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UFC Fight Night: Holohan vs. Smolka staff picks and predictions

Bloody Elbow's staff has made its predictions for tomorrow's UFC Fight Night: Holohan vs. Smolka card in Dublin, Ireland.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Well UFC Dublin lost its original main event and co-main event, but the card will still happen tomorrow. The Bloody Elbow staff is overwhelmingly in favor of Louis Smolka getting the win over Ireland's Paddy Holohan in the main event, and have a clean sweep for Norman Parke over Reza Madadi in the co-main (Update: Tim Burke swooped in from his vacation to pick Madadi). There's only one fight with a decent split between picks, and that's Nicolas Dalby against Darren Till. Otherwise it's a bunch of clean sweeps or near-sweeps.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected on Friday. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Tuesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he's going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Patrick Holohan vs. Louis Smolka

Anton Tabuena: Poor Irish fans. Zuffa considers them as the ‘best fight fans in the world', but now they're getting a card headlined by two guys who have yet to even compete on the main card on any of their UFC bouts. That being said, I think this will be a competitive bout that could be fun. Holohan is tough and gritty, but I believe the former PXC champ in Smolka will have the edge here. Louis Smolka by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Holohan has beaten pretty much the low-end of the UFC roster in reasonably convincing fashion. Smolka has done much of the same although I rate Neil Seery above everyone Holohan has beaten. I think Smolka has the higher upside and he'll make Holohan pay for his reckless and occasionally aggressive style throughout what will be an entertaining scrap. Holohan probably can only finish this with a submission and I don't think he can outgrapple Smolka, let alone hold him down. Louis Smolka by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I think Smolka is the better grappler, better wrestler, stronger fighter (although not by much), and better combination boxer in the pocket. Holohan is better at range and aggressive as hell everywhere, but when he's not getting a flash KO or a slick transition sub he's never shown the kind of consistency to dominate a fight anywhere. Louis Smolka by submission, Round 2.

Staff picking Holohan: Phil, Tim
Staff picking Smolka: Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton

Reza Madadi vs. Norman Parke

Mookie Alexander: It's easy to forget that Reza Madadi was actually having good success in the UFC before he, well, you know... took a hiatus. The only "loss" on Madadi's record is against Cristiano Marcello, which was an egregious robbery of a decision, and he actually rallied to beat current top 10 lightweight Michael Johnson. So all things considered, he's at least a decent fighter, but this is the type of opponent Parke can wear down and beat up over 3 rounds. Parke doesn't really excite me at all, but odds are Madadi will get taken down a few times and Norman will control him from top position again and again. Norman Parke by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Madadi isn't exactly ancient in terms of cage wear, but coming off a two year layoff in your late 30's, especially when he spent at least some of that time in prison, not training to fight at the highest level, doesn't inspire confidence. Add in that Madadi's usual path to victory is through his wrestling and that Parke is incredibly hard to take down and I've got Norman Parke by grinding decision.

Staff picking Madadi: Tim
Staff picking Parke: Phil, Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton

Nicolas Dalby vs. Darren Till

Mookie Alexander: Nicolas Dalby's name sounds too close to Thomas Dolby, who sang "She Blinded Me With Science" in the 1980s. What a shit song that was. As were many cheesy one-hit wonders of that decade. Anyway, that's why I'm going with Darren Till by unanimous decision.

Zane SImon: I'm not sold on Darren Till. Oliveira was a good win and a big step up in competition, but the only thing it really proved to me was that Till is big enough and tough enough to face UFC level welterweights and Oliveira wasn't. Till still looks like a kick heavy striker with little-to-no boxing. His takedown defense and GnP are both very good, but I haven't seen enough offensive wrestling from him to feel like he's got a consistent takedown avenue. After that, Dalby is the more consistent, offensively varied striker with a pretty proven track record and a strong wrestling game. Nicolas Dalby by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Dalby is a disciplined and clever fighter who is already pushing up against the limits of his athleticism. He's well-conditioned, well-rounded and has strong understanding of how to pressure and work from the outside. As he fights better athletes, though, his lack of powerful offense will start to hurt him, as it has other cerebral or tough welterweights like LaFlare and McGee. Till is a step up in that regard, so I think this is a tricky one. I'll bet on Dalby's smarts and consistency to capitalize on Till's two pronounced flaws- an inability to cover his right side, and a tendency to take his foot off the gas. If Dalby can't pick up takedowns against Till, I think he can still use them to slow his pace. Nicolas Dalby by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Dalby: Phil, Zane
Staff picking Till: Mookie, James, Stephie, Anton, Tim

Jon Delos Reyes vs. Neil Seery

Anton Tabuena: This bout has FOTN potential. Delos Reyes has holes in his game, but the guy is a gamer and I think he can keep it standing and make things interesting. I'm going for the underdog pick here. Jon Delos Reyes by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Eventually there will come a point in time where the whole "36-year-old flyweight" catches up with Seery and he starts losing fights to competition that he shouldn't be losing to, but Delos Reyes doesn't feel like the type of guy who can eventually exploit that. Neil Seery by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Seery is very likely just about to come out of the prime of his career right now, but Delos Reyes isn't the fighter to expose that. Reyes is a very powerful boxer with fast hands and solid mechanics, but his wrestling is really one dimensional and his grappling is more flash and opportunity than consistently applied technique. I could see Reyes landing a few early bombs and putting a scare into Seery, but after that I expect his superior cardio, wrestling, and grappling to take over. Neil Seery by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This is a fight where Seery should have a couple of clear technical edges- notably, Reyes's tendency to hang out after throwing big strikes (which will almost certainly get him countered) and his aforementioned sloppy grappling. However, if I think of what Seery has struggled with, then it's been consistent aggression and younger or better conditioned fighters just putting a really high pace on him. I think the Sangcha'an fight was a great confidence-builder for Delos Reyes, and that he has a real chance to outwork Seery if he stays on him. However, I still think Seery has at one or two good performances left in him and that he'll show up for the Dublin crowd. Good fight, good chance at FOTN. Neil Seery by unanimous decision.


Staff picking Delos Reyes: Anton, Tim
Staff picking Seery: Mookie, James, Stephie, Phil, Zane

Mickael Lebout vs. Steven Ray

Phil Mackenzie: Holy fightfinder odds, Batman. Lebout is a cripplingly huge underdog, despite the fact that he should be undefeated in the UFC, having dropped his debut in a clear-cut robbery to Sergio Moraes. In general I've really liked what I've seen from the guys from the Crossfight gym. They tend to be well-rounded, tough, and defensively responsible. Ray is a better athlete, and he is a good striker and ground and pound artist, but his skill tends to be a little more instinct and attribute-based than technical. I think he can land the "big moments" and has way more opportunity for picking up a strikes-based stoppage, but this is a very close fight to me, particularly as Lebout is not pathologically aggressive enough to run straight into Ray's wheelhouse like Bandel and Mafra did. Hrrrrm. Stevie Ray by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Phil's right, the odds on this fight are bananas. I like Ray, I expect him to win. He's not bad anywhere and he's a great athlete. But aside from his solid wrestling and top notch punching power, he's not exactly a technical marvel. Lebout is tough as nails, consistent, and a good offensive fighter in all areas and a great defensive grappler. I don't think that'll be enough to win him the fight, but I expect he'll stay in it all 15 minutes and make Ray work hard for the win. Stevie Ray by decision.

Staff picking Lebout:
Staff picking Ray: Phil, Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton, Tim

Scott Askham vs. Krzysztof Jotko

Mookie Alexander: If Scott Askham were an NFL player, we'd be talking about how relentlessly blue collar he is. Gritty. Has great heart. He brings his lunch pail to the cage every time he fights. And he's going to physically overwhelm Jotko. Scott Askham by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: These two are both relatively well-rounded and aggressive southpaws. Jotko is the superior grappler, but I don't think that's enough to compensate for the really big edge in power that Askham possesses. Jotko isn't as strong a wrestler as Semenblood was, and he's not going to win either distance kickboxing or a clinch battle against the Yorkshireman's deadly Coal Pit Muai Thai. Scott Askham by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Jotko may run into serious problems as he tries to move up the middleweight ladder. He's well rounded, he's tough, and he's aggressive. But, he's not a huge MW and is a bit physically underwhelming. Tor Troeng may not have beat Jotko, but he pushed him around a lot in the clinch. And Troeng himself was a pretty mediocre athlete at 185. Askham, on the other side, may not be the fastest MW or the most dynamic the world has ever seen, but he seems like he's more than strong enough to compete. He's also shown a lot more technical consistency in his striking and the occasional ability to land big fight ending strikes. I don't know that he puts Jotko away, but I think he beats him handily. Scott Askham by decision.

Staff picking Askham: Phil, Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Jotko: Tim

Ericka Almeida vs. Aisling Daly

Anton Tabuena: I haven't been completely impressed with Daly's skillset, but from what I've seen I think she can still pull it off against Almeida. Aisling Daly by Decision.

Zane Simon: The UFC strawweight roster in general may be too much too soon for Almeida. She looked really raw in her debut. Granted that was on short notice, but the problems she had in that fight seemed like things that were basic flaws in her style that would take time to correct. She's spent time at some good camps so I think it will happen, but until she gets a few more years under her belt I think the crafty vets of the division will handle her. Aisling Daly by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Strawweight is a complete crapshoot at the moment. Daly has has the SBG combination of weird and arrhythmic striking and solid grappling, but lacks the physicality to implement it against upper level 115ers. Almeida probably has the higher overall ceiling, but her striking and clinch takedown defense were both woeful last time out, and picking her is basically assuming that she's going to look tons better. It's not impossible- she had an insanely brutal weight cut on short notice last time, which may be distorting our perceptions of a young and developing fighter. However, we're playing with dramatically incomplete info here, and I think that info still mostly says Aisling Daly by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Almeida:
Staff picking Daly: Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Tim

Tom Breese vs. Cathal Pendred

Anton Tabuena: This will be ugly. Really ugly. Tom Breese by (ugly) decision.

Mookie Alexander: You will not enjoy this fight. Tom Breese by split decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Breese is far more gifted than Pendred, but if there's a consistent factor in Pendred's UFC run, it's that he's been up against decent wrestlers (well, and Monsanto, who just ran away). Before the UFC, he made his bones outwrestling Europeans. Breese's strongest asset is his clinch game, and for once this puts someone directly into Pendred's area of strength. Which is his, uh, strength. I favour Breese for his ability to land actual offense, higher ceiling and better camp, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Pendred grinding, neutralizing and picking up the occasional ugly takedown. Tom Breese by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: I have a strong hope that Breese just tools Pendred here, but this might be a grind. Pendred tends to do best when he's the bigger man that can push opponents around. He won't have that advantage here, and at that point I think he'll be a lot more reliant on generating actual offense. He's never been great at that. Tom Breese by decision.

Staff picking Breese: Phil, Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Pendred: Tim

Darren Elkins vs. Robert Whiteford

Mookie Alexander: This basically boils down to whether or not Elkins is still capable of grinding lower-level opposition out. Hacran Dias is at least top 15ish and Elkins couldn't implement his gameplan effectively. Whiteford's UFC resume consists of losing to Jimy Hettes and then good showings against Daniel Pineda and Paul Redmond, neither of whom are really even mid-level opposition. I'll go with the more trustworthy and proven fighter. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Tough one to pick. Since his loss to Jimy Hettes, Whiteford has looked good. His takedown defense is strong and he's an improving striker. Although he's older in real time than Elkins, he's younger in cage age. Still, Elkins has traditionally been the gateway to the top 10, (although with the deepening of the division that's probably going to be closer to the top 20). Does Whiteford belong in the same bracket as the people who have beaten Elkins? I hope that he does, but I'm not too sure. Clinches, ugly striking, workrate, bleeding everywhere and Darren Elkins by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'd love to see Whiteford pull this out. He's at a better camp, he has improved, and he has the physicality to do it, but I don't know that he has the consistency in his striking to stay away from Elkins and pot shot him from range. If he can't do that, even if he doesn't get taken down often, I think he'll end up with his back against the cage fighting for breathing room a lot. Darren Elkins by decision.

Staff picking Elkins: Phil, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Whiteford: James

Bubba Bush vs. Garreth McLellan

Mookie Alexander: Yeah, South African MMA isn't exactly filled with good fighters, so ... Bubba Bush by TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Last time out, McLellan got absolutely dummied in an uncompetitive fight with someone who really doesn't appear to be all that good. Bubba Bush got stopped in one by the resurgent ("surgent?") Kevin Casey, who if nothing else is a dangerous glass cannon early, but Bush is still far more dangerous and physically capable. Bubba Bush by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Bush has big problems with the defensive side of his game in all areas, but McLellan is just so wild and inconsistent that I can't imagine trusting him to take advantage of Bush's problems. Bush has a very consistent offensive game predicated on strong wrestling and powerful top control grappling. Given McLellan's willingness to pull guard for bad subs... Bubba Bush by submission, Round 1.

Staff picking Bush: Phil, Mookie, James, Zane, Stephie, Anton, Tim
Staff picking McLellan: