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UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns card in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Bloody Elbow team has made its picks for UFC on ESPN 9, and most of us are going with Gilbert Burns to beat Tyron Woodley in the main event. As for the co-main, we’re leaning towards Blagoi Ivanov to beat Augusto Sakai.

Tyron Woodley vs. Gilbert Burns

Mookie Alexander: Woodley is 38. Dudes can just get old and stay old real fast in sports. Burns offers up virtually none of the same problems that Usman presented. Can he effectively pressure Woodley without eating that bomb of a right hand? That said, if he can set a pace on Tyron then I think it’ll actually unravel Woodley’s cardio, which I feel has largely been hidden as an issue because he has done such a great job of dictating the pace. When other fighters set the tone — Rory MacDonald’s jab, Usman’s volume striking and persistent wrestling threat — Woodley really doesn’t have the tools to combat them. Burns does have a good left hook, powerful combo striking, and if this goes to the ground I don’t think that even an otherwise underrated grappler in Tyron wants to tangle with Durinho. I’m sensing upset here. Every bit the chance that Burns gets laced up, but also every bit the chance that Woodley is on his way down. Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: This is a true litmus test for where Woodley’s head is at after suffering one of the most embarrassing losses of his career. Woodley has tasted defeat before, but Kamaru Usman really took his lunch money. And it seems he left Woodley’s financial and emotional life in shambles along the way. For a fighter whose style evolved to live on the margins of close scored rounds, and a few big bursts of overwhelming power, the fallout could be bad. Still, if Woodley has been able to collect himself, I’m not convinced I see a fighter in Burns right now, who has what it takes to pick Woodley apart. Burns isn’t a dedicated pressure fighter, he doesn’t have a great command of range kickboxing tools, and he’s not a dominating wrestler of overpowering physical force. Is he really going to leap into the pocket on Woodley with combos again and again and walk away the better for it? Or will he find himself where so many others have been, made timid by the threat of Woodley’s power and resigned to a slow paced fight based off a few key opportunities. Tyron Woodley via TKO round 2.

Staff picking Woodley: Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Burns: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Shak

Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai

Mookie Alexander: This fight is so uninteresting it’s not even funny. Sakai probably should win this and at the same time I cannot help but think this will turn into some ugly, grinding, sloppy fight that goes 15 minutes and then we wonder why we sat through that. Ivanov is stupidly tough and while he might not be the better striker he could have an edge in the clinch and on the ground. I keep picking against Sakai and he keeps proving me wrong, so why stop now? Blagoi Ivanov by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: The small cage should make this a lot more fun than it would be in the larger Octagon. Ivanov’s tendency to back off and walk opponents into counters will create an interesting challenge for Sakai, who is at his best when he’s able to sit down in front of opponents and throw combos. Both men are insanely durable, and neither is a particularly huge one-shot KO artist. Still, given Ivanov’s lack of size, and Sakai’s durability and work rate, I think it’s very likely that both men land a lot of what they want, but Sakai will get the chance to be busier and Ivanov won’t get the chance to wrap him up and slow him down. Augusto Sakai by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This fight should be as blubbery and tough as whale steak. Ivanov has been astonishingly durable in his MMA career thus far, taking repeated clean shots from the likes of Derrick Lewis and JDS. Sakai doesn’t look like much, but appearances can be deceiving and he’s a surprisingly compelling heavyweight technician. He should be able to use his probing lead hand to herd Ivanov along the fence and chop his legs out with kicks. Augusto Sakai by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Ivanov: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Shak
Staff picking Sakai: Phil, Zane

Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle

Mookie Alexander: I thought we were all supposed to self-quarantillo? Spike Carlyle by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Should be a fun fight, as Quarantillo is going to try very hard to wrestle and Carlyle is going to try to rely on his physicality to insulate him for long enough to knock Quarantillo out. Just based on the strength dynamic Spike Carlyle by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I still have more questions than answers about Spike Carlyle. It seems clearer now that he really could be an impressive physical specimen, but the rest of his game just seems so rudimentary. Quarantillo is no kind of great athlete, but he is a born scrapper and a pretty durable one. If he can survive a few awkward bombs from Carlyle, I think he can make this fight difficult enough to wear Carlyle out. Billy Quarantillo by decision.

Staff picking Quarantillo: Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Carlyle: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Shak

Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver

Mookie Alexander: Weaver’s UFC debut was going poorly and then he got a DQ win because Kazula Vargas threw a very illegal strike. Roberts has more upside and should be better virtually everywhere. Roosevelt Roberts by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Roberts is a decent enough prospect: calm and solid in the clinch, and he’s already beaten some good competition in the UFC. Weaver just didn’t particularly look UFC-ready, to be honest. Roosevelt Roberts by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Roberts is the better range striker, the better clinch striker, and the better wrestler. Seems like a very bad matchup for Weaver, who also seems like he’s just an athletic notch below UFC standards. Roosevelt Roberts via submission, round 2.

Staff picking Roberts: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Shak
Staff picking Weaver:

Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers

Mookie Alexander: Cifers is too small and her main weakness is perfect for Dern to exploit. Mackenzie Dern by submission, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Cifers is just too small and doesn’t help herself by largely throwing hooks and short punches. Big strawweights have been able to grab her and bully her, and her ground game isn’t good enough to survive. Mackenzie Dern by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: Cifers is a decent puncher, but not one with much pop. She really needs more time to evolve her game, build a jab, create a kicking arsenal, and find some more power. In the meantime, anyone willing to walk her down can likely overpower her and get her to the mat and really take her to school. Should fit right into Mackenzie Dern’s plan. Mackenzie Dern by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Dern: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Shak
Staff picking Cifers:

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko

Mookie Alexander: HUT HUT HUT. Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Cripes. Actually, this should be OK, Antonina doesn’t have anything like the defensive capabilities of her sister but fights at a crude approximation of her range: this primarily means scooting backwards and then planting and loading up on big shots with her head straight up. The dynamic seems to lend itself to a very close fight where Chookagian lands more and Shevchenko lands harder.Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Chookagian has definitely improved her power and form as a volume range kickboxer. It’s just that, fighting Valentina was the exact wrong time to try and show that off. Antonina is cut from a somewhat different cloth, however. She’s got some decent from as a range striker, but her defense falls apart badly in the middle distance, and she has a habit of getting cracked hard as she tries to make her way into the clinch. She doesn’t have her sister’s same command of bodylock trips, even if she’s got some crafty BJJ off her back. Overall, given Chookagian’s toughness and improved willingness to sit down on strikes, I think she’ll just offer Shevchenko too much volume to pick up a win over 3 rounds. Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

Staff picking Chookagian: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Shak, Zane
Staff picking Shevchenko: Dayne

Louis Smolka vs. Casey Kenney

Phil Mackenzie: Smolka is a hell of a lot of fun, as someone who is decently dynamic on the feet and both an aggressive sub threat and vicious ground and pounder. That being said, he’s a bit noodly and keeps chasing the sub to his own detriment if put on the bottom. Kenney was able to scramble and wrestle with Borg ably so he should be able to do the same to Smolka. One of the best fights on the card, I think. Casey Kenney by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: There is a real opportunity for Smolka here, as he’s always been at his best in prolonged, flowing wrestle-grappling scrambles. But that’s also an area where Kenney shines. And to Kenney’s credit he really shines there with positional control and rock solid defense. Smolka’s boxing has improved, but I still have a lot of questions about his durability these days, and both he and Kenney tend to look at striking as a way to create clinch opportunities. Eventually, I just don’t think Smolka keeps this standing, and on the mat, I trust Kenney’s grappling more. Casey Kenney by decision.

Staff picking Smolka: Stephie, Shak
Staff picking Kenney: Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Zane

Rest of the card

Gabriel Green vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Staff picking Green:
Staff picking Rodriguez: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Shak, Zane

Jamahal Hill vs. Klidson Abreu

Staff picking Hill: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Shak
Staff picking Abreu: Zane

Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Royval

Staff picking Elliott: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Shak
Staff picking Royval: Zane

Chris Gutierrez vs. Vince Morales

Staff picking Gutierrez:
Staff picking Morales: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Shak, Zane

Poll

Who wins the main event?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Tyron Woodley
    (478 votes)
  • 46%
    Gilbert Burns
    (413 votes)
891 votes total Vote Now