So, since the primetime specials are starting now, I'll get this thread rolling. This has the potential of being the biggest PPV of the year. It already seems like it on paper (so far). Let's get down to what matters, the fights.
Preliminary Card (Facebook) - I thought all of the fights would be aired on FX and that they would stop all of this Facebook nonsense. Oh well, it's not like they're great fights anyway.
Marcus Brimage vs. Maximo Blanco - Make no mistake about it, Marcus got the short end of the stick while on TUF. He made no secret that he was a one-dimensional striker, and a pretty average one at that. He spent most of the season serving as sparring partner for his teammates after he was knocked out of the tournament in the very first fight by getting choked out due to a complete lack of a ground game. He dropped to FW for the TUF finale (big surprise there) and won a lukewarm decision against Stephen Bass. Still, despite all of his obvious shortcomings, I hope he pounds Maximo Blanco into the canvas like a jackhammer. Blanco is pretty much all hype, no substance. He picked up a nice string of wins over no-name opponents in Sengoku and got a Strikeforce debut WHICH HE LOST, by RNC no less, and still got called up to the UFC. Why? I don't know. Maybe because he's the only Venezuelan fighter in existence and the UFC wants those viewers tunning in? Not 100% sure but I would bet that yes, that's pretty much it. Maximo is getting a gift-wrapped win but I really, really hope things don't go his way.
Keith Wisniewski vs. Chris Clements - Google Keith Wisniewski and you'll see what Josh Neer did to his face on his UFC debut. Not pretty. Clements is making his UFC debut. On paper, he has an experience deficit and losses to pretty low-level UFC (former and current) fighters. It's a toss-up really. But maybe 51/49 due to the slight experience edge. Will there be blood? Hahaha.
Preliminary Card (FX)
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero - Efrain Escudero got brought back into the UFC after a stint in the B-leagues and lost to Jacob Volkmann. Let me repeat that: he lost to Jacob "Christmas" Volkmann. Mac Danzig by whatever, probably KO since he likes to bang it out.
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani - Makdessi got fed to Dennis Hallman (don't even know why after Speedogate) who wasted no time taking advantage of Makdessi's lack of experience and grappling skill to RNC with ease (and after that wish for the Rapture in the post-fight interview). Anthony Njokuani is better than what his record shows, at least on his feet. He has a tall, lanky build and knows how to use his reach. Makdessi better come in with a good gameplan because if he decides to stand and trade with Njokuani, he'll have a long night ahead of him.
Matt Brown vs. Stephen Thompson - I don't even know what to say about this. Stephen Thompson looked like a beast in his UFC debut, a WW Machida with an unbeaten record in MMA and kickboxin (63-0!). And they have him fight Matt Brown, who is 13-11 and recently saved his job by KO'ing Chris Cope out of his UFC contract. 9 of Brown's losses have come by Submission. I wonder if Wonderboy (see what I did there?) has some grappling in him or will he be the first one to KO Brown? If Brown wins this fight (he has nothing but heart but everything is possible in MMA and I've been wrong before), it's would be a clear candidate to Upset of the Year, together with Okami vs. Boetsch.
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs - I can't quite make up my mind about Browne. His fight against Rob Broughton was a horrible gassfest, he would've lost to Cheick Kongo had Kongo not done his usual thing and cheated, but his KO of Struve is just so perfect. He clearly has power and he's huge. If he could just fix his goddamn cardio to a decent level or at least a level where he could rush in and get the 1st round finish, he would be a force to be reckoned in the HW division. Griggs, on the other hand, we don't know. We know he isn't (wasn't?) a full time fighter so his cardio might suffer a bit. But none of his fights have gone the distance because, despite not being a very big HW, he hits like a ton of bricks covered in lead and stuck to even more bricks. It would be a miracle if this fight got out of the first round.
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio - Bocek recently got dissed by Nik Lentz, out of all people, for laying-and-praying. John Alessio is coming in on short notice to replace an injured Matt Wiman. He's a pretty decent guy but I think the short notice combined with the UFC jitters will get to him. Combine that with the fact that Bocek is also a pretty decent fighter with a full training camp behind him and I don't think he's going to get the W.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin - Hominick JGC by Jung. He'll be back on top of the FW division in no time. That road will be built with the bodies of fighters such as Yagin. Hominick will do things right, not rush in and beat the living crap out of him with his crisp, technical striking like in the Aldo fight (the 5th round at least).
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald - McDonald has been putting on some great fights at BW but I think that Miguel Torres is too much, too soon. Torres is a former champion and a very tough fighter looking to get back into contendership. His BJJ is great but he has shown difficulty attacking from his back against top-control wrestlers (see the Mighty Mouse fight). Should he channel his WEC champion days, this fight would end by brutal KO. Still, a win is a win and I think Miguel will use his experience and skillset to get it. If Michael McDonald gets the win however, I do see him fighting for the BW title pretty soon... after Faber and Barão get their crack at it.
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell - Ben Rothwell gassed like a punctured baloon and lost a decision to Mark Hunt. He was also close to getting submitted by him. I'll repeat that: Rothwell was almost submitted by Mark Hunt. Brendan Schaub may have his problems (his inability to get off the cage without punching his way out, his belief that his chin is stronger than it really is) but his gas tank his good and his skills are up to par. Rothwell is pretty stout but I can see Schaub repeating what he did to Mirko if he can tire Rothwell a bit.
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills - Che Mills KO'ed Chris Cope (who was KO'ed also by Matt Brown out of all people) and gets a spot as the co-main event. What? I don't get it. He isn't a bad fighter per se but he's not on the same level as Rory, not by a mile. Rory is a beast. If you doubt that, just watch his fight against Nate Diaz. Or better yet, watch his fight against the current WW champion, Carlos Condit. R1 is a testament to what Rory brings to the table. He ragdolled Diaz with ease. I'm thinking that, because he hasn't fought since August 2011, they're offering him a tune-up fight in the form of Che Mills. I don't think he'll have any trouble taking it. Should he win, he should be only a fight away from either a title shot or a top contender fight.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans - You all know the story: Jones took Evans place against Shogun and won the belt fair and square. Rashad got screwed over, time and time again, for a shot at the belt, first by Rampage then by Machida, and now he finally gets his chance. He has beaten everyone put in front of him in the meanwhile, in clear, decisive fashion, despite getting only finishing Tito Ortiz, who at that point was a gimmie. Bones hasn't been resting on his laurels. He has been defending his belt by crushing his opponents. His victory over Machida was brutal. Hell, even his initial win over Shogun was a complete blowout. He's the real deal and now he faces the only man who knows him a bit more than the others and hates him a whole lot more. I don't want to count out Rashad already but... I think Bones will make an example out of him, kind of what Ali did to Ernie Terrell.