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UFC on FOX 15: Machida vs. Rockhold staff picks and predictions

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See who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking to win in every fight on tomorrow night's UFC on FOX 15: Machida vs. Rockhold card in Newark, New Jersey.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted their predictions for UFC on FOX 15, and it's fitting that a card filled with even matchups has divided opinion on several of the marquee fights of the evening. There's a slight lean towards Luke Rockhold over Lyoto Machida, as well as Max Holloway to beat Cub Swanson. No one is giving Chris Camozzi a chance to beat Jacare a second time around, and it's expected that Paige VanZant will take care of Felice Herrig.

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 Josh Samman entered all of his predictions on Tuesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he's going to be the lone wolf for any given fight.

Lyoto Machida vs. Luke Rockhold

Mookie Alexander: Is it okay to say that I've genuinely not got a clue as to who wins this? I seriously don't. This is such a fascinating fight that I cannot definitively pick either guy. I've pegged Rockhold as the guy to beat Weidman (or at least give him a close fight) for some time now so I won't back down for that very reason. I expect plenty of body kicks, knees to the body, tight clinch fighting, but not too much in the way of grappling believe it or not. Rockhold may eke out the win based on more volume of strikes thrown. I think it should be made perfectly clear though that we could see a lot of measuring, counterfighting, feeling-out type of moments between these two southpaws that could lead to boos from the Jersey crowd. They can shove it. Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision.

Josh Samman: I've suspected for some time now that Rockhold is the guy to beat in the division, at the very least the toughest test for Weidman. Machida is difficult to solve, but Rockhold has shown quick thinking and creativity in his last two outings, and I think he'll do it again this weekend. Rockhold via submission

Fraser Coffeen: I've written Lyoto off too many times now and been proven wrong. Rockhold is no doubt a very, very good fighter who may well get the win here. But I think people still underestimate the current version of the Dragon, and he still has the tools to get it done. Lyoto Machida via decision

Zane Simon: So... Uhhh... Two southpaws that don't fight southpaws are fighting. Rockhold is bad at being pressured. Machida has gotten much better at pressuring. Rockhold hasn't faced a striker nearly as technically consistent as Machida ever (not even Belfort), but Machida is also not the one punch/kick KO threat that Belfort is, especially not moving forward. On the flip side, I'd say that Luke Rockhold might be the most consistent, dynamic grappler Lyoto Machida has ever faced (or right alongside Jon Jones, who choked Machida out brutally), which could mean bad things if Rockhold can tie him up and take him down. Something in my gut is saying pick Rockhold here. Machida will be forced into a pressuring style, Rockhold will use it to tie him up, and get the sub. Luke Rockhold by Submission.

Staff picking Machida: Phil, Tim, Fraser, Roy
Staff picking Rockhold: Josh, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Lewis, Zane

Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi

Mookie Alexander: Cannot help but respect Camozzi for doing this again, but there's nothing he's shown in the fights after his first Jacare loss to make me believe he'll be competitive the 2nd time around. Jacare Souza by whatever he wants, round 1.

Josh Samman: Nice/brave/opportunistic of Camozzi to step up on such short notice, but he is 1-4 in his last five contests, and is fighting the #1 contender on a seven fight win streak. I doubt anyone's crystal ball will be foreshadowing a Camozzi win, but with some betting sites having him at nearly a 10:1 underdog, maybe he will win someone a bunch of cash? Jacare via submission

Zane Simon: Don't hate the player, hate the game. Big respect for Camozzi stepping up, even if it's not the fight fans want. Jacare via Sub, Round 1.

Staff picking Souza: Josh, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Lewis, Roy, Zane
Staff picking Camozzi:

Max Holloway vs. Cub Swanson

Mookie Alexander: I won't lie, I picked Holloway the moment the fight was made, but I'm backpedalling (potential famous last words here). It must be said though that Swanson has been fighting for over a decade, has had plenty of wars over the years, and just received a hellacious beating from Frankie Edgar. Consider all of those things and it's very possible that he never recovers from the Edgar loss and we start to see his decline. Anyway, this is too close to call and I'm siding with Swanson's experience and think he just outlands Holloway during key moments of the fight to nick a win on the scorecards. The dynamic of this fight changes drastically if Holloway forces Swanson to move backwards, a consistent weak point of Jackson-Winklejohn fighters. Cub Swanson by split decision.

Josh Samman: Holloway has been on a five fight tear since being the only person to survive the finishing power of McGregor in recent years. While that's certainly something to be proud of, Cub has been fighting much more established competition, and I think his experience shines through here. Swanson via decision

Phil Mackenzie: What an awesome fight this is. I think the power punching game comes down to Holloway's straight right vs Swanson's left hook, and that is close if not slightly favouring Kevin Luke, who is faster and a little more cunning. Volume is a different matter. If you looked at these two in isolation, I think Holloway actually looks like the product of the slick, big-name gym, and Swanson looks like the more organically developed hometown fighter. Basically I like Holloway's fight and round-winning process when picking between two incredibly durable, hard-hitting and exciting featherweights. He puts out more volume and combinations, and fights longer. Finally, Swanson's boxing fundamentals (including his superb jab) tend to fade in and out in favour of leaping potshots, particularly when he's pressured, and Max is a great pressure fighter. Max Holloway by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Pass... Okay, not pass. But, this is another fight that I really don't feel confident on at all. On the Vivi I picked Holloway. I did so explicitly because I want Holloway to win this fight. I like seeing the changing of the guard happen. Swanson has more tools to win, more angles for success, but he's also very inconsistent with his application of those tools, and he can especially be bullied out of his striking by confident strikers willing to trade with him and able to eat shots. Holloway is one such striker. Does that mean that Cub won't just take him down and submit him or rough him up? I don't know. But, I'm going to take Holloway because I think he could win, not because I know he will. Max Holloway by decision.

Staff picking Holloway: Phil, Lewis, Zane
Staff picking Swanson: Josh, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Roy

Paige VanZant vs. Felice Herrig

Mookie Alexander: There's a reason why this fight is on the main card. VanZant is supposed to be the future meal ticket at women's 115, and I think they'll give her a title shot -- Jedrzejczyk still obliterates her if that's the case -- if she wins impressively. VanZant will dominate Herrig here. Paige VanZant by unanimous decision.

Josh Samman: Tough fight to call, but I would side with VanZant if for no other reason than the caliber of talent she is surrounded with daily. VanZant via decision

Phil Mackenzie: This is a matchup of plateaued experience vs raw potential which is genuinely hard to pick. Sorting out women's strawweight is a crapshoot of which athletes are going to pan out and which ones are going to nosedive. The Moroz-Calderwood shocker upsets aren't close to being done, and in addition many women are going to get thrown into fights which they are just not close to being ready for. Where does the winner of this fight go? Better athlete, better camp, no confidence in this pick, but Paige Van Zant by unanimous decision

Fraser Coffeen: As a Chicago native, I'm not supposed to say this, but here it goes: I've never really been all that impressed by Felice. She is an OK all around fighter who is capable of looking good against women who don't have a decent level of experience or training. But that's not VanZant, who has some raw skills that should guide her to victory here. Paige VanZant via decision

Zane Simon: Herrig is the more well rounded, technical fighter here, but she's not an especially dangerous or athletic talent. Her striking is hit or miss and she often forces herself straight from range into the clinch. That's where PVZ is at her best. Herrig has shown some good submission ability, but it's more the result of women looking to engage with her on the ground in prolonged scrambles rather than her own veracity in getting the fight there. At that point, I think Herrig spends a lot of time walking herself right into PVZ's wheelhouse and paying for it. Paige VanZant by decision.

Staff picking VanZant: Josh, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Fraser, Lewis, Roy, Zane
Staff picking Herrig: Stephie, Karim

Beneil Dariush vs. Jim Miller

Mookie Alexander: Fighters like Jim Miller will always struggle against well-rounded, highly athletic guys like Dariush, who is still developing into a top 15 LW. Dariush has very improved striking and terrific BJJ and all-around killer instinct. Miller isn't easy to put away so I don't think Dariush has his way with him, but ultimately Miller is getting more and more hittable and has hit a wall in his career where it looks like he's finally hitting a downturn in his career. Beneil Dariush via unanimous decision.

Josh Samman: Had not been following Dariush much but I have been following Miller to know he hasn't looked the same lately. I'd like him to win but see Dariush taking it. Dariush via submission

Phil Mackenzie: Beneil Dariush is looking awesome lately. He's taken to Cordeiro pressure kickboxing like a fish to water, and his grappling hasn't suffered a bit. Miller is conversely looking like he's on the downslope, and more pertinently is an infighter who can get utterly stranded outside his favoured range. I'm relatively confident in Dariush, but whether Miller makes it competitive or not is a referendum on where he really is at this point in his career. Beneil Dariush by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: It's easy to pick Dariush here, but he has tended to get bullied early in fights, and that troubles me a little against a fast starter like Miller who is looking to hurt people from the opening bell. Miller could surprise Dariush early and hurt him on his way to locking up a sub... But that doesn't seem that likely. And if Miller doesn't finish things early, I think Dariush finishes them late. Beneil Dariush by Submission, Round 3.

Staff picking Dariush: Josh, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Miller: Tim, Roy

Patrick Cummins vs. Ovince St. Preux

Josh Samman: Kind of wild that the dude who just knocked out Shogun is on an undercard. The story of the barista who stepped in to try to beat up his former teammate in DC would be compelling if I ever saw him working his way up to a rematch, but I think his train stops here. OSP via KO/TKO

Phil Mackenzie: It's a testament to how great this Fox card is that even this far down the card, the fights are still this compelling. I think Cummins has the better process and the better base for progression, but he is just a little too raw for OSP, who is far more used to this level of competition. I'm still not sure exactly what OSP is or ever will be "good" at per se, but he has an extremely powerful left hand, decent offensive wrestling, and a bag of weird tricks. Cummins has been benefiting from some competition which is happy to grapple with him, but I don't think he has the phaseshifting skill of Ryan Bader and will get trapped on the outside for key portions of this fight. For some reason I just see Cummins getting hit hard early and OSP by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I really don't get this fight. I realize that LHW is super short on rising talent and that Cummins is as good as any young up and comer (even in his mid 30s), but OSP is a legit top 10 talent. His funky style has eventually evolved with experience to the point that his timing is down, his punches are accurate, and his skills blend fairly well, even if there are certain gaps that will probably always keep him from getting a belt. On the other side, Cummins was gifted a win by Antonio Carlos Jr. when Antonio couldn't stop himself from constantly trying to outwrestle Cummins. On the feet, at range, Cummins was a sitting duck. On the ground, he was effective, but hardly a brutal finisher. OSP has even shone good cardio late in fights. Unless he just doesn't know who Cummins is, he should have no problems here. OSP by KO, Round 1.

Staff picking Cummins: Tim, Stephie, Karim, Roy
Staff picking OSP: Josh, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Lewis, Zane

Corey Anderson vs. Gian Villante

Mookie Alexander: Who do I pick? A guy who beasts so hard that he defies the laws of time? Or a Long Island fighter? The answer is obvious. Corey Anderson by 25-8 Unanimous Beastision.

Josh Samman: I met Corey at UFC 181 (tidbit: this will be the third time he and Eddie Gordon have fought on the same card) and he was a super cool dude. However, this will be the last time I choose him in fight picks as long as he insists on continuing with that nickname. Anderson via Decision

Phil Mackenzie: Villante is like a lower-tier version of OSP, in that his approach is nominally well-rounded and driven by some decent athleticism, but that it doesn't cohere together much. His flaws are more readily identifiable than OSP's: he's hittable, his gas tank isn't good, and he doesn't have killer power to compensate for those issues. Anderson is a man who put 31 extra hours in the week and then subsequently spent all of them beastin', so I think he can also do what Sean O'Connell and Maldonado did, and close in to the pocket and rough Villante up, but more convincingly. Beastin' 25/8 by 30-27

Zane Simon: Gian Villante is a great one round fighter. Corey Anderson is a good developing striker whose range game is still pretty ugly. If Anderson can keep from getting caught early in this fight, he should be fine the rest of the way. Corey Anderson via Unanimous Decision (31-26, 31-26, 31-26, 31-26).

Staff picking Beastin' 25/8: Josh, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Roy, Zane
Staff picking Villante:

Aljamain Sterling vs. Takeya Mizugaki

Mookie Alexander: Developing theme on this card is "ranked veteran vs. exciting up-and-comer" and basically I've not picked any of the veterans to win (I don't consider Swanson vs. Holloway to be in this bucket). Sterling is a much better athlete who, with some good ol' Serra Longo coaching, can be a future champion. I wouldn't peg Sterling to actually beat guys like Faber or Barao any time soon, but Mizugaki is the type of "good everywhere but not great at any one thing" fighter who I think can be beaten by a guy like Aljamain. I see Sterling's strength, diverse striking, and already excellent phase-shifting abilities to get him the win. Aljamain Sterling by unanimous decision.

Josh Samman: Undefeated prospect from world class gym fights guy who hasn't finished a fight since 2011. Granted, Mizugaki would be on an pretty darn good win streak had he not run into an uber motivated Dominick Cruz, I think the Serra Longo product wins this one. Sterling via KO/TKO

Phil Mackenzie: I feel like I've been fearing Mizugaki falling off for a while. He's not incredibly long in the tooth, but he's getting up there in cage-time for a bantamweight, and his fights are never easy. Regarding this, getting brutally KOed by the famously pillow-fisted Dominick Cruz was not a good look. Mizugaki is a phonebooth striker who uses his reach for subtle variations in angles and body work rather than as a distance fencing tool, and has a very strong clinch and some good trip takedowns. Sterling is rapidly improving in every phase, and is probably less hittable than Mizugaki already, and has a much more developed kicking game on the outside. Aljamain Sterling by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Fine, I'll be the guy here. I like Aljamain Sterling's game a lot. He looked fantastic blowing the doors of Hugo Viana, but there are a lot of parts in development and I'm not at all sure he's ready for this step up. His high output kicking game can lead to him wearing himself out, and he's still not a great puncher in tight. While he does scramble and wrestle well, his desire to constantly work toward a finish can leave him open to giving up submissions and giving up dominant positions. I probably picked him in the Vivisection (I honestly don't remember, I was sick) and he could win it, just by bullying Mizugaki with his physical tools. But, what the hell, I gotta run against the grain somewhere in here and I'm gonna say that Sterling starts getting hit in the pocket and becomes too predictable, after which Mizugaki outworks him. Takeya Mizugaki by decision.

Staff picking Sterling: Josh, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Roy
Staff picking Mizugaki: Zane

Tim Means vs. George Sullivan

Phil Mackenzie: I hate it when people make picks based on size. It's so dumb and reductive, and unless you're talking Tibau-Uno, or the Hungry Hyun-Gyu Hippo, or WW Rumble it rarely makes a difference. So... anyway... Sullivan is too big for Means. George Sullivan by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Tim Means tends to put on exciting fights really in only one situation. When his opponent is willing to come after him and try and out strike him. George Sullivan will certainly do that. The problem for me is, while both men are powerful and Means is probably the more technical, I just have the feeling that Sullivan has more of the kind of crushing power that drives a fighter off their game. I could be totally wrong here. Really this is just going to be an action packed shootout. Maybe someone gets KO'd, maybe it's a brutal 15 minute war. Hopefully it's not a tentative long term standoff. George Sullivan by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Means: Josh, Tom, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Roy
Staff picking Sullivan: Phil, Zane

Jim Hettes vs. Diego Brandao

Mookie Alexander: Hettes is one of the least athletic and agile fighters in the UFC's featherweight division. Right now he's just a really fun submission grappler who isn't good at just about anything else. Brandao can easily go loco on us and play that game, but Diego should spark him. Diego Brandao by KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: What happened to Jimy Hettes when he fought Dennis Bermudez can only be described as a Hazeletting. For those who aren't familiar, Dustin Hazelett was a super technical grappler, and people were somewhat justifiably high on him... until he ran into a wall of increased athleticism which pancaked him flat like Wil E Coyote. If I see fighters getting ragdolled like that it makes it very, very difficult for me to pick them in the future. Brandao is a bit of a flake with a poor gas tank, but he's also a good athlete who has generally beaten lesser athletes. I basically see this being like Brandao-Pineda. Diego Brandao by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: There's a good chance Hettes outlasts Brandao until Brandao gasses and gives up, essentially. But, Hettes' best win is probably Robert Whiteford and the fact that both men are Judokas (and Hettes is the better MMA Judoka) played a big role in why Hettes got the win there. When he's taken steps up against better athletes, he's lost. I think Hettes loses again here. Diego Brandao by TKO, Round 1.

Staff picking Hettes: Tim
Staff picking Brandao: Josh, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Lewis, Roy, Zane

Eddie Gordon vs. Chris Dempsey

Mookie Alexander: One doesn't merely recover from getting beaten by almighty Ilir Latifi, it lingers with you for ages. Sorry Dempsey, but Gordon is going to Truck you. Eddie Gordon by KO, round 2.

Josh Samman: This guy won TUF 19 and was beating me until I caught him with a lucky kick. If I'm being honest, I would have liked to see him take a bit more time off after a concussion like that, but I don't see Dempsey landing any lucky kicks. Eddie Gordon via dominant decision

Phil Mackenzie: ^ Josh being super modest about one of the best knockouts of the year. Anyways, Dempsey is the kind of fairly tough banger who should be able to carve out a career on the prelims, but Gordon is a couple of notches above him physically. Eddie Gordon by KO, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: When a fighter brutally knocks a guy out, then turns around and picks that guy to win his next fight, who am I to argue? Eddie Gordon via decision

Zane Simon: I don't necessarily know that I trust Gordon to finish this fight, but I definitely trust him to win it. Eddie Gordon by decision.

Staff picking Gordon: Josh, Phil, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Fraser, Roy, Zane
Staff picking Dempsey: