SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 140 on Saturday in Toronto.
Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida
FOWLKES: If I’m Machida, I’m hoping that a light falls from the rafters and knocks Jones out. Otherwise it’s going to be a rough night for the smaller, slower Brazilian. Life ain’t a karate movie, son. Jones by TKO.
HUNT: With the year Jones is having, it’s hard to pick against him. He has momentum on his side, having gained major confidence taking out ex-champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson with little fret. Jones’ speed, agility and reactionary instincts should be enough for any new tricks the crafty Machida might have up his sleeve. Jones by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Machida is an ex-champ who not too long ago was considered invincible. That was then. This is now. I just don’t see him hanging with Jonny Bones. Jones by KO.
WERTHEIM: Jon Jones has no real discernible weakness — possibly his chin, though he hadn’t been hit enough to make a judgment. He is the more versatile fighter, the more confident fighter and, maybe most important, has length. Hard to see how he doesn’t win his fourth fight of 2011. Jones by TKO.
Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
FOWLKES: Mir is too big and too technically sound for Nogueira, who might be surgically repaired but still moves like a rusty tin man version of his old self. Mir by TKO.
HUNT: His first-round summer knockout over Brendan Schaub aside, Nogueira’s performances have been inconsistent in the last few years — which is consistent with an age-accelerated 35-year-old who’s endured a particularly punishing 12-year, 40-fight career. It’s Mir’s race to win on points if his cardio is up to snuff. Mir by decision.
WAGENHEIM: The first time they fought, Big Nog was not in good health. But for Mir, that TKO win injected a healthy dose of confidence. The only difference this time: They go the distance. Mir by decision.
WERTHEIM: Mir beat Nogueira three years ago in a considerable upset. It would be less of surprise if he won again. He ground game remains fearsome and he’s younger and a lot less battled-scarred than his opponent. Mir by decision.
Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
FOWLKES: Before seeing them both at open workouts, I was leaning toward Little Nog. Now I have to admit, it’s tough to see that man stopping Ortiz’s takedowns for three rounds, and tougher to see him ending it. Ortiz by decision.
HUNT: I like Lil Nog’s chances better than his brother’s. Back-to-back surgeries in his neck and back have stalled Ortiz’s learning curve and if he’s truly healthy now, I’m skeptical he’s had enough time to break some bad striking habits. Nog the boxer will be grounded a couple times, but I see him finishing strong on his feet. Nogueira by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: How rejuvenated is Tito? Enough to beat Ryan Bader but not enough to beat Rashad Evans. OK, that tells me he has just enough left to win this one. Ortiz by decision.
WERTHEIM: Tito Ortiz and “Little Nog” are both close to must-win territory. One can envision Ortiz bringing his superior wrestling to bear and winning a classic ground-and-pound. But Nogueira is a better boxer and better at submissions. Nogueira by decision.
Claude Patrick vs. Brian Ebersole
FOWLKES: Ebersole’s got the experience and Patrick’s got the crowd support. One matters a lot more than the other once the cage door closes. Ebersole by submission.
HUNT: After working the regional circuit for 10 years, the well-traveled Ebersole has been a breakout addition in the welterweight division. His technique isn’t the sharpest, but he keeps the action moving and takes risks that confuse his opponents and thrill the fans. Patrick is a hungry prospect whose joined the burgeoning Blackzilian squad, but Ebersole’s exuberant run will be difficult to derail. Ebersole by decision.
WAGENHEIM: It doesn’t get much better than Ebersole’s nine straight wins, two in the UFC. Then again, Patrick has won 13 straight, three in the UFC. Something has to give. Ebersole by decision.
WERTHEIM: Patrick is a fighter on the make but Ebersole hasn’t lost in more than three years and his experience may well be the difference. Ebersole by decision.
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
FOWLKES: Even though the Zombie has learned the importance of defense lately, I still think Hominick’s too sharp on the feet for him and too tough to keep down. Hominick by TKO.
HUNT: There is little question where this battle will be waged. With his departed coach Shawn Tompkins watching over him, an emotionally-charged Hominick will have an extra spring in his striker’s step. “Korean Zombie” beware. Hominick by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Hominick has the kind of standup game to turn the Korean into a zombie. He won’t finish him, but he’ll do enough to get his hand raised in front of the home crowd. Hominick by decision.
WERTHEIM: This has serious fight-of-the-night potential. Hominick is coming off a loss to Jose Aldo, but the hometown favorite — fighting with a heavy heart — ought to prevail. Hominick by TKO.