For a more detailed breakdown of Friday night's card in Las Vegas, however, I sat down with Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold for this week's Fighter vs. Writer. Rockhold has a bout of his own against Keith Jardine next Saturday night on Showtime, so he was sporting his share of cuts and bruises from the rigors of training. But even so, he was gracious enough to give us some of his time, and for that we thank him.
It's just a shame I'll have to thrash him here. Bring it, Luke.
Alistair Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar
Rockhold: Overeem via TKO or submission. "It seems like all the fighters are picking Overeem and it seems like all you guys are picking Lesnar. We don't see it. I don't know how you guys see it. But I think Overeem's ground game's is pretty legit, and people are underestimating his jiu-jtsu, his guillotine. And hey, if Nik Lentz can guillotine Brock, why can't Overeem, right?"
Fowlkes: Lesnar via TKO. The more I hear these fighters talk like anybody who picks Lesnar is half-insane, the more I question it. But until I see for myself that Overeem can stay upright and do his thing against a powerful wrestler, I'll continue to harbor my doubts. It's a toss-up, but I think Lesnar gets the takedown and hammerfists his way to a TKO.
Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz
Rockhold: Cerrone via decision. "That's a tougher fight than people think, but I think Cerrone wins a decision, maybe a split decision."
Fowlkes: Cerrone via decision. I agree that it will be much closer than the oddsmakers have it, and I also agree that Cerrone should take it. I think he fights the smarter fight and edges Diaz in the eyes of the judges. Then I predict that Diaz will complain he was robbed, and possibly cheated by a vast conspiracy.
Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
Rockhold: Fitch via decision. "You can guess who I'm going to take (ed. note: Fitch and Rockhold are teammates at AKA). I think Fitch can control him with his size and strength advantage. I think it's a unanimous decision for Fitch. I just don't see how Johny's going to win this fight."
Fowlkes: Fitch via decision. I can't disagree with anything Rockhold said. What I'm more curious to see is whether Fitch can find a way to make it interesting to watch. That's the part of the game that has eluded him even as the victories have piled up.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Rockhold: Gustafsson via TKO. "I like Gustafsson, and he's got that reach advantage. A lot of people around him speak very highly of him, and I think Gustafsson can control this fight from the outside. If Matyushenko takes him down, I heard he's got a pretty good ground game too. I think he gets a late stoppage or maybe a decision."
Fowlkes: Gustafsson via TKO. It's true that whenever you hear Phil Davis or any of Gustafsson's other training partners talk about him, they're effusive in their praise. I think they have good reason to be, even if he's still young and a little raw. He beats the veteran on pure athleticism here.
Nam Phan vs. Jimy Hettes
Rockhold: Phan via TKO. "I'm not too familiar with Jimy, but I don't his [submissions] are going to work against Nam. Nam's got good takedown defense and his boxing is off the hook. I think Nam finishes this guy with his boxing, maybe a body shot."
Fowlkes: Hettes via submission. I started out picking Hettes just because he was such a heavy underdog and I can't resist those, but the more I think about it the more I can see him getting this to the mat and sinking a choke on Phan. Either that, or he gets soundly out-boxed. For the sake of making this interesting, I'll stake my chances on the former.
Tiebreaker question: What will be the fastest finish on the main card?
Fowlkes: Lesnar TKO's Overeem at 3:30 of round one
Rockhold: Overeem TKO's Lesnar at 3:29 of round one
Rockhold picks: Overeem, Cerrone, Fitch, Gustafsson, Phan
Fowlkes picks: Lesnar, Cerrone, Fitch, Gustafsson, Hettes