except for anyone holding a title. A dominant loss to Renan Barao, and a razor thin decision loss to Dominick Cruz, has left the WEC stalwart in an awful spot. He’s arguably the best fighter in the UFC not to hold a title right now in any weight class. He’s been continually winning, and finishing, in cases where a lot of people expect him to lose. I think he runs out of luck right here; McDonald may not have the experience but the guy thumps like no other in the division. I think it could get ugly if McDonald starts landing some combinations. McDonald

Sohn: Faber is the favorite here, and for good reason, but I think it’s McDonald’s time to take over that #1 contender spot. Even though Barao finished him, he still had Barao in more trouble than Faber ever did. I’m going with the upset here. McDonald

Frederick: I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a long time, at least three years. I wanted to see it once McDonald joined the WEC and Faber made the move down to 135 pounds. I expected it to be for a title at some point, and perhaps in the future they’ll fight again for the title, but a title shot could be on the line. I wish this were five rounds as it has the potential to be fight of the year, and that is saying a lot when it comes to what we’ve seen in 2013. It is experience against youth, and I see experience winning. Faber

Joe Lauzon vs. Mac Danzig

Keyes: This one is going to be fun. While Lauzon will hold an advantage over Danzig in the grappling stakes, I can’t quite see it spending too much time there as I’m envisioning these two duking it out on the feet with the fight only hitting the floor once one competitor drops. I’m going to pull for Lauzon in this one, with his relentless style of attack paying off late on. Lauzon

Sawitz: Lauzon and Danzig are the two guys in the UFC that make me excited on a card. Both always bring it to the cage, win or lose, and both are finishers. Both also came into the UFC from “The Ultimate Fighter” and have never been able to make it into the Top 10. Both are proof that you can have a lucrative, substantial career in the UFC if you’re not an elite talent by going for the finish and taking risks. Time waits for no fighter, though, and both of these guys are at the end. Danzig’s always been great as a truth teller but he’s just another guy in the UFC, a fringe gatekeeper always on the verge of fighting on an AXS card. I think Lauzon sends him there this weekend. Lauzon

Sohn: Both of these guys could really use a win right now. This could be an involuntary loser leaves town fight. If everything else is equal, I think Lauzon is just better than Danzig and should come out with a hard-earned win. Lauzon

Frederick: Both men are in a weird position with neither really in a position to afford a loss, especially Danzig as he could possibly be cut with one more loss. I sense we will always see Lauzon in the UFC as he is a very exciting fighter who has racked up a lot of post-fight bonus awards, and though he falters at times, he is still an excellent fighter. Danzig needs to show something big in this fight, but I like Lauzon in this one. Lauzon

Chad Mendes vs. Nik Lentz

Keyes: While Lentz is no slouch and has shown just how durable and improved he is becoming in recent performances, I can’t help but feel as though he is coming up against a vastly superior version of himself, but with the ability to knock a guy out thrown in to boot. Lentz preferred tactic of suffocating wrestling will be of little use in this fight and when he is unable to take Mendes down he could well be in for some serious trouble on the feet. Mendes

Sawitz: Here’s some straight talk: Chad Mendes’s four fight winning streak isn’t as impressive as it appears to be. Stopping Darren Elkins and Clay Guida is pretty badass, don’t get me wrong, but the first two fights on that streak are less than impressive at a minimum. Cody McKenzie is bad at MMA and Yaotzin Meza took their fight on short notice. If he hadn’t playing basketball with their heads on the campus we’d have been shocked. The Guida fight was impressive; he finished Guida off in front of press row and you could hear his fists bouncing off Clay’s skull. It was loud and sickening … the dude has frightening power. Lentz is a better version of Clay Guida but he’s not a better version of Mendes. It’s going to get ugly. Mendes

Sohn: Mendes is on fire right now. The guy is fighting like a demon possessed. I’d buy that it really would be a different fight if he took on Aldo now. Lentz is going to be his latest victim. Mendes

Frederick: Both men are on hot streaks heading into this fight, and it will have huge implications on the crowded title picture at 145 pounds. Mendes is a beast of a fighter, and while Lentz has a style that some tend to find boring, he is a very solid fighter and has the potential to pull the upset. Lentz relies a lot on his ability to wrestle, and he isn’t going to out-wrestle Mendes, who is the best wrestler in the featherweight division. Mendes is looking for his fifth straight knockout, and I see him getting it. Mendes

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