The bulk of the Bloody Elbow staff probably won't be awake to watch the whole UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Masvidal card in Seoul, South Korea, but that hasn't stopped us from making our predictions for fights that won't begin until 5 AM ET/2 AM PT. Only Nick Baldwin is going with Jorge Masvidal to beat Ben Henderson, while everyone else is siding with the former lightweight champ to make it 2-for-2 at welterweight. We're split on Sexyama vs. Alberto Mina, but it's a clean sweep for "Stun Gun" Dong Hyun Kim to beat Dominic Waters. Stephie Haynes is the one person who is picking Sam Sicilia to upset Doo Ho Choi in the main card opener.
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.
Anton Tabuena: This will probably end up being a close bout that goes back and forth, but I believe Bendo has the better overall skillset and more top level experience, which is why I'm not hesitating to pick him here. Benson Henderson by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: This is a really tough fight to call because there is every reason to believe Masvidal can make this competitive and actually win, and every reason to believe he can Josh Thomson his way out of a win and into a split decision loss. Maybe moving up a weight class will consistently increase the offensive output of both fighters and we get a back-and-forth thriller, but there's something preventing me from thinking that'll happen and I just can't explain it. I consider Masvidal to be the much better technical striker (for starters, he has a jab and Bendo never really has had that) and has a really underrated ground game (GOLDBERG-IAN ALERT) with impressive takedown defense. However, he's a slow starter and Henderson thrives at winning fights that go into round 4 and 5. That's not a combination I'm comfortable with as far as picking Masvidal for the upset. I see a slow 1st and 2nd round before Henderson starts to impose his game, outwrestle the hard-to-wrestle Masvidal in the later rounds and try and tire him out, and ultimately pick up a 48-47 or 49-46 type decision win. Jorge wins this if he can outwork Henderson in the clinch, box him up from range and consistently defend the takedown, but I think Henderson is just the better fighter and he'll win this on the ground. Ben Henderson by unanimous decision.
Nick Baldwin: This is a very close fight, and probably a better fight stylistically than the original headliner, Henderson vs. Thiago Alves. Before Masvidal made his welterweight debut, I wasn't fond of the move in weight. However, he knocked out Cezar Ferreira and looked good doing so. However, I may be overrating Masvidal a little bit after that win, because Ferreira's chin isn't too strong. With that being said, I really like his skills all around against Henderson, but I'm a bit worried he won't show up like the elite fighter he can be, or won't take the bout seriously. He often coasts in the later rounds, as well, so this fight being five rounds doesn't improve his chances. I haven't been super impressed with Henderson lately, on the other hand. He was losing his last fight before getting the stoppage, and a couple controversial wins have been mixed into his recent record, as well. I suppose this is more of a fade on the former lightweight champ than just being very high on Masvidal, but either way I like Masvidal in this matchup. Jorge Masvidal via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Henderson: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Masvidal: Nick
Anton Tabuena: Real Dong will stick it to Waters. Dong Hyun Kim 1 by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Props to Waters for taking this on short notice (the UFC better not cut him if he loses), but he's not got much of a chance here. Stun Gun will have his way with him on the ground and finish him in the 2nd. Dong Hyun Kim by TKO, round 2.
Nick Baldwin: I appreciate Waters stepping up on short notice to face Kim in this fight. If the other Dong Hyun Kim on the card is the one fighting Waters, then yeah, I'll pick Waters. If it's the top welterweight called "Stun Gun" -- and I'm pretty sure it is -- I'm going with the hometown fighter all day... Dong Hyun Kim via TKO; Round 1
Staff picking Kim: Nick, Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Waters:
Anton Tabuena: I hate to say it, but I think Akiyama's tanned sexy vessel will take a beating here. Both have judo black belts (Mina is a BJJ black belt as well) but are more than willing to just slug it out. Both have been out of action for a little over a year, and have been even more inactive the years prior, but that would likely take a bigger toll with the much older Sexy one. He may be sexier, but Akiyama is 40-years-old, far more shopworn than the 11-0 Mina, and has just one win the past 5 years. If you're looking for a good quality underdog bet, this is the one. Alberto Mina by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: What on earth is this shit? Do NONE of you want to be sexed by Akiyama? This is embarrassing. Anyway, Mina is really fun to watch but really hasn't fought any sort of competition that stands out, including his win over Shinsho Anzai in his last UFC bout. This is a bit of a tough one mostly because Mina is historically a sloppy fighter whose process is all over the place, but Kings MMA is a great place to correct those issues. I don't know whether or not it'll pay instant dividends for him. Akiyama is 40 and has been largely inactive over the past couple of years, but I think he still has enough left in that drop-dead gorgeous tank of his to end Mina's undefeated record. Yoshihiro Akiyamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-rghhhhhhh now I have to change my pants.
Phil Mackenzie: Akiyama is a super old dude who gets into crazy slugfests a lot and doesn't have spectacular power. He might be aided by Mina's own bonkers aggression, but a win over Amir Sadollah (particularly an Amir coming off getting outwrestled by Dan Hardy) doesn't convince me that Sexyama has the tactical consistency to win a grappling match here. Don't think Mina has a great future, but I he's a cut above what we might expect out of HK fighters, and his camp at King's MMA apparently went well. I spent more time researching and describing this fight than I should have. Alberto Mina by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Akiyama: Nick, Mookie
Staff picking Mina: Phil, Anton, Tim, Stephie
Anton Tabuena: He's not a finished product and still has some holes he needs to work on, but I fully expect Choi to show why he's such a highly regarded prospect. Doo Ho Choi by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: This is probably going to be FOTN. Biggest factor here is Choi's layoff, as he's not fought in over a year. He's a little suspect defensively but I find his offense to be more powerful and potent than Sicilia. No doubt that Sam can crack too and has the tools to exploit Choi's defense, but I'm sold on Choi having the upside as a potential contender, and beating Sicilia would be a very promising sign that he can become one. Doo Ho Choi by TKO, round 2.
Nick Baldwin: This is a heck of a fight, actually. It's been overlooked ever since it was announced and this'll be the fight that wakes up the sleepy hardcore fans watching two men beating each other up at 6:00 in the morning. I think Choi's ceiling is very high and I like him here. Doo Ho Choi via TKO; Round 2
Phil Mackenzie: I'm not sold on Choi yet. He's improved nicely over his time in DEEP etc. but he still has the problem that he throws series of committed punches with his head absolutely stationary. Can Sicilia plunk him for it? Absolutely. However, as a blocky featherweight, Sicilia's always struggled with reach differentials, and for his faults Choi is a hard, straight puncher who sets them up nicely with feints, and has pretty cast-iron TDD thus far. Sicilia will have to walk through straighter punches and leg kicks to get to him. Doo Ho Choi by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Choi: Nick, Mookie, Phil, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Sicilia: Stephie
Mike de la Torre vs. Yui Chul Nam
Anton Tabuena: Bulldozer will run through De La Torre. Nam Yui Chul by TKO.
Nick Baldwin: Nam hasn't been very active at all during his relatively unimpressive UFC tenure, and that definitely worries me. I think this'll be a showcase fight for De La Torre (so I'm not sure why this fight is taking place in Asia...). So with that, Mike De La Torre via TKO; Round 2
Phil: Lots of people picking this fight has seemed rather confident about it, which makes think I've read it wrong, because I have zero idea who's going to win. Both men are basically just really strong. De La Torre is probably less durable, but I think he might actually be the more physically powerful fighter. Nam gets lots of splits, so Mike de la Torre by split decision.
Staff picking de la Torre: Nick, Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Tim
Staff picking Nam: Anton
Anton Tabuena: He will Bang that Kuntz. Tae Hyun Bang by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Heh heh. Tae Hyun Bang via NSFW, round 1.
Nick Baldwin: THIS IS THE FIGHT WE'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. Tae Hyun Bang via Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Sometimes, as with Hallmann-Howard (lit: Superman vs Doomsday), you know exactly why a fight gets booked. Good job, Sean Shelby. As a random aside, can Howard briefly go back up to middleweight so that we get Lex Luthor-Doomsday? Please? Tae Hyun Bang by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Bang: Nick, Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Kuntz:
Phil Mackenzie: I like the Ox. Partially because he just fits his name really, really well. He's big and strong and... uh... Ox-y. Collier, as demonstrated by his surprise KO loss to Vitor Miranda, is not exactly a stable fighter, but he's pretty high pace and getting outworked is what Yang has normally struggled with. Jake Collier by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Collier: Nick, Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Yang:
Phil Mackenzie: As a (small!) atomweight, Hamderlei is going to be up against big physicality differentials in the UFC. She's also more of a finished product than Casey, who I expect to improve. Casey looked good against Calderwood early, but was coming in on brutally short notice and in a foreign country to boot. In general I expect her sizable physical advantages to swamp Ham's technical edge. Cortney Casey by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Casey: Nick, Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Ham:
Anton Tabuena: On paper, Serrano should be the much much better wrestler which would be a bad match up for the TUF China vet. He is much older though, and is likely to lose if this stays on the feet for the most part. Tough pick, but I'm going with the underdog. Yao Zhikui by Decision.
Nick Baldwin: Pretty confident in Serrano here to get the finish. Fredy Serrano via TKO; Round 1
Phil Mackenzie: Old wrestlers still have pretty solid careers, generally. I think more than Serrano being a fogey, the X-factor might be that Zhikui is a bit better than we might think, but I still reckon Serrano is just a more seasoned competitor and better athlete at this stage. Fredy Serrano by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Serrano: Nick, Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Tim
Staff picking Zhikui: Anton
Phil Mackenzie: TUF China and TUF LatAm continue to get whittled down. One of these guys knocked the mighty Royston Wee out of the organization and the other didn't. Easy choice. Ning Guangyou by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Beltran: Nick, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Guangyou: Phil, Mookie
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Dominique Steele
Phil Mackenzie: Two fairly similar guys, I think Little Dong might be the better pure athlete, but he's also a natural lightweight and hasn't shown fantastic defensive grappling. Dominique Steele by unanimous decision.
Mookie Alexander: Stun Gun legitimately could probably beat Steele and Waters on the same night, but this isn't Stun Gun, it's a knockoff Dong. Dong Hyun Kim by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Even on short notice, I think both Dongs beat both Dominiques. (Not that) Dong Hyun Kim by Decision.
Staff picking Kim: Anton, Mookie
Staff picking Steele: Nick, Stephie, Phil, Tim