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UFC 193 Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm: Our picks & preview

UFC 193

In case you missed it, UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa dropped by the set of Josh Nason’s Punch-Out this week to help analyze UFC 193, talk about his December fight against Jim Miller, and shoot the breeze in general. It’s free for everyone, so give it a listen here and tell your damn friends.

Our panel:

- Jack Encarnacao (95-37 | .719): Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair

- Steve Juon (90-42 | .681): AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

- Mike Sempervive (86-46 | .651): Wrestling Observer Live & Big Audio Nightmare co-host

- John Pollock (86-46 | .651): Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

- David Bixenspan (85-47 | .643): Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

- Dave Meltzer (82-50 | .621): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Front Row Brian (82-50 | .621): MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

- Mike Sawyer (79-53 | .598): Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion

- Josh Nason (78-54 | .590): Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

*****

> Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey (12-0) vs. Holly Holm (9-0)

Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm

Lots of alliteration going on for this main event, eh? Assuming Rousey decimates Holm, the only fight that makes sense is Lady Cyborg. That’s it, that’s all. No other women in the division is going to test Rousey like Cyborg could in July, and ultimately, that’s what we need. She’s the equivalent of Anthony Davis sent back to the 1945 version of the NBA -- so far ahead of her time that no one can stop her.

How the public will take to this fight is interesting. Holm has done nothing to promote other than get a fist up in Rousey’s face during Friday’s weigh-ins that Rousey sold like she was training for another WWE appearance. Legit or showmanship? Given the buzz this week, you can figure that out just as well as I can.

Will the mainstream/casual Rousey fan plunk down the money to watch or will they just wait to hopefully see the fight on Instagram like many got conditioned to do this year? The UFC is worried about that, proactively sending out a notice to media members about not sharing any GIFs or videos of the event, missing that it’s the general social media loving DGAF public that should be the focus of their proactive approach.

I’m more excited for what happens after the fight than the battle itself which I think will wrap up in less than a round. Holm is unbeaten and a former boxing champion in an era long ago, but she’s getting the shot due to a lack of options rather than a truly earned opportunity.

Rousey (mega favorite): Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Sawyer, Meltzer, Pollock, Encarnacao, Juon, FRB

> Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Champion “Double J” Jędrzejczyk  (10-0) vs. Valerie Letourneau (8-3)

To say the weigh-ins for these two was awkward to watch Friday is an understatement. Seeing nearly emaciated 115-pound women step on the scales isn’t my idea of a fun time.

To the fight itself, Letourneau represents a speed bump on the way to Double J’s eventual title defense with Claudia Gadelha. After two straight decision to open her UFC ledger, Jędrzejczyk has two straight wins by T/KO, two straight bonuses, and a piece of shiny metal and leather around her waist. How the 28-year-old resonates with the mainstream Rousey crowd will be something to watch in the months ahead.

The 32-year-old Letourneau has won all three of her UFC fights by decision, and with all three of her career losses comes against more well-known fighters (Sarah Kaufman, Gadelha, Alexis Davis). She can’t see the image of Jessica Penne’s bloodied face before she steps in the cage, even though the oddsmakers seem to think a similar fate awaits the Canadian.

JJ (mega favorite): Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Sawyer, Meltzer, Pollock, Encarnacao, Juon, FRB

> Mark Hunt (10-10-1) vs. Bigfoot Silva (19-7-1) II
Heavyweights

Rematches of classics rarely, if ever, live up to the hype of the predecessor. With heavyweights, there’s a little more of a chance because if someone gets knocked out, you at least have that to point to. Can Hunt and Silva give us anything close to what they had on that night 2 years and one month ago? Doubtful.

The 41-year-old Hunt is just 1-3-1 since a four-fight win streak brought him to Junior dos Santos’ violent doorstep in 2013. In all three losses, he’s been knocked out by JDS, now-heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, and Stipe Miocic. Any fight could be his last and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hunt hangs them up after tonight.

Strangely, Silva is also 1-3-1 in his last four after a two-fight win streak brought him to a title shot against then-champion Cain Velasquez. We all know what happened there. In his losses, he was also knocked out all three times (Velasquez, Frank Mir, Andrei Arlovski). He could also retire at any time. What time to be a UFC heavyweight!

Hunt (favorite): Bix, Sempervive, Sawyer, Meltzer, Pollock, Encarnacao, FRB, Juon, Nason

> Robert Whittaker (14-4) vs. Uriah Hall (12-5)
Middleweights

The fight that Mike Chiesa is looking forward to this most is an interesting scrap between two middleweight prospects. Hall is fresh off his short-notice fill-in fight against Gegard Mousasi, one he won in, ahem, SPECTACULAR FASHION. We all still want to understand what Hall we have now (vicious striker vs. passive decision-maker), and if he wins via a T/KO finish for the third straight time, we might have our answer.

This is already the eighth UFC fight for the 24-year-old Whittaker and since he decided to stop cutting to 170, he’s won two in a row by T/KO and three straight overall. Brad Tavares was his last victim, knocked out in just 44 seconds earlier this year.

If this fight is boring, I’ll cry for a week.

Whittaker: Nason, Bix, Meltzer, Pollock, Encarnacao
Hall (favorite): Sempervive, Sawyer, Juon, FRB

> Stefan Struve (26-7) vs. Jared Rosholt (13-2)
Heavyweights

Struve kept his UFC career alive with a decision win over the now-retired Rodrigo Nogueira in August. Before a heart issue and a two-fight losing streak (Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem) derailed Struve, Double-S had won four straight in 2011-12 and was moving into title contender category. He’s still just 27 which is truly insane.

This is the biggest fight of the 29-year-old Rosholt’s career. A winner in five of his six Octagon tilts, his biggest enemy has been apathy over those wins due to bland, wrestling-filled decisions. This is an interesting fight for both guys as Struve hasn’t fought a wrestler like Rosholt in years, if ever.

Struve (slight favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Meltzer, Pollock, Encarnacao, Juon
Rosholt: Bix, Sempervive, FRB

*****

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