The Bloody Elbow team has submitted its picks for tomorrow's UFC Manila card. Rather surprisingly, Bloody Elbow's staff is currently all-in on Frankie Edgar to beat Urijah Faber, with no one siding with "The California Kid" to get the victory. Unsurprisingly, we all expect Gegard Mousasi to take care of Costas Philippou in the co-main event.
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. Also, some staff members may also add in their predictions after this post is published.
Anton Tabuena: This will be a fun fight regardless of who wins, but I do believe Edgar is the real favorite here. Maybe Urijah can create enough scrambles to secure a submission, but I think Frankie will not only have the striking advantage, for the first time in his career he also won't be having a size disadvantage.
He may downplay the fact that he's only half an inch or so taller, but the fact that he's not taking on a much bigger guy could be a huge difference -- especially in the grappling department where I believe is Faber's best chance of winning. As a fan of the sport, I'm rooting for Urijah to pull off an upset, but logic says it's going to be an Edgar win. Frankie Edgar by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Urijah Faber is returning to a division that is much much much much deeper than the one he dominated in the WEC, and that really should be taken into consideration. Frankie Edgar isn't Chance Farrar, or a declined Jens Pulver, or Jeff Curran, he's better than all of them. This was probably a much more competitive and unpredictable match-up a couple of years ago, back when Edgar was an unknown commodity at 145 and Faber was at 135 for not even 2 full years. Right now? Edgar is the faster fighter and I don't see Faber being able to overpower him and smother him on the ground. The power advantage is Faber's all the way but Edgar is more accurate and, for lack of a better phrase, he can point-fight his way to a striking victory. Faber's route to victory is to win this early in a scramble or to hurt him before choking him out. Otherwise I can't bet against Edgar here. Frankie Edgar by wide unanimous decision.
Staff picking Edgar: Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Tim, Lewis, Anton
Staff picking Faber:
Anton Tabuena: Unless Costas lands big early, this is Mousasi's fight to lose. He is just the better MMA fighter and should be more dynamic on all facets of the game. Gegard Mousasi by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: Pretty much "put up or shut up" time for Mousasi. Anything that isn't a win over Philippou should basically be the official end to any hope that Mousasi will develop into a championship level fighter. Philippou is a very good boxer with B+ power, but Mousasi has more tools in his game to put a real beating on Costas. I expect a dominant performance but can't shake the feeling off that Mousasi's inconsistencies return. Gegard Mousasi by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Mousasi: Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Tim, Lewis, Anton
Staff picking Philippou:
Mark Munoz vs. Luke Barnatt
Anton Tabuena: Another one of those heart vs. head things for me. I'm obviously rooting for Munoz to pick up a big win in front of his extended family then ride off into the sunset, but I think he will have too much problems dealing with Barnatt's size and length. I hope I'm completely wrong, but I'm picking Luke Barnatt by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: I really want to pick Munoz here, especially since I'm not too enthused with Luke Barnatt's recent performances. Munoz wins if he can get Barnatt down, keep him on his back, and do his ground-and-pound savagery. Problem is, he's never been a great MMA wrestler and Barnatt is stupidly huge for his weight class. If you asked me to pick this fight a year ago I'd pick Munoz by bludgeoning with ease, but now? Barnatt might not be a contender but Munoz has declined so sharply that it's hard to see him beating too many fighters in the division. Picking Barnatt, hope Munoz wins, and I wish him the best in retirement either way. Luke Barnatt by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Despite how unutterably awful Munoz has looked lately, I can't shake the feeling that we might be in for one of those classic "waning fighter puts in one last good performance to close out their career against an English person" performances, like Lytle-Hardy, or... uh, OK, I only have one example. I also do think Barnatt has a problem- he's not technical enough to fight on the outside, and not durable enough to be able to throw lots of volume inside. Still. Munoz has looked so bad. So bad. Luke Barnatt by TKO round 1.
Staff picking Munoz: Stephie, Lewis
Staff picking Barnatt: Mookie, Phil, Tim, Anton
Anton Tabuena: Tough pick. Two large and long fighters, and it's a perfect test for both highly regarded prospects. It could go either way, but ultimately I think that Magny gets hit too often and tends to have defensive lapses. That isn't going to fly against such a big power hitter in Lim, so I think it's Hyun Gyu Lim by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Really torn on this one. Magny has really developed a solid game all-around and is arguably the better athlete. I like his clinch game and also don't agree with Anton's stance on Magny getting hit too often. That said, his winning streak isn't anything terribly impressive, and Lim is an absolute beast with a decided advantage in power. This is my favorite fight on the card aside from the main event, and I like Lim to get the win. Hyun Gyu Lim by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Two big welterweights in a contest which showcases the difference between "leaning on physical gifts" and "maximizing physical gifts". Fine, one big welterweight, and one freakishly enormous monstrosity. I do feel that Magny effectively uses his range far better than Lim, whose size has meant that he's able to effectively employ a relatively close quarters game (hooks and knees) without much in the way of effective distance techniques, barring the occasional front kick, or powerful straights from either stance (normally orthodox, but he doesn't discriminate that much). Lim is a gifted welterweight, but his game is predicated on people who duck in against or run away from his obvious power, and I think he struggles to contest punching range against a more skilled boxer who can match his reach. Magny's wrestling game is a very risky option considering the Korean's power and propensity for knees, but Saffiedine (never the greatest offensive wrestler) was able to take the Korean down handily, so Neil Magny by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Lim: Mookie, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Magny: Stephie, Phil
Philippe Nover vs. Yui Chul Nam
Anton Tabuena: Both men dropping down for the first time, both men have had stretches of inactivity. That's a lot of unknowns to actually give a decent prediction, but the style match-up should slightly favor the Korean I think. Nam Yui Chul by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I actually like what I've seen from Nover lately. His wrestling and grappling has looked much better, and he's only been beaten by a ground fighting prodigy in Held, and a titanic lightweight in Tony Martin. I think on the feet should be a relatively close matchup between Nam's activity and Nover's power, but I think the Filipino fighter can take it to the ground and pick up at least two rounds. Philippe Nover by unanimous decision
Staff picking Nover: Stephie, Phil
Staff picking Nam: Mookie, Tim, Anton
Anton Tabuena: I think Eddiva would've beaten his original opponent easily, and now he's going to get a much much tougher task in Makashvili who is a highly regarded prospect. It should be a fun fight either way, and I get why Makashvili is the favorite, but maybe the relatively short notice fight and the travel could make it a closer bout. Once again I hope I'm dead wrong, but I'm picking Levan Makashvili by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: While I think Makashvili's originally scheduled fights against Nik Lentz would not have gone well for him, he's a smooth and powerful striker with rock-solid TDD. Eddiva is decently well-rounded, but I'm not sure that he does anything better than Makashvili. Levan Makashvili by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Eddiva:
Staff picking Makashvili: Mookie, Phil, Stephie, Tim, Anton
Anton Tabuena: Both men can be inconsistent and a bit hesitant on the feet at times, making this another tough fight to predict. Once again, I'm not going to be picking the guy I'm rooting for. Tae Hyun Bang by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: BANG! Tae Hyun "Stand and" Bang by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Tuck's striking game got exploited with technical pressure and volume by Kevin Lee and Norman Parke respectively. No shame in this. He's still a good athlete at a solid camp, but he needs to up his output. This is approximately similar to the Nover-Nam fight further up the card- low output striker with grappling in the back pocket against higher output striker, but I feel Tuck is far more likely than Bang to show improvements, and he should be starting to "click" with upper-level MMA at this point. Jon Tuck by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Bang: Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Tuck: Phil
Anton Tabuena: Not many western MMA fans are high on the TUF: China winner, but Lipeng should be better than a guy like Kajan Johnson. Zhang Lipeng by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I'll level with you, true believers, I might just be picking the better wrestlers because I'm expecting no-one to be able to stop takedowns. Kajan Johnson by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Lipeng: Tim, Anton
Staff picking Johnson: Mookie, Phil, Stephie
Li Jingliang vs. Dhiego Lima
Anton Tabuena: Tough fight for the Leech, but I think he has the tools to defeat Lima. Li Jingliang by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I've about seen enough of Dhiego Lima to believe he's not really going to get substantially better to stay in the UFC in the long-term. Li Jingliang by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Lima has struggled with sheer aggression and with people who don't give him space. He's struggled really badly. Jingliang is aggressive, but is he as athletically gifted or technically skilled as Eddie Gordon or Tim Means, respectively? Prolly not, so it's a tough call. I think he's shown solid evolution from a determined grappler into a decent pressure boxer, so I'll bet on his ceiling being higher than Lima's, who is increasingly announcing himself as the Dan/Sergio/Ninja/Dan/Chinzo brother. Li Jingliang by unanimous decision
Staff picking Jingliang: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Anton
Staff picking Lima: Tim
Ning Guangyou vs. Royston Wee
Anton Tabuena: Unless he decides to be gun shy again, this should be Ning Guangyou's fight to lose. He is more well rounded and he should be able to counter Wee's takedowns. Ning Guangyou by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Ning Guangyou vs. Jianping Yang was comfortably one of the worst fights I've ever watched. Royston Wee apparently missed weight which doesn't dissuade me from my prediction of ... Royston Wee by TKO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Thinking about it honestly, he probably loses, but still: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Staff picking Guangyou: Anton
Staff picking Wee: Stephie, Mookie, Phil, Tim
Anton Tabuena: Weird that they match Filipino vs. Filipino, but they will trade bombs and kicks, and this should be a fun scrap while it lasts. Could go either way, but I'm picking the local guy. Roldan Sangcha-an by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Unlike the fight above, this should be flashy, fun, not-very-good MMA. Hopefully these two scramble around the cage and hit each other and stuff. Sangcha-an is the better range striker, but again, key grappling edges probably go to Delos Reyes. Jon Delos Reyes by unanimous decision
Staff picking Sangcha-an: Anton
Staff picking Reyes: Mookie, Stephie, Tim
Anton Tabuena: For the record, I believe Yao was robbed against Royston Wee the last time out, and I don't throw around that label too much. I also believe there are much better Filipinos they could've put on the card instead of an unknown Fil-Am in Ticman. None of that matters on this prediction though, and while I think it's going to be close, I'm picking Yao for the upset. Yao Zhikui by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I think this will be one-sided. Better camp, more athletic, did reasonably OK against a good opponent despite being 2 years out from his last fight: Ticman should have this in the bag. Nolan Ticman by sub, round 1.
Staff picking Ticman: Mookie, Phil, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Zhikui: Anton