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UFC 184 predictions

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC's top female star Ronda Rousey looks to defend her title against the consensus top contender in Cat Zingano on Saturday. The card has been decimated by injuries, but features a co-main event with fighters from the same weight class who could find themselves in a future title shot soon enough.

Will Rousey hold onto her title or is Cat Zingano set to derail the queen of the women's bantamweight division? I answer this question and more.

What: UFC 184: Rousey vs. Zingano

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass card starts at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight pay-per-view card kicks off 10 p.m.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano

There's a small hope I have that Zingano will drag this late with a gutsy defensive performance early. When it gets to those later rounds, so the hope goes, Zingano will then begin to physically punish Rousey in a way that makes the champion resort to desperate decision making. This is an entirely plausible scenario, but I can't say it's the likeliest one. As everyone has stated, Zingano starts slow while Rousey starts fast. I look to Rousey to throw an overhand punch to help set up a collar tie. She'll then use that to trip or throw and look to finish from there. Rousey's ground and pound from top position - last fight notwithstanding - is not that great, but her ability to snatch an arm obviously is. Again, I hold out hope for something more, but that appears to be the likeliest outcome.

Pick: Rousey

More Coverage: UFC 184 Results | UFC news
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Raquel Pennington vs. Holly Holm

I'm not saying this is a set up fight. Far from it. Pennington win this with a careful performance. That said, Pennington fights in a way that doesn't necessarily exploit Holm's biggest weaknesses while also not matching her strengths. I expect Holm to clnch break, reset and strike from the outside. Pennington will prefer hand combinations while Holm will mix it up with a healthier dose of kicks. In the end, though, her accuracy and diverse style should get the job done.

Pick: Holm

Jake Ellenberger vs. Josh Koscheck

This is an incredibly tough call. Neither fighter appears to be competing anywhere close to the upper level of their present or once-heralded ability. The difference for me is going to come down to taking risks. Ellenberger just seems deeply unwilling to do so. Koscheck might be reserved, especially given the layoff. In the end, I suspect Koscheck will look to pressure Ellenberger backwards into the fence and secure a takedown for a TKO finish or decision victory.

Pick: Koscheck

Alan Jouban vs. Richard Walsh

I candidly don't really know which way to go here. Walsh likes to apply physical pressure, but isn't the most refined beyond the orthodox attacks against the cage. Jouban has looked good at times, but can be caught in the moment unprepared with aggression. I'll side with Jouban because he's the more explosive striker of the two, but I'm not confident picking in either direction.

Pick: Jouban

Tony Ferguson vs. Gleison Tibau

Ferguson takes a lot of risks, so I can see him doing well enough to win, but taking too many chances at weird opportunities to ride out the decision he might need. Still, I just think Ferguson is the more dynamic of the two. He should be able to stop most of the Tibau's takedown attempts or, at least, pop back up off the bottom. He should also be able to control distance from the outside given his range. It'll probably be closer than what I am suggesting here, but Ferguson has more tools to use.

Pick: Ferguson

From the preliminary card:

Mark Munoz def. Roan Carneiro
Roman Salazar def. Norifumi Yamamoto
Tim Means def. Dhiego Lima
Derrick Lewis def. Ruan Potts
James Krause def. Valmir Lazaro
Alexander Torres def. Masio Fullen

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