SiriusXM Fight Club’s RJ Clifford and Ricky Bones break down UFC 167.

Like most excited, young rascals exiting their teen years, the UFC postponed its 20th anniversary celebration four days to make sure as many people as possible could make it to their birthday party. No one wants to celebrate alone, so the UFC wrangled up their biggest current pay-per-view draw, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, and the biggest threat to his title, Johny Hendricks, for the night’s main attraction. Las Vegas, the party capital of America, will also play host to one of the best top-to-bottom cards in recent memory, which includes Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans, Rory MacDonald, Robbie Lawler and a slew of other talent.

(If this year’s card is so stacked, watch out for next year when the UFC reaches legal drinking age.)

Betting lines based on Wednesday’s money lines on

Georges St-Pierre -255 (champion) vs. Johny Hendricks +195

Ricky’s pick: Hendricks

The night’s main event pits UFC Welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St-Pierre against the heavy-hitting Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks in arguably the toughest test of his career. No welterweight since April 7, 2007 has been able to figure out the riddle that is GSP. Exemplifying the supreme MMA athlete, “Rush” has created the template of how to execute a game plan inside the cage. With a win at UFC 167, GSP will break multiple UFC records, including:

  • Most wins inside the cage with 19
  • Most title wins with 12
  • And win, lose or draw, if the fight goes over 39 seconds, he will break the record for most time inside the cage at 5:03:52

Standing in St-Pierre’s way is Hendricks. Just like no welterweight in recent memory has been able to find the answer to St-Pierre’s frenetic pace and meticulous game planning, no 170-pounder has been able to stop the heavy left hand of Hendricks. The hammer Hendricks wields with his left hand is reminiscent of the comet in Armageddon; you know it’s coming, but nothing short of NASA, Bruce Willis and an Aerosmith love ballad is going to stop it. Just ask Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, who both fell in devastating fashion to Hendricks.

This fight comes down to an old-fashion race against the clock. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors GSP.

History will be made Saturday night, but it will not be made by St-Pierre. It will be made by Hendricks, as he ushers in a new era in the UFC welterweight division with a brutal second-round knockout.

RJ’s pick: St-Pierre

I’ll start by saying Hendricks is the biggest threat to GSP’s current title run. It’s great to see the champion in a righteous matchup against a challenger who earned his title shot three fights ago, and continued winning until it was his turn. (Especially after St-Pierre last defended his belt against Nick Diaz, who was coming off a loss and a drug suspension.)

Hendricks’ power has been on display before, with KO’s over seasoned fighters. His awkward, left-handed stance makes his punches unorthodox, and the Oklahoma State Cowboy is one of the most credentialed wrestlers in the UFC, a two-time NCAA champion.

Awkwardness can lead to sloppiness, though, and that’s something the French-Canadian will eat up. Lunging hooks and brawling are easy to prepare for, and no one comes into a fight more prepared than GSP. He’ll keep the American at bay with his jabs and footwork until Hendricks is forced to over commit, makes a mistake and gets taken down by one of the best take-down artists in the UFC. And once on his back, Hendricks looks lost.

Don’t forget: “Big Rigg” has tired early in three-round fights. Just wait until he enters the championship fourth and fifth rounds. Hendricks is one of the hardest pound-for-pound punchers in MMA, so he can certainly connect and end this early. But it’s far more likely GSP game plans around Hendricks’ strengths and takes an easy decision after 25 minutes.

Chael Sonnen +145 vs. Rashad Evans -175

Ricky’s pick: Evans

This fight has been under-promoted, possibly because Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen are friends and broadcast partners. The “Once the best of friends, now the worst of enemies!” angle isn’t going to work on this one.This fight should be a one-sided beat down: Evans is one of the best light heavyweights the UFC has ever seen, and he will prove why Saturday night, using his superb wrestling and striking to beat Sonnen into submission and a third-round TKO.

RJ’s pick: Evans

At first glance, this line seemed a little tight. After all, Sonnen has just one win at 205 pounds and Evans is a former champion. But the stars are aligned with Evans coming off four lackluster performances, losing two of them, and Sonnen fresh off arguably the best win of his career over Mauricio Rua.

For Sonnen to pull off the upset, Evans would have to put on one of his worst performances (again) while Sonnen would have to put on his best (again).

Evans’ advantages include speed, power, standing technique, take-down defense and a better top game. As long as the Michigan State Spartan defends the double leg and doesn’t get sucked into a clinch war, it’s his fight to lose. Evans by decision.

Robbie Lawler +260 vs. Rory MacDonald -340

Ricky’s pick: MacDonald

The second welterweight clash on the main card pits two surging fighters in a fight with major divisional implications. Rory MacDonald, a product of Tristar Gym and teammate of UFC champion Georges St-Pierre, has been on a tear since losing via TKO to former No. 1 contender Carlos Condit. With a win, it is pretty much guaranteed MacDonald will be the No. 1 contender at 170. Enter “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. To say Lawler’s resurgence has been impressive would be an understatement – it’s been freaking awesome! Lawlor has scored knockouts of Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker, and with a win over MacDonald, he could make a solid case for a title shot. This is a fight between the new and old breed. Though Lawler has heavy hands, he only has a puncher’s chance. Look for MacDonald to utilize all facets of his game to neutralize the power of Lawler, earning a unanimous victory in the process.

RJ’s pick: MacDonald

This matchup is eerily similar to the main event – a Tristar, top-notch, game-planning athlete against a brawling, heavy-handed wrestler. “Ruthless”Lawler  burst back onto the scene in his second stint in the UFC dropping to welterweight. He’s added knees and kicks to his already powerful punching arsenal, and training at American Top Team helped him recover from take downs. But just like the main event, MacDonald is too diverse and smart for someone with obvious holes like Lawler. I won’t be shocked if one of Lawler’s  limbs comes careening into MacDonald’s face, but the 24-year-old’s jab and kicks should keep Lawler at bay until he closes the distance and scores a take down. Wait for MacDonald to latch onto a submission during one of Lawler’s scrambles.

Josh Koscheck +110 vs. Tyron Woodley -140

Ricky’s pick: Koscheck

What happens when you put two wrestlers in a cage? You get a stand-up battle.

Josh Koscheck has had a significant fall from grace as of late, dropping from a title fight against GSP to back-to-back losses to Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawlor, the latter a vicious KO. Woodley, on the other hand, has had a little more success, scoring a brutal KO over Jay Hieron only to fall to Jake Shields in his next fight via split decision. Both Koscheck and Woodley need a win to stay relevant in the division, but it’s Koscheck who is in a must-win situation. Coming off back-to-back losses, a third loss could signal the end for the bleach blonde bad boy in the promotion. Look for Koscheck to fight inspired in an effort to keep his job, and use a combination of wrestling and strikes to frustrate Woodley and sway the judges in his favor. He’ll win a hard-fought unanimous decision.

RJ’s pick: Woodley

There are a lot questions and not a lot of answers, making this fight so appealing. Koscheck is a highly paid UFC welterweight who hasn’t been delivering the caliber wins to justify his fat paychecks. Woodley is a Strikeforce convert with hot and cold performances. Both guys have been struggling with their identities: Wrestler or striker? Aggressive or counter-fighting? Both are equally as likely to deliver an explosive take down as they are to engage in a slow clinch battle. Woodley is the younger fighter and has more upside. Koscheck is more cut and dry. Expect a take down/clinch battle with Woodley earning a decision.

Ali Bagautinov +130 vs. Tim Elliott -160

Ricky’s pick: Bagautinov

In a battle between two rising flyweights, the scrap between Tim Elliott and Ali Bagautinov leads off the UFC’s 20th anniversary pay-per-view. Elliott is on a two-fight winning streak, earning wins over Louis Gaudinot and Jared Papazian, while Bagautinov has one win in the promotion, a TKO of Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini in his UFC debut. Both fighters will be looking to make a statement and get one step closer to a title shot in a shallow flyweight division. To me, the key to this fight is the heavy hands of Bagautinov. Look for him to shine on the big stage en route to a first-round KO.

RJ’s pick: Elliott

Bagautinov comes into this fight with a lot of momentum. We’ve seen a resurgence of Russian-block athletes in Bellator, and hopefully we’ll see more in the UFC. After all, they’re fun to watch. However, this fight will be Ellitott’s. The American said in his pre-fight interviews that it’s easy to prepare for Dagestanian’s head-hunting. Elliott will mix up his diverse MMA game and come out with a workman-like decision.


RJ 5-0

Ricky 5-0

Overall Records

RJ 5-0

Ricky 5-0

Start times:

PPV – 10 pm ET

Fox Sports 1 – 8 pm ET

Facebook/YouTube – 6:30 pm ET

Powered by VIP