At first, this card felt like a list of heavy favorites versus MASSIVE underdogs, but after last week's Fight Night (with nine underdog victories, according to Las Vegas betting odds), chances are this PPV event will have some surprising results.
But, then my brain takes control and looks at the card objectively, and now I can't decide what the hell to think. Here are my predictions anyway, both objective AND subjective natures taken into account:
MAIN EVENT - UFC Bantamweight Championship
Renan Barao (Champion) vs. TJ Dillashaw
I have high hopes for Dillashaw, but I just don't see this coming out as well for him as I may want. Current champion Renan Barao is explosive, experienced, and fights (and looks) like a wild animal primate mutant. TJ will put up a good fight for the first round, but will get caught somewhere in the second or third in a vicious flurry that will allow Barao to maintain his belt.
PREDICTION: BARAO defeats Dillashaw by TKO (Round 3)
Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson
This fight is the one that came across as the biggest mismatch on the card. Henderson has balls, and has never asked for or expected an easy fight. Even at 43-years old, he puts himself constantly in line for title contention. Unfortunately, Daniel Cormier is just too damn strong a wrestler, and more dynamic at his point in his career than Henderson is in his. The fan inside of me wants Henderson to win HUGE with an overhand right that will give Cormier his first (and devastating) loss, but Cormier is going to press him against the cage and make for a relatively boring fight.
PREDICTION: CORMIER defeats Henderson via unanimous decision.
Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger
I have high hopes that this will end up being fight of the night. Robbie Lawler is Robbie Lawler, and Jake Ellenberger can take a hell of a punch. The only thing that concerns me about the current Lawler is how willingly he looked to have given up in the last round of his title shot against Johny Hendricks. Fortunately this is a three-round affair, and I can see the first round being pretty back-and-forth, with Lawler coming out on top with a TKO victory in the second round (ground and pound).
PREDICTION: LAWLER defeats Ellenberger via TKO (Round 2).
Jamie Varner vs. James Krause
Coming off of a two fight losing skid, Varner will hopefully be fighting with "job security" on his mind. Both of his previous losses were exciting, close fights, and I see the same thing happening on this one. Krause had a hell of a win streak before losing his last fight, but I see a certain immediacy in the mind of Varner that will put him on top, and help him retain his job.
PREDICTION: VARNER defeats Krause by split decision.