The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. Everyone except Tim Burke is picking Roxanne Modafferi to defeat Nicco Montano to become the UFC women’s flyweight champion. If you notice the lack of breakdown in our predictions this week, it’s because the UFC didn’t unveil the whole card until Wednesday night, and we have to get this post up on Thursday evening. Such is the annoyance of a doubleheader event week. Things were further complicated when Sijara Eubanks was removed from the main event, so Modafferi was chosen to take on Montano, while Lauren Murphy takes on Barb Honchak.
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 Phil Mackenzie 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.
Mookie Alexander: I won’t even attempt rational analysis. I want to see the turnaround story complete, and that means Roxanne Modafferi, however brief it may be -- Shevchenko is going to rule 125 very soon -- can say she’s a UFC champion. Roxanne Modafferi by submission, round 5.
Fraser Coffeen: OK, take two. I had picked Eubanks the first time around, but I was really on the fence about it. This fight is, I think, perhaps a worse stylistic match-up for Montano. Nicco and Sijara were on a roughly comparable level - no huge edge in an area for either fighter. Here, while Montano is fine everywhere, she will be at a serious disadvantage once the fight hits the mat. It’s possible Montano keeps it standing and picks Roxy apart, but the veteran has shown a good developed ability to take things down in whatever way is needed. And there, she has the subs, she has a newfound ground and pound ability - she’s dangerous in a way Montano just isn’t. Where Roxy struggles is with opponents who physically dominate her - like Eubanks. I don’t see that being a massive advantage for Montano, so I’m going with the elder statesman of WMMA earning herself a much-deserved place in the record books. Roxanne Modafferi, sub, R2
Staff picking Modafferi: Bissell, Stephie, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Phil
Staff picking Montano: Tim
Sean O'Malley vs. Terrion Ware
Mookie Alexander: Don’t get me wrong, I like O’Malley and if I ever had the opportunity to inhale the marijuanas with the man, I’m sure it’d be a rip-roaring good time. However, signing him off of Contender Series has that Lookin’ For a Fight feel where Dana White just picks flashy dudes who look the part. Ware was pretty damn competitive against Cody Stamann on the feet, the problem was getting outwrestled consistently by Cody. I like Ware’s fundamental kickboxing and he’s definitely beaten a higher level of competition, so I’ll go for him to play the role of spoiler against a promising but raw Sean O’Malley. Terrion Ware by unanimous decision.
Staff picking O’Malley: Fraser, Nick, Tim
Staff picking Ware: Dayne, Stephie, Bissell, Phil, Mookie
Fraser Coffeen: Honchak is definitely a bit outside of her prime, but I don’t think it’s a massive gulf from where she was. She still has a strong overall game, with good wrestling that grinds people out. Murphy on the other hand is on a 1-3 skid and seemed really mentally defeated by her loss on the show. I don’t see her being able to handle the smothering pressure of Honchak, especially on short notice. Barb Honchak, Dec
Staff picking Honchak: Dayne, Fraser, Nick, Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Murphy:
Mookie Alexander: Tough fight to pick and surprised it’s lopsided in Meerschaert’s favor. It should be a fun back-and-forth grappling battle between two guys who had very different outcomes in their fights vs. Thiago Santos. Meerschaert is the more dynamic of the two on the ground, whereas Spicely just isn’t really a particularly impressive athlete, but much like Meerschaert, he is indeed tough. I’ll go with Gerald Meerschaert by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Meerschaert: Dayne, Stephie, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Spicely: Bissell
Fraser Coffeen: While it’s on the feet, Fabian has the edge, and Eubanks’s head kick starching of Bennett on the show is a good reminder of that. But Fabian has not showed enough takedown defense yet to make me think she can keep it standing against Bennett. And once on the mat, Fabian is way out of her element. Bennett, Sub, R1
Staff picking Bennett: Dayne, Stephie, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Fabian: Bissell
Mookie Alexander: Hmm… I probably should be picking Brett Johns here. He pieced up Kwan Ho Kwak and then comfortably beat Albert Morales by dominating him from top position. Johns looks the part of another top bantamweight prospect, and that’s dating back to his days in Cage Warriors and Titan FC. Soto has quietly rattled off three straight, including a great win over Rani Yahya. I’m glad that he’s gotten back on track after the circumstances in which he started his UFC career. I believe Johns will have the advantage on the feet, but Soto’s wrestling and grappling will be the difference here. Joe Soto by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Johns: Dayne, Bissell, Fraser, Nick
Staff picking Soto: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Fraser Coffeen: This could be a really good fight, as both are tough as nails. Montana showed a ton of heart in a losing effort on the show, and I see her technique being just a step above in this one. Both women have the potential to be solid additions to the UFC though. De La Rosa, Dec
Staff picking De La Rosa: Dayne, Stephie, Bissell, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Marks:
Mookie Alexander: Picking Sanchez to bounce back from his loss to Anthony Smith, but I just want to point out that this is an actual line in Janes’ Wikipedia page: “Janes described himself as a 'big softy with no roughness to his edges and who loves hugs, comic books and superhero movies". He said most people could not connect him as a professional fighter with his gentle demeanor. Janes is also a cat lover and he has two cats.” Andrew Sanchez by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Janes: Tim
Staff picking Sanchez: Dayne, Stephie, Bissell, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie
Fraser Coffeen: This one feels pretty cut and dry. Gevorgyan looked a notch below most of the fighters on the show, as she didn’t show much in her loss. It’s understandable as she is early in her career - I mean, they almost all are - but she’s fought a particularly lower level of opponent. She also missed weight somewhat spectacularly, which is never a good sign. Meanwhile, Ostovich gave Honchak all she could handle in a losing effort, using her wrestling and striking well. With her personality (and, yes, look) I anticipate her getting a solid promotional push, starting here. Ostovich, R1 KO
Staff picking Gevorgyan:
Staff picking Ostovich: Dayne, Stephie, Bissell, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Fraser Coffeen: These two are probably fighting for a spot in the company, as neither stands out as an absolute must keep. Beck has faced the tougher opposition. She’s pretty sloppy and raw, but she’s also tough and, as she will tell you, Montana strong. That should be enough against the green Dobson, who is not even a 2 year pro. Ariel Beck, KO, R1
Staff picking Beck: Dayne, Stephie, Bissell, Fraser, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Dobson:
Fraser Coffeen: Again, a fight for a spot match-up here probably. Whitmire did at least pick up a win on the show, and seems to be the better fighter, though she gave up on herself mentally when faced with the smothering game of Modafferi. That doesn’t bode well here, as Robertson is herself a strong grappler. I anticipate Whitmire comes in on point and fights her best - the trouble is, I’m not sure I see how she wins. She could keep it standing and point her way to a decision maybe. But if she takes it down, Robertson will be throwing out submissions, and I see her catching one eventually. I was all set to pick Whitmire, but trying to visualize how the fight goes, I’ve talked myself out of it. Robertson, sub, R2
Staff picking Robertson: Bissell, Fraser, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Whitmire: Dayne, Stephie, Nick, Phil
Who wins the TUF 26 Finale main event?
This poll is closed
Modafferi by stoppage
Montano by stoppage
Modafferi by decision
Montano by decision