I know what you're wondering and I'll give you the answer right away. No, nobody on the Bloody Elbow staff is picking Urijah Faber to beat Dominick Cruz at UFC 199. Yes, Eddie Mercado is the only one picking Michael Bisping to upset Luke Rockhold in the main event. Yes, Tim Burke is picking Dan Henderson over Hector Lombard, and he's the only one who's choosing him. Yes, a hot dog is a sandwich.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Victor Rodriguez 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.
Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping
Anton Tabuena: Glad Bisping finally got his much deserved title shot after his win over Anderson Silva, but he is truly in an uphill battle here. His biggest advantage over most fighters, is that he can push the pace and strike with volume for 25 minutes. Coming in on two weeks notice will negate a lot of that, and Rockhold has too many other advantages both standing on the ground. Luke Rockhold by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: Bisping has everything to gain and really nothing to lose. He finally got his title shot, is unlikely to win, but if he does, then hooray for him. All that said, unless Rockhold’s twice-stated torn MCL hampers him a lot, there’s nothing that Bisping has shown over the last two years to suggest he can A.) Stop Luke Rockhold or B.) Win 3 rounds off of him. Lost in all of the sentimental value about Bisping’s long-awaited championship moment is that he’s really not dominated any top 10 middleweight since the Belcher fight. He’s lost to Kennedy and Rockhold, edged out Anderson and Leites, and had to rally to beat C.B. Dollaway. Meanwhile, Rockhold just bludgeoned Spinning Weidman, Large Cage Machida, and obviously just tapped out Bisping. There’s just too big an athletic gap between these two and I expect another Rockhold stoppage win. Bisping has to volume box Rockhold to death and that’s just not happening. Luke Rockhold by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I’ve very clearly underrated Rockhold for quite some time, picking against him in the Weidman fight without a second thought. I also picked him to lose to Machida, Belfort, and Jacare (one right!). But you know who I didn’t predict him to lose to? Michael Bisping. Bisping is somewhat underrated, but this remains a terrible stylistic match-up for him. Rockhold is the stronger, more dynamic striker, and there seems to be little chance of Bisping either getting the KO or winning 3 rounds. This will stay on the feet because Bisping is good at takedown defense and Rockhold doesn’t have enough to gain by fighting for the TD, but in a pure striking battle, it’s just a matter of time. I love that Bisping has his shot, and I know he’s going to fight with an insane passion, but that’s just not enough - ask Diego Sanchez’s face how that worked against BJ Penn. Luke Rockhold, KO, round 3
Eddie Mercado: When did I become such a Michael Bisping fan? I distinctly remember a sense of justice when Dan Henderson landed his patented H-Bomb plus one for good measure on the Brit back in 2009. I had a sense of elation when Vitor Belfort blasted the Count with a head kick in 2013. I remember being pissed off by the infamous eye poke that ended the career of Alan Belcher. I was even somewhat unimpressed with Bisping’s stoppage of Cung Le. So what happened to my disdain? Where did it go? I believe it started to vanish after the Count’s post fight interview with Dan Hardy following his second round loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC FN 55. The humility on display by Bisping seemed to wash away all of my dislike for the abundance of dickish remarks and my annoyance levels for the Count began to subside. Holy shit! Was I actually rooting for Michael Bisping to beat Anderson Silva in London? Have I really become a Michael Bisping fan? OMG I have! This cognitive dissonance I am enduring should deem my pick here untrustworthy. Michael Bisping, Split Decision.
Zane Simon: Rockhold’s counter punching game is devastating. Add that in with a brutal kicking game to force people inside and a powerful submission game once he’s on the ground, and Rockhold is essentially a huge, powerful collection of fight ending offense. Bisping is many things, but none of them are listed above. Being tough, crafty, and a hard worker just won’t be enough this time... just like it wasn’t last time. Luke Rockhold via submission, Round 2.
Jed Meshew: Bisping is taking this title shot because he has big brass balls and because he got very upset with being the namesake of my Hall of Almost Fame and wanted to be removed from that. But seriously though, even Bisping knows he isn’t winning. Listen to his talk pre-fight. He essentially equates his winning with Jesus walking on water and he’s not wrong - Bisping needs a freakin miracle. He specifically says that he won’t have the cardio advantage and needs an early knockout which isn’t a thing he is capable of doing. Bisping is going to rush forward to achieve the one punch knockout he is incapable of getting and that plays right into the counter punching game of Rockhold. If I was Bisping I would be as dirty as possible this fight - my fingers would never be in fist form and every low kick would find it’s way to Rockhold’s cup - to try and throw Rockhold off and steal it but even that isn’t going to work. Honestly I would love Bisping to win because it would be the most feel good moment but there is just no way. Rockhold by TKO (mounted strikes), round 1
Staff picking Rockhold: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Jed, Anton
Staff picking Bisping: Eddie
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber
Anton Tabuena: I give Faber much more of a chance than most people. Cruz's game won't surprise Faber like many of his other opponents, and I do believe he can capitalize and finish on any mistakes during transitions and scrambles. That said, Cruz is still the safe pick here. Even though he hasn't really competed much recently, he still proved to be on the top of the game and should still have a significant striking advantage on this contest. Even "back fat" Cruz picked TJ apart, and he also seems to be in much better shape now that he's being more active after all those injuries. I have always enjoyed Cruz's unique style, so this should be entertaining to me regardless if it ends up with a finish, or that one-sided display of technical prowess that some fans apparently worry about. Dominick Cruz by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I have every intention of sounding simplistic here, but if Faber can’t get the finish, then he’s really not going to be that competitive. I’d genuinely put more stock in Cruz/Benavidez 3 being closer right now than Cruz/Faber 3 will be. Unless Cruz suddenly got old since January, the footwork, wrestling, and overall striking game are just going to befuddle Faber for 5 rounds. Dominick is going to Cruz to a unanimous decision win.
Fraser Coffeen: This seems insanely obvious to me. Cruz gonna Cruz, Faber gonna injure himself partway through but grittily fight to the end and be praised for that grit. After this, I vote for Faber vs. Dillashaw, and maybe that’s the end of the line for the California Kid. Dominick Cruz, decision
Eddie Mercado: I have to agree with Mookie here. Faber needs a finish to get the W but will he? Faber just so happens to be the only man that has been able to finish Cruz inside the cage but that was a different time; early 2007 to be exact. The footwork of Cruz is going to make it extremely challenging for Faber to get off with his strikes and win rounds. I would love to see Faber win a UFC title but I don’t think UFC 199 will be the day. Dominick Cruz by Unanimous Decision.
Zane Simon: Urijah Faber seems like more or less the same fighter as when he lost to Cruz the last time, only now he’s older and slower... Cruz seems like he’s only gotten better and his last fight was probably the best performance of his career. Dominick Cruz by decision.
Jed: Let’s not waste our time here. I sincerely hope Faber wins because chaos is delightful but barring injury or a miracle guillotine, he has next to no chance. Cruz actually looks dramatically better physically than when he "beat" Dillashaw. Cruz is gonna put it on Faber who will quickly realize he ain’t winning and just holds on for survival. Cruz via wiiiiiiiide decision.
Staff picking Cruz: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Eddie, Zane, Jed, Anton
Staff picking Faber:
Max Holloway vs. Ricardo Lamas
Anton Tabuena: Another excellent fight that should bring the fireworks. I fully expect Holloway to bring the bigger boom stick though. Max Holloway by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Great great fight. Lamas is the best featherweight Holloway has faced since Conor McGregor, although Holloway didn’t have a full camp for this one, although "Full Camp Holloway" doesn’t ring like Full Camp Mendes. Anyway, Holloway’s command of distance and is smooth combination striking really stand out to me. Lamas has good takedowns and is an opportunist finisher, so obviously Holloway has to be aware of that, but Max is the better all-around fighter and I’m really hoping he gets a title shot off of this performance. Max Holloway by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Lamas needs to muster all his Lamas-powers for what would undoubtedly be the biggest successful Lamasing of his career if he could pull it off. Over time, his striking has gotten more reliable (jab and leg kick) and integrated with his wrestling, but this is a tall order. Holloway has shucked off a variety of strong grapplers with increasingly little issue over his UFC career, (Bermudez, Fili and Oliveira) and in terms of striking is longer, cleaner defensively, and fights at a faster pace. Max Holloway by unanimous decision.
Eddie Mercado: I see this fight a lot closer than the odds makers do. Holloway is on a hot streak but Lamas is extremely dangerous. The type of fighter to best Lamas to this point has been those with venomous strikes. Sure, Holloway has the accuracy and a surplus of volume, but does his striking repertoire possess the power necessary to hurt Lamas? Maybe not, but when you combine high output striking with active footwork and exceptional conditioning, you get the potential for a late stoppage. Max Holloway by TKO, Round 3.
Zane Simon: This will be a real test for Holloway, as Lamas is a much better finisher than many fighters at or near the top of 145. However, Holloway has increasingly shown his ability to fight smart (taking a clean, uninteresting decision from Jeremy Stephens for instance), and should win the vast majority of the striking battle. Lamas isn’t technically amazing everywhere, and tends to rely on opponents screwing up to beat them. As long as Holloway fights smart, he should be able to stay out of trouble and out work Lamas for the decision. Max Holloway via decision.
Jed: Boy howdy this fight is the hotness. I’m all in on the Max Holloway bandwagon and I’ve never been high on Lamas even though I know he is very good. I expect Holloway to win and to put a stamp on it but now the thing I’m most curious about is what happens to him afterwards? He will have won 9 in a row which is the longest UFC streak without earning a title shot already. If McGregor really does intend to defend his 145 lb. strap then Holloway would have to sit out a year to get the next crack at it after the Aldo-Edgar 2 winner. I hope McGregor vacates because Holloway-Aldo gets me revved up just thinking about it. Holloway by KO, round 3.
Staff picking Holloway: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Eddie, Zane, Jed, Anton
Staff picking Lamas:
Dan Henderson vs. Hector Lombard
Anton Tabuena: I still wish that H-Bomb lands, but this is clearly Lombard's fight to lose. Hector Lombard by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Dan Henderson has had a legendary career. Hector Lombard by whatever he wants.
Phil Mackenzie: Welcome back to Vitor-Hendo 3, where the question is: "can Hendo (sho) weather the early storm of offense and capitalize on his opponent’s tendency to fade?" and the answer is "NO." Hector Lombard by KO, round 1.
Eddie Mercado: This fight makes my eyes rain. Satan wins by heartbreak.
Zane Simon: Lombard, KO, Round 1.
Jed: This fight makes you think about the morality of being an MMA fan. Usually I am rooting for a brutally violent KO but here the prospect of this old guy getting slept makes me queasy. Infinite sadness by Are we sure this is a good thing?
Staff picking Henderson: Tim
Staff picking Lombard: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Eddie, Zane, Jed, Anton
Bobby Green vs. Dustin Poirier
Mookie Alexander: Green has been through a lot over the past 18 months or so, both with injuries and personal tragedy. This is a rough fight to come back to, as Poirier has looked outstanding at lightweight. I favor Poirier’s more powerful striking, underrated ground-and-pound, and he may very well be crafty enough to get a d’arce choke on Green, but I’m not banking on it. Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Since this fight got announced, I can’t shake the thought that Green is going to win. His deflectionary, counter-boxing style didn’t work against Edson Barboza because you obviously can’t deflect Edson Barboza. Attempting to laugh off an opponent’s kick when it causes a visible flash of light and shockwave on connection and makes tiny lumps of iron fuse out of thin air just makes you look like a wally. Poirier is not a good (or safe) kicker, and is still a bit too hittable in boxing range, where Green has more effective length and defensive craft. Unlike in the Duffy fight, Poirier can’t hit takedowns at will either, which reduces his capacity for transitional offense. He’s still likely the better clinch fighter, but I feel like he’ll get hit on the way in. Hope I’m wrong, because I really like Poirier, but my instincts say Bobby Green by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: First - I’m never going to pick a guy coming off a long layoff to win his return, unless he’s in an obvious squash match (think Court McGee vs. Marcio Alexandre Jr.). So that alone has me picking against Green, because I just don’t know where he’s at. Second, Poirier has a long career of tilting fights just off his punching power. He didn’t do it against Duffy, but Duffy is a much cleaner combination boxer than Green and Poirier still got his licks in. Green is at his best when he can build momentum from landing big shots and getting in his opponent’s head. As long as Poirier is willing to walk through fire like he usually is and keep his offensive output high, I think he takes this. Still, there are enough x-factors in Green’s wrestling and potential improvement to make me tentative. Dustin Poirier by decision.
Jed: I’m torn here. In a world where Bobby Green didn’t do that thing where he stops fighting to mock his opponent I think he would beat Poirier. He is better on the feet, throws more, and is more defensively sound. Also when Poirier starts losing on the feet he can get deflated and feel the need to take his opponent down which I don’t think he can do to Green. But Green is going to do that thing where he gets hit and peacocks around, losing the round. Moreover, Green is coming off a huge layoff and I’m not a fan of betting on long layoffs. Poirier by decision.
Staff picking Green: Phil
Staff picking Poirier: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Jed, Anton
Clay Guida vs. Brian Ortega
Anton Tabuena: Guida's usual path of takedown-heavy grind out bouts play to Ortega's strengths. His failed test for roids won't make me root for him, but Ortega should have a relatively easy night here. Brian Ortega by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: If this was even two years ago I would pick Guida. Old Guida used to only get submitted in the UFC after he’d been badly rocked. Then the Bermudez and Tavares fights happened, and that’s no longer the case. We could see a classic Guidaing, but I think those days are pretty much over. Brian Ortega by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Brian Ortega has been in seven rounds in his UFC career, and (including the failed test NC against Mike de la Torre) he’s officially won, er, two of them. That he finished Tavares and Brandao is good and impressive and all, but it also leaves doubts against an experienced grinder like Guida. Still, Ortega is tough to the point of functional immortality, and just will not stop attacking. Think he either taps Guida early or late. He might even clobber the fading Jackson-Wink (now he’s with Team Alpha Male) product on the feet, as T-City throws with… I was going to say power but let’s say "enthusiasm" instead. If Guida wins, it’s likely with his head nestled into Ortega’s chest as Ortega places elbows into his hair. Even then, Guida will likely end up covered in blood due to Ortega’s freaky razor bones. Brian Ortega by submission, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I am going against my better instincts and picking Holloway over Lamas above, but I refuse to underrate the grinder twice in one card. Clay Guida, decision
Eddie Mercado: Brian Ortega is an absolute problem in the lone area in which Guida thrives. It’s hard for me to envision a legitimate path to victory for Guida here. Brian Ortega by Submission (RNC), Round 1.
Zane Simon: Guida gets submitted a lot, all Ortega does is submit people. Guida also has a habit of letting things get wild in the name of creating ground offense. And when he doesn’t do that, he often barely wins. So, even if Guida keeps everything safe and grinds, there’s the potential that Ortega does more work than him off his back. Brian Ortega via submission, round 1.
Jed: Eddie has this one pegged perfectly except I’m picking a different choke. Ortega via submission (guillotine), round 1.
Staff picking Guida: Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Ortega: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Eddie, Zane, Jed, Anton
Beneil Dariush vs. James Vick
Mookie Alexander: Tough fight because Dariush’s two losses were both considered upsets, and this has upset potential. That said, I can’t really get behind James Vick as a clear top 10 LW yet. He doesn’t have much stopping power with his strikes, and I think Dariush packs a decent punch and has strong leg kicks. Dariush should really push forward with the takedowns and just work Vick over on the ground, but it won’t be easy given he has to deal with Vick’s size and range. Beneil Dariush by submission, round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: A really hard pick. Vick is a pain for everyone. He’s crazy tough, keeps a good pace and is just absolutely ridiculously mahoosively huge for lightweight. Sheer size and physicality is a problem for King’s fighters, simply because they are so focused on moving forwards and pressure rather than keeping out of the danger zone- the classic here is the Dariush-Chiesa fight (which I had very similar misgivings about), but we can also think of Dunham and Tibau vs RDA. Key story: Dariush needs to mash Vick’s lead leg and then take him down before Vick can put sufficient giganto-boxing volume on him. Outside of the cage, one of these guys works with numerous charities and the other is... well, a Team Lloyd Irvin fighter, so at least the moral pick is easy? Beneil Dariush by unanimous decision.
Eddie Mercado: For me, this is a clash of opposites in the sense of a brainer vs. gamer. Dariush is a cerebral tactician who favors technique over athleticism; whereas Vick is an incredibly tough gamer who overcomes technical lapses with sheer grit and the desire to win. Look for Dariush to use his FIQ (Fight IQ) to stay out of harm’s way long enough to come up with a solution to the enigma that is James Vick. Beneil Dariush by Unanimous Decision.
Zane Simon: I’m glad Vick is getting this fight, it’s well past time that he stopped keeping the gates to the bottom 3rd of the 155 division. He needs to take on better upper tier fighters, even if that means failing once or twice. And he should fail here. Dariush is way way more technical standing than Vick, and way more technical just about everywhere else too. The only cause for caution is that Vick is really tough and Dariush is... maybe not as tough. Dariush also has the ability to get upset in fights he should win (or is winning). Still, I haven’t seen enough polish in any part of Vick’s game to suggest he can steal this. Beneil Dariush via decision.
Jed: This is a super fun fight. Dariush is one of the premier grapplers in the division despite getting tapped by Chiesa his last time out. Vick is an enormous lightweight who works at a good rate on the feet and has a good kicking game. Dariush should be the favorite but -200 seems a little steep. I’m not entirely sure Dariush can get Vick down and Vick’s awkward higher volume style is appealing to me here. Vick by decision.
Staff picking Dariush: Nick, Mookie, Phil, Tim, Eddie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Vick: Stephie, Fraser, Jed
Jessica Andrade vs. Jessica Penne
Phil Mackenzie: Over the last ten(?) or so years, there’s been a couple of imperceptibly slow shifts in how fighter preparation can adversely affect bouts- primarily, in injury lay-offs and with new weight cuts. Back in the day, these were far more likely to lead to poor performances, but across the board preparation is plain better nowadays. Thus, Andrade is making an enormous cut, but I am going to gamble on her being able to make it. Penne is still a bad striker and not a very effective wrestler either, so I think Andrade will beat her up from the outside. Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: I want to agree with Phil, and I could easily see it happening, except for one thing. To date, Andrade has shown zero awareness or ability to keep herself out of dangerous spots. She’s got the kind of pathological aggression that suggests that she’ll always be willing to throw herself into whatever guard game, back take opportunity, or possible take down her opponent wants. Penne is a clunky striker and a mediocre (at best) wrestler, but she’s dangerous and stupid tough, and aggressive... and she’s technical enough to make it work against less than stellar competition. I think that’s enough here. Jessica Penne via submission, round 3.
Jed: Jessica Penne is the rare fighter who throws little volume and gets hit a ton. She’s also not a very good wrestler which is unfortunate because Andrade keeps a hellacious pace and is gonna work her over on the feet. Unless the weight cut really screws with Andrade (which I don’t expect it to) I like her to pull of the upset. Andrade by decision.
Staff picking Andrade: Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Jed, Anton
Staff picking Penne: Nick, Mookie, Tim, Eddie, Zane
Alex Caceres vs. Cole Miller
Mookie Alexander: I really don’t have a good reason for picking Caceres aside from relying on Cole Miller to look considerably aged with each fight. So here I am, doing exactly that. Alex Caceres by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: What is Alex Caceres actually good at? What are the basic pieces of his game? Because after watching him for a long time, I’m still not really sure. Head kicks? The Lab trademark lead upper / cross combination? Nothing seems reliable at all, but he’s tough and keeps a good pace and can compete everywhere. Cole Miller does have reliable centerpieces, namely the jab and the one-two. The main x-factor is whether Miller gets old overnight (as he’s been fighting for a minute) but otherwise he’s the more reliable striker and the superior scrambler. Should be fun as hell, but Cole Miller by unanimous decision.
Jed: Remember when Anderson Silva used to say he wanted to fight a clone of himself? This is like that only significantly worse. Bruce Leeroy is a homeless man’s version on Cole Miller and I struggle to think of a way Caceres does absolutely anything to Miller. Miller’s size and skill advantages mean he is gonna mop Caceres up. Miller by submission, second round.
Eddie Mercado: I see Miller putting on a ground clinic… if he can get it there. Caceres can be a fluid rangy striker when he wants to be and I cannot recall ever labeling Miller’s standup as ‘fluid’. Caceres is also capable of struggling on the ground. I think I have more faith in Miller being able to get the fight to the ground one way or another then I do in the ability of Bruce Leeroy to keep it standing. Cole Miller by Submission (RNC), Round 2.
Zane Simon: I really want Caceres to win this... and frankly I think he could if he can fight a very safe smart fight. Miller isn’t comfortable leading exchanges or countering (he’s best when he’s countering). And Caceres has exactly the kind of kicking game to counter-punching (see Luke Rockhold above) that can give Miller fits. Problem is, Caceres isn’t exactly a finishing machine as a striker, and as a grappler he’s aggressive to a fault. He might submit you, or he’ll get submitted. Miller has never been submitted. So, I’m seeing Caceres winning the standup, then getting taken down or taking it to the ground himself and getting worked there. Cole Miller via submission round 2.
Staff picking Caceres: Mookie, Anton
Staff picking Miller: Nick, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Jed, Eddie, Zane
Tom Breese vs. Sean Strickland
Phil Mackenzie: Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmm. Fan of both these guys. Strickland is one of those fellas who appeared a bit smug on first impression, but on further examination is actually just slightly insular but a fairly thoughtful, candid chap. I do think he has small confidence issues, and likes to be the longer fighter from the outside so that he can figure out the "flow" of the fight safely. Problems have been around longer (Barnatt) and aggressive / powerful (The Ponz) opponents. Thus I think he might spend too much time on the end of the Breese left straight / snap kick / left round kick triple threat. Much better wrestler though, and if he makes it a bit dirtier and closer, with the jab and takedown, he can very much go 2-0 against Tristar prospects. Tom Breese by unanimous decision.
Jed: This is one of my favorite fights on the card. Strickland throws more volume but is less accurate than Breese and more hittable on the feet. Breese is probably a little bit worse of a wrestler but he’s enormous for the division and good enough to keep Strickland from taking him down. If this were 5 rounds I would favor Strickland’s volume game to edge it out but over 3 rounds, Breese’s more dynamic game and powerful clinch work should favor him here. Breese by decision.
Zane Simon: It’s hard for me to watch Breese get taken down from a bodylock and insta-mounted by K-taro in his last fight and think he wins this. Breese is the better prospect of the two. He’s forming a better standup game which can compliment his slick, powerful sub game... But I’m not sure the pieces are in place enough yet. While Breese was eventually able to outwork K-taro on the ground and on the feet, he got put in danger a lot, and I think K-taro’s position first grappling style ended up giving Breese the opportunity to work himself out of bad spots. Strickland is a much more punishing, aggressive ground fighter when it comes to mixing GnP with his grappling. Because of that, when this fight hits the mat, I really don’t trust Breese to be able to work his way out of danger cleanly without getting beat up in the process. And on the feet, Breese is the more consistent, offensively minded striker, but he’s hardly an aggressive juggernaut. I can see this being something of a staring contest with Strickland getting the better offense in on the floor when it gets there. Sean Strickland by decision.
Staff picking Breese: Nick, Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Jed
Staff picking Strickland: Stephie, Eddie, Zane, Anton
Luiz Henrique vs. Jonathan Wilson
Phil Mackenzie: Two very raw fighters who could look much different to the way they did the last time out. Wilson is the easier pick as a harder hitter who appears to lean less on his chin. Interested to see what happens if Wilson can’t pick up the finish against a comparable level of athlete but Jonathan Wilson by TKO, round 1
Jed: Wilson is a waaaaay better athlete and just a better fighter in general. Add in that this is Henrique’s debut and a big step up in competition and there is all the makings of a quick night for Wilson. Wilson by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: There’s no good pick here. Wilson has exactly one pro fight worth a damn, and it was against a notably weak chinned middleweight. Henrique is a mess technically, but he’s big and aggressive and tough as hell. That may not be enough, but it might be too. I’m picking Wilson because I want him to win and I expect Millennia MMA to keep improving him. But this is a pick based on want for a coin-flip fight. FWIW, this is also probably a step back in competition for Henrique from fighting Ildemar Alcantara. But Alcantara beat the piss out of Henrique for a round and a half before getting KO’d. Jonathan Wilson via KO, Round 2.
Staff picking Henrique: Tim
Staff picking Wilson: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Jed, Eddie, Zane, Anton
Kevin Casey vs. Elvis Mutapcic
Mookie Alexander: Mutapcic avoids the power and then takes the right to the 1st minute of round 2, by which time Casey will be completely spent. Elvis Mutapcic by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Clash of kings! But man, was Mutapcic-Barroso awful. What was he doing? I’m going to hope that he somehow got paralyzed by fighting on the big stage, against a much bigger opponent. The basic question (as in all Kevin Casey fights) is "does he finish his opponent in the first round?" Mutapcic is tough and difficult to take down, so I’m going to say "no." Elvis Mutapcic by TKO, round 3.
Jed:. There are very few warm bodies I would favor Kevin Casey to beat. After Casey’s early flurry he’s gonna gas and lose an excruciating affair. Mutapcic by Casey quitting, probably in the 3rd.
Zane Simon: Casey could finish this early with his trademark first round, overhand to takedown to top control sub work. But, Mutapcic is hard to take down, hard to keep down, and very hard to submit. After that, Mutapcic is in better shape and a more competent kickboxer. Elvis Mutapcic via decision.
Staff picking Casey: Nick
Staff picking Mutapcic: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Tim, Jed, Eddie, Zane, Anton
Polo Reyes vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Anton Tabuena: (NOT That) Dong Hyun Kim should still be the better overall fighter. Other Dong Hyun Kim by Submission.
Jed: At the risk of oversimplifying, this is a pretty clear striker vs grappler matchup. Kim seems more likely to get the clinch and work from there so Kim by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: God DAMMIT TUF Latin America. These guys only exist to anger me, by looking super mediocre then improving an impossible amount. This is going to be all offense, no defense, so it will be very fun for however long it lasts. Mini DHK is the more effective wrestler, but Reyes is the better athlete, the harder hitter, and I don’t think DHK’s game is built for keeping people on the mat, being more focused as it is around going nuts. I bet I’m just getting double-bluffed by TUF LatAm. Bastards. Polo Reyes by TKO, round 2
Zane Simon: I like what I’ve seen so far from Polo Reyes, but his game seems really impossibly limited for long term success. He’s pretty much only a boxer. He could develop and improve a ton, but I can’t just bank on that. DHK is an all offense no defense fighter, so he can get caught or beat by anyone willing to walk through his striking to do it. But I don’t know that that defines Reyes yet. DHK is a good clinch and pocket striker, a decent GnP artist and grappler from top control, and generally super tough and hard to put away. I think he wins a decision here. Dong Hyun Kim via decision.
Staff picking Reyes: Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking faux Stun Gun: Jed, Fraser, Eddie, Zane, Anton