The Bloody Elbow team has made its selections for Saturday’s UFC London show, and we’re split 50-50 when it comes the main event between Corey Anderson and Jimi Manuwa. It’s a different story for the co-main, where we all like Gunnar Nelson to defeat Alan Jouban.
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.
Note 2: Scott Askham vs. Brad Scott is on this card. Phil made his prediction. You’ll love it.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Corey Anderson
Mookie Alexander: For what it’s worth, Anderson had a strong case for winning the Shogun fight, but he also made it hard for himself by getting dropped twice. Manuwa’s takedown defense is good but far from impenetrable, and I think Anderson has hit a stage in his career where he’s better at controlling fighters and getting off meaningful offense on the ground than someone like Ovince Saint Preux. I know this isn’t a very good main event -- which tells you the state of light heavyweight that two top-10 guys doesn’t interest the masses -- but it’s compelling enough to see how Anderson fares against a powerful but not terribly complicated striker in Manuwa. There’s every bit the chance that Anderson just dominates him on the mat, but I think Anderson is both too hittable for my liking and Manuwa’s hands will pose massive problems for as long as Anderson wants to go strike-for-strike with a better striker. Manuwa is also a menace in the clinch but I’m not sold that Anderson is going to be physically overwhelmed there. It’s a toss-up to me, and I’m going with Jimi Manuwa by TKO, round 3.
Dayne Fox: This contest is getting a bum rap due to it being the main event of a lackluster card. It isn’t a bad fight, it just doesn’t have any business being the headliner. Nonetheless, it does represent good matchmaking as there isn’t a clear cut favorite. Manuwa has shown that he can’t be counted out at any time, scoring an impressive come-from-behind finish of Ovince Saint Preux in his last contest. However, he was able to score the victory thanks to OSP gassing himself using a wrestle-heavy strategy. The strategy was working before OSP got tired. Anderson has a great gas tank and a better wrestling attack. I admit I still have no idea how Anderson will be able to do over 25 minutes, but I’m still going with the youngster to get the biggest win of his career. Corey Anderson via decision
Fraser Coffeen: Listen, we all know Anderson likes to Beast. And his Beastin skills are the stuff of legend - so much so that he distorts time itself (though he’s become a bit more modest about these skills lately). I’ve been high on him since his time in TUF and think he is developing nicely. But aggressive power striker is exactly the kind of guy to give him trouble. Anderson might be able to boringly grapple his way to a decision win, but I see Manuwa being able to connect at some point and do what he does best. Jimi Manuwa by KO, R2
Zane Simon: Manuwa makes too many poor decisions around wrestling in fights to make me confident he can stay standing long enough to win. Corey Anderson via decision.
Staff picking Manuwa: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Anderson: Ram, Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Zane
Alan Jouban vs. Gunnar Nelson
Mookie Alexander: Jouban has very good striking on the outside and makes great use of his kicks. Nelson also isn’t the world’s most unhittable target, so combine that with Jouban having pretty good takedown defense and we could have an upset brewing. However, I can’t see Nelson failing to get this to the mat, where he’s going to put Jouban away by taking the back and getting the rear-naked choke. It’ll be a more competitive fight than the odds suggest, but I have Gunnar Nelson by submission (rear-naked choke), round 2.
Dayne Fox: I can’t think of a recent Jouban fight that I haven’t been excited for going into the card. Sure, his last contest against Mike Perry didn’t produce the usual fireworks as he utilized a methodical strategy to pick apart the inexperienced Perry, but I don’t see him using that approach here. Nelson is a very controlled fighter who starts fast before fading. Given this is a three-round affair, Jouban will need to weather the early storm and I can see him trying to turn the fight into a brawl -- an environment in which he has thrived -- if he falls too far behind on the cards. At least that is what I’m hoping happens for the sake of my entertainment. Nelson’s chin has held up against some hard hitters, so I’m leaning on him to hold up, maybe crack Jouban at some point, and sink in a sub after hurting the former model ala Brandon Thatch at UFC 189. Nelson via submission of RD2
Zane Simon: If Jouban can stay outside and pick Nelson off from range, he has a really clear avenue to victory. But Jouban isn’t that great at staying out at range and avoiding pursuit. Nelson’s not the craftiest fighter closing the distance, but his takedowns are strong and his striking is confident enough to keep him moving forward well. At some point Nelson gets Jouban down and makes Jouban pay for his willingness to grapple. Gunnar Nelson via submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Jouban:
Staff picking Nelson: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Mookie Alexander: Vera is going to give up lots of takedowns and probably get choked out. I want to see Pickett end his career with a finish that earns him $50,000. He’s one of my favorite action fighters in any combat sport, and I wish him the best in retirement. Brad Pickett by submission (RNC), round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: All respect to Brad Pickett. One of the most consistently entertaining fighters around, it's difficult to think of an actually bad fight he's been in (Chico Camus, perhaps). His take-it-everywhere style was able to even drag exciting bouts out of Ivan Menjivar and Mike Easton, who could sometimes tend to cruise in fights (as when they fought each other). Picking up a Peruvian necktie sub in WEC, decisioning Mighty Mouse... good moments to look back on. Anyway, his best skill has always been his offensive wrestling and submission grappling, and unless he's even more shot than he looks, he should be able to pressure and pick up takedowns on the pathologically aggressive Vera. Brad Pickett by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Vera just doesn’t have nearly a complete enough or dangerous enough game to take advantage of the fact that Pickett is a step slower and a step less durable than ever. Brad Pickett via decision.
Staff picking Pickett: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Vera: Bissell, Ram, Fraser
Mookie Alexander: I like Mr. Finland. He seems a fun character and is definitely a fun fighter, but I also think there’s a level of unsustainability to being an occasionally reckless grapple-heavy fighter. I believe that a well-coached, disciplined fighter (let’s say … Arnold Allen, Tristar product!) is going to be Amirkhani’s kryptonite. The Mike Wilkinson fight ended up being more difficult than it needed to be, so we’ll see if Amirkhani has made any necessary adjustments since then. From what I see of Allen, I think he can outstrike Amirkhani, especially in the clinch, and wear out his opponent for as long as the fight stays standing. The whole dynamic changes if Amirkhani hits his takedowns and just knifes through Allen’s guard with ease, a distinct possibility given Amirkhani is the better athlete and a great grappler, but I’m going with Allen here in this battle of featherweight prospects. Arnold Allen by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I'm not sure about Amirkhani. Partially it's my own bias against grappling-only styles, partially it's that said grappling-only style hasn't really been tested against any decent defensive wrestlers yet? The regional Euro-wrestler who stalls out in the UFC is a bit of a cliche at this point. Allen doesn't have a wrestling background himself, so the prospect of him getting outmuscled still very much exists. However, Tristar is a top-quality anti-wrestler gym, and I also feel that Amirkhani is a little too lackadaisical with respect to submission defense when charging in on his double legs. Arnold Allen by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Amirkhani’s wrestling and grappling are a lot more dangerous, his striking is more dynamic, but Allen is tough as hell and Amirkhani has some potentially serious gas tank issues. If Amirkhani can’t get a quick finish, I think he’ll drain himself out trying to scramble with Allen. Arnold Allen via decision.
Staff picking Allen: Phil, Mookie, Zane
Staff picking Amirkhani: Nick, Bissell, Ram, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Tim
Phil Mackenzie: This is a good, well-matched fight for Duffy- his takedown defense wasn't great last time out, and Madadi is nothing but takedown attempts and grappling, so the Duff man has to prove how he's gotten better in that phase. That said, I'm sure Duffy has been working on his defense, and Madadi is not the athlete or the overall offensive powerhouse that Dustin Poirier is, and is significantly outmatched on the feet. Joseph Duffy by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Duffy doesn’t finish this there’s a real chance to gets put in trouble late in the fight, but I think he’ll finish it. Joe Duffy via KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Duffy: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Madadi: Tim
Phil Mackenzie: I just don't know what there is to take away from the last fight. Stewart pushed Barroso into the fence and then immediately headbutted him in the cheek for a TKO (later overturned) win. What did we learn? Barroso doesn't respond well to being hurt? Rushing into the clinch is a... good idea when you're a short-notice 185er...? Stewart looks fairly athletic but his opposition is dismal and Barroso is just way bigger. On the other hand, Barroso lost to Hans Stringer. Meh. I hate this pick. Francimar Barroso by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There’s a high probability that Stewart starts fast, gasses and we get a really close, ugly fight late. But, I’m not willing to bet on Barroso taking over momentum once he’s already started losing. Darren Stewart via decision.
Staff picking Barroso: Dayne, Fraser, Phil
Staff picking Stewart: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Timothy Johnson vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
Mookie Alexander: Last I checked, Omielanczuk doesn’t have a gorgeous mustache. Timothy Johnson by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I enjoy Timothy Johnson's proto-Rothwell game. Both of these guys are in the "tough and grimy but athletically limited" school of heavyweight which means a chuffing, clammy and ponderous decision is likely on the cards. Omielanczuk can win if he can reliably hit takedowns, but I don't think he can, and Johnson is bigger and puts out far more clinch offense. Timothy Johnson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Johnson is bigger and more stifling. But this could be a 3-round race to see who has more cardio as both guys are really tough and Johnson doesn’t wrestle near as much as he could. Timothy Johnson via decision (I guess).
Staff picking Johnson: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Omielanczuk:
Phil Mackenzie: Very interesting fight. Packalen is probably a little underplayed here- Diakiese probably has more tools, but his game makes a bit less... sense? Mostly it feels like he's still been cruising on his absurd athleticism. Packalen is big and strong, and probably a better and more cohesive technical grappler- if Diakiese tries blowing all his energy and Cowboy Oliveiraing him, he might just get exhausted and mauled. If training at ATT pays dividends, though, then this is all Diakiese. Marc Diakiese by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Diakiese could really use some more caution in his game. Just a touch of understanding that his opponents really can hurt him and may be more skilled in some areas. Packalen, for instance, is a much better combination boxer in the pocket. However, he’s a full gear slower than Diakiese and got out worked by Mickael Lebout on the mats. Diakiese is a strong wrestler and has shown great adaptability and heart. Marc Diakiese via decision.
Staff picking Diakiese: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Packalen: Ram
Mookie Alexander: Bamgbose can obviously strike, but his gas tank is bad and he offers next-to-nothing on the ground. Breese is going to school him. Tom Breese by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: The Bang Bus has not really developed from his first sojourns into the UFC: an astonishingly athletic glass cannon, with notably dire defensive grappling and a spotty gas tank. Breese is a far more three-dimensional fighter- he can probably hang on the feet if he survives past the first round, but more to the point Bamgbose is likely toast if it hits the mat. Tom Breese by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Bamgbose has never shown himself to be dangerous past round 1 and hasn’t shown the technique to be a consistent threat in the UFC. He’s powerful, but Breese is tough and way more technical. Tom Breese via Submission, round 2.
Staff picking Bamgbose: Tim
Staff picking Breese: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Phil Mackenzie: This is a fairly well-matched card, and this is easily one of the best fights on it. Both men are extremely talented- starting from different ends of the MMA spectrum, they've made serious inroads into other areas. Luque started as an athletic but flawed scrambler, and has been an increasingly devastating kickboxer under Henri Hooft's tuition. Edwards was a counterpunching striker, but won his last fight with his submission grappling and wrestling. Luque is more dangerous, but I think Edwards is a bit tougher. Luque has traditionally not done great in fights which go deep, and I suspect he's a bit of a glass cannon. This is not something I expect to change under the Blackzilians (or whatever they're called now). Edwards might get some scares, or even get knocked out early, but largely I trust him to survive and take over. Leon Edwards by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: My worry here is that Edwards is going to be a bit to jack-of-all-trades here. Luque has developed a very powerful pressure-boxing striking game that could force Edwards to try and out-wrestle him. But is Edwards the kind of control wrestler who could really stifle Luque for 3 rounds? I’m not sold on that yet. And if not, I think Luque’s confident power boxing gets the job done. Vicente Luque via decision.
Staff picking Edwards: Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser
Staff picking Luque: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Tim
Mookie Alexander: Entwistle doesn’t strike, loves heel hooks, and when he doesn’t get those, he loses. Johns is going to destroy him. Brett Johns via TKO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Entwistle is kind of great. Almost no strikes thrown in the UFC, almost no takedowns, just a ton of submission attempts. On the other hand, he is absurdly one-track, meaning he'll just cling onto a leg until he's knocked out. Johns looks like a real talent. Brett Johns by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Unless Entwistle kneebars Johns in 2 minutes he’s getting TKO’d. Brett Johns via TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking Entwistle:
Staff picking Johns: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Phil Mackenzie: Scott Askham looked at the man blocking his path.
"I've no quarrel with ye," he said. "Step aside."
The other man scratched his chin. "Afraid I can't do that. I've heard of you, you see, and I'm here to fight you, Scott Coal-Heart."
Askham grunted, unimpressed. "Are ye a criminal, then? Or mayhap I sent someone you cared about away t' gaol?"
"No, sir," said the other man. "My name's Brad Scott. You see, I once trained to become a Watson, like you. I couldn't finish the teachings, though..."
Askham studied how the man stood. "Right handed, is it?"
"You see well," said Scott, and Askham made a small, almost imperceptible nod, acknowledging the compliment.
"We strike only wi' our left." said Askham. "'The Watson keeps t' peace, and walks a righteous path wi' a sinister weapon.' Teacher told me that, many years ago."
"'The Left Hands of Justice,'" said Scott. "The teachers at the Watson seminary tried to teach me to fight like that. 'No rights," they'd say. Rapping my knuckles. Tying one hand behind my back with twine. It never took."
"Now ye want... some form o' vengeance for lost years, then?" said Askham, raising one eyebrow.
"No," said Scott, laughing a little. "I merely wanted to see how far I'd come. To test the abilities I've built myself against those which were measured."
"Fair play then, lad," said Askham. "A Watson cannot attack wi'out a reason, but he's within his rights to defend 'imself. Come." Scott Askham by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Bradley Scott is the better pressure fighter, but I don’t actually like a lot of what he delivers with that pressure. He tends to create offense in very short bursts and when he’s not creating he’s there to get hit inside. Askham has done his fair bit of range kickboxing lately, but his best spot is still in the clinch. I think Scott’s tendency to get a little distracted inside will give Askham opportunities to land the better strikes. Scott Askham via decision.
Staff picking Askham: Nick, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie (Also, Phil is the goddamn man!), Zane, Tim
Staff picking Scott: Bissell
Phil Mackenzie: Oof. Pudilova might have a better ceiling of the two women, but hasn't really shown it. She's lost to Lansberg once before, no reason to assume she's not going to lose to her again. I mean, Lansberg has had a main event slot! Lina Lansberg by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Lansberg’s won this fight in such a way and recently enough, that I don’t see it going differently the second time around. She’s a much better clinch fighter and Pudilova can’t strike without falling into the clinch. Lina Lansberg via decision.
Staff picking Lansberg: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Pudilova: