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August 2, 2014

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UFC 127: Breakdown and Picks

A top welterweight contender will emerge after this weekend’s Main Event at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia, between B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch. It’s the second straight time UFC has held its third show of the year in the land down under. Five Australians fill the card, including lightweight George Sotiropoulos who continues his bid to become UFC’s first champion from the country. Check out a breakdown and picks from Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer, ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield and KSNV's Kevin West below. West leads the way through two events this year with a 13-8-1 record, while Cofield and Keefer have both compiled an 11-10-1 mark. Betting odds are courtesy of the Venetian/Lagasse’s Stadium sports books.

B.J. Penn

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’9''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 12-6-1
  • MMA record 16-7-1
  • Out of: Hilo, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +160

Jon Fitch

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 13-1
  • MMA record 23-3
  • Out of: San Jose, Calif.
  • Betting line: -190

Welterweight Bout

Main Event

Last fight: First round win via knockout against Matt Hughes at UFC 123.

Punch list: Penn beat Hughes in his return to the welterweight class — and then turned around and trained with him. Hughes, who shares a similar style and is a wrestler like Fitch, came to Hawaii for a group of sessions Penn said benefitted him in a major way.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Fitch

West: Penn

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Thiago Alves at UFC 117.

Punch list: Fitch was leapfrogged by Jake Shields for the next title shot in the 170-pound class for a familiar reason — his fighting style is not all that exciting. Fitch hasn’t won by stoppage in nearly four years, but is a master at wearing down opponents and grabbing decision victories.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Penn

Michael Bisping

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6'2''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 10-3
  • MMA record 20-3
  • Out of: Manchester, England
  • Betting line: -320

Jorge Rivera

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 7-5
  • MMA record 19-7
  • Out of: Milford, Mass.
  • Betting line: +240

Middleweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120.

Punch list: Bisping already has his next three fights planned out — finish Rivera, beat a top contender and receive a title shot. Only time will tell if that happens and UFC President Dana White obliges, but Bisping has clearly performed like a top middleweight over the last three years.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Bisping

West: Bisping

Last fight: Second round win by TKO over Nate Quarry at UFC Fight Night 21.

Punch list: Rivera has repeatedly said he was confident he’d knock Bisping out. His track record suggests otherwise, as Rivera has typically lost when he gets into bouts against some of the sport’s top fighters. But he’s on a three-fight win streak and feels he’s at the peak of his career.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Bisping

George Sotiropoulos

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 7-0
  • MMA record 14-2
  • Out of: Vancouver, Wash.
  • Betting line: -330

Dennis Siver

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-4
  • MMA record 17-7
  • Out of: Mannheim, Germany
  • Betting line: +250

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Second round win by submission over Joe Lauzon at UFC 123.

Punch list: Sotiropoulos returns home to Australia to fight for the second straight year, even though he’s lived in America since signing with UFC in 2007. He’s been dominant in that stretch and his current seven-fight win streak is bested only by top pound-for-pound fighters Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Sotiropoulos

West: Sotiropoulos

Last fight: First round by submission over Andre Winner at UFC 122.

Punch list: Siver should be at a disadvantage in most areas against well-rounded Sotiropoulos, but not in kickboxing. Siver is a premier kickboxer and claims no one can stop his patented spinning back kick if he executes it perfectly.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Sotiropoulos

Chris Lytle

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 9-9
  • MMA record 30-17-5
  • Out of: Indianapolis
  • Betting line: -320

Brian Ebersole

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 46-14-1
  • Out of: Bradley, Ill.
  • Betting line: +240

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Matt Serra at UFC 119.

Punch list: Lytle, a fan favorite and all-out brawler, was all set to face Carlos Condit in perhaps UFC 127’s most anticipated matchup. But Condit pulled out with injury at the last minute, which Lytle said devastated him. Lytle has won four straight and is still a full-time firefighter in Indianapolis in addition to fighting in UFC.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Lytle

West: Lytle

Last fight: First round win via knockout over Hamish Robertson at Let’s Get It On Promotion’s Van Diemen’s Caged Mayhem.

Punch list: Ebersole stepped in as a last minute replacement for Condit. The American is making his UFC debut after fighting professionally in Australia for the past five years. He canceled an upcoming bout on a small Australian card before arriving in Sydney.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Lytle

Kyle Noke

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 18-4-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -180

Chris Camozzi

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Lakewood, Colorado
  • Betting line: +150

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: Second round win via submission over Rob Kimmons at UFC 122.

Punch list: Noke is an Australia native and fought in many of the country’s promotions before joining EliteXC and eventually UFC. He has won four straight bouts and finished both of his opponents, one by submission and one by knockout, in the UFC.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Noke

West: Noke

Last fight: Split decision victory over Dong Yi Yang at UFC 121.

Punch list: Camozzi appeared on the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but had to pull out of the competition because of a broken jaw. Camozzi still established himself as a middleweight prospect. Camozzi gets a test against a veteran in Noke, who started fighting professionally four years before him.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Camozzi

Ross Pearson

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 11-4
  • Out of: Sunderland, England
  • Betting line: -150

Spencer Fisher

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-5
  • MMA record 24-6
  • Out of: Davenport, Iowa
  • Betting line: +120

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Second round loss by submission to Cole Miller at UFC Fight Night 22.

Punch list: Pearson won his first three UFC fights after competing on the ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” before falling to Miller. He’s a black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt, one step away from black, in judo.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Pearson

West: Fisher

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Curt Warburton at UFC 120.

Punch list: Miller will ignite the crowd at Acer Arena. He’ shown through a long career that he’s willing to throw punches at opponents with reckless abandon. But he’s dropped two of his last three bouts.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Pearson

James Te Huna

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 14-4
  • Out of: Sydney, Australia
  • Betting line: +170

Alexander Gustafsson

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 10-1
  • Out of: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Betting line: -200

Light Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Third round win via knockout over Igor Pokrajac at UFC 110.

Punch list: Te Huna is one of two fighters at home in Sydney. He made his UFC debut here last year and scored a third round knockout, but suffered a broken arm and had to take a year off before returning.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Gustafsson

West: Te Huna

Last fight: Second round win by submission over Cyrille Diabate at UFC 120.

Punch list: Gustafsson is seen as a fearless prospect in the 205-pound division. His only career defeat came at the hands of notable contender Phil Davis.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Gustafsson

Nick Ring

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 10-0
  • Out of: Calgary, Canada
  • Betting line: Even

Riki Fukuda

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 18-4
  • Out of: Tokyo, Japan
  • Betting line: -130

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: First round win via submission over Yannick Galipeau at AMMA 1.

Punch list: Ring was on the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and beat eventual winner Court McGee, but had to withdraw from the tournament with a knee injury. It aggravated an already-existing problem that forced him to sit out of mixed martial arts for three years and turn to professional boxing, where he went 4-1.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Fukuda

West: Ring

Last fight: Second round win by TKO over Ryuta Sakurai at DEEP 49.

Punch list: Fukuda had a long career in DEEP, one of Japan’s notable promotions. He even captured the middleweight belt, which he had to vacate after signing with UFC.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Ring

Anthony Perosh

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-3
  • MMA record 10-6
  • Out of: Sydney, Australia
  • Betting line: +150

Tom Blackledge

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 10-6
  • Out of: Liverpool, England
  • Betting line: -180

Light Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Second round loss by TKO to Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 110.

Punch list: After a four years away from the UFC, Perosh participated in last year’s Sydney card. Despite a loss to Cro Cop, he somehow landed a UFC contract anyway.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Blackledge

West: Perosh

Last fight: First round win via knockout against Enoc Solves Torres at M-1 Challenge 18.

Punch list: Blackledge makes his UFC debut after a year-and-a-half layoff. He’s has a vicious kickboxing game and has ended four fights with head kicks.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Blackledge

Tiequan Zhang

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 17-1
  • Out of: Beijing, China
  • Betting line: -200

Jason Reinhardt

  • Age: 41
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 20-1
  • Out of: Decatur, Ill.
  • Betting line: +170

Featherweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Danny Downes at WEC 53.

Punch list: Zhang receives a shot in the UFC because of the WEC merger. He lost his first fight in the WEC’s final event when he tired and couldn’t keep up with the pace set by Downes.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Zhang

West: Zhang

Last fight: First round win via submission over Cody Larson.

Punch list: Reinhardt is a legend on the Midwest regional circuit, but his last shot in UFC lasted less than one round when Joe Lauzon submitted him at UFC 78. The Pat Militech-disciple wants to make the most of his second chance, which he acknowledges as the most important of his career.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Reinhardt

Mark Hunt

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 265
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 5-7
  • Out of: Minto, Australia
  • Betting line: +210

Chris Tuchscherer

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 260
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 18-3
  • Out of: Oak Grove, Minn.
  • Betting line: -270

Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: First round loss via submission to Sean McCorkle at UFC 119.

Punch list: Hunt is a renowned kickboxer and former K-1 champion, but those skills haven’t translated to mixed martial arts. Hunt has lost six straight fights dating back to 2006.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Tuchscherer

West: Hunt

Last fight: First round loss to Brendan Schaub at UFC 116.

Punch list: Tuchscherer’s claim to fame is that he’s a training partner of Brock Lesnar. He’s also an accomplished wrestler and was a two-time All American at Division II Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Tuchscherer

Maciej Jewtuszko

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-0
  • Out of: Szczecin, Poland
  • Betting line: -150

Curt Warburton

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 6-2
  • Out of: Bishop Auckland, England
  • Betting line: +120

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: First round win via knockout against Anthony Njokuani at WEC 50.

Punch list: The Polack has finished all eight of his opponents. He’s knocked out four of them and submitted four of them, while never reaching the third round.

Staff picks: ESPN Radio and KSNV

Cofield: Jewtuszko

West: Jewtuszko

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Spencer Fisher at UFC 120.

Punch list: Warburton started training in MMA to keep in shape during soccer offseasons. He realized he had a knack for it and turned professional before catching UFC officials eyes heading into last year’s London card.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun

Keefer: Jewtuszko

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