With the addition of 3 newcomers on the undercard, find out if there’s potential betting value on the UFC’s newly acquired talent. See who we are backing with our UFC picks in these exciting matchups.

UFC 143 ON FX: Prelims Part 2

Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks

Ed HermanUndefeated middleweight Clifford Starks will look to push his record to 9-0 against the re-surging Ed Herman on the main card at UFC 143.

His debut with the promotion may have been a bit lackluster, but to his credit he won every round against a legitimate prospect. His stand-up consist of him constantly loading up with his right hand with the occasional counter left on the inside. Outside of the power in Clifford’s right hand, Herman shouldn’t have too much to worry about if this stays on the feet. 

Herman has serviceable wrestling himself but it’s certainly the weakest aspect of his game. Starks has a powerful double and turns the corner fairly quick on his single. The question is whether or not Starks can maintain top position for 3 rounds without being tapped or knocked out.

It’s a tough question to answer considering this is the best wrestler (excluding Simpson) Herman’s faced since joining the UFC. Personally I think his base will prove to bee too solid for Herman to really threaten him off his back. For that reason this is probably one of the fights I’m least looking forward to betting. I might take a look at Starks if he opens at anything over +150, however, I think Herman’s experience and finishing rate are enough to at least make him a marginal favorite here.

UFC Pick: Ed Herman 

Matt "The Immortal" Brown vs. Chris Cope

A pair of lightweights looking to bounce back from their respective loses clash inside the cage when Matt Brown take on former ultimate fighter, Chris Cope.

Fortunately for Brown, his propensity to feed his neck probably won’t be an issue here. This will likely be a 3 round scrap between brown aggressiveness and clinch vs. Copes’ footwork and stick and move boxing approach.

To an extent, Che Mills already set the blueprint for breaking Cope down. Chris was absolutely mauled in the clinch before the ref finally called the bout with 40 seconds left in the round. Mills showed that you have to crowd Cope as much as possible without giving him the space to fire off his combination from the outside, which just so happens to be Brown’s specialty.

I personally question Brown’s head and dedication to the sport at the moment. However I see him being too relentless and experienced for someone like Cope at this stage in his career.

UFC Pick: Matt Brown

Rafael Natal vs. Michael Kuiper

So far, Rafael Natal has failed to live up to his initial hype since entering the UFC in 2010. Through 3 fights he’s 1-1-1 and has shown poor conditioning in at least two of those bouts.

Grappling is the biggest edge either fighter has in this fight, however, I’m not so sure this doesn’t turn into a striking battle for the most part.

Natal’s striking is fairly basic but at the same time surprisingly effective. He has two things that he does really well: stays busy behind a well extended jab and throws heavy inside leg kicks. In fact, Paul Bradley was visibly wincing in the first round after taking a few kicks from Natal. It basically set the tone for the rest of that fight, which Natal convincingly took on the scorecards.

Kuiper comes from a Judo background and bring with him an 11-0 record with 6 knockouts and 4 submissions. He’s shown good hand speed and some decent power in his right hand. He does have a tendency to leave his chin in the air but from what I’ve seen can take good shot.

Natal should tenderize Kuiper’s legs early while carefully avoiding his flurries against the cage. This is another tough fight to call, but just based on their level of opposition I have to add Natal to my UFC picks. Kuiper does appear to have a few legit weapons but I wouldn’t bet on him unless we’re offered UFC odds of +190 or higher.

UFC Pick: Rafael Natal

Dan Stittgen vs. Stephen Thompson

UFC newcomers Dan Stittgen and Stephen Thompson will look to make a lasting impression as they make their promotional debut on the undercard.

The term striker vs. grappler is often overused but that’s exactly what this match-up is.

Thompson comes from a kickboxing/karate background and has put together a 5-0 record consisting of 2 knockouts. From the limited footage I’ve seen he put’s his combinations together nicely and has an arsenal of flashy kicks. Firas Zahabi and GSP seem to be on this kid’s bandwagon so take that for what it’s worth.

Stittgen, meanwhile, looks to be a freakishly strong grappler with an ultra aggressive submission attack. He has good control from both top and bottom and holds 5 submissions on his resume.

I just haven’t seen enough of Thompson’s ground game for me to even consider a UFC betting play on him. Stittgen’s striking is basically non existent but I feel much more comfortable backing his strength and grappling over a few flashy strikes.

UFC Pick: Dan Stittgen