The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC Copenhagen, and brace yourselves because we all picked Jack Hermansson over Jared Cannonier in the main event. That must mean Cannonier is going to win. Same thing for Mark O. Madsen against Danilo Belluardo, so we really are tempting fate here.
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.
Jack Hermansson vs. Jared Cannonier
Mookie Alexander: Hermansson’s jab and his wrestling seem like the exact combination to trouble Cannonier. There’s no denying that Cannonier’s power -- both his kicks and punches -- are a threat to many at 185 lbs, but I can’t really keep doubting Hermansson’s rise anymore. The way he handled Jacare Souza on short notice sold me on him as a legitimate contender in this division. Cannonier might be a greater danger to get a knockout, but Hermansson is the more well-rounded fighter and I think he outworks Cannonier on the mat and methodically picks apart Jared on the feet to get the W. Jack Hermansson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Cannonier very likely has the power to turn this fight on a dime. But, the variation and the defense is another thing entirely. We’ve seen him struggle badly to get around a jab (against Jan Blachowicz), and to fight off a determined wrestling game in multiple fights now. Hermansson possesses both of those and leans on them heavily for his offense. There’s always potential for a repeat of the Branch fight, where Cannonier was getting swamped right up until he plugged Branch with a huge right hand. But, barring that, Jack Hermansson by decision has to be the pick.
Staff picking Hermansson: Ed, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Cannonier:
Mark Madsen vs. Danilo Belluardo
Mookie Alexander: Not only is Madsen an outstanding Olympic medal-winning wrestler, but he can dance too! Oh… sorry… wrong Mark Madsen dancing there. Mark Madsen by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Madsen is just a better athlete with a deeper wrestling skill set playing the same basic aggressive boxing-to-wrestling style as Belluardo. Tough matchup for the Italian. Mark O. Madsen via TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: What is this? On this shockingly deep card, why is this the co-main event? Mark O Madsen by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Madsen: Ed, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Belluardo:
Gunnar Nelson vs. Gilbert Burns
Mookie Alexander: I think it’s been thoroughly established that Gunnar Nelson isn’t going to challenge for a title at welterweight, and even less so at lightweight where there are just too many guys who can keep the fight standing and prove to be a better striker than him. It is very possible that he loses to Burns, who throws with power almost all the time and he’s an outstanding grappler in his own right. This is a much tougher matchup on paper than Thiago Alves would’ve been, but I have skepticism over Burns’ cardio, his own suspect striking defense, and he figures to be at a speed disadvantage. Ideally we get some intriguing scrambles on the mat between these two, but it’s one of those rare fights were two grapplers in a striking battle won’t be painful to watch. Gunnar Nelson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This is an incredibly tough fight to pick. Neither Burns nor Nelson are known for their fantastic defense, but Burns has a much higher workrate as a striker, while Nelson has generally been tougher. Nelson also feels like the more positionally tight grappler, but Burns the more dangerous moment to moment submission threat, whether he’s on top or playing guard. Eventually, I’ll take Nelson’s toughness and positional strength over Burns’ aggression and finishing instincts, but if Burns comes out and fights his way into some takedowns and gets on top, he may be able to pull out ahead and force Nelson to do a lot of work to get his way back into the fight. Gunnar Nelson by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: On the one hand, Burns has shown himself open to crafty finishers (Hooker) and lacks the sheer toughness of Gunnar. On the other hand, tough functional kickboxer who can kick the legs and grapple is basically the recipe for beating Nelson- is he really all that much better than the version of himself that lost to Rick Story? I’m willing to say yes, but not due to any specific stylistic issues: it’s more than Gunni has just become a bit more potent in every area. He’s gradually shifted a bit more from being a kill-or-die fighter to being one who can pull out a comeback against Oliveira and a last round against Leon Edwards. I think that’s just about enough for me in a fight which, as Zane put, is incredibly hard to pick. Gunnar Nelson by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Nelson: Shak, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Burns: Ed, Dayne, Nick
Ion Cutelaba vs. Khalil Rountree Jr
Mookie Alexander: I don’t like picking this fight because both men have not-good cardio, lots of power, but I’ve seen Rountree get hurt and knocked out whereas Cutelaba usually doesn’t know what to do when someone actually puts him on his back. Cutelaba may be the more well-rounded fighter but the Rountree who fought Eryk Anders was at his most controlled form of his career. Cutelaba could start strongly, find some ridiculous way to get Rountree back into the contest, and Khalil will seize the opportunity. Khalil Rountree Jr by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Rountree looked good in a win over Eryk Anders last time out. Better than ever before, really. But how much of that is down to Anders being amazingly predictable and low output? When Rountree has had his pace and cardio tested, he’s almost always failed. Cutelaba isn’t an incredibly varied fighter, but he’s tough as hell and willing to fight 3 rounds at an insane clip. Can Rountree do that? He still needs to prove it. Ion Cutelaba by TKO, Round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: I can see Cutelaba just walking Rountree down, but I’m also not sure how he holds up against Rountree’s favourite new weapon, the low kick. Typically just being a boxer (let alone a slightly undersized if hyper aggressive one) has been hard to pull off against a fighter who just looks to punt out the front leg whenever someone steps in to throw. Khalil Rountree by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Cutelaba: Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Rountree: Ed, Shak, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Phil
Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Mookie Alexander: I think I’m done trusting OSP. That Krylov fight was really the most telltale sign of physical decline that I’ve seen out of him. Michael Oleksiejzcuk by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Speaking of pace being a problem, OSP has struggled a lot lately with opponents who can keep up a consistent output beyond the first round. Oleksiejczuk is kind of tiny for light heavyweight, but he’s got a great chin, and his lack of size seems to afford him a lot of cardio and speed. OSP always has the chance to one-shot-kill his way out of a loss, but so far Oleksiejczuk has been able to eat those kinds of shots and drown opponents with high output boxing. Michal Oleksiejczuk via decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Oleksiejczuk seems to be a smart fighter who paradoxically learned how to fight way more effectively than the average 205er because he wasn’t insulated by a level of athleticism which mopped everyone on the regional scene for him. Instead he learned how to be a decently crafty fighter by having the sole gift of being immortally tough, and learning functional technique and strategy on the fly. He is the Edge of Tomorrow (lit: All You Need Is Kill) light heavyweight. He can throw body shots. Body shots I tell you! Michal Oleksiejczuk by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Oleksiejczuk: Ed, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking OSP:
Nicolas Dalby vs. Alex Oliveira
Mookie Alexander: I’m not sure Dalby really fits the profile of guys who can give Alex Oliveira fits, although the wars Oliveira has put himself through should be cause for concern about when the wheels will start to fall off. I think Oliveira will be too much for him in the clinch and his heavy kicks and power shots will fell Dalby at some point. Alex Oliveira by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Maybe I just want Dalby to win. His is a story of battling demons to claw his way back into the big show and get an opportunity to fight in front of a home crowd on MMA’s biggest stage. Whereas the last we heard of Alex Oliveira he was running off with his child after fighting with his ex. But, Oliveira has also shown a trend over his UFC career, and it’s one of folding in bouts where he can’t crush his competition early. He starts fast, he fights wild, he’s got tons of athleticism and speed and power. But, if his opponents survive, he tends to get finished. And as Yancy Medeiros showed, it doesn’t even take being an amazing athlete to get that done. Dalby isn’t an amazing athlete, and he’s lost to much less dangerous fighters, but he’s always been amazingly tough and willing to battle through adversity. I expect Oliveira to hurt him bad early on, but if he can’t finish him? Nicolas Dalby by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Speaking of weird fighters, does anyone else find it odd how Dalby lost to the technicians but beat (or drew) with the athletes in his first UFC run? Anyway, should he survive then he’s exactly the kind of gritty, never-say-die workhorse who could panic Oliveira. But it’s also notable that every single person who has beaten Oliveira has at least been a ferociously dangerous finisher and the kind of fighter who could get his respect with dynamic offense. I suspect Dalby tries to clinch and wrestle and then just gets horrible brutalized by the bigger, faster, more powerful fighter. Alex Oliveira by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Dalby: Ed, Shak, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Oliveira: Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Phil
Alen Amedovski vs. John Phillips
Zane Simon: Two dudes whose primary offense is “hit that dude really hard.” Amedovski has more variety to his game between the two of them, but I’m not all that convinced it’s variety he wants to use. If he doesn’t have to wrestle, will he? If he doesn’t have to use footwork to track down an opponent, will he? Phillips is just going to wade forward and throw hooks, but I think he hits harder and may be tougher to finish. It’s not really a great set of skills to pick a fight on here, more of a gut feeling. But I’ll take John Phillips by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: If ever there was an IQ test for Amedovski it is here. Even Jack Marshman figured he could play a back foot countering against John Phillips, and he is not the most diverse or cunning fighter in the UFC. Can Amedovski just... do a takedown? Perhaps. Perhaps. Will be funny if he doesn’t though. Alen Amedovski by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Amedovski: Dayne, Nick, Phil
Staff picking Phillips: Ed, Shak, Mookie, Stephie, Zane
Alessio di Chirico vs. Makhmud Muradov
Zane Simon: Di Chirico has tended to lose any fight in the UFC where his opponent can’t easily be out-skilled in one area at least (usually wrestling). And even when he’s had clear advantages, he’s barely scraped out wins more often than putting together definitive performances. His output is just too low, and his striking offense too one-shot-at-a-time. Makhmud Muradov takes some silly risks when he fights, and depends too much on speed to do the work of defense, but he’s a decent wrestler when he has to be, a good-enough grappler, and can throw long straight strikes with speed and power. And he pushes a good pace. That’s probably enough to beat Alessio Di Chirico. Makhmud Muradov by decision.
Staff picking di Chirico:
Staff picking Muradov: Ed, Shak, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Zane
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Ismail Naurdiev
Zane Simon: I can’t help feel some Luan Chagas vibes here, where Naurdiev will come out looking to trade with Bahadurzada in the pocket and just get clubbered. But he really doesn’t have to. Naurdiev is a great scrambler with a decent offensive wrestling game and a good range kickboxing attack with a lot of variety. Also, he’s never been stopped by strikes before. It’s also hard for me not to feel like Bahadurzada may be fading a bit faster in fights, may not be quite as fast and lethal a counter-puncher as he once was. Bahadurzada is a fantastic KO artist, but it hasn’t taken the highest levels of wrestling or striking to throw him off his game. Ismail Naurdiev by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Given the huge disparity between his debut and sophomore UFC fights, I can’t help but feel that Naurdiev came in way overconfident against Rencountre, assuming that he was going to destroy the giant, unathletic grinder and going 100 miles an hour for the first round. Given that he’s now been given a stark lesson in his own mortality, he’s still a sharper, faster striker who operates from a longer range than Bahadurzada is comfortable with. Ismail Naurdiev by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Bahadurzada: Shak, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie
Staff picking Naurdiev: Ed, Zane
Brandon Davis vs. Giga Chikadze
Zane Simon: Chikadze has never won an MMA fight. That’s all there is to it. The wins on his record are barely even worth being called amateur bouts for the level of competition he faced. He’s a good power striker, but he’s way too easy to take down and not so persistent in his volume that I just automatically trust he lights Davis up. All that said, Davis is the perfect opponent to get Chikadze a highlight KO without exposing the gaps in his game, just because Davis is so willing to stand in the pocket and trade volume. But, until Chikadze wins an actual MMA fight, I’m not gonna pick him. Brandon Davis by decision.
Staff picking Davis: Ed, Shak, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Chikadze:
Macy Chiasson vs. Lina Lansberg
Zane Simon: Alright, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna be the sucker that picks Lansberg. She’s way less athletic, but I do think she’s a lot more focused on being something more than a clinch fighter and actually winning fights. Chiasson is big and powerful and aggressive and may wreck her quickly, but Lansberg has never been that easy to put away early, and I really don’t like how easily Chiasson got herself taken down by Sarah Moras. If Chiasson comes out and just bulls into Lansberg and puts herself on her back here, I’m much less confident that Lansberg will let her off the hook. I’ll take Lina Lansberg by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Before the fight against Evinger it would have been much easier to pick this bout, but Lansberg showed enough functional takedown defense to make me a bit more wary. That being said, Chiasson still looks like the better grappler, and possibly (clinch exchanges aside) the better striker as well. Macy Chiasson by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Chiasson: Ed, Shak, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Phil
Staff picking Lansberg: Zane
Marc Diakiese vs. Lando Vannata
Zane Simon: Vannata has all the basic technical ability to thrive, all the athletic potential, but it seems like he’s been stuck in a high output high power style that drains his energy quickly. Add to that, that he tends to have predictable entries and watch his work, and doesn’t show a lot of the connective setup strikes to make his more exotic techniques really count, and it’s made him a fascinatingly inconsistent performer. He can dominate just about anyone for a round, but it may cost him his energy for the whole rest of the fight. Or he can fight calm, and just kind of get out-worked from distance. Diakiese spent years living off his fantastic speed and power without picking up a lot of the nuances of a technical striking game, but it really seems like he’s finally picking up those pieces. His performance against Duffy was that of a composed fighter hitting his prime, who could control the fight on every front. If Vannata can’t finish Diakiese, that kind of composure has been his Achilles heel time and time again. Marc Diakiese by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Vannata looks like he doesn’t know who he wants to be. A janky movement, weird kickboxer who finishes people or gasses out? A passive striker with terrible defense? A wrestler? He’s looked like all of these lately, none of them have worked particularly well, and it kind of seems like his confidence is shot. Conversely, Diakiese looked like he found a new lease on life in his last fight. He’s the more physically gifted fighter of the two, and seems to have latched onto a leg kicks + bursts of punches gameplan and I’m just not sure how Vannata closes that down. Marc Diakiese by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Diakiese: Ed, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Vannata: Shak
Jack Shore vs. Noehlin Hernandez
Zane Simon: Shore fights like a long time veteran. Very composed at all times, very strong defensively, very confident that his game will work. But, I’m not necessarily sure he has the actual strength and speed to carry a game that has, to date, been based around brief bursts of striking offense and a grappling attack without a quick and easy takedown game to set it up. Hernandez, on the other hand, has a ton of defensive holes when fighting on the front foot, and his counter-striking can be bulled through to open up his defense on the back foot too. But he’s big and scrappy and a willing striker at all times. Should make for a thriller. End of the day, I’ll take Shore’s defense and composure to carry the fight. But, if he can’t take Hernandez down, I’m not at all confident that he’ll out-work him. Jack Shore by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Shore has approximately followed the same path up through the regionals as Nathaniel Wood, fighting similar opponents and getting similar results. However, his success has perhaps gotten him to the UFC a touch too early. That being said, he’s decently well-rounded everywhere, and has a functional game which should still work well at this level of competition. Jack Shore by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Shore: Ed, Shak, Dayne, Mookie, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Hernandez:
Who do you think takes home the win?
This poll is closed