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UFC Fight Night 80 PVZ vs. Namajunas: The Observer Picks Contest

Rose Namajunas vs. Paige Van Zant

Three nights, 34 UFC fights, lots of coffee, some alcohol, and a lot of holiday cheer. MMA grumps? Step off to the side until next week. We got some celebrating to do for the next three days and a lot to talk about after it’s all said and done. The sport will change over the next 72 hours in ways we would never expect. Sunday’s in the horizon, but let’s stay in Vegas for as long as we can. 

This is the first of three UFC picks posts you’ll get, kicking off with a fun little show you can legally stream on the Internet if you pay for it. Subscribers can get a 15-minute preview right here.

Our panel:

- Jack Encarnacao (101-41 | .711): Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair

- Steve Juon (95-47 | .669): AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

- Mike Sempervive (92-50 | .648): Wrestling Observer Live & Big Audio Nightmare co-host

- John Pollock (92-50 | .648): Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

- David Bixenspan (91-51 | .641): Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

- Dave Meltzer (89-53 | .627): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Front Row Brian (88-54 | .620): MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

- Mike Sawyer (85-57 | .599): Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion

- Josh Nason (83-59 | .585): JNPO host, Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

*****

Paige VanZant (6-1) vs. Rose Namajunas (3-2)
Strawweights

Ohhhh, man. This is going to be good.

PVZ has proven that she isn’t just a pretty face as she’s looked dominant in all three of her UFC wins. After beating up Felice Herrig for three rounds in April, she followed that up in September with a third round submission win over Alex Chambers. I remember nothing about that fight, but that she held up just fine in her main card PPV debut.

Namajunas is an injury replacement for Joanne Calderwood, and is an apt challenger for PVZ. The 23-year-old returned after a year’s absence to dust strawweight jobber Angela Hill in October, snapping a two-fight losing streak that included a title loss to forgotten memory Carla Esparza in the first ever UFC women’s strawweight title fight.

I said this on my 15-minute show preview, but I’ll say it again: these two are going to fight a few more times in their career.

PVZ (slight favorite): Nason, Meltzer, Juon, FRB, Pollock, Sawyer
Rose: Bix, Encarnacao, Sempervive

Jim Miller (25-6-0-1) vs. Michael Chiesa (12-2)
Lightweights

Past JNPO guest Chiesa is now ready to kick his career in drive after fighting just twice in 2014 and once this year. He’s coming off a decision win over Mitch Clarke in April and is 5-2 in his UFC career. At just 28 years old, a win here puts him further up the lightweight ladder which is ever shifting.

Miller is now a gatekeeper who has always come justthisclose to getting that elusive title shot. He needs to win here to stay relevant in the division as he’s lost two of his last three and is 32 years old. He is coming off a split decision victory over Danny Castillo earlier this year, and tonight marks his third 2015 fight. Originally scheduled to be the main event on this show, these two bring a combined 21 submissions into what should be a hellacious affair.

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

Sage Northcutt (6-0) vs. Cody Pfister (12-4)
Lightweights

At 19, the undefeated Northcutt is GOD DAMN TEEN SENSATION. Did you ever think you’d see a UFC fighter in Tiger Beat? Well, you will. He notably made his UFC debut in October by blitzkrieging now-former Octagoner Francisco Trevino in less than a minute. Trevino missed weight and got busted for smoking pot, so it was like a real-life instructional video for kids. His opponent doesn’t have a Wikipedia page which explains the huge odds that are in Northcutt’s favor.

SAGE SAGE SAGE: Nason, Meltzer, Bix, Juon, FRB, Pollock, Encarnacao, Sawyer, Means

Elias Theodorou (11-0) vs. Thiago Santos (11-3)
Welterweights

The 27-year-old “Spartan” is looking to remain undefeated and run his UFC record to 4-0 in the process. The TUF Nations winner finished two of his last three by second round TKO and is a decent size favorite against Santos. The 31-year-old Santos was last seen knocking the bejesus out of former hockey enforcer Steve Bosse this summer, extending his win streak to two for the first time in his UFC career. The Canadian Theodorou has to avenge the Bosse defeat for all of Canada, doesn’t he?

Theodorou (favourite): Nason, Meltzer, Bix, Juon, FRB, Pollock, Encarnacao, Sawyer, Means

Tim Means (24-7-1) vs. John Howard (23-11)
Welterweights

Means is coming off that awesome one round July fight with Matt Brown that has managed to get lost in the MMA tapestry of 2015. That loss snapped a four-fight win streak for the 31-year-old, a highlight of his second run in the Octagon. He faces the always puzzling Howard who has the potential to knock people out, but always seems hesitant to let himself go. He’s coming off a dull split decision win over the now-retired Cathal Pendred, a win that snapped a four-fight losing streak. With a loss, Howard could find himself out of the UFC for the second time as roster space is at a premium.

Means (favorite): Nason, Meltzer, Bix, Juon, FRB, Encarnacao, Sawyer, Means
Howard: Pollock

Follow along with all of the action with us!