UFC on FOX Predictions

Junior dos Santos, right, will face Cain Velasquez in the main event on the UFC on FOX card.Will Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos deliver a classic fight in the first-ever UFC broadcast on network television? Will they put on the kind of performance that has the first-time UFC viewers clamoring for more? Will the winner emerge as an American sports star? And ultimately, who will get his hand raised and the UFC heavyweight belt put around his waist on Saturday night?

I'll attempt to answer those questions and more below.

What: UFC on Fox 1: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos

When: Saturday, the Facebook undercard stream begins at 4:45 p.m. ET and the Fox broadcast begins at 9.

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim

Predictions on all the fights below.

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos
From a business perspective, the big question is whether this fight is going to turn new viewers who watch on Fox for the first time into UFC fans. That's what the UFC is really hoping for with the decision to put the heavyweight title on the line for free on network television.

It's probably too much to ask that we could get a classic battle along the lines of Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar at the first Ultimate Fighter Finale -- the gold standard for fights that brought the UFC new fans. But I do believe this is going to be a highly entertaining fight: Velasquez and Dos Santos are both compelling figures who rarely look dull in the cage, and unlike so many heavyweights, they both have the gas tank to keep this fight explosive even if it goes into the fifth round.

So who wins it? If I were certain that Velasquez is completely healthy, I'd probably give him a slight edge, thanks to his wrestling: We haven't yet seen Dos Santos tested on the ground, and Velasquez might be the man to put him on his back and put him in trouble. However, I have nagging questions about whether Velasquez's rotator cuff surgery could affect him in this fight. Will he have the same strength and movement that he had when he beat Brock Lesnar a year ago?

And because of those questions about Velasquez's shoulder, I'm going to give a slight edge to Dos Santos, who I think will be able to keep the fight standing most of the way and get the better of the striking exchanges with Velasquez. Heavyweight fights that go the full five rounds don't come along very often, but I think we're going to see one here: Dos Santos wins by decision and becomes the new UFC heavyweight champion.
Pick: Dos Santos



Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson
The most disappointing part of the UFC on Fox card is that this fight -- which may determine the next contender for the UFC lightweight title -- has been relegated to being shown on an online stream on Facebook and FoxSports.com, and won't make it to TV. This is a great fight that shouldn't be overlooked. Guida's path to victory would be to take Henderson down, control him from the top and grind out a decision, but I think Henderson is going to be too strong for him and should take this one.
Pick: Henderson

Dustin Poirier vs. Pablo Garza
At age 22, Poirier is one of the most promising young fighters in the featherweight division, and a likely future title contender. I like him to win by submission over Garza in what looks to me like the Fight of the Night favorite.
Pick: Poirier

Cub Swanson vs. Ricardo Lamas
In what should be another very exciting featherweight fight, Swanson will have too much for Lamas and win a technical knockout.
Pick: Swanson

DaMarques Johnson vs. Clay Harvison
In a battle of former Ultimate Fighter contestants, look for Harvison to take control early and finish Johnson off by TKO.
Pick: Harvison

Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Darren Uyenoyama
There are a whole bunch of American fans these days who have no idea that Kid Yamamoto was once considered among the To 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Yamamoto has only won one fight since New Year's Eve 2007, and the Japanese MMA scene has fallen apart, and so Yamamoto feels like an ancient relic to a lot of newer fans. But even if Yamamoto isn't what he once was, he should still be good enough to beat Uyenoyama, a UFC newcomer. Look for Yamamoto to pick up his first win inside the Octagon.
Pick: Yamamoto

Mackens Semerzier vs. Robert Peralta
Peralta is on an eight-fight winning streak which included a victory over Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya, a victory for Peralta that opened a lot of eyes and got him his shot in the UFC. I think he'll make it nine in a row against Semerzier.
Pick: Peralta

Alex Caceres vs. Cole Escovedo
Cacares, the former Ultimate Fighter bad boy, is moving down to bantamweight in what looks like a final attempt to stay on the UFC roster. I like Escovedo to put a beating on "Bruce Leroy" and knock him out of the UFC.
Pick: Escovedo

Mike Pierce vs. Paul Bradley
Pierce, who's 4-2 in the UFC, has already beaten Bradley once before and should do it again in Bradley's second fight in the Octagon. Look for a one-sided unanimous decision in Pierce's favor.
Pick: Pierce

Aaron Rosa vs. Matt Lucas
Lucas is getting his first shot in the UFC after fighting for most of his career in Rage in the Cage. I like him to win his debut and likely get Rosa sent packing from the UFC.
Pick: Lucas


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