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The UFC finds itself on pay-per-view this weekend with a card headlined by bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in a last-minute contest opposite late replacement Joe Soto. Original challenger and former bantamweight champion Renan Barao was forced to withdraw due to issues with weight cutting.

Will T.J. Dillashaw be able to hold onto his title against Joe Soto? Will Soto's training with Team Alpha Male make a huge difference? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Saturday's fights.

What: UFC 177: Dillashaw vs. Soto

Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

When: Saturday, the three-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 8:30 p.m. and the five-fight pay-per-view card kicks off 10 p.m.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Joe Soto

What do we even say here? We know the two have trained together for a point, although that doesn't say much. We know Soto likes to mix and match his striking with takedown attempts. In fact, he's comfortable working entirely from top position, although I don't suspect he'll have that opportunity very often. Look, this fight is absurd, but it's absurd because the UFC is forcing it to happen because they're trying to prevent an event from dying. MMA is crazy and anyone can win with the right shot, but short of that happening, Dillashaw is going to butcher Soto and that's the way it is.

Pick: Dillashaw

Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo

This bout will hinge on whether Ferguson can a) defend the takedown and b) get up quickly if he is taken down. If he can, it's his bout to lose. El Cucuy has big power and a long reach. Hittable himself, he nevertheless has a sturdy chin. I tend to think Ferguson does have sufficient takedown defense to get the job done, so I'm going to give him the nod.

Pick: Ferguson

Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler

A very close fight and I somehow get the feeling someone's going to give it away in the last round. Whatever the case, I'll side with the Brazilian. I think she'll have more forceful, steady leg kicks with a consistent jab, too. Baszler could make things a bit more interesting on the ground if she can get it there, but I have my doubts about that, too (not that she can't get her down, but get her down enough times to make it count).

Pick: Correia

Ramsey Nijem vs. Diego Ferreira

I'm not what to make of this one. I can see a case for Nijem getting the takedown and landing savage ground and pound similar to what he did against Beneil Dariush. On the other hand, Ferreira has excellent, lightning-quick submissions, unorthodox kicks and experience going the distance against credible opposition. I'm picking the Brazilian not necessarily because I think he's vastly the superior fighter. The issue for me is that for all of Nijem's ability, he's still wild standing and is a positional risk taker. Against someone who makes few errors or takes fewer risks and is still a potent offensive fighter, that's not the best recipe.

Pick: Ferreira

Yancy Medeiros vs. Damon Jackson

Another UFC debut makes predictions even harder. Some of the incoming class of performs up to the level of competition. Others wither in the spotlight. Jackson has a takedown to pass to speed chess style on one-step-ahead-of-you smothering control. That's probably enough to get past Medeiros assuming Jackson fights up to the level to which we are accustomed to seeing from him. We shall see.

Pick: Jackson

From the preliminary card:

Derek Brunson def. Lorenz Larkin
Anthony Hamilton
def. Ruan Potts
Chris Wade def. Cain Carrizosa