UFC 187 goes down this Saturday night live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The pay-per-view event is headlined by a light heavyweight title fight featuring Anthony Johnson battling Daniel Cormier for the vacant 205-pound strap.
In the evening’s co-main event slot, undefeated UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman puts his title on the line against former UFC champion Vitor Belfort.
BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor recently sat down with former UFC and PRIDE fighter Phil “NYBA” Baroni to discuss this weekend’s UFC 187 main card bouts.
Here are their predictions for the final four fights of the evening:
Heavyweight: Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne
Taylor: Andrei Arlovski will be looking to extend his current win streak to five in a row when he faces off with Browne this Saturday night in Sin City. “The Pit Bull” was last seen in action this past September, where he scored a brutal first-round KO over former title challenger Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Meanwhile, Travis Browne was most recently seen in action at December’s UFC 181 event, where he earned a first-round TKO victory over Brendan Schaub.
Both men possess serious knockout power, but I have to give the edge to Travis Browne in this one. “Hapa” has earned all five of his most recent victories by way of stoppage and I expect that trend to continue when he faces Arlovski.
A part of me would love nothing more than to see Arlovski pull off another big upset, but I just can’t see the now 36-year-old former champion pulling it off against Browne.
This fight likely doesn’t make it out of the first-round, so don’t blink!
Prediction: Travis Browne wins via first-round TKO
Baroni: Browne is going to take out Arlovski in this one. Travis is just bigger, younger and poses more problems than Andrei at this point.
Browne hits really hard and has some awesome knockouts to his credit. But, Arlovski is a tough old dog and I don’t think he will be put down easily.
Prediction: Travis Browne wins via unanimous decision
Lightweight: Donald Cerrone vs. John Makdessi
Taylor: Donald Cerrone brings a seven-fight win streak in to this fight with Makdessi. “Cowboy’s” latest performance saw him earn a decision victory over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
Meanwhile, John Makdessi was most recently seen in action at last month’s UFC 186 event in Montreal, where he scored a first-round TKO victory over Shane Campbell.
Stylistically, this is a terrific match-up, as both men are always down to stand and bang.
However, with that said, I still think “Cowboy” takes this fight with relative ease.
Makdessi is a solid striker… but Cerrone is still better in the stand-up game. “Cowboy” also possesses a much better ground game than the Canadian fighter, so I think that is where he will eventually look to take this fight.
There will be no upset in this one.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone wins via second-round submission
Baroni: Donald just cowboy ups and beats Makdessi in a typical Cerrone fight here.
I think Cerrone will just out work and stay ahead of Makdessi by using his superior Thai boxing and jiu-jitsu skills.
Eventually Makdessi will get frustrated and make a mistake and that’s when “Cowboy” gets the finish.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone wins via third-round TKO
Middleweight Title Fight: Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
Taylor: The most intriguing thing about Saturday’s UFC 187 event may be seeing which Vitor Belfort shows up for the middleweight crown.
If the Vitor Belfort from 2013 shows up, we could very well have a new UFC middleweight champion.
Belfort has won his last three bouts by way of head kick KO’s, disposing of Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson in those contests.
He now meets undefeated middleweight champion Chris Weidman, who has gone a perfect 12-0 in his young MMA career.
Weidman was last seen in action in July of 2014, where he earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win over former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida.
The “All American” possesses a good stand-up game and some excellent grappling skills. If Chris can get Belfort to the ground, then I feel Weidman will have a very good chance of keeping his undefeated record intact.
With that said, I am definitely not counting out the “Old Lion” in this title fight. Belfort is a beast and can put anyone in the world away if he lands the right punch.
The question is can “The Phenom” catch Weidman with his guard down? Well call me crazy, but I not only think he can, but he will!
Vitor shocks the MMA world by turning back the clock and finishing the champ in round number two.
Prediction: Vitor Belfort wins via second-round TKO
Baroni: Being an older fighter it’s crazy to think that I was watching Belfort scrap even before I made my debut at UFC 30 in New Jersey. I was a big fan of his and tried to emulate some of his style.
That being said, Weidman is just a better version of us. He is an All-American wrestler who went to Serra BJJ rather than doing kickboxing after college. Weidman definitely has the better wrestling and I’d say better jiu-jitsu than Belfort.
Vitor looks to be a little depleted since going off of the TRT and I just don’t think “The Phenom” will have enough horse power to hold off the young champion.
Prediction: Chris Weidman wins via fourth-round TKO
Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Anthony Johnson vs. Daniel Cormier
Taylor: A new UFC light heavyweight champion will be crowned for the first time since 2011 in Saturday’s main event fight.
Anthony Johnson is currently riding a nine-fight win streak, his latest victory being a first-round TKO win over former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson in January.
“Rumble” has looked just plain scary since returning to the UFC in April of last year, earning wins over Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and the aforementioned Gustafsson in that time.
Johnson now takes on Daniel Cormier, who will be looking to rebound after suffering a lop-sided loss to former title holder Jon “Bones” Jones in his most recent effort.
“DC” is an Olympic level wrestler who also possesses some good striking and heavy hands.
We have seen “Rumble” struggle with wrestlers in the past, losing to Josh Koscheck at UFC 106 in 2009.
However, Johnson did do an excellent job of fending off takedowns against wrestling specialist Phil Davis when the two squared off last year.
Daniel Cormier is a smart fighter and I believe he will be able to find a way to get inside on Johnson in this fight.
My guess is that “DC” will be able to weather the early Johnson storm, and eventually use his wrestling to fatigue “Rumble” before finishing him late in the fight with a submission.
Sadly, if “DC” does win the now vacant strap, it will likely hold even less weight to fight fans, this after witnessing former champ Jon Jones manhandle “DC” at UFC 182 earlier this year.
Prediction: Daniel Cormier wins via fourth-round submission
Baroni: I think Johnson matches-up better with Jon Jones than he does “DC”.
Johnson definitely has the power edge in this fight in terms of striking, but Cormier is the more well-rounded fighter here.
If Cormier can get inside and utilize his strong wrestling game, then he should be able to win this fight.
“DC” will need to power through AJ’s takedown defense early and use that top game position to wear “Rumble” out.
My only concern is that Cormier hasn’t looked as good at 205-pounds as he did as a heavyweight. So we will have to see how his conditioning holds up. Like I’ve preached before, an older guy cutting too much weight is never good… I would know.
Still, I think my old AKA wrestling coach will help “DC” put it all together and he will eventually win by referee stoppage in round four.
Prediction: Daniel Cormier wins via fourth-round TKO
Do you agree with the picks made by our staff writer Chris Taylor and the “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni?
Leave your picks for this Saturday’s main card fights in the comments section below.