UFC 142 Rio: Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online Staff Picks & Preview

UFC 142While the evening's biggest match-up will be taking place in Foxborough, MA, between the New England Patriots vs. the Denver Broncos, the eyes of the hardcore MMA fan will be watching the UFC's return to Rio with UFC 142.

As always, here's our staff that put their reputations on the line week after week:

- Dave Meltzer (4-1): Wrestling Observer founder & writer | Yahoo MMA

- Todd Martin (4-1): Weekly FFD guest | RAW recapper | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (4-1): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Oliver Copp (4-1) & Mike Sawyer (4-1) of Tough Talk: Show

- Josh Nason (2-3): FFD guest | FIGHT! Magazine | WGAM MMA Show | Bloody Elbow

Bryan Alvarez again is taking the week off to rest. Like Brodus Clay, he is booked to return next week.

Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo (20-1) vs. Chad Mendes (11-0)

What Aldo will we get Saturday: the killer from the WEC or the UFC version that goes all five rounds and talks about physical ailments post-fight? Mendes' teammate Urijah Faber got decimated by Aldo, but will that in-ring knowledge help? Aldo hasn't lost since 2005.

Aldo: Copp, Sawyer, Meltzer
Mendes: Nason, Martin, Sempervive

A split decision!

Vitor Belfort (20-9) vs. Anthony Johnson (10-3)

The storyline here: Johnson came in 11 pounds heavy and Belfort would only agree to fight him if he weighed 205 pounds on Saturday. He did and so the fight is on. Johnson's physical and mental health will be in question, but can he overcome it? Can Belfort take advantage and win his second straight? Fun fact: neither man fought in 2010.

Belfort: Nason, Martin, Copp, Sempervive, Meltzer
Johnson: Sawyer

When given the option to change his pick based on the weight cut debacle, Sawyer said no. A bold man indeed!

Rousimar Palhares (13-3) vs. Mike Massenzio (13-5)

Since a bizarre TKO loss to Nate Marquardt in September 2010, Palhares has won his last two. Massenzio is on his second UFC run and after a short notice loss to Krzysztof Soszynski at light heavyweight, he rebounded with a decision win over Steve Cantwell in October.

Palhares: Nason, Martin, Copp, Sawyer, Sempervive, Meltzer

You're paying for this fight, people.

Erick Silva (13-1-1) vs. Carlo Prater (29-10-1)

After a career-long run in Brazil, the 27-year-old Silva made his Octagon debut at UFC 134 in Rio and destroyed Luis Ramos in just 40 seconds. An injury sub for Siyar Bahadurzada, Prater is making his UFC debut. After an inconsistent run in 2009-10, he's won his last four.

Silva: Nason, Martin, Copp, Sawyer, Sempervive, Meltzer

Edson Barboza (9-0) vs. Terry Etim (15-3)

This is my pre-event pick for Fight Of The Night. The undefeated Barboza has won all three of his UFC bouts, last edging out Ross Pearson in an August split decision. Etim returned in November after a long injury layoff and submitted Eddie Faaloloto in just 17 seconds at UFC 138. He's been in the UFC since April 2007 and has a 6-3 UFC record.

Barboza: Sawyer, Sempervive, Meltzer
Etim: Nason, Martin, Copp

Follow Dave Meltzer's live play-by-play and results here on the site, starting at 7:30 PM EST with the lone Facebook prelim fight, then the first ever prelims on FX starting at 8 PM EST then the PPV at 10 PM EST. Then early on Sunday morning, tune in for Dave and Bryan Alvarez' post-event audio wrapup.

(By the way, the Patriots will crush the Broncos tonight!)

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