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UFC Fight Night: Oezdemir vs. Smith staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Oezdemir vs. Smith fight card.

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Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for Saturday’s UFC Moncton fight card, and most of us are picking Volkan Oezdemir to get back in the win column by defeating fellow light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith. As for the co-main event, even with the weight miss, everyone is going with Michael Johnson to take care of Artem Lobov on short notice.

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.

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Anthony Smith

Zane Simon: This fight feels like a really tough matchup for Smith. Maybe he can outlast Oezdemir’s early rush, just like Cormier did. But, Smith isn’t really known for sporting Cormier’s toughness, and tends to badly compromise his defense when hit hard. That said, he has rallied back from adversity in a couple fights. It could happen. Still, I’m inclined to take the fast starting, hard punching, iron chinned offense of Oezdemir to storm Smith early and get the job done. Volkan Oezdemir via KO, round 1.

Mookie Alexander: This fight essentially comes down to whether or not Smith can survive the early Oezdemir storm, and Smith has been stopped a bunch of times and isn’t terribly difficult to hurt. Perhaps that will change at 205, where he really should’ve been for years. If he can do that, then Oezdemir will fade badly and I think Smith’s varied offensive game will cause Oezdemir to fold. This is undeniably a step up from Smith destroying the ghosts of Shogun and Rashad, but I love his story and think he’ll get the job done. Anthony Smith by TKO, round 3.

Victor Rodriguez: Smith’s move up to light heavyweight makes me think he’ll take a hit a lot better. He’s got size and strength, plus he fights a lot smarter. Besides, he might be able to handle the initial flurries from Oezdemir and outwork him. Also, as much as I have for Henri Hooft and his fighters, I’m really having a problem with how badly they’ve been dealing with being on their backs as of late. Smith’s a more complete fighter, a more educated striker, and handles his range a lot better. He’s deceptively long and strong, which will serve him well along with his better cardio. Volkan is gonna get slept. All hail the new contender at 205. Anthony Smith by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Oezdemir: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Dayne, Zane, Tim, Fraser
Staff picking Smith: Mookie, Stephie, Victor

Artem Lobov vs. Michael Johnson

Mookie Alexander: Johnson is historically hard to finish via strikes, and Lobov is not nearly as powerful as advertised. He’s not only more powerful than Lobov, but he’s slicker and faster. Of course taking this fight on short notice (and missing weight!) may lead to cardio concerns, and he could just drift out of this one and lose for no real good reason. I won’t bet on that. Michael Johnson by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: For all the talk of his great power, Lobov hasn’t really made his name as a KO puncher. And fighters that can show even a little variation tend to beat him, even if he’s very competitive with a lot of them. If Johnson goes full Ishihara and just backs himself along the cage, throwing only left hands, Lobov can take it. The Conor McGregor style he parrots is, at its root, exactly the style of fighting that Johnson’s game struggles with. But the difference in hand speed, the fact that you don’t have to be all that good a wrestler to get Lobov down, and Johnson’s tendency to throw combinations when countering all have me feeling like he takes a busy decision. Michael Johnson by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Lobov hits hard, and has serviceable submission defense. Johnson’s a superior boxer with far more athleticism and good enough movement to not get caught with wild hooks from a guy with a long torso and short arms. Artem’s saving grace is his inherent toughness, which will probably lead to him not getting finished. I don’t mean to be cruel, here. Lobov hits his ceiling here, that’s all. Michael Johnson by decision.

Staff picking Lobov:
Staff picking Johnson: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Misha Cirkunov vs. Patrick Cummins

Mookie Alexander: Cummins could conceivably get several takedowns, but he has no sense of top control and Cirkunov is more than willing to dish serious damage on the feet and on the ground. This just seems like a bad matchup for Cummins. Misha Cirkunov by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: If Cummins were more of a lock down top control grinder, I’d really like his chances here. I feel a bit like Cirkunov takes his eyes off the ball in the clinch, which Cummins could absolutely use to take him down. But Cummins tends to let people up when he gets aggressive on the ground. And standing, Cirkunov is a bit wooden, but he seems like a well schooled striker and was doing really well standing with Teixeira. He’s also a good offensive grappler and wrestler. Just feels like too many avenues for success for Cummins to grind out a tough decision. Misha Cirkunov via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Remember when Villante fought Cummins? This will be less ugly, but it’s a toad of a fight. Misha should have the striking chops to outwork Patrick here. Also, what does it say about a world-class wrestler when not a single staff member picks him? Guh. I’m picking Misha, but I’m a bit wary about his cardio and how long he’ll be able to shuck off takedown attempts. Misha Cirkunov by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Cirkunov: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Cummins:

Andre Soukhamthath vs. Jonathan Martinez

Zane Simon: Soukhamthath starts slow and tends to get tired late, so there’s a lot of wiggle room in there for Martinez to pick up a debut win. But, Martinez’s kick heavy game and willingness to pull guard just does not seem like it’s made to win rounds. Given the short notice, the fact that Soukhamthath has been there before, and that he’s never been submitted, I’ll take him to win a decision. Maybe even pick up a late TKO if Matinez isn’t in fight shape. Andre Soukhamthath by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I’m still riding with Andre here. He’s had some mental lapses in his fights, but I’ve got a hunch that this is the one he turns the corner on. Andre Soukhamthath by decision.

Staff picking Soukhamthath: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Martinez: Dayne

Ed Herman vs. Gian Villante

Mookie Alexander: Oh man… Gian Villante by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I’m not at all convinced Villante doesn’t get himself KO’d by an Ed Herman overhand/left hook combo. Herman is footslow, but packs surprising pop in his fists and has always been tough to finish. Still, He’s also in his late 30’s minus a part of a finger, and coming off a long layoff. Gian Villante by split decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Shows what the UFC thinks of the Canadian market putting this fight on this card. These people are monsters, and you’re a rube if you paid full price for a ticket. Nothing makes sense anymore, and this fight is proof we live in the stupid timeline. I’m calling this place Lower Muncton from here on in. All you young whippersnappers can Google that reference, and that place will have a darkness that will never be lifted after this. Praise Moloch. Gian Villante by decision.

Staff picking Herman:

Staff picking Villante: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Court McGee vs. Alex Garcia

Zane Simon: Alex Garcia tends to lose to bigger welterweights he can’t wrestler. Court McGee mostly tends to lose to better, more technical athletes. McGee’s tireless motor and scrambling gives me pause. If he can keep off the mat early he may take over as Garcia fades. But the power differential, and McGee’s tendency to throw himself forward into the clinch have me feeling like Garcia will have just enough moments of control and big strikes landed to get it done. Alex Garcia by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Garcia? Y’all know that the Dominican Dolph Lundgren doesn’t pick against his boy. You know what it is, fam. Alex Garcia by Sonic Blast Man punch.

Staff picking McGee: Dayne
Staff picking Garcia: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Nordine Taleb vs. Sean Strickland

Zane Simon: Taleb seems like he’s become a much more aggressive, confident fighter late in his career. He also seems more willing to throw himself into some bad, costly mistakes. But, Strickland just isn’t a finisher. In fact, he doesn’t do a whole lot at all with conviction. He throws a great jab, and feints well, but rarely follows it with meaningful offense (at least not early in fights). He may find just the right opportunity for a big counter, or a submission in a scramble, but barring that, it’s too easy for me to see Taleb winning rounds. Nordine Taleb by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I like Nordine here, but I’m worried that Strickland’s speed and kicking game will present some problems for him. I’m pretty sure Nordine takes it, but I’m gonna go with Strickland fighting the more judge-friendly fight and getting the nod. Sean Strickland by decision.

Staff picking Taleb: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Strickland: Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Thibault Gouti vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Mookie Alexander: I’m a lot more sold on mini-Gastelum’s UFC future after what he did to Marc Diakiese. Gouti is going to get smoked. Nasrat Haqparast by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Haqparast’s patient range game, coupled with his strong offensive wrestling and grappling games should be a nightmare for Gouti, who is really only at his best in the pocket, trading leather. Add to it that Haqparast seems tough, and stronger, and faster and... well... Nasrat Haqparast via KO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: For some reason I figured that Nasrat would have more growing pains upon his entry to the UFC, and I’m glad I was wrong. Nasrat Haqparast by KO, round 2.

Staff picking Gouti:
Staff picking Haqparast: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Chris Fishgold vs. Calvin Kattar

Zane Simon: It’s really hard for me to trust Fishgold’s wrestling game coming off the Cage Warriors circuit. At least, not against someone like Kattar who has been fairly difficult to take down. Kattar isn’t a dynamic fighter, but he’s marvelously consistent with his punches, going forward and backward. Fishgold’s habit of standing flat footed and waiting for a big counter or to unleash a blitz of offense seems like it’ll end up with Kattar getting a lot of opportunities to fire first and/or counter predictable combos. Calvin Kattar by decision.

Staff picking Fishgold:
Staff picking Kattar: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Victor

Talita Bernardo vs. Sarah Moras

Zane Simon: I don’t trust either woman’s fitness nor their striking especially much. But Moras seems to have a pathological aggression that means when she gets hit she responds by fighting harder. When Bernardo gets hit, she tends to shell up and go away a bit. All that could be moot if Bernardo is just a much much better grappler, but that’s Moras’ game as well, so we won’t know until they hit the mat. Sarah Moras by submission, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: I love this fight for the potential of some fun grappling exchanges, but I hate it because it’s likely to end up with some awkward striking instead. Still, I like the crafty submissions that Moras can hit during transitions, so I’m running with that here. Sarah Moras by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Bernardo: Bissell, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking Moras: Nick, Zane, Victor

Te Edwards vs. Don Madge

Zane Simon: Madge tends to counter in flurries, but moves in straight lines, and doesn’t put much on his punches. He’s accurate, but defensively wide open if opponents can walk through his strikes. I get the feeling Edwards can, and that he packs enough power to make Madge pay for keeping his chin up. Te Edwards by KO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: Madge is the current hope for South African MMA on the international scale outside of Dricus Du Plessis, and he’s really good. And Edwards might capitalize on the defensive gaps in his game, but I don’t see it happening. Madge should be able to draw Edwards into the kind of exchanges he wants. Don Madge by TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Edwards: Nick, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Stephie

Staff picking Madge: Bissell, Dayne, Victor

Arjan Bhullar vs. Marcelo Golm

Zane Simon: Golm doesn’t seem experienced enough to know how to change the dynamics of a fight when he’s not immediately physically in charge. Bhullar may not recognize when he’s walking into trouble, but his combination of aggressive power punching, clinch control, and takedown offense should be enough to keep Golm off balance all fight. Arjan Bhullar by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Bhullar’s last loss was a fluke, and he’s gonna give Golm that work. Arjan Bhullar by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Bhullar: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Golm: Fraser

Stevie Ray vs. Jessin Ayari

Zane Simon: This could be the ugliest fight on the card. Ray isn’t especially comfortable in pursuit of his opposition, and Ayari loves to circle away, but his offense is pretty anemic as he does it. That could mean 3 rounds of Ray chasing while Ayari circles and judges have to choose between Ayari’s leg kicks and the occasional Ray overhand. I’ll take Ray for his power and ability to surprise, but this could be a terrible split. Stevie Ray by split decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Meh. Gonna go with Ayari for kicks and giggles at this point. Like, Ray should win due to his striking and accuracy, but Ayari could keep it close and make it as ugly as he has to to get the win. Jessin Ayari by decision.

Staff picking Ray: Bissell, Nick, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking Ayari: Victor

Poll

Who wins the UFC Moncton main event?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Oezdemir by stoppage
    (234 votes)
  • 41%
    Smith by stoppage
    (182 votes)
  • 2%
    Oezdemir by decision
    (13 votes)
  • 2%
    Smith by decision
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Draw/NC/DQ
    (4 votes)
442 votes total Vote Now