It’s that time again. The UFC’s first show of 2017 lands in Phoenix, Arizona headlined by the returning B.J. Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez. As a new year begins, we officially start taking tally, so here are Team Plus’ predictions for the UFC Phoenix main card.

UFC Phoenix Main Card Picks (2017, Event 1)

B.J. Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez

Rob: B.J. Penn, in my opinion is a pound-for-pound great, but after two years out of action I think his time competing at the pinnacle of the sport has come to an end. I think this fight will be a passing of the torch as I think Rodriguez will have too much for him and will earn a decision win.

Rodriguez by Decision

Andreas: There’s a massive love affair surrounding Penn’s return to the Octagon at UFC Phoenix but I do not see any way on earth how he gets passed the younger, more dynamic Rodriguez.

The former two-weight champion is rocking a three-fight losing streak – albeit against top competition – but if anything was made clear from those bouts is that Penn doesn’t have the gas tank anymore for this level of competition.

“El Pantera” should pick him apart; in a similar way to Rory MacDonald, and get the finish. Likely ending the legend’s time as an active fighter.

Rodriguez by KO/TKO

Seán: B.J. Penn is one of the true greats of MMA, but he’s 38-years-old. Yair Rodriguez is 24. Some spinning sh-t is going to come out at UFC Phoenix and B.J. will be put away very early.

Rodriguez by KO/TKO

Stuart: People expect Yair to slay B.J. on the feet however Yair has only finished one of his fights and unless he hits you with something spectacular, it’s good. Penn had great boxing for his day but its ‘Old School vs. New School’ and we’ve seen the evolution of the sport leave many behind. Penn will be next to come to that realization.

Rodriguez by Decision

Stephen: The main event see’s the old guard vs. the new blood in B.J. Penn vs Yair Rodriguez. Penn holds great boxing skills and head movement but the up and coming star Rodriguez is a great striker and I believe will prove to be too diverse and active for the former champion.

Rodriguez by KO/TKO

Joe Lauzon vs. Marcin Held

Rob: I just think Lauzon wins this where ever he wants. I think he will be able to counter the Polish fighter’s ground game and outstrike him and get the finish on the ground and standing. But I’m going for Lauzon by 2nd round stoppage at UFC Phoenix.

Lauzon by KO/TKO

Andreas: Forget rankings, forget titles, when Lauzon fights you know it’s going to be entertaining as J-Lo looks to secure his 16th post-fight UFC bonus.

There was a lot of hype for Held’s UFC debut after a decent stint in Bellator, but fighting against Diego Sanchez his gas tank and striking got exposed. Lauzon is a machine and he could probably go for five rounds.

Both guys are very credible grapplers but I’m picking Lauzon to get the win on the feet, in what I believe is Held’s weakest area.

Lauzon by TKO/KO

Seán: This is a fun fight because Joe Lauzon always brings it. I had my doubts about Held when he came into the UFC which were cemented when he was beaten soundly by Sanchez. Lauzon probably won’t finish him, but I can see it being a sound 30-27 on all counts.

Lauzon by Decision

Stuart: I like Held to bounce back from his debut defeat. Lauzon is a great entertainer but average fighter and his black belt BJJ skills are canceled out by the Pol’s own impressive grappling resume.

Held by Submission

Stephen: Joe Lauzon vs Marcin Held is an exciting fight. Longtime UFC fighter Lauzon has been around the block in comparison to newly debutant Held who was involved in an exciting fight with Sanchez. Both fighters share similarities but I think experience will help guide Lauzon to victory.

Lauzon by Decision

Court McGee vs Ben Saunders

Rob: I’m a big Saunders fan. I like how he uses his offensive Jiu Jitsu and how he uses the height and reach advantage to overpower the majority of his opponents during the majority of his career. That being said he tends to struggle against wrestlers and I have a feeling that McGee will be able to take him to the canvas and grind out a decision or late stoppage.

McGee by Decision

Andreas: Two fighters who have always struggled with momentum throughout their careers, I’m certainly not expecting a pretty fight from Court McGee and Ben Saunders.

Both similar in styles, I expect the majority of this to take place on the ground. Saunders is the better of the pair when it comes to attacking submissions but McGee is the more coveted grappler. As Saunders tires, McGee should be able to take control and see the win out.

McGee by Decision

Seán: Nobody at Team Plus is giving my boy “Killa B” a chance in this fight. I, however, have seen the light. McGee will look for the takedown, but Saunders loves his offensive jits so I’m going with maybe a triangle in the second?

Saunders by Submission

Stuart: Saunders has always been troubled by the kind of wrestle-brawl style McGee brings to the table. However with Saunders strong BJJ ability, McGee could find himself in trouble in his guard.

McGee by Decision

Stephen: Court McGee meets Ben Saunders in what will be a competitive Welterweight bout. McGee’s style of fighting may give Saunders some problems, he possess good boxing skills and knows how to grind out a fight which is how I see the fight panning out.

McGee by Decision

John Moraga vs. Sergio Pettis

Rob: I think Moraga is too seasoned for Pettis and I think he will be able to negate his striking and drag him into deep waters on the ground and get a late stoppage.

Moraga by KO/TKO

Andreas: Having finally recovered from the hindering hype train from early on in his UFC career, Sergio Pettis should capture the win over perennial Flyweight John Moraga in Phoenix.

I expect Pettis to fight with caution, we’ve seen in fights against Alex Careers and Ryan Benoit how his eagerness to engage has led to tough losses. His style suits this fight and he should be able to pick a very credible Moraga apart for the decision nod.

Pettis by Decision

Seán: Pettis needs a big win and Moraga can give him that. It’s a relatively small card so the pressure isn’t as high as it could be and that will help Pettis. It should be a cracker, but I see him getting it done inside the distance.

Pettis by KO/TKO

Stuart: Pettis has never lived up to his early promise or expectations looking underwhelming in his recent fights and Moraga is a top 10 fighter and comes from Phoenix, Arizona so I like Moraga in his backyard.

Moraga by Decision

Who will take the early lead on the Team Plus 2017 UFC Picks leaderboard? Find out at UFC Phoenix, Sunday night on BT Sport 2.