A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC on Fox 26 on Saturday at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with picks from the Review-Journal’s Adam Hill and Heidi Fang:
Robbie Lawler (28-11, 1 No Contest) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (27-9)
Line: Dos Anjos -125
Storyline: A matchup of former champions, though dos Anjos held his belt at lightweight. He has won both fights since moving up to 170 pounds and says he feels much better without the brutal weight cut. One of the best illustrations of just how much weight he was cutting is that dos Anjos really won’t be at too much of a size disadvantage in this fight. The bigger issue for him is that he has become far too willing to engage in a brawl. That’s never a good idea with Lawler. The former welterweight champion has proven the ability to take a shot and his power may be too much for dos Anjos if this devolves into a face-punching contest.
Hill’s Pick: Lawler by third-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Lawler by fourth-round knockout
Ricardo Lamas (25-3) vs. Josh Emmett (11-1)
Line: Lamas -275
Storyline: Lamas signed up for this fight when he thought he was going to fight former champ Jose Aldo for the opportunity to leap into title contention. Aldo was pulled from the event when featherweight champ Max Holloway needed an opponent earlier this month because of an injury to top contender Frankie Edgar. While Emmett is a tough opponent and poses some problems to Lamas, there could be a question of motivation in a fight that doesn’t have near the title implications Lamas is a veteran, however, and he’s worked too hard to get back to this point to suffer a letdown now. Emmett showed resolve in bouncing back from his first career loss to get back in the win column last time out. This may just be too big a step up in competition at this point in his career.
Hill’s Pick: Lamas by decision
Fang’s Pick: Emmett by decision
Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1)
Line: Ponzinibbio -175
Storyline: There’s a reason this fight was booked for a network television main card. This is going to be an entertaining brawl for as long as it lasts. Neither guy is going to back away from the pocket and they both have exceptional power. That could mean there is great value in the underdog because it really just comes down to whose chin holds up better. Ponzinibbio is probably a justifiable favorite here, however, as he is the better technical striker and does have the option of going to the ground where his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu signifies his superiority on the mat. Perry’s power is legit, though.
Hill’s Pick: Ponzinibbio by third-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Perry by second-round knockout
Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. Misha Cirkunov (13-3)
Class: Light heavyweight
Line: Cirkunov -160
Storyline: Cirkunov appeared destined for stardom in a 205-pound division before he was derailed by the fists of Volkan Oezdemir when he was knocked out in just 28 seconds back in May to end an eight-fight winning streak. He’s still an immense talent, but this fight against a perennial contender will gauge his confidence and ability to handle adversity. Cirkunov has power and a vicious submission game. Teixeira is solid in all aspects, but is slipping a bit after enduring a lot of wars in the cage.
Hill’s Pick: Cirkunov by second-round knockout
Fang’s Pick: Teixeira by third-round knockout