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UFC Fight Night 77 Henderson vs. Belfort 3: Our Picks & Preview

Belfort vs. Henderson

I try not to swear in posts, because I was once taught that if you can't say something without swearing, you probably shouldn't be saying it. However, there are plenty of times to break that rule so I'll say this now: stop trying to start shit on the Internet!

I’m not talking about you Twitter trolls out there, but I’m mainly talking about those that try to make stories out of something that’s not there just so they can say "Gotcha!" in today’s look-at-me social media environment. This week's case in point was the UFC stick figure t-shirts that emerged outta nowhere this week, featuring a slew of different stick figures engaged in jiujitsu, judo, kickboxing, and other martial arts.

Yes, the shirts look stupid, and don’t make any sense, but that’s a lot of sports merchandise today. My main issue was that everyone tried to blame Reebok for the shirts, tossing more logs onto the narrative fire that is Reebok and UFC’s relationship is a disaster. It hasn’t been good, we all know that, but here’s the thing: they weren’t Reebok t-shirts.

And here’s the other thing: it took less than five minutes for yours truly to figure it out. I went to UFC.com, went to the shop area, searched around on shirts, saw a slew with Reebok logos on them, and then found the offending Terrance and Philip esque shirts sans Reebok logos. I put 2 and 2 together and voila: I debunked the myth.

I understand everyone wants to be Internet famous and be the next person who is the go-to for blistering #hottakes, but let’s not forget that just a little bit of research is the key for rounding out the most important part of the equation: being right.

Hear that and more on this week's Punch-Out featuring MMA Fighting's Shaheen Al-Shatti right now. Because there's a lot of interesting fights on this show, I picked six for this week. Honestly, I could have added a few more. 

*****

Our panel:

- Jack Encarnacao (90-36 | .714): Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair

- Steve Juon (85-41 | .674): AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

- Mike Sempervive (82-44 | .650): Wrestling Observer Live & Big Audio Nightmare co-host

- John Pollock (81-45 | .642): Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

- Front Row Brian (79-47 | .626): MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

- David Bixenspan (79-47 | .626): Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

- Dave Meltzer (77-49 | .611): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Mike Sawyer (74-52 | .587): Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion

- Josh Nason (74-52 | .587): Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

*****

- Vitor Belfort (24-11) vs. Dan Henderson (31-13) III
Light Heavyweights

Hey, it’s the fight you never asked to see for a third time, but you’re getting anyway! In the unofficial UFC Legends division, these two are top contenders. Belfort was last seen getting crushed by Chris Weidman in a middleweight title fight he never should have been involved in in the first place. His last fight before then? A 2013 first round head kick knockout of Henderson when his body looked...a bit different.

The 45-year-old Hendo showed us in June that he can still bang, flooring Tim Boetsch in just 28 seconds, snapping a two-fight losing streak. He’s 2-5 in his last seven, but is still a name you can main event a late-night Fox Sports One card with. At this stage of the game, that’s saying something.

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

- Glover Teixeira (23-4) vs. Patrick Cummins (8-2)
Light Heavyweights

Assumingly not a relative of New York Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira, past title challenger Glover snapped a two-fight losing streak by submitting Ovince Saint Preux in the third round of their August tilt. At 36, he may have one last run left in him but he’s running out of time to do so.

Give it to the 34-year-old Cummins who went from obscure last minute fill-in to current light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier to current light heavyweight prospect. Since the Cormier fight in February 2014, Cummings has fought five times with a record of 4-1. He last was seen decimating former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante at August’s UFC 190, but Teixeira is his toughest test since D.C.

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

- Fabio Maldonado (22-8) vs. Corey Anderson (6-1)
Light Heavyweights

Originally slated to be Maldonado vs. this very site’s Tom Lawlor, Anderson steps in for the biggest test of his developing career. The 35-year-old Maldonado may evoke memories of Candy Maldonado for some still-recovering Toronto Blue Jays fans, but this guy is a fighter who was last seen in a blah decision loss to “Rampage” Jackson earlier this year.

It’s a quick turnaround for TUF 19 winner Anderson, looking for his fourth UFC win and second in a row. We last saw him win a lopsided decision against Jan Blachowicz in September. Technically, he’s a prospect but hasn’t done anything yet to garner buzz among the casual fan.

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

- Gilbert Burns (10-0) vs. Rashid Magomedov (19-1)
Lightweights

The undefeated 29-year-old Burns has acclimated himself to Octagon life quite nicely with three wins, the last two by armbar submission. The Brazilian jiujitsu ace has two straight Performance Of The Night bonuses, and is looking for three straight Saturday night.

The 31-year-old Dagestan native has also been running wild and free in the UFC with three victories over the shallow end of the lightweight pool. He rides an 11-fight win streak into Saturday night, making this an exciting battle of 155-pound prospects that will help determine two distinctive paths in 2016.

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

- Gleison Tibau (33-11) vs. Abel Trujillo (12-6-0-1)
Lightweights

Did you know Tibau’s middle name was Herculano? The name of my first-born is now carved in stone. Tibau just keeps plugging away, fighting his three fights a year and maintaining his corner in the UFC’s lightweight division. He last was seen getting submitted by Tony Ferguson, snapping a three-fight win streak. However, he hasn’t lost two in a row since 2008 (Tyson Griffin, Joe Stevenson).

The 32-year-old Trujillo hasn’t been in the cage since December 2014, a victim of injuries and inactivity. All of his three Octagon wins have come over guys who are no longer in the UFC with both losses coming against guys who most definitely are (Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov). Both guys physically look great, so will this be a 15-minute exercise in exhaustion?

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

- Clay Guida (32-15) vs. Thiago Tavares (19-6-1)
Featherweights

Two longtime UFC vets (Guida since 2006 and Tavares since 2007) finally hook it up.

The 33-year-old Guida has turned into a .500 fighter before our eyes, and he’s looking for his first two fight win streak since 2011. Since dropping to 145, he’s 3-2 with wins over the dregs of the division and losses to Chad Mendes and Dennis Bermudez. He battles Tavares who is coming off a loss to super prospect Brian Ortega. The longtime lightweight is 1-1 since dropping to 145, but has only fought twice in the last two years.

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