Even though Aldo had to pull out due to a fractured rib, this should still be a pretty good PPV. Here are my predictions for each match:
Pickett vs. Almeida: I love the British, so I will be rooting for Pickett. Unfortunately, Pickett is 36 years old, and fighters of that age tend to become shark meat for younger, hungrier fighters like Almeida. I see Almeida giving this veteran his first KO loss in the UFC.
Winner: Thomas Almeida
Nelson vs. Thatch: After Thatch got finished by Benson Henderson (who's a lightweight, by the way), I am very comfortable picking Nelson for this one. I see a submission by Nelson in Round 2 at the latest.
Winner: Gunnar Nelson
Bermudez vs. Stephens: This is a no-brainer. Dennis "The Menace" was the first man to ever finish Clay Guida in the octagon and was on a 7-fight tear before experiencing his first setback against the monster known as Ricardo Lamas. Bermudez will crush Stephens via submission late in Round 1.
Winner: Dennis Bermudez.
Lawler vs. MacDonald II: I personally believe this will be the fight of the night, and whoever wins depends on MacDonald's strategy. If MacDonald plays it too safe, Lawler will storm him out of the gate and pull another upset like he did in their last fight. However, if MacDonald combines his technical finesse with the "Canadian Psycho" tenacity that he used to squish Che Mills, then I see him dominating Lawler for five rounds en route to finally becoming the king of the welterweight division. Personally, I think the latter will happen and that "Red King" will finally rule in place of his mentor, Georges St-Pierre.
Winner: Rory MacDonald
Mendes vs. McGregor: I am a huge McGregor fan. He is basically an Irish ninja version of Muhammad Ali. That being said, although his striking is off the charts, his takedown defense is suspect. Dennis Siver was able to put him on his back with relative ease, although he had no idea what to do with McGregor once that happened (hence the thrashing that the German striker received afterwards). Mendes won't have that problem, so I see "Money" grinding out a five-round decision en route to becoming the interim featherweight champion.
Winner: Chad Mendes.