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UFC on Fox 14: Gustafsson vs. Johnson staff picks and predictions

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking to win each fight on tomorrow's UFC on Fox 14: Gustafsson vs. Johnson event in Stockholm, Sweden.

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Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson

Mookie Alexander: I think it's reasonable to say that nobody Rumble has fought is as good a striker as Gustafsson, and you can definitely say Rumble is the most powerful striker Gustafsson has faced. The worst case scenario for Gustafsson is that Rumble proves to be way stronger than he is, keeps him on the defensive with his kicks, and is able to hurt him with his hands. This is not a fight I envision Johnson wanting to use his takedowns unless he's sewn up his historical problems with losing on the ground. He needs to win this by KO or TKO and frankly I think Gustafsson is just a tad above him. Gustafsson will pick his shots from range, maybe work in some knees to the body in the clinch, and perhaps make an extra emphasis on wearing Rumble down with body shots in general. In a five round fight, I expect Gustafsson to try to get Rumble fatigued, get his own takedown, and sink in a rear-naked choke. Alexander Gustafsson by submission, round 3.

Anton Tabuena: Johnson would have to integrate his takedowns well with his striking in this one if he wants to be successful. If he chooses to make it purely a striking contest, it will be his downfall as Gustafsson will be the slicker and more technical of the two. I expect Johnson to try and stand with him for the most part, and Gus' footwork will be a difference maker there as well. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO.

Zane Simon: I realize that Gus should be the favorite here, and I really think it does boil down to longevity and toughness. His ability to take punishment and stay the course round after round is really only matched by the champion, Jon Jones... But, I don't know if it's something in the air, something wrong with my head, or just a wide-eyed enthusiasm for violence, but something has me picking Anthony Johnson. Is striking has looked technical to the point of rarity lately, and I'm hoping to see a truly special performance from him here. Probably not, but a guy can dream. Anthony Johnson by decision.

Staff picking Gustafsson: Phil, Karim, Paul, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Mookie
Staff picking Johnson: Stephie, Zane

Above: Zane, Connor and Dallas break down Gustafsson vs. Rumble from this week's Vivisection

Dan Henderson vs. Gegard Mousasi

Anton Tabuena: The odds of an H-Bomb landing and his chin holding up becomes less and less these days. This is clearly Mousasi's fight to lose. He's a bit late, but Father time has been catching up. Gegard Mousasi by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Dan Henderson is a legend. He's also going to get beaten up tomorrow night. Go pick out the last time he won a fight using his "Olympic caliber wrestling". Now envision a scenario where Mousasi will walk into a TRT-less H-Bomb and go to sleep. This is a blowout, Mousasi is a much better fighter than 2015 Henderson, and frankly by the end of this massacre I expect sadness. Gegard Mousasi via submission, round 3.

Zane Simon: Not close, not competitive. I'm seeing Shogun vs. OSP all over again. Maybe not as quick, but just as ugly. Gegard Mousasi by TKO.

Staff picking Henderson:
Staff picking Mousasi: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Karim, Paul, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane

Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader

Mookie Alexander: Phil Davis wins ugly almost all of the time. His style can be shut down by anyone who can counter-wrestle and penetrate his generally strong striking defense. We know Rashad and Rumble have done this and Jon Jones would destroy him with ease. But is there anyone else? Bader is a better striker -- he's not a bad boxer by any means -- and Davis' takedowns aren't the greatest. My biggest fear is that Bader reverts to wildly coming forward and firing off his right hand against a bigger target. In a three-round fight between two guys who are "contenders, but not really", I see this being a close, competitive bout that's ultimately edged out by Bader based on workrate and maybe even getting his own takedowns without messing with Davis' superior submission skills. Ryan Bader by split decision.

Anton Tabuena: I'm not sure why anyone would pick Bader. Even if he manages to even out with their wrestling, Davis still has better submissions, a better clinch game, and most importantly a better overall striking game. Phil has faced better strikers, and Bader's somewhat predictable boxing game will probably be neutralized as Davis utilizes his kicks and controls distance. This bout could be a boring stalemate if they employ wrestling-centric game plans, but I still don't see a really good case for a Bader win. Phil Davis by Decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I flip flopped on this one. Bader does not deserve to be the underdog to the extent that he is: he is a far more skilled boxer, and should be able to shuck off the majority of Davis's takedowns. However, Davis is better in the tie-ups, and owns the outside with kicks- the Power MMA solution to kicking games is to run through them with double legs, and I don't think that works here. Basically Bader has to hold a very specific middle distance to be able to win and his whole offense style is based on rushing in. Razor close, but Phil Davis by decision.

Zane Simon: The biggest unknown here for me, is whether Bader continually puts himself in the clinch and can't work out of it. He's the better striker (not way way better, but better enough), not a significantly worse wrestler, and has been putting together the best performances of his career lately. Davis did a remarkable job against Teixeira last time out (although Teixeira did a remarkably poor job as well), but he looked beyond lost against Anthony Johnson once he couldn't get in on Johnson's legs. To the point that I feel comfortable picking a much less talented striker than Johnson to find success, as long as he keeps Phil off his legs. Ryan Bader by Decision.

Staff picking Davis: Phil, Karim, Paul, Anton, Fraser
Staff picking Bader: Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Zane

Sam Sicilia vs. Akira Corassani

Mookie Alexander: Tough call. I tend to think Corassani folds up once he gets the pressure put on him, and it's been evident in his last two fights and in his very clear robbery "win" against Andy Ogle. Sicilia is just as inconsistent but has a moderate entertainment value. He prefers to strike and has good KO power but is too much of a liability defensively for me to confidently side with him. Akira Corassani by TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Corassani has been matched up very hard of late, and has honestly done reasonably well. His rapid outside movement and the way he bobs his head to come in to deliver the right hand are very reminiscent of his teammate, Edgar, but he just doesn't have Edgar's physical gifts. Poirier and Holloway were able to use their length and power to crank up the violence until he fell away, but Sicilia is not quick, or long, and struggled drastically to close distance on Cole Miller and Kikuno. He might well get laced, but Akira Corassani by decision

Zane Simon: If nothing else, this fight should be fun to watch. Corassani is the much much more technically adept fighter, but once he gets hurt, things seem to go downhill in a hurry. On the other hand, Sam Sicilia's style seems fundamentally untenable for a finding consistent success, as he's at his best in the phone booth, but loves to stay on the outside and wing huge ugly strikes. I could very very easily see Sicilia catching Corassani just once, and turning the fight on it's head, but I feel like I have to take the fighter without so many technical flaws, even if he's got one big physical one. Akira Corassani by decision.

Staff picking Sicilia: Stephie, Paul, Anton, Fraser
Staff picking Corassani: Phil, Karim, Mookie, Tim, Zane

Nicolas Musoke vs. Albert Tumenov

Mookie Alexander: Musoke was nearly KO'd by Viscardi Andrade, who prematurely celebrated what was an eventual loss, and whose name also sounds like an alcoholic beverage. Albert Tumenov doesn't celebrate prematurely, he knocks people into their burial plot. Albert Tumenov by KO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: A fight which could be super fun... or super not fun. Musoke is a three-dimensional fighter, but his lack of pace and urgency sometimes brings unfavourable comparisons to Francis Carmont to mind. Tumenov is way more exciting, but hasn't looked great when forced past the first round. Musoke's kickboxing is still a work in progress, but he hung tough against offensive dynamo Gastelum, so Albert Tumenov by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: There's no reason Musoke can't win this, if he turns it into a long, drawn out wrestle-grappling match. Tumenov's TDD is good, but it makes him burn energy, which slows him down a lot. Still, it's hard not to see Tumenov as a talent finding his home in the octagon. His comfort seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, and with it, his ability to implement a supremely technical, powerful standup game. Musoke may be the better wrestler grappler, but he's very content to bang it out on the feet, and take a lot of shots doing it. Albert Tumenov by KO, Round 2.

Staff picking Musoke: Stephie
Staff picking Tumenov: Phil, Mookie, Karim, Paul, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane

Kenny Robertson vs. Sultan Aliev

Phil Mackenzie: Robertson is about as much of a pure throwback wrestler as you can get. Aliev is a good wrestler himself, and a better striker, with his only recent loss being an absolute screw-job against Doug Marshall in Bellator. Robertson is far more sneaky and effective from the top, but I don't think he gets it there. Sultan Aliev by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: I love Robertson. I love his game and the way he implements it. But Aliev is a nightmare matchup for him. Bigger, stronger, and just about as good a wrestler. He's the better and more powerful boxer too. Robertson is a fun, game fighter, but I think Aliev is just a class of athlete he's not going to get by. Sultan Aliev by TKO.

Staff picking Robertson: Stephie, Tim, Fraser
Staff picking Aliev: Phil, Karim, Anton, Mookie, Zane

Andy Ogle vs. Makwan Amirkhani

Phil Mackenzie: Ogle thus far is fairly skilled and well-rounded, but is always let down by being completely unable to hurt any but the most frail or defensively defunct fighters. He's spent time over at Alpha Male, where hopefully they've taught him some weight transfer. Amirkhani is more of a grappler, but Ogle is particularly sound in that phase and should (SHOULD) have the advantage on the feet. Andy Ogle by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'm hoping for a fun, scramble filled fight, in which Ogle should be the more complete and well rounded fighter. Amirkhani could win, he's got an amazingly technical front headlock submission game, that's really attuned to back and forth scrambles. But, his takedown game isn't terribly special (even for a very experienced wrestler) and his striking is just about non-existent. I think this is where Ogle picks up a win. Andy Ogle by decision.

Staff picking Ogle: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Amirkhani: Karim

Nikita Krylov vs. Stanislav Nedkov

Mookie Alexander: Big #1 contender match-up here. Nikita Krylov by KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Just an absolute puzzler of a fight. What are either of these guys going to look like? Nedkov hasn't fought since getting wrecked by Tom Watson, and Krylov is... well, he's Nikita Krylov. Nedkov's disadvantages were that he was terribly vulnerable to the double collar, but Krylov hasn't showed the skill or the strategic nuance to capitalize. Nedkov to grind, get him down, and work his gnp. Stanislav Nedkov by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Big thing here are the reports that Krylov was headed out of Ukraine for a more wrestling focused camp after his last bout. If that's the case, it could do him a world of good in improving his skills. But, that's a big if. Nedkov's not flashy, but he's got the basic style that wins the majority of MMA fights. And there's every bit as much chance that his long layoff did him more good than harm. So, Stucky by UD.

Staff picking Krylov: Stephie, Mookie, Karim, Tim
Staff picking Nedkov: Phil, Anton, Fraser, Zane

Mairbek Taisumov vs. Anthony Christodoulou

Mookie Alexander: Oh. This is going to make Mike Goldberg's tongue miserable. Mairbek Taisumov by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Taisumov's worrying tendency to check out was not present in his last fight. While it's conceivable that Christodoulou can replicate what Prazeres did to the Chechen, he's just not the same kind of bowling ball offensive wrestler, and Taisumov will annihilate him in standing exchanges. Mairbek Taisumov by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Should be an easy fight for Taisumov... should. Christodoulou will pressure him throughout, but as long as Taisumov doesn't get too caught up playing defense and looking for opportunities, and just keeps his output up, this is his fight to lose. Mairbek Taisumov by TKO, Round 3.

Staff picking Taisumov: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Karim, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Christodoulou:

Mirsad Bektic vs. Paul Redmond

Phil Mackenzie: Bektic has a weird tendency to only get matched up with other prospects and young fighters. Skelly, Holloway, Omer, now Redmond, who is a skilled youngster and deserves to be in the UFC, but is up against almost every conceivable disadvantage. Bektic should be able to outwrestle Redmond handily, and get the freakish ground and pound rolling. Mirsad Bektic by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Bektic is really athletically talented and still very raw. I'd say Redmond is the more complete of the two men, and the more consistent. But the raw gifts aren't quite there. I could easily see Redmond diving on and getting a submission at some point in a scramble, or as Bektic wears down, but unless that happens... Mirsad Bektic by decision.

Staff picking Bektic: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Karim, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Redmond:

Viktor Pesta vs. Konstantin Erokhin

Mookie Alexander: Mmmmmmmm ... pasta. Konstantin Erokhin by marinara sauce, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Derrick Lewis has recently displayed the dangerous appeal of being able to hit really, really hard: in a division where literally everyone has KO power, it's not all that much of an advantage. However, Erokhin is way better than Lewis, and while Pesta is decent, expect Erokhin to land an earthshaker at some point. Konstantin Erokhin by KO, round 1

Zane Simon: Erokhin is tailor made to be a successful UFC heavyweight. Pesta has a long way to go to fit that bill. Konstantin Erokhin by KO, Round 1.

Staff picking Pesta:
Staff picking Erokhin: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Karim, Anton, Tim, Fraser, Zane

Neil Seery vs. Chris Beal

Phil Mackenzie: If both fighters show up the same as they looked last time out, then Seery should take it handily. But, Seery is twice as far into his career, and is older at a weight class where getting old means a lot. Beal has steadily improved. Does he overtake Seery? I don't think so. Some reservations, but Neil Seery by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: This is a fight Chris Beal could win, with some reasonably competitive boxing and a decent wrestling/takedown game, not to mention just being the better athlete in the cage. But, at the range where he really likes to keep the fight, he's at a major technical disadvantage. Seery is undoubtedly the smoother, more technical boxer, and can compete everywhere else. Can Beal win? Yes. Will he? I don't think so. Neil Seery by Decision.

Staff picking Seery: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Zane
Staff picking Beal: Karim, Anton, Tim, Fraser