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UFC 195 Lawler vs Condit: The Observer '16 Picks Contest

UFC 195

After a great year in terms of both business and fight action, UFC rings in the New Year with UFC 195. While this show won’t break any business records, it’s quite likely that we’ll get an early contender for Fight of the Year in the main event as welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler defends his belt against Carlos Condit. We’ve also got a de facto #1 contender bout at heavyweight as Andrei Arlovski tries to turn back the hands of time and get another shot at a UFC title in the latter part of his career. But he’ll have to get past the ultra-tough Stipe Miocic, coming off a brutal 5-round destruction of Mark Hunt.

There are some changes to our panel this year and also in terms of the fights we’ll be picking. With UFC putting more emphasis on their Fight Pass streaming service, the biggest fights aren’t always going to be on the main card. In this case, we’ll be looking at three fights from the main card, one from the Fox Sports One prelims and one from the Fight Pass portion.

Here’s the panel this year. With 2015 Champion Jack Encarnacion retiring after a great 2015, Stevie J is the man to beat from this group:

  • Dave Meltzer – Wrestling Observer founder
  • Mike Sempervive – Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
  • Front Row Brian – MMA newsbreaker, Beloved internet personality, Podcast host
  • John Pollock – Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
  • Steve Juon – MMA Fighting/Wrestling Observer writer. Angry Marks founder
  • David Bixenspan – Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
  • Mike Sawyer – Tough Talk MMA
  • Josh Nason – Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out; writer/editor WrestlingObserver.com, WON Twitter guy
  • Ryan Frederick – WrestlingObserver.com UFC reporter
  • Paul Fontaine – MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer

*****

> UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler (26-10-0-1) vs. Carlos Condit (30-8)

Lawler won the title after battling former champion Johnny Hendricks in two straight five round wars that most had as a dead heat. He defended the belt against Rory McDonald at UFC 189 in the co-main event underneath Conor McGregor-Chad Mendes in what most consider the fight of the year. Condit is the former WEC welterweight champion and UFC interim welterweight champion who will try to reclaim title glory here. He was last seen knocking out Thiago Alves in a two round destruction back in May upon his return.

Lawler (very slight favorite): Stevie J, Nason, Fontaine, Bix, Pollock. Sempervive
Condit: Front Row Brian, RFred, Sawyer, Meltzer

> Stipe Miocic (13-2) vs. Andrei Arlovski (25-10-0-1)
Heavyweights

Miocic destroyed Mark Hunt in his last fight, a fight that was probably stopped about a round and a half late. He’s seemingly been on the verge of a title fight for years now but with a win here is virtually guaranteed to get it. Arlovski returned to UFC in 2014 and has since rung up four straight wins, last beating Frank Mir in a lackluster three round fight last September. It would be a great story if he were to win, but our panel doesn’t give him much of a chance.

Miocic (big favorite): Stevie J, Front Row Brian, RFred, Sawyer, Nason. Bix, Pollock, Sempervive, Meltzer
Arlovski: Fontaine

> Brian Ortega (9-0-1) vs. Diego Brandao (20-10)
Featherweights

Ortega is an unbeaten fighter who competes for the third time in UFC on Saturday night. He was first seen with a dominant submission win that was later overturned due to a drug test failure in 2014. He returned to KO Thiago Tavares after serving his suspension. Brandao is a former TUF winner who has rattled off two straight early KOs since being knocked out by Conor McGregor in the main event of the first UFC Dublin show.

Ortega (favorite): Stevie J, RFred, Sawyer, Nason, Fontaine, Bix, Pollock, Sempervive, Meltzer
Brandao: Front Row Brian

> Michael McDonald (16-3) vs. Masanori Kanehara (25-12-5)
Bantamweights

The big story here is that Michael McDonald returns after over 2 years away. The former title challenger is still just 24-years old and could be a player in that division with an impressive win here. Kanehara is not being given much of a chance by our panel or the oddsmakers. He is coming off a decision loss to non-contender Rani Yahya, so perhaps that opinion is not unwarranted. Who knows if the ring rust will be a factor here for McDonald though?

McDonald (massive favorite): Stevie J, Front Row Brian, RFred, Sawyer, Nason, Fontaine, Bix, Pollock, Sempervive, Meltzer

> Dustin Poirier (18-4) vs. Joe Duffy (14-1)
Lightweights

This will be the Fight Pass “headliner” and in the eyes of many, it’s the third biggest fight on the card. This fight was originally scheduled to headline the Fight Pass show from Dublin a few months back but Duffy had to pull out due to injury so we get the fight here on Saturday night. Poirier has looked absolutely unstoppable since moving to 155, scoring dominant first round KO’s in both of his fights.  Prior to losing his last featherweight fight to current champion Conor McGregor, he’d also rung up two straight KO’s at 145. Duffy is, of course, the last man to beat McGregor (early in both men’s careers) and has looked great in UFC, kicking off his career with 2 straight first round stoppage wins. This fight should be quick and violent.

Poirier: Front Row Brian, RFred, Pollock
Duffy (moderate favorite): Stevie J, Sawyer, Nason, Fontaine, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer

*****

The show kicks off at 6:30 eastern with the UFC Fight Pass portion of the show. At 8 pm eastern, action moves over to FS 1 for the prelims and the PPV kicks off at 10 pm eastern. Dave Meltzer will have live fight coverage here and Ryan Frederick will provide live Twitter updates throughout the show as well.