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UFC Fight Night: Cyborg vs. Lansberg staff picks and predictions

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Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking to win on the Saturday, September 24th UFC Fight Night: Cyborg vs. Lansberg card in Brasilia, Brazil.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for UFC Fight Night 95, and unsurprisingly, everyone is going for Cris Cyborg to beat Lina Lansberg in tomorrow night's main event. Well, everyone except Jed Meshew, who is all aboard the train of chaos. Nobody is willing to pick Phillipe Nover against Renan Barao, but Victor Rodriguez and Tim Burke have Antonio Silva beating Roy Nelson.

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 Nick Baldwin entered all of his predictions on Wednesday 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.

Cris Cyborg vs. Lina Akhtar Lansberg

Mookie Alexander: I like Lansberg's elbows. That's why she's the elbow princess. The free fight that they put up of her in Cage Warriors ends with hard elbows on the ground and an accumulation of strikes leading up to the TKO. That said, Cris Cyborg is a much better fighter than her. The power in her punches, the combinations she throws, her ability to finish vulnerable opponents with ease, whether standing or on the ground, it's fantastic to watch. No point in going on much further, Cyborg by something violent, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: For those that haven't seen her fight, you should know Lansberg is good. Very good. There's a few problems with this, namely the fact that she hasn't been fighting great opposition but has a great kickboxing/Muay Thai background, meaning she's not a slouch on the ground but is a threat standing. Still, her most notable wins are the still relatively inexperienced and current Invicta talent Laura Howarth, as well as Maria Hougaard Djursaa, who was 5-6 at the time they fought. Lansberg's most notable opponent? Talented Invicta fighter Pannie Kianzad, who she lost to by TKO. Now, with a wealth of kickboxing experience and the fact that she's not drastically undersized, Lina can make a fight of it by not being bullied around and having some success at utilizing her range and complete striking game. Good luck with that, though. This new Parillo-trained Cyborg doesn't bumrush people anymore and uses a calculated and measured game like what we saw against Leslie Smith - slick and lethal combinations with a frightening follow-up attack once the fight hits the ground. Lina's not a pushover and will make things interesting, but her best hope is that Cris' kidneys shut down before the weigh-ins. Cristiane Justino via Ryo Sakazaki Super Finisher, round 2.

Zane Simon: Lansberg gives too much time and space to work out at range, and tends to close into the clinch on straight lines with her head up. Both those things spell disaster. Also, if she does manage to clinch Cyborg, her past fights suggest she can be put on her back pretty easily. Cyborg isn't just a power puncher, she's one of the better wrestlers and GnP artists in women's MMA too. Cris Cyborg by TKO, round 1.

Dayne Fox: We're talking about Cyborg. Her last four contests have all ended in the first round and all of those opponents were either more experienced or similarly experienced to Lansberg. This is academic. Lansberg may be able to escape the first round, but she sure as hell isn't winning this. Cyborg via TKO of RD1

Jed Meshew: Yes, Cyborg should win this fight in violent fashion. But, what if she didn't? Wouldn't that be kind of neat and thoroughly appropriate for the year of 2016? Maybe Lansberg can survive the first 2 rounds and the weight cut will nuke Cyborg? Probably not but I for one am always in favor of chaos in MMA. Plus there is far too much agreement on this card. Let's do something fun. Lansberg by TKO, round 4.

Staff picking Cyborg: Victor, Nick, Iain, Bissell, Mookie, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Stephie
Staff picking Lansberg: Jed

Renan Barao vs. Phillipe Nover

Mookie Alexander: Man, has it really come down to this? Nover really didn't look good against Tukhugov, and that fight was almost entirely on the feet and it was not exciting to watch. The win against Yui Chul Nam is also fairly debatable. Barao lost to Stephens, but at least in the 1st round, he looked like his old self. Nover possesses none of the qualities that trouble Barao, so ... yeah. Renan Barao by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: Nover has a habit of understanding what his advantage is in a fight and pressing it to the best of his ability. But, he also has a habit of coasting his way to a loss when he has no clear advantage. This feels a lot like the latter situation. There's nothing Nover does better than Barao, so I expect him to hang on the outside and watch as Barao patiently picks him apart for three rounds. Renan Barao via decision.

Dayne Fox: Has Barao really fallen so far to be fighting Gaylord Focker's contemporary in Phillipe Nover? Not that I have a problem with male nurses, but Barao was realistically in the conversation for P4P best fighter in the world less than two and a half years ago. Now he's fighting a dude with a 1-4 UFC record. What the hell? I'm interested in this fight as I want to see how Barao looks, not whether or not he's going to win or lose. Much like the Cyborg contest, this is academic. I just don't know how it ends. Barao via TKO of RD2

Jed: Pretty shocked young Anderson Silva isn't getting more love but I too will be siding with Barao who is just an all around better fighter than the TUF finalist. Barao by TKO rd 3.

Staff picking Barao: Nick, Iain, Bissell, Mookie, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Nover:

Roy Nelson vs. Antonio Silva

Mookie Alexander: I'm going to be marking out for grappling Roy Nelson to return to Bigfoot doesn't get smoked the moment Nelson lands anything clean on him. I am dead serious when I say Bigfoot should not be fighting anymore. Sadly, Nelson's going to clobber him. Roy Nelson, KO, round 1.

Victor: You know what? I'm gonna go the contrarian route on this one and say Bigfoot takes this. Roy's been very capable of setting things up with his footwork and angles, but Bigfoot should know to avoid the overhand right and could use his size and reach advantage to do damage and outwork Bigfoot. Think about this - is Nelson gonna pin him against the cage? He can't bully him like that, and it didn't last long when he tried to do that with Derrick Lewis. Roy's not very likely to take him down and can be slowed down by body kicks that Bigfoot employs. So I'll take a flyer on the crazy pick for this one. Bigfoot Silva by TKO, round 3.

Phil Mackenzie: Big fan of Bigfoot. Despite being achingly slow and hittable he's always been a courageous and technically sound fighter, and just enough of a dickhead to be fun. I'd like to see him win. Then, with a touch of realism, I'd like him to either retire or get painlessly tapped out and then retire in his next fight, because I don't want to see him take more punishment. Roy Nelson by KO, round 1

Zane Simon: I picked Struve to one-punch Bigfoot and he did. I have to pick Nelson to do the same. Nelson by KO round 1.

Jed: I like Bigfoot. He's a great dude. But he definitely doesn't need to be doing this anymore. There is a graph out there showing most knocked down fighters in UFC history and Bigfoot is behind only Jonathan Goulet and he's fighting a guy with a big time right hand. This only ends one way. Nelson by KO round 1.

Staff picking Nelson: Nick, Mookie, Bissell, Phil, Zane, Fraser, Dayne, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Bigfoot: Victor, Tim

Paul Felder vs. Francisco Trinaldo

Mookie Alexander: What? Really? As I type this, no one has picked Felder. This is a pick ‘em fight. I know Trinaldo is on a winning streak, and looks to be in the best run of his career, Felder is more than capable of not just getting a win, but stopping Trinaldo outright. Now the reason I'm picking Trinaldo, as may be the same for others, is that Felder ... kinda doesn't throw enough. He's low-volume and content to counte almost to a fault, and he certainly wasn't terribly impressive vs. Burkman. Trinaldo has put together a well-rounded game that includes improved striking, good takedowns, and power in his punches. Felder may be the better athlete, but I think Trinaldo is the slightly better fighter. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Against good fighters who just won't let Felder do whatever he wants when he wants, Felder doesn't do so good. Daron Cruickshank was even beating him before Felder rallied for a submission. Felder is just a little too patient, too willing to wait for the perfect opportunity, and most just not experienced enough to thrive at a near elite level. Trinaldo feels like another guy at that near elite level. A fighter who has figured out how to make the absolute best of his limited kickboxing arsenal and even managed to keep his cardio in check while being a ball of muscle. Felder could land something big, could show his greater speed and underrated grappling to pick up the win, but I'm going to pick Trinaldo to stay in his face, out work him, and generally win rounds. Francisco Trinaldo via decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I think this fight may be weirdly boring, as both men like to counter. Felder tries to psyche himself into being more aggressive, but he really does let the perfect be the enemy of the good far too often. Few X-factors: Felder is younger and likely still improving. The second is the grappling. Felder has been actively wrestling more, and has the better gas tank- I think Trinaldo has been able to fight for longer in his latest fights because he is so much stronger than his opponents. May not be true here. Thus, if either guy commits to a wrestling game much, I expect it to play to Felder's strengths, namely better cardio and more of a counter takedown game (step knee etc). Lastly: Felder appears to be much more durable than Trinaldo. Still, I think we get a relatively slow-paced outside kickboxing fight, and that's still Trinaldo for me... but heavy heavy caveats abound. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Felder: Fraser
Staff picking Trinaldo: Nick, Iain, Bissell, Mookie, Phil, Zane, Tim, Dayne, Jed, Stephie

Thiago Santos vs. Eric Spicely

Mookie Alexander: Oh. This won't end nicely for Spicely. Thiago Santos by head kick KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: This seems like the mismatch of the entire card to me. I could maybe see Lansberg beating Cyborg, but this is the kind of sloppy unathletic grappler vs athletic high quality striker fight that brings to mind nothing so much as Mairbek Taisumov vs Anthony Christodoulou. Thiago Santos by TKO, round 1

Zane Simon: It actually almost feels like a safe bet to say Thiago Santos wins via head kick KO. A fight one-sided enough you can get that specific with it. Thiago Santos via KO round 1.

Staff picking Santos: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Phil, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Spicely:

Mike De La Torre vs. Godofredo Pepey

Mookie Alexander: They really booked De La Torre to fight Blanco and Pepey in two of his last three fights? Crazy. Pepey is a wild man who does wild (sometimes stupid) things, none of which works at a particularly high level. De La Torre is okay, he probably won't get taken down by Pepey, but we know Godofredo likes to pull guard, and I don't trust De La Torre's submission defense to pick the upset. Godofredo Pepey by submission, round 1.

Victor: De La Torre is a durable guy that pushes forward constantly and relies on a lot of his strength and boxing skills, while Pepey is somewhat unreliable due to being inconsistent and having iffish fight IQ, or FightQ (hi, Eddie Mercado!). Still, Pepey can surprise an opponent like De La Torre by pulling a rabbit out of a hat vis-a-vis some unexpected crazy move that he really probably shouldn't attempt. Also of note is the fact that Pepey's BJJ is really slick and underrated. Castro might get his third triangle choke in the UFC here. Godofredo Pepey via submission.

Zane Simon: There is a very very good chance De La Torre wins this. Everything he does, he does with power, whether it's his wrestling, his striking, or his grappling. He's just not a guy prone to finessing things. Against Pepey that could mean two things. One: When Pepey does something wild, MDLT will make him pay for it. Two: When MDLT goes after Pepey he'll leave himself open to getting caught by something wild. The big tipping point for me here is that Pepey's grappling isn't just stupidly aggressive, it's really slick. He's one of the few guys that can aggressively chain submission attempts with a real high probability of catching an opponent in one of them. I have a little more faith that he gets that done than I do that MDLT KO's him. But it feels like either end is likely. Godofredo Pepey via submission, Round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: On the one hand, Pepey is exactly the kind of fighter that I find annoying, in that he just throws out random nonsense finishing techniques and hopes that they work. On the other, De La Torre has been worryingly vulnerable to people who just throw out random nonsense finishing techniques and hope that they work (Ref. Messrs. Ortega and Blanco). No. NO. I won't do it. I won't pick Pepey. This is silly. He was getting his ass handed to him by Noad Lahat. Come on, De La Soul. I know you're a bit slow and clunky for a featherweight, but you can do this. Mike De La Torre by TKO, round 2

Staff picking De La Torre: Nick, Phil, Stephie
Staff picking Pepey: Victor, Bissell, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Jed

Gilbert Burns vs. Michel Prazeres

Mookie Alexander: Prazeres missed weight, which makes picking Burns that much easier. I don't trust Prazeres' cardio, and while Burns leaves himself open to getting cracked defensively, his jiu-jitsu is just super fun to watch and I think he's going to tap Prazeres out in the final round. Gilbert Burns by submission (armbar), round 3.

Victor: It's usually always fun to watch Burns fight. That said, he's fighting a guy whose nickname is "Tractor", probably because he pushes the pace of one. Burns will have some trouble putting Prazeres away with strikes, but will look to bring his bread and butter into the equation in the form of his world-class Jiu-Jitsu. Prazeres could easily turn the tables with one or two punches, but the ground game is going to make or break this fight. Gilbert Burns by decision.

Zane Simon: I've always liked Prazeres game, but he's run into a major problem at the UFC level, namely that he's not quite a big enough or consistent enough puncher to be a KO artist and he's not an elite enough grappler to be a submission threat. In short, he's just not a finisher. Burns seems to be improving his striking quickly, so I'm not too worried about Prazeres just out-gunning him. And if it goes to the ground, Prazere's habit of aggressive sub hunting (as well as being undersized) should make him a prime candidate to get subbed by Burns. Gilbert Burns via submission, Round 3.

Phil Mackenzie: Burns' striking has never quite gotten showed off- he hurt Sajewski on the feet in his last fight, but finished with the armbar. This might be the fight. Prazeres' bulling forward style seems like it'll play poorly with Burns' long, straight punches and kicks. So I'll take the somewhat uncommon option: Gilbert Burns by TKO, round 2

Staff picking Burns: Victor, Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Prazeres:


Michinori Tanaka vs. Rani Yahya

Mookie Alexander: Yahya really styled on Matt Lopez in his last fight, but I also can't shake off the Kanehara fight, which partly explained why I picked Lopez. Tanaka beat Joe Soto, and I know that was a somewhat debatable decision, but I was fairly impressed with what he was able to accomplish in the first half of the fight. I'm expecting this to be an ugly fight with a lot of stalemates, but Tanaka will get the win just by outworking Yahya. Michinori Tanaka by unanimous decision.

Victor: I like Yahya, but I can't trust him. He's complacent with his stand-up and seems easily flustered when he can't work off his back due to his opponent striking from top position. Tanaka should be able to take him down and outwork him from there en route to a judge's call. Michinori Tanaka by decision.

Zane Simon: Yahya has a long habit of either clamping down and simply trying to ride out a rounds against an opponent, or of getting himself into bad scrambles where he'll have to battle back from positions he never should have been in in the first place. It's a testament to his toughness and willpower (and grappling skill) that he's done as well as he has so far, because he's often looked bad for long stretches while still picking up big and occasionally unexpected wins. Still, I don't think he'll be able to just control Tanaka on the ground and I think against an athlete of Tanaka's caliber, his habit of letting opponents get dominant positions on him will really cost him. This could be close and ugly and Yahya could absolutely win it, but Michinori Tanaka via decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Lopez won the first round pretty handily against Yahya before fading in what looked like a classic octagon jitters adrenaline dump. Yahya is certainly more consistent than he used to be, but Tanaka keeps a very high pace and is extremely hard to shake off. Enough people have made that work against Yahya that I feel relatively confident that Tanaka can too. Michinori Tanaka by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Tanaka: Victor, Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Zane, Phil, Fraser, Dayne, Jed
Staff picking Yahya: Iain. Tim, Stephie

Jussier Formiga vs. Dustin Ortiz

Mookie Alexander: Why is this fight so buried on the preliminary card? Anyway, Ortiz getting dominated by Wilson Reis is something that really took me by surprise. Formiga is a better version of Reis so I expect similar results. Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: My only real question here is whether Formiga has the pop behind his strikes to dominate the standup like Reis did? But even if he doesn't, Formiga is the cleaner more technical striker. Sooner or later, Ortiz is going to be forced to grapple with Formiga, and I don't think that goes well. Jussier Formiga via decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Ortiz looked like one of the fastest-developing of the flyweight prospects until that weird Reis loss. The development of Formiga's boxing game has been a really pleasant surprise; unless Ortiz has really found the next gear for his technical aggression, it seems like he'll get stuck on the end of Formiga's punches, much as he did against Reis. Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision.


Staff picking Formiga: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Ortiz: Tim

Luan Chagas vs. Erick Silva

Mookie Alexander: Erick Silva is just about the 170 lbs version of Uriah Hall -- they're not the same style, but they had plenty of hype and none of the consistency to justify it anymore -- except Silva doesn't even have even 1 good win against a top 15 fighter. Chagas drew Sergio Moraes, who is a decent gatekeeper type at 170 lbs, and had Moraes rocked early on. Long story short, I give up on Erick Silva. This'll probably backfire and he'll get a quick win. I'm not banking on that anymore. Luan Chagas by KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Luan Chagas would probably be the worst fighter to beat Erick Silva (although Nordine Taleb's UFC record isn't sparkling). That said, an aggressive power kickboxer who seems to be learning how to stay out at range just seems like a bad matchup for an Erick Silva that may be a touch slower and less durable than he used to be. Even if Chagas gasses, Silva's not known for his cardio at all. Luan Chagas via KO, Round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: I thought that Kings MMA might help out Erick Silva, so I was willing to give him one more chance. Effective, paced aggression and body kicks is a genuinely great fit for his game. But... he's not at Kings any more, having trained at home for this one. I mean, sure he might land a snap kick to the body, or a takedown into insta sub, but other than that he just looks like he has no idea what he's doing lately. Luan Chagas by TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Chagas: Nick, Mookie, Zane, Phil, Dayne, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Silva: Bissell, Iain, Tim, Fraser

Alan Patrick vs. Stevie Ray

Mookie Alexander: Alan Patrick's style irritates the hell out of me, and needless to say, Mairbek Taisumov's walloping of him was very satisfying to watch. Here's to hoping Ray's continued development as a fighter leads to him getting a win in enemy territory. Stevie Ray by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Ray has a habit of letting opponents hang around with him and hurt him, despite being a pretty well rounded fighter with a lot of power in his hands. Still, Patrick's habit of making consistent bad decisions and of finding just the wrong ways to be aggressive makes me think that he'll force Ray to fight in just the right ways to win. Stevie Ray via decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Ray has great natural instincts and timing, and seems to be developing into a strong clinch fighter and boxer. I worry that his wrestling is still relatively untested at this level, but whether Patrick can take him down is more of an unknowable X-factor than a real reason to pick against Ray right now. One of the closer fights on the card, but Stevie Ray by unanimous decision

Staff picking Patrick: Bissell, Tim
Staff picking Ray: Nick, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Jed, Stephie

Vicente Luque vs. Hector Urbina

Zane Simon: Should be a showcase fight for Luque's grappling, and maybe even his improving kickboxing. Vicente Luque via submission, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Another pretty clear setup fight in a card which hearkens back to the older Brazil offerings in that it's somewhat replete with them. Vicente Luque by submission, round 2

Staff picking Luque: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Urbina:

Glaico Franca vs. Gregor Gillespie

Zane Simon: I'd really like to see GIllespie win this and I think he can. Franca is big and aggressive and well rounded, but he's not amazing anywhere. Gillespie is a fantastic technical wrestler who will push a great pace for 15 minutes. That said, Gillespie's last fight asked a lot of questions as to whether he's a true lightweight and as to whether or not he has the grappling control to really dominate decent (larger) fighters on the ground. If Gillespie gives up control to Franca in the scramble, Franca could absolutely submit him. Glaico Franca via submission, Round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: There are the pieces of a very very good fighter in Gregor Gillespie. He already has the beginnings of nice, consistent footwork built of small and efficient movements, he doesn't throw himself over his feet when he punches, and he's a fantastic wrestler. However, he's up against a similar kind of problem as Franca had last time when he lost to Vick- a big experience deficit and someone that he's just not going to be able to out-athlete. He is massively outsized, and I think his nascent technical base might actually work against him here- if he was more of an aggressive, caution-to-the-wind guy he might be able to just bumrush Franca with an overhand and takedown mixup game. Glaico Franca by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Franca: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Iain, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Phil, Jed, Stephie
Staff picking Gillespie: Dayne