The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC on ESPN 8, and we all believe Walt Harris will beat Alistair Overeem in Saturday’s main event. I’d really love for the BE Staff Curse not to rear its ugly head in this instance. As for the co-main, opinion is fairly split on this pivotal strawweight bout between Claudia Gadelha and Angela Hill.
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.
Alistair Overeem vs. Walt Harris
Mookie Alexander: Overeem really should be able to win this if we’re being honest with ourselves. He’s still the better striker, better on the ground, and we know what he can do in the clinch. And yet… I can’t pick him. A lot of it is sentimental because of the tragedy that Harris just went through with his stepdaughter. Harris also genuinely hits hard, is quite fast, and Overeem’s chin has been compromised one too many times. Walt Harris by KO, round 2.
Zane Simon: I won’t lie, there’s just a little bit of the Lins/Arlovski vibe here. Where, on the surface, Harris absolutely should have Overeem’s number—but there are reasons for doubt. The biggest being Overeem’s top control and GnP game if he can get Harris on his back. It’s an X-factor that came up huge against Sergei Pavlovich and gave Overeem the early lead on Rozenstruik. But, I get the feeling Harris’ first level takedown defense and foot speed are just a little too much for the ‘Demolition Man’ to get easy takedowns here. And out at range Harris not only has fast hands, but is all straight punches down the middle. It’s going to be hard for Overeem to play his all the way in/all the way out style in this one. And I think he’s probably heading for a hard loss because of it. Walt Harris via KO, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: I’m not even gonna pretend I can conjure up a realistic breakdown for this other than Walt Harris doesn’t start as slow as Alistair and Overeem’s chin usually fails when tested by big hitters. Technically, Overeem could contain things and hit hard from time to time, slow down the pace and try to break Harris, which can work to his favor because of his defensive grappling. I just think Walt comes into this one full of piss and vinegar and bumrushes him early. Walt Harris by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Overeem:
Staff picking Harris: Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor
Claudia Gadelha vs. Angela Hill
Mookie Alexander: I expect Gadelha to start well. She has a substantial advantage over Hill on the ground and she’s also still more than a good enough striker to win exchanges on the feet. The problem I have with Gadelha is that Hill is willing to fight at a fast pace and Gadelha’s gas tank is a serious issue. She proved nothing against Randa Markos because almost nothing happened in the fight. If this was three years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to pick Gadelha, now I’m picking Hill outright to prevail in the final two rounds. Angela Hill by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: If Gadelha tries to run the same patient counterstriking style she used against Markos, there’s a good chance that Hill can outpace her. On the other hand, if she just reverts to bulling into takedowns and subs, there’s not really a reason to assume that Hill can survive any better than she did against Markos herself. Even if this is a striking match, Hill’s defense isn’t really good enough to trust her consistently against a hitter like Gadelha. Claudia Gadelha by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Angela Hill has been looking better and better lately, Claudia Gadelha has been looking worse and worse—well, except that fight with Randa Markos, which was barely a fight at all. SO there’s a real question about just how well Hill can do here if she keeps her movement up and creates high-output exchanges. She may not win the early battles, but if Gadelha fades, then Hill is great at keeping in a scrap. Still, it’s that not winning early battles that bugs me. Seems too likely that Hill gets out-muscled and overpowered for two rounds, before making this really competitive. If she doesn’t get subbed along the way. Claudia Gadelha by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: As one of the bigger Claudia fans here, I can’t pick her in this one. Hill’s been active, pushing the pace in her fights, defending takedowns and staying busy off her back just enough to find openings for a standup. Hill might have the recipe here to fluster Gadelha and mix up her strikes to score and get ahead of Gadelha. Don’t get it twisted - I fully expect this to be a highly competitive banger and possible fight of the night. Angela Hill by decision.
Staff picking Gadelha: Dayne, Phil, Shak, Zane
Staff picking Hill: Mookie, Stephie, Victor
Edson Barboza vs. Dan Ige
Mookie Alexander: I keep picking against Ige and he keeps winning, so presumably he’ll win this weekend because I’m going with Barboza. While Ige has looked terrific in recent fights, Barboza is still the best fighter he’s ever faced and by a considerable margin. At range this is not a contest, but Ige’s improved striking and effective pressure is the exact recipe for disaster that Barboza has never corrected. Barboza’s chin isn’t bad but I wonder if that won’t be the case at 145. Barboza’s takedown defense is also really good outside of when he faces outstanding wrestlers such as Khabib or Kevin Lee, so I see him prevailing here in ways I did not see him prevailing against Josh Emmett (his original opponent). Edson Barboza by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Ige’s pressure has improved dramatically. He’s gotten better at staying on his feet, and punching in accurate combinations whereas before he was basically just an aggressive wrestler. He has needed to take breaks, however, and has struggled to maintain his tank into the third round. Barboza has a big dynamism edge and has never really shown a cardio problem, so every point at which Ige hangs out at distance should be pretty hazardous. If Barboza isn’t ravaged by the cut (a significant possibility) then he should be able to hurt Ige to the leg and body whenever he gets space. Edson Barboza by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: On the surface, Ige has a lot of the tools needed to beat Barboza. He hits hard, he likes to pressure, he throws combinations. But, Barboza also has a lot of the tools that really trouble Dan Ige. Namely, pace and a solid jab. It also doesn’t help Ige’s case that he’s sort of guaranteed to drop at least one round per fight. And against Julio Arce, he just never found his way into the pocket to get the fight he wanted. Barboza’s crackable, but his chin isn’t nearly as bad as his lowlights make it seem. If he doesn’t go out, I think he can stifle a lot of Ige’s best offense with constant rangey output. Edson Barboza by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I’m really wary of Edson going to 145 and not doing a test cut, and I’m shaky on him going against a tough test like Ige out the gate. Not sure how he’ll perform, but his skills should translate well to 145. It just seems Ige can still pressure Edson enough and keep him on his back foot if he figures his timing out. I still think Edson has enough veteran savvy and output to eke out a decision. And with that, I have triggered the Bloody Elbow curse. Edson Barboza by decision.
Staff picking Barboza: Dayne, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Ige:
Eryk Anders vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Mookie Alexander: Yeah this fight does nothing for me. Jotko has twice thrown away fights he was comfortably winning and otherwise is just a meat-and-potatoes type of fighter. His best attribute is his wrestling but everything else is… just there. Anders is the better athlete and has power, which may be enough to overcome his skill disadvantage. Eryk Anders by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Hard to tell where Jotko is at the moment. Does his game really work if he can’t leverage a wrestling edge, and does his fundamental lack of dynamism hurt him? Probably yeah, but Anders just isn’t improving. He probably deserved to lose to Meerschaert and remains pretty much the same achingly slow counterstriker he’s been since he came to the UFC. Krzysztof Jotko by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I just don’t think I can do this with Jotko. Mostly, it feels like the confidence he had in his style has vanished after a couple of hard knockout losses. He seems more tentative in exchanges, like he’s getting hit harder by pressure, and that’s impacted his ability to really set up his surprising wrestling game the way he used to as well. He’s still won a couple bouts, but that last one to Barriault was a very close run thing. On the flip side, Anders really hasn’t changed much (probably not as much as he should, even). He’s still a bit of a plodding pressure fighter, dependent on unloading big single strikes, without a lot of pace or counterfighting. But, he hits like a truck, he’s harder to take down than expected, he’s insanely durable, and he actually has been throwing a few combos lately. Jotko may just stay on his back foot and out-hustle him, but I think Anders will find just the right combo to sleep him at some point. Eryk Anders via KO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: I love how dynamic Anders is and how well he uses his athleticism, but Jotko could stifle him and good god, having just written that it dawned on me how much worse this fight can truly be. Like, worse than I initially thought. Blech. Krzysztof Jotko by decision.
Staff picking Anders: Mookie, Stephie, Shak, Zane
Staff picking Jotko: Dayne, Phil, Victor
Song Yadong vs. Marlon Vera
Mookie Alexander: Great fight. I’m on the Marlon Vera hype train — does he even have a hype train? I’m creating one! — although Yadong is very much poised to make life hell for him with his powerful hands. However, Yadong has looked vulnerable as a grappler and Vera is so tricky to deal with on the mat. I see a back-and-forth battle that goes the way of the Ecuadorian. Marlon Vera by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This should be an incredibly wild fight. Yadong has so much confidence in his ability to deliver power and precision in all areas of MMA. But, he’s also shown a tendency to get stuck for ideas, and even overconfident if his opponent just won’t go away. Vera, on the other hand, has a real bad tendency to start round 1 with a lot of aggression that leads him into heavy damage and dire situations. But to also use that info to get reads and timing as the fight goes on. Will Yadong’s speed and power just be too much from the start, or is this finally a crafty veteran that won’t just give Yadong a tough fight late, but actually beat him. Everything just seems to be clicking so well for Vera lately, and Yadong has been getting perilously closer and closer to taking a tough veteran loss. So, I’ll go with Marlon Vera by submission, Round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: The main thing that has worn Yadong out is grappling situations. I trust Chito to push the pace and potentially work the clinch, but he’s been vulnerable to getting picked off by fast, athletic strikers before, namely Douglas D’Silva. I’ll be surprised if Chito doesn’t badly drop the first round, and then I have to trust him to either win the second or straight up finish Yadong. Not sure I can do that, although it’d be great to see. Song Yadong by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Look, I’m not crowning him the new Max Holloway, but the lanky frame and range offense form Vera has made me a believer. Yadong can hit hard, but I don’t see him getting inside and having enough time to get comfortable before Vera begins to punish him for the audacity to try to work inside. Besides, Vera’s BJJ game has gotten lethal. Can’t pick against the guy. Fuerza, Chito. Marlon Vera by submission.
Staff picking Yadong: Phil, Shak
Staff picking Vera: Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Victor
Matt Brown vs. Miguel Baeza
Mookie Alexander: Ooooh this may not end well for Baeza. Some fighters do get old overnight, but this is The Immortal we’re talking about. Matt Brown by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Baeza’s game just doesn’t seem deep enough to deal with Brown’s pressure, or consistently deliver the kind of power to maintain the momentum he would need to win. Could be that Brown teaches him a harsh lesson about old man strength. Matt Brown by TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Baeza’s got a lot of promise, and that upsets me greatly. A young upstart shouldn’t be tossed into a fight like this against a buzzsaw like Matt Brown, who feasts on prospects and leaves them a bloody goddamn mess. Brown’s Muay Thai doesn’t get enough love sometimes, which baffles me since his last two fights were blasting Ben Saunders and damn near murdered Diego Sanchez. Come on, son. Criminal matchmaking to me. Just goofy behavior. Matt Brown by Tiger Rampage.
Staff picking Brown: Dayne, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Baeza:
Rest of the card
Anthony Hernandez vs. Kevin Holland
Staff picking Hernandez: Stephie
Staff picking Holland: Dayne, Phil, Shak, Zane, Victor, Mookie
Giga Chikadze vs. Irwin Rivera
Staff picking Chikadze: Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor, Mookie
Staff picking Rivera:
Cortney Casey vs. Mara Romero Borella
Staff picking Casey: Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor, Mookie
Staff picking Borella:
Darren Elkins vs. Nate Landwehr
Staff picking Elkins: Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Shak, Zane, Victor
Staff picking Landwehr: Mookie
Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Staff picking Nascimento: Dayne, Phil, Shak, Mookie
Staff picking Mayes: Stephie, Zane, Victor
Who wins the main event?
This poll is closed