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UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story staff picks and predictions

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Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking in each fight on tomorrow's UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story card in Stockholm, Sweden, which airs exclusively on Fight Pass.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story

Anton Tabuena: Nelson is a bit undersized, but he is just the better fighter. Clinch, takedown, jiujitsu wizardry. Gunnar Nelson by Submission.

Mookie Alexander: I really want to pick Rick Story here, but everytime I want to believe he's turned the corner, he ends up losing. Sure he can really put Nelson in bad spots with his hands, but I'm not sure Gunnar actually feels punches. Story probably doesn't want to tangle with Nelson on the ground due to his tendency to give up position, offer no offense when in his opponent's guard, and the fact that he's the only guy Demian Maia has submitted in the past 5 years. It's a stern test for Nelson, who needs to show he can beat /not look terrible against a wrestleboxer in order to move up the ladder at welterweight. I see Story tiring in the 3rd after pushing a heavy pace, which then will lead to Nelson pouncing and mangling his neck. Gunnar Nelson, submission, round 3.

Phil Mackenzie: Rick Story is a tough out. A powerful wrestler and an underrated pressure boxer, who has shown real improvement of late. However, he's shown specific weaknesses to clinch takedowns and giving up position on the floor in the past, and there's no real reason to think he's shored up those holes enough. Gunnar Nelson by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: I'll admit, I'm not nearly as high on Gunnar Nelson as everyone else in the hipster-fight-fan community seems to be. I mean, he's an absolutely dynamite grappler with really decent wrestling. But his striking is just so... meh. That said, I'm not utterly convinced that Story can keep and win a fight on his feet for three rounds. He's become a much more savvy vet in recent outings and looks to be fighting to his strengths much more, but it feels like the clinch and the takedown are just too big a part of his game for him to not end up on the ground against Nelson. Gunnar Nelson by Submission, Round 3.

Kyle McLachlan: I think five rounds will suit Nelsons languid pace. Story will outwork Nelson for a few rounds, but Gunnar will get him down and crank on a limb at some stage. Gunnar Nelson, by submission (rear naked choke), round 3

Staff picking Nelson: Patrick, Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Paul, Kyle
Staff picking Story:

Max Holloway vs. Akira Corassani

Anton Tabuena: I don't care if it's on short notice, Holloway is constantly improving and should have the more dangerous skillset. Max Holloway by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: I am incredibly tempted to pick Corassani here, because Holloway's last 3 fights taken on short notice ended in losses to Poirier and McGregor, plus an unconvincing win over human windmill Leonard Garcia. Corassani falls somewhere in the middle when comparing the level of opponent Holloway has fought on short notice. Akira has good power in his hands and is capable of clocking Holloway early. However, he's too defensively porous for me to go all-in for the upset, and Holloway continues develop into a solid, fringe contender featherweight. Max Holloway, unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Corassani's improvements have been somewhat obscured by the way he gets matched up really hard. Unfortunately, that may not be likely to change. He's transformed himself into a kind of Edgar-lite, albeit with a bit more focus on the hard right hand than his teammate. Holloway also bases much of his offense around the right hand, but he's also far longer, hits harder, and is much more durable. Corassani may make this competitive for a while, but eventually he'll get hurt on an exchange, and Holloway is a murderous finisher in all positions, with a particularly lovely pendulum-swing left punch to the liver, reminiscent of Nick Diaz. Max Holloway by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: If Max Holloway beats Akira Corassani it will arguably be the best win of his career so far. That's not to say the same isn't true for Corassani, it very much is, it's just that neither man has had much success when testing the deeper waters of their division. With that stage being set, this is still Holloway's fight to lose. He's not only a more diverse striker (Corassani is basically just a boxer), but he's shown himself to be much tougher in the face of adversity as well. Corassani has developed something of a reputation for folding when he gets hit hard or hurt, and Holloway is very likely to hurt him with his high output and increasingly powerful strike selection. Max Holloway by TKO, Round 2.

Kyle McLachlan: Holloway is superb,and is making constant strides in improving his game. He should reaffirm his top ten credentials by battering Corassani. Max Holloway, by TKO, round 2

Staff picking Holloway: Patrick, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Paul, Kyle, Fraser
Staff picking Corassani:

Ilir Latifi vs. Jan Blachowicz

Mookie Alexander: Jan has no chance. Latifi is coming for that belt. Ilir Latifi by submission, during the intros.

Phil Mackenzie: With his poor octagon debut out of the way, Latifi is establishing himself as a pretty solid light heavyweight, with a combination of raw power and... ok, mostly just more raw power, which is going to be very hard for other 205ers around the lower-to-mid level to deal with. No reason to think he doesn't just run Blachowicz over with takedowns, bludgeoning ground and pound, and probably a submission. Blachowicz will likely need a pixelated chicken dinner or two, and/or a pixelated medikit in order to recover afterwards. Ilir Latifi by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: I feel bad for Blachowicz. There aren't many wrestlers at 205 (at least in the lower half) and outside his wrestling game, Jan is really a very solid fighter. He's a strong, quick technical kickboxer with a wicked submission game off his back, but he doesn't have the intermediary tools (like takedowns or takedown defense) to move naturally between the two. He also stands very tall, and has minimal footwork when he strikes, pretty much making him an ideal target for Latifi's overhand right to blast double. Good fighter, bad matchup. Ilir Latifi by TKO, Round 1.

Kyle McLachlan: What do you expect me to say? Latifi by Hulk Smash, round 1

Staff picking Latifi: Patrick, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Fraser
Staff picking Blachowicz:

Niklas Backstrom vs. Mike Wilkinson

Mookie Alexander: Total squash match. Wilkinson is going to be known as the guy who goes into his opponent's home country and then loses in emphatic fashion. Niklas Backstrom, TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Hmm. Backstrom was losing to Tom Niinimaki in his debut before he smashed him with a back-to-back combination of Law's knee and bulldog throws from Tekken. Whether those were real persistent defensive holes or just octagon jitters will be interesting to see, because Wilkinson is fairly sound. Still, the capabilities for round and fight winning offense are all with Backstrom here. Niklas Backstrom by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Backstrom still has more confidence in his striking than he has striking skill, but he's a very good kicker and looks to be developing his boxing. Otherwise, he's an otherworldly grappler and fantastic in transitions. Wilkinson is basically just a guy for him to style on. Niklas Backstrom by Submission, Round 1.

Kyle McLachlan: Wilkinson is primarily a grappler. Who was triangle'd by Rony Jason. Niklas Backstrom via TKO, round 1

Staff picking Backstrom: Patrick, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Fraser
Staff picking Wilkinson:

Magnus Cedenblad vs. Scott Askham

Mookie Alexander: Askham? I barely even know him! Scott Askham by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Do you like Tom Watson? Do you enjoy his grinding, violent clinch offense and rugged Britishness? Do you sometimes find yourself wishing he was perhaps a bit more athletically gifted? Then you'll love Scott "Megatom Ultrawatson" Askham! Seriously though, Askham is a strong, relentless and ultra-determined machine in the clinch. Cedenblad is a lengthy Swede with developing striking and an excellent ground game. However, if he gets backed up into the cage and gives Askham time to work, bad things may happen. Askham by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: I do honestly think Askham is a good fighter with a strong future, especially in the weak lower ranks at 185, but Cedenblad is monstrously underrated as a middleweight threat. His striking is raw, but has enough power to keep opponents wary and his grappling and wrestling are both very, very powerful. I just think Askham's defensive wrestling isn't good enough, and he's not a strong enough finisher to put Cedenblad in trouble early. Magnus Cedenblad by submission, round 2.

Kyle McLachlan: Great to see Askham in the UFC. Zane's prediction might well be right, but I'll give Askham the benefit of the doubt and say he can work his clinch game and outstrike Cedenblad, who admittedly I have seen little of and who I should've researched further before making my pick. Scott Askham via decision

Staff picking Cedenblad: Zane, Stephie, Karim, Anton, Mookie, Fraser
Staff picking Askham: Patrick, Phil, Kyle

Nico Musoke vs. Alexander Yakovlev

Mookie Alexander: Honestly can't pick a guy who was almost knocked out on the feet by Demian Maia. Musoke is the better fighter and his relatively competitive fight against Gastelum makes me think he can take this easily. Nico Musoke, submission, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Musoke did really well against a somewhat porky Kelvin Gastelum before being worn down by Gastelum's endless pressure. Yakovlev seems to have reasonable offensive wrestling, but possesses little takedown defense. Musoke should be able to exploit this handily. Nico Musoke by decision.

Zane Simon: It's true that Yakovlev doesn't have much in the way of grappling chops, but he's a very, very good wrestler. Demian Maia showed that he's still one of the best grapplers in the world by controlling Yakovlev for three rounds, but he still couldn't find a submission. Honestly I think that puts Musoke at long odds to find one himself. Otherwise, Yakvolev is a pesky kickboxer with a solid chin and generally good striking defense. He uses that expertly to set up his wrestling, which I don't think Musoke has an answer for. Alexander Yakovlev by decision.

Staff picking Musoke: Patrick, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Kyle, Fraser
Staff picking Yakovlev: Zane, DSM, Karim

Dennis Siver vs. Charles Rosa

Mookie Alexander: Yeah.... Dennis Siver, TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: No real reason to assume Siver doesn't walk away with a clear-cut decision or TKO in an extremely short-notice bout against a guy he'd probably beat anyway. More to the point: is he going to just lie down and accept Max Holloway as the new king of spinning back kicks to the body? Don't ‘av it, Dennis. Dennis Siver by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Best answer to the UFC trying to put on a fight between an 11 year 30 fight vet and a kid with two years and 9 fights worth of experience under his belt: Pull him and replace him with an older guy with two years of experience and 9 fights under his belt. Honestly, unless Siver gets hit by a meteor, he's winning this fight. Dennis Siver by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Siver: Patrick, Phil, Zane, Mookie, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Fraser
Staff picking Rosa:

Cathal Pendred vs. Gasan Umalatov

Phil Mackenzie: I was the only staff member who picked against Pendred last time out, because I was fairly convinced that he's just not... good. Even though he sort of proved me wrong, I still have yet to be convinced that he brings anything other than "decent-for-an-Irish-Middleweight" grappling to the table, complemented by cardio and heart for days. However, this is a pretty well-matched contest for him. If he brings sufficient size and strength down from 185 to muscle Umalatov around, then he'll win. If not, Umalatov is a more sound fighter on the feet than Pendred, because, well, pretty much everyone is. Gasan Umalatov by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Cathal Pendred and Gasan Umalatov are not good fighters, at least from a technical perspective. For Pendred's part, he gets away with it by being a very good athlete and tough as old boots. Umalatov gets away with it by fighting Paulo Thiago in the late stages of his career. Cathal Pendred by decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Pendred is a perfectly fine middle of the pack grinding wrestler type. I don't see him having a huge upside, but he'll continue to score wins against lower tier opponents thanks to his takedowns, control, and cardio. Umalatov looks to be just a notch below. Cathal Pendred by decision

Staff picking Pendred: Patrick, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Mookie, Fraser
Staff picking Umalatov: Phil, Kyle

Tor Troeng vs. Krzysztof Jotko

Phil Mackenzie: I think we're all slowly realizing that Tor's emotionless demeanour isn't covering up a Gunnar Nelson or a Fedor here. Jotko isn't fantastic, but Troeng hasn't shown the capacity to do anything other than survive of late, against pretty mediocre competition to boot. Krysztof Jotko by decision.

Zane Simon: I'm really not sold on Jotko as much of a talent right now. He's young and he's gaining experience, but I honestly thought he got beat by Bruno Santos, and Cedenblad pretty definitely knocked him down a notch. His striking isn't great and he mostly looks to win by clinching and grinding, or dragging fights to the ground and grinding. Troeng may not be getting better in the way some had hoped he would, but he almost always fights aggressive. At this point I'd give the edge to aggression. Tor Troeng by submission.

Fraser Coffeen: Remember when there were reports coming out of TUF that there was this brutal Anderson Silva-esque destroyer just mauling people in the house? And remember when we all speculated that it might be Tor Troeng? Yeah, it wasn't him. Krzysztof Jotko by decision

Staff picking Troeng: Zane
Staff picking Jotko: Patrick, Mookie, Phil, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Fraser

Mairbek Taisumov vs. Marcin Bandel

Phil Mackenzie: Taisumov underwhelmed last time out, when he was ploughed into the mat by Prazeres repeatedly. Most concerningly, I remember his cornerman and trainer (Roger Huerta) going absolutely nuts while Taisumov appeared to mentally check out. Lesson #1 in modern MMA: if you're fighting a Polish guy called Marcin, you need to be very disciplined and focused, and ready for wacky submissions at all times. OK, maybe not lesson #1. This is a real coinflip with far too many unknowns to accurately call, but Mairbek Taisumov by decision.

Zane Simon: Marcin Bandel is definitely a high octane grappler. The kind of guy who's going to dive for a kneebar transition to an ankle lock, and then a toehold. Otherwise, he doesn't have a lot of ancillary skills. Rarely, a few fighters can make that style really work for them, most can't. Taisumov isn't nearly the future champ that some hyped him to be, but if he wants to prove himself any sort of prospect at all, he has to get by Marcin Bandel. Mairbek Taisumov by decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Surprised I am the lone voice for Bandel so far. In a battle of aggressive grappler vs. stand-up fighter with lower takedown defense, I like the grapplers chances. Way easier to get the Muay Thai fighter down then for the Muay Thai fighter to keep it standing. Marcin Bandel by decision

Staff picking Taisumov: Patrick, Phil, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Mookie
Staff picking Bandel: Fraser

Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Ernest Chavez

Phil Mackenzie: Tukhugov is a really solid prospect, and should mop up on Chavez, who aside from having an awesome name which just screams "prizefighter", doesn't really have much to offer here. Tukhugov by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Of all the Eastern Europeans with a combat sambo background, Tukhugov may be flying furthest under the radar. Partially it's because it's been a while since he last fought, partially it's because his debut against Douglas d'Silva wasn't very inspiring. Still, Tukhugov shows flashes of a dynamic striking game, to go with his very solid wrestling and clinch control. IF he can continue to develop that he could be a solid talent. Chavez a grinding boxer that relies on high output and movement to win fights. I'm not sure his gas tank is actually up to that task however. Zubaira Tukhugov by decision.

Staff picking Tukhugov: Patrick, Phil, Zane, Stephie, DSM, Karim, Anton, Kyle, Fraser, Mookie
Staff picking Chavez: