UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler staff picks and predictions

Sarah Glenn

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking for each and every UFC 171 bout on Saturday night.

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

Tim Burke: I'm shocked that people are actually picking Lawler here. I know it's been a nice renaissance and made for some great stories this week, but it's 2014. Johny Hendricks is going to control this fight all the way. He might not get a finish, and the last two rounds might be slow, but Lawler's not walking away with the belt. Johny Hendricks by unanimous decision (50-44 x3).

Anton Tabuena: Hendricks is the easy and safe pick as he can presumably implement a conservative wrestling-heavy game plan. But screw picking ‘safe', I'm picking Lawler to complete his incredible comeback story, because I expect Johny to stand with him even if he's not the better striker. I expect Lawler to be able to pop back up enough times to make an impact standing. Both men throw with massive power, but Hendricks is more hittable and less technical standing up, so I think that famous beard is going to get tested here. Robbie Lawler by KO.

Patrick Wyman: If this fight takes place primarily at range, Lawler is going to beat the hell out of Hendricks. He's a much more polished, experienced, and technically sound striker, and no less powerful. If it takes place mostly at close range, then Hendricks' wrestling should be the difference-maker: Robbie is a perfectly competent wrestler, but he's not on Hendricks' level, and extended infighting sequences are probably going to end with Lawler on his back. While Hendricks doesn't have a great top game - Rory MacDonald was a much better candidate to beat up Robbie from top position - the constant threat of the takedown should be enough to break up Lawler's rhythm and limit his opportunities to land the big shot. I see a relatively slow-paced, grinding fight punctuated by bursts of insane violence, and that scenario ever-so-slightly favors Hendricks. Hendricks, split decision.

Mookie Alexander: Screw it. I love watching Johny Hendricks fight and I even picked him to beat GSP, but this Robbie Lawler story is amazing and now I've fully convinced myself that he will never actually lose again and will knockout Johny tomorrow night. He'll move back up to middleweight and starch Weidman. Then the UFC will sign Niko Vitale so that Lawler and crush him once more. In theory, Hendricks has more routes to victory than Lawler and is just the much better fighter, but I'm allowed a throwaway silly pick, right? Robbie Lawler by KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Man, I am so excited for this fight. I don't care who wins, at all. I'm just excited to watch it happen. Since my smarter side says that Hendricks is the more complete fighter and I actually think he may hold a speed advantage, I'm picking him here. But this feels like an anything can happen fight and even if it doesn't live up to that, I'll be on the edge of my seat. Johny Hendricks by TKO, Round 2.

Iain Kidd: This fight is going to be amazing, and either guy could get starched at any moment. That being said, I think Hendricks has the advantage over 5 rounds, and his pressure and technique will be enough to get a points decision if it hits the scorecards. Johny Hendricks, UD.

Fraser Coffeen: I'm largely in agreement with Anton here. Hendricks is the safe pick, and until about yesterday I was picking him with no reservations. But the more I think about it, the more I think Ruthless. In recent years, Lawler developed his game to be much more conservative in setting up his heavy shots, adding technique to his power. Hendricks has that technique too, but Lawler is better in that area. At least, where striking is concerned. If Hendricks decides to clinch it up, Lawler drops the decision. But I don't think he will. Robbie Lawler by KO round 2.

Dallas Winston: Well damn. Here I thought I'd stumble into the staff picks to spice things up with a nostalgic, heart-based, kamikaze pick for Lawler, but I'm not the only lunatic loose in the asylum. Wyman lends an excellent perspective on the match up: Hendricks is wholly effective but painfully basic and predictable with his striking, ala Hendo, and Robbie's technical violence in the striking interplay might expose that. On the flip-side, the toughest scenario in which to plant your feet and uncork heavy combos is when faced with a dominant wrestler. Hendricks would be wise to replicate the Condit strategy, but he pretty much does everything in straight lines and I think Robbie's combination of finesse, brutality and angles will do the trick. Robbie Lawler by unfathomable time machine shit.

Staff picking Hendricks: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Lawler: Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Dallas

Here's Kid Nate, Dallas Winston and Connor Ruebusch breaking down the bout:

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley

Tim Burke: Tyron Woodley is not in Condit's league. The fact that he even got this fight as the # 11-ranked guy is kind of goofy. Even if Woodley brings his wrestling, Condit will get up and beat him up. The standup is lopsided in Condit's direction. He can also catch him with a sub while he's coming in for a takedown. All Carlos, all day. Carlos Condit by submission, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: Tough pick, but Condit should be the more technical fighter overall. Carlos Condit by Decision.

Patrick Wyman: If this were scheduled for five rounds, I'd have no hesitation in picking Condit. The fact that it's three rounds introduces more uncertainty, especially for those of us who haven't forgotten Woodley's blanket-like performances in Strikeforce. With that caveat, I'm still taking Condit here. Shields was able to wear Woodley down over three rounds, and he doesn't push anywhere near Condit's pace; moreover, I'm still not sold on Woodley's newfound striking game, especially against a guy with the length, experience, diversity, and vicious finishing ability of Condit. It's safe to assume that Woodley will, at some point(s), get Condit to the mat, but he's never demonstrated the kind of active and rock-solid top game that's given Carlos problems in the past. Condit, unanimous decision.

Mookie Alexander: Woodley should be able to take Condit down, but I don't see him stifling Condit to the point where he's unable to be a threat off of his back. I contend that the only fighter who is capable of 30-27ing Condit with ease is Jon Fitch in his prime, but that Fitch is long gone. On the feet I think it's a clear advantage for Condit, who is the best striker Woodley has faced and he'll point-fight him into a knockout loss. Carlos Condit by KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: The narrative for me here is "Has Carlos Condit learned anything from his loss to Hendricks." Because I see Woodley as basically a slightly lesser version of the champ. If he hasn't then the gameplan to beat Condit is well and truly traveled. Hell, if Condit vs. Kampmann 2 had been 3 rounds, Condit might have lost that fight too. He's eminently beatable over 3 rounds by a frontrunning fighter who can take him down. Woodley, however, has been his own worst enemy when it comes to making the best of his skills, and isn't to be trusted to stick to the easy gameplan quite at this point. I'll take Condit here, but he could certainly lose if Woodley fights smart and Condit falls into his old rhythms. Carlos Condit by Decision.

Iain Kidd: Condit might just be the most well rounded guy in the division. His adaptive striking has been blowing my mind for his past couple of fights. His ability to land a punch, elbow, knee or kick from any angle at any time makes him a nightmare for straight line strikers. Woodley, for all of his power and his wrestling, is just too straightforward a fighter to beat Condit. Carlos Condit by Decision.

Dallas Winston: My recurring bitch for this fight is that Shields, who just beat Woodley, got shafted on co-main status and with a horrendous match up. Yes ... I realize that Shields and Condit fought before but that makes much more sense. Anyway, Condit's length should be pivotal here, and dialing back his Muay Thai outpour to maintain more balance and increase his chances of defending takedowns would be a wise adjustment. Then again, I wouldn't complain he went balls out and risked a flying knee as Woodley is changing levels. Though it's been some time, I can't shake the image of Woodley struggling to get and keep Paul Daley down, and he's entirely unproven against a legit submission fighter -- and Condit is one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA from off his back. Carlos Condit by triangle or rear-naked choke.

Staff picking Condit: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Mookie, Zane, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Woodley: Stephie

Watch Kid Nate, Dallas Winston and Connor Ruebusch arguing their picks for Condit vs. Woodley:

Myles Jury vs. Diego Sanchez

Tim Burke: I'm surprised that very few are picking Diego here. We're talking about wear and tear on him now, but we never did before. I don't think the Melendez fight took a lot out of him. And the guys that he's competitive with are all top-10 WW's or LW's. Jury isn't that guy. Diego Sanchez by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Sanchez has managed to steal a few decisions simply because incompetent judges reward people who push forward even when taking shots and not landing much in return. He has heart, but that can only go so far, and his body has accumulated so much damage over the past few years. He could be a few fights away from being done, and at this point I'd pick against him when matched up with most mid-top level UFC fighters. The only thing that isn't making me confident with this pick is that I still haven't seen much from Jury against top competition. Myles Jury by Decision.

Patrick Wyman: Sanchez is officially 3-3 since dropping a lopsided, uncompetitive bout to BJ Penn, and if there were any justice in the world he'd be 1-5, with additional losses to Kampmann and Gomi. More worrisome is the fact that he's been soundly outstruck in all of those fights, with the exception of the Thiago bout, and that he's been knocked down in half of them. Put simply, Sanchez is about a heartbeat away from being shot, while Jury is one of the best young fighters in the game. Diego's still tougher than nails, but if he can't bring Jury to the mat early and often - and Jury's a fine wrestler and scrambler himself - then he has roughly zero hope of winning barring gross judging malfeasance. Jury, unanimous decision.

Mookie Alexander: Diego Sanchez has 1 lightweight win since 2009 (the Clay Guida fight). Since then he's fought at a catchweight against Gomi, which was a daylight robbery, and then the Melendez loss where if you subtract the totally awesome 3rd round uppercut knockdown he was getting plastered. But let's keep it in perspective that Jury hasn't faced someone who can maintain the pace and right amount of "batshit" that Diego produces. Even when getting beaten up he will still come forward and make the air around you take a lot of punishment. Jury can probably win this with a safe, takedown and distance-striking game, but there's the element of Texas judges that prevents me from picking him. Diego Sanchez by Texas Judging.

Zane Simon: I see bad things in Sanchez's future and while Jury is a bit unassuming (especially after his less than stellar TUF run) I think he's got all the power, length, and dynamism, to be the first fighter to totally lay Sanchez out and show him that he can't depend on having a latern jaw forever. Myles Jury by KO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Myles Jury is a killer. He destroyed his first 8 opponents in an approximate, cumulative total of about 7 minutes. I respect the hell out of Diego -- the cat's a true fighter to the very core. However, we're talking about heart and aggression against a guy who's technically superior everywhere: he's a more dynamic striker, he hits harder, he's a better wrestler, he's a tad longer and taller and he phase-shifts better. Though they're both black belts, I'm tempted to speculate that Jury's a little more complete on the mat as well. It's kind of safe to say that we all know what to expect from Diego, so I'm thinking that Jury snipes him on the feet from range and will also have the luxury to stifle that insane forward momentum with takedowns. Myles Jury by decision.

Staff picking Jury: Patrick, Grant, Stephie, Zane, Anton, Fraser, Dallas
Staff picking Sanchez: DSM, Iain, Tim, Mookie

Watch Dallas, Nate & Connor talk through the fight:

Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields

Tim Burke: I like Jake Shields. I don't like Hector Lombard. Jake Shields by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Say what you want about how Lombard fights on pressure situations, but this is a stylistic match up that heavily favors the former Bellator champ. Hector Lombard by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Imagine Jake Shields beating Hector Lombard, earning a title shot, then beating the Lawler/Hendricks winner and becoming the new welterweight champion. Then you wake up. Strangely tempted to pick Shields, but this is just a really bad match-up for Shields. Mind you, this has high potential to be an AWFUL fight because Lombard is just as capable of stinkers of his own. Hector Lombard by decision.

Patrick Wyman: Shields isn't getting enough credit for the fact that his low-power, high-volume kickboxing is capable of winning decision after decision against much faster and more powerful strikers. Getting Lombard to the ground is going to be difficult - his takedown defense is roughly 80 percent in his recent UFC run, with only the much larger Yushin Okami having any success - but Shields could still overwhelm the slow-paced Lombard with volume on the feet. With that said, despite his cast-iron sink of a chin, Shields can't keep eating shots from powerful wrestle-boxers without eventually going down. Lombard will continuously throw his right hook over Shields' jab, and that'll be the punch that puts him down. Lombard, KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: There may be no solid reasoning for it, but considering Lombard's ability to piss away time and hesitate when generating his own offense, and Shields' ability to cause fighters to piss away time and hesitate when generating their own offense, I'll run with the upset here. Lombard is just so inconsistent and Shields isn't. Given that they both have a past of middleweight competition I'm not even going to write Lombard off as the obviously stronger fighter. Jake Shields by Decision.

Iain Kidd: I think Shields has a damn good chance here. Lombard has a habit of not capitalizing on his advantages when he's under pressure, and Shields is the kind of guy who will supply three rounds of blanket-pressure. That being said, Lombard hits like a truck and should out-strike Shields to a TKO victory. Lombard, (T)KO, Round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: I'm pretty surprised at the "this is a bad match up for Shields" narrative here. If anything, I think it's the exact opposite. Shields can boringly outpoint guys striking, and boringly grapple them to win rounds. Lombard is capable of incredible things, but he's also capable being slow and hesitant, which works seriously against him here. Jake Shields by decision.

Dallas Winston: I'm a die-hard Shields nut-hugger, and this is absolutely a poisonous match up. I love the dude but there's no fucking way he "out-points" Lombard on the feet. If Lombard is smart, he'll reenact the GSP strategy and avoid clinching and contact range at all costs whilst unrolling that nasty straight left. Shields is one of the best welterweights ever and one of the very elite grapplers in the game right now, but I see his best bet as sticking to Lombard and transitioning endlessly -- i.e. chaining takedown and submission attempts, or just jumping on him to maintain a clinch -- because he's the type to make something amazing out of nothing. No one will be happier than I if I'm dead wrong here. Hector Lombard by decision.

Staff picking Lombard: Patrick, Mookie, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Iain, Anton, Dallas
Staff picking Shields: Zane, Fraser, Tim

Here's Nate, Dallas & Connor debating the Shields-Lombard bout:

Nikita Krylov vs. Ovince St. Preux

Tim Burke: LOL at Al Capone on the main card. Suuuure guys. OSP by TKO, round 1.

Mookie Alexander: On a card this stacked, this fight is completely out of place on the main card. OSP could have value as a fringe top 10 guy (especially in a thin division such as this one), so I'll go with him. Ovince St. Preux by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Man, I want to pick Krylov here. OSP has been an overrated, underperforming talent for years. But the beating he put on Cody Donovan had echoes of his old potential in it. He should have the natural talent to run over Krylov here. But Krylov is going to throw, and it may not all be pretty, but it's often accurate. If St. Preux gets sloppy I could easily see him getting caught with a head kick or running headlong into a punch. Ovince St. Preux by TKO, Round 2.

Iain Kidd: Krylov is the next LHW champ. He destroys OSP, probably via some sort of flying side kick or cartwheel punch.

Patrick Wyman: Frankly, I don't think much of OSP as a potential up-and-comer, even in a division as thin as LHW. His best win is...an eye-poke-induced technical decision over Gian Villante? A decision over the 2010 version of Benji Radach? A knockout over the chinniest of chinny fighters, Cody Donovan? Everyone seems to expect him to blossom based on his athleticism and size, but I just don't see it. With that said, the memory of Krylov's awful gasfest against Palelei is still fresh for me; while I'll probably be laying a little money on the 3:1 underdog, I won't be picking him here. St. Preux, TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Krylov: Iain, Stephie
Staff picking OSP: Grant, DSM, Mookie, Zane, Patrick, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Dallas

Here's Kid Nate, Dallas & Connor debating OSP vs. Krylov:

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story

Mookie Alexander: Hmmm ... all signs point to a Story win. He is more than capable of absolutely making a meal out of this, and that's why I'm not 100% confident in picking him. Gastelum has probably been pushed into the top 15 fights too soon and if he does lose I wouldn't hold it against him at all. I think it'll be decided by Story's excellent body shot combos and keeping this a striking contest. Rick Story, unanimous decision.

Patrick Wyman: I'm honestly puzzled by the fact that Gastelum is the favorite here (-180). I thought Uriah Hall won their fight, and while Melancon was a solid win, he's still an inexperienced prospect with a ton left to learn. Story, on the other hand, is a veteran presence with 14 UFC bouts under his belt, including a clear win over the uncrowned champion. While he has some limitations in his game, he has a gift for suckering big, strong guys like Alves, Hendricks, and Ellenberger (pre-UFC) into grinding, close-range clinch wars that drastically favor him, and I don't think Gastelum has the diversity nor the skill sets to effectively try something different. Add to that the fact that Story is just now hitting his prime and his only clear loss since the late-notice Brenneman fight is to a resurgent, top-10 Demian Maia and you have the recipe for a minor upset. Story, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Ugh, tough fight to pick. I was totally over Story as a fighter of note going into his bout with Brian Ebersole. It had been years since his last notable win, over Thiago Alves (who himself is a bit of a question mark) and I just didn't think he had much to offer even a run of the mill welterweight. Boy was I wrong. Story dominated Ebersole bell to bell and he may not have put him away, but he made it clear that only one of them belonged in the cage that night. If that version of him shows up again, and I think it will, then I have to go with Story here, as I'm still unsure of what Gastelum can bring to the table. Rick Story by Decision.

Staff picking Gastelum:
Staff picking Story: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Dallas

Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington

Zane Simon: Andrade appeared to be channeling the spirit of Wanderlei's youth when she beat the tar out of Rosie Sexton back at UFC Fight Night 30. It was a marked improvement over her previous performance, a grinding TKO loss to Liz Carmouche that was more about time and volume than damage done. However, she has a very real point to prove, that she can compete with women much, much bigger than her. At only 5' 2" she's not just small for 135, she'd be small for 125 too. Fortunately for her, Pennington's game is still highly underdeveloped. She tends to wait on opponents at range, looking to counter and often ends up ducking in for desperate takedown attempts as she gets swarmed for her lack of offense. That kind of game should be easy to read for a fighter like Andrade. But, if she doesn't she could easily end up on the bottom, getting ground out by the much larger fighter, again. Jessica Andrade by decision.

Staff picking Andrade: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Zane, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Pennington: Dallas

Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes

Tim Burke: Jimy Hettes isn't going to get dragged into a firefight with Bermudez and he's not going to get laid upon. This bout isn't going to be like all the other grapplers Bermudez has controlled - Hettes is too awesome for that. Jimy Hettes by decision.

Patrick Wyman: This should be an exciting battle between two of the brightest up-and-comers at 145. Both guys like to set a quick pace and both have excellent takedown games, but Bermudez has the clear advantages in striking technique and power. Basically, I have a hard time seeing how Hettes can win this on the feet, and given Bermudez's stellar takedown defense (89 percent), it seems almost certain that the fight will mostly transpire at striking range. Hettes is a tough, game fighter, however, so I think he'll survive a knockdown and some bad spots to make it to the final bell. Bermudez, unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Remember when Hettes absolutely destroyed Nam Phan and looked like a future title contender? Yeah, that was a long time ago. Dennis Bermudez by decision

Zane Simon: Hettes' game is predicated on stopping fighters like Bermudez. He's great at neutralizing guys who are running in looking to brawl with a strong batch of throws, sweeps, and trips. However, I think Bermudez has put just a bit too much polish on his game since his early UFC fights, and is a bit too powerful. At that point it becomes a battle of standup skills, and I'd give Bermudez the edge there. Dennis Bermudez by Decision.

Staff picking Bermudez: Patrick, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Zane, Dallas
Staff picking Hettes: Grant, Iain, Tim

Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer

Tim Burke: I hope there's an ambulance in the building, because Garcia hurts people. Alex Garcia, TKO, round 1.

Patrick Wyman: Garcia is the prize student of mastermind and strong contender for smartest person in the MMA game, Firas Zahabi, and that should tell us a very great deal. His physicality, power, and athleticism are overwhelming, and they're coupled with fantastic coaching, a well rounded game, and vicious finishing instincts in every phase. Spencer is in the process of carving out a nice little career for himself as a high-volume, low-power kickboxer, but he has little else to offer, and that's nowhere near enough to trouble Garcia for long. Garcia, rear-naked choke, round 2.

Zane Simon: This is going to be murder in the cage. Spencer has developed into a half-decent point kickboxer, but his low power, high output style is just made to be blitzed by a fighter like Garcia. Garcia by blitzkreig, round 1.

Staff picking Garcia: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Dallas
Staff picking Spencer:

Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino

Patrick Wyman: I watched the available tape on Trevino, and I wasn't all that impressed. He's a solid striker and a decent grappler and wrestler, but he's relatively old, not a great athlete, and throws very little volume. Nobody's calling Forte a world-beater, but he's definitely better on the ground here and not helpless on the feet. Forte, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I feel like Trevino was signed just to add a little rooting interest for the UFC's upcoming Mexico City card. Honestly, he doesn't seem like a fighter ready for this level of competiton at all. He's not the worst striker in the world when it comes to just throwing his hands and feet out there. But his terrible footwork means that he often puts himself at extreme defensive liability. And the rest of his game is just raw. I've been wrong before. Ernest Chavez is proof to that (although that was more proof that Cedeno is ineffective, but I digress), but if Forte can't dominate this fight, the UFC has little use for him. Renee Forte by submission, Round 1.

Staff picking Forte: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Zane, Dallas
Staff picking Trevino: Tim

Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins

Patrick Wyman: Surprisingly, Scoggins is the biggest favorite on the card (-500). I'm not sure he's done quite enough to warrant the hype, but there's no denying that he's the bluest of blue-chip prospects, with ungodly power in his hands for a flyweight, great athleticism, a well rounded game, and a fantastic team behind him at ATT. Campuzano is the perfect gatekeeper and gave Sergio Pettis a tough fight on short notice. He's good at everything and great at nothing, and I think his toughness will allow him to stay in this fight for longer than people think. Scoggins, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I was really suspect of Scoggins when he came to the UFC. His record was about as shallow as regional records get and while he looked great on tape, I just had the sneaking suspicion that his flashy style would get eaten up at a higher level. Richie Vaculik isn't exactly the "higher level" that I had in mind, but Scoggins domination was so thorough and one sided that I've done a complete 180 on him as a fighter. Campuzano is the kind of solid, hardworking fighter, who probably just doesn't quite have the natural gifts to succeed in the UFC and I think this fight will just reaffirm that. Justin Scoggins by Decision.

Staff picking Campuzano:
Staff picking Scoggins: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Dallas

Bubba McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland

Anton Tabuena: Sean Strickland is a really good prospect, and I think a fight against Bubba is a perfect test to see where this unbeaten 23-year-old is at this point in his career. Strickland is well rounded, and constantly improves from each bout. After watching him go 25 minutes in his title fight in Manila, he showcased his improved striking and remained very elusive on the feet while also mixing up his wrestling very well. Sean Strickland by Decision

Patrick Wyman: I kept seeing Strickland pop up on top prospect lists as I was doing my own, and I still don't really understand it. He's young - he had his first professional fight at 17 - and he's beaten decent if not outstanding competition in King of the Cage, but his striking leaves a lot to be desired and he's not a particularly dynamic athlete. For all of the more-or-less-warranted criticisms of McDaniel, he's in the UFC precisely to show prospects like Strickland the holes in their game. McDaniel, unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Bubba gets a lot of flak for his mental state on TUF, but at this point, I think it's clear that he underperformed there due to the stress of the situation. He's not a future champion, but he's a solid fighter with some areas of strength. One of those strengths: striking, and that's where I see him outpointing the less tested Strickland. Bubba McDaniel, decision

Zane Simon: I have to admit I'm a bit of a mark for Bubba, the guy is one of the nicest, friendliest people I've ever woken up at 2am, so I'm totally biased. But moving past that, the question here is: Is Strickland strong enough to just body Bubba in the cage. Strickland is a good kicker, but from what I've seen, a pretty tentative puncher who mostly looks to use striking to open up the shot. I do think he's reasonably athletic, but he's not yet a very complex fighter. Mostly he powers opponents down, gets into top control and DKs them into putty. He might very well be able to do that against Bubba, who has a great mix of skills, but is not quite a wunderkid at any one thing. However, I'll take experience and diversity (and personal favoritism) over youth and potential here. Bubba McDaniel, by Decision.

Staff picking McDaniel: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Fraser, Dallas
Staff picking Strickland: Anton, Tim

Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford

Iain Kidd: Rab Whiteford wasn't super impressive in his debut, but that was the shortest of short-notice fights. His time training in the US should have helped and as one of Scotland's top prospects, I have to back him.

Zane Simon: Jimy Hettes was the perfect foil for a fighter like Whiteford. Daniel Pineda is not. Whiteford may not have been successful in his first fight, but his own Judo background should be enough to keep him strong in the clinch against Pineda, and I think he throws harder and with more confidence standing. I expect he'll catch Pineda with something and maybe not finish, but ride out the win. Rab Whiteford, by decision.

Staff picking Pineda: DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Patrick, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Whiteford: Grant, Iain, Zane, Dallas

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