The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for tomorrow night’s Bellator 208 card in New York, and most of us are going with Fedor Emelianenko to best Chael Sonnen and advance to the heavyweight tournament final. Only Phil Mackenzie and Stephie Haynes are going with Sonnen to topple “The Last Emperor.” As for the co-main event, Stephie and Nick Baldwin are picking Saad Awad to upset Benson Henderson.
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.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Chael Sonnen
Mookie Alexander: I won’t let myself get talked into picking a middleweight to grind out Fedor. Yeah, he’s been knocked out by one, but this would be a step too far. I don’t think my brain could process this. Chael obviously won’t outstrike him, and Fedor still has the power to rock Sonnen and just beat him up on the ground. Hell, I wouldn’t rule out a submission for Fedor seeing as Chael is quite submittable. This should be a Fedor win, and if not… I don’t know what to say. Fedor Emelianenko by TKO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I think it’s pretty clear that this tournament bracket is set up to get Fedor into the finals. Mir was a great opponent for him, and Chael is even better. Fedor is far (FAAAR) from the invincible super-cyborg he once was, but the way you beat him these days is usually by outstriking him, and that’s not Chael’s game. I see Chael getting drawn into being too sloppy on the feet, and then paying for it. The one thing that gives me pause is Fedor auctioning off his glorious sweater. Would Samson ever auction off his hair? I think not. Let’s hope that decision does not cost him. Fedor, KO, R1
Tim Burke: I can’t pick against Fedor. I won’t. But I think this is a winnable fight for Chael if he can grind out some time on the top. The size difference doesn’t mean anything - I think Chael is actually the same size as Fedor, he just chooses to cut weight - but Fedor’s bottom game is obviously dangerous. I think Chael takes him down, and gets swept and pounded out, or subbed from the bottom. I’ll go with the former. Fedor Emelianenko via submission, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Chael may have smothered Rampage for a win, but that’s plodding, slow, “I mostly just wanna box”, 2018 Rampage. Fedor still got the old man strength, legendary takedown defense, savage overhand right and and blistering forward assaults on offense when he smells blood. Eddie thinks Chael can use volume to outstrike Fedor and work his way to a decision, and notes Chael’s cardio as an advantage. To all of this, I agree - but he’s a sillyhead and must be publicly shunned at all times. Same with anyone that sees Chael winning this. Besides, Fedor’s submission game is still there, even if he’s more about punching people to separate them from consciousness. If Frank Mir couldn’t put him down, how the hell can Chael? Sonnen puts forth a valiant effort, shows how good his boxing is but gets greedy with a takedown attempt and gets mauled. That’s not to say that Vintage Fedor™ is back and here to stay, but this is a fight that can have him look really good against an unquestionably tough opponent that appears destined to never really get the big one. Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko, ESQ via submission, round 2.
Staff picking Fedor: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Tim, Victor
Staff picking Sonnen: Phil, Stephie
Saad Awad vs. Benson Henderson
Mookie Alexander: It’s not completely out of the question for Awad to land some big shots on Bendo and hurt him, but we’ve rarely seen Henderson get seriously hurt in fights, and Awad is at a disadvantage virtually everywhere else beyond pure power. The major question mark is how “Toothpick-less Bendo” performs, as this could be a groundbreaking new MMA mythical figure that could either revive his career or be a sure sign of a substantial decline. Benson Henderson by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: This would be a long way to fall for Bendo. Saad Awad is a vicious finisher given the opportunity, but if Bendo’s janky style has lost the athletic edge that allowed him to pick up round-winning moments, he still has a major wrestling and grappling advantage, and his excellent chin still seems to be intact. Benson Henderson by submission, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Bendo’s style flusters guys because of all of the flash, movement, funky improvisation and timing. Awad’s also a veteran and a very good fighter in his own right. I just don’t think he’ll avoid falling for Bendo’s flimflam and lose a fight because Henderson’s style is just more appealing to the judges. He just does enough to win off points. Benson Henderson by decision.
Staff picking Awad: Nick, Stephie
Staff picking Henderson: Bissell, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Victor
Timothy Johnson vs. Cheick Kongo
Mookie Alexander: Really? This is Timothy Johnson’s Bellator debut? This fight? Oh man. So um… if you’ve got 15 minutes to do something else besides watching a Cheick Kongo clinchfest, I recommend making the most of that time. Cheick Kongo by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: A fight between someone who looks like Timothy Johnson and fights exactly how you’d expect Timothy Johnson to, and someone who looks like an action figure who also fights exactly how you’d expect Timothy Johnson to. If you like people sweatin’ it up in the clinch by the fence and periodically landing an uppercut or a knee to the groin, this is the fight for you. Cheick Kongo by split decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Don’t matter who wins, we all lose. This fight is gonna be uglier than Cheick Kongo’s foot. Seriously, look at that goddamned thing. Look at it again. You deserve all of this. Yes, you. You asked for violence, and this is what we get. Fedor fighting on a major U.S. platform? Possibly getting a title shot with a win? You gotta eat this bucket of dreck, and it is both filthy and unseasoned. I don’t know which of the two qualities I’d prefer in my food. Just kidding, I’ll eat filthy food, but this not if it’s bland. And bland is what you’ll get. Guh. Whatever. Nutshots, angry hugging and sweaty dudes with facial hair. Such is the price we pay to please the blood gods. Moloch smiles upon us and shall smite us all equally. Bla’atha Mgnona Chrulb. Cheick Kongo by whatever.
Staff picking Johnson:
Staff picking Kongo: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Stephie
Alexander Shlemenko vs. Anatoly Tokov
Mookie Alexander: Tokov could be really good for Bellator. He’s a really talented, well-rounded fighter who’s been in the sport for nine years, and a win against Shlemenko could make him a new middleweight contender. Hell, Shlemenko got KO’d by Bruno Silva in his last fight and he’s slowly but surely starting to look like these wars are catching up to him. He’s still quite dangerous offensively though, and perhaps he has one more spinning sh-t moment in him. Alexander Shlemenko by TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: During the Vivisection, I was leaning Shlemenko and talked myself into picking Tokov instead. I’m sticking with that, because the dude is that good. He’s got reach, strength, speed, submissions and enough defensive skills to not fall for Shlemenko’s shenanigans. Except for maaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyybe that liver shot. Maybe. Drat, now I’m talking myself into picking Alex again. Not today, Satan. Anatoly Tokov by TKO.
Staff picking Shlemenko: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Tokov: Victor
Henry Corrales vs. Andy Main
Mookie Alexander: I caught Andy Main’s last fight against Saul Almeida at LFA 49. That was not a very good to watch at all, but usually Almeida loses to more-than-credible opposition. Corrales is one of the best Bellator featherweights out there, although he has been tapped by current champ Patricio Pitbull and former champ Daniel Straus. Is Main that good enough to get Corrales to grapple with him and snag a sub? I don’t think so. Henry Corrales by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Main really impressed me in his recent Pancrase run, and he’s a wily fighter with a nice flow to his grappling game. Corrales is a good all-around fighter, but Main’s got craftier submission chains and can pick him apart from the outside. Andy Main by submission, round 3.
Staff picking Corrales: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Main: Victor
Who wins the Bellator 208 main event?
This poll is closed
Fedor by stoppage
Chael by stoppage
Fedor by decision
Chael by decision
Derrick Lewis by KO