Tomorrow night's UFC 193 event is one of the better cards (at least on paper) of the year, with well matched, intriguing bouts from top to bottom. Even the heavyweight bouts, which tend to not interest me as much when the Top 6 guys aren't fighting, look to have excitement potential. The thing is, when we get cards like this, it is really tough choosing winners, and we certainly can't go by who the oddsmakers (Evans is the heavy favorite over Bader, which seems outlandish to me) are favoring.
To give you a better idea of where I'm sitting, I've decided to throw my hat in the ring with main card predictions once again. I don't do it often, but I am leading the Bloody Elbow AND Three Amigos pack with my picks, so I do have a tiny bit of leeway to brag. I won't be obnoxious, I'll just note that Tim Burke and Mookie Alexander are not on my level.
Now, on to my picks:
I'm taking Cormier in this one. Historically, he's done well with taller opponents, and tends to find those available spaces to get inside and fight from the pocket. He's great in the clench and his MMA wrestling is outstanding. He's got one punch knockout power and pretty decent cardio. Gustafsson is a great fighter, but he does best against fighters that are tall and rangy like he is, where he can keep them at a distance. Don't get me wrong, he does have the tools to get a win here, I just don't think he will.
My pick: Cormier via Round 3 TKO
I am gonna just go ahead and put this out there. I absolutely hate it when fighters I like are paired against each other. It makes choosing a side so much more difficult. Evans looked fantastic at the weigh-ins, but it's hard to ignore a two year layoff compounded by two surgeries inside that time frame. Evans' last two wins are to Chael Sonnen, who was best at MW and Dan Henderson, also a better MW than LHW. Bader has had a 4 fight streak against better competition, and has managed to stay active and healthy. I also give the edge in power to Bader.
My pick: Ryan Bader via UD
This fight is kind of a tossup for me. Jordan is a bit of a mixed bag. He's got a good top pressure game, some might even go so far as to call it smothering, and he's got rockets loaded in his fists, but he's inconsistent. Magomedov has looked good in his two UFC outings and has an impressive resume of names (if you don't take into account that the bigger names are well past their primes) he's beaten. This is a bit of a coin flip for me.
My pick: Ruslan Magomedov via Round 1 TKO/KO
This is going to be a great fight. Both guys are well equipped to best the other, and after much back and forth (Thanks a lot Iain Kidd and Mookie Alexander for planting the seed of doubt), I finally settled on my pick. Ali Bagutinov has been steadily improving, has the age advantage and a size advantage. He's aggressive and has the killer instinct. That said, he's also been on a one year hiatus for popping hot on a drug test for Epo and a fat burning stimulant (DMAA).
JoeBWanKenobi...I just can't go against him. He's tried and true, and outside Mighty Mouse, nobody beats him, at least right now. The same might not be said in a year or two, but right now, I just feel his game is more well rounded than everyone else's.
My pick: Joseph Benavidez via SD
This was also a difficult fight to pick. Both gals are very athletic and aggressive. Nothing pleases me more than seeing that clip of Jessica's standing arm triangle choke of Zoila Gurgel from her Bellator days. That was a brutal display of violence, and it will always stand out as Eye's breakthrough performance. Her win over Leslie Smith was pretty gnarly, too (she punched her ear right off!).
Julianna has looked impressive in her performances and has a solid ground and pound game. She uses her size advantage well, and much like Eye, is not afraid to take a few to give one. Despite the experience disadvantage, I can't help but have a feeling we might get an upset here (I believe Eye is the favorite).
My pick: Julianna Pena via Round 2 TKO
Now that I've given you my picks and predictions, it's time to get to the good stuff, Crazy Aaron's free tourney for Bloody Elbow readers. Before I link you guys, I wanted to give you some standard information about Kountermove.
Players use a $25,000 artificial salary cap to draft 5 fighters from the card before each event begins. Eachfighter has a salary designated by Kountermove -- salaries range from $3,000 to $8,000. The winners are determined based on how the fight plays out rather than simply a fight's outcome (pick'em format). Kountermove calculates a fighter's fantasy score based on the number of strikes, takedowns, submissions, dominant positions, and rounds won. Scoring data from the fights flows into the site in near real-time, so players can monitor their teams as the event happens. The data used in calculating a fighter's score is provided by UFC's official stats provider, FightMetric.
The site was started with the idea that MMA in general must market "up and coming" fighters to become a truly mainstream sport. "There are many great fighters out there that no one knows about because so much of marketing in MMA is geared toward the top fighters" said Aaron Ard, a co-founder of Kountermove.com, "we wanted to create a game that would create interest and engagement in preliminary fights as well as the headliners." Statistics are bearing this out; over 85% of Kountermove players' teams have at least one fighter competing on the preliminary card. No Kountermove player has won a major tournament without a preliminary card fighter on their team.
Here's the link to the $100 tourney:
You can follow Kountermove via their Twitter account, @Kountermove
Disclaimer: Kountermove is not an advertiser on Bloody Elbow, nor are we being paid to advertise the contest. They offered to provide Bloody Elbow readers with the free tournament and are fully responsible for the contest and any associated prize payouts.