UFC On Fuel 2 Fight Card Staff Predictions

via cdn0.sbnation.com

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva

Brent Brookhouse: Anton nails it in the pick below mine. Silva has monster power, but he's wild and that leaves openings for opponents. Gustafsson is patient, good at picking his spots and makes people pay for their mistakes. This is a legitimately tough fight for Alexander, but it's a test he should pass. The future champ gets a big win on Saturday. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: For some reason, people seem to overrate Thiago Silva's striking skills. He has power, but he is definitely not as technical as people think he is, and he tends to get hit a lot. Vera, Jardine, and even Houston and Drwal were all able to land several shots, before Silva managed to overwhelm them on the ground, or land that big power shot to pull off a victory. It's a different story on the ground, but if this stays standing, and I expect it to be, Gustafsson will take this fight easily. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO.

T.P. Grant: Gustafsson is a great prospect in a division that needs young talent badly. Jon Jones has somewhat ruined fans expectations for development of a prospect, and Gustafsson still needs times to round out his skill set. While he is coming along, he is still a step behind Phil Davis, mostly in the grappling realm. That said, Gustafsson is on the level with most of the contenders at 205. Silva is also a prospect but back and drug problems have lowered his ceiling a bit. His striking, while powerful, is not on the level of Gustafsson's but Silva does have very strong grappling. That is Silva's path to victory, but I don't know if he will be able to close the distance. Silva's huge layoff for a urine test violation tips my scales in favor of the Mauler. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO, Round 2.

Tim Burke: I've been trying to find a way that Silva can win this, and I'm coming up with very little. His grappling is very good, but Gustafsson has criminally underrated wrestling. Silva has power, but Mauler plays the outside game really well. The only issue I see is that Gustafsson lacks the power to put away Silva, and it will be pretty damn hard to submit him. So, despite all the finishes on Alex's record, I'm thinking this goes the distance. Alexander Gustafsson by decision.

David Castillo: I have to admit to being moderately impressed by Silva's handling of Vera. Sure, Vera is a complete underachiever, and really just not a good fighter in general, but he rarely gets embarrassed, and watching Silva handle him in the clinch where Brandon is quite respectable was pretty impressive, to be honest. I think it's the perfect fight for Alexander in that if he wins, it means he's ready for an upper level fighter. If he loses, I think he'll learn from it. Alexander should get his shots in, but I don't know that he has the power to put Silva away, although he should be able to avoid being punished. I see this fight going the distance with a lot of clinchwork, but I believer Alexander is more durable, which will net him the win. Alexander Gustafsson by decision.

Ben Thapa: Upset special! Forget the cage rust here. Thiago was never much for exquisite timing or great movement. Where Thiago excels is in the application of brute force from close range, either through strikes or in his grappling. That's not a skill that drops off too much during a long lay off. Add into that my belief that the rangy Gustafsson hasn't the strength and footwork to push him off or ward him off. Murderface, decision.

Dallas Winston: I like Thiago because he's a grouchy Sith Lord. Let's not forget this is an ATT bruiser with a BJJ black belt who nearly finished Rashad and has only been stopped by a prime Machida -- I'd say he's definitely an A-level fighter. I don't put a lot of emphasis on ring-rust, especially if it's not due to injury, but 1.5 years is a steep layoff. Gustafsson is one of the rare few who comes close to simulating Jon Jones' cartoonish proportions in height and length, and he's learned to employ those traits well by sniping long, hard punches from way outside. I agree with Castillo that the way Silva handled Vera in the clinch was borderline amazing because Vera held his own in a 3-round clinch war with Couture. Gustafsson will own things on the fringe but the question is how long he can keep it there. I can see Silva leeching onto his back in a tie-up and getting the sub, but it's more likely that Gustafsson will pot-shot him on the way in. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO.

Staff picking Gustafsson: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Tim, David, Fraser, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Silva: Thapa

Alessio Sakara vs. Brian Stann

Brent Brookhouse: Sakara is tough, Stann's power is overrated (but much better at 185 than 205) so I don't think this is a walkover. The guys who have stopped Sakara in the UFC are Houston Alexander (who, for all his flaws has rare power), Chris Leben (similar to Houston) and Drew McFedries (same as the other two in the "hits REALLY hard" department). In his eight UFC fights Stann has only finished a Leben who looked miserable and the fragile chinned Jorge Santiago. That's not to say that Stann can't get the stoppage, as I said, he has better power at middleweight than he did at light heavyweight. But I think people still think too much of his power based on wrecking middling competition in the WEC. If Sakara weren't very rusty I'd actually like him for the upset. Actually...you know what? Alessio Sakara by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Sakara hasn't fought for over a year now. He may have slightly more technical boxing, but Stann is faster, has more power, and dare I say, more well rounded? Brian Stann by TKO.

T.P. Grant: This seems to be Stann's match to win. Sakara pretty much just boxes in his matches and against Stann that is a big mistake. Stann has big time power and I think he connects hard on Sakara's face at some point. Brian Stann by TKO, Round 1

Tim Burke: I'm not a big fan of Brian Stann and don't think he really hits all that hard, but Sakara is a sitting duck. Stann would have to try pretty hard NOT to knock him out, in my opinion. Brian Stann by TKO, round 2

David Castillo: Sakara has had an interesting career trajectory: first a "blue chip prospect" with a win over Ron Faircloth (I think), then considered a jobber following his loss to Houston Alexander, and now a somewhat respectable middle of the pack middleweight with what I thought was an impressive performance against one of MW's best prospects in Chris Weidman: so I'm tempted to pick Sakara, who showed real spirit and durability. But I won't. Brian Stann by TKO, round 3.

Fraser Coffeen: I would pick Stann in the best of circumstances, but after Sakara has been on the sidelines for a year and is returning from a torn ACL? No brainer here. Brian Stann by TKO, round 2.

Ben Thapa: Thales Leites beat Sakara and got jobbed out of the decision win. Given how cursed the Jorge Rivera fight was and the subsequent injuries, I would not be surprised to see a very rusty Sakara. Stann has to be ticked off after getting blown out of the water by Chael Sonnen and raring to prove that he really does belong in the upper ranks of middleweight. Stann, sub, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Sakara's had such a strange run. Faircloth assailed his manhood in his debut, he was submitted by Lister and everyone was complaining that the match ups didn't allow him to show off his boxing. So they matched him with McFedries and he lost by TKO, though Sakara was handily defeating him before the shadow punch. He also swept Weidman and had a decent showing against the wrestling phenom in retrospect. Oddly enough, I think he's too much of a pure boxer. His combinations are elite but he tends to hunch down in the pocket as a defensive measure and put his melon in the exact same spot. Sakara is a better boxer than Stann yet Stann's boxing is better tailored to MMA. Like Silva vs. Gustafsson, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sakara surprise with a takedown to impose his under-rated ATT black belt game. Sakara will have his moments but I see Stann prevailing. Brian Stann by TKO.

Staff picking Sakara: Brookhouse
Staff picking Stann: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Tim, David, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas

Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Paulo Thiago

Brent Brookhouse: Siyar is too wild on the feet. He's very aggressive and has power but he is so all over the place with his striking that I think it allows Thiago to get the fight to the ground and get the finish. Paulo Thiago by submission, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: Very close fight. Thiago hasn't looked that impressive lately, but he still has faced and beat much stiffer competition than Siyar. Thiago is better on the ground, but if he strikes with Siyar for most of the fight, he will lose this one. Tough fight to call, but I'm picking the guy who has been more active against better competition. Paulo Thiago by Decision.

T.P. Grant: Two very aggressive guys here, should be a great fight. Siyar has some fights against UFC caliber guys, but he has lost the majority of those fights. Siyar is constantly moving forward on the feet and throws heavy artillery from all angles. Thiago has a similar style on the feet, but should have a clear advantage on the ground. If this stays on the feet, I'd give Siyar the edge, but I feel like Thiago will be smart enough to take him down and lock on D'arce choke. Paulo Thiago by Submission, Round 3.

Tim Burke: I don't see this as close at all. If Thiago chooses to stand with Siyar, he's going to get tagged. But he holds an overwhelming advantage in grappling, and he's going to use it. This fight will be going to the floor ASAP, and Siyar will be tapping at some point. I'll go with midway through the fight. War Sam The Eagle! Paulo Thiago by submission, round 2

David Castillo: Paulo Thiago looked terrible against David Mitchell; a fighter that looked like he wanted nothing to do with mixed martial arts in Brazil. Bahadurzada, meanwhile, will get in his face. Siyar's an interesting upset pick, but I'm using submission math on this one: Thiago's chokes > Kazuo Misaki's. Paul Thiago by submission, round 3.

Fraser Coffeen: I've been excited for Siyar's debut for some time now, and while this is a very tough fight for him, I think he has the chops to take it. He has the advantage in the stand-up and I think has enough grappling skills to survive the ground and avoid the takedown. Thiago is super tough, but it's been quite some time since he looked really impressive. Siyar Bahadurzada by decision

Ben Thapa: I very much like Sam the BOPEagle's willingness to take on the very best at welterweight. Thiago threw Mitchell all over the cage last time out, but couldn't quite get the submission in front of the wonderful Brazilian crowd. I think he gets it here, despite Siyar's artillery and lovable insanity. It would be wonderful to see Thiago back in the top echelons again with his hard-beaked intensity. Thiago, submission, Round 1..

Dallas Winston: The interesting aspect of this match up is that almost all of Thiago's key opponents were grapplers who wanted to avoid his stand up and take him down. The best striker he's faced is Martin Kampmann ... who won by avoiding his stand up and taking him down. Mitchell is a stellar sub-grappler with weak stand up, so I thought Thiago executed a smart strategy in that fight. Striking-wise, this should be a slobberknocker. Siyar hurls nonstop home-run shots while Thiago awaits an opening and slings 3-piece meathooks. Neither are known for takedowns but Thiago's Judo gives him a fortified clinch. The option of threatening with takedowns and attacking the neck with subs from the front headlock should be too many weapons in Thiago's arsenal. Paulo Thiago by D'arce choke.

Staff picking Bahadurzada: Stephie, Fraser
Staff picking Thiago: Anton, Grant, Tim, David, Thapa, Thiago, Brookhouse

Diego Nunes vs. Dennis Siver

Brent Brookhouse: I thought Siver looked "off" on his way to the scales earlier today and then he was a little overweight. I don't like the aggressive Nunes as a fight for a guy who is testing out a new weight and missed on his first trip to the scales. Diego Nunes by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Nunes will strike with Siver, and that will be his downfall. Dennis Siver by late TKO.

T.P. Grant: I'm not a huge fan of Siver dropping to Featherweight. If he feels the weight cut won't affect him too negatively then I'll trust him this time around. Siver will clearly be the bigger and stronger fighter, Nunes won't be able to take Siver down and on the feet Siver should have an advantage. Nunes' path to victory would be dragging Siver into deep waters, but I think Siver will be too far ahead by then. Dennis Siver by Decision.

Tim Burke: I think Nunes will be able to take Siver down, and he can hang on the feet too. He holds the cardio advantage as well. I initially thought Nunes would get the sub finish, but he hasn't shown a lot of desperation in the UFC/WEC. I'll stick to the safe side and pick him to go the distance. Diego Nunes by decision

David Castillo: Siver had a nice run, but he's been embarrassed before, and I don't expect a seasoned striker like Nunes to fall for Siver's tricks. Diego has better fundamentals, is faster, and that will be the deciding factor over the course of three rounds. Diego Nunes by decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I'm in the camp that sees this cut as being too much for Siver. I think he's going to be really tired and drawn out here, and while he may have some early success, Nunes will push the pace, stay more active, and simply outwork him over 15 minutes. Siver's run was fun, but it's over. Diego Nunes by decision

Ben Thapa: Kick-fest! Nunes sets his kicks up slightly better and is more mobile than the larger Siver. I do not see either fighter going down here and thus pick the man who's fought three hard rounds at 145 several times before. Nunes, decision.

Dallas Winston: As mentioned in the Dissection, I'm not into Siver's cut either. It seems more like the chance to get a fresh start than a calculated decision. He was already a goliath in the clinch and with takedown defense at lightweight and relied heavily on quickness to plug in counters. Actually, I see this playing out a lot like Nunes vs. Gamburyan where Siver will be trying to behead Nunes with sledgehammers while Nunes flits in and out with a smattering of kicks. Speed kills and Nunes is one of the fleetest featherweights. I like him taking a decision unless he's foolish enough to lock horns straight on. Diego Nunes by decision.

Staff picking Nunes: Stephie, Tim, David, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Siver: Anton, Grant

DaMarques Johnson vs. John Maguire

Brent Brookhouse: Johnson isn't good enough at any one thing and has too many flaws. John Maguire by decision.

T.P. Grant: An interesting match up, Maguire is a domestic champion in England before coming the UFC and is a very strong submission grappler. While no formal BJJ training, Maguire knows what he is doing on the mats with size and strength to boot. Johnson on the other hand I feel is a little more technical on the mats and little better on the feet. I feel like Johnson will walk away a winner from this one, but it will likely be close unless Maguire makes a big mistake. DaMarques Johnson by Decision.

Tim Burke: I liked what I saw from Maguire in the Edwards fight, he was quite a surprise. Johnson is a step up from Justin Edwards, but I think he can handle it. John Maguire by submission, round 2

David Castillo: Tough pick, but Johnson is still too reckless for my liking, and be it on the feet or on the ground, I suspect Maguire will remain composed, and will capitalize on the mistakes DaMarques is prone to. John Maguire by submission, round 1.

Ben Thapa: I think DaMarques catches Maguire with something early on and then finishes the fight. This is otherwise a coin-flip fight.

Dallas Winston: I guess I wasn't as impressed with Maguire's debut. He got floored by Edwards early and came back with crafty clinch-work and grappling transitions but couldn't get the finish. While his clinch durability isn't as good, Johnson is on another level with his speed and striking and is probably just as good of a scrambler as Edwards. DaMarques Johnson by TKO.

Staff picking Johnson: Anton, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Maguire: Stephie, Tim, David, Fraser, Brookhouse

Damacio Page vs. Brad Pickett

Brent Brookhouse: Great, great, great fight. Page is a wrecking ball when he's on and Pickett has proven to be one of the better guys at the weight. I think Pickett is simply better and that makes him the pick. Brad Pickett by submission, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: Pikey! Brad Pickett by TKO

T.P. Grant: I'm a big fan of Pickett, both as a video game nerd, as Pickett is a big gamer, and as a fight fan. Page is no joke, but I think Pickett is a developmental step ahead of Page, who relies heavily on his striking. As long as Pickett avoids getting drawn into a brawl, I think he has a good chance of exploiting Page's less than stellar grappling. Brad Pickett by Submission, Round 2.

Tim Burke: I'll never forget The Angel of Death nearly killing Marcos Galvao in the WEC. That was scary as hell. I actually think Page's grappling is a little underrated as well (he beat Scotty Jorgensen back in the day and mounted Demetrious Johnson in their bout), but Pickett is just a beast of a bantamweight. He can grapple, hits hard, and fights smart. This is closer than it appears to me, and could be fight of the night. Gotta lean Brit though. Brad Pickett by decision

David Castillo: Awesome fight. Pickett is the more polished fighter, and can match Page's aggression, but he shouldn't do against Damacio what he did against Barao: which was swing for a fence in every direction. Brad is better when he's more composed, and I suspect he will after such a tough loss in front of his home crowd. Brad Pickett by submission, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: This should be fun, but Page is built to lose fights like this. He's a fun fighter, but just a step below Pickett in pretty much every area. My only question is how does Pickett finish him off? Brad Pickett by submission, round 1

Ben Thapa: Page is a class act and comes with righteous fury each time out. It's been quite a while since he had a true training camp without injury and I suspect that he will not gas out like he did against Demetrious Johnson. However, Pickett is terrific in firefights - his battle with Ivan Menjivar was one of the uncut gems of 2010. The Barao knockout was bad, but Renan is a special talent. I pick Pickett to get back on the horse in a big way in a Fight of the Night. Pickett, KO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: BE comment junkie "wonderfulspam" helped to elicit a pretty clear path to victory for Pickett. He excels with launching for well-timed takedowns after he's mesmerized his opponent into trading and Damacio has been quite prone to submissions, particularly guillotines. Brad Pickett by guillotine choke.

Staff picking Page:
Staff picking Pickett: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Tim, David, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse

Papy Abedi vs. James Head

Brent Brookhouse: This card is built on really good fights that are going to test both men, and this is another one of those bouts. Abedi took an incredibly risky first UFC fight and handled himself well. Head is decent and may even be built to beat better fighters by way of takedown/control. I think Abedi is a bit too strong and he is built to keep fights like this on the feet and do damage. Papy Abedi by TKO, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: Abedi was super entertaining in his loss to Alves, while Head was massively forgettable against Nick Ring. Thus, I want Abedi to win and stick around. And if he makes this a striking battle, I suspect he will win. But I think this will go to the ground, where the stronger Head will be able to control things. Sorry Papy. James Head via decision.

T.P. Grant: Abedi is a pretty legit prospect at welterweight and he took a huge risk in fighting Thiago Alves in his first UFC fight. That risk did not pay off, but he is still a blue chip prospect. He has very good striking and is insanely strong in the clinch by way of a Judo background. While not great from off his back, I don't think Head is the guy to out grapple Abedi. Papy Abedi by Decision.

Tim Burke: James is in over his Head here. Papy Abedi by TKO, round 2.

David Castillo: I'm not that high on Abedi as others. After all, Thiago Alves continues to underperform. But he did show me enough on that bout to think he's the better fighter than James Head. Papy Abedi by TKO, round 2.

Ben Thapa: Close fight here. I pick Makambo for his takedown defense and offensive striking. Head is going to have to pick his spots carefully or overwhelm Abedi to get those defenses to fall. That's difficult for Head to do at this stage in his career, despite his obvious talents. Abedi, decision.

Dallas Winston: "Aye" Papi was out-striking Alves, which is a rare honor. Head is a stellar new prospect with high-level boxing and a freakish gravitation to sub-grappling. His boxing is tighter and cleaner and he's the smoother submission fighter, but Abedi puts a little more mustard on his punches and he's an animal in the clinch. I think he's in trouble if Head can engage him on the mat, but is James really in over his head? Abedi on it. *canned laughter* (The reserve option was "Abedi believe it.") Papy Abedi by decision.

Staff picking Abedi: Stephie, Anton, Grant, Tim, David, Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Head: Fraser

Tom DeBlass vs. Cyrille Diabate

Brent Brookhouse: What a drag this fight will be. DeBlass is at an extreme height disadvantage, but I think he can still get in, get the takedown and submit Diabate with disappointingly little resistance. Tom DeBlass by submission, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: The striking fan in me demands that I like Diabate, and I do. But like many strikers, he has the fatal flaw of a really underdeveloped ground game. As for DeBlass? He's a Ricardo Almeida trainee, which tells you pretty much how this one is going to play out. Tom DeBlass by submission, round 1

T.P. Grant: The Snake is a dangerous striker no doubts, Diabate is very accomplished in Muay Thai. While DeBlass is coming in on short notice, he is a stylistic nightmare for Diabate. A very season grappler, DeBlass trains under Ricardo Alemida, and while DeBlass isn't a world beater, he has competed on the international stage of submission grappling. He has more than enough grappling skill to take Diabate down and control him. Tom DeBlass by Decision.

Tim Burke: Grant nailed it - DeBlass is a terrible fight for Diabate. He can hang on the feet long enough to get the fight to the floor, and once it's there it's night night for the Frenchman. Tom DeBlass by submission, round 1

David Castillo: Even in his "heyday" (which consists of landing a good strike here and there against Shogun before getting destroyed), I was never impressed with Diabate. He's tentative, is prone to gassing, and his bout with Steve Cantwell was just a god awful fight. Gustafsson also lit him up on the feet like Alexander was the "K-1 level striker". In short, even on the feet Cyrille is not some sort of world beater. On the ground, he's subpar. DeBlass isn't. Tom DeBlass by submission, round 1.

Ben Thapa: DeBlass likes those leglocks and must be grinning sporadically as he thinks of mangling Diabate's long, skinny stems. Despite the short notice, DeBlass has the strength, talent and skill to get that leglock early on Diabate. DeBlass, submission, Round 1.

Dallas Winston: Oddly enough, I think the inexperienced submissionist taking the fight on short notice might be the safer pick against the ultra-experienced world class kickboxer. I was geeked about Diabate's UFC potential but the Perosh loss really stung. While I'm nervous DeBlass will initiate a clinch and then roll into a kneebar or fake a level drop and catch Diabate with his hands down (as they often are), I'm going to stick with my boy Cyrille to blast uppercuts and spear long knees from a neighboring state away. Cyrille Diabate by TKO.

Staff picking DeBlass: Stephie, Fraser, Grant, Tim, David, Brookhouse
Staff picking Diabate: Anton, Dallas

Francis Carmont vs. Magnus Cedenblad

Brent Brookhouse: Carmont has a ton of upside, I'm not sure how anyone could think he doesn't. He's 30, so he's not likely to suddenly develop into world champion material, but he's better than Cedenblad unless I'm missing something with Magnus. Francis Carmont by TKO, round 1.

T.P. Grant: I have to go with Carmont here just because he is a more known commodity to me. He has beaten Chris Camozzi and Jason Day in his last two fights, giving him legit wins. Cedenblad has an impressive highlight reel, but I'm sure what will happen when he faces a higher level guy. Wouldn't be shocked if Cedenblad gets a win, but going with Carmont. Francis Carmont by Decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I didn't expect much from Carmont in the UFC, but he looked sound against Camozzi. Cedenblad hasn't been tested against anyone of note, though he is more than capable of ending this fight. I think Carmont survives an early onslaught to take this one, but it's close. Francis Carmont via decision

Tim Burke: I never thought much of Carmont and I still don't. I don't know a lot about Cedenblad to be honest, so Carmont's pedigree sounds like it will be enough to get through this. I'll be rooting for Cedenblad, but I've gotta go with the safe pick. Francis Carmont by decision

Ben Thapa: Almost picked the upset here. Arguing from authority is generally a fallacy and Tri-Star hasn't really molded a home-grown star yet. Carmont is not one of their transplanted stars either. At the same time, Cedenblad hasn't shown the talent to fend Carmont's wrestling off and impose his own will for three rounds yet. Magnus is a capable fighter, but this is a tough debut for the big prospect with submission skills from the top. I think Carmont takes this by decision with a few close calls as Cedenblad grabs a kimura or two. Carmont, decision.

Dallas Winston: I'm pretty much on board with Fraser here. Carmont is tougher after dropping a weight class and he should be too diverse and durable for Cedenblad, who does, however, have some serious punching power. Francis Carmont by decision.

Staff picking Carmont: Stephie, Grant, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Cedenblad:

Yoislandy Izquierdo vs. Reza Madadi

Brent Brookhouse: Madadi is built to win fights against guys like Izquierdo and Izquierdo is built to lose fights against guys like Madadi. Reza Madadi by decision.

T.P. Grant: Going with the wrestler and BE prospect Madadi here. Izquierdo has had trouble stopping takedowns in the past, Madadi is going to be all over him on the mat. Reza Madadi by Decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Experience isn't everything, but it's big, and Madadi wins the experience game by a mile here. Wins over Prater and Clementi (and, I guess, Junie Browning) are all solid, while Cuba has not ventured outside of local Florida talent. Madadi's just a higher step up in my eyes. Reza Madadi by decision.

Tim Burke: Was he actually a part of the helicopter robbery? Unlikely, but he's going to rob Izquierdo of his undefeated record. Mad Dog's relentless wrestling will be way too much for Cuba to handle. Reza Madadi by decision

Ben Thapa: Madadi will charge forwards, evade the knees and chopping elbows and wrestle Izquierdo into tears and exhaustion. Only question is how long Izquierdo avoids the submission. I say a round and a half. Madadi, submission, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Cuba vs. Iran! I'm excited to see Izquierdo. He's a karate-based fighter who's been transforming his foundation to MMA under the great Eric "El Tigre" Castano. This is just a match up and experience nightmare for him though -- Madadi will beat on his chest like an enraged gorilla and wrestle-grind Izquierdo, thwacking ground-and-pound until a gimme-sub opens up. Reza Madadi by submission.

Staff picking Izquierdo: Stephie
Staff picking Madadi: Grant, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse

Simeon Thoresen vs. Besam Yousef

Brent Brookhouse: I feel like I'm spending a lot of time picking against the striker, and since I like strikers more than grapplers, I'm going to pick the guy who I think will lose just so I send some good vibes to the punch and kick men. Besam Yousef by KO, round 1.

T.P. Grant: Two young guys, Thoresen has a nasty ground game and Yousef strong stand up. It is very possible that Yousef beats up Thoresen on the feet, but I'm going with the experience of Thoresen on this one. Simeon Thoresen by Submission, Round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: Joachim Hansen says Thoreson is the future, and who are you to doubt Hellboy? He's also worked the ground a lot with Jon Olav Einemo who, despite his UFC run, is really, really good. Simeon Thoreson by submission, round 2.

Tim Burke: I'm a big fan of Thoresen, and I think he's going to tear right through Yousef here. He can hang on the feet and is a monster on the ground. This is my pick for sub of the night. Simeon Thoresen by submission, round 1

Ben Thapa: What Burke said. However, Einemo is not that terrific on the ground as an MMA fighter - his teaching is probably worlds better than he's shown in the UFC. Thoresen should benefit from that enough to get the takedown and the quick finish. Thoresen, submission, Round 1.

Dallas Winston: Experience and diversity are strong advantages for Thoresen here and I agree with everyone else. Simeon Thoresen by submission.

Staff picking Thoresen: Stephie, Grant, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Yousef: Brookhouse

Jason Young vs. Eric Wisely

Brent Brookhouse: Young hits too hard and is pretty strong for the weight. Jason Young by TKO, round 2.

T.P. Grant: Young is a pretty nasty striker, good hands and strong kicks. But his ground game is lacking and while Wisely got caught in a nasty calf slicer in his last fight, he has the ground chops to deal with Young. Eric Wisley by Submission, Round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: Young is a fun striker, but it's not a style that tends to win fights. My one concern is that Wisely is a replacement, and this is only his second fight at Featherweight, so is he still working out the cut? I think Wisely may tire as it goes on, but takes the early rounds and has enough in the tank to survive.

Tim Burke: I've gone back and forth on this one. Young's striking has looked solid so far, and Wisely looked totally overmatched against Oliveira, but I'll lean Wisely here via superior ground game. Eric Wisely by decision

Ben Thapa: Young should be able to batter Wisely throughout the fight and avoid most moments of trouble on the ground. Young, decision.

Dallas Winston: Wisely is indeed a crafty grappler and Oliveira's calf-crusher was the first time he's been stopped. Still, Young's blistering kickboxing and feisty takedown defense was enough to cause fits for reputable grapplers in Poirier and Omigawa and I don't think Wisely has anything they do not, except an unstoppable chin and bigger punching power. Wisely can take a punch so this clash should be a mutual massacre. Jason Young by decision.

Staff picking Young: Thapa, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Wisely: Stephie, Grant, Anton, Fraser, Tim

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