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UFC On Fox 15 Machida vs. Rockhold: Wrestling Observer Picks & Preview

UFC on Fox 15

By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com

In life, the beautiful people always get the benefit of the doubt (well, maybe not Britt McHenry, but still). Especially in entertainment, people that are easier on the eyes are seeing as god/goddess-like by the rest of us schlubs because that’s what we want to ultimately be: revered, adored, desired.

That brings us to UFC on Fox main carder Paige VanZant, the strawweight superstar who is getting more attention than any other female fighter not named Rousey. She’s young, she’s attractive, she’s media-friendly, and is even sponsored by Reebok. PVZ has attained this level of fandom despite having five pro fights and just one UFC bout.

I get why the attention is on her to this extent, but she now has to back up everything with a main card fight on national TV Saturday night against a very experienced opponent who is used to being the center of attention. The UFC has a potential crossover breakout star on their hands, but that train can get derailed with a bad performance in New Jersey.

That’s the thing with fighting: even the beautiful people can’t escape the pain when the cage door locks.

Our Panel:

Jack Encarnacao (30-10 | .750) Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair, Steve Austin impersonator

Mike Sempervive (27-13 | .675) Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare

Steve Juon (26-14 | .650) AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

David Bixenspan (26-14 | .650)
 Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

John Pollock (26-14 | .650) Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

Front Row Brian (24-16 | .600) MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

Dave Meltzer (23-17 | .575)
 Wrestling Observer founder & writer, occasional cougher

- Josh Nason (23-17 | .575)
 Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

Todd Martin (23-17 | .575) LA Times | Sherdog

Mike Sawyer (21-19 | .525)
 Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion 


> Lyoto Machida (22-5) vs. Luke Rockhold (13-2)

This should be an awesome fight with the winner getting the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort, a fight we hope to see this summer unless one of the two gets hurt again. The 36-year-old Machida has won two of his last three and is 5-2 since 2012. His only loss at 185 was to Weidman and a rematch promises to be a lot of fun after their first tilt.

The 30-year-old Rockhold is finally healthy and fought three times in a calendar year for the first time since 2009. All he did in those three fights was finish Costa Phillipou, Tim Boetsch, and Michael Bisping in less than six minutes combined. He’s surging at the right time in his career, but you’ll hear a lot about him “solving the puzzle” that is Machida.

Let’s toss that tired jargon out the window and say this instead: is his skillset enough to beat one of the best 185ers in the world? Can he get through the MACHIDA KARATE and lay some hands and feet on Machida’s face and torso? At some point, you’d have to assume age will catch up with “The Dragon” but is Saturday the start of the decline?

This fight should be killer.

Machida: Nason, Sawyer,
Rockhold (slight favorite): Encarnacao, Martin, Juon, FRB, Bix, Pollock, Sempervive, Meltzer

> Jacare Souza (21-3-0-1) vs. Chris Camozzi (21-9) II


Jeepers, that Souza vs. Yoel Romero fight is never going to happen, eh? Romero got hurt so the second attempt at making an awesome middleweight bout fell by the wayside again. Instead, Souza gets Camozzi who returns to the UFC after a two fight win/finish streak in….wait for it...PRIZE FC where he won their organization’s middleweight belt. Before that, he lost four straight. Win or (likely) lose, he’ll get at least one more shot.

The two fought back in May 2013 in Brazil on a show that coincidentally was headlined by Rockhold. Souza submitted Camozzi in less than four minutes and has won his last seven with finishes in six of them. He’s earned a shot, but it’s been unrealized due to a logjam at the top of the division.

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

READ: UFC on Fox Betting Picks | UFC on Fox Preview & Betting Odds

> Cub Swanson (21-6) vs. Max Holloway (12-3)

After a six fight win streak brought him the biggest fight of his career and on the doorstep of a title shot, Frankie Edgar’s wrestling stopped that cold in November. Swanson looks to resume his climb with a fight against the always active Holloway, fighting for the 12th time in the Octagon despite being just 23. He’s won five straight, has finishes in four of them, and was last seen seen dispatching Cole Miller by decision in February. This could be your dark horse for Fight O’The Night.

Swanson (slight favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Juon, Martin, FRB, Pollock, Meltzer
Holloway: Encarnacao, Bix, Sempervive

Paige VanZant
Alert: Obligatory PVZ picture (Photo: MMAFighting.com)

> Felice Herrig (10-5) vs. Paige VanZant (4-1)


PVZ made her UFC debut in November with a third round TKO over Kailin Curran on the Fight Pass portion of a Fight Night in Austin, TX. Sadly in the Fox Sports era, those fights never make it to the main card like they did in the Spike era.

In the 30-year-old Herrig, she gets her toughest test to date. A veteran of nearly every promotion except the UFC, Herrig made her Octagon debut in December after a run on TUF with a second round submission over Lisa Ellis. Thanks in part to the show, she’s only fought three times in the last two years. A note: the finish over Ellis was the first time she hadn’t gone the distance in her previous seven fights.

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

> Jim Miller (24-5-0-1) vs. Beneil Dariush (10-1)


At 31, Miller’s days as a top contender are likely behind him but he’s still a going concern at 155. A winner in two of his last three, Miller has been on the shelf since losing via T/KO to Donald Cerrone last July. Originally slated to face Paul Felder, the rising prospect had to pull out due to a knee injury. Dariush fills in on short notice, looking to extend a three-fight win streak. He’s 4-1 in the Octagon and has submission wins in three of his four wins. Like Felder, he’s an interesting prospect and a win here would be huge for the Iranian’s career.

Fun fact: the two have combined for 19 submission wins in 41 career fights.

Miller: Martin, FRB, Sempervive
Dariush (slight favorite): Nason, Sawyer, Encarnacao, Juon, Bix, Pollock, Meltzer

Dave Meltzer will have your live companion coverage on WrestlingObserver.com, while David Bixenspan will be live tweeting from cageside via the Observer Twitter account. Open up a few windows, open up a few bottles, and have some fun with us Saturday!