UFC 201 Observer Panel Picks: Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley

Sandwiched in between two of the biggest shows of the year in UFC 200 and UFC 202 is this Saturday’s PPV show. While it isn’t likely to break any box office records, there are still plenty of action packed fights and with Robbie Lawler defending his title in the main event, there’s a better than even money chance that we will have a fight of the year candidate.

Strawweights have a big stage as Thug Rose takes on Double K in the co-main and the Immortal Matt Brown tries to make his stake to a title shot as he goes up against The Juggernaut, Jake Ellenberger, who may be fighting for his career.

Our panel weighs in with their picks for these fights and a couple more here.

Here’s our panel with the 2016 records in parenthesis. We’ve also added a running tally of the records of the favorites going into the fights and the panel consensus picks

Josh Nason (49-31; .613) – Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out; writer/editor WrestlingObserver.com, WON Twitter guy
John Pollock (49-31; .613) – Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
David Bixenspan (48-32; .600) – Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
Ryan Frederick (47-33; .588) – WrestlingObserver.com UFC reporter, WON Twitter guy
Consensus picks (39-30; .565)
Dave Meltzer (45-35; .563)– Wrestling Observer founder
Favorites (45-35; .563)
Mike Sempervive (44-36; .550) – Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
Front Row Brian (44-36; .560) – MMA newsbreaker, Beloved internet personality, Podcast host
Mike Sawyer (43-37; .538) – Tough Talk MMA
Steve Juon (43-37; .538) – MMA Mania/Wrestling Observer writer. Angry Marks founder
Paul Fontaine (41-39; .513) – MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer

Main Event for the UFC Welterweight Championship:

Champion Robbie Lawler (27-10) vs Tyron Woodley

Woodley has been waiting for this title shot since he scored a split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in January 2015. Robbie Lawler had just won his title the previous month and has since defended it twice, both in amazing fights with Rory McDonald and former interim champion Carlos Condit.

The winner of this fight will probably have to face the Wonderboy Steven Thompson next.

Lawler (small favorite) – Juon, Frederick, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer

Woodley – FRB, Sawyer, Fontaine

Rose Namajunas (5-2) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (9-0)

STRAWWEIGHTS

When the planned Demetrious Johnson title defense fell apart due to a training injury suffered by the champion, this fight was bumped up to the co-main. It’s a lofty position for a strawweight fight that is not for a title but the stakes are big as the winner is likely to face Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title later this year.

Namajunas has won 3 straight since fighting for the title at the TUF 20 finale in December 2014. Kowalkiewicz is unbeaten as a pro, including both of her UFC fights.  

Namajunas (moderate favorite) – Juon, Frederick, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Sempervive, Meltzer

Kowalkiewicz – Fontaine, Bix

Matt Brown (20-14) vs Jake Ellenberger (30-11)

 WELTERWEIGHTS

Two UFC veterans that have each fought over 15 times in the Octagon do battle here.

Matt Brown almost always has great fights and he’s trying to work his way into title contention. At 36 years old, he may never get closer than a couple of years ago when he fought Robbie Lawler in a FOX main event. Lawler won that fight to get the title shot and subsequently won the title.

Ellenberger seems to be just hanging on at this point. He’s lost 5 of his last 6 fights and was stopped in 3 of those fights. The only win came against Josh Koscheck, who is no longer even with UFC.

Brown (big favorite) – Juon, Frederick, FRB, Sawyer, Fontaine, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer

Ryan Benoit (8-4) vs Fredy Serrano (3-0)

FLYWEIGHTS

This fight was bumped up to the main card after the Ian McCall-Justin Scoggins fight fell apart due to weight-cutting issues on the part of Scoggins. Both of these guys are finishers, which is rare for the flyweight division.

Benoit is 2-2 in UFC and has KO’s in both of his wins. He’s been submitted in both of his losses. Serrano has scored KO wins in both of his official UFC fights, although he did lose a decision in the TUF Latin America tournament in what was officially an exhibition fight.

This is a coin flip as far as betting as Benoit is even money while Serrano is a -106 favorite.

Benoit – Juon, Sawyer

Serrano (very slight favorite) – Frederick, FRB, Fontaine, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer

Jorge Masvidal (29-11) vs Ross Pearson (19-11)

WELTERWEIGHTS

These two former lightweights square off at a higher weight class. Pearson is back just three weeks after losing a decision to the debuting Will Brooks at 155 and will fight at welterweight for the first time in his career.

Masvidal has lost his last two fights and is now 1-2 at 170 after competing for most of his career at lightweight. Neither guy will ever contend for a title but this should be an entertaining fight and will most likely go to a decision. It’s notable that Masvial’s last 3 losses have all been by split decision.

Masvidal (big favorite) – Juon, Frederick, FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Sempervive, Meltzer

Pearson – Fontaine

Action begins with the Fight Pass Prelims at 7:00 pm eastern and moves over to FS 1 for that portion of the prelims at 8 pm. Dave Meltzer will have running play by play of the fights

While you’re waiting, check out the following content, also related to the show:

DFS playbook – Who to  pick, who to avoid

UFC 201 discussion on the Board, including Ryan Frederick’s extensive preview of the card, along with fighter notes

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