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UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas staff picks and predictions

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking to win in every fight on tomorrow's special afternoon edition of UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas in Virginia.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The Bloody Elbow staff has entered its predictions for Saturday's UFC Fight Night: Mendes vs. Lamas card in Fairfax, Virginia. Nearly everyone is siding with Chad Mendes to beat Ricardo Lamas in the main event, while there's a slight lean towards Al Iaquinta to beat Jorge Masvidal in the co-main. Julianna Pena is the only unanimous selection on the main card, as we expect her to dispatch Milana Dudieva.

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.

Note 2: Making his predictions debut is our newest staff member Lewis McKeever.

Chad Mendes vs. Ricardo Lamas

Lewis Mckeever: While on paper Chad Mendes appears to be the more polished fighter, the MMA game can often shatter all preconceived notions of logic and reason. Mendes is coming off a five round war with Jose Aldo, which marked his second failed attempt to capture the featherweight strap. The post-fight championship curse is real, folks. I think Mendes' championship aspirations will be shattered against Lamas. Ricardo Lamas by Submission, round 4.

Anton Tabuena: I think Mendes has at least equal wrestling, slightly better striking, and much bigger power. Chad Mendes by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: I think Ricardo Lamas is an underappreciated fighter in his division, and maybe it's because the bulk of his marquee wins were buried on the prelims, but his finishes of Erik Koch and Dennis Bermudez hold up well to me. That said, Mendes is just a flat out better fighter. His boxing is great, he's added some kicks to his game, and he obviously won't be taken down by Lamas. I expect Mendes to dominate after a slow, feeling out process of a 1st round before turning up the heat and putting Lamas away in 3. Chad Mendes by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: This is a fight that Chad Mendes should win. Not only does he have the skill advantages as the better wrestler and striker, but his game just doesn't play into how Ricardo Lamas tends to win fights, being that he doesn't tend to make mistakes. Of course, this also continues a long trend of me picking against Ricardo Lamas and him making me look foolish, but as long as Mendes stays on form and doesn't just blow the fight completely, I think he'll take the decision. Chad Mendes by decision.

Staff picking Mendes: Anton, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Tim, Rainer, Zane, Karim
Staff picking Lamas: Lewis

Jorge Masvidal vs. Al Iaquinta

Lewis Mckeever: Both fighters seem to be hitting their stride as of late, but I think Masvidal possesses the smarter fight IQ and a more refined skillset. I like how Masvidal is one of the few famed bare-knuckle fighters to make waves in the MMA scene. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision.

Mookie Alexander: This is the best fight and most competitive fight on the card. Masvidal is the perfect next-level type of test for Iaquinta because he's dangerous enough to beat most of the division but not quite good enough to be a contender. Iaquinta's boxing is beautiful to watch and he's got wicked power that can put Masvidal down (but not out, because Jorge doesn't care for that). On the flip side, Masvidal is good virtually everywhere and is arguably the better clinch fighter and definitely has the better ground game. Coin flip fight, it should be a thriller, but I'll lean towards Iaquinta (great hotel, by the way). Al Iaquinta by split decision.

Anton Tabuena: Much like the main event, these two have a somewhat similar skill set in terms of what they prefer doing in fights, but I think Iaquinta is just slightly better at everything. Al Iaquinta by Decision.

Zane Simon: This fight is just about dead even to me on paper. Both men can be dropped, both men make mistakes. Iaquinta is more likely to pay for those mistakes with a submission loss, but that's a problem I think he's fixing. He's got the coaching to keep him focused and it really should just be a problem that irons out over time. If that time has come (and I think it has) then I expect Iaquinta to shine here and show that he's a top 10 lightweight. Masvidal has been to the top of the mountain, this should be Iaquinta's time. He can box with Masvidal, he can wrestle with Masvidal, and he should be able to survive on the ground against Masvidal. Al Iaquinta by decision.

Staff picking Masvidal: Roy, Tim, Rainer, Lewis
Staff picking Iaquinta: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Anton, Zane, Karim

Michael Chiesa vs. Mitch Clarke

Anton Tabuena: Clarke is hilarious on Twitter. Mitch Clarke by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Great fight. Chiesa has developed into a rugged, aggressive, and relentless fighter that can be a tough out for most in the LW division. His striking has come a long way and he's already shown a deadly top game and solid submissions. Clarke upsetting Iaquinta was a huge feather in his cap but that doesn't tell the story of how badly he was getting dominated. I want to see Clarke stick around in the long-term and I think he'll put up a good fight with Chiesa, but Michael is just better than him virtually everywhere. Michael Chiesa by submission, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: This fight is likely to be an example of returning to the mean. Chiesa was probably on his way to beating Joe Lauzon before Lauzon tore a hole in his face, and Clarke was being soundly trounced by Al Iaquinta before he pulled a D'Arce from guard out of his magician's hat. The two of them have earned approximately similar places in the UFC, but Chiesa is bigger, stronger, a better takedown threat, better conditioned, a better range striker, a better and more active clinch striker etc etc. In a straight jiu jitsu roll this might be competitive, but Michael Chiesa by TKO, round 3

Zane Simon: Chiesa is the more consistent technical fighter between two very similarly skilled grapplers. Chiesa also has the more natural frame for his back taking choke heavy style... Still, I'm taking the upset. Mitch Clarke is awesome, I'm a fan, I hope to see him lock up another miracle submission here. Mitch Clarke by submission.

Staff picking Chiesa: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Rainer
Staff picking Clarke: Roy, Tim, Anton, Zane, Karim

Julianna Pena vs. Milana Dudieva

Anton Tabuena: There are lots of question marks on how Pena would look, but she should be the significantly better fighter overall. To be honest, Dudieva's last win was highly questionable at best, and Pena should be at a completely different level of opponent as well. Julianna Pena by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: Check marks for strike diversity, aggression, athleticism and cardio go to Pena. Dudieva is the classic submissions-focused fighter with mediocre takedowns who does well on the regionals and stalls out in the UFC. This is a softball to see if Pena has any lingering problems from her gruesome knee injury. Julianna Pena by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: Dudieva is tricky. She has a really nice ankle lock-triangle-armbar submission chain off her back, and some power in her strikes at range. But, she's super predictable in both her striking and grappling. She's basically a one-handed fighter on her feet and then goes right to her sub sequence on the ground. Pena has never been easy to submit and has great takedowns and top control. Should be an easy fight for her. Julianna Pena by decision.

Staff picking Pena: Phil, Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Tim, Rainer, Anton, Mookie, Zane, Karim
Staff picking Dudieva:

Clay Guida vs. Robbie Peralta

Mookie Alexander: Honestly this is a tougher call than I think it should be. Guida is declining and I think his chin is really going to finally start failing him down the stretch, but is his decline so bad that he can't take the inconsistent Peralta down? I don't really think so. Peralta has been taken down at least once in every UFC fight and the only reason his TDD is 70% is because Mike Lullo attempted 13 and only hit 2. Robbie is a good athlete with powerful punching, but he's a guy whose development has seemingly stagnated through years of being a part-time fighter with a separate full-time job. If Peralta can keep it standing I think he can hurt and even finish Guida, but otherwise Guida goes back to his roots and takes him down relentlessly. Clay Guida by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Like Liz Carmouche, Peralta is someone who just never improved from sheer athleticism and doing the same thing over and over. Guida is probably on the downslope and might get blasted, but is far more likely to just take Peralta down again and again and again and again and Clay Guida by RNC, round 3.

Zane Simon: I'd like to pick Guida here, but like the Pena/Dudieva bout above, this fight really fits right into his skills. Peralta is a great athlete with a tough chin, but really doesn't have a lot else to offer. He's never really put much polish on his game, and especially his takedown defense and ground grappling have stagnated badly. Should set him up to be outworked by Guida here. Clay Guida by Decision.

Staff picking Guida: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Roy, Tim, Rainer, Anton, Lewis, Karim, Zane
Staff picking Peralta: Stephie

Dustin Poirier vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira

Mookie Alexander: This is a semi-dangerous fight for Poirier. He's a notoriously slow starter and Ferreira has developed some good striking and decent pop to his punches. Lest we forget he's a damn good grappler and Poirier shan't be messing with that too much. Now, that said, Poirier is the better fighter and I don't think Ferreira can cope with his power and striking abilities. Ferreira needs to win this early or else Poirier will catch him and put him away. Dustin Poirier by TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: This is a trap fight for a young and aggressive fighter in exactly the same way that Godofredo Pepey was for Andre Fili, but for the striking phase instead of grappling. Yes, despite the fact that Ferreira is nominally a submission artist. He isn't a technical striker, but he's powerful and has an innate understanding of how to counter off the back foot. It's very easy to see Poirier getting over-aggressive and getting splattered. Like Fili, though, the smart pick is still for the fighter with more tools, more paths to victory and more physical upside. Like Fili, the smart pick doesn't always work out. Dustin Poirier by TKO, round 3

Zane Simon: I think there's a real chance that Ferreira catches Poirier with a hard shot, stuns him and then subs him out, but barring a puncher's chance, I think Poirier is too good and consistent everywhere. He was always a huge featherweight, so I expect his power and skill set to transfer well to lightweight. And while Ferreira is dangerous, he's also wild and reckless. Dustin Poirier by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Poirier: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Rainer, Anton, Lewis, Karim, Zane
Staff picking Ferreira: Tim

Liz Carmouche vs. Lauren Murphy

Phil Mackenzie: I have to admit, I expected more from Liz Carmouche when she joined the UFC. Not because she put Ronda in trouble, but because she's one of the legitimately good athletes in the division, and I expected her technical gifts to catch up given exposure, money and better training. Unfortunately, it looks like they haven't. Murphy is far more effectively aggressive and skilled, but her terribad TDD may leave this as a mirror image of McMann-Murphy, with Carmouche doing just enough to convince the judges that she's winning from top position. Still, Lauren Murphy by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: It's been a long time since I've been impressed by Liz Carmouche and I feel like she's generally been overvalued by analysts and fans for a long time. She's still somewhat young in her career, but her development seems to have stagnated pretty badly. Murphy needs to improve, but recent camp changes make me feel like it's more likely that we'll see that development. Lauren Murphy by decision.

Staff picking Carmouche: Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Rainer, Anton, Karim
Staff picking Murphy: Phil, Tim, Lewis, Zane, Mookie

Gray Maynard vs. Alexander Yakovlev

Lewis Mckeever: Maynard's recent interview with ESPN revealed a mentally defeated fighter stepping into the Octagon this Saturday. As Tim Sylvia said - ‘90% of the game is half mental.' The post-fight championship curse took things to another level with Gray's loss to Frankie. Even though Maynard has gone back to his roots with Xtreme Couture, I don't think he has the mental fortitude to break his losing spell. This could mark the end of an era for Gray. Alexander Yakovlev by TKO.

Anton Tabuena: It's weird how far Maynard has fallen since his days as the top contender. This should be an easy win if he is even close to what he once was. If he still gets blasted against a guy like Yakovlev, maybe he should hang it up. Gray Maynard by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: The Edgar fights took everything out of Maynard, who looks shot to pieces. Yakovlev has looked thoroughly underwhelming in his UFC appearances, although Demian Maia and Nico Musoke aren't scrubs by any means. This all boils down to "How shot is Gray Maynard?" because if the answer is "really really shot" then he's getting KO'd again even by a guy who isn't a big puncher. Otherwise I think Maynard has enough in him to grind out one last decision ... the hard way it is, Earnest. Gray Maynard by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This is rough. Maynard's last win was that awful split decision win over Clay Guida, and before that it was Kenny Florian back in 2010. Yakovlev is coming down from 170, but he's never been any kind of hitter, so this is a reasonable test to see whether Maynard has issues with punchers, or just with MMA in general. We've seen a surprising amount of late-career turnarounds recently, but we've also seen fighters like Paulo Thiago or Yves Edwards absolutely falling off a cliff. In the end, Yakovlev is super tough and Maynard just hasn't been lately. I can really see Maynard stuffing takedowns and boxing Yakovlev up, but I can also see him walking into a hook and getting tapped or flurried. Alexander Yakovlev by submission, round 2

Zane Simon: Gray Maynard should win this fight. He's more skilled, he's a harder puncher, he does everything Yakovlev does better and with more power. Which means that, if he loses this bout, that's the end of the road for Gray. I know I picked Gray to win on the Vivisection, but today my gut is telling me Yakovlev is going to knock him out and it's going to be ugly. Alexander Yakovlev by KO, Round 1.

Staff picking Maynard: Mookie, Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Tim, Rainer, Anton
Staff picking Yakovlev: Phil, Karim, Zane

Shamil Abdurahimov vs. Timothy Johnson

Mookie Alexander: There are 10 fights on this card and this is the only one above middleweight. Can we have more cards like this? Shamil Abdurahimov by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Athletically speaking, this is a little better than the regular HW fare, as both men can keep a bit of a pace. Johnson is younger and the harder hitter, but Abdurahimov is a little crisper and faster pretty much everywhere, and probably holds the endurance advantage. He also looks like a cross between Mostapha Al-Turk and Gabriel Gonzaga. Mostapha Gonzaga, if you so please. I can't promise that this doesn't turn into a classic HW debutante gong show, but it might be a bit more enjoyable than usual. Might be. Probably not though. It's not even likely to end early. Shamil Abdurahimov by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: I can't imagine Timothy Johnson winning this fight. Nothing I've seen about him makes him seem like he's ready for this level of competition, and physically he looks like he's still trying to get in shape in the UFC. That's almost always a bad sign. Shamil Abdurahimov by Submission, Round 2.

Staff picking Abdurahimov: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Tim, Rainer, Anton, Karim, Zane
Staff picking Johnson:

Ron Stallings vs. Justin Jones

Mookie Alexander: Wow this card is stacked. Bones Jones is opening the prelims? Justin Jones by TKO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Lazy Bones looked about as good as can be reasonably expected given the classic "Short notice 185er who goes up to 205 to get killed and get his foot in the door" fight against Corey Anderson. By that I mean that he had moments of offense and made it to the final bell, and he looks like a good and improving athlete despite how incredibly raw he is. Conversely, Stallings was not good at dictating the range against Uriah Hall, who pieced him up. I basically expect Jones to bully Stallings inside, but he's still at a massive experience deficit so don't be surprised by sudden yawning Krylov-esque holes in his game which could lose him the fight against the more experienced journeyman. Justin Jones by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Ron Stallings is the more technical more experienced fighter here, without question. He could use that striking to put Jones away. He has the ability to do it. But, if he can't, Jones has the size, athleticism, and well rounded game to rough him up and make this ugly. Justin Jones by decision.

Staff picking Stallings: Fraser, Roy, Stephie, Rainer
Staff picking Jones: Phil, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Karim, Zane

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