The BE team is here to provide you with our predictions for UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw, aka the UFC’s debut show of the ESPN era. Most of us are going with T.J. Dillashaw to make history and become the first “champ-champ” to win his second belt by moving down in weight. As for the co-main event, it’s overwhelmingly in Greg Hardy’s favor over Allen Crowder, although myself and Phil Mackenzie are picking Crowder for the hell of it.
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.
Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Anton Tabuena: Cejudo has been constantly improving, and while TJ has better finishing ability, I think Cejudo has the speed and technical ability to also cause problems on the feet, especially if he has that constant takedown threat. If Cejudo can take him down, he probably won’t do much damage, but he can score points and wear on TJ’s compromised gas tank. Dillashaw is still more dangerous and more diverse overall, but he won’t be the faster fighter and I feel like he has to end it early or risk slowing down and dropping the later rounds. If this was at bantamweight, I would probably pick Dillashaw, but now, I’m not quite sure. There’s a lot of question marks with TJ’s cut, and I think that opens it up for a good chance of an upset on the judges scorecards. Henry Cejudo by Split Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I can’t bring myself to pick Cejudo. On Tuesday I thought he’d win, but then changed my mind for good on Wednesday. Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely can win this. Cejudo is the better wrestler and Dillashaw’s chin and gas tank could potentially be worse off with this rough cut down to 125. He’s also a very improved striker, particularly his boxing, and he’ll have the speed advantage. The problem I have with Cejudo is that he’s not high-volume, whereas Dillashaw historically is. Dillashaw is a much better kicker than Cejudo and works in combination more fluidly than Henry, and I think it’s a bad idea if Cejudo wants to exchange in the pocket. Dillashaw’s style is better suited for this particular matchup in terms of winning rounds, and I don’t think Cejudo can win a high-paced volume kickboxing match. It should be a really good, technical fight though. T.J. Dillashaw by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I’ve felt for awhile now that Dillashaw has quietly established himself as an all time great, and this is a great opportunity for him to prove that. In the past five years he’s had one split decision loss - and I don’t think he lost that fight. He looked terrific in the Garbrandt fights, and has over the years shown off so many terrific aspects to his game. All that said, Cejudo is coming off a win over the greatest non-Jon Jones fighter in the sport today, and it’s entirely possible I’m again underrating him. But I don’t think so. TJ Dillashaw, Dec
Zane Simon: I have minor concerns about Dillashaw’s willingness to go to war against Cejudo’s speed early, but everything else seems to push toward a Dillashaw win. Cejudo hasn’t been a finisher in his UFC career and Dillashaw is tough as nails. Dillashaw is the more deft, well-rounded striker, and I’d be surprised if Cejudo can put him down. TJ might even get a late stoppage, but even without that, his volume and consistency should see him winning rounds. TJ Dillashaw by decision.
Shakiel Mahjouri: I may have failed senior math in high school but I like to think of myself as a statistics man. Traditionally, multi-division champions have had more success moving down vs. moving up in weight classes. Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Daniel Cormier, and Amanda Nunes can all attest to that. Now there are a lot of holes in that argument. To that I say, I failed senior math in high school, remember? Nevertheless, I don’t like uncertainty and Dillashaw at flyweight is too confusing for this simpleton. Henry Cejudo by decision.
Staff picking Cejudo: Dayne, Tim, Anton, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Dillashaw: Harry, Nick, Fraser, Mookie, Phil, Zane
Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder
Anton Tabuena: I hope I’m wrong. Greg Hardy by KO.
Mookie Alexander: Yeah, this is just me doing pure wishful thinking. 95% chance Hardy knocks Crowder out in two minutes. I’m rooting for the 5% of Crowder sparking Hardy out. Allen Crowder by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Look, don’t go to this sport expecting morality tales. There’s no karma in fighting, nothing mandates good guys winning and bad guys losing. That being said, it would be pretty funny on several levels to watch Greg Hardy get knocked out. Allen Crowder by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Nothing about this matchup suggests Hardy doesn’t KO him in a round other than Hardy being really inexperienced. Hardy by KO, round 1.
Shakiel Mahjouri: Hardy is about to put a whooping on Allen in the most undeserved co-main event bout in recent memory. Hardy by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Hardy: Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Tim, Anton, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Crowder: Phil, Mookie
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
Mookie Alexander: Gillespie is willing to brawl if he wants to, but that seems like a bad idea against Medeiros. Yancy is a slow starter and Gillespie is tailor made to shut down his scrambles. I expect Gillespie to get this fight to the ground and just dominate Medeiros and then finish him. Gregor Gillespie by submission, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: I enjoy the hilarious size discrepancies that the UFC matchmakers seem to enjoy putting Gillespie up against. The basic dynamic isn’t dissimilar to his fights against Franca or Gonzalez - he’s up against a big, dynamic dude who has multiple ways of finishing fights but who is something of a defensive void everywhere. Given that Medeiros is a slow starter and thus will struggle to take out Gillespie before he closes in, this seems reasonably clear-cut. Gregor Gillespie by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Medeiros isn’t the worst takedown defender and he can be really dangerous with time in open space to set up strikes. But, he’s not a consistent pressure fighter and when he backs up he is wide open to be hit or to let an opponent in on his hips. That should be too much given away against a constant pressure wrestler like Gillespie. Gregor Gillespie by decision.
Shakiel Mahjouri: I don’t think people are giving Medeiros enough credit, but maybe I am being influenced by his good vibes. I would like to think his training with Max Holloway will payoff big on Saturday night. Sparring in the gym and fighting in the octagon are two different things and thus far Gillespie has been perfect. The stand-out wrestler is more vulnerable on the feet than some may think, but it is going to be a bad night for Medeiros if Gillespie gets things to the ground early. Gregor Gillespie by decision.
Staff picking Gillespie: Phil, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Medeiros: Harry
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
Mookie Alexander: I’d have probably picked Ortiz if Benavidez hadn’t looked sublime against Alex Perez. We know that Benavidez’s cardio can still hold up, as he came back reasonably well against Sergio Pettis in the final round of a losing effort. Ortiz has become more of a finishing threat as of late, which is a pleasant surprise, but Benavidez is still crafty enough that he should be able to outwork him and outstrike him as he did in the first fight. And Ortiz isn’t going to outwrestle him, either. Joseph Benavidez by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Ortiz has improved in his ability to sit down on punches and trust himself in the pocket a bit more rather than just trying to out-tough opponents. Unfortunately, should Joe B still be present in some meaningful way, this is still a rough style matchup for Ortiz, because Benavidez will be consistently forcing him to work at a high pace. Given that fight I think he still loses his head, swings, and gets outworked. Joseph Benavidez by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Ortiz has looked good lately, but the reasons why don’t really feel like strong cases for him to beat Benavidez. He’s quicker on the trigger with his counters and more willing to sit down on punches. But, he doesn’t have the kind of pressure volume striking or defensive footwork to counter Benavidez’s speed and volume. If he’s going to try and pick off Joe-B with single counters or try and lead with 1-2s Benavidez should be able to land 2-3 strikes for every one he gets hit with. And I can’t bank on Ortiz out-wrestling him. Joseph Benavidez by decision.
Shakiel Mahjouri: Why anyone still doubts Joseph Benavidez is beyond me. It was a crime that he came into his last fight as an underdog. I would like to think I’m an open-minded person -- unless you say anything bad about 2003’s Knights of the Old Republic -- but I refuse to believe Ortiz has the recipe to beat Benavidez. Joseph Benavidez by decision.
Staff picking Benavidez: Phil, Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane, Shak
Staff picking Ortiz: Stephie
Paige VanZant vs. Rachael Ostovich
Mookie Alexander: Sentimentally I’m rooting for Ostovich to win. It is admittedly hard to get a read on this fight because VanZant has seemingly stalled out in terms of her development. That said, she’s fought a higher level of competition and Ostovich really hasn’t. VanZant has the edge as a striker and I think Ostovich puts herself in as many bad spots as she does good spots on the mat for a submission. I’ll go with Paige VanZant by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: This is a fight booked because both fighters are good-looking, and despite the obvious clash with Greg Hardy in the co-main. PVZ isn’t a world-beater, but she’s generally consistently aggressive and has a significant athleticism advantage over Ostovich, who is an OK boxer and opportunistic submission grappler. Whether VanZant goes for her slightly aimless outside kicking game, or goes to her clinch game, she should be able to ride speed and power advantages. Paige VanZant by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: VanZant is likely the better athlete, and she reacts better to opponents getting in her face and taking the fight to her. Ostovich can get a bit taken out of her game when she’s on the wrong end of strikes. VanZant’s overall style has been getting less effective it feels like, but her combo of dynamic range kicking and crashing the clinch for dirty boxing will likely push her for the win if she can stick to it for 15 minutes. Paige VanZant by decision.
Shakiel Mahjouri: This is too big a step-up for Ostovich (4-4). PVZ might not be the world-calibre fighter the UFC would like her to be, but she has a versatile skill set and incredible toughness. Pair that with her octagon experience against the likes of Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson and this should be PVZ’s fight to lose. Paige VanZant by decision.
Staff picking PVZ: Harry, Nick, Phil, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Ostovich:
Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson
Mookie Alexander: I think the Mutante fight gives me a good idea of how Teixeira likely wins this one against Roberson. There’s still very much a chance Glover goes from “shop worn” to “shot” overnight, and Roberson is able to just work him over on the feet, but Glover has a clear grappling advantage that he should use to get the W.
Phil Mackenzie: “How shot is Glover?”, with a side of “how bad is 205?” In general, even in his worst performances Glover has been able to close into the clinch, and once he’s there he’s a very good wrestler and a monstrous top position grappler. Roberson is fairly dynamic and there’s a chance he could just erase Teixeira before that happens, but he’s also a middleweight who isn’t a particularly sturdy grappler. Glover Teixeira by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Teixeira may not be the same top contender that he once was, and he may seem a bit more prone to getting stung by strikes. But, he’s still not fragile. It took Gustafsson 5 rounds of clubbing him to get the TKO and Anderson just had to beat him up for the distance. Roberson has the power and speed to shut Glover’s lights out quick, but I can’t bet on that. And if not, Glover’s size and wrestling and top grappling should do the job to get Roberson down and have him floundering off his back again. Glover by submission, round 1.
Shakiel Mahjouri: Teixeira’s time as a legitimate title challenger has come and gone; nevertheless, he is among the most experienced and explosive punchers in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division. Roberson has less than a quarter of Teixeira’s professional fighting experience and has yet to really prove himself a threat in the UFC. Glover Teixeira by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Teixeira: Phil, Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Roberson:
Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez
Anton Tabuena: I think Cerrone has enough veteran savvy and gas left in the tank to score a victory here. Donald Cerrone by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Hernandez is younger, more athletic, faster, but I’m not so sure his skills are that well-refined as of yet. Usually that’s not the type of fighter who beats Cerrone. It is possible Donald’s move back to 155 is a poor one and he’ll look a shadow of himself, but the Perry win showed he’s got something left in the tank, and I think Hernandez’s striking will leave him open to counters, plus Cerrone’s takedown defense is better than advertised. Even if he does get taken down, I suspect Cerrone can scramble his way out of danger and potentially put Hernandez in trouble. I’m going with Cowboy to halt the Hernandez train. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Hernandez looks like a real blue-chip prospect: athletic, confident, well-rounded. On the surface, however, he doesn’t appear to present the issues which have traditionally troubled Cerrone. He can’t match Cowboy’s reach, isn’t a southpaw, and doesn’t have a defined pressure game. Instead he tends to blitz in behind stance changes and crash into the clinch. Cerrone has typically been fairly good at dealing with people who are compelled to rush him (Alvarez et al). The obvious X-factor is how shopworn Cerrone is starting to look: it’s been a long, hard career. He’s still obviously got something left in the tank, which is what I’m banking on, but don’t be surprised if he suddenly looks old in there. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There’s a real chance that youth, toughness, and cardio just push Hernandez by Cerrone. But I don’t think it’d be skill if Hernandez gets the win. And with that said, opponents have usually needed a high degree of skill to beat ‘Cowboy’. Hernandez can definitely stay on him, but I think his wild offense just leaves too many openings, either for a tricky sub or a counter combo. Still, I’m not going to be too shocked if Cerrone just looks flat and Hernandez out-hustles him for a decision. Donald Cerrone by submission, round 2.
Shakiel Mahjouri: I would normally pick experience over youth in circumstances like these. What Hernandez’s performance against Olivier Aubin-Mercier showed me, however, is this young gun has brains to match his incredible athleticism. He has all the pressure on Earth to have Cerrone on the backfoot. Furthermore, I don’t believe Hernandez will be as reckless as Mike Perry and Yancy Medeiros were against ‘Cowboy’. Alexander Hernandez by decision.
Staff picking Cerrone: Phil, Nick, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane
Staff picking Hernandez: Harry, Fraser, Dayne, Stephie, Shak
Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
Zane Simon: Lipski isn’t the worst matchup for Calderwood. Her striking volume plummets out at range and she’s made some bad decision in grappling exchanges. Both things that Calderwood has the length and skill to take advantage of. But, Lipski is just so clearly faster and more powerful a striker inside that Calderwood and Calderwood is too prone to getting out-horsed in tight by better athletes or just taken out of her offensive flow by more dynamic fighters. Ariane Lipski by decision.
Staff picking Calderwood: Tim, Anton
Staff picking Lipski: Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Phil, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Castro
Zane Simon: Menifield is clearly faster, more coordinated and more powerful. Castro has a grappling game that Menifield almost certainly lacks, but without a great deal of wrestling skill, it’s hard to see how he gets the fight down easily. And in the meantime, he has to eat Menifield’s punches. Alonzo Menifield by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Menifield: Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Phil, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Castro:
Cory Sandhagen vs. Mario Bautista
Zane Simon: Bautista’s wrestle-grappling heavy aggressive approach definitely could cause trouble for Sandhagen, but Bautista also looks really raw. There’s just not a lot of depth to his game anywhere. And as we’ve seen from Sandhagen, he’s double-tough and able to ride out bad spots to produce offense. And his Dillashaw-esque striking style has been really effective. He’s just too much better standing for me to pick Bautista, who doesn’t seem like he’s worlds better on the ground. Cory Sandhagen by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Sandhagen: Phil, Harry, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Zane, Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Bautista:
Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards
Phil Mackenzie: Te Jovan Edwards just got overwhelmed by a South African prospect. Dennis Bermudez, paper chin and crappy defense aside, is not much of a bounceback. Dennis Bermudez by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Bermudez arguably won each of his last 3 fights (he definitely won that Fili fight at least), but he’s also clearly losing some of the dynamic bullishness that made him a near-elite talent a few years ago. Still, a loss to Edwards, who really looks like a raw physical fighter with few technical tools, would be a huge step back. Dennis Bermudez by decision.
Staff picking Bermudez: Phil, Harry, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Anton, Zane, Shak
Staff picking Edwards: Nick, Tim, Stephie
Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal
Phil Mackenzie: Low-key one of my favourite bouts on the card. Neal looked phenomenal in polishing off Frank Camacho with straight punches and a nasty head kick, seemingly setting himself on an inevitable collision course with Curtis Millender. Belal Remember The Name Muhammad is here to spoil that, though. While at a size and athleticism disparity, he has a clever and coherent game, which he’s been able to reconfigure for different opponents. In this case, the Randy Brown approach feels like it would offer dividends: lateral movement, leg kicks to disrupt the stance, and judicious clinch takedowns, while keeping a pace just a bit too high for Neal’s comfort. Belal Remember The Name Muhammad by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Muhammad decides to have a straight kickboxing match with Neal, he may not come out on the right end of the speed and power exchange. And there’s also a chance that Neal can do to him what Luque did, especially since Muhammad often needs time to establish his game in the cage. But, Muhammad is a willing and decent wrestler, works well behind his jab in combination, has generally been difficult to put away, and has one of the highest work rates at 170. That all feels like too much for a fighter who, at the moment looks mostly like a very dangerous, evenly paced kickboxer and little else. Belal Muhammad by decision.
Staff picking Muhammad: Phil, Harry, Fraser, Dayne, Tim, Anton, Zane
Staff picking Neal: Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Shak
Chance Rencountre vs. Kyle Stewart
Zane Simon: Neither of these guys is very good at all, and both have major gaps in their game. Rencountre tends to do little from range until he leaps into the pocket for a flurry where he can be timed and caught hard. Stewart seems to be a very slow paced power puncher who wants top control for GnP and sub hunting, but doesn’t have a great wrestling game. I sort of trust Rencountre’s mess of a style more than Stewarts... I guess. But flip a coin. Take a chance. Chance Rencountre by decision.
Staff picking Rencountre: Dayne, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Stewart: Harry, Nick, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Shak
Who wins the UFC Brooklyn main event?
This poll is closed
Dillashaw by stoppage
Cejudo by stoppage
Dillashaw by decision
Cejudo by decision