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UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor staff picks and predictions for preliminary card

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for the UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor preliminary card.

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The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor, and because this is a major show, we’ve divided these posts to main event, main card, and preliminary card. This one is dedicated to the entire preliminary card, and the majority of the staff is picking Sergio Pettis to get the win over fellow flyweight contender Jussier Formiga. We’re also just as confused as you are about the Vicente Luque vs. Jalin Turner booking.

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.

Sergio Pettis vs. Jussier Formiga

Anton Tabuena: This is hard to pick, but I’m going with the guy who has been showing more improvements as of late. Sergio Pettis by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: I’d have probably picked Formiga a year ago, and he’s still dangerous enough that he could just abruptly tag Pettis with something and take his back and that’d be fight over. However, Pettis really looked good against Joseph Benavidez, and even if that’s not a prime Joe B, only elite competition has been able to get the better of him. I think Pettis is able to avoid the takedowns by Formiga and win the striking battles to get the decision. Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: If Pettis the Elder covered up technical gaps with athleticism, then Sergio finds himself attempting to covering up athletic gaps with technique. He has some of the best footwork in the division, able to pivot and cut small angles, and is increasingly comfortable as a pressure counter fighter, drawing people into his right hand. While Formiga’s boxing has improved, he’s just not the kind of overwhelming takedown threat that Henry Cejudo is, and while Joe B had a case for beating Pettis, he had almost no luck with the many takedowns he tried, and enforced an aggressive, blitzing style which Formiga just can’t replicate. Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I’m on the hype train now. It’s a slow-rolling train, but it’s a nice ride. Sergio’s hitting his stride. Volume and athleticism should get him the win here. Sergio Pettis by decision.

Staff picking Pettis: Harry, Mookie, Phil, Ram, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Lewis, Eddie, Victor
Staff picking Formiga: Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Tim

Vicente Luque vs. Jalin Turner

Mookie Alexander: Jalin Turner is not ready for Vicente Luque. Weird fight to book. Why are they just signing Contender Series guys to be sacrificed to good fighters? Vicente Luque by KO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Uhm. Is this fight not a short notice replacement? Why else would a former lightweight be fighting up a weight class for his debut, against someone who has 6 stoppages with some over genuinely quality opposition, and only two losses in the welterweight division? This is just baffling. Turner reminds me of Brandon Thatch: he’s talented, pretty big even for welterweight, and can crack. His defense is also just not great, and Luque has a lightning bolt left hand and is a very fast starter in general. Vicente Luque by TKO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: I let out a confused grunt when I saw this last week. Vicente Luque might be too much too soon for Turner, as much as I like the kid’s potential. Vicente Luque by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Luque: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Phil, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Tim, Eddie, Victor
Staff picking Turner:

Aspen Ladd vs. Tonya Evinger

Anton Tabuena: Experience, grit, tenacity. Tonya Evinger by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: Much like the main event, this one really hinges on whether the grappler (Evinger) gets her takedowns rolling. Ladd has thus far proven incapable of not forcing her own way into the clinch, so Evinger can likely just drag her down. Tonya Evinger by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Ladd’s a joy to watch if you like small details and prospects that are improving rapidly and doing all the little things right. Evinger is about chaos and beautiful violence. I know she’s getting up there in age and has the less graceful style, but Evinger’s lethal submission game and use of range will be a massive headache here. Tonya Evinger by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Ladd: Fraser
Staff picking Evinger: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Tim, Eddie, Victor

Scott Holtzman vs. Alan Patrick

Phil Mackenzie: Neither of these men have proven themselves to be must-watch TV. Holtzman is someone who is relatively well-rounded, but who relies on holding a significant advantage in either the striking or the grappling to get things done. He’s also just fairly slow. Patrick is another one of lightweights great neutralizers, and there seems little reason to assume that he’s not just going to take Holtzman down a whole lot. Alan Patrick by unanimous decision.

Eddie Mercado: Hot Sauce bout to turn up the heat with them knuckle sammiches! WAR HOLTZMAN !!!

Victor Rodriguez: Calm down, Eddie. Damn. You can go make a sandwich during this one. Alan Patrick by nullification decision.

Staff picking Holtzman: Eddie
Staff picking Patrick: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Tim, Victor

Lina Lansberg vs. Yana Kunitskaya

Phil Mackenzie: At 36 years old, Lansberg just kind of is what she is. She’s heavily reliant on getting the clinch, and really not particularly great anywhere else. Kunitskaya is still clearly developing: perhaps she’ll always be a bit too willing to chase weird submissions and low-percentage moves to ever be an elite striking or grappling threat, but she’s well rounded and likely has a pronounced advantage on the outside, and isn’t even much worse in the clinch. Yana Kunitskaya by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Lana’s striking is more refined overall, but Yana’s got those Taekwondo kicks to keep the range. When she decides that all of that goes out the window, it just turns into ugly brawls. That’s worked with lesser-level fighters, but Lansberg will willingly and happily engage in a war of attrition. Lina Lansberg by decision.

Staff picking Lansberg: Victor
Staff picking Kunitskaya: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Tim, Phil, Eddie

Gray Maynard vs. Nik Lentz

Phil Mackenzie: I just don’t want to see Gray Maynard anymore. Lentz remains himself: a tough, gritty, active fighter. Maynard is none of those things. Nik Lentz by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: I would’ve reversed my pick if this happened a few years earlier. Nik Lentz by TKO.

Eddie Mercado: I still haven’t gotten over Gray knocking himself out. Nik Lentz by Lentzing.

Victor Rodriguez: Oh, why the hell not. Reckless underdog pick incoming: Gray Maynard by TKO.

Staff picking Maynard: Bissell, Harry, Tim, Victor
Staff picking Lentz: Nick, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Phil, Eddie

Ryan LaFlare vs. Tony Martin

Phil Mackenzie: In amongst this long stretch of “sort of interesting but probably not that actually good” we have LaFlare vs Martin. It’s hard to know where LaFlare is at- he’s got a movement-heavy high pace wrestleboxer style which is designed to pick up rounds rather than finishes, and he’s not exactly young. A fall-off in athleticism will likely hurt him pretty bad. That being said, he still looked fine against Alex Oliveira, he was just out-horsepowered by a much more dynamic fighter. Martin may actually be the more active and even the fresher fighter down the stretch, but it’s hard not to think of him getting consistently outwrestled by OAM. Ryan LaFlare by unanimous decision.

Eddie Mercado: As the fight is in progress, Martin is going to talk himself into winning with his striking. Tony Martin by unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I love this fight. Two tough wrestlers, and one of them can do more damage on the feet than the other? Not bad. I expect wild grappling exchanges off clinches and LaFlare going for an off-kilter submission any time Martin’s ground strikes start to be too much. In the end, the fighter with better control gets the nod. Tony Martin by decision.

Staff picking LaFlare: Harry, Mookie, Ram, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Martin: Bissell, Nick, Eddie, Victor


Who wins the featured preliminary card fight?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Pettis by stoppage
    (57 votes)
  • 12%
    Formiga by stoppage
    (36 votes)
  • 57%
    Pettis by decision
    (172 votes)
  • 10%
    Formiga by decision
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
299 votes total Vote Now