UFC on Fuel 9: Wrestling Observer Staff Picks & Preview

By Josh Nason

It's Wrestlemania week and that means....afternoon UFC from Sweden! As you read this, the Facebook prelims are wrapping up.

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (18-15): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Todd Martin (21-12): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (16-17): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (22-11) of ToughTalkMMA.com

- Josh Nason (23-10): Wrestling Observer web editor, social media guy

- Oliver Copp (19-14) of combat sports insider fame

UFC on Fuel 9Ilir Latifi (7-2-0-1) vs. Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2)

The discussion this week has been all about the cut to Alexander Gustafsson and the decision to put in the unknown Latifi. Mousasi makes his UFC debut on a six-fight unbeaten streak and last was seen submitting Mike Kyle in January.

Latifi enters the UFC a winner in his last three, last picking up a decision win in October. There's a possibility the 5'8" Swede could give Mousasi problems, but it's a small one.

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

Ross Pearson (14-6) vs. Ryan Couture (6-1)

Couture makes his UFC debut on a four fight win streak, the last being a controversial split decision victory over K.J. Noons. He takes a fairly large step up in competition in Pearson, someone that hasn't won two in a row since the spring of 2010. He last knocked out George Sotiropoulos in December.

Pearson: Nason, Martin, Meltzer, Sawyer
Couture: Sempervive, Copp

Matt Mitrione (5-2) vs. Phil De Fries (9-2-0-1)

After a nice 5-0 run to start his UFC career, the 34-year-old Mitrione has lost his last two and needs a win desperately. He last was seen getting TKO'd by Roy Nelson in a short notice December tilt. De Fries has lost two of his last three and was last TKO'd by Todd Duffee in December.

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

Brad Pickett (22-7) vs. Mike Easton (13-1)

Pickett was disappointed in his split decision loss with Eddie Wineland because it was a bit dull. The loss snapped a two-fight win streak and also likely cost him a title shot. Easton had an eight-fight win streak snapped in December in a decision loss to Raphael Assuncao. Despite the record, he's evolved into a dull fighter.

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

Diego Brandao (16-8) vs. Pablo Garza (12-3)

The TUF 14 winner completes for the first time in 2013 and is coming off an October decision win over Joey Gambino. Garza returns to the cage for the first time since retiring Mark Hominick via decision back in November. Expect this to go the distance.

Brandao: Nason, Martin, Meltzer, Sempervive, Sawyer
Garza: Copp

Follow along with Dave's coverage all afternoon long!

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