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UFC 127 Predictions

Jon Fitch will face B.J. Penn in the main event of UFC 127.The Octagon is Down Under again this weekend for UFC 127, a fight card that is a step down in quality from the star-studded UFC 126 card of three weeks earlier, but does have a main event that pairs off two of the best fighters in the world in B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch.

What: UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch

When: Saturday, the pay-per-view starts at 10 PM ET (Sunday afternoon in Australia)

Where: Acer Arena, Sydney, Australia

Predictions on the five pay-per-view fights below.

B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch
Both of these guys were dominated by welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, but whoever wins this fight deserves to be considered the No. 2 welterweight in mixed martial arts, and one of the Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Penn has been a champion at both lightweight and welterweight, and a victory over Fitch would be a demonstration that he still has plenty of good fights left in him. Fitch has beaten all comers other than GSP at welterweight, and if he beats Penn he'd be firmly established as the top 170-pounder in the world outside Montreal.

So who takes it? A big question about Penn is whether he's figured out how to be a strong and well-conditioned 170-pounder. For all his talk that he's committed to his conditioning, he still has problems with his gas tank, and when he's fighting a bigger, stronger 170-pound fighter his great takedown defense may disappear.

And Fitch is definitely a bigger, stronger 170-pound fighter, and he's also a former college wrestler who has incorporated collegiate wrestling into a complete MMA game as well as anyone in the sport. There's a reason Fitch is 13-1 in the UFC, and that reason is that he's able to completely control his opponents (at least, his opponents who aren't named Georges St. Pierre) in a way we just don't see in the sport.

Penn may have the right style to frustrate Fitch: Penn's boxing could give Fitch trouble on the feet, his takedown defense is good, and even if Fitch does take him down, Penn is good off his back. But I think it's more likely that Fitch controls Penn for 15 minutes and wins his sixth consecutive unanimous decision.
Pick: Fitch

Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera
There's been a lot of trash talk between these two in the weeks leading up to the fight, and maybe we're supposed to be convinced from all that talk that we're going to see a wild brawl when the cage door closes. In reality, I think it's more likely that Bisping wins what turns out to be a fairly dull decision: Bisping should be able to avoid Rivera's strikes and land enough of his own to win, but Bisping won't finish Rivera in an impressive fashion. Rivera is about to turn 39 years old and hasn't fought in almost a year, so I think age and ring rust may make the usually exciting Rivera look a little slower than usual.
Pick: Bisping

George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver
Sotiropoulos is by far the best Australian MMA fighter, so any time the UFC goes to Australia you can bet Sotiropoulos will be on the card. Siver is a German known for putting together impressive fights, and he's gone 5-1 since returning to the UFC in 2009. But none of the five guys he's beaten is as good as Sotiropoulos. I like Sotiropoulos to take Siver down, control him on the ground and make him tap.
Pick: Sotiropoulos

Chris Lytle vs. Brian Ebersole
Lytle is always a lot of fun to watch, and he's made a living off winning four Fight of the Night bonuses, two Submission of the Night bonuses and one Knockout of the Night bonus. He's currently on a four-fight winning streak, and he's been clamoring for tougher opposition and a future shot at the title, which is why the UFC agreed to match him up with Top 10 welterweight Carlos Condit on this card. Unfortunately, Condit got hurt and Ebersole took his place.

Ebersole has been around the minor-league MMA circuit forever, amassing a 46-14-1 record while fighting in small-time promotions. Now he's moving to the big show, and I think we'll see the difference between a competent veteran of small promotions and an established UFC fighter like Lytle. I see Lytle winning, and I don't see the fight going the distance.
Pick: Lytle

Chris Camozzi vs. Kyle Noke
Camozzi and Noke both got into the UFC via Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, and both have gone 2-0 since the reality show. I like Noke, an Australian who will have the crowd on his side, to win by submission and improve to 3-0.
Pick: Noke

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