Rob: Saturday, May 28th brings yet another UFC event, headlined by Rampage Jackson taking on Matt Hamill and Roy Nelson battling Frank Mir. While I’ve enjoyed doing UFC predictions for the better part of the past two years, I got Joe to become a part of GuysNation, and he’s way more qualified to make predictions than I am. That said, I’ll still tag along with my predictions as well.

Prelim Fights:

-Renan Barao (25-1) vs. Cole Escovedo (17-6) 135 lbs.

Barao has not lost since his very first fight back in 2005. He is a very solid striker with good head movement and quick feet. His ground game is also top notch as he has won his last 4 of 5 by submission. This is his third fight in the States and possibly the toughest opponent he has yet to face throughout his career.

Cole is a true warrior, he just recently returned to the sport after a serious bout against staph infection. He is 6-2 since returning from that injury beating the likes of Michael McDonald and Yoshiro Maeda. Escovedo has the experience advantage in this fight due to the high caliber opponent he has faced throughout his career. But will that be enough to derail Renan’s 25 fight winning streak?

Cole does have the ability and experience to win this fight, but Renan should be able to control the pace and take it to him wherever the fight goes. While it is too early to tell, Renan could be the 135 lbs version of his teammate Jose Aldo.

Prediction: Renan Barao by Decision.

Rob’s Prediction: I’m sure Barao is a skilled fighter, but I like Cole’s experience

-Michael McDonald (12-1) vs. Chris Cariaso (11-2) 135 lbs.

McDonald is one of the biggest fighters at bantamweight, standing at 5’8. He has shown tremendous ability in his striking and ground game. With his size and reach he will give most opponents nightmares in the cage. His only loss is to Cole Escovedo but McDonald got his revenge with a KO of his own at TPF 5 last year.

Cariaso is coming in to this fight 5 inches shorter than his opponent. He has good striking, but his ground game has not been showcased too much since fighting for Zuffa. He is going to need to get in close if he decides to stand and trade with McDonald.

If McDonald can keep the fight standing and use his huge height advantage he should win the fight with ease. Chris Cariaso will need to get in close and put the lanky fighter on his back in order to win. I have seen him slam opponents around in the cage before but McDonald is a very good fighter.

Prediction: Michael McDonald by KO.

Rob’s Prediction: I think McDonald has too many advantages.

-Rafaello Oliveira (14-3) vs. Gleison Tibau (22-7) 155 lbs.

Oliveira is making his return to the UFC after a 4 fight winning streak outside of the promotion. His ground game is his strength and he has started to improve his striking. A win here could keep him in the UFC for another fight and a loss will probably mean the end of his career in the UFC.

Tibau is a gatekeeper in the UFC Lightweight Division. He has fought everyone and his losses have only come by some of the best around. The American Top Team fighter recently defeated the streaking Kurt Pellegrino is a tough fight.

Gleison’s only loss submission loss has come from Joe Stevenson’s notorious guillotine choke. If Oliveira has any shot it will be to try and win the standup war with Tibau. Unfortunately, I do not know if he has improved enough to keep the fight there and stay out of trouble.

Prediction: Tibau by Decision

Rob’s Prediction: Oliveira has a lot more riding on this outcome than Tibau does, and he’ll make the most of it.

-Tim Boetsch (12-4) vs. Kendall Grove (12-8)

There is not much to say about both of these fighters other than that they are both inconsistent. Grove’s ground game should be a little better and he always has the height advantage on his feet. Boetsch’s wrestling and power could keep Kendall at bay for most of the fight.

Both of these fighters are coming off a loss and it is plausible that the loser will be shown the exit from the promotion. Their styles should make for an interesting fight and could be a fight of the night candidate.

Prediction: Boetsch by TKO

Rob’s Prediction: Grove is very inconsistent, but whenever I pick against him, he shows up, so I’ll go with Grove.

-Miguel Torres (39-3) vs. Demetrious Johnson (9-1)

After running through the bantamweight division for years Torres has finally started facing tougher competition and it has shown. He decided to change his training regime after his back to back losses to Bowles and Benavidez and so far it has worked. While he has not been the flashy fighter he was when first introduced to him in the WEC, Torres still has that hunger that made him a champion.

Mighty Mouse is coming in to this fight with a big win over Kid Yamamoto. He has shown great wrestling ability over his last 3 fights and if he wants to beat Torres he is going to have to continue using that skill. He is still new to the sport with only a 9-1 record but so far he has shown he can hang with the best.

Torres has the advantage in every area except for the wrestling game. Johnson should be able to take him down at will but I am not so sure that he can keep him on his back for long. If he can hold him down for 3 round he will take this fight and move closer to a shot at the bantamweight title.

Prediction: Torres by Decision

Rob’s Prediction: It’s hard to pick against Torres, but I’ll go out on a limb and pick Demetrious Johnson.

Main Card:

-Brian Stann (10-3) vs. Jorge Santiago (23-8)

Stann is coming off his biggest win to date over Chris Leben. His game has improved a lot since moving to Jackson MMA and he continues to look better after each of his fights. While Leben is a great fighter, Santiago is his biggest challenge so far.

Santiago is returning to the UFC for the first time since 2006. Over that time he garnered an 11-1 record facing some of the top names in the middleweight division. He won a Strikeforce one night tournament and captured and defended the Sengoku middleweight crown.

Both of these fighters are going to stand and trade. Santiago’s chin has always been susceptible but his striking abilities are far better than Stann’s at this point in their careers. This is another Fight of the Night candidate.

Prediction: Santiago by KO

Rob’s Prediction: I can’t bet against Brian Stann

-Thiago Alves (18-7) vs. Rick Story (12-3)

Alves is a former contender at 170 lbs. He is really big for the division and he has some of the most devastating striking at welterweight. Wrestlers have always been his bugaboo and this fight will prove to us if he has worked on that aspect of his game.

Story is currently on a 5 fight winning streak in the UFC. A win hear will put his name in contender discussions and he will probably only be a fight or two away from having his name in the same sentence as GSP. Alves is easily the toughest fighter he has yet to face and will need to show up at his best to take this fight.

This is a tough matchup for Alves though he can still win it. If he overlooks Story at all he will be grinded down and lose this fight over a 3 round war. If Story cannot find a way to put him on his back were going to see a possible KO of the Night here.

Prediction: Story by Decision (Upset of the Night)

Rob’s Prediction: I also like Story and the win-streak he’s on right now.

-Stefan Struve (21-4) vs. Travis Browne (10-0-1)

This fight should be a great stand up war between two monsters in the Heavyweight division. They both like to stand and bang and if one of them falls we could have an earthquake in Las Vegas on Saturday. It is hard to make a prediction to this fight because the first fighter to land a solid punch should win by KO. Struve has the experience but he has shown a lot of holes in his striking defense. If Browne comes out like Roy Nelson or Christian Morecraft it will be an early night for the Skyscraper.

Prediction: Browne by KO

Rob’s Prediction: I really like Struve’s experience and I think he’s a fairly good all-around fighter.

-Frank Mir (14-5) vs. Roy Nelson (15-5)

Mir is always one of the toughest fighters in the UFC Heavyweight division. He has fought everyone with a name and he continues to improve his stand up with each passing fight. His ground game is one of the best in the division even though we have not seen in much in his last few fights. If he wants to win this one though, he needs to take Nelson down.

Big Country is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC Heavyweight division. His last fight against JDS proved he is as tough as anyone around. I never saw someone take the kind of punishment he did and last. His big belly causes fans and fighters not to take him seriously but if you look at his record there is no reason to ever look past him.

If this fight is to be competitive it will be your classic jiu jitsu against striker match. Unfortunately, I feel Mir is going to take his KO win over a fading Cro Cop to heart and think he can stand and bang with Roy Nelson.

Prediction: Big Country by KO

Rob’s Prediction: Roy Nelson is definitely under-rated, and I think he’ll surprise Mir

-Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (31-8) vs. Matt Hamill (10-2)

This is the fight no one expected to ever see headline a UFC PPV but with the LW Title fight being postponed here we are. Rampage is coming off a big win of Machida and another victory here could land him closer to fighting for the title again. His game is strong in all the same places as his current opponent and if he is hungry he will cruise to victory.

Hamill has surprised probably everyone that has ever watched his fights. He went from a very green fighter to a very solid contender over the last few years. Aside from the John Jones and Rich Franklin fights this will be one of his biggest challenges.

This fight comes down to how hungry is Rampage. Through all the pre fight trash talk he seems to want to really kick Hamill’s ass. If he is looking past him we could see a fight that looked just like Rashad vs. Rampage. Fortunately for Rampage I think he has this one in the bag.

Prediction: Rampage by KO

Rob’s Prediction: Pulling straight from the heart, I’m going with Rampage. His past losses have come due to outside distractions which I don’t think are there this time.