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UFC Fight Night: Struve vs. Volkov staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Struve vs. Volkov card in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

UFC Fight Night: Overeem v Arlovski Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Struve vs. Volkov, and only newcomer Ryan Davies is picking Stefan Struve to win in front of the home crowd. Everyone else is siding with Alexander Volkov to come away with the victory in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This is uh... not an event filled with familiar names.

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.

Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov

Mookie Alexander: Volkov knows how to fight tall and Struve still kinda doesn’t. If Stefan can force the issue and try and get Volkov down, I truly believe he can submit the Russian. Otherwise it just feels like Volkov is going to bloody Struve up, pick him apart, and then finish him by the midway point of the fight. Alexander Volkov by TKO, round 3.

Dayne Fox: Anyone who listens to Eugene S. Robinson on Knuckle Up knows what a GICTA is, but I know I’ve got to explain what it is for those of you who don’t. Guy I Can’t Trust Anymore. I don’t know if I could ever trust Struve in the first place, but I know I sure as hell can’t trust him now. Yes, he has won three of his last four and looked progressively better since his heart scare. But look at the names he has beaten. A far-past his prime Big Nog. A completely shot Bigfoot Silva. And Daniel Omielanczuk who happened to be at a reach disadvantage of over 10-inches. Volkov isn’t a world-beater himself, but he’s proven to be far more durable and consistent. Good enough for me to pick the Russian. Volkov via TKO of RD2

Zane Simon: This fight comes down to two primary factors. The first is that Alexander Volkov’s takedown defense has been largely terrible throughout his career. Especially a problem given his love of clinch knees. The second is that Stefan Struve’s chin has also been pretty terrible, and has only really gotten worse over time. Eventually, I think Volkov’s solid defensive grappling should be enough to keep him safe and give him enough time to out-last Struve’s cardio to start dropping some real offense. Alexander Volkov via TKO, Round 3.

Eddie Mercado: The tall-man lag is less for Volkov than it is for Struve. Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Struve: Ryan
Staff picking Volkov: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Eddie, Stephie

Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Rob Wilkinson

Mookie Alexander: Even by Fight Pass standards, they totally phoned it in for this card. Bahadurzada felt like a different fighter in his win over Brandon Thatch, but how much can you really gather for someone who fights as infrequently as him? Wilkinson isn’t a bad fighter and in fact should be good enough to nick a couple of UFC victories, but I see him being outmatched on the feet here. Siyar Bahadurzada by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Bahadurzada has had a weird and sporadic career of late. He was last seen putting an end to what was left of the Brandon Thatch hype train, and before that got ground out by John Howard in a fight which was largely memorable because of a very loud fart. Wilkinson is a reasonably skilled outside boxer, but I suspect Bahadurzada uses his newfound love for wrestling to push Wilkinson to the cage and hit takedowns. Siyar Bahadurzada by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Wilkinson joins the long list of Aussie fighters whose primary defining characteristic regionally was that they could actually wrestle a little. He’s a take-one-to-give-one striker which I doubt serves him against Bahadurzada, who still has blazing hand speed. Siyar Bahadruzada via TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Bahadurzada: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie
Staff picking Wilkinson:

Talita de Oliveira vs. Marion Reneau

Mookie Alexander: Reneau will be too strong for the newcomer. I know Reneau has had issues letting her strikes go in previous fights, but she’s definitely going to have the advantage on the ground against Oliveira if it goes there, which I suspect it will at some point. Marion Reneau by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: Talita is a brawling striker who prefers to go for clinch takedowns and work a GnP/grappling game. Nothing I’ve seen of her says she can out-grapple Reneau, although this could be a very slow striking contest if she also can’t get Reneau down. Marion Reneau via submission, Round 1.

Staff picking Oliveira:
Staff picking Reneau: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie

Leon Edwards vs. Bryan Barberena

Mookie Alexander: This honestly is more deserving of five rounds than Struve vs. Volkov. As much as I’d love for Barberena to spring another upset, I’m taking Edwards here. He’s made serious strides with his wrestling and his move to American Top Team has worked wonders for him. I do have some concern that he’ll cost himself rounds by not being offensively active enough, and against a guy like Barberena, who loves to set a pace and pressure fight, it’ll be interesting to see if Edwards goes with the tempo Barberena sets, or if Leon will dictate the terms of the action. Barberena isn’t a great striker, but he looked more than formidable (and quite powerful!) vs. Joe Proctor. Edwards is definitely not Proctor, so I’m looking for the Brit to continue his winning streak. Leon Edwards by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: The best and most relevant fight of the card. Edwards has shown impressive and surprising developments, building out from a single-shot counterpuncher into an effective top position wrestler. The question now is simply how well he can continue to blend the two. Millennial Matt Brown keeps a fantastic pace, hits surprisingly hard, and throws out a ton of interstitial clinch offense, but his takedown defense remains... not good. If Edwards is the same fighter, he should be able to win with wrestling, but I expect more improvements from him. Leon Edwards by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Barberena’s takedown defense has never been great, but his ability to get back up and make people work really hard is very good. And, even in really difficult fights, he tends to be just as capable in round 3 as round 1 (if not moreso). The other thing working for him here is that Edwards isn’t all that comfortable with strikers willing to come forward and pressure him. He hits with one-shot power from range, but largely sticks to throwing one shot at a time, and Barberena’s chin is almost uncrackable. I think this will be a close fight, but I’m picking Barberena to make Edwards work really hard on wrestler, and to pick up momentum as the fight goes on with a constant barrage of pressure. Bryan Barberena by decision.

Staff picking Edwards: Dayne, Phil, Ram, Mookie, Ryan
Staff picking Barberena: Bissell, Zane, Fraser, Eddie, Stephie, Nick

Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickovic

Phil Mackenzie: Hmmm. Till is an aggressive counterpuncher, who tries to bait opponents into striking at his head, then pulls back and lands a cross or hook. That being said, he's also had an issue leading when the opponent won't give him those opportunities. Velickovic is a well-rounded and athletic kickboxer, but he's not high pace or prone to leading, either. Till probably holds a few technical and physical edges, but I suspect this may be a fight that optimistic folk like to call a "chess match". Darren Till by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Velickovic doesn’t do anything that poorly, but he doesn’t do anything that well either. If he were a better wrestler I’d say he could take rounds due to Till’s overconfidence grappling off his back, but he’s just not. He can probably depend on his awesome durability to see him to the end, but I expect most of this fight will be Till pot shotting and posturing as Velickovic fights for ineffective takedowns and circles at range a lot. Darren Till by decision.

Staff picking Till: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Velickovic: Ram, Ryan, Eddie

Mairbek Taisumov vs. Felipe Silva

Phil Mackenzie: This card really is a grab-bag of "we haven't quite fired these guys" and "we don't know what to do with these guys". Taisumov, like Khabilov, falls squarely into the latter category (so did Nick Hein, before he got injured). He's on a four-fight KO streak, yet visa and injury issues clearly have the UFC unconvinced about where he's going. As with Santiago against Magomedsharipov, Silva is perfectly capable of authoring the upset, as he's powerful and fearless, but Taisumov simply has more spaces that he can operate in, with a nasty kicking and clinch game to complement his counter punching. I'm always a little concerned by that mental fragility he showed against Trator, but Maibek Taisumov by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: Felipe Silva is big and powerful and aggressive, and a shockingly technical clinch striker. But until he gets to the clinch he has a habit of just biting down on his mouth piece and winging hooks until his opponent cracks. I think that leaves him far too open to getting sniped coming in by Taisumov’s counter game. Taisumov isn’t a defensive master, but he’s hard to hit more than once at a time and takes a shot really well. After round 1, I wouldn’t be surprised if Silva is a lot slower and somewhat out of ideas. Mairbek Taisumov by TKO, round 3.

Eddie Mercado: Taisumov is the more polished fighter here. When push comes to shove, and it most certainly will, I believe Taisumov will be the one responding better to getting hit, and ultimately go on to pick up the knockout. Mairbek Taisumov by KO in 1.5 rounds.

Staff picking Taisumov: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie
Staff picking Silva:

Rustam Khabilov vs. Desmond Green

Mookie Alexander: High chance this fight is miserable to watch. These are two skilled athletes whose best offensive showings are eye-opening, and then everything else is kind of a slog. I think Khabilov will be active enough on the feet to win rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Desmond frustrates him by preventing the takedown, and that may lead to some mistakes being made by Rustam. Green is also likely to find it difficult to put Khabilov on his back and keep him there. This is going to be a slow-paced contest and I lean slightly towards Khabilov as the more complete fighter. Rustam Khabilov by split decision.

Phil Mackenzie: There will be the combination of talent, athleticism, skill and frustrating inertia in the cage that you only normally encounter during a Tyron Woodley bout. Khabilov is explosive in small doses, as he throws hard, accurate casting hooks, and is a monstrously powerful wrestler. Green has slightly different activity issues, in that he can sometimes get tunnel visioned into long periods of waiting for countershots, or meaningless grinding in the clinch. He looked infinitely better in his last fight, where he kept a good pace and wore out Josh Emmett with a steady diet of jabs, but it's worth remembering that Emmett gave him a lot more opportunities than Khabilov will. Still, if Green can at least mostly replicate that pace I think he can exploit Khabilov's tendency to hang back as Green is simply the more technical kickboxer. Desmond Green by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: The thing about Green’s pace in the Emmett fight is, I think it was largely dictated by Emmett’s willingness (or feeling of necessity) to come forward and engage Green constantly. And as he did so Green conceded a lot of space in order to find spots to pick Emmett off, at least until Emmett got tired enough that Green could more confidently come forward. If he’s willing to concede space in the same way and wait on Khabilov, I think he ends up playing far too much of Khabilov’s rangy, somewhat unpredictable pot-shotting game. And, in a fight where I suspect Green won’t be able to fall back on a wrestling advantage to take over rounds when he needs to, I think that means he idles his way to a slow paced loss. Rustam Khabilov by decision.

Staff picking Khabilov: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Ram, Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Green: Phil, Fraser, Ryan, Eddie

Bojan Mihajlovic vs. Abdul-Kerim Edilov

Mookie Alexander: This is not a UFC-quality event. Mihajlovic getting a third fight is puzzling. Abdul-Kerim Edilov by TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Mihajlovic is one of several fighters who is looking at a pink slip. He got knocked out by Joachim Christensen, a deeply average 205er. He's here to presumably get merked by Edilov, a talented, morally questionable prospect who babysits for a psychopath and is probably going to wreck Mihajolovic in the clinch and on the mat. Abdul-Kerim Edilov by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: There was never any reason the UFC should have signed Mihajlovic in the first place and he’s mostly been a punch bag in the cage since then. No different here. Abdul-Kerim Edilov by TKO, Round 1.

Staff picking Mihajlovic:
Staff picking Edilov: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie

Francimar Barroso vs. Aleksandar Rakic

Mookie Alexander: We’re blessed with Barroso. Not even UFC Fight Pass pacing can make Barroso fights feel anything other than painstakingly slow. Francimar Barroso by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: It's Francimar Barroso time. Like his last fight (and the one before that, sorta) he's fighting a European who might be a can crusher, or might be a legit talent, and it's pretty hard to tell because European LHW competition is dire. Pray that Rakic knocks him out, because if he doesn't... well, it's Francimar Barroso time. Francimar Barroso by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Rakic looks like a great athlete with real power. But he also doesn’t look like an MMA fighter with a complete or trustworthy MMA game. If he were all about blitzing people with supreme confidence and pressure (Nikki Thrillz style) then I’d give him a good shot at winning here. But his interest in a slow sniping power range game likely give Barroso way too much opportunity to turn this into the slow-paced cage grind where he thrives. Francimar Barroso via decision.

Staff picking Barroso: Bissell, Phil, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Eddie
Staff picking Rakic: Nick, Dayne, Ram, Ryan, Stephie

Mike Santiago vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov

Phil Mackenzie: Magomedsharipov is another exciting addition to the UFC's white-hot featherweight division, who impressed in the ACB shark tank. Despite being a gangly 6'1, he's relatively defensively responsible, and his rawboned jab, hook and occasional spinning kick pack shocking power. Santiago is an aggressive puncher with a deceptive record, who turned a corner in his development a few years back and has consistently fought good competition. What struggles Magomedsharipov has had have been from those that attack him at all levels, as he simply can't cover 6'1” of real estate. If Santiago head hunts, I expect him to get figured out and cracked. If he can mix up his pressure, he could pull off the upset. Still, gotta go with the more proven commodity and Zabit Magomedsharipov by TKO, round 3

Zane Simon: Santiago has a real chance for the upset here. Magomedsharipov is a thrilling prospect, but I think there are real concerns to be had about his physicality. He was kind of a lightweight fighting bantamweights regionally, and even then not an overwhelming physical force, so much as a fantastically technical sniper. As he moves to the UFC and a featherweight division that’s largely stocked with good sized, powerfully built fighters, it remains to be seen how well he can stop himself from being bullied. Santiago is a guy that will absolutely work to bully him. Santiago is a very comfortable pocket puncher who mixes his shots well, due to his boxing background, and he’s also a very capable, athletic scrambler on the mat. I’m still picking Magomedsharipov, since I think Santiago’s preferred range of squaring up in the pocket and letting his hands go leaves him open to be sniped (a lot like the Taisumov/Silva fight above), but I’ll be very interested to see what Santiago can do if he can get Magomedsharipov’s back against the fence. Zabit Magomed Sharipov via KO, Round 2.

Staff picking Santiago:
Staff picking Magomedsharipov: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie

Michel Prazeres vs. Mads Burnell

Phil Mackenzie: Trator The Tertiary Tibau's developments into a Kings-style pressure kickboxer and legit offensive threat in recent bouts have been very impressive. Is Burnel really a better shot wrestler and grappler than Gilbert Burns? Jab, leg kick, combinations, and time in top position. Michel Prazeres by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I like the raw pieces of Burnell’s game. He’s a willing combination puncher, a decent wrestler, a very solid looking top position grappler with a nice front headlock game. But his level of competition is low, and his technical depth is shallow. Prazeres is at the doorstep of being a top ranked lightweight and should bulldoze Burnell. Michel Prazeres by decision.

Staff picking Prazeres: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie
Staff picking Burnell:

Andrew Holbrook vs. Thibault Gouti

Phil Mackenzie: While he's on an 0-3 skid, all by finish, I still weirdly find myself thinking that Thibault "La Barbe" Goatee is somehow better than he looks. He's clunky, and not massively durable, but he's physically powerful and aggressive. Holbrook has durability issues himself, and is a little more consistent if he avoids getting blown out of the water. I think Gouti might have a pure physicality edge. Bit of a gut pick here, but Thibault Gouti by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Gouti is a guy that seems to get some random hope from technical analysts (yeah I mean you Phil & Connor), but the long and short of it is that whatever the matchup in front of him in the UFC, he’s found a way to lose it cleanly. Holbrook is on whatever defensive system Patrick Cummins is on, but we’ve seen him pick up wins over reasonable UFC talent. He’s a powerful, hard punching, athletic grappler. Gouti may crack his chin and put him out, or Holbrook may gas out and lose, but I haven’t seen enough from Gouti beyond occasionally technical boxing to make me think he wins in the UFC. Andrew Holbrook by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Holbrook: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Fraser, Zane, Mookie, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie
Staff picking Gouti: Phil, Ram

Poll

Who wins the UFC Rotterdam main event?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Struve by stoppage
    (84 votes)
  • 31%
    Volkov by stoppage
    (111 votes)
  • 1%
    Struve by decision
    (4 votes)
  • 7%
    Volkov by decision
    (27 votes)
  • 35%
    Draw/NC/DQ/Crazy result
    (127 votes)
353 votes total Vote Now