Las Vegas Sun

July 25, 2014

Currently: 99° — Complete forecast | Log in

UFC 131: Breakdown & Picks

Injuries haven’t been kind to the UFC 131 fight card. In addition to Brock Lesnar’s well-publicized diverticulitis, Mac Danzig had to pull out of his pay-per-view bout with Donald Cerrone. Three other fighters scheduled for the preliminary card, including “The Ultimate Fighter” 11 winner Court McGee, also cancelled. The shifting that followed has given a handful of fighters on the card a chance to make a name for themselves against high-caliber competition on a card lacking in star power. The last pay-per-view event, UC 130, shook up the standings on our picks panel. Only one prognosticator, Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (38-28), was over .500. But he’s still looking up to KSNV’s Kevin West (40-26) and ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (24-10) on the year with ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (36-30) close behind. Odds are courtesy of the Venetian/Lagasse's Stadium sports books and subject to change.

Shane Carwin

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’2''
  • Weight: 265
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 12-1
  • Out of: Denver
  • Betting line: +160

Junior dos Santos

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’4''
  • Weight: 238
  • UFC record 6-0
  • MMA record 12-1
  • Out of: Salvador, Brazil
  • Betting line: -190

Heavyweight Title Eliminator Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Second round loss via submission to Brock Lesnar at UFC 116.

Punch list: Carwin hasn’t fought in nearly a year and will enter this bout with a sense of urgency. At 36, he’s not going to have many more chances to get this close to the heavyweight belt. All 12 of his wins have come in the first round.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Carwin

Cofield: dos Santos

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory against Roy Nelson at UFC 117.

Punch list: Almost every one in the UFC will say dos Santos has the best boxing in the heavyweight division. Four of his six UFC wins have come via first round knockout. He was supposed to have the next shot at champion Cain Velasquez, but will now have to get one more victory.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: dos Santos

Okamoto: dos Santos

Diego Nunes

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 16-1
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: +240

Kenny Florian

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’10''
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 11-4
  • MMA record 14-5
  • Out of: Boston
  • Betting line: -320

Featherweight Bout

Last fight: Split decision victory over Mike Brown at UFC 125.

Punch list: Nunes came in as a similiarly-priced underdog in his last contest. Despite a swollen-shut eye, Nunes battered Brown, the former WEC champion, for the final two rounds. He’ll give up some size to Florian, but should feel more comfortable at 145 pounds.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Florian

Cofield: Florian

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC 118.

Punch list: A win over Maynard would have given Florian his third career title shot in the lightweight division. A loss made him decide to drop down to featherweight and UFC President Dana White has promised him a title shot here if he gets past Nunes. With undefeated Chad Mendes also in the wings, it’s unclear if White can live up to his word.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Florian

Okamoto: Florian

Dave Herman

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 242
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 20-2
  • Out of: Temecula, Calif.
  • Betting line: -270

Jon Olav Einemo

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Weight: 253
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-1
  • Out of: Oslo, Norway
  • Betting line: +210

Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Nakao at World Victory Road: Soul Of Fight.

Punch list: One of only two career losses came via disqualification for an illegal knee. The Indiana University graduate is an equally adept wrestler and boxer. Many MMA enthusiasts believe Herman could challenge the heavyweight division’s best if he stays focused.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Herman

Cofield: Herman

Last fight: First round win by submission over James Thompson at 2H2H: Pride & Honor.

Punch list: Heads were scratched when UFC announced Einemo as Carwin’s next opponent. That fight didn’t happen because of Lesnar’s injury, but Einemo still hasn’t fought in five years. He’s a former world submission wrestling champion, who wants to make another run in MMA.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Herman

Okamoto: Einemo

Mark Munoz

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 10-2
  • Out of: Vallejo, Calif.
  • Betting line: -125

Demian Maia

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 8-2
  • MMA record 14-2
  • Out of: Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Betting line: -105

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: First round knockout win over C.B. Dollaway at UFC on Versus 3.

Punch list: The former Oklahoma State wrestler tries again to break into the top 10 middleweights in the world here. Yushin Okami thwarted his last attempted at UFC on Versus 2. But Munoz looked his best yet when he knocked out Dollaway in less than a minute.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Maia

Cofield: Munoz

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Kendall Grove at “The Ultimate Fighter” 12 finale.

Punch list: Maia has some of the top Brazilian jiu-jitsu of anyone in the UFC. But he’s most known for his failed attempt to win the middleweight title against Anderson Silva last year at UFC 112. Maia has won two straight since then, however, and has big fights in his horizon if he gets past Munoz.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Munoz

Okamoto: Munoz

Vagner Rocha

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 6-1
  • Out of: Pembroke Pines, Fla.
  • Betting line: +350

Donald Cerrone

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -500

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: First round win via submission over Jacob Clark at MFA: New Generation 5.

Punch list: Rocha steps into the spot left open by Mac Danzig’s cancellation. The UFC newcomer appears outclassed, but won’t let that deter him. He has fought on cards for both Bellator and Strikefore, where he suffered his only loss.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Cerrone

Cofield: Cerrone

Last fight: Second round submission win against Paul Kelly at UFC 126.

Punch list: “Cowboy” is a win or two away from receiving bouts with the top lightweights in the UFC. His three career losses all came in WEC title fights. Cerrone is as marketable as he is tough, what with his unique persona and exciting style.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Cerrone

Okamoto: Cerrone

Yves Edwards

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 8-4
  • MMA record 40-16-1
  • Out of: Austin, Texas
  • Betting line: +120

Sam Stout

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 5-5
  • MMA record 16-6-1
  • Out of: London, Ontario, Canada
  • Betting line: -150

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Second round victory via submission over Cody McKenzie at UFC: Fight For The Troops 2.

Punch list: Perhaps the UFC’s most experienced lightweight, Edwards made his octagon debut at UFC 33 in 2001. He’s fought in almost every other major organization, too, and has recently won three in a row.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Stout

Cofield: Stout

Last fight: Split decision win against Paul Taylor at UFC 121.

Punch list: Stout’s training partner, Mark Hominick, stole the show the last time the promotion traveled to Canada for UFC 129. Stout is a candidate to do the same with a high-energy and an 11-2 record when fighting in his native country.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Edwards

Okamoto: Edwards

Chris Weidman

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 5-0
  • Out of: Mineola, N.Y.
  • Betting line: -450

Jesse Bongfeldt

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0-1
  • MMA record 15-4-1
  • Out of: Kenora, Ontario, Canada
  • Betting line: +325

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Alessio Sakara at UFC Live on Versus 3.

Punch list: After a successful college wrestling career at Hofstra, Weidman turned to MMA. Tutored by former UFC lightweight champion Matt Serra, Weidman has shown a lot of promise early in his career. His striking has come along quickly.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Weidman

Cofield: Weidman

Last fight: Majority draw against Rafael Natal at UFC 124.

Punch list: Bongfeldt would have likely preferred to face his original opponent, Court McGee, instead of a wrestling prospect like Weidman. After falling behind in his UFC debut last year, Bongfeldt beat up Natal in the third round but couldn’t finish him.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Weidman

Okamoto: Weidman

Mike Massenzio

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Patterson, N.J.
  • Betting line: +190

Krzysztof Soszynski

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 25-11-1
  • Out of: Temecula, Calif.
  • Betting line: -240

Light Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Third round loss via submission to Brian Stann at UFC on Versus 2.

Punch list: For his willingness to take the fight on such short notice, five days, Massenzio gets a second opportunity in the UFC. He’s dropped two straight. In addition to the Stann submission, C.B. Dollaway knocked Massenzio out in the first round of their UFC 92 bout.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Sosynzski

Cofield: Soszynski

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Goran Reljic at UFC 122.

Punch list: Hopefully “The Polish Expirement” didn’t have any elaborate game plans for this fight. Massenzio is his third scheduled opponent. Soszynski has been prone to erratic performances ever since his stint on the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, but is well-rounded at his best.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Sosynzski

Okamoto: Sosynzski

James Head

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-1
  • Out of: Oklahoma City
  • Betting line: +110

Nick Ring

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 11-0
  • Out of: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Betting line: -140

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Gerald Harris at Xtreme Fight Night 2.

Punch list: Head has a full-time job as a petroleum engineer at a major oil company. He trains during his lunch breaks and after working nine-hour shifts. He most have caught some eyes with a win over Harris, a UFC veteran, earlier this year.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Head

Cofield: Ring

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Riki Fukuda at UFC 127.

Punch list: His undefeated records fools no one who watches MMA. Fukuda thoroughly dominated him in February, but Ring somehow escaped with a baffling decision win. Ring’s strongest area is his Muay Thai.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Ring

Okamoto: Ring

Jason Young

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-3
  • Out of: London
  • Betting line: +220

Dustin Poirier

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 9-1
  • Out of: Lafayette, La.
  • Betting line: -300

Featherweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision win against Jorge Britto at Knockout Entertainment: The Reckoning.

Punch list: His track record indicates that his strength is in the stand-up. On the ground, there might be some room for improvement as all three of Young’s losses are by submission. Conditioning won’t be an issue as Young runs 8-10 miles per day.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Poirier

Cofield: Poirier

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Josh Grispi at UFC 125.

Punch list: Poirier ruined Josh Grsipi’s New Year’s Day when he dominated the then top contender. He felt great in his 145-pound debut and foresees a long future in the division. Only one of his victories didn’t come by stoppage.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Poirier

Okamoto: Poirier

Aaron Rosa

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 245
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 16-3
  • Out of: San Antonio
  • Betting line: -140

Joey Beltran

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 240
  • UFC record 2-2
  • MMA record 12-5
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: +110

Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Second round victory via submission over Abe Wagner at Titan FC 17.

Punch list: His only loss in the last thre years came to former Strikeforce champion Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante. Rosa has won his six other contests with four coming by stoppage to snatch a UFC contract. His regional résumé reads like a UFC prospect, but it’ll take a couple fights to find out.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Beltran

Cofield: Rosa

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Pat Barry at UFC Fight For The Troops: 2.

Punch list: Beltran’s last couple fights have earned him a reputation as a guy who is fun to watch. The downside is they were both losses. No matter how much punishment he absorbed against Barry or Matt Mitrione at UFC 119, it will matter little if he loses his third straight.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Rosa

Okamoto: Beltran

Darren Elkins

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 11-2
  • Out of: Hobart, Ind.
  • Betting line: +200

Michihiro Omigawa

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-3
  • MMA record 12-9-1
  • Out of: Tokyo
  • Betting line: -250

Featherweight Bout

Last fight: First round defeat to Charles Oliveira via submission at UFC on Versus 2.

Punch list: Elkins joins Florian on this card and a host of other 155-pounders who have dropped to featherweight. Elkins was solid, but unspectacular at lightweight. He hopes his reach and size advantage will suit him well in the 145-pound division.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Omigawa

Cofield: Omigawa

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Chad Mendes at UFC 126.

Punch list: Omigawa had some momentum built up in his return to the UFC before Mendes crushed it. He had won five straight, including bouts over former WEC champion Cole Escovedo and No. 2 ranked featherweight Hatsu Hioki. Omigawa is still searching for his first win in the octagon.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Omigawa

Okamoto: Elkins

Most Popular

  • Viewed
  • Discussed
  • E-mailed