Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

Two stunning featherweights who are eager for a crack at top contendership lie as UFC 168’s introduction to the main card. Dustin Poirier, a long-time featherweight contender, meets Diego Brandao, an aggressive Brazilian powerhouse who is looking to extend his current 3-fight winning streak. Poirier stands as the taller and longer of the two, but that’s not a situation Brandao is unfamiliar with. Diego uses his explosive energy to catch his opponents flat footed, and unload with heavy haymakers that each pack knockout power. Poirier will have to be on his toes at all times so he doesn’t get clipped by Diego, or he could find himself unconscious. Dustin is also the more technical of the two, which means he wont be wasting as much energy; that’s an area that Brandao has struggled with in the past, and Poirier will most likely be looking to exploit that. As far as I see it, Brandao has 5 minutes to knock Poirier out; if he can’t, expect Poirier to overcome momentum as Brandao slows down, and slide ahead on points towards the end of the fight. Both guys are expert grapplers so don’t expect much to happen there, unless one fighter dazes the other and is forced to finish by submission. It’ll be a rough and painful first round, but once he weathers the storm, Dustin will be able to come back strong and end the fight on a high note as long as he can avoid Brandao’s early haymakers

Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision

Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes

A long-time lightweight contender attempts to rebound from his loss to Pat Healy by taking on top-notch Brazilian grappler, Fabricio Camoes. Camoes hasn’t had much success in the UFC, but then again he hasn’t really been given a solid chance. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his last professional bout was in July of 2012 when he lost a decision to Melvin Guillard. It’s a tough fight to come back to if your Camoes, so definitely look for that to be a factor. We all know that there isn’t anybody who is more game than Jim Miller. Against a guy like Camoes, I don’t see anywhere that he may be threatened. Miller is a high-level grappler and is not afraid to take other high-level grapplers to the mat and beat them at their own game. Miller has only struggled on the mat against physically larger opponents, and seeing how Camoes does not present that advantage, expect this to be a fairly easy win for Miller. On the feet, it’s a landslide in favor the East Coast native, so I’m predicting Miller to really be able to win this fight wherever he goes. Better be safe than sorry, so I’m predicting a 2nd round TKO for Jim Miller. Camoes is a solid grappler, and even though Miller would most likely be comfortable on the mat, I don’t see him risking it just to prove a point. If Miller doesn’t finish him on the feet, he’ll atleast win a comfortable decision.

Jim Miller via 2nd Rd TKO

Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

Two top-ranked heavyweights collide in this battle that, on paper, looks to be an intriguing bout for the ages. MMA pioneer and recently labeled UFC top contender, Josh Barnett, looks to get one step closer to the belt by taking on fellow contender and rising talent, Travis Browne. Barnett returned back to the UFC with a sensational knockout over Frank Mir, but then again, how impressive can a win over Mir really be? Prior to that, Barnett had some success in Strikeforce but was beat out by Daniel Cormier in a hard fought 5-rounder. Against Browne, he won’t have many of the same troubles he did againt Cormier, so expect this to be an interesting style match-up for both men. Barnett is a hard-nosed guy who can take a punch in order to get the fight where he wants, and against Browne, he’s going to want to get this fight to the ground. Browne has some very unorthodox striking and because of his long limbs, he can throw some really sneaky shots. Barnett will want to be very cautious when engaging on Browne for fear eating any knees or kicks to the face on the way in. I’m expecting this to be a cat-and-mouse game; if Barnett can close the distance, I’m more than confident he’ll be able to get the fight to the ground and really do some work. Browne has shown some lack of defense off of his back, but hopefully for him he’s been working on that. This fight is a real toss-up to me, but I’m going to favor the experienced veteran in this case and go with Barnett. Browne has proved he never quits and is always looking for the finish, but Barnett is as tough as they come and seeing that Josh has never been finished from strikes in the last 7 years, it makes Barnett a good pick here.

Josh Barnett via Unanimous Decision

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate has had since March of last year to learn how to defend Rousey’s armbar – will she be able to do it? In my opinion, that’s what this fight is going to come down to. Rousey is a highly experienced Judoka while Tate remains to be a jack-of-all-trades type of fighter, so when it comes to the ground game, it’ll be all Rousey. However, Tate has some fierce striking and some decent power, so she may try to knock her out from the start of the bell. Rousey will have a slight 2-3 inch reach advantage which should give her the needed advantage to keep Tate from blitzing her; even if she does, a well-timed tie up from Rousey will have Tate on the mat in no time. Rousey really likes to mix up her throws, but what is going to kill her is if she tries for a flashy hip-toss and ends up giving up her back. Rousey needs to play it safe, go with an inside trip, get Tate on the ground, and begin sinking her in quicksand which results in an armbar finish. Tate shouldn’t have much of anything to offer her off of her back, so expect Rousey to get the armbar finish in the first. As a side note, I don’t think Rousey is completely limited to armbar techniques. If she chooses to switch it up and go for something else, Tate will have no idea its coming.

Ronda Rousey via 1st Rd Submission