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UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Philippou Predictions

I'm a bit pressed for time today, but let's be honest, you didn't come here for the introduction anyway. Let's jump right into the predictions!

MAIN CARD PREDICTIONS

1st Fight: Cole Miller vs. Sam Sicilia

Cole Miller has been a staple of the UFC since his debut back in 2007. Although consistency has never been a strong suit for Cole, who currently holds a record of 9-6 in the UFC and has never won more than 2 fights in a row, excitement certainly has been. When he wins, he wins in style. Six of his nine victories in the Octagon came way of highly technical submissions. The majority of his losses have been by decision and he hasn't been finished since September, 2009. He is a dangerous opponent for anybody and while the fight odds might be fairly even, I believe that Cole is a clear favorite over Sicilia on Wednesday night.

Sam Sicilia didn't make his UFC debut until June, 2012, despite being only two years younger than his opponent. Before joining the promotion, he boasted a 10-1 record but has gone 2-2 since and is looking to prove to the boys upstairs that he is worth keeping around. While his knockout power and skill set on the ground provide an interesting challenge for Miller, his 10 inch disadvantage in the reach department is going to make it way too easy for Cole to keep his distance and shoot for a take down pretty much at will.

Winner: Cole Miller

By: 2nd round submission via rear naked choke

2nd Fight: John Moraga vs. Dustin Ortiz

John Moraga is one of the toughest flyweights in the world. With a strong background in wrestling and a rapidly evolving stand up game, Moraga is a nightmare of a matchup for any opponent. He had won his last 7 fights in a row before falling to the seemingly unstoppable Demetrious Johnson back in July and doesn't appear to be any less dangerous now.

Moraga will be one heck of a test for a 25 year old in just his 2nd UFC fight. Ortiz has won his last five fights in a row but is yet to really prove himself on the big stage. He is hungry for finishes and is sure to give everything he has on Wednesday night, but I believe he is in way over his head in this one.

Winner: John Moraga

By: 1st round TKO via punches

3rd Fight: Yoel Romero vs. Derek Brunson

In the first middleweight fight of the main card, Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson are putting their near perfect records on the line this Wednesday night. Both men have tasted defeat before but are yet to fall in the Octagon. Romero, who used to compete at 205 lbs, dropped to middleweight for his UFC debut against Clifford Starks in April. At just a minute and a half into the first round, Romero threw a devastating flying knee followed by a barrage of punches, earning him Knockout of the Night and a plethora of new fans. After following up this performance with yet another KO victory against Ronny Markes at UFC: Fight for the Troops 3, Romero looks to carry his momentum into a yet another battle against a dangerous opponent.

That dangerous opponent is Mr. Derek Brunson, an All-American wrestler who can finish fights from any position or grind out a hard fought decision when need be. Whether he's outclassing Chris Leben or submitting Brian Houston, Brunson is someone to watch out for in the 185 lb division. His only two losses of his career came in 2012 to the always dangerous Ronaldo Souza and Kendall Grove. Other than that, he's handled every fighter who dared stand across from him and will look to do the same against a hungry Yoel Romero.

Winner: Derek Brunson

By: 1st round KO via punches

4th Fight: TJ Dillashaw vs. Mike Easton

TJ Dillashaw and Mike Easton share a common trait with one another. Both men had their win streaks cut short by top contender Raphael Assunção. Aside from that, there are very few bantamweights in the world that are capable of stopping either of them. It took a Fight of the Night split decision performance from Brad Pickett to hand Easton his second loss in the UFC, sending him into the first losing streak of his career. Easton will be looking to display his relentless pace and well rounded skillset in a tough matchup against fellow top ten Bantamweight TJ Dillashaw in order to right the ship at Fight Night 35.

TJ Dillashaw has only lost twice in his career. The most recent was in the aforementioned bout against Raphael Assunção. The other was in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 14 against top tier flyweight, John Dodson. In between the two bouts, TJ amassed a four fight win streak, helping to further elevate the rising reputation that Team Alpha Male is one of the very best camps in the world. TJ has earned every accolade he has received and fully deserves to be ranked as the #6 Bantamweight in the UFC. That being said, I believe he, like so many others, are underestimating Mike Easton in this one. Don't be surprised if Easton skates through submission attempts and avoids the power punches to grind out a decision in this one.

Winner: Mike Easton

By: Decision

Co-Main Event: Lorenz Larkin vs. Brad Tavares

I must admit, I'm a bit surprised that this fight was named the co-main event. While I feel it's an intriguing fight between two top level middleweights, the truth is that neither fighter is really in the title picture. Plus, there were so many better options on this main card, and even some on the under card, to chose from. Furthermore, this isn't a particularly exciting matchup. Lorenz Larkin has 11 wins and 6 finishes, but he has failed to finish an opponent since Phil Baroni in 2011. And even this is deserving of an asterisk as Baroni was at the end of his extremely mediocre UFC career at the time.

Lorenz Larkin's past may look more convincing on paper but the reality is about the same. While 8 of his 11 wins have come way of knockout, his last five fights have gone the distance with the exception of a knockout loss, later turned to a no contest against Muhammed Lawal due to a 'King Mo' positive drug test. I'm not saying that a fight needs to end in a knockout or submission to be exciting, but at least the threat of a finish has to be there. So who will be the victor of this snoozefest?

Winner: Brad Tavares

By: Decision

Main Event: Luke Rockhold vs. Costas Philippou

Make no mistake, Rockhold is the real deal at 185 lbs. Before losing to Vitor Belfort back in May, Rockhold was riding a nine fight win streak including a win against Ronaldo Souza to take the Strikeforce middleweight belt and back-to-back title defenses against Kieth Jardine and Tim Kennedy. His UFC debut loss to Belfort came smack dab in the middle of Vitor's explosive head kick knockout streak, which led many to crown him 'Fighter of the Year' and earned him the next shot at Weidman's title. Certainly, this sort of loss can be overlooked, if not excused all together.

While Rockhold was tearing through the Strikeforce middleweight division, Philippou was doing much of the same against UFC 185-ers. After losing his promotional debut against Nick Catone, Philippou went on a five fight win streak, defeating dangerous middleweights Jorge Rivera, Court McGee, and Tim Boetsch in the process. The run ended when he was defeated by Francis Carmont at UFC 165, however Philippou will be looking to bounce back and continue to climb the ranks with a big win against a true top contender. Unlike the co-main event, this is almost guaranteed to be an exciting fight as both men are about as tough as they come. However, I have to go with my gut on this one.

Winner: Luke Rockhold

By: 2nd round submission via rear naked choke



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