Editor's note: Bec Rawlings vs. Lisa Ellis was inadvertently omitted. Bloody Elbow apologizes for the error.
The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Miocic, and the consensus is that Stipe Miocic will spoil Mark Hunt's return to Australia tomorrow. It's slightly different in the co-main event where it's split evenly between picking Brad Tavares or Robert Whittaker. We do have a clean sweep for Anthony Perosh to beat Sean O'Connell.
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 Zane Simon 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.
Mookie Alexander: Zane and Fraser are likely correct. Miocic is a really good athlete who doesn't really have the high output (for a heavyweight) or power to putaway Hunt, but he can probably win comfortably on speed and athleticism alone, which also involves him taking Hunt down and punishing him there. But I'm considerably behind in the staff predictions so I gotta pull out the K-1 NEVER DIE! card on Miocic, who I like tremendously. Sorry Stipe, but it's Hunt time. Mark Hunt by walkoff KO, round 2.
Zane Simon: There's no fun way to write this. I think Mark Hunt is going to lose... Possibly very badly. More than anything, I think it's the Roy Nelson win, which was a vicious KO, but also suggested that Hunt isn't really playing the multi-speed footwork and angle game he used to. He looks like he's slowed down. His hands are still great and he still knows how to box, but if opponents aren't giving him the shots, he's not the surprisingly dynamic fighter he was a few years ago. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Miocic either pot shots him to a clear decision, or shockingly KO's him early to the severe disappointment of local fans. Stipe Miocic by KO, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I have been on board the Mark Hunt train for a long time, picking him in a lot of fights where I was on my own. But I can't hop on this time. I am impressed that Hunt scored some wins after his loss to JDS, but I suspect the Werdum loss has officially put an end to this ride. That doesn't mean he will never win again - but Miocic is a top level talent, and sadly, a step above the Super Samoan now. :( Stipe Miocic by decision
Staff picking Hunt: Mookie, Roy, Karim,
Staff picking Miocic: Phil, Tim, Fraser, Zane, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: I've never been too enthused with Tavares, who just doesn't seem to be anything other than a gatekeeper in the division. It's a small sample size but I loved Whittaker's performance against Clint Hester in his 185 lbs debut. His striking was incredibly sharp and his TDD was on point. Give me Whittaker's power and accuracy to get past Tavares' effective but painfully power-starved striking in what will largely be a stand-up contest. Robert Whittaker by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Tavares is the safe pick here, especially if he can put together the kind of complete performance that he had against Lorenz Larkin (who's honestly somewhat similarly skilled to Whittaker), but I'm not totally sure that that wasn't the exception and not the rule. Tavares has often struggled to maintain output and pressure on opponents, even when he's clearly winning fights. He's a very consistent kickboxer (in terms of technique and style), but he doesn't have a lot of finishing power, and doesn't tend to dominate fights with positional control, either in the clinch or on the ground. So, if this is going to be a standup affair, I think there's a chance that Tavares just gives Whittaker too many opportunities to land big shots. That may be wrong, but it bit him hard against Tim Boetsch. Robert Whittaker by TKO Round 2.
Staff picking Tavares: Phil, Tim, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking Whittaker: Mookie, Roy, Karim, Zane
Anthony Perosh vs. Sean O'Connell
Mookie Alexander: Hippo smash. Anthony Perosh by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: "Old, defensively spotty and physically underwhelming grappler" is rarely a recipe for a sustained career in the UFC, but Anthony Perosh has made himself one of the more entertaining wild cards at 205lbs. O'Connell is a really tough brawler. Three possibilities here: Perosh's well-documented defensive liabilities get him lamped early; he taps O'Connell out early; or the fight goes late and ugly, in which case O'Connell probably wins. Still. Anthony Perosh by submission, round 1.
Tim Burke: It's HIPPO TIME! Anthony Perosh by submission.
Zane Simon: It's really weird to think that Perosh could put together his second UFC win streak at the age of 42, but O'Connell seems like the perfect matchup for him. O'Connell doesn't have a ton of KO power, likes to come forward striking aggressively, has bad takedown defense, and is a submission before position, somewhat sloppy grappler. That falls right into Perosh's drag and control game. Anthony Perosh by submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Perosh: Phil, Mookie, Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking O'Connell:
Phil Mackenzie: Great fight. Matthews may be the more talented athlete, but Vick is really settling into his role as a spoiler. He's a humongous lightweight who is tough and puts out decent power and volume. He also looks a bit like a fish. To beat him you need to have something special. Matthews has thus far been able to lean on his excellent grappling to shore up his low output striking, and I hope we'll see the kind of technical leap and convergence of skills that he needs to take to beat Vick, but I can't be confident in it. James Vick by unanimous decision
Fraser Coffeen: This is a great fight. Vick has the bigger experience, but Matthews to me just has future champ written all over him. This could be a wake up call, but I suspect it will be a much higher level before Matthews gets his first L. Jake Matthews by submission, round 2
Zane Simon: There's a big part of me that thinks that Vick will get yet another ugly win on his resume in this fight, but his last fight against Nick Hein has me worried. Mostly because Vick really took his foot off the gas in that fight and tried to fight like an outside point striker. Had Hein thrown more than one hand one at a time (or been a bit bigger) he probably would have won... I actually thought he did win. If Vick tries to depend on becoming a more technically sound fighter, I think he actually takes away a lot of his biggest advantages over competition right now. Matthews is a big LW with great physical tools and a really nicely developing well rounded game. I hope he puts on a show here. Jake Matthews by submission.
Staff picking Matthews: Mookie, Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Vick: Phil
Mookie Alexander: Here's the thing, Hioki is on a major downswing and as the featherweight division has strengthened he's found himself ultimately phased out of contention. Buuuuuuuuuut Dan Hooker can win 17 fights in a row and I will always say "Never trust a Hooker". Hatsu Hioki by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Benchmarking for Hioki. Again. He should be the better striker and the better grappler, and Hooker showed against Blanco that (as often happens) his power hasn't transitioned into the higher-durability echelons of the UFC. So, has Hioki fallen off enough to lose? I don't think he's deteriorated in skill, speed or durability, but his cardio is consistently failing him, whether due to more athletic competition or a physical decline. He drops the third round every time. Hooker has a pretty high workrate, so this one probably comes down to whether Hioki can tap him early or sustain long enough to pick up at least two. I think we get a late scare but Hatsu Hioki by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Daniel Hooker has had a couple of weird UFC fights to start off his career, and this one's no better. Straight out of the gate, he faced a small live/die by the leg lock expert in Entwistle and then the always mercurial Maximo Blanco. Now he gets the, content to lose, Hatsu Hioki. If I learned anything from those first two fights for Hooker, it's that he may not have the physical tools necessary to set himself apart at featherweight. At which point, him winning is dependent on him having the technical edge (or more well rounded game in the case of Entwistle). I don't think Hooker has the advantage over Hioki anywhere. Hatsu Hioki by decision.
Staff picking Hioki: Phil, Roy, Karim, Tim, Mookie, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Hooker: Stephie
Kyle Noke vs. Jonavin Webb
Phil Mackenzie: For me, this fight hinges on whether Noke's TDD is genuinely bad, or whether he just wasn't ready for Patrick Cote to come out in grappler mode. Noke has been fairly consistent at beating relatively young and inexperienced fighters, but I guess I probably think Webb can get on his hips. I won't be surprised to see Noke staying at range and kicking him in the leg. Jonavin Webb by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Jonavin Webb may not quite be a "blue chipper" but he's a very promising young fighter with a positionally solid aggressive grappling attack, powerful wrestling, and some striking that still needs some work. Still, he sets up his takedown entries well and then does a great job working with control positions. I think he'll get a big win here, that might fast track him over his head next time out. Jonavin Webb by submission.
Staff picking Noke: Tim, Fraser
Staff picking Webb: Phil, Mookie, Roy, Karim, Stephie, Zane
Mookie Alexander: Can Sam Alvey stop Dan Kelly's judo skills? Yes? Please? Because Alvey is going to embarrass him on the feet. Sam Alvey by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Sam Alvey has had a surpassingly weird one-two of KO wins- Dylan Andrews Varnering himself, and then Alvey's KO of Cezar Mutante. He wasn't winning either of those fights. Daniel Kelly, however, is coming off one of the most painfully bad UFC bouts we've seen for a long, long time. Alvey has at least shown some timing and power, and I'm not sure what Kelly has shown, if anything. Sam Alvey by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: First and foremost, this is probably not going to be a good fight. Second, I seriously doubt Kelly is getting KO'd. He's another one of those fighters that is just a lot bigger, tougher, and stronger than people think he is. Alvey has shown some power, but he wasn't exactly winning that fight before he caught Cezar Mutante, and Mutante's chin is classically not great. I think this will look a lot more like the Tom Watson fight, with Kelly pressuring, grinding, and staying active while Alvey does his normal thing and drops rounds. Daniel Kelly by decision.
Staff picking Kelly: Zane
Staff picking Alvey: Phil, Mookie, Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie
Dylan Andrews vs. Brad Scott
Phil Mackenzie: Dylan Andrews has been an example of a kind of... racism(?) in picking. Not in any serious way, but I do think that when we look at fighters like Andrews (or Soa Palelei) there's a tendency to assume that they share an Antipodean durability with blokes like David Tua or Mark Hunt. You'll hear a lot about how tough they are, despite the fact that Andrews got finished by strikes from guard by Uriah Hall. Anyway, with two odd finishes in his last two, Andrews' durability is now a real question mark, and we may have to admit that we overrated him slightly for his victory over Mighty #1 MW Prospect Papy Abedi. Still, he's got decent power, he can keep up his workrate, and Brad Scott isn't very good? Dylan Andrews by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Andrews is a fundamentally untrustworthy fighter. He's got athleticism and power, but his process is all over the place. He's the kind of fighter that will throw away an advantage just because he saw the opportunity to do something different. Still, while Scott is a big strong MW (and more so than he's given credit for) I think he really has to have a significant physical advantage to win fights. He won't have that here, so he probably won't win. Dylan Andrews by decision.
Staff picking Andrews: Phil, Mookie, Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Scott:
Phil Mackenzie: These two were both overpowered in their last fights by better (and bigger in Chambers' case) grapplers. Curran is younger, more athletic, and is far more likely to be able to capitalize on the huge defensive chasms which both women have displayed, via clinch takedowns Kailin Curran by submission, round 2
Zane Simon: I'm not sure where Curran's ceiling is yet, but she seems like a fighter with a lot of promise. She's got the size and she has a good, consistent clinch game and overall MMA style. It's not developed enough to win big fights yet, and I don't know that she's quite the athlete to be a top tier fighter, but Chambers is undersized and doesn't have the volume or range control to make her Karate kicking base really work for her. Kailin Curran by decision.
Staff picking Curran: Phil, Mookie, Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Chambers:
Phil Mackenzie: Grujic is bigger and better, and may just about be good enough to hold onto the bottom rung of the UFC for a bit. O'Reilly is under-sized and under-skilled. It's conceivable that his performance against Lipeng was a young fighter getting overwhelmed by the bright lights, but more likely he's just an outmatched fighter, with a regionals-built style predicated on a grappling advantage which is non-existent at the higher levels. If this fight goes long it could be unbearable so I'll hope for Vik Grujic by TKO, round 1
Zane Simon: Wow, I didn't realize how much smaller O'Reilly was when I picked him to win this. If Sherdog is to be believed, Grujic will have a 5 inch height advantage. That just might make up for the fact that he's slower than continental drift. Otherwise, this has ugly, coin flip fight written all over it as neither guy has looked good against even mediocre competition. I guess I'm taking the cheater hedge here and saying Vik Grujic by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Grujic: Phil, Mookie , Roy, Karim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking O'Reilly: Tim
Alptekin Ozkilic vs. Ben Nguyen
Phil Mackenzie: This fight is a great opener. Nguyen is a fun, active clinch striker. However, Alptekin Ozkilic has made some real improvements of late, showcasing some nice boxing to complement his already-excellent takedowns. I think he's a great candidate to become one of the upper-mid level stalwarts which flyweight so desperately needs in order to stratificate itself. Alp Ozkilic by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Nguyen is a great example of how experience doesn't necessarily translate into better results. Nguyen seems to have cobbled together his MMA game from a variety of different systems and gyms over the years, leaving him with something that has as many holes as it does functional aspects. He's got power in his hands but very little defense or combination striking. He doesn't have much takedown defense, or ability to keep himself from constantly walking into takedowns, and while he seems like a solid athlete it feels like he wastes a lot of energy and effort on inefficient fighting. Ozkilic on the other hand, is a very solid wrestler who has really put some work into developing his hands. Hard to see him losing this one. Alptekin Ozkilic by decision.
Staff picking Ozkilic: Phil, Mookie , Roy, Karim, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Nguyen: