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UFC on FOX 21 predictions

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

One week after UFC 202, the Ultimate Fighting Championship rolls on goes back to the UFC on FOX franchise, this time north of the border. The card features an important welterweight bout as well as a series of action fights on the main card.

What: UFC on FOX: Maia vs. Condit

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Canada

When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 5 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox preliminary card starts at 6 p.m. and the four-fight Fox card kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.

Demian Maia vs. Carlos Condit

I have to side with Maia because I picked him in the pre-fight show, but a part of me is regretting it. It's not some inconceivable idea Maia could get a takedown, take the back and work for something. I fully expect that to happen. The question is can he do that and make something of consequence happen before Condit lands his home run shot? In a five-round fight, that is a very difficult question to answer. If this were a three-round contest, I'd have fewer reservations. It seems more likely Condit is going to be put in compromising positions, but it's also entirely plausible Maia is going to get cracked with something heavy sooner or later. Will that bomb from Condit be enough to turn the bout's outcome? We shall see.

Pick: Maia

Anthony Pettis vs. Charles Oliveira

I really don't know what to make of this one. Is this going to be another case of a fighter all over Pettis against the fence and finding just enough exploitative material to score a decision victory? Worse, is it really inconceivable Pettis could be submitted? Oliveira's had some weird losses in his career, especially by those who can strike a bit. If Pettis can find a way to Oliveira's chin early, he can certainly disrupt his rhythm and perhaps take advantage of a guy who isn't the best once he's lost the lead in a bout. What this definitely isn't is a walk in the park for either guy.

Pick: Pettis

Paige VanZant vs. Bec Rawlings

The top three fights on this card are tough calls. In terms of this one, there's the issue of knowing whether VanZant's berzerk offense will force opposition to crumble or take advantage of her mistakes. Rawlings has improved significantly over the years and looked very sharp in her last outing. VanZant did not have a great showing against Rose Namajunas, but obviously has incredible tenacity and recovery. This might be a coin flip, but I'll side with the younger improving talent who floors the gas pedal this time. Still, don't be surprised if Rawlings shows why veteran fighters are not to be overlooked.

Pick: VanZant

Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

Both fighters have a fair amount of miles on them, but I wrongly counted out Lauzon against Diego Sanchez at UFC 200. I'm not equating Miller to Sanchez, but I do wonder if Miller is on the other side of being beaten up over the course of a career relative to Lauzon. Miller is the former Division I wrestler and jiu-jitsu black belt. He also had a nice rebound win against Takanori Gomi at UFC 200. We can't discount where he's been or what he's still capable of. Still, I just wonder if Lauzon can avoid over extension on his offense, generally, and avoid fighting out of preventable deficits either positionally or in terms of strike volume. If so, this is his fight to lose.

Pick: Lauzon

From the preliminary card:

Sam Alvey def. Kevin Casey
Enrique Barzola def. Kyle Bochniak
Alessio Di Chirico def. Garreth McLellan
Shane Campbell def. Felipe Silva
Chad Laprise def. Thibault Gouti
Jeremy Kennedy def. Alex Ricci