UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Shogun staff picks and predictions

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking for each and every UFC Fight Night: Natal bout.

Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua

Anton Tabuena: While both men have seen better days, I think that Henderson might be further down the hill. He's 43 years old, has lost 3 straight, and was stopped for the first time in his career. Not that any man would've been able to eat that TRiTor headkick, but his reflexes seemed to have slowed, and his fighting style have slowly changed toward favoring that single H-Bomb that it now makes him very predictable. Apart from that brief KO over Te Huna, Shogun hasn't looked remotely good since his 2011 win over Forrest. That being said, their first fight went back and forth three years ago, so I am more inclined to pick the guy who is a decade younger and at least has shown some flashes of his old self since then. Shogun by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Their first fight was bonkers and it's one of the most unforgettable bouts in UFC history. The second fight is completely unnecessary and a product of a division that is currently so thin that there are few prospects who can feast on these two as potential "names" on their resume as they look for a step up in competition. Shogun looked ... well he proved me wrong as hell when I picked against him vs. Te Huna, so he's still got that dangerous power in him. But that doesn't mean he's "back", he's not strung together consecutive wins since 2009, and I think his days as a relevant contender are surely over. That said, Henderson has not looked remotely good since the Shogun win save for the 1st round of the Rashad fight, and no matter how much he uses TRT, age is finally catching up with him. I cross my fingers this isn't a dud, and that it doesn't go past round 3. Shogun is still a lethal finisher and I peg him catching Henderson with a left hook and finishing him on the ground. Mauricio Rua by TKO, round 3.

Patrick Wyman: I don't think we can say Shogun is really resurgent after a win over a tentative James Te Huna, but he certainly looked good. Henderson, on the other hand, is coming off the first knockout loss to his career, and while there's no shame in losing to the 2013 version of Vitor Belfort, that's not an encouraging occurrence for a 43-year old. This fight is all about the range. Shogun was far too willing to engage Hendo in tight during their first matchup, and while the former phenom is and always has been an infighter at heart, I doubt he'll want to do so again. At striking range, he's the massive favorite, and I think he'll keep it at that distance for much greater portions of the fight this time around. If he keeps his boxing clean, uses his kicks, and stays away from Henderson's right, the fight should be his to lose. If he wants to brawl, it's effectively a toss-up. The former seems more likely to me. Shogun, KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I can't add much here that hasn't already been said, except that I will say that apart from the KO win over Te Huna, which was very good, Shogun also looked in better shape than I feel like I'd seen him in in a long time (maybe since Machida). If he can keep form I think he still has the speed behind his power to make short work of Hendo. If he slips back into his normal cardio drained self, this becomes much more of a tossup. Shogun, KO, Round 1.

Staff picking Hendo:
Staff picking Shogun: Mookie, Patrick, Grant, Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Anton, Zane, Dallas, Iain, Tim

C.B. Dollaway vs. Cezar Ferreira

Mookie Alexander: If CB wins this does he become the lineal TUF Brazil champion? I don't really see anything special in Mutante's game to suggest he's anything special, so he's not worlds apart from Dollaway to me. It'll probably be a close fight, mostly contested through some kickboxing, and Dollaway will get the edge on the cards. CB Dollaway by decision.

Patrick Wyman: As strange as it is to say, Dollaway's probably a little underrated right now: he's developed a decent, high-volume kickboxing game to complement his solid wrestling and grappling. I thought he beat Tim Boetsch in his last outing, and he's strung together three decent performances in a row against the bottom of the middleweight division's second tier. I'm not as high on Ferreira as some - I still can't get the image of Elvis Mutapcic flattening him in 25 seconds out of my head - but he's still highly athletic and well rounded. This looks like a very close fight to me, but I think Ferreira barely edges out the Doberman. Ferreira, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I am totally unenthused about this fight. It's the kind of scrap that showcases the limited potential of the general Middleweight populace. Both these guys are decent fighters, with decent wins, but I can't get myself excited to see where they go. I think Dolloways definitive wrestling edge should blend better with his kickboxing over Mutante's who, if he can't clip Dollaway hard will probably resort to telegraphed shots. I see Dollaway riding out three rounds for the decision. Dollaway by Decision.

Staff picking Dollaway: Mookie, DSM, Stephie, Grant, Anton, Zane, Iain
Staff picking Mutante: Patrick, Fraser, Dallas, Tim

Norman Parke vs. Leonardo Santos

Mookie Alexander: Ehhh, Santos is one-dimensional and only got the chance to win TUF Brazil 2 because of an injury. At this stage in his career I don't see him having anything for Parke that he can't stifle, so this should be an easy pick. Norman Parke by unanimous decision.

Patrick Wyman: This fight seems fairly straightforward to me. Parke is a talented and developing striker with an exciting, high-volume style to go along with excellent offensive and defensive wrestling (a product of his Judo background) and submission grappling. Santos, the winner of TUF Brazil 2, is a pretty one-dimensional BJJ specialist without the takedown prowess to enforce his game or the striking to really complement it. Parke shouldn't have a problem keeping this on the feet and picking Santos apart. Parke, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'm not saying I disagree with Mookie or Wyman, I don't, but I do think they're both drastically underrating just how good a specialist Santos is. He doesn't have the dynamic striking and takedown offense of Sergio Moraes, but he's every bit as dangerous on the ground. If he can clinch up with Parke and drag him down, I could see him locking up the submission, no problem. But I don't see him dragging Parke down. Parke is a surprisingly decent wrestler for a UK fighter and has the competent high volume range striking to keep Santos predictable from the outside. If Santos can get in on him and make this an ugly grappling exchange, the dynamic changes, but Parke is the safe pick. Norman Parke, by Unanimous Decision.

Staff picking Parke: Patrick, Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Grant, Anton, Mookie, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Santos: Dallas

Fabio Maldonado vs. Gian Villante

Mookie Alexander: Gian Villante played football (linebacker) in high school. Linebackers make a lot of tackles. Football tackles are similar to takedowns. Maldonado isn't a good defensive wrestler. My logic is flawless here. Gian Villante, unanimous decision.

Patrick Wyman: I don't like Villante's chances if this stays on the feet. He's extremely hittable, and that's a bad thing against a guy who throws as much volume as Maldonado. On the other hand, Maldonado is pretty hittable himself, and he doesn't exactly have stellar takedown defense. Villante's a pretty decent wrestler, and I think he can keep it competitive on the feet while working in some takedowns to take a close decision. Villante, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Count me among the faithless when it comes to Gian Villante. He was more than willing to get potshotted at range by OSP when they fought, and he got TKO'd by Chad Griggs. He can beat the Cody Donovans of the world, but I think Maldonado is a step above that and I expect this to look a lot like Maldonado's Beltran fight. Competitive, but with Maldonado edging out each round. Fabio Maldonado, by Decision.

Staff picking Maldonado: Fraser, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Villante: DSM, Stephie, Patrick, Grant, Anton, Mookie, Dallas

Michel Prazeres vs. Mairbek Taisumov

Patrick Wyman: The only real question here is whether Taisumov can stuff Prazeres' takedowns. If you think he can, then he's the pick; if not, then it should be Prazeres' fight to lose. I think the former is more likely. Taisumov, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'm a big fan of Prazeres' game, I think his striking, wrestling, and submission offense work in perfect symphony with one another. Where he's hampered is by his cardio. Because he's a fairly muscle bound, stocky fighter and because he relies so heavily on big bursts of offense, if his game doesn't get the stoppage in the first round he flags badly. That was still enough to beat Jesse Ronson, but I doubt he gets as luck against Taisumov who has the added ability to kick the hell out of Prazeres' lead leg. Mairbek Taisumov by TKO, Round 3.

Staff picking Prazeres: Iain
Staff picking Taisumov: Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Patrick, Grant, Anton, Mookie, Dallas, Zane, Tim

Rony Jason vs. Steven Siler

Mookie Alexander: Siler is definitely a live dog here and I'm tempted to pick the upset, but Jason is probably going to work his superior ground game towards a stoppage. Rony Badger, submission, round 1.

Patrick Wyman: Jason is a fighter with obvious physical talents and fantastic BJJ to go along with his powerful if relatively unpolished striking. The problem is his subpar fight IQ. Why he thought brawling with Sam Sicilia and Jeremy Stephens was a good idea is beyond me, though not as mind-boggling as his post-fight decision to engage in single combat with a wall that left him with a broken hand. In any case, he's the more talented and dynamic fighter in this matchup; Siler is decent in every facet, but I think his historic weakness to good submission fighters comes back to haunt him here. Jason, submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: This is very much a tossup fight for me. Both these guys have had some decent wins and both have hit very definitive walls in their losses. But, I think Siler has generally performed well at a higher level and Jason remains still somewhat unproven to me. Beating Castro, Wilkinson, and Sicilia, doesn't have me especially high on Jason, and Siler's wins over Mike Brown and Cole Miller carry a lot more heft. I think Siler has the tools to get inside and stifle Jason. Jason could easily still pull something out and hit a slick sub, but I'm taking the larger, stronger grinder to grind. Steven Siler by Unanimous Decision.

Staff picking Jason: Patrick, Fraser, Stephie, Grant, Anton, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Siler: DSM, Dallas, Zane, Iain

Diego Brandao vs. Will Chope

Anton Tabuena: If Brandao is like most people, and is severely underestimating Chope, then he is in for a rude awakening. He has the overall experience and natural ability going for him on this match up, but an out-of-shape Brandao isn't going to defeat a guy with a HUGE size and reach advantage over him. Chope looked much better than I thought against Holloway, who he didn't have that massive reach on, and I think he has the potential to cause more issues with his 6-foot-4 frame against Brandao. Should the local fighter be the favorite? Sure, but this can easily be much closer than what people think. While I usually pick a few huge underdogs per card, I really don't think Chope should be at +500 here. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the outcome, so I'm going against the grain and say it will be Will Chope by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: I don't get this fight. Aren't murder rates in Brazil high enough already? Diego Brandao, KO, round 1.

Patrick Wyman: This is a brutal, terrible, awful matchup for Chope in every meaningful way. In fact, outside of low-level regional shows, I don't think I've ever seen a slower featherweight than Chope; for all of Brandao's many flaws, a lack of speed and explosiveness has never been among them. Chope is also drastically overmatched in the power department and has nothing to offer Brandao on the ground. Brandao, submission (arm triangle), round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: I just want to be clear that I reserve the right to change my pick if Brandao shows up at the weigh-ins looking like B.J. Penn's tubby, coked-out brother. Diego Brandao by submission, round 1

Zane Simon: If I thought that he was going to remember any of it, I'd bet that Chope ends up with some pretty good stories to tell about his UFC experience. He's fought two back-to-back top 20-ish featherweights without any rhyme or reason other than that he was willing to step in and take the fight. That hasn't done any wonders for Max Holloway's career so far and I expect Chope to fair even worse. Unless Brandao gets his Thiago Silva on (in a bad way) he's got all the bases covered here to destroy in the cage. And watching him do it to a fighter that's 8 inches taller than him should provide good entertainment. Diego Brandao by Submission, Round 1.

Staff picking Brandao: Mookie, Patrick, DSM, Stephie, Grant, Dallas, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Chope: Anton

Ronny Markes vs. Thiago Santos

Mookie Alexander: Santos looked completely inept against Mutante and Markes is going to grind him for days. Ronny Markes, unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Sadly, this is not the Thiago Santos who is the scourge of opponents' netherregions in Bellator, and so he gets no love from me. Ronny Markes by decision

Patrick Wyman: This is a squash match. Markes, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Markes is a bulldozer of a fighter who's only recent loss comes to the surging talent that is Yoel Romero. Santos is... the guy he's about to bulldoze. I doubt we see a stoppage, because that's not Markes' game, so to that end Santos should get a lot of chances to make something happen. But, he won't. Ronny Markes by Unanimous Decision.

Staff picking Markes: Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Patrick, Grant, Anton, Mookie, Dallas, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Santos:

Jussier Formiga vs. Scott Jorgensen

Mookie Alexander: Jorgensen has declined considerably and while he has an obvious advantage in power and stand-up, I think Formiga has what it takes to get him on the ground and outgrapple him over the duration of the bout. Jussier Formiga by decision.

Patrick Wyman: I don't really understand the Formiga love. He's 1-2 in the UFC, and although both of those losses have come to top competition, nothing he's done in any of those three fights has screamed "contender" to me. He relies on a decent but not outstanding takedown game, and while Jorgensen has had some problems staying off his back, all of those issues have come against highly talented wrestlers like Faber and Makovsky. Formiga isn't on their level, and I think Jorgensen keeps it on the feet and works his volume striking for a decision. Jorgensen, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'm so confused here. Jorgensen actually looked pretty good against Urijah Faber and Zach Makovsky, and just ended up getting beat by the superior fighter. He doesn't have the technical tools to hang with the very best athletes in the UFC, but Formiga is not one of the very best athletes in the UFC and quite frankly, he may have "won" his Cariaso fight, but it was pretty clear that Cariaso was the better fighter by the end of it. I just don't see this being close at all and I wouldn't be surprised if Jorgensen gets the stoppage. Scott Jorgensen by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Formiga: Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Jorgensen: DSM, Patrick, Grant, Anton, Zane

Thiago Perpetuo vs. Kenny Robertson

Patrick Wyman: Perpetuo was involved in one hell of a barnburner against Omari Akhmedov last time out, and that showed us both the best and the worst of his game: big power, excellent Muay Thai, decent wrestling, and some seriously underwhelming defense. I don't think Robertson is really the guy to exploit those flaws, especially given what should be a substantial size advantage for Perpetuo. Perpetuo, KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I want Robertson to be a better fighter than he is. He's a great wrestler and has hit one of the most fun submissions in UFC history, but he's not a great positional control fighter and the rest of his submission game lacks. Could he potnentially have improved that area to the point where he could school Perpetuo? Maybe, but I doubt it. If not Perpetuo holds huge striking and power advantages and is no slouch on the ground. My guess is, Robertson tries to wrestle-box and gets clipped hard. Thiago Perpetuo by KO, round 1.

Staff picking Perpetuo: Patrick, Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Anton, Mookie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Robertson: Dallas, Iain

Noad Lahat vs. Godofredo Pepey

Mookie Alexander: Seriously don't care for Pepey, at this point. He should be 0-4 in the UFC with multiple KO losses from inside his own guard. Noad Lahat, TKO, round 2.

Patrick Wyman: The betting lines strongly favor Lahat, who's currently somewhere around -250. Pepey's UFC run has been drastically underwhelming - he's 1-3 and should be 0-4 - which seems to be the explanation for his underdog status, and this should be his last shot. A lot of people are really high on Lahat; my response would be that he's beaten terrible competition on the regional scene, but then again, so did Pepey. I'll go with the favorite here. Lahat, unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I think of this fight a bit like when Kyoji Horiguchi faced Dustin Pague for his first fight (although Horiguchi was much more proven). This is a fight that Noad Lahat has to win if he wants to show himself as any sort of prospect in the UFC. He has a nice, complicated ground game that seems very technical and methodical, but he has zero stopping ability and has faced about the worst level of competition possible. As hard as it is to believe, Pepey will be a big step up for him. That said, he has the camp and the skill to win, so I'll take him to get the decision. Noad Lahat by Decision.

Staff picking Lahat: Fraser, Patrick, Anton, Mookie, Dallas, Zane, Iain
Staff picking Pepey: DSM, Stephie, Grant, Tim

Francimar Barroso vs. Hans Stringer

Mookie Alexander: Hans Stringer by superior name.

Patrick Wyman: Barroso absolutely STARCHED future great Edinaldo Oliveira, and I'm sold. Seriously, though, these guys are...not great. Barroso, unanimous decision.

Anton Tabuena: Heads it is!

Zane Simon: I'm taking Barroso just because I think he has the strength to nullify much of Stringer's takedown and clinch game and he has the distance tools to make the fight rough for Stringer from the outside. I'd love to see one of these fighters come in and wreck shop, but I'd look for more of a methodical 3 rounds of feeling out grinding control that doesn't produce much action. Francimar Barroso by Unanimous Decision.

Staff picking Barroso: Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Patrick, Grant, Anton, Zane, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Stringer: Mookie, Dallas

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