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UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov card.

The BE team has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 3 show, and we’re all backing Curtis Blaydes to beat Alexander Volkov in the main event. As for the co-main, there’s a slight lean towards Shane Burgos over Josh Emmett in what should be a magnificant featherweight scrap.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov

Mookie Alexander: Volkov can win this with volume striking and the hope that Blaydes gasses himself out. Otherwise this just seems like a terrible matchup for him. His takedown defense still has legitimate question marks and Blaydes is just destructive with his ground-and-pound, such that he can probably park in guard and end it there. Curtis Blaydes by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Volkov’s gas tank and toughness give him a lifeline here if he can survive long enough to hope Blaydes’ takedowns lose their sting. But even in that kind of fight, it’s usually the guy who can rely on his wrestling that does better when both fighters are tired. So Volkov would really have to be relying on somehow forcing Blaydes to gas out before he does. Seems unlikely considering both men are pretty tireless and Blaydes is more likely to be forcing Volkov to carry his weight. Just a tough out for a heavyweight without a lot of power who has been taken down by most of the people that have cared to try. Curtis Blaydes by TKO, round 3.

Phil Mackenzie: Volkov got controlled by Cheick Kongo, and was taken down at will by a rather faded Werdum before Werdum gassed himself out. He doesn’t have the power to put Blaydes down with a counter, and Blaydes won’t tire out in top position. Curtis Blaydes by TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Blaydes: Phil, Zane, Stephie, Shak, Mookie
Staff picking Volkov:

Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos

Mookie Alexander: I’m picking Burgos because he’s got greater depth to his striking than Emmett and he’s quite good on the ground, but the risk here is that Emmett has enormous power and Burgos has been hurt and KO’d before. Shane Burgos by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I like some of the changes I’ve seen out of Emmett’s game lately. Things like body punching, and speed changes are both huge for him if he can keep them going, and could turn him into a potential title contender. In the meantime, Burgos is still the more technical, varied, and (when he chooses to be) defensively aware fighter. But the problem is, it is when he chooses to be. And more often than not Burgos chooses to walk in on opponents with his chin out and dare them to hit him. Most of them do. Calvin Kattar knocked him out, Kurt Holobaugh dropped him, and even Makwan Amirkhani got his licks in. If Burgos is going to let Emmett land bombs all fight, I don’t see him walking out with his hand raised, even if he’s winning most of the exchanges on the way. Josh Emmett via KO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: I have to pick Burgos, because he is better at fighting and I have to believe that that counts for something, but this fills me with dread. As Zane mentioned, Burgos hangs his chin out there and tries to make dangerous reads throughout the entire fight, aiming for margins which this sport simply doesn’t quite support. I’m still not sure how well Emmett functions if he’s forced onto the defensive, particularly against a diverse threat like Burgos, but he’s also just constantly looking for that one huge shot which Burgos seems frighteningly likely to give him. Hmm. Shane Burgos by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Emmett: Zane, Shak
Staff picking Burgos: Phil, Stephie, Mookie

Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau

Mookie Alexander: Oh. I guess I’ll go with Raquel Pennington by split decision.

Zane Simon: Reneau is a fantastic athlete who has been consistently adding skills to her game. But, she’s never figured out how to turn her skill into aggressive offense. Almost all her opponents dictate the pace and the range of the fight. And even much less athletic, less skilled fighters have beat her for it. Also, at 42, it seems intensely unlikely that she’s going to maintain that athletic edge for too much longer, or suddenly really up the volume on her striking. Pennington seems too much in the tough/busy mold of fighters that take rounds of Marion Renau. Raquel Pennington by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I was going to pick Reneau for the athleticism and dynamism edge, but That Bastard Zane Simon may have swayed me. She’s just never been a good round-winner, getting put into a 2-round hole by Bethe Correia and only being able to fight her way to a draw with a big head kick. That Kunitskaya fight just wasn’t a good look, and while Pennington had an absolutely dismal fight with Holm, it was probably one that she should have won on offense landed. Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Pennington: Zane, Stephie, Phil, Shak, Mookie
Staff picking Reneau:

Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad

Mookie Alexander: Picking Good largely for the reasons that Phil articulated. If this becomes a situation where Good is on the front foot then Muhammand will struggle in all likelihood. However, Muhammad is a well-rounded fighter and I think Muhammad’s volume may cause some problems for Good here. Close call but I think Lyman Good by decision is the pick here.

Zane Simon: This is an insanely difficult fight for me to pick, honestly. Good has the clear power edge, but against people who can put together busy, consistent striking games, I’m not that sure he really likes to have to lean on his boxing. Neither man is a bad wrestler, but it’s not their A-game, and Muhammad will almost certainly throw a lot more volume. If I don’t trust either guy to get this to the mat easily, then I’ll lean toward Muhammad’s output over Good’s power. But this could come down to a very contentious split decision. Belal Muhammad by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I think if Belal Remember The Name Muhammad wins this one, it will have to be a very coherent performance, if that makes sense? Good is a huge, powerful and skilled welterweight on the feet. While Belal Remember The Name Muhammad is a crafty wrestler and has been able to pick up some surprising wins on the feet. However, he typically needs to be able to dictate the pace to do so, using his step-in right hand or low kicks. Playing a back foot game against Geoff Neal he looked a lot more uncomfortable. Obviously not rooting for this outcome, but Lyman Good by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Good: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Shak
Staff picking Muhammad: Zane

Jim Miller vs. Roosevelt Roberts

Mookie Alexander: I love Jim Miller but Roberts is going to have a huge physical advantage over him and his cardio will hold up better as the fight progresses. Roosevelt Roberts by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Roberts’ ability to snipe from range will likely put Miller on his back foot and fighting off the cage in a hurry. There’s a chance Miller could take him down and slap on a quick sub, Roberts has his trouble with technically proficient wrestlers, but assuming Roberts plays it safe for the first round, I imagine he’ll have the better cardio and he’s got a strong enough clinch game that if he stays upright, I imagine he can take good advantage of Miller’s willingness to give up ground. Roosevelt Roberts by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: At this point, the question seems to be “can Miller finish his opponent in one round” and I guess the answer here is no? Miller is cunning in the pocket and has had a knack for clobbering tall fighters early with the counter left, but I just can’t trust him to win rounds against a bigger, taller, younger fighter with a solid clinch game. Roosevelt Roberts by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Miller:
Staff picking Roberts: Phil, Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Shak

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy

Mookie Alexander: I am disappointed in Phil. Shame this man! Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Both women have put a lot of work into becoming more capable striking threats. For Murphy, she’s found a good counter hook and the willingness to rely on her durability and up her output to keep from getting swamped by volume strikers. She’s got some great size and strength for 125, and the changes have all slowly coalesced into making her a tough out in the division. That said, Modafferi seems so much more consistent and mindful of what she’s trying to get done in the cage. Her combination striking is becoming more fluid as she learns the patterns she wants to use. She’s quick to clinch up and to move from clinches to takedowns. Her game follows a very set series of steps and techniques. And I’m just not sure that the consistency is there in Murphys’ game to prevent that from working. If Modafferi can get the clinch over and over, will Murphy stop takedowns over and over? I’m not convinced. Roxanne Modafferi by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Both women fought approximate analogues recently, going uphill against significant athleticism disparities. In both cases, they forced the fight with pure grit, by compelling exchanges against their defensively woeful opponents and freaking them out. If this fight ends up like that, with exchanges dictating what happens, I think that Murphy comes out on top. She’s physically tougher and hits harder shot for shot, and has been a surprisingly sturdy defensive wrestler. Lauren Murphy by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Modafferi: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Shak (with bias)
Staff picking Murphy: Phil

Clay Guida vs. Bobby Green

Mookie Alexander: Blech. High chance this fight is just rotten to watch. Bobby Green will outstrike Guida, taunt him a bit, and we’ll all feel frustrated having sat through 15 minutes of this one. Bobby Green by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I don’t have a lot of faith in where Guida’s at right now. Even if none of his recent wins or losses are especially telling, he’s really started to seem like an aged version of the guy he used to be out there. Green, for all his time in MMA, is still very much Bobby Green. A sharp counterpuncher with great wrestling, who has a habit of letting opponents dictate pace. If Guida can’t out-wrestle Green easily, I don’t think he can win this standing. Bobby Green by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This fight could be pretty bad if Guida gets on his bike - Green has always been something of a plodder, who relies on his reach and head movement to allow him to fence with opponents at range. As such, he could end up chasing Guida a fair bit. But even if he does, I don’t really see what Guida’s going to do to actually win the fight. He’s not a markedly better wrestler and Green is just a more accurate striker with a historically decent gas tank. Bobby Green by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Guida:
Staff picking Green: Phil, Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Shak

Rest of the card

Tecia Torres vs. Brianna Van Buren

Staff picking Torres: Zane, Shak
Staff picking Van Buren: Phil, Stephie, Mookie

Marc-André Barriault vs. Oskar Piechota

Staff picking Barriault: Zane
Staff picking Piechota: Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Shak

Gillian Robertson vs. Cortney Casey

Staff picking Robertson:
Staff picking Casey: Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Phil, Shak

Frank Camacho vs. Justin Jaynes

Staff picking Camacho: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Shak
Staff picking Jaynes:

Austin Hubbard vs. Max Rohskopf

Staff picking Hubbard: Phil
Staff picking Rohskopf: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Shak

Poll

Who wins the main event?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Curtis Blaydes
    (564 votes)
  • 17%
    Alexander Volkov
    (118 votes)
682 votes total Vote Now