UFC 78 Bloody Elbow Staff Picks

Here's our first ever Bloody Elbow "staff picks" for an event. Luke wrote the text, Brent and I added our picks. Kid Nate

Main Card Bouts:

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT: Rashad Evans (10-0-1) vs. Michael Bisping (14-0)

Bodog Odds: Evans (-300) – Bisping (+200)

Evans: season 2 winner of T.U.F.; dropped from heavyweight to light heavyweight which has improved his speed and stamina greatly; trains with Greg Jackson, GSP, Keith Jardine, Damacio Page, Paul Buentello; former Michigan wrestler; highly athletic and improves rapidly; has shown ability to finish with TKO wins over Jason Lambert and devastating head kick KO over Sean Salmon; very strong, but can be rattled when things don't go his way; recently coming off draw to Tito Oritz at UFC 73.

Bisping: season 3 winner of T.U.F.; top light heavyweight European prospect; good Thai boxing and strikes within the clinch; decent submissions and ability to overwhelm and finish opponents; questionable wrestling as well as a questionable chin; has trained at Big Bear with Rampage, Cheick Kongo, and Brandon Vera; trains at home at the famous Wolfslair Academy with such fighters as Mario Neto, Alex Cook, and Paul Kelly. Holds wins over Elvis Sinosic, Eric Schafer, and Josh Haynes. Coming over VERY controversial decision to season 3 alumnus Matt Hamill; has done well, but Evans should be toughest test both stylistically and based on overall talent level.

Luke's Prediction: Bisping will slightly rise to the occassion here as Rashad has a tendency to be a slow starter. And it's possible Bisping can soften him up enough to lay on a submission later a la Sam Hoger. I doubt that will happen. Aside from submissions Rashad is better at everything else involved in fighting MMA. Evans, TKO round 3.

Brent's Prediction: This is going to be a much better fight than people are expecting.  I think Bisping is getting shortchanged because of a bad fight against Hamill.  Rashad will win the first round but early in the second Bisping will catch him with a flurry causing the ref to step in and stop the fight.  Bisping via TKO - Rd 2.

Kid Nate's Prediction: I'm with Fightlinker on this one -- Rashad is not good enough to be favored by this much, even over a less than overwhelming Bisping. I figure Rashad will in all likelihood get the takedowns and put on a LayNPray clinic but give the Count the proverbial puncher's chance -- except it'll be a knee/elbow combo on a shoot. People are bitching about this fight, and while I agree with Fightlinker that it's not main event worthy, and honestly BOTH of these guys should move down to 185lbs but I still want to see this fight. It's a classic match-up of a wrestler who's added striking skills and a Muy Thai/BJJ style fighter, basically the primordial matchup of true MMA. I pick Rashad by UD but my money's with Bisping and those outrageous odds.

WELTERWEIGHT: Karo Parisyan (17 – 5) vs. Ryo Chonan (14 – 7)

Parisyan: enormously talented UFC veteran and judoka; has arguably has made the best use of his judo out of everyone in MMA; hasn't finished opponents recently, but has shown finishing ability with submissions and GNP; fearless and highly aggressive; trains with Randy Couture; has improved but only adequate striking; has also had cardio issues, but when in shape is all over opponents; holds wins over Nick Thompson, Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, and Drew Fickett. Should be able to control Chonan and use elbows and cage pressure to throw off the Japanese fighter's game.

Chonan: Japanese superstar making octagon debut; trains with Team Quest Temecula; wealth of experience with top-tier fighters; crafty, well rounded and can win with submissions or by TKO; holds incredible finish over Anderson Silva at Pride Shockwave 2004; holds wins over Masanori Suda, Anderson Silva, Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton, and Joey Villasenor. Has been fighting in DEEP recently, so Karo will certainly be a big step up; can be KO'ed, although Karo unlikely to do this; can get overwhelmed with aggressive fighters.

Luke's Prediction: The odds are wildly in Karo's favor which could be trouble. Karo has also assessed Chonan's skillset in the same way he has his previous two opponents. That could be a recipe for disaster. However, Karo's extraordinarily talented and that's enough to carry him through here. Couture will be in his corner ironing out any small deficiencies. Chonan's very hard to put away, so expect another win by Karo...by decision. Unanimous decision.

Brent's Prediction: Chonan is a ballsy guy, and he has solid experience fighting on the big stage.  But Karo is a better all-around fighter.  The judo throws aren't going to be easy to come by, but those haymakers will connect more than a couple times.  Eventually in the 3rd Karo will stop Ryo via TKO.

Kid Nate's Prediction: Again, I agree with Fightlinker -- the odds are just too off on this fight. I'm picking Karo, I'm rooting for Karo, but my money will be with Ryo Chonan in this one. The one thing I haven't seen mentioned about this fight -- Ryo relies a lot on his leg kicks, if he can land them without getting taken down it could be his night. That's a tall order against Karo, I predict Karo by UD.

LIGHTWEIGHT Spencer Fisher (20 – 3) vs. Frankie Edgar (7 – 0)

Fisher: highly regarded UFC vet; member of Miletich Fighting Systems; very well-rounded, aggressive, with exceptional Thai boxing skills from all areas; agile, durable, excellent footwork; has admitted wrestling is his weakness; can win by submission or KO but prefers to stand; has wins over Sam Stout, Matt Wiman, Thiago Silva, Aaron Riley, and Josh Neer. Holds definitive advantage over Edgar on feet.

Edgar: Undefeated fighter who has displayed tremendous skills; collegiate wrestler with excellent takedown defense and ability to stay on top in a scramble; good submission defense; BJJ is not his strong suit, but very has crisp boxing; aggressive and highly athletic; trains with Team Rhino out of Toms River, NJ; holds wins over Mark Bocek, Tyson Griffin (incredible fight), and Deividas Taurosevicius; can rise to the occasion and will have to against the stand-up ability of Fisher.

Luke's Prediction: Edgar's two best wins are over Griffin and Taurosevicius. That proves he's decently well-rounded and has great MMA submission defense. While we know his hands are good, we are sure his wrestling is better. If this fight stays on the feet, Fisher stands his best chance to win. Lucky for Edgar, however, Fisher's weakness is wrestling while is Edgar's strength. Fisher's submissions are good, but they aren't good enough to catch Edgar. I expect the young upstart to grind out a decision. Unanimous decision.

Brent's Prediction: I like Edgar a lot but Spencer will pressure him and eventually start to wear him down.  I'll take Fisher by decision...I'll even go so far as to say he'll win 29-28 on the cards.

Kid Nate's Prediction: I gotta go with Edgar here. Fisher just does NOT have the wrestling to stay on his feet in this one. Fisher has the edge standing but I give him less than a 15% chance to KO Edgar. The "x" factor is Fisher's BJJ skills, we've seen him get submissions off his back before, but we've also seen him go for sloppy heel hooks -- if he does that against Edgar he'll get pounded.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT: Houston Alexander (8 - 1) vs. Thiago Silva (11 – 0)
Alexander: At 35, an older fighter but possess tons of KO power; has KO wins over Keith Jardine and Alessio Sakara; fights very aggressively and is devasting in the clinch with both control and dirty boxing; hugely muscular; still an unknown quantity in that he has yet to go the distance in the big shows; muscularity could be an issue with cardio; lots of unanswered questions about his ground game.

Silva: undefeated BJJ black belt training out of the famed Chute Boxe team in Curitiba, Brazil; cardio has been a bit of an issue, but has good chin, sharp Thai boxing, and an excellent guard for a big man; extremely tough and unafraid to trade; notable wins over Vitor Viana, Dave Dalgliesh; his wrestling won't test Alexander, but his durability might provide trouble.

Luke's Prediction: The ball is in Silva's court. If he's smart and decides to keep away from Alexander, he can win. His goal is to drag Alexander into deep waters where his power and cardio can be diminished. However, if the Chute Boxe fighter decides to throw caution to the wind and beat Alexander at his own game, he will get a very good look at the lights in the Prudential Center. Silva, TKO, round 3.

Brent's Prediction:Houston has been good to me.  Winning me a big ol' pile of cash when I picked him against Jardine.  Alexander has a solid amatuer boxing background and the ability to work the clinch game like a beast.  Silva standing with Alexander will be a mistake.  A mistake that leads to naptime.  We'll see a longer fight for Houston...but with the same result.  Alexander wins by KO in the 2nd.

Kid Nate's Prediction:I'm torn on this one, still having "too good to be true" feelings about Houston Alexander. Thiago was sloppy and unimpressive against Thomas Drwal at UFC 75 but I still am not convinced that he won't be able to hang with Alexander in the clinch. Nevertheless, I'm picking Alexander by KO early, but won't be surprised if Thiago gets the upper hand -- or knee.

MIDDLEWEIGHT Joe Doerksen (39 – 10) vs. Ed Herman (13 – 5)
Doerksen: highly accomplished Canadian veteran; fought in UFC, KOTC, DEEP, IFL, and WEC; has excellent wrestling and a very well-rounded technical skill set; very durable and can win by GNP or submission; has wins over Riki Fukuda, Patrick Cote, Ed Herman, Art Santore, Denis Kang, John Alessio; recently lost to Paulo Filho, but is challenge for any skill set or style at the elite level.

Herman: season 3 finalist on T.U.F.; trains with Team Quest; good wrestling, top control, and can finish opponents with submissions; started off with two losses in the UFC, but has since rebounded with two wins; has notable wins over Dave Menne, Nick Thompson and Brian Ebersole. Already lost to Doerksen who, in my view, can do everything Herman can do, but just a little bit better.

Luke's Prediction: Doerksen is deeply underrated here. He's already defeated Herman and will do so again. Herman is only good at beating UFC-level opponents when he has a skill that's demonstrably better than his opponent's. That's not the case here. Doerksen, submission, round 2.

Brent's Prediction:Doerksen by sub in the late second/early third.  Not a whole lot to say on this fight.

Kid Nate's Prediction: No reason to believe Herman has improved enough to beat Doerksen. Joe by submission. Another step back for the 185lb division cause the journeyman Doerksen is not going to contend in the division.

Read our picks for the preliminary matches in the extended entry.

Preliminary Bouts:

WELTERWEIGHT Thiago Alves (12 – 3) vs. Chris Lytle (24 - 14 – 5)
Alves: dynamic welterweight and experienced UFC veteran fighting with American Top Team; ultra athletic and very well-rounded; has KO power and can finish opponents with submissions; riding a 3-fight win streak most recently beating Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC Fight Night 11 by TKO in the second round. Likes to pressure opponents, but tends to wilt under similar aggression. Only two losses in the octagon are to Spencer Fisher and Jon Fitch. Holds wins over John Alessio, Tony DeSouza, Derrick Noble, Ansar Chalangov, and Marcus Davis.

Lytle: Also an experienced UFC vet, season 4 finalist on T.U.F.; very well-rounded and highly ranked professional boxer; very difficult to finish, has excellent hands, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu; not a world beater, but certainly a gate keeper; more of a counterfighter. Recently won over Matt Brown at United Fight League. Provides an excellent style contrast for Thiago, although Alves's athleticism could pose a problem provided his cardio is consistent in all three rounds.

Luke's Prediction: The difference maker here is that Lytle is a counterfighter and Alves responds well when we can set the pace. His athleticism and well-roundedness aren't anything Lytle hasn't seen before, but they are enough of a force to keep Lytle from finding any advantage. Alves, unanimous decision.

Brent's Prediction:If Alves decides that he wants to stand with Lytle I think Chris can pull off a decision win.  Chris' boxing skills are solid enough that he should be able to dictate tempo on the feet.  Should is the key word as how often does Lytle deliver on what his ability says he can?  I'm going to stick with my gut and call Lytle by decision.

Kid Nate's Prediction:Alves has been on fire since coming back from his suspension. The leg kicks he battered Kuniyoshi Hironaka with at Fight Night 11 were horrific. I don't think Lytle has an answer to that on his feet nor does he have the wrestling to smother Alves, which is the only way to beat him.

WELTERWEIGHT Akihiro Gono (27 - 12 – 7) vs. Tamdan McCrory (8-0)
Gono: Japanese MMA superstar making the cut to welterweight; wealth of international experience (Pride, Shooto, Pancrase, Deep) and has been fighting since 1994; ground skills are not overwhelming but very good and unorthodox on the feet; has notable wins over Ivan Salaverry, Masanori Suda, Nilson de Castro, Gerard Mousasi, and most recently, Yuki Kondo. Notably, he hasn't fought in almost a year and this is his octagon debut.

McCrory: UFC vet with triangle choke win over Pete Spratt; has only been fighting and training a year and a half; fights with ferocious intensity out of Team Bomb Squad in New York State; lanky for his weight and very well-rounded; tons of confidence, but lacks experience although has shown composure under fire.

Luke's Prediction: Gono was fighting high level NHB and MMA in 1994. That would put McCrory in kindergarten. McCrory will not lay down for Gono as the young up-start has yet to learned the meaning of fear. But Gono is too much. McCrory's only been training for a little over a year. Despite McCrory's reach advantage, he doesn't have enough of a skill set to stop a seasoned veteran with excellent kickboxing and good physicality. Gono, TKO, round 2.

Brent's Prediction: I'm going upset here and taking McCrory.  I figure he'll be able to pick Gono apart on the feet and he can hang on the ground well enough to get the fight back to standing and continue to use long strikes en route to a tight decision victory.

Kid Nate's Prediction: McCrory was VERY unimpressive against the one-dimensional Pete Spratt in his last fight. I predict Gono takes him into deep waters and batters him for a UD.

LIGHTWEIGHT Marcus Aurelio (14 – 5) vs. Luke Caudillo (13 – 8)
Aurelio: Pride veteran who trains with American Top Team. Excellent BJJ, but recently suffered a loss to Clay Guida at UFC 74. Was on top of the world with a submission win over Takanori Gomi at Pride Bushido 10, but has been on a 3-fight skid with losses to Mitsuhiro Ishida, Gomi in a rematch, and as aforementioned, Guida.

Caudillo: Decent tier-two lightweight, but of his 8 losses, 6 are by submission (particularly the guillotine choke). He's got decent KO power, but lost his UFC debut to Nate Mohr at UFC Fight Night 10. Mohr is heavy-handed and well-rounded, so its safe to say Caudillo is durable, but you have to think the UFC set this up for Aurelio's benefit.

Luke's Prediction: Caudillo has trouble with submission fighters. Aureilo - even though he's on a slide with losses to Ishida, Gomi, and Guida - is a submission specialist. Easy math here. Aureilo, submission, round 1.

Brent's Prediction: Aurelio by sub in the first.  Caudillo seems like more or less a hand picked opponent for Marcus.  He is able to be submitted and Aurelio is able to do the submitting.

Kid Nate's Prediction:Aurelio by whatever he feels like.

LIGHTWEIGHT Joe Lauzon (15-3) vs. Jason Reinhardt (18 – 0)
Lauzon: semi-finalist on Season 5 of T.U.F.; KO'ed former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver in the first round in his UFC debut at 63; aggressive grappler and wrestler with good leglocks; devastating ground and pound; excellent cardio condition; recently relocated to Hilo, Hawaii to train with the legendary B.J. Penn; doesn't succumb to pressure and with BJ's coaching and training, should be a stiff test for anyone in the weight class.

Reinhardt: Older, but undefeated fighter training with Miletich Fighting Systems; KOTC veteran who tends to favor the submissions; has good technique, but I don't believe possesses KO power; making his octagon debut. Huge test for Reinhardt in not only making his debut but against tough competition that's hometown will likely be represented. The quality of his opposition is also an issue.

Luke's Prediction: this one is going to be ugly. Reinhardt is too small, is making his UFC debut in Lauzon's semi-backyard, and hasn't faced anyone of the caliber of Lauzon. Lauzon, by contrast, is an aggressive grappler intimidated by no one who has been polishing his skill set with BJ Penn. Lauzon, TKO, round 1.

Brent's Prediction: I'll take Lauzon, probably by submission in the 2nd round.  Reinhardt is a stud and can be a force in the division but give me Joe and his "big fight" experience.

Kid Nate's Prediction: I gotta go with Lauzon and his 30 pound size advantage. Not to mention the 10+ years younger. Or the Octagon experience. As a 38 year old myself, I will be pretty stoked if Reinhardt pulls off an upset though.

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