Bloody Elbow's staff has submitted its predictions for tomorrow night's (Sunday afternoon in Australia) UFC 193 blockbuster pay-per-view in Melbourne. You'll be shocked to find out that nobody is picking Holly Holm or Valerie Letourneau to become new UFC champions. It's a sweep for Rousey, Jedrzejczyk, and Mark Hunt on the main card. We're mostly split on Uriah Hall and Robert Whittaker, which probably is apt considering this is arguably the most competitive fight on paper.
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.
NOTE 2: Occasionally, staff members who didn't submit their predictions in the document will edit the post after publishing.
Anton Tabuena: With their styles, this is by far the most intriguing non-Cyborg bout the UFC can put on right now. Ronda's biggest advantage here is the same as all her other bouts, but on this particular match up, her weaknesses could highlight some of her opponent's strengths. Rousey always bull-rushes in on a straight line, and has also been more inclined to strike as of late despite her defensive lapses on the feet. Against a superior striker who knows how to control distance well, that could pose some problems for the dominant champ. That said, this probably ends the same as most Rousey bouts. Ronda is far from a perfect fighter, and while she's certainly not unbeatable, I think once again, her judo will be more than enough to negate her shortcomings in other areas. Death, Taxes, Ronda Rousey by Armbar.
Mookie Alexander: I've read several articles on how Holly Holm can at least make it competitive with Ronda Rousey. I respect those columns and can definitely see a slim chance where Greg Jackson cracks the Rousey code, makes her fight patiently, and Holm capitalizes with several rounds of point-fighting. Hell, I'd even add Rousey could get careless and Holm, while historically not powerful, can land that perfect KO shot for the upset. Here's my counter to all of this: Ronda Rousey, armbar, round 1.
Nick: Rousey is a -2000 favourite for a reason. People say Holm could stand back and pick her shots. She'll try, but Rousey has 25 minutes to get inside Holm's range and then knock her out or judo throw her and submit her. She wins this by stoppage (as per usual) rather quickly. Ronda Rousey via Submission; Round 1
Stephie: Snowballs have better chances in the Sahara than Holm has against Ronda. Rousey via manslaughter, R1.
Zane Simon: Rousey, Armbar, Round 1
Staff picking Rousey: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Tim, Zane, Lewis
Staff picking Holm:
Anton Tabuena: I truly love watching Joanna's methodic Muay Thai beatdowns, and this will be a showcase fight that could possibly help her become a much bigger star after getting that Rousey-rub. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: No point in breaking this down. It's damn near a warm-up fight for Jedrzejczyk before she gets the Gadelha rematch. This will be a brutal brutal beating ending in another fantastic TKO. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via TKO, round 3.
Nick: Jedrzejczyk is fighting someone that probably shouldn't be fighting for the title in Letourneau. Joanna Champion will beat up Letourneau on the feet for a few rounds and eventually get the TKO mid-way through the fight. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via TKO; Round 3
Stephie: Joanna Jedrzejczyk via Nike Swoosh beatdown, R2
Staff picking Jedrzejczyk: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Tim, Zane, Lewis
Staff picking Letourneau:
Anton Tabuena: Mark Hunt looks a lot leaner now, and that's even extra reason this rematch isn't a good thing for post-TRT, post-brain surgery Bigfoot. Mark Hunt by KO.
Mookie Alexander: Really don't dig this rematch at all. Hunt has taken some serious beatings in recent outings, while Bigfoot has just gotten smashed to bits in his losses. He looked better against Soa Palelei but I think as long as Hunt doesn't show severe effects of the Miocic thrashing, this is his fight to lose. Mark Hunt via TKO, round 1.
Nick: I hope fans aren't expecting a three-round war in this matchup, similar to their first meeting in 2013. Bigfoot shouldn't be fighting because he legitimately needs TRT, and of course isn't allowed to use it. Silva nearly got stopped in his last contest against Soa Palelei, and was knocked out by Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir prior to that. Hunt took a beating in his last bout against Stipe Miocic, but still has a little left in the tank where Bigfoot does not. Mark Hunt via Knockout; Round 1
Phil Mackenzie: I share Moukie's sentiments about this fight. Bigfoot has gotten shitkicked in every one of his bouts since coming off TRT. The only reason he beat Soa Palelei was because he absorbed lots of damage but managed not to get finished, and Maldonado'd the New Zealander's terrible gas tank. Hunt is looking much less fat, and in general he's not a person you want to give free offensive rein to like Bigfoot has been doing lately. Hunt by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Hunt: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Tim, Zane, Lewis
Staff picking Silva:
Anton Tabuena: *Flips a coin to see whether he lands one or not* Okay, Uriah Hall by Ninja kick.
Mookie Alexander: I'm 0-3 in picking Hall fights this year so I might as well remain consistent. Whittaker should win this in theory. He's the better boxer, he's got great power, and he's shown considerable improvement over the past 2 years. Whittaker has the higher upside and I don't ever see Hall being a legitimate title challenger. But how much of his early success at 185 come down to the quality of opposition? Clint Hester has seemingly plateaued, ditto Brad Tavares. Hall is historically inconsistent with his output, but when his offense is at its best he is a dangerous fighter. I think Hall goes a little conservative here, trying to keep Whittaker away with kicks, and he may even resort to putting Whittaker on his back and working from top position to get the win on points. Otherwise, if Whittaker makes him uncomfortable with higher output pressure fighting and Hall backs up in a straight line, as is his historically bad habit, then it's Robert's to lose. Uriah Hall by unanimous decision.
Nick: This is the best fight on paper on the entire card. Hall has been a hit-and-miss fighter since the beginning of his career, but some believe he has finally reached his full potential, as he recently knocked out Gegard Mousasi. I'm not sure that's the case. Mousasi was dominating Hall early, but just got caught. Whittaker is a huge up-and-comer in the middleweight division and I think he wins this fight, but not by TKO because Prime Time is very durable. Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Interesting match-up: Hall has traditionally struggled with pressure and pace, which Whittaker brings to the table in spades, but Hall has specifically struggled with the way that defending takedowns dramatically drops his strike volume and defensive footwork: he's much better against pure strikers. He's on the right end of the power and durability equation as well. However, I still just don't trust Hall to beat good fighters, and Whittaker is a good fighter who has been making demonstrable strides and should be making more in future. Unless Hall catches him with something monstrous, Whittaker just has a more stable style for winning decisions. Robert Whittaker by unanimous decision
Stephie: Every time I pick against Uriah Hall, he proves me wrong. I'm done picking against him. Hall via targeted plantar assassination, R1
Zane Simon: I don't see Hall as better than win 1 lose 1 against top 15ish MW talent. He just won one, but he's not that far removed from being the guy that lost to Rafael Natal. As long as Whittaker doesn't get KO'd I think he'll just outwork Hall to a decision. Robert Whittaker by SD.
Lewis Mckeever: I agree with Nick that this is one of the most compelling fights on the card; I see Whittaker really making a name for himself here and getting the W. Robert Whittaker by UD.
Staff picking Hall: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Whittaker: Nick, Phil, Zane, Lewis
Anton Tabuena: Struve is long and tricky on the ground, so he conceivably could avoid being dry humped for 15 mins. Although I'm picking him mostly because he has the better gas tank and better striking, which goes a looooong way at heavyweight. Stefan Struve by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Nooooooooo. No no no no no. Bad UFC. BAD! This is likely to be a really boring fight. If Struve's takedown defense is improved then maybe we have something here. Otherwise it's Rosholt trying to smother while Struve tries to futilely work submissions off of his back. Jared Rosholt by unanimous decision.
Nick: I don't think this'll be a great way to kick off the pay-per-view card. I think Rosholt does his thing and grinds out the Skyscraper. Struve doesn't have the best takedown defense but if he is able to keep this on the feet, he could possibly finish Rosholt, as he finally began to use his reach advantage in his last bout. With that being said, I think Rosholt will be able to take Struve down at will and win a lopsided but boring decision. Jared Rosholt via Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Struve's striking looked better against Nog, but... it's Nog. There's a bit more to be said about this in the co-main / main events, but it's really a hell of a lot easier to look good against bad competition, and at this point Nog is definitely bad competition. Rosholt's Oliynik and Lewis losses look like classic prospect struggles, and Struve's last real fight involved him getting knocked out by someone inside his guard. It's still a coin-toss, Struve is a way more developed offensive threat, but I just don't believe in him, and in particular his possibly waning durability and terrible takedown defense. Jared Rosholt by unanimous decision.
Stephie: I really want Struve to win here, but as Phil so astutely pointed out, you can't really go by his last fight. Rosholt will grind this out in a snoozy-doozy. This has Beer Run FOTN written all over it. Rosholt via UD.
Staff picking Rosholt: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Struve: Anton, Tim, Lewis
Mookie Alexander: Yeahhhhhh Arreola really doesn't have a chance here. Jake Matthews by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: This is one of those fights between two relatively similar action fighters where one guy is just more athletic and with key advantages in the style matchup. The X-factor is Arreola's sneakily improved striking, as he's built a decent volume kicking style over a long career. As of his last fight, Matthews was still mostly just explosion and power on the feet. However, Arreola has never exactly had the greatest takedown defense. Jake Matthews by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Arreola is about as unathletic as the current lightweight division gets. His long string of subs on the Mexican regional MMA scene really oversell him as a dangerous fighter. Matthews should manhandle him. Jake Matthews by Submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Arreola:
Staff picking Matthews: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Tim, Zane
Phil Mackenzie: Noke hasn't been uncompetitive in his losses, but he's struggled with consistency. He's got OK takedown defense, OK power, an OK kicking game. A lot of it seems to work primarily because he's massive at welterweight. Sobotta's better at most everything, specifically blending together the separate phases of MMA in his offense, but size and physicality issues could make this fight a tough, boring watch. Peter Sobotta by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Sobotta came back to the UFC just as he was hitting his prime and his game seems to be in full flow right now. Kicks from the outside to create space, strong driving takedowns, and then a great back take game. Better pure athletes or better strikers with great TDD will trouble Sobotta, but that doesn't really describe Noke. Peter Sobotta by decision.
Staff picking Noke: Tim
Staff picking Sobotta: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane
Mookie Alexander: Anthony Perosh hasn't lost back-to-back fights in 9 years, so if the pattern holds then he'll submit Villante. But I'm well behind in the staff standings and picking 2015 Perosh to win against even a fringe top 15 LHW is not a risk I'm willing to take. Gian Villante via TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Villante looked like he might finally be turning the corner, but... in his last fight as he beat the crap out of Tom Lawlor, I gradually became more and more convinced that he was about to walk into a huge hook and get slept. And he did. He needs a bit more Rashid Magomedov in his heart. Perosh is frail, slow, and old as hell. He's also made a bit of a career in the UFC as an underdog. He's just a surprisingly strong and dangerous glass cannon who can both crack a bit and is a monstrous offensive grappler if he can get going. Gian Villante by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Perosh: Tim
Staff picking Villante: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane
Mookie Alexander: Xplode Fight Series warrior vs. Super Surfer Bro. I know who I'm picking. Richie Vaculik via gnarly tides.
Phil Mackenzie: Martinez has a lot of pace and a decent takedown game, but I actually like Vaculik's more diverse and fundamentally dangerous boxing. He was mostly kicking Louis Smolka's ass before eating Sweet Chin Music. Richie Vaculik by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Martinez: Nick, Tim
Staff picking Vaculik: Phil, Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Zane
Phil Mackenzie: Steve Montgomery looked too slow at welterweight, and so it's good to see him up at 185. He's still a pretty dangerous, diverse striker and Kelly is super tough but offensively inert. Steve Montgomery by TKO round 3.
Zane Simon: Montgomery's trick here is going to be not walking into something stupid early in the fight while he's still getting comfortable. If he can do that, I expect him to out work Kelly as the bout goes on. Creepy Weasel by Decision.
Staff picking Kelly: Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Montgomery: Nick, Anton, Phil, Tim, Zane
Phil Mackenzie: I have no idea what Steve Kennedy is good at. Walsh is aggressive and physical, particularly in the clinch, where he just had the unfortunate luck to meet a better fighter than himself there the last time out. Richard Walsh by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Walsh is really foot slow and not great enough at what he does well (clinch striking) to beat better athletes there, but Kennedy isn't a better athlete. Richard Walsh by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Kennedy:
Staff picking Walsh: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Stephie, Anton, Tim, Zane
James Moontasri vs. Anton Zafir
Anton Tabuena: I'm picking the guy with the better name. Anton by 360 flying elbow kick KO.
Phil Mackenzie: James Moontasri is gifted and flashy but not a stable fighter at all. Zafir is tough and determined, but he looks to be up against boggling athleticism differentials. This is exactly the kind of fight where Moontasri should be looking to make a mark by swagging out and getting on a highlight gif. James Moontasri by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Prepare for Zafir to survive round 1 and turn this into an ugly slog... which I still think he loses. James Moontasri by decision.
Staff picking Moontasri: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Stephie, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Zafir: Anton
Phil Mackenzie: The prelims are largely garbage, but this fight is a bright spot. It's puzzling to see it so far down. Both men have historically been offensively dangerous and defensively porous. I favour Nguyen because he seems to have been actively working on his defense more than Benoit, who is essentially doing the same thing he always has, but this is awfully close. Ben Nguyen by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Despite us all picking against him I'd give Benoit about a 45% chance of winning. He's got the power and Nguyen is nothing if not terribly inconsistent everywhere. But Nguyen has a more diverse skill set and can match Benoit for power and speed so he's the reasonable pick. Ben Nguyen by decision.
Staff picking Benoit: Tim
Staff picking Nguyen: Mookie, Nick, Phil, Anton, Stephie, Zane