UFC 126 – Houston MMA Picks

UFC 126 is only days away. TheCageDoor.net along with AJ Hoffman of the Houston MMA Examiner have assembled a group of Houston area MMA “experts” to get their perspective on the fights.

The group is comprised of the following:

Houston MMA fighters

MMA Manager

Local Promoters

Media Personalities

See what they think below and then feel free to chime in with your picks and predictions in the comments section.

QUICK PICKS

Kingsbury
vs
Romero

Pierce
vs
Robertson

Johnson
vs
Yamamoto

Ruediger
vs
Taylor

Mendes
vs
Omigawa

Cerrone
vs
Kelly

Adam Romero Pierce Johnson Taylor Mendes Cerrone
AJ Kingsbury Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Alex Kingsbury Robertson Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Barry Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Chris Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Eric Kingsbury Pierce Johnson Ruediger Mendes Cerrone
Justin B. Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Justin T. Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Lance Romero Robertson Johnson Ruediger Mendes Cerrone
Mick Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Omigawa Cerrone
Mike Romero Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Ragan Kingsbury Pierce Yamamoto Taylor Mendes Cerrone
Rich Romero Pierce Johnson Taylor Mendes Cerrone


Miguel Torress VS Antonio Banuelos

Expert Who When How Why
Adam Torres Rd 2 Submission Come on now; Torres is in the midst of rebuilding his former record and reputation of viciousness and this is how it’s starts in the UFC. Banuelos has never been on his level. Are you hungry? Because they’re serving Banuelos up!
AJ Torres Rd 3 Submission Torres is not that far removed from being regarded as one of the best pound for pound guys in the world. His striking is going to be way better, and I think he will finish with a RNC after beating Banuelos up for a while.
Alex Torres Rd 2 Submission Torres, in my opinion, is one of the best fighters in the world.  He his very unorthodox and uses that style to his advantage. Also his ground game is pretty sick so I see him getting the sub in this one. most likely a RNC or Triangle
Barry Torres Rd 3 Submission Torres is as good in the cage as he is on Twitter. He’ll work this dude like an odd job.
Chris Torres Goes the Distance Decision Because it will
Eric Torres Rd 2 Submission Going with the more experienced veteran here. This match will end on the ground with an RNC or a Triangle.
Justin B. Torres Rd 2 Submission The way these two match up, I don’t see how Torres wouldn’t be able to get the victory here. Banuelos’ best game plan is to keep the fight standing as he doesn’t want to go to the ground with Torres, who holds a black belt in BJJ, much less holds a seven-inch height advantage over Banuelos. I believe Torres will be able to continue to get back into title contention and finish Banuelos via submission.
Justin T. Torres Rd 1 TKO Miguel Torres is a beast.  I see him getting back to his winning ways with this fight.
Lance Torres Rd 2 Submission
Torres has had a tough run recently, losing 2 of his last 3 fights… but dont forget he has an outstanding 38 wins and 3 losses on his record, so I just dont think you can count him out. Banuelos has a more checkered record at 18-6.
Banuelos is coming from the famous Pit. I’d be interested to know if Torres brought some fighters in for his camp, running his own school may be impacting his fight preparation.  Even so I’m giving this to Torres by sub.
Mick Banuelos Rd 3 TKO I think Antonio is the kind of guy that gives Torres fits.
Mike Torres Goes the Distance Decision Antonio  Banuelos is a pretty tough dude and hard to finish too. Miguel Torres won his last fight and looking to continue winning after losing two tough fights to Joe Benavidez and Brian Bowles. I think he has enough to take this fight but finishing Banuelos might not be in the cards.
Ragan Torres Goes the Distance Decision After losing 2 straight, Torres got back on track in his last fight against Valencia and looks to be ready for another run at a title shot.  Plus, he has funny tweets, so I can’t pick against him.
Rich Torres Rd 2 TKO Torres has embraced the idea of bringing in better coaches and training partners and should show a much better game plan. Banuelos has the best mustache in MMA..Period

Jon Jones VS Ryan Bader

Expert Who When How Why
Adam Jones Rd 2 TKO I always say that Bones is the closest thing to a super hero in the cage. He will nullify Bader’s wrestling and be able to throw him off based on his unorthodox fighting techniques. Bones ALL DAY!
AJ Bader Rd 2 TKO OK. I will be the guy who does it. I think people have seen Jones just batter people and are blown away, but Bader has quietly been a monster himself. He will be the first guy who will really test Jones’ chin and may put him on his back. I have little confidence in the pick, but I figure it’s a chance for me to gain some ground on the rest of the pack if the stars align.
Alex Jones Rd 2 TKO I dont really think I have to say why I’m picking this one. Jones is a beast plane and simple.
Barry, Jones Goes the Distance Decision Don’t sleep on Bader. OK, maybe you can nap on him.  Jones’ skill set is RIDICULOUS! 2 years from know, they might have to change the name of the organization to JJFC.
Chris Jones Rd 1 TKO Because he’s that good.
Eric Jones Rd 1 TKO This is hands down probably the hardest pick I have ever had to make. Both of these fighters are the cream of the crop when it comes to new talent in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division. Whoever wins this fight, will be right behind Rampage as the #2 contender in the LHW div.
Justin B. Jones Rd 3 TKO The difference between these two is that Jones is a finisher while for the most part, Bader isn’t. Jones doesn’t want to get taken down by Bader and chance the former collegiate wrestler, Bader, grinding out another decision, but Jones will have a 10-inch reach advantage over Bader and I fully expect him to utilize that to get the win. Over-hyped or not, Jones will stop Bader in the fight and like I noted earlier, get the winner of the Griffin vs. Franklin fight as his next opponent.
Justin T. Jones Decision Statistically Bader has really really good striking defense, however I think the 10 inch reach advantage Jones has will give Bader fits since he loves to load up on his punches.
Lance Jones Goes the Distance Decision We’re in for a war!! Jones only loss was a DQ for illegal elbows, and he comes from the solid Jackson’s camp.  With his own wrestling background, you know hes been preparing to deal with baders wrestling skills.

Bader’s  college teammates Cain Valasquez and CB Dollaway have shown great competence in the cage. Bader was training at Arizona combat sorts, the Lions Den and most recently Power MMA.  He can strike and wrestle well. If I remember correctly Bader recently had an eye injury.  We’ll see if that makes a difference in this fight.

Mick Jones Rd 1 KO Because Jon Jones is the real deal.
Mike Jones Rd 3 TKO This has got to be one of the most anticipated match ups of the evening as two incredible wrestlers at 205 battle for a top-5 spot in the rankings. They’re pretty neck-and-neck but I’ll have to go with Jon Jones by virtue of a more well-rounded, spectacular striking game to go along with his take-downs.
Ragan Jones Rd 2 TKO I’m torn on this fight.  Ryan Bader is a BEAST but how do you pick against Jon Jones?  Not sure if I’ve ever seen Jones even hurt…?  Bader’s wrestling is world class, but so was Matt Hammil’s and we see what happened there…”
Rich Jones Goes the Distance Split Decision Bader has the better wrestling while Jones posses the best natural abilities in MMA and he has yoda (Greg Jackson) in his corner. Look for Jones to use his 10 inch reach advantage to keep Bader at a distance.

Jake Ellenberger VS Carlos Rocha

Expert Who When How Why
Adam Ellenberger Rd 2 TKO Not sure. Rocha is undefeated at 9-0 (fighting mainly if not only Germans for some reason) and Ellenberger has the experience. I go Ellenberger on this one based off of his history in the cage.
AJ Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision Rocha is pretty solid, and may be better than I want to give him credit for, but he has not faced a wrestler on the level of Ellenberger. Expect 15 minutes of top control and a boring, but decisive decision.
Alex Rocha Rd 1 Submission Hmm this is a really hard one because I have never seen Rocha fight but his record is really good. I have watched Ellenberger fight a few time and he seems to be getting better and better every time. If it goes to the ground I have a feeling Rocha will win by submission.
Barry Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision Ellenberger has been tested more. He’ll grind out an ugly win here.
Chris Ellenberger Rd 2 TKO Ellenberger will use his wrestling to control Rocha, and will pound him out in the 2nd
Eric Ellenberger Rd 3 TKO I’m picking the fighter that has a more balanced game. Look for Jake to win by TKO in the 3rd.
Justin B. Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision Ellenbeger has won 20 of his 23 career bouts via stoppage, with the majority of those stoppages coming via knockout or TKO. Even though the BJJ black belt, Rocha, has yet to be defeated in the sport at 9-0, Ellenberger should be able to use his size advantage over Rocha, avoid the ground or escape from the ground quickly, outscore Rocha standing up, and take a decision victory.”
Justin T. Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision I dont know a whole lot about Carlos but I know Jake is a game opponent.  I think Jake wins this with a UD.
Lance Rocha Rd 2 Submission IFL and M1 veteran Ellenburger is no slouch, 21 wins and 5 losses may be his record, but hes fought some tough competition including a TKO of Mike Pyle.

Rocha is undefeated in his short career, a number of wins coming from an 8 man tournament, hes a true rags to riches story, an orphan in Brazil taken in by Darcio Lira and trained in BJJ

Logic dictates Ellenberger will win this with pure KO power, but I’m rooting for Rocha out of pure support for the underdog, probably a bad call, but what the heck!

Mick Ellenberger Rd 2 TKO Too much experience. Jake pounds him out
Mike Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision “Ta Danado” Rocha is a 9-0 Brazilian submission artist taking on a seasoned American wrestler in 23-5 Jake Ellengberger. As much as I want to root for the BJJ guy, these match ups don’t usually work out well in favor of the submission artist.
Ragan Ellenberger Goes the Distance Decision His wrestling and top control is too strong for Rocha.  He also has much better standup than Rocha, who is strictly a Jiu-Jitsu fighter.  I think this will be a “”lay and pray”” fight.
Rich Ellenberger Rd 3 Submission Ellenberger is calling out Jon Fitch..Careful what you wish for

Forrest Griffin VS Rich Franklin

Expert Who When How Why
Adam Franklin Rd 1 KO I simply hate Griffin. Explanation enough?
AJ Franklin Rd 2 TKO Forrest Griffin sucks. Franklin should pummel his head in.
Alex Franklin Goes the Distance Decision OK I have been wanting to see this fight for at least 2 years now. Rick Franklin is one of my favorite fighters ever so I gotta go with him, but it will be a war
Barry Franklin RD 3 TKO I think Silva broke Griffin like a wild horse. Time for Franklin to put Griffin out to pasture.
Chris Griffin Goes the Distance Decision Both have great cardio, other than the one very good punch I wasn’t impressed with Franklins last outing.
Eric Franklin Goes the Distance Decision I know I am gonna catch a lot of flak for this, but in my opinion, Forrest is a gate keeper LHW to the upper echelon tier. I think Rich is overall a more superior fighter than Forrest and will win in convincing fashion to the judges.
Justin B. Franklin Goes the Distance Decision Both Griffin and Franklin deliver in every fight they have and this shouldn’t be any different. The fight should stay standing as it’s what both are known for best, and I do expect it to go the distance. After 15 minutes of war, I see the former UFC middleweight champion Franklin having his hand raised in what could turn out to be a classic.
Justin T. Franklin Goes the Distance Decision Both guys have very similar styles.  Both get better as the fight goes on.  I think Rich is still one of the most underrated guys in the division and Forrest is one of the most over rated.
Lance Franklin Rd 2 TKO We haven’t seen Griffin for a while due to a shoulder injury.  Will he come back rejuvenated or rusty? Franklin beat the former champ Liddell in a fight that ended Liddells career.

I go for Franklin, but we havent seen enough of either recently to know where theyre at.

Mick Franklin Goes the Distance Decision Rich is technically better and will control this fight
Mike Franklin Rd 3 TKO Forrest probably outweighs Rich Franklin by a good thirty-pounds on a normal day and is a solid, well-rounded fighter but I don’t think he’s got much left after having his soul taken from him against Anderson Silva. I think this will be a war but Rich Franklin ends up putting him away inside the third round.
Ragan Griffin Goes the Distance Decision Another fight that I’m not that excited about.  Both of these guys are part of the 10 or so fighters that continues to get shuffled around between 185 and 205, always fighting each other.  Griffin is going to be much bigger than Franklin, who is moving up to 205, so I see Griffin controlling the pace and this fight resembling two large turtles making love.
Rich Franklin Goes the Distance Decision Franklin is the most underrated fighter in the game. Unless you are the upper level elite fighter you don’t beat him. Machida-Anderson Silva-Henderson-Belfort are the only winners in over 30 attempts to beat him. Griffin has nasty leg kicks and a good jab . The ring rust will affect him in this fight as will Franklins speed.

Anderson Silva VS Vitor Belfort

The Expert Who When How Why
Adam Silva Rd 4 Submission Anderson will get overwhelmed by Vitor’s flurries and will not find his groove until he’s on his back and Vitor has lost all energy. I want Vitor to win but I believe this will be shades of the Silva Vs Sonnen fight. This will go into later rounds.
AJ Silva Rd 2 TKO Every Silva fight is the same story. Someone is going to try and convince you why they are the one who can beat him. It’s not Belfort. I think Vitor is just good enough that Silva will take him seriously, but I think it will be a round of leg kicks, followed by a round of head kicks. Silva is just too complete for an aging Belfort to handle.
Alex Silva Rd 2 KO Belfort is a awesome fighter but he has the perfect style for Silva to beat. If you look at all the past strikers that are aggressive and come straight forward at Silva then you see what he does to them, he makes them look like they have never been in a fight before and I think he will do the same thing in this fight
Barry Belfort goes the Distance Split Decision Silva is gonna cry little spider tears when he loses this one.
Chris Silva Rd 3 TKO I think this is a good match-up for Silva, he is very elusive and Belfort will tire chasing him.
Eric Silva Goes the Distance Decision Where to begin.  I’ll condense as much as I can to avoid boring anyone. This is by far Anderson Silva’s biggest test as champion since he faced Dan Henderson, as Vitor is a threat the standing side of the game and is very effective on the ground. Belfort is going to have to be absolutely perfect in all aspects for him to even have a chance, and that might not be enough.
Justin B. Silva Rd 3 TKO Whether or not Belfort has trouble making weight or regardless of the condition of his gas tank, the bout will not go the full 25 minutes. Belfort will not want to go to the ground with Silva either. Belfort must keep this fight standing in order to win, but I still see Silva catching Belfort at one point in order for the fight to be stopped.
Justin T. Belfort Rd 1 KO Vitor has been known to fade if he doesn’t get to be the bully.  We all have seen what happens to Anderson when guys ambush him.  Sonnen and Maia had some great exchanges with Silva and got the best of him by rushing him.  I think Vitor will do the same thing.
Lance Silva Rd 2 TKO Silvas reign has to come to an end sometime… a top Belfort mentally and physically prepared is a fierce opponent, but with bouncing around so many camps one has to wonder if his attachment issues are throwing him off.  Anything could happen in this one, but Im giving the edge to silva.  If anyone can dethrone the champ maybe Belfort is the man.
Mick Silva Rd 1 KO Because he is pissed and a pissed off Silva = bad things
Mike Belfort Rd 1 TKO This is my hardest one to call. Anderson Silva is undoubtedly one of the top-two best fighters in the world currently, along with GSP. But he’s a world beater that looked beatable in his last bout with Chael Sonnen. Vitor has been ripping heads off in his last few fights but he definitely won’t be fighting with the same gameplan as Sonnen did. Is his striking enough to take out the Spyder? Is his wrestling/BJJ enough to gain advantage on the ground? Hard questions to answer. I’ll go on record as saying Belfort is definitely the underdog in this fight but what the hell.. I like picking underdogs to gain satisfaction just in case I’m right.
Ragan Silva Rd 3 TKO I’ve picked against Silva twice and lost both times…not doing that again.  Which Silva will we see?  That is the only question that I have.  Hopefully he won’t be taking Belfort lightly and will be 100% business.  If so, he will use his striking and movement to pick Belfort apart.  Plus, Belfort hasn’t fought in a year and a half, so by the time he’s knocked the rust off, it will be too late.
Rich Silva Rd 2 Submission Anderson Silva’s run of dominance is almost at its end. Belfort is not the fighter he was 10 years ago and was given this fight without really earning it. Silva will run game on Belfort and finish him off his back.