The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for UFC 237, and opinion is split as to who will win the strawweight title fight between champion Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade. Isn’t it great when we don’t all pick the same fighter? In the co-main, most of us are going with Jared Cannonier over the great Anderson Silva.
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.
Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade
Anton Tabuena: This should be a pretty tough fight for Namajunas, being that Andrade will probably be the much physically stronger fighter with constant pressure and a very high work-rate.
Andrade has improved a lot, and her loss to Joanna isn’t the best comparison — Joanna is bigger than Rose, which helped handle Andrade’s physicality, and they have vastly different styles/power on the feet. But that being said, Joanna was able to pick her apart outside and control distance, and that could be Rose’s avenue for victory as well. Namajunas has far better striking technique than Andrade and will have good footwork that could negate a lot of her strenghts. She also has underrated power and a tricky submission game. So while I think it can go either way, I’m picking the more technical fighter in Namajunas to defend her belt. Rose Namajunas by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I get why you would pick Andrade. She is supremely powerful both with her striking and physically imposing game. Her cardio seems limitless and she loves to come forward and put pressure on people. At the same time, crafty fighters with superior footwork can often make her look sloppy and a bit out of sorts. Namajunas is the type of fighter who can do just that. Add in that Namajunas has a crafty ground game and Andrade has been vulnerable to submissions in the past, and I just think that Thug Rose is going to be too skilled for Andrade. There is still very much the danger that Andrade just bullies Namajunas something fierce, but I think Rose has got this. Rose Namajunas by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I’ve been feeling like Jessica Andrade is poison for Rose Namajunas for some time now. Really since Namajunas lost to Kowalkiewicz and then Andrade beat Gadelha. I’m just not at all sure that Namajunas is a willing enough back-foot range fighter to keep Andrade off of her. Against Joanna and Waterson, Namajunas had opponents who would willingly backpedal to try and maintain the edges of striking distance. And in those matchups, her length, technical boxing and diversity shined. But against someone who is just going to relentlessly push forward. Who is going to ask her to back up all the time or try and dive into the clinch and control the fight from there? Namajunas will have a lot of opportunities to counter Andrade hard as Andrade looks to swarm her. And Andrade’s footwork isn’t exactly inescapable, but if Rose can’t help but meat Andrade on Andrade’s terms? I see Andrade winning that fight. Jessica Andrade via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Andrade has strength, underrated striking and a heavy top game with blitzing advances to initiate exchanges on the feet. I’m still reluctant to pick her because Rose has really good movement, underestimated strength in her strikes and a fantastic submission game. Rose’s slick counters could make the difference here. Thug Rose by decision.
Staff picking Namajunas: Phil, Mookie, Tim, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Andrade: Nick, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Anderson Silva vs. Jared Cannonier
Anton Tabuena: Anderson Silva’s reaction time and durability is clearly not the same anymore. If Silva stops sticking to counter striking and dancing around that he’s been used to ... if he just starts first, and makes Cannonier react instead of the other way around, he has a very very good chance of winning this. He is still a very very good offensive, technical fighter, who should be able to win this, but if he relies on his significantly slowed reaction time to before launching that offense, he will get clipped and badly hurt. That said, I think it’s more likely that Silva sticks to what he does, and will mostly just counter and have his moments, until he get hit hard. If he doesn’t get finished instantly, he will be down on the cards. And with nothing left to prove at this stage of his career, Silva again won’t feel the need to recoup and be okay just surviving and putting on a show despite another clear loss. Jared Cannonier by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Actually… Silva probably should win this? I mean he clearly lost to Israel Adesanya but he was at least more than reasonably competitive. He’s still got enough in the tank to outpoint Cannonier in a potentially dull scrap. Cannonier has been knocked out a couple of times before, albeit one of them at heavyweight. His other weakness is his defensive wrestling, but it’s not like Silva is going to exploit that. Where Cannonier differs from Adesanya is he’s likely going to be more willing to throw and land serious power shots, and it might not take too many for him to win rounds that way in a low output type of deal. Silva just feels like he’s fighting for the sake of competition and not so much to actually win these days, so that goes a long way towards me picking Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I picked Shogun to beat Smith, and that ended being a very bad call, but I cannot shake the feeling that Cannonier is... just not very good? His performances against defined range strikers in Reyes and Blachowicz were straight up dreadful. Conversely, Silva at least did OK against Adesanya, and it’s worth noting that while the iron chin is clearly not there any more, he hasn’t actually been knocked out since that first Weidman KO. Anderson Silva by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Anderson Silva is likely still slick enough to not get slept and to land good shots on Jared Cannonier. That could be enough. It was enough for Dominick Reyes, after all. But... I don’t think Anderson is really that interested in winning fights. I don’t think he cares about putting together or sticking to the kind of gameplan that would get him a win. He’ll likely have a few exciting moments, and he’ll probably look and feel dangerous to make Cannonier pause. But frankly he probably didn’t deserve the decision against Derek Brunson. Against a much more coordinated fighter that can keep pressure better? Jared Cannonier by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Cannonier isn’t gonna be dumb enough to just run at Silva and bumrush him with a sloppy takedown attempt. He’ll strike to get to the clinch and attempt to outmuscle and outwork Silva inside, but need to be wary of remaining inactive or giving up distance to the point where Silva gets comfortable and loose with his strikes. Silva’s decline and inconsistency can’t lead me to pick him in any way here, though. Jared Cannonier by decision.
Staff picking Silva: Phil, Tim
Staff picking Cannonier: Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Jose Aldo vs. Alex Volkanovski
Anton Tabuena: With a seemingly tough cut and a pretty dangerous opponent, I have a pretty bad feeling that this is the first time Aldo gets badly destroyed by someone not named Max Holloway. After all, he is an old 32, and has taken a significant amount of damage since he was 18. But I’ll be logical here, and until I actually see a drastic decline from Aldo, I am not ready to pick any other featherweight contender to beat him, or declare him shot and over the hill just yet. Jose Aldo by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I gave serious thought to picking Volkanovski, in part because I’ve picked against him the last two times and that went poorly. Volkanovski showed more out of his striking against Chad Mendes than against any other UFC opponent, but can he replicate his success against Jose? I have my doubts. Aldo’s takedown defense is legitimately the greatest I’ve ever seen. I don’t think Volkanovski will be able to just grind Aldo out against the fence and make things an ugly clinch battle and positioning for underhooks, etc. In a range kickboxing match, Aldo still has the tools and (perhaps most importantly) the speed to really make life difficult for the Australian. There’s no need to bury Jose just yet, he’s got one more big win in him at the very least. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: One of the most intriguing fights on the card, and certainly the one that scares me the most. Jose Aldo is on a quest to ensure that no gravedigger’s ass remains unviolated, storming through the featherweight contenders, while Volkanovski has also seemed unstoppable. For me the main question is around whether Volkanovski can move Aldo back to the fence as he did Mendes. This has normally been an exceptionally tough ask, as Aldo’s cage awareness and footwork are unparalleled. In an open space kickboxing match, I’m not sure I can trust Volkanovski’s relatively limited offense (jab and body kick) and defensive (high guard) tools to pick up two out of three rounds. I’m still not sold on Aldo’s cardio, and were this 25 minutes, I might well pick the Australian, but Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I’m seeing flashes of elite level Volkanovski as a fighter. But I’m still not exactly sure what that is. Against Mendes, he largely did nothing early, and once Mendes started throwing, he hurt Volkanovski immediately. Mendes fell to pieces and Volkanovski recovered magnificently. But I’m still not seeing a lot of tools beyond a very dedicated wrestling game (which is notably unlikely to work on Aldo) and a power right hand (which has been pretty easy for most opponents to see coming). He’s tough and knows how to fight hard late, so he could just push Aldo’s cardio early and see what happens. But doing that got him tagged more than a few times by Darren Elkins. With Aldo delivering those shots, I’m less certain Volkanovski makes it three rounds. And if he plays it slow like he did against Mendes, he’s essentially giving Aldo time to get all his reads... just like he did against Moicano. A slow fight plays into Aldo’s hands, and a fast one is incredibly dangerous. I’m betting slow, and Jose Aldo by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Alex is great, yet i don’t think this is his moment. Aldo’s bodywork, clinches, leg kicks and wrestling defense will give him the edge, along with his reads and movement leading to counters and hard offense. Jose Aldo by TKO.
Staff picking Aldo: Nick, Dayne, Phil, Tim, Zane, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Volkanovski: Stephie
Thiago Alves vs. Laureano Staropoli
Anton Tabuena: Laureano won’t be the next Star, but Alves is just not the same fighter anymore. Laureano Staropoli by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: There’s no doubt that Alves is in the twilight of his career, and I thought he got a gift win vs. Max Griffin last time out, but he still is a danger offensively and a massive step up from the not-very-good Hector Aldana. Staropoli’s record is still thoroughly uninspiring and while he loves a scrap, I don’t think he’s the type of guy even a 2019 Alves loses to. Thiago Alves by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Another aging Brazilian fighting against someone that he probably would have mopped up on in his prime. Staropoli is a straight-up brawler and I guess I still just about trust Alves to beat those guys. Thiago Alves by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I don’t like this and I don’t like the pick I’m making. But while Staropoli is wild and not exactly a beautiful technician, he is big and tough and just pours on power offense. Alves won, but he almost got slept early a couple times against Max Griffin. My guess is this is a wild sloppy brawl where both men have big chances to finish. But, I’ll go with the younger guy who seems less likely to get hurt badly early on. Laureano Staropoli by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Alves: Nick, Dayne, Tim, Phil, Mookie
Staff picking Staropoli: Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Irene Aldana vs. Bethe Correia
Anton Tabuena: Even with the size advantage from badly missing weight, I think Aldana will bust up Correia easily. Irene Aldana by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Correia is going to give Aldana exactly the fight she wants, and she’s going to be way outgunned. Irene Aldana by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I like Bethe Correia. That being said, this is yet another fight where she’s going to struggle just because she has no real offensive weapons apart from a well-coached boxing game, and Aldana is bigger, more aggressive and tougher. Should actually be a hell of a lot of fun. Irene Aldana by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Mostly what Phil said. Correia seems like she works hard, plans well, and fights the best she can. But she also walks the narrowest of lines to success, and any big moments of offense from her opponent can derail it. Aldana isn’t always the most consistent fighter defensively and can lose track of her range. But she’s big and powerful and steps into the pocket more than Holly Holm. Irene Aldana via TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Bethe’s successes in the cage have largely depended on volume striking against less capable fighters. That bad weight cut coupled with an opponent that has slick boxing that won’t fall for her okey-doke and can move out of the way? Bad combo for Lady Pitbull. Jaguar Woman takes this. Irene Aldana by decision.
Staff picking Aldana: Nick, Dayne, Phil, Mookie, Tim, Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Correia:
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Ryan Spann
Anton Tabuena: Another fighter on the card that has probably exceeded their career’s life Spann... Ryan Spann by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Spann either finishes him in a round or Lil’ Nog comes back and turns back the clock for another win. Your heroes get old. Ryan Spann by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Lil’ Nog has managed to do surprisingly well against people who are as cripplingly slow as he is (Cummins, Alvey etc). Unfortunately, that doesn’t look to be Spann. Ryan Spann by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Spann isn’t so technical that Nog couldn’t out-slick him behind the jab cross. But Spann is huge and fast and not actually terrible anywhere. It just seems like a case where Spann can be too fast to hit easily and throw hard enough to put Lil’ Nog away with any one well landed shot. And if not, he may just be able to take him down and beat him up from top control. Ryan Spann via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Nogueira: Tim, Victor
Staff picking Spann: Nick, Dayne, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Anton
Thiago Moises vs. Kurt Holobaugh
Phil Mackenzie: Is Kurt Holobaugh’s takedown defense very good? It is not. Will it be tested in this fight? Quite possibly. But I like Holobaugh. He’s crafty, aggressive and big, and better than his UFC record indicates, and Moises looked like he very much did not enjoy being the man who didn’t dictate the fight against Dariush. Kurt Holobaugh by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Moises seems like a very good grappler without any good plan to actually grapple. He swarms forward with defensively open power combos, but is equally willing to give up real estate to pressure and work with his back to the cage, where he mostly just gets beat up and tries to jump on standing subs. Holobaugh loves to fight off the front foot, has a great chin, and throws with a bunch of power. He’s definitely susceptible to good wrestling and grappling. But, without the wrestling, I’m not willing to take a chance on Moises hitting the hail mary like Burgos did. Kurt Holobaugh via decision.
Staff picking Moises: Nick, Dayne, Tim, Mookie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Holobaugh: Phil, Zane, Victor
B.J. Penn vs. Clay Guida
Anton Tabuena: Drug abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse allegations. I’m not even sure I will be as sad seeing the inevitable happen here anymore. Guida will hand Penn yet another bad loss and keep him winless in the past decade. Clay Guida by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Nope. Clay Guida by something sad.
Phil Mackenzie: Why did you ever like BJ Penn anyway? As the abuse allegations roll in and the losses rack up you might find yourself looking back and thinking: when did this man actually do anything that indicated he was a good person? Despite all his “real fighter” bloviating, when did he have a tough match and then come through adversity to win? Maybe Just Scrap and the inability to train properly and this ongoing and blackly comical attempt to scrabble back up the long slide are all facets of the same delusion. He’s probably going to get finished by Clay Guida... but at least Guida always put 100% into his career. A lot of the things you liked when you were younger were lies, but you have rarely been offered the educational gift of seeing those lies be smashed in front of you. Accept the gift. Clay Guida by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Guida still has a gas tank and most of a chin. Penn doesn’t have much of either, even if he would have smoked Guida 50x out of 50 10 years ago. That was 10 years ago. Clay Guida via TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: I welcome readers and listeners of our podcasts to disagree with me anytime, and often. You got some massive nuts the size of Botswana to disagree with me here. Clay Guida by whatever, just make it short.
Staff picking Penn:
Staff picking Guida: Phil, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Raoni Barcelos vs. Carlos Huachin
Mookie Alexander: Huachin has three wins (out of ten) over fighters who currently have winning records. He’s a short notice replacement. This is a squash match. Raoni Barcelos by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Is there a reason to pick Huachin over Raoni Barcelos? There is not. Raoni Barcelos by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Huachin will be a fun pressure volume boxer, but he’ll also likely walk right into a double leg and get insta-subbed. Raoni Barcelos via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Barcelos: Phil, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Huachin:
Luana Carolina vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Phil Mackenzie: Big, aggressive, arm-punching strawweights meet in a sloppy brawl. There really isn’t much between them that I can see, but I’ll take Cachoeira just because she’s fought half-decent competition before and knows what it’s like. Priscila Cachoeira by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Carolina doesn’t take to being pressured or hit all that well, but she’s actually got some technique on her offense. Cachoeira will always keep swinging, but that wasn’t enough to beat Molly McCann let alone Valentina Shevchenko. If Carolina just stays in the fight and lands slightly better shots the whole time, I think she can take it. Luana Carolina by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I feel bad doing this, but I don’t trust Cachoeira at all in any capacity. So much so, I’m not even gonna look up Luana’s record or watch any of her performances. I know what I’m getting here. Luana Carolina by Dragon Punch.
Staff picking Carolina: Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Victor, Anton
Staff picking Cachoeira: Tim, Phil
Warlley Alves vs. Sergio Moraes
Phil Mackenzie: This could seriously be a Brunson-Silva type performance, where a far more athletically overwhelming fighter gets baffled and outfoxed by a crafty, weird veteran. Alves’ performance against Krause was simply appalling. Moraes has been consistently incredibly tough and difficult to finish, and Alves just doesn’t seem to know how to win rounds if he can’t guillotine his opponent. Oh god I’m going to pick Sergio Moraes, aren’t I. I’ve made way too many old person picks on this card and that is never a good sign. Sergio Moraes by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Not unlike the main event, the question here is really, does Alves have it in him to be elusive for 15 minutes as Moraes tries to pressure. Can Alves constantly win clinch battles over a dangerous grappler with a decent takedown game? I don’t feel like he can. Alves still seems to be battling indecision over how best to conserve his gas tank. Moraes is likely to force a fast start out of him, and catch him down the stretch. Sergio Moraes by submission, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: I love Moraes and it hurts to pick against him, but Warlley can crack, and he comes into his fights kinda heavy. Serginho’s striking can fluster Warlley for a while, but not enough to do substantial damage or get the fight to the ground where he wants it. Warlley Alves by decision.
Staff picking Alves: Nick, Dayne, Victor
Staff picking Moraes: Mookie, Tim, Phil, Stephie, Zane, Anton
Talita Bernardo vs. Viviane Araujo
Phil Mackenzie: OK wrestler (Bernardo) meets submission player who fights off their back (Araujo). This fight tends to go one of two ways, and one way is more likely than the other. Talita Bernardo by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Bernardo can get takedowns she definitely can win. But she’s also very willing to let herself be pressured into ineffective offense off her back foot. And Araujo is very consistent about pressuring and (at least lately) maintaining the pocket to kickbox. An ugly win over Sarah Moras doesn’t inspire confidence. And while Araujo fights a lot smaller normally, she’s also taller than Bernardo, who has hardly been an imposing athlete. The short notice and the weight make it a question. But the raw matchup feels much more like one Araujo can make work. Where as Bernardo has kind of had to been given her fight to win it. Viviane Araujo by decision.
Staff picking Bernardo: Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Tim, Stephie, Phil, Anton
Staff picking Araujo: Zane, Victor