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November 23, 2014

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UFC 132: Breakdown & Picks

An uncharacteristic two months have passed since a UFC title was at risk at one of the promotion’s pay-per-view cards. That changes Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena when Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber stage the first-ever bantamweight title scrap in the octagon at UFC 132. Want another thing noticeably absent on recent UFC pay-per-views? Upsets. Dating back to March’s UFC 128, favorites have gone 18-2 on pay-per-view main cards. Our picks panel — Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (47-31), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (46-32), KSNV’s Kevin West (48-30) and ESPN’s Brett Okamoto (34-12) — anticipates that coming to an end at UFC 132. Three out of the four chose underdogs in both the main event between Cruz and Faber and the co-main event pairing middleweights Wanderlei Silva and Chris Leben. Read below to find their picks, a breakdown and The Venetian/Lagasse’s Stadium betting odds for each of the 11 fights on the card.

Urijah Faber

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 25-4
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: +110

Dominick Cruz

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’8''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 17-1
  • Out of: San Diego
  • Betting line: -140

Bantamweight Title Fight

Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Eddie Wineland at UFC 128.

Punch list: “The California Kid” isn’t such a kid anymore. He turned 32 last month and has now competed in mixed martial arts for eight years. In a sport where primes are known to pass quickly, this could be the long-time WEC featherweight champion’s last shot to get another title.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Faber

Cofield: Faber

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53.

Punch list: The only blemish on Cruz’s record came at the hands of Faber, a fact that eats away at “The Dominator”. Two of his last five wins have come against Faber protégé Joseph Benavidez. Cruz has unmatched speed, which appears as the most dangerous part of his game for Faber.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Faber

Okamoto: Cruz

Chris Leben

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 11-6
  • MMA record 25-7
  • Out of: Oahu, Hawaii
  • Betting line: +140

Wanderlei Silva

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 3-5
  • MMA record 33-10-1
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -170

Middleweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: First round TKO loss to Brian Stann at UFC 125.

Punch list: Leben molded much of his style after watching Silva when first coming up in the sport. Expect him to swing for the fences from the beginning in an attempt to put a disappointing loss to Stann behind him. Leben will not shy from a brawl with one of his idols.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Leben

Cofield: Silva

Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Michael Bisping at UFC 110.

Punch list: Like a child stomping on the ground and throwing a fit, Silva made a scene until the UFC relented and gave him Leben for his next fight. “The Axe Murderer” likes the style matchup. A knee injury has kept him away from the octagon for a year-and-a-half.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Leben

Okamoto: Leben

Ryan Bader

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 5-1
  • MMA record 12-1
  • Out of: Tempe, Arizona
  • Betting line: -500

Tito Ortiz

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’6’’
  • Weight: 253
  • UFC record 14-8-1
  • MMA record 15-8-1
  • Out of: Huntington Beach, Calif.
  • Betting line: +350

Light Heavyweight Bout

Last fight: Submission loss via second round guillotine choke to Jon Jones at UFC 126.

Punch list: Bader’s performance against Jones doesn’t look as bad anymore after UFC 128. Jones dominated Shogun Rua at the event much more emphatically than he did Bader a month earlier. Bader still has attainable aspirations to one day hold the UFC championship.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Bader

Cofield: Bader

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Matt Hamill at UFC 121.

Punch list: Ortiz is done with the playful trash-talk and explicit t-shirts that made him famous years ago. At this point, it’s about keeping his job. The only way Ortiz can do that is by beating Bader. Does the legend who hasn’t won since 2006 have anything left?

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Bader

Okamoto: Bader

Dong Hyun Kim

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1''
  • Weight: 171
  • UFC record 5-0-1
  • MMA record 14-0-1
  • Out of: Busan, South Korea
  • Betting line: -120

Carlos Condit

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 26-5
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -110

Welterweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 125.

Punch list: He’s borderline obsessed with Georges St. Pierre, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Kim mentions GSP, the current welterweight champion, nearly every time he’s asked a question. He’s confident he could beat St. Pierre and might get a chance soon with a win here.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Condit

Cofield: Condit

Last fight: First round knockout over Dan Hardy at UFC 120.

Punch list: Condit has won three in a row and looks at the test against Kim as a No. 1 contender bout. Despite some close calls, Condit has won 12 of his last 13. He’ll likely look to keep the fight standing against a Kim, a judo master.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Kim

Okamoto: Kim

Matt Wiman

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 7-3
  • MMA record 13-5
  • Out of: Denver
  • Betting line: +110

Dennis Siver

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 7-4
  • MMA record 18-7
  • Out of: Mannheim, Germany
  • Betting line: -140

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Cole Miller at UFC: Fight For The Troops 2.

Punch list: While Siver’s name is more often mentioned in title discussion, Wiman is on a three-fight win streak of his own. Wiman has spent more than five years in the UFC now. He feels he’s reaching his peak and a win over Siver would prove it to everyone else.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Siver

Cofield: Siver

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127.

Punch list: The win over Sotiropoulos was one of the biggest upsets of the year. It also showed how much Siver has grown as a mixed martial artist, as he wasn’t overly reliant on his well-known leg kicks. His takedown defense was flawless.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Wiman

Okamoto: Siver

Shane Roller

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 10-3
  • Out of: Dallas
  • Betting line: +250

Melvin Guillard

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-4
  • MMA record 27-8-2
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -330

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Second round knockout victory over Thiago Tavares at UFC on Versus 3.

Punch list: Roller recently moved away from Las Vegas, where he trained during his WEC days. He said he didn’t miss living in the city at all and thought his relocation helped his career. His knockout over Tavares will be shown by the UFC for years to come on highlight montages.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Roller

Cofield: Guillard

Last fight: First round victory via TKO over Evan Dunham at UFC: Fight For The Troops 2.

Punch list: Guillard is one of the UFC’s most engaging personalities — and becoming one of its most winningest fighters. A win over Roller would be Guillard’s fifth straight. His knockout power is something all opponents must be aware of.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Guillard

Okamoto: Guillard

Rafael dos Anjos

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-3
  • MMA record 14-5
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: +210

George Sotiropoulos

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 7-1
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Vancouver, Wash.
  • Betting line: -270

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: Third round submission loss to Clay Guida at UFC 117.

Punch list: Dos Anjos suffered a broken jaw against Guida, which caused him to be out the last 11 months. He seems to have carved a niche as a middle tier lightweight. He’s run over the three weaker opponents he’s encountered in the octagon, but never came close to knocking off any of the three more notable faces he encountered.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Sotiropoulos

Cofield: Sotiropoulos

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 127.

Punch list: Had a seven-fight win streak snapped in front of his native crowd in Sydney, Australia. The question here is how he will respond. He was painfully close to a chance at a championship before the one poor performance washed the progress away.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Sotiropoulos

Okamoto: Sotiropoulos

Takeya Mizugaki

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 14-5-2
  • Out of: Kanagawa, Japan
  • Betting line: +200

Brian Bowles

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 9-1
  • Out of: Athens, Ga.
  • Betting line: -300

Bantamweight Bout

Last fight: Split decision victory over Ruben Duran at UFC on Versus 3.

Punch list: Mizugaki would like to throw off the recent pattern attached to his career. He’s flip-flopped wins and losses each of his last six fights. To beat Bowles, Mizugaki will need to stay standing where he can show off his boxing prowess.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Bowles

Cofield: Bowles

Last fight: First round submission victory over Damacio Page at UFC Live on Versus 3.

Punch list: Bowles was the last man to hold the bantamweight belt before Dominick Cruz beat him at WEC 47 in March 2010. Although Bowles is only one fight removed from that, he could be next to challenge the winner of UFC 132’s main event. Few would argue against Bowles being one of the top five 135-pounders in the world.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Bowles

Okamoto: Bowles

Brad Tavares

  • Age: 23
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +200

Aaron Simpson

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 4-2
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Phoenix
  • Betting line: -250

Middleweight Bout

Last fight: First round knockout over Phil Baroni at UFC 125.

Punch list: “The Ultimate Fighter” season 11 veteran has won each of his official UFC bouts since falling to Court McGee in the semifinals of the show. He stepped in as a late replacement for Jason Miller, who is coaching on ‘TUF’, in this one and calls Simpson “my toughest opponent to date.”

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Tavares

Cofield: Simpson

Last fight: Unanimous decision victory over Mario Miranda at UFC Fight Night 24.

Punch list: The former Arizona State wrestler coached Ryan Bader in college and now trains alongside him. He stays true to his wrestling roots for the most part and will likely look to take down Tavares to the ground early and often.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Simpson

Okamoto: Tavares

Andre Winner

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 2-3
  • MMA record 11-5-1
  • Out of: London
  • Betting line: +100

Anthony Njokuani

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 13-5
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -130

Lightweight Bout

Last fight: First round submission loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 122.

Punch list: Winner knows he must beat Njokuani to keep his job, so he traveled around the continent training with the best. He spent time with everyone from Dominick Cruz to Georges St. Pierre in preparation for UFC 132. “The Ultimate Fighter” season 9 runner-up has an unorthodox karate style.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Njokuani

Cofield: Njokuani

Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Edson Barboza at UFC 128.

Punch list: The bout against Barboza was one of the most entertaining of the year and earned him a Fight of the Night bonus. But he’d much rather have a win here. A defeat would drop Njokuani to 1-4 in his last five and almost certainly out of MMA’s top promotion.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Njokuani

Okamoto: Winner

Jeff Hougland

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 9-4
  • Out of: Chicago
  • Betting line: +170

Donny Walker

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 14-6
  • Out of: Metor, Ohio
  • Betting line: -200

Bantamweight Bout

Last fight: First round submission victory over Craig Ross at Rumble on the Ridge 18.

Punch list: “Hellbound” has some threatening Brazilian jiu-jitsu. All four of his fights in the last year ended via first round submission. He came back to MMA in 2010 after taking four years off.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Walker

Cofield: Hougland

Last fight: Beat Billy Vaughn via first submission at NAAFS Night Of Champions 2010.

Punch list: It’s not hard to see how Walker caught the UFC’s eye. He’s on a seven-fight win streak on the regional circuit and has fought decent competition. Walker balances training with working as a police officer.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Hougland

Okamoto: Walker

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