The BE staff has entered its predictions for tomorrow night's UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Teixeira card, and to my surprise, I'm the only one going with Glover Teixeira over OSP in the main event. There's a slight lean towards Michael Johnson over Beneil Dariush in the co-main. It's a clean sweep for Derek Brunson to beat Sam Alvey.
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.
Mookie Alexander: I want OSP to win if not solely because this division badly needs new contenders, and there isn't a chance in hell Teixeira gets back into the fold after his last two losses. But I can't shake off the feeling that OSP has historically come up short against any competition he's faced. This isn't to equate Teixeira as stylistically similar to Mousasi or Bader, but I think Glover is just the better fighter, whereas OSP is athletically superior. If OSP can repeat the Phil Davis gameplan then the dynamic changes completely, but Teixeira can win this standing or even put OSP on his back and engage in grappling. Ultimately, Glover hurts OSP with a big punch and puts him away. Glover Teixeira by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Much like Mookie, I really just WANT OSP to win, not because I have anything against Glover, but because this division (which, it must be noted, was for a long time the flagship division of the company) really, really stinks right now. OSP seems to be hitting his stride and improving out there, and if he can become a real contender, that would be great. As for Glover, well there's no shame in losing to Jon Jones and Phil Davis, but it's worth noting that he's 35, a 13 year pro, been in some wars, and has not won a fight in 2 years. Is he on the downslide? Absolutely. The question is how far down that slide. I think it's far enough that he won't be able to handle the more dynamic fighter. Ovince St. Preux, KO, Round 3
Zane Simon: I think my biggest fear is just how different Teixeira looked physically against Phil Davis. Obviously, that's something that could change a lot fight to fight, but it's also something that, as he ages in the sport, I'd expect to decline anyway. At which point it's very hard for me to trust or believe that I'm going to see a better version of Teixeira than the past one going forward. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Teixeira came out firing on all cylinders, looked great, and just pieced up OSP. But I also wouldn't be surprised if Teixeira looked a little sluggish, while still technical and got beat to the punch on his way to his first TKO loss since 2002. OSP isn't a technical marvel, but he's big, powerful, fast, and all of his game seems to be coming together right now. It's his fight to lose, so OSP by TKO, Round 2.
Michael Hutchinson: I have been a believer since his title shot against Jon Jones that Glover Teixeira is one of the most overrated fighters in the UFC. Taking a quick look at his record, his only win over Top 10 competition is Ryan Bader. He has lost back to back fights against Jon Jones and Phil Davis and is coming off of a knee injury. Teixeira's in a downward tailspin momentum wise, and I believe OSP will be able to capitalize on that. OSP has won his last two fights by knockout, so he's headed into the fight with all of the momentum in the world, and will likely take the fight the distance. Ovince St. Preux, Unanimous Decision
Staff picking OSP: Phil, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Hutch
Staff picking Teixeira: Mookie, Stephie, Lewis
Mookie Alexander: I've underestimated Michael Johnson long enough. He's a perfect example of a fighter whose potential is being met after years of relative underachieving. The Blackzilians have turned him into a legitimate title challenger. Johnson's athleticism was always there but the skills were unpolished. He's polished his game off nicely and I think his quickness and striking power can trouble Dariush if not force a stoppage. That said, Dariush is absolutely capable of submitting "The Menace" provided he can force him to grapple. For now, Johnson is too much, too soon for Dariush, and I think Michael will get the victory. Michael Johnson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I have two big concerns here. One is that, when pressuring as a striker, Johnson is very willing to overreach his base with winging hooks. That's the kind of thing that gives a lot of opportunity for fighters looking for reactive takedowns. My second concern is for Dariush, and his interest in battling out fights standing in the opening round. His striking is improving, but outside of his power kicking game, he tends to have a pretty basic 1-2 punching game and often gets caught waiting on the end of his punches. As such, Dariush puts himself at high risk of getting countered hard when he's striking and often has been early in fights. Because of that, I've gotta go with Johnson here. I think he can keep Dariush standing long enough and hurt him bad enough to make the rest of his game too predictable to be effective. Michael Johnson by TKO, Round 3.
Michael Hutchinson: This is a fight, much like Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 1, where in a couple of years these two could fight again at the top of the division for the championship. Johnson and Dariush have look very impressive as of late, and in a crowded lightweight division have been able to shine. I have been a huge Dariush fan since his upset win over Charlie Brenneman, but this fight against Johnson presents a lot of problems for him. Taking down Johnson will be a tall task, and Johnson's striking has become more clinical as of late rather than wild. This is a pick'em fight as Dariush could easily get a quick submission or Johnson could easily get a 1st round knockout. My choice will flip flop before now and the fight, but I'll go with my heart over my head and pick Dariush to get the quick submission. Beneil Dariush by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Dariush: Tim, Hutch, Stephie
Staff picking Johnson: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Zane
Mookie Alexander: Brunson has come a long way from his Strikeforce and early UFC days. Bad match-up for Smilin' Sam, who can be outwrestled in this fight from start to finish and also doesn't hold a decided advantage in power when compared to previous outings. Brunson is hitting his stride as a fringe top 10 guy right now and he'll show it tomorrow night. Derek Brunson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Brunson is another one of those fighters that fans have been watching for long enough that they forget that he should only now be starting to reach his potential. While he made his name early in his career being something of a blanket fighter, he's slowly improved his kickboxing to the point that he's a pretty functional range striker. Considering that he's tough as nails, as well, and a really solid wrestler and top control fighter, I don't see many opportunities for Alvey outside of landing one big lucky shot, and even then a stunned Brunson might be able to take him down and grind out the round. Derek Brunson by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Alvey is starting to resemble an incredibly bizarre cross between a generic middleweight and John Dodson(?), where he throws no volume, shows zero serious athleticism, and then blows people's doors off with one hook. This really shouldn't be enough against Derek Brunson, a legitimate talent who probably belongs in the top 10 and has an infinitely more well-rounded game. Brunson should be able to light Alvey up from the outside with kicks, and put him on his back whenever he gets close. Derek Brunson by unanimous decision.
Michael Hutchinson: The problem with picking Alvey for this fight is that when he has fought, he has looked rather unimpressive, right before he lands the knockout blow out of no-where. We have yet to see a whole lot of what Alvey can do, but we've seen plenty of what Brunson has to offer. Just looking at who they've competed against, Brunson has a wealth of experience fighting guys much better than Alvey (Jacare, Romero, Larkin) and will likely not get caught by a punch in the first round. I expect Brunson to overwhelm Alvey for all three rounds. Derek Brunson by Unanimous decision.
Staff picking Alvey: Lewis
Staff picking Brunson: Phil, Mookie, Tim, Zane, Hutch, Fraser, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: Why. Jared Rosholt by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Aleksei Oleinik knocking out Rosholt was... well, not a fluke. But brutal, shocking losses happen quite a lot, particularly in the big weight classes, early in UFC careers: if Kongo hits Cain just a bit different, UFC HW history gets changed. Rosholt is an infinitely better wrestler, and should steamroll Johnson, and should probably finish him as well. The question is whether he tests out the stand-up first, because that hasn't gone so well for him so far. But he's going to have to do it at some point. Jared Rosholt by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: So, the hair pulling moment of the day will probably be when Jared Rosholt gets stomped by Timothy Johnson for no other reason than that Johnson sacrificed more goats to the heavyweight war gods. But, barring celestial intervention, this is a fight Rosholt should really handily win. Given enough time, patience, and training, Johnson could be a Ben Rothwell like big man. Ungainly, but big and tough as hell with an even chance to KO you if you can't smother him. At the moment, however, smothering him really shouldn't be a problem for Rosholt. Jared Rosholt by Decision.
Staff picking Johnson:
Staff picking Rosholt: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Hutch, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: McMann pretty much dashed any hopes of another title shot just on round 3 of the Tate fight. I'm actually tempted to go for the upset here because Nunes is pretty damn dangerous standing as well as from top position. However, I think McMann is good enough to grind this one out and take the safe decision. Sara McMann by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Nunes is a better transitional fighter, more aggressive, and has no glaring technical holes like the absolutely woeful guard game McMann displayed last time out. My main concern here is her gas tank- I don't think she's likely to finish McMann early, and she tends to fade. McMann's pace isn't incredible, though, and I think Nunes' cardio is the more fixable of the two fighters' issues. Amanda Nunes by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: At this point, my Feelings about Sara McMann having what it takes to routinely beat top athletes in WMMA are pretty well dashed. She's got all the baseline athletic tools, but it just doesn't seem like she's polishing up enough other skills. Her boxing has come along, but not in any way that seems connected to her wrestling or to exist outside of the pocket. She looked lost off her back against Miesha Tate and she was basically in full LNP mode against Lauren Murphy. At that point, she's relying on a very narrow window of offense to get wins and I don't think she can do it. Amanda Nunes by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking McMann: Mookie, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Nunes: Phil, Hutch, Zane, Stephie
Phil Mackenzie: Close and potentially incredibly fun fight. Borg is just more used to a much higher level of competition. He gave Ortiz hell, and big-show experience is absolutely invaluable in these kind of prospect fights. I think Borg locking up a sub in a scramble is a distinct possibility, but Ray Borg by unanimous decision.
Tim Burke: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. WISH I WAS RUNNING THE BE TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR THIS FIGHT. Ray Borg by submission, round 2
Zane Simon: This should be the most exciting back and forth bout of the night. Both fighters are excellent athletes, both are fun grapplers, and both have weaknesses where their opponent has strengths. Borg is the better wrestler and more clinical grappler, where Herrera is the better striker and more dynamic athlete. I think Borg's wrestling will give him the consistent edge in positional dominance, but I expect this fight to go all over the place and be three rounds of crazy fun. Ray Borg by decision.
Staff picking Borg: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Hutch, Stephie
Staff picking Herrera:
Mookie Alexander: I like Bamgbose as a talent, and maybe he'll lose this fight solely because he's too green and is taking this on short notice, but I wouldn't trust Uriah Hall to beat some featherweights wearing 40 pounds worth of ankle weights. I'm done falling into the Uriah Hall trap, even if he wins this. Also, Oluwale has a superb nickname. The Holy War Angel by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I don't trust Hall at all, but similar to the Barboza-Felder fight, I just don't think Bamgbose fits the profile of people who've beaten him. Normally he gets frozen up by level-change mixups, but he's eaten aggressive pure strikers up. Still incredibly easy to see how Bamgbose wins: he forces Hall back into the cage, Hall riverdances along it with his head upright like usual, and pow. Don't think it's likely though. Uriah Hall by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Hall should win this. He's tough, he's the same caliber of athlete as Bamgbose (which is to say: high), and he's a way way way more technical and experienced fighter. He's also got a much better gas tank. Still, he doesn't fight to win. He lands one shot for every three he gets hit with, he's very willing to let opponents drive in on him and push him around, and he rarely pressures his opponents. Still, I think gas tank will be the key factor here. Bamgbose may win the first round, may even hurt Hall, but if he doesn't knock him out I doubt he'll have anything left for the rest of the fight. Uriah Hall by split decision.
Staff picking Bamgbose: Mookie, Tim, Hutch, Stephie
Staff picking Hall: Phil, Fraser, Zane
Mookie Alexander: I swear I watched this fight before. Chris Camozzi by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: And lo, it was that the great and generic tribes of Middleweight did divide themselves. Firstly there were those who lived by the gospel of the jab, the one-two and the leg kick. Their lord was Bisping of Manchester, and they would become the Powerless Volume Punchers. Then there were those with a working man's approach, those who believed a bit more in their power, who would get really tired and sweaty but still keep punching. They were the Blue Collar Scrappers, and their king was Boetsch the Barbarian (tho' there were those such as Sam the Smiler and Scott Coal-heart who did dream traitorous dreams of o'erthrowing him). Finally there were those who would clinch, and go for takedowns and not generally complete them, and they would be the BJJ Guys With Suspect Gas Tanks. First among them was Natal the Born, until the Prodigal Leites returned from the wilderness to claim his place at their head. Their subjects were curs'd to fight one another, to struggle for a dominion none could achieve because they're not very good. Curs'd also to have all who watch them forget their fights: before, after and sometimes during. Nick Ring... I mean Chris Camozzi by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Yeah, what Phil said. Camozzi by decision.
Staff picking Camozzi: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Hutch, Stephie
Staff picking Watson:
Phil Mackenzie: I've consistently underestimated Willie Gates in the UFC, but if he wins this one I'll be very surprised. Ortiz is the kind of super aggressive and incredibly tough grappler who will make for an ugly, hard fight against all but the most nuclear of hitters and the most elite technicians. He's a wild but reasonably accurate and fast-paced striker as well- as a whole he basically resembles a pint-sized Chas Skelly. Gates has relied on big moments of offense thus far, but I find it very difficult to see him finishing Ortiz with a singular strike. Dustin Ortiz by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Along with Phil, I'll admit I massively underrated what Gates could do in the cage, mostly due to his piss poor level of competition regionally. But, now that I'm up to speed on him as a dynamic striker with some real potential finish power and accuracy, I still don't think he beats Dustin Ortiz. Ortiz is tough as nails (unlike Montague) and after that, I haven't seen enough consistency out of Gates' game to suggest he can shutdown a strong wrestle-boxer with a good grappling game. Ortiz isn't likely to finish him, but I think he'll take a win on position and volume. And I won't be surprised if Gates catches him with something big and turns the whole fight around. But, Dustin Ortiz by decision.
Staff picking Gates: Tim
Staff picking Ortiz: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Hutch, Zane, Stephie
Phil Mackenzie: Maybe a small upset here, but I actually like Kakai. He's not going to hang out on the outside and let Saenz set up blitzes like Alcantara did- his combination striking, workrate and surprisingly good TDD are much better match-ups for what Saenz does. Should be close and contested, but Sirwan Kakai by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Big problem for me with Kakai is that he's just not that fast for a bantamweight. And while he's a fundamentally sound striker, he's not really a dominating one. He reminds me a bit of Sam Stout in that way, except where Kakai is actually best and does his best fighting is in scrambles and in the transition with elbows, knees, and punches. That's also where Saenz is pretty excellent and Saenz is a much more technically sound wrestler and grappler. So, Frankie Saenz by decision.
Staff picking Kakai: Phil
Staff picking Saenz: Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Hutch, Zane, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: Hey, fair warning, Jonathan Wilson is an Xplode/Gladiator Challenge guy. Just saying. Chris Dempsey by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Tough fight to pick. Wilson is probably naturally faster and stronger, he has a decent straight left and body kick. But the competition he's fought against is just drrrreadful. Eddie Gordon might be a bit of a meme as a terrible TUF winner, but he's at least physically strong and has a functional MMA game, and... I'm not sure that Wilson has any idea how to go up against people who can fight back. Should be incredibly ugly, but Chris Dempsey by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Sure Chris Dempsey is the logical pick. With his strength of schedule, Wilson is basically 0-0 in pro MMA right now. But... and call me crazy, I think that Wilson is a pretty decent athlete who can become a pretty decent fighter. Dempsey seems like he's putting together the basics of a fundamental MMA game, but he's also slow, not particularly good anywhere, and definitely a natural middleweight. I'll take a chance on this fight and figure that Wilson shows himself to be someone to watch even without having faced any legit competition. Jonathan Wilson by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Dempsey: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Hutch, Stephie
Staff picking Wilson: Zane
Phil Mackenzie: I just have no read on this fight at all. I guess I'm going to pick Salazar because he's a better and more willing grappler, but he doesn't project much will to win when he fights, and I can't help but feel like a consensus pick is going to lose to an overperforming TUF LatAM guy AGAIN. Roman Salazar by submission, round 3.
Zane Simon: Phil's pick really threw me here, because what I've seen of Vera shows a guy with a pretty dedicated back take game and not a whole lot else going on. And much of my memory of Salazar is as a guy who is more than willing to kickbox with people without an especially strong grasp of how to kickbox. At which point, I'm a lot more likely to take Vera as I think he'll be able to close the distance and jump on something ugly for a submission. Marlon Vera by Sub, Round 2.
Staff picking Salazar: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Hutch
Staff picking Vera: Zane, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: Nothing against Greece, because gyros are delicious, but MMA isn't really their thing. Scott Holtzman via KO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Greece's troubles continue. Scott Holtzman is a really solid, athletic, violent prospect and Christodoulou is... not good. He looked like he had zero idea of how to strike and had no way of closing to grappling range against Taisumov, which was one of the most embarrassing and one-sided beatdowns I've seen in the cage. I actually hope he does better, but my peak hopes for him would be as some kind of gritty Pawel Pawlak type, and he needs to improve a lot to be as good as Pawlak. Scott Holtzman by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Unless Christodoulou gets Holtzman to gas himself just by dint of being a tough bastard, this should be Holtzman's fight to take. He's a much more natural and powerful athlete. His game is still really raw, but Christodoulou is raw without the whole athletic thing going on. Scott Holtzman by decision.
Staff picking Christodoulou:
Staff picking Holtzman: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Hutch, Zane, Stephie