UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann goes down this Saturday night from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. And while the fight card was able to retain some of its star power, the event, as a whole, was riddled with fights falling apart due to injury.

Lucas Martins was to fight Bryan Caraway, but Caraway was injured and replaced by promotional newcomer, Aljamain Sterling. Lucas Martins also got injured and was replaced by Cody Gibson, also a newcomer. Raphael Assuncao and Francisco Rivera were all set to throw down, but an injury to the hand of Rivera scraped those plans. Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rustam Khabilov was also scrapped due to injury. Perhaps the biggest hit that this card took was the injury to Rashad Evans, which removed him from the co-main event spot opposite Daniel Cormier. In steps Patrick Cummins. I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Well, as they say, the show must go on.

And go on it will, as the UFC is hoping that “the biggest star we have ever had” can deliver where it counts, PPV buys. While the top of the card was dramatically effected by injuries, the undercard remains unscathed and thus, ready to deliver the excitement. The preliminaries portion of the card should give us future title challengers in two divisions, as Alexis Davis takes on Jessica Eye and Zach Makovsky does battle with Josh Sampo. Should be a good one. Now, without further ado, here are my predictions for UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann.

Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen Thompson

One of the youngest fighters on the roster, The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes winner Robert Whittaker comes into this fight with diminished momentum, as he dropped a razor close split decision to Court McGee back in August. The loss dropped the Aussie to 4-3 in his last seven. While his record of late can be considered mediocre, his skills are anything but that. The one constant thus far in his young career is that Whittaker fights to finish, as evident by his 10 career stoppage victories of which five have come via KO and five by submission. It is that aggressiveness and ability to finish fights that makes Whittaker one of the most exciting and promising prospects in all of MMA.

Speaking of exciting fighters, Stephen Thompson has the potential to put on a highlight reel performance each time he graces the octagon. Blessed with an outstanding karate/kickboxing base, “Wonderboy” is developing into one of the most lethal strikers at 170. His KO of Chris Clements was a brutal display of what Thompson is capable of. Had it not been for a tough loss to the resurging Matt Brown, Thompson would be 9-0 right now. In terms of his striking and not his grappling acumen, Thompson could even be considered a 170-pound version of Machida. To soon? Perhaps, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I hate using clichés, but this fight is about as close to a pick-em fight as we have. We have the power of Whittaker vs. the speed and technique of Thompson. While I believe that Whittaker has the power to put out Thompson, I don’t believe that he’ll be able to catch up with him, at least not long enough to land that fight-ending shot. I can easily see Thompson outclassing Whittaker on the feet enroute to a clear decision win.

Prediction: Thompson via unanimous decision

Mike Pyle vs. T.J. Waldburger

29 seconds is all that it took to derail the hype train that Pyle spent 16 months developing. While that loss to Matt Brown killed the momentum that Pyle had, he is a savvy enough veteran to build it back up. Interestingly enough, the older Pyle gets, the better he gets. And while he’ll never be a title challenger, ask any 38-year-old if they would be content with being a top 15 fighter in their weight class, and they’ll respond with an emphatic yes. What’s shocking about Pyle is that the man has 16 career submission wins, but the last three stoppage wins to his credit have all been via some form of knockout. Old man strength, eh?

T.J. Waldburger is in a rough spot in his career. He is now 4-3 in the UFC and coming off of a crushing KO loss to Adlan Amagov at UFC 166. While clearly a talented fighter, Waldburger has not been able to string together more than two straight wins in his UFC career. And with that type of inconsistency, it is safe to say that he could potentially be fighting for his roster spot this Saturday. To make matters worst, he is going up against an equally potent fighter on the mat, if not more so.

Waldburger has been knocked out in six of his eight career losses. And with Pyle looking more and more like a guy that prefers to stand and bang, things could go from bad to worst for Waldburger. With his ground game be nullified by Pyle, expect this fight to be contested on the feet, where one mistake will cost Waldburger this fight. That one mistake takes places in round two, with Pyle putting his power on display and stopping Waldburger, for his fourth stoppage via KO in his last five victories.

Prediction: Pyle via 2nd round KO

Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia

Speaking of fighters in desperate need of a victory, lately Rory MacDonald has been fighting as though he is the protégé of Georges St. Pierre. Oh yeah, he is. Just to be clear and with all due respect to Robbie Lawler, MacDonald had no business losing that fight. He just didn’t. Add that to the fact that MacDonald looked horrible even in victory vs. Jake Ellenberger, and what you have is a fighter that is potentially one more bad performance away from falling out of the good graces of the UFC. The thing that is most baffling is that MacDonald is clearly one of the most talented fighters at 170. GSP’s “retirement” makes MacDonald’s loss to Lawler even more disappointing in hindsight. GSP retiring would have meant that with a win over Lawler, it would be Hendricks vs. MacDonald for the vacant title. Yeah, I’m sad again.

Oh Demian Maia, you fooled us all. You made us believe in you. Shame on you. You go on a three fight winning streak and then follow that up with getting shielded by Jake Shields. You could have been one fight away from a title shot, but you were content with letting Shields lay in your guard. Anyway, despite the setback, Maia remains one of the best at 170 by virtue of his BJJ game. For the longest time, it was clear that the only way to beat Maia was to keep the fight on the feet. And while that remains true, Maia has improved enough to make things interesting for his opponents. Maia also uses that striking to set-up his underrated clinch game, which he uses to take his opponent down, which sets up his A+ submission game. Long story short, don’t let him get a hold of you.

I truly hate picking a winner in a fight like this. There are too many variables involved. Which MacDonald is going to show up? Which Maia is going to show up? Will the fight remain standing? Will it go to the ground? See what I mean? With a fight like this, I tend to lean towards the fighter who is better at implementing his game plan. With that said, I’m going with MacDonald to win via the same method that he won with against Ellenberger. It’s hard to give Rory the benefit of the doubt when there are legitimate concerns over which version of him will show up.

Prediction: MacDonald via unanimous decision

Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins

Man, this has all of the makings of a monumental upset. I mean sure Cormier comes in with a perfect record of 13-0, but five of his last seven wins have comes via decision. And while it’s probably not fair to hold that against him, when three of those fights have come against Frank Mir, Jeff Monson, and Devin Cole, a man of Cormiers’ talents is expected to perform up to those expectations. It is well documented that Cormier is one of, if not the best wrestler in all of MMA. However, he has all proven that his fight hand is to be feared, as well. Who can forget his destruction of Bigfoot Silva? I mean sure Silva has been knocked out before, but Cormier battered Silva before it was cool to batter Silva.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t even know who Patrick Cummins is. Hell, I don’t even know if Patrick Cummins’ fans know who he is. It has been said that the most dangerous fighter is the one with nothing to lose, which is exactly what Cummins is; a fighter with nothing to lose. Win this fight and he becomes a household name. Lose this fight and at worst, he’ll get another fight. While I applaud Cormier for wanting to remain on this card, this is simply a lose-lose situation for him.

Let’s not kid ourselves, picking anything other than a Cormier victory is not bold, it’s foolish. Sure, we’ve heard stories about Cummins making Cormier cry or how Cummins’ wrestling is also very good, but we are talking about Daniel Cormier here. You know, the guy that could fight for the heavyweight title or the light heavyweight title. Simply put, Cormier wins this by demolition, which is better known by the scientific name, KO.

Prediction: Cormier via 1st round KO 

Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann

Eight fights, eight wins, with all eight coming by way of submission (armbar). I think that it is safe to say that we are all in one of two categories: we still love seeing her because of her dominance, or we are bored because of how simple she makes winning look. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Look, I understand that Rousey is literally on borrowed time now, due to her blossoming Hollywood career, so we may as well enjoy this. My problem is that there hasn’t really been a clear antagonist protagonist to take on the “Rowdy” one. And no, I do not even count Miesha Tate. Rousey’s grappling is clearly ahead of its time, so there really isn’t anyone that can come remotely close to hanging with her on the ground. And oh yeah, her striking is vastly improving. Life isn’t fair sometimes.

Make no mistake about it, Sara McMann is the realest threat to Rousey’s throne. She is, by definition, a live underdog in this one. By virtue of her wrestling base and tremendous upper body strength, she has what it takes to, at worst, make things uncomfortable for Rousey. She’s not just any other wrestler either. Like Rousey, she is also an Olympic medalist, having won a Silver medal in 2004 at the Olympic games in Athens. Unlike Miesha Tate, McMann will not enter this fight with high emotions stemming from the dislike of Rousey. Heck, she didn’t even have one bad thing to say about Rousey. With her mindset being focused and with her goals in plain sight, expect McMann to give Rousey her toughest fight to date.

I have struggled with this pick for far some time, but not for the reasons that you might think. I am not the biggest Rousey supporter, which is not the reason why I was tempted to pick McMann. I truly believe that McMann will end up being the greatest challenge that Rousey has ever faced. However, while I still believe that, I also believe that another Rousey armbar win is the likely outcome of this fight. Will McMann stop several of Rousey’s takedown attempts? Yes. But all it takes is one takedown to set things in motion. That happens in round two, with an armbar to follow.

Prediction: Rousey via 2nd round submission

Preliminaries Quick Picks

Alexis Davis over Jessica Eye via UD

Raphael Assuncao over Pedro Munhoz via UD

Aljamain Sterling over Cody Gibson via TKO

Zack Makovsky over Josh Sampo via SD

Erik Koch over Rafaello Oliveira via TKO

Yosdenis Cedeno over Ernest Chavez via TKO