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TUF Nations Finale: Main Card Staff Predictions for Bisping vs. Kennedy

Scott HarrisFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

TUF Nations Finale: Main Card Staff Predictions for Bisping vs. Kennedy

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    Michael Bisping
    Michael BispingAndre Penner

    UFC fans get a little midweek delight on Wednesday when The Ultimate Fighter: Nations wraps up the season with its finale show. In the main event, we have a middleweight fight between U.S. Army sniper Tim Kennedy and the mouthy Mancunian, one Michael P. Bisping (middle initial addition my own).

    Let us be honest: MMA fights are always fun, but some fights are more funner than others, in technical parlance. And let us be even more honest: It's not like this particular iteration of TUF lit the night sky on fire.

    All the more reason to read this slideshow. We are service providers, is what we are. Contained herein are not only staff predictions for every main card contest but priceless information on the matchups and the fighters, information like "who are they?" and stuff like that. 

    So without further ado, here you go. Riley "Kobra" Kontek. James "The Athlete" MacDonald. Sean "Salmon" Smith. Craig "Tardy" Amos. And right here Scott Harris, truly yours. Light em up.

2014 Staff Records

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    Tim Kennedy...preparing
    Tim Kennedy...preparingAaron Sweet/Getty Images

    I'm like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Maybe it doesn't happen today; maybe it doesn't happen tomorrow. But every day, little by little, I rise. Second to last? You're doggone right I'll take that.

    Now in the hole is Sean Smith, and I'm so grateful to him for that. Meanwhile, "The Athlete" is still holding down the top spot, while "Kobra" and that Canadian guy are neck and neck right behind him. We have a ballgame on our hands.

    James MacDonald 39-12-1

    Riley Kontek 37-14-1

    Craig Amos 37-14-1

    Scott Harris 35-16-1

    Sean Smith 33-18-1

Dustin Poirier vs. Akira Corassani

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    Dustin Poirier
    Dustin PoirierDavid Becker

    Kontek

    Dustin Poirier is arguably a top-10 featherweight, yet he is still not getting top opposition. Corassani is a tough guy, but this is a big step up for him. Poirier is superior wherever the fight should go, so he should have no problems putting away the Swede.

    Poirier, submission, Rd. 1

     

    Smith

    It seems odd that Corassani earned this fight with Poirier off a disqualification win over Maximo Blanco. He’s been a pleasant surprise in the featherweight division, but Corassani doesn’t seem ready for an opponent like Poirier, who is among the best at 145 pounds. I expect nothing less than a finish from Poirier in this matchup.

    Poirier, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Amos

    With all due respect to Corassani, I can't figure out why Poirier has been coerced into taking this fight. The Swede has game, but Poirier is just head and shoulders a better mixed martial artist.

    Poirier, submission, Rd. 2

     

    MacDonald

    This isn’t a particularly competitive fight, as I see it. Poirier is on the cusp of the elite, and Corassani, well, isn’t. I’ll be surprised if the latter makes it through all three rounds.

    Poirier, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Harris

    Not every matchup is perfect or even, well, even. Corassani is an illegal knee and a questionable decision away from being 1-2 in the UFC instead of 2-1. He's not going to get any ticky-tack wins against an unmitigated beast in “The Diamond.”

    Poirier, TKO, Rd. 1

Chad Laprise vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier

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    Chad Laprise
    Chad LapriseUFC.com

    Kontek 

    Striker vs. grappler. Canadian vs. Canadian. Both Laprise and Aubin-Mercier are normally lightweights, which makes this matchup even in terms of size. Laprise has shown great takedown defense on the show and superior striking to everybody in the house. Aubin-Mercier is a savage on the ground, but it'll be tough for him to plant Laprise on the mat. Laprise can finish this late, but I think he will likely edge his teammate on the scorecards.

    Laprise, unanimous decision

     

    Smith

    Laprise showcased some scary knockout power against Kajan Johnson, but Aubin-Mercier isn’t going to be looking to trade on Wednesday. He’s going to need to work quickly, as Laprise can end things with one punch, but Aubin-Mercier is equally dangerous with his grappling, should this fight hit the floor early on.

    Aubin-Mercier, submission, Rd. 1

     

    Amos

    These two have very dissimilar ideas about how this fight should go. For Laprise, it's all about keeping the action vertical and hunting the knockout, whereas Aubin-Mercier will do everything he can to make it a grappling affair. We shall see which man can (as the cliche goes) impose his will.

    Laprise, KO, Rd. 2

     

    MacDonald

    This is a tough fight to call. Laprise reminds me a little of Michael McDonald, perhaps because he’s extremely religious and pretty lethal on the feet. Aubin-Mercier needs to get this fight to the ground to have any chance of winning. I don’t see him dragging Laprise to the floor consistently, though.

    Laprise, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Harris

    Laprise is a sexy pick because of those knockouts (and everyone with the Internet saw those), but I think Aubin-Mercier is wily and will find a way to get it to the floor for the tapout.

    Aubin-Mercier, submission, Rd. 2

Sheldon Westcott vs. Elias Theodorou

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    Sheldon Westcott
    Sheldon WestcottTop MMA News

    Kontek

    This is the TUF Nations final that is extremely tough to call. Westcott barely had a cup of coffee on the show, as both of his fights were very short and overwhelming. Theodorou is the opposite, as he grinded away his opponents to decision in dominant fashion. This is going to be a strategic chess match. I think Theodorou has more tools and is bigger, which will lead him to victory.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

     

    Smith

    Westcott breezed through his competition on TUF Nations, but Theodorou is a step up from the Australians that Westcott defeated on the show. Expect Theodorou to fight smart against an aggressive Westcott and use size to his advantage in the clinch.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

     

    Amos

    This one is a tough call, in my opinion. We saw that Westcott was a capable finisher on TUF, but we didn't see much of what he can do when he is unable to get the finish. Theodorou doesn't seem like an easy fellow to put away. I think there is a fair chance he manages to pull off the upset, but I put that chance just shy of 50 percent, so I'll go with Theodorou.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

     

    MacDonald

    I’m pretty high on Westcott, particularly after seeing what he did to Daniel Kelly. Theodorou is a tough out and is capable of grinding out the win. I’m leaning toward Westcott earning the finish, though.

    Westcott, TKO, Rd. 3

     

    Harris

    This one isn’t rocket science. Can Westcott do that thing where he slams the other guy down and gets the tap, or can Theodorou weather that storm and ride Westcott to a decision? I’m going with Theodorou here, because defense wins championships, or, uh, something like that.

    Theodorou, unanimous decision

Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke

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    Kyle Noke
    Kyle NokeMark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Kontek

    This hot coaches rivalry is about to come to its boiling point (sarcasm, indeed). That being said, this fight does pique my interest. It's been awhile since we've seen Noke fight, so his layoff concerns me a tad. Cote is a better striker, has a granite chin and may be more durable than the Australian. The Canadians continue their dominance.

    Cote, unanimous decision

     

    Smith

    The Canadians dominated TUF Nations, but Noke will have a chance to avenge his Australian team on Wednesday. As a more well-rounded fighter than Cote, Noke should have a sizable advantage on the ground. If he can take Cote to the canvas, Noke should be able to pick up a submission win.

    Noke, submission, Rd. 2

     

    Amos

    Noke would be wise to do all he can to get the action to the mat and keep it there—success or failure will largely be determined by his ability to do so. But I think it's a mismatch standing, and if Cote approaches the bout cautiously, he should be able to exploit the gap. Can you even imagine how much my national pride will swell after a pair of Canadians become TUF champs, and then their coach puts a bow on the season?

    Cote, KO, Rd. 2

     

    MacDonald

    Noke has the grappling advantage here, but he should be able to hold his own on the feet as well. This could be an uphill battle for the Canadian. Look for the Australian to take the fight to the floor and grind out the win. 

    Noke, unanimous decision

     

    Harris

    Everyone loves Cote and his free-swinging, free-brawling lifestyle. He is also a very handsome man, which people also enjoy. But don’t put me down for a Cote win here. He’s clearly the better striker, just like Noke is the better grappler. I don’t think Cote will be able to sprawl away Noke’s takedowns or get back to his feet once the deed is done. Noke will gain revenge for his Australian countrymen.

    Noke, unanimous decision

Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy

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    Michael Bisping
    Michael BispingMark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Kontek

    Tim Kennedy has talked the talk. Now he needs to walk the walk. However, Michael Bisping has faced better wrestlers than Kennedy and done it with success. He is going to outstrike Kennedy and finish him later in the fight. 

    Bisping, TKO, Rd. 4

     

    Smith

    I’d be concerned about Bisping’s 12-month break in action had he been a slow starter or shown questionable conditioning in past outings. With some of the best cardio in the middleweight division, though, he should pick up where he left off in April 2013. The Englishman’s wrestling was nearly good enough to shut out Chael Sonnen’s takedowns, so he should be able to keep this bout standing, which will be bad news for Kennedy.

    Bisping, unanimous decision

     

    Amos

    Though Kennedy has made strides in his striking repertoire, Bisping maintains a solid edge there, and his wrestling defense is reliable enough that he will make good use of it. He'll pick Kennedy apart for the better part of their 25-minute showdown, earning himself a convincing decision victory.

    Bisping, unanimous decision

     

    MacDonald 

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. It usually doesn’t end well for those who wind up Bisping, and I don’t think Kennedy has the tools to put a halt to that particular trend. Bisping’s time away from the cage is a potential issue, but I expect the Brit to keep the fight on the feet and outstrike Kennedy.

    Bisping, unanimous decision

     

    Harris

    Gosh bless these guys for trying their best to start a real feud. Ultimately, it just never caught fire. It goes to show that if the fighters keep saying, “We just talked smack to each other to hype the fight” when it’s all over, it causes fans to tune out beforehand. In any event, once the fighters get inside the cage, I think Bisping will do his thing—that is, staying on the balls of his feet, moving well, staving off takedowns, scoring from range, minimizing ground time and winning. Kennedy will have other days, and he's a fine wrestling-based MMA fighter. But this one will be just another day at the office for Michael “The Count” Bisping.

    Bisping, unanimous decision

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