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UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 fight card.

The BE team has made its picks for UFC 252 and we are split on the main event between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. There is a slight lean towards Stipe to defend his title, but everyone who picked Cormier did write in their reasons for picking him and I’m sure you’re interested in knowing why. As for the co-main, it’s again a close call as Sean O’Malley just narrowly gets our nod over Marlon Vera.

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier

Anton Tabuena: It’s very possible that Miocic keeps this standing long enough to outlast and land a big shot as Cormier slows down and lowers his output. He’s bigger, has better power in his hands, and somehow is still very dangerous in the latter rounds… and with heavyweight, sometimes that’s all you need. I just personally have a hard time picking against a fighter who I believe has the better overall skillset. DC is the far more technical mixed martial artist, and while that may not be enough to overcome a lot of Stipe’s strengths, it’s why I’m still picking him. Daniel Cormier by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: I think Cormier has to win this early and there’s a good chance he can do just that. He is the higher volume fighter and Miocic really just wants to box and not do a whole lot else on the feet. Cormier may also rely more on his wrestling in the smaller cage and aim to be more aggressive with trying to finish Stipe on the ground. We’ve already seen that Cormier has the power to KO him again with one shot. Neither fighter has particularly airtight defense, so the issue for DC is if he once again just sets a pace that he can’t keep up with over five rounds. If Stipe has learned anything from the rematch, it’s that going after DC’s body works and virtually everyone who has given him considerable trouble has hurt him there at some point. I don’t think Cormier will be able to easily counter those hooks to the body and if he fades sooner, this fight will look a lot like the second one but with the TKO coming sooner. Stipe Miocic by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: If Miocic lasts the first two rounds, I think he almost certainly wins this. But that’s a big if. He didn’t the first time, and while some may argue over eye pokes, etc. he very nearly didn’t survive the second time either. Cormier is just much, much faster than him. But, he’s also 41, and at that age, I don’t know if there’s any easy way he could keep his cardio up for all 5 rounds. And if he takes his foot way off the gas and just tries to be careful, I think Miocic’s more diverse arsenal likely just picks him off all fight. All that said, DC is a huge problem for Stipe early and I’m picking him to be one, once again, here. Daniel Cormier via TKO, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: If Miocic and Cormier fought each other 20 times, like full replays for different crowds, in the times before T.V., I still doubt we had a definite answer as to who is the better man inside the cage. I think Cormier probably would edge it 12-8, maybe. Back to our reality, I think this is a given night type of match, hinging on these well known variants: Will Miocic find Cormier’s chin or liver early? Will Cormier wrestle, and will he capitalize on it to submit or knock out Miocic, before wrestling tires him out and opens him up to counter strikes? It’s not easy to wrestle five 5 minutes rounds, even for the most well conditioned of wrestlers - wrestling matches legal time is 5-7 minutes - and Daniel Cormier is going on 42. Yes, Cormier wrestling will of course tire Miocic too, but ironically, plausibly not as much; besides bangings kudos, there’s also a good reason why some top wrestlers are such misers in using their wrestling.

Having said that, this is a swan song fight (a swan fight?) for one of the most capable mixed martial artists of all time, and I think that mindset and a minimum risks strategy and tactics - methodical wrestling, tactical striking, careful pacing - tips the balance in Cormier’s favor, so Daniel Cormier via submission, round 3.

Staff picking Miocic: Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne
Staff picking Cormier: Anton, Zane, Ram

Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera

Anton Tabuena: This is a good test for O’Malley, but I think it’s one he’ll pass with flying colors. Sean O’Malley by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Vera is the best fighter O’Malley has faced to date, and there’s still a whole lot we don’t know about his game because his last two bouts were so damn quick and easy. Vera has never been finished but he is not a fast starter and that seems like a problem against O’Malley, whose command of range on the offensive side of his striking is fantastic. He has the speed and power advantage on the feet, but Vera could make things tricky for him on the mat. The longer this goes, the better the chance of a Vera upset, but I’m high on the O’Malley hype so I’m picking Sean O’Malley by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: O’Malley is still an unknown in a hard fight at the elite levels. In the past, when pushed, a lot of holes in his game got exposed. Even Eddie Wineland took real advantage of the fact that he carries his head high and leaps into range, cracking him with a couple hard shots. If O’Malley lets Vera get his pressure game really going, who knows how well he’ll hold up by round 3. It could be, without an early KO here, his game will fall apart. But, I also think O’Malley has a huge speed edge here, and even a more calm, measured Vera still walks into and eats a lot of shots early in fights trying to find his timing. Vera hasn’t been dropped or stopped yet, but he’s definitely been hurt multiple times. Not sure he can afford that against O’Malley. Sean O’Malley via KO, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: I’m not sure Vera got the memo he’s losing tonight, and as experienced as 25 year old O’Malley looked his last outings, and as hyped as he is, Vera has the better experience, and just the serious attitude and grinding pressure that don’t really care about your confidence and hype. Vera’s taking O’Malley to deep waters here, then down and out. Or losing gloriously within a round. But, Marlon Vera via submission, round 3.

Staff picking O’Malley: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Zane
Staff picking Vera: Phil, Dayne, Ram

Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Anton Tabuena: Like the main event, I think Dos Santos is the better fighter overall — even more so on this case — but there’s just still so many ways this could end up badly for him. There’s a case to be made that his reaction time and durability has been waning, and against a guy with that much power, he must stay disciplined the entire time. Not sure if he can do that, seeing his tendencies to overreach and get “greedy” trying to land bombs, but I’m still picking him. Junior dos Santos by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: JDS should win this fight just if you compare their skill sets. He’ll probably be winning this one up until he’s losing because these days he just cannot resist finding an absurd way to overextend himself or leave himself wide open for a countershot that hurts him. His durability is going on him and Rozenstruik may not be as great as advertised, but he hits stupidly hard. Jairzinho Rozenstruik by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: There was a point where I might pick JDS to beat even a more classically trained technical striker. Obviously he has wins over Mark Hunt, Cro Cop, and even Stipe. But, that loss to Blaydes felt like the logical end point of a slow trend that’s been creeping up on JDS for a while now. Even against much less technical strikers JDS has been getting caught out and finding himself in difficult wars where it’s only his greater consistency of form that sees him through. Against Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis he was in some serious trouble before finding those KO shots. Against someone who can keep his form clean and punch hard all fight? I just don’t see 2020 JDS having the clear answer. Jairzinho Rozenstruik by TKO, round 2.

Ram Gilboa: Very even fight, with Rozenstruik probably having the upper hand in striking at this point - JDS’ high level body punching being an X factor against the kickboxer - and JDS surely winning on the ground; but there’s a big IF, if he can, or whether he even cares, to get the fight there. I’m tipping back and forth... Jairzinho Rozenstruik by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking JDS: Anton, Dayne, Ram
Staff picking Rozenstruik: Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Zane

Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda

Mookie Alexander: Being a willing grappler against Herbert Burns is probably not going to work well. Herbert Burns by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: I love Pineda’s calm counter punching and cool demeanor under pressure. But he loves to walk in on people, and start initiating exchanges fast. He’s decent enough on offense and defense everywhere, but not great anywhere. And I think that whole tendency, to be aggressive, close people down, and take risks to create offense, is probably just exactly the right thing to get him submitted here. Herbert Burns by submission, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: What Mr. Alexander said. Herbert Burns by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Burns: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Zane, Ram
Staff picking Pineda:

John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Mookie Alexander: Dodson is still fast, powerful, and usually has great takedown defense. That should be enough to see him win. But he still fights in bursts and his style at its worst is just doom for round-winning. Dvalishvili is not a convincing striker but if nothing else he is absurdly relentless and his power wrestling game may even wear Dodson down just on sheer size and strength alone. His lack of prolonged control time may be an issue but I think he’s just going to get so many takedowns and do enough damage to win this. Merab Dvalishvili by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: This is honestly a really great matchup for Dodson. He’s nearly impossible to out-wrestle and even against an aggressive power-striker like Marlon Moraes, he still had the speed, power, and accuracy to go nip tuck all fight. It’s just... there’s a very razor feeling to Dodson’s whole game if he’s not getting a KO stoppage. And that feeling has only grown in the past few years as a tiny bit of that speed has dropped off. He hung with John Lineker and Marlon Moraes, but he didn’t beat them. He edged out Pedro Munhoz, but it was really really close. Against a big, aggressive power punching chain wrestler, if Dodson doesn’t put him out, I get the feeling he’s just barely going to get out-worked. Merab Dvalishvili via decision.

Ram Gilboa: Clearly Merab Dvaishvili is the much better wrestler, especially offensively. A lot of times in MMA that alone is enough – as the better wrestler can choose where the fight will take place, and can navigate to where he’s better at; or at least where he can pick up a tactical lay-and-pray or wall-and-stall win. Unluckily for Dvaishvili here, Dodson is just better at everything other than wrestling - and his takedown defense just might give the Georgian some problems, too - that no matter where the Georgian is directing the fight, he’s getting beat there. A lot of times speedy fighters decline relatively early in their careers, as speed goes early; and if the experience they acquired meanwhile is not enough to replace it, they’re done. But Dodson, even at human speeds, wins tonight. John Dodson via decision.

Staff picking Dodson: Phil, Dayne, Ram
Staff picking Dvalishvili: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Zane

Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel

Mookie Alexander: Pichel is more durable and less likely to make mistakes than Roosevelt Roberts. I don’t care. WAR JIM MILLER! Jim Miller by guillotine, round 1.

Ram Gilboa: Jim Miller always relied on technicality and strength, and was never a fast guy, so, at the same age as Dodson, 36 - and with as much as experience as you can find in the cage these days - he’s probably just as dangerous as he ever was in his career. This is another even fight on this card but i believe Miller’s knowledge and ground savvy will edge him through. Jim Miller via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Miller: Mookie, Anton, Ram
Staff picking Pichel: Stephie, Dayne, Zane

Rest of the card

Felice Herrig vs. Virna Jandiroba

Staff picking Herrig: Ram
Staff picking Jandiroba: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Zane

Chris Daukaus vs. Parker Porter

Staff picking Daukaus: Dayne, Ram
Staff picking Porter: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Zane

Livia Renata Souza vs. Ashley Yoder

Staff picking Souza: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Yoder: Ram

T.J. Brown vs. Daniel Chavez

Staff picking Brown: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Ram
Staff picking Chavez: Dayne, Zane

Kai Kamaka III vs. Tony Kelley

Staff picking Kamaka: Mookie, Stephie, Anton, Dayne, Zane, Ram
Staff picking Kelley:

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    Stipe Miocic
    (647 votes)
  • 50%
    Daniel Cormier
    (652 votes)
1299 votes total Vote Now