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UFC Fight Manila Observer Picks & Mini-Preview: Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber

UFC Manila

By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com

On this past week’s MMA Beat (one of my must-watches every week), Chuck Mindenhall called this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event “The Filla in Manila” -- a nod to how this show, and especially its main event, is being overlooked by UFC marketing.

But if you look over the sheer number of shows over the next 2.5 months, something was going to have to suffer. There’s a big event 7 days from now that Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber would have been amazing on, but that’s the risk you run when you are trying to be everywhere you can.

The current “too many shows” narrative is real, and we all know it. But at this point, it is what it is. I could sit here and lament about the state of things today, but why bother? A fight I’ve wanted to see for years is hours away from taking place and I can’t wait. Would I have liked to see this main event get more shine from the masses? Sure, but I’d also like to see more 0s in my paycheck and lower numbers when I step on a scale. Some things just don’t turn out how you imagine them.

Before we get into the picks, I’ll remind you that my new podcast on WrestlingObserver.com kicks off next week with picks panelist and Sherdog ace Jack Encarnacao as my first guest. The goal is to create a different experience than other shows on the site, so I think you’ll like it.

I also need to pass along that inaugural picks member Todd Martin has respectfully withdrawn from the picks panel, so we’re going with nine people the rest of the year. As always, we wish Mr. Martin all the best in his future endeavors.

Our picks:

Jack Encarnacao (39-11 | .780) Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair, Steve Austin impersonator

Mike Sempervive (35-15 | .700) Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare

Steve Juon (35-15 | .700) AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

John Pollock (34-16 | .680) Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

David Bixenspan (34-16 | .680) Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

Front Row Brian (31-19 | .620) MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

Dave Meltzer (31-19 | .620)
 Wrestling Observer founder & writer, occasional cougher

- Josh Nason (28-22 | .560)
 Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

Mike Sawyer (27-23 | .540)
 Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion 

*****

- Frankie Edgar (18-4-1) vs. Urijah Faber (32-7)
Featherweights

As mentioned above, it’s too bad this fight fell on the schedule where it did because it deserves a lot better. The resumes speaks for themselves, but let’s try to find a few nuggets anyway. After fighting seven straight times with a title on the line and against the same two guys for four of them, Edgar has won three straight non-title fights and has made a case for another 145-pound title shot with a victory. His November win over Cub Swanson? Dominant.

The 36-year-old Faber has never lost a non-title fight. It’s that simple. Saturday marks his first UFC featherweight fight, a division he hasn’t competed in since losing a unanimous decision to then-WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 2010. He wanted big fights at this stage of his career, and he finally has one now; a dream fight that is taking place in a country known for a rather big fight in its past.

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

- Gegard Mousasi (36-5-2) vs. Costas Philippou (13-4-0-1)
Middleweights

It blows my mind that Mousasi is just 29. After looking lifeless against Jacare Souza last September, Mousasi roared back to life with a :70 TKO win over Dan Henderson in Sweden. He’s 3-2 in his UFC career and needs to put something extensive together to stay in the contender conversation.

Philippou has been on the shelf for a year after beating Lorenz Larkin via 1st round TKO, a win that snapped a two fight losing streak to bigger names. Before that, he had won six in a row and was making some noise in the middle of the 185 pack. By the betting odds, no one believes that a win streak is starting Saturday.

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

- Mark Munoz (13-6) vs. Luke Barnatt (8-2)
Middleweights

This is Munoz’s retirement fight, so who knows where his head is at. At 37, his wrestling can’t save him anymore and he’s been beaten in his last three, all quick first round finishes. It fell apart quickly for Munoz, who was never the same after a brutal second round KO via elbow killer by current middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

The 6’6” Barnatt needs a win as he’s lost two straight split decisions after winning his first three UFC bouts. The UFC couldn’t have served him up a better opponent and Barnatt has a history of finishes (six in eight career wins). If he doesn’t win this fight, he probably should be cut.

Barnatt (slight favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Meltzer, Juon, Sempervive, Bix, FRB, Encarnacao
Munoz: Pollock

- Hyn Gyu Lim (13-4-1) vs. Neil Magny (14-3)
Welterweights

The 27-year-old Magny is riding a six-fight win streak, albeit against the dregs of the division. He does have finishes in three of his last four, so there’s that. He’s a guy, but it’s telling that despite winning this many, he’s not getting a name value opponent. The 30-year-old Lim is 3-1 in his UFC career with his sole loss coming against past Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine. He last competed in September, scoring a first round TKO win.

Lim: Nason, Sawyer
Magny (slight favorite): Meltzer, Juon, Pollock, Sempervive, Bix, FRB, Encarnacao

- Philipe Nover (10-5) vs. Yui Chul Nam (18-4-1)
Featherweights

Did you know Nover’s nickname is “Super”? Alright, then. During his run years ago on TUF, Dana White put the curse on Nover in claiming he was going to be the next big thing. An 0-3 Octagon record later, he was released. He’s stayed somewhat active, missing the entire 2014 calendar year but returning to action with a second round submission win on the indies in January. He’s won three in a row. Nam made his UFC debut in March 2014 with a decision win over someone you’ve never heard of, and hasn’t fought since then.

Nam (slight favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Meltzer, Juon, Pollock, Sempervive, Bix, FRB
Nover: Encarnacao

Ryan Frederick gets the spot start and has your live coverage early tomorrow morning. Buy this man a drink (or a coffee) next time you see him.