UFC 168 Roundtable – Main Card Picks and Predictions from Inside Fights Staff

It’s the final fight card of the year and, as always, we’re here to make our picks for the main card of UFC 168. Joining me are:

Ryan Frederick
Adam keyes
Luke Cho-Yee

Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva

CY: No doubt Weidman has the skills to get it done a second time. He is at a stage in his career where he is rapidly improving all aspects of his game massively between fights and the undefeated champion’s self-belief is at an all time high. However, I expect a re-focused Silva to sharpen up his game considerably after the shock of defeat and refine the nuances of his unique style to a point where he will be able to exploit his speed advantage and land more telling shorts then his opponent. Silva by TKO

Keyes: This has to be the hardest pick of the year for me due to the many variables that were unleashed as a result of the climactic ending of their first encounter. Weidman was clearly unfazed by the taunting of Silva and was able to take Silva down early on in the first round of their previous clash. However, prior to the knockout blow delivered by Weidman, Silva was growing in to the fight and beginning to land his shots, most notably a series of unchecked leg kicks. When push comes to shove, for me Weidman edges this. The guy clearly hits like a train, is unperturbed by Silva’s antics and able to use his wrestling to great effect whilst being more than a match for the former champ on the ground. The romantic in me would like to see Silva regain the gold and be reinvigorated by a sport that has been blessed with his performances for so long, but sadly I feel that in Weidman he has met his match and with another defeat it’s likely that the UFC will lose another one of it’s most precious commodities. Weidman

Frederick: I firmly believe Anderson Silva is going to win this fight. That is not to discredit Chris Weidman at all. I don’t think the first fight was a fluke. The first fight was what it was and what happened … happened. Silva was starting to take it over in the second round and paid for playing around. I don’t think he’ll do the same thing this time. Weidman can win this fight, but I don’t think he will unless it goes the distance. Silva finishes this within the first ten minutes. Silva

Sawitz: I remember thinking the same thing Ryan did for the rematch between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. The first happened … but the second fight will be different. And the same with the trilogy fight between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. And the second and third fights between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, as well as Penn/Edgar 2 way back when. This wasn’t a fluke KO or a case of a guy just getting caught. Weidman took the first round and nearly submitted him with a kneebar and had figured out Silva’s feints and setups on the feet. I love Anderson Silva but Weidman’s the truth. I can see Silva winning … but Weidman’s the pick here. Weidman

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

CY: Tate has played it very well in the lead up to the fight and I can see her putting on an admirable performance but I still find it hard to envision anything but a Rousey victory. The champion may end up seeing a second round for the first time in her career and we should be able to analyze how evolved her striking has become but the Olympic Judo silver medalist will do what comes naturally to her and Tate wont be able to stop it. Rousey by submission

Keyes: I get why this match-up was made from a promotional point of view with an empty TUF coaching slot available and a personal rivalry showing no signs of abating, but from a competitive standpoint there was little need for this rematch. Rousey thoroughly bested Tate last time out save for the odd striking exchange that did no more than back Rousey up. Tate’s wrestling is only an advantage when that is where she wants the fight to go, but with Rousey’s vaunted submission game Tate would be mad to go there again. There will be no big surprises here; in fact the only real surprise will be whether Rousey will be able to finish this one via any other route than armbar submission. Rousey

Frederick: There is going to come a day when Rousey will lose a fight. It’s inevitable. There is still too many holes in her game and an experienced veteran will find ways to capitalize on a mistake. I don’t think Tate can beat her unless Rousey gets too emotional. She doesn’t have the striking to knock Rousey out, and her ground game is no match for Rousey’s ground awareness and judo expertise. Rousey will win, with the armbar again, and in the first round again. Rousey

Sawitz: Tate has some spunk to her, I’ll give her credit, and she’s a better grappler than she often gets credit for. Throw in the fact that Rousey lets Tate get under her skin so profoundly and you’d think she could have an edge … and then you wake up and realize that Rousey wants to do one thing to Miesha: break her other arm. And that’s what will happen this time around. The only question is how long it’ll take Ronda to do it; if Tate can take her into the third round or longer she has a chance at winning because Rousey hasn’t been there before (and Tate has). But “Rousey by armbar” is the safest bet in MMA right now. Rousey

Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

CY: A genuine clash of styles as an old school fighter takes on a new school athlete. Barnett has so many more miles on the clock then his opponent but he shows no signs of waning and if he can bring the fight to the ground he should be far too much for Browne. The striking is where the big Hawaiian will hold an advantage but I question whether he will be able to maintain the appropriate distance long enough in order to land his powerful weapons. Barnett by decision

Keyes: In its purest form, this one can be boiled down to striker versus grappler. While this is modern day MMA and these are two of the best heavyweights in the sport right now, this is not exactly one discipline against the other with both men adept at most facets of MMA. However, each man will want to take it to a particular place in pursuit of victory; Barnett the floor, Browne the feet. For me, Barnett will prove too wily for Browne in this encounter and will be able to take the big man down in order for him to work his submission wrestling to conclusion. Barnett

Frederick: I love this match-up and it is a very interesting one as well. Barnett has looked outstanding over the last few years outside of his fight against Daniel Cormier. Browne would probably still be undefeated had he not gotten hurt during his fight with Antonio Silva before he was finished. Browne is a contender but I see Barnett giving him another wake-up call inside the Octagon. I’d love to see Barnett fight for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2014. Barnett

Sawitz: Travis Browne is a very interesting prospect and with a win here the UFC finally has another elite heavyweight to add into the mix. But I don’t think he’ll pull it off against Barnett, who’s biggest challenge to date has been the post fight steroid test. Barnett

Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes

CY: Both Miller and Camoes are extremely well versed on the ground so I can see some excellent scrambles as they jockey for superior position but ultimately I believe the stand up portion of the fight will determine the winner. Miller has shown a marked improvement in this area of his game and I expect him to showcase a more complete and evolved skill-set for which his opponent will have no answer for. Miller by decision

Keyes: Camoes’ best chance of victory will be through his jiu-jitsu; however, this is not to say that even if he can get it to the ground that Miller will just roll over and have his belly scratched. Miller is one of the more well-rounded guys in the lightweight division and I can see him easily stuffing Camoes takedown attempts and dictating where this fight shall go throughout. Miller

Frederick: I see this as the perfect opportunity for Jim Miller to bounce back and get back into the win column. He is a fun fighter to watch and is extremely well-rounded as well. He was out-muscled by Pat Healy but he will have the strength edge over Camoes. Camoes is an average fighter who gets a big fight, but he isn’t near the same level of competition that Miller has fought over recent years. Miller gets this one. Miller

Sawitz: It all depends how much Jim Miller has left in him. If his peak was the Benson Henderson/Melvin Guillard/Nate Diaz trio of fights then Camoes should take this. If Miller still has some of that “eliteness” in the MMA fighter gas tank he could get the finish here. Miller

Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

CY: This matchup could well steal the show as rarely has either man been in a boring fight. They both have the capacity to go hard for three rounds or end it at a moment’s notice and I’m expecting an extremely frenetic back and forth contest. However I feel the main difference between the two could be a power advantage held by Brandao and although Poirier is technically very sound on the feet, he does have the tendency to try and out gun his opponents which can lead him into trouble. Brandao by split decision

Keyes: Poirier is ranked just outside of the top 5 according to the UFC’s official rankings but he has struggled in the past when tangling with the elite of the division. Thankfully for Poirier, Brandao is not quite at that level, although can be a handful for anyone on fight night when the moment takes him, but he does have enough name value to keep Poirier relevant within this division with a win. I suspect that Poirier will fight too smart for Brandao’s bullish attacks to take effect. Poirier

Frederick: This one could be all sorts of fun and is an exciting match-up. Brandao comes out fast and aggressive but tends to fade late. Poirier got rocked early by Erik Koch but came back strong and dominated the last two rounds of that fight. This one could be similar to that fight. Brandao has to finish Poirier early, otherwise Poirier is going to win this fight. I think this goes the distance and that will mean a decision win for Poirier. Poirier

Sawitz: This is the fight I’m most looking forward to on the card, crazy enough. Poirier is always on the cusp of earning a title shot but never quite getting it. He reminds me in many ways of Cub Swanson; Swanson looked elite … then not so elite … then rose back again. Brandao has everything you want in a world title contender; he just empties everything he has when someone’s hurt and generally gasses shortly thereafter. Poirier is insanely hittable and I think Brandao puts the package together. Brandao

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