MMA analysts Ben Fowlkes, Tim Marchman, Steven Marrocco, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 130 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Quinton Jackson (31-8-0) vs. Matt Hamill (10-2-0)
Fowlkes As unenthusiastic as Jackson has sounded, as long as he's put in the work in the gym he's still a dangerous opponent. Hamill is too slow and too predictable to capitalize on Jackson's waning interest, though he is tough enough to last. Jackson by decision.
Marchman Hamill is just outclassed here. Rampage's not being motivated is the difference between a finish and a decision, not a win and a loss. Jackson by decision.
Marrocco Jackson has spent too much of camp getting in shape and not enough on technique. Unless he catches Hamill in the first, he's going to get outworked. Hamill by decision.
Wagenheim If they go to the ground, Hamill has the tools to neutralize Rampage. But if this fight remains standing for too long, eventually "The Hammer" is going to get nailed. Jackson by TKO.
Wertheim Rampage is a wild card, capable of high and lows, but he tends to hold his own against American wrestlers. Jackson by TKO.
Frank Mir (14-5-0) vs. Roy Nelson (15-5-0)
Fowlkes If Mir slows this one down and fights without regard for what people will think of the performance, he'll win. After catching heat for doing that against Cro Cop, however, he'll more likely get sucked into a brawl that favors "Big Country." Nelson by TKO.
Marchman Nelson has skill on the ground and can take a beating, making him hard to finish. Mir has looked quite lethargic for a while now. Nelson by TKO.
Marrocco Nelson will take some licks getting inside, but he'll eventually take Mir where he's least comfortable -- flat on his back. Nelson by decision.
Wagenheim Mir is dangerous as a submission fighter, but Nelson is the better man on the mat. And Big Country has a much bigger paunch -- I mean, punch. Roy is, um, well-rounded. Nelson by TKO.
Wertheim Though Nelson is older and smaller than Mir, he fights younger and bigger. Nelson by decision.
Stefan Struve (21-4-0) vs. Travis Browne (10-0-1)
Fowlkes Struve gets better every time we see him, while Browne is still somewhat untested. If it stays standing, it's Struve's night all the way. Browne's best chance is to take advantage of Struve's slow starts, but the Dutchman has a way of bouncing back. Struve by TKO.
Marchman This is a showcase for a fighter who's awfully fun to watch and not far away from getting shots against elite heavyweights. Don't expect it to go long. Struve by TKO.
Marrocco Browne is good out of the gate, but it's uh-oh time when the counterattack comes. Struve by TKO.
Wagenheim Even if Browne manages to land one to send Struve to the mat, all he will have done is put the gigantic Dutchman where he's most dangerous. Struve by submission.
Wertheim It's not a fight; it's an NBA front line. Pitting Struve, a 6-11 Dutch kickboxer, against the 6-7 Browne veers close to circus territory. We'll take the bigger man. Struve by decision.
Thiago Alves (18-7-0) vs. Rick Story (12-3-0)
Fowlkes Assuming Alves doesn't leave his best stuff in the sauna during another grueling weight cut, he should be the superior athlete and more explosive fighter. The longer Story stays standing in front of him, the worse off he'll be. Alves by TKO.
Marchman The issue here is wrestling: Alves is vulnerable there, and Story is good. Still, Alves hits really hard and has far more experience at this level. Alves by decision.
Marrocco Thiago's mind and body are aligned now, and he's going to tell Story about horror. Alves by TKO.
Wagenheim Alves is fighting two opponents, the first being the weigh-in scale. If he has energy left after his weight cut, he'll use it to light up Story. Alves by decision.
Wertheim Alves is a potentially dazzling talent who's fought only twice in the last two years. Look for him to get back on track. Alves by decision.
Brian Stann (10-3-0) vs. Jorge Santiago (23-8-0)
Fowlkes Santiago is a tough, aggressive fighter, but that may only cause him trouble against a guy like Stann. As long as Stann can decide where and when this fight takes place, it's his to lose. Stann by decision.
Marchman Santiago is a far more experienced and rounded fighter, but Stann showed something in knocking out Chris Leben. I think he's just improved. Stann by TKO.
Marrocco If Santiago can keep his jitters in place in his return to the Octagon, I like his chances. Santiago by TKO.
Wagenheim The best weapon in Stann's expanding arsenal is his discipline. Trainer Greg Jackson no doubt has a plan for beating Santiago, and Stann won't go AWOL from it. Stann by decision.
Wertheim Can't recall a Joe Silva match getting this much heat. Santiago hasn't been in the UFC in five years. A curious match for Stann, a star on the rise. Stann by TKO.
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