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UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 8 card.

The Bloody Elbow team has made its picks for UFC Vegas 8, and we’re leaning towards Aleksandar Rakic to beat Anthony Smith in the main event. As for the co-main, opinion is divided on Robbie Lawler vs. Neil Magny, with the slight edge towards Magny.

Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic

Mookie Alexander: This is a really hard fight to pick. Smith’s career surge at 205 was not a fluke and he has enough quality wins to remain a light heavyweight mainstay. With that said… the Glover Teixeira fight was troubling. His gas tank has never been outstanding but he emptied it fast against Glover, and he took about 9 more minutes worth of beating than he needed to. Rakic is a potent striker with a good enough wrestling game to trouble Smith. I’m concerned that Rakic’s defense is really not that much better than Smith’s and Anthony could crack him with an elbow in the clinch and shut his lights off. If Smith takes Rakic down then we really haven’t seen Aleksandar get seriously tested off of his back, but Rakic on top delivers some solid ground-and-pound. Ultimately I think Rakic’s superior athleticism and better gas tank will go a long way towards winning this one over three rounds. Aleksandar Rakic by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Rakic seems broadly analogous to Thiago Santos: a big, athletic hitter who is a wildly enthusiastic counter puncher and a committed range hitter. If Rakic counters the jab, Smith is left relying on his atrocious range defense, and as Rakic showed against Manuwa he is more than capable of melting people on the retreat with punch kick combinations. Aleksandar Rakic by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: Three rounds gives me a lot more reason to think that Smith might pull this off. He’s absolutely got the power, variety and technique to put it on Rakic for a round if he can keep from getting cracked too hard on the return. Consistency has always been the big issue though. Smith tends to fight well in bursts, and between those bursts he can get pretty roughed up. If he can have a couple big moments in a couple rounds, he just might scrape out a decision (or club-n-sub Rakic for the win). But, Rakic otherwise seems like the consistent output, durable fighter that will be controlling the action. Aleksandar Rakic via decision.

Staff picking Smith:

Staff picking Rakic: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Dayne, Zane

Robbie Lawler vs. Neil Magny

Mookie Alexander: This is undeniably a heart over brain pick. Magny most likely just pressures Lawler and just repeatedly takes him down and it just looks way too much like the RDA fight but for three rounds. The heart pick is that Magny is the worst opponent (while still being a very good one!) Lawler has faced in a fairly long time. Lawler needs to jab and leg kick Magny relentlessly and that will set up his power shots. Come on Robert Glenn Lawler, win one more fight! And win one for Stephie Haynes since it’s her birthday weekend! Robbie Lawler by TKO, round 2.

Stephie Haynes: It is my birthday weekend and Robbie Lawler is my all-time favorite ever, therefore, the fight gods have deemed this my birthday gift. I have spoken. Let it be known.

Phil Mackenzie: Lawler has always had issues with just giving range and space to tall opponents, and with keeping a pace on them. If he tries to be aggressive early (e.g. the Cerrone fight), he often ends up lunging straight into the clinch. None of this speaks well for his chances against Magny, who is huge, reasonably mobile and rangy, consistently paced and coincidentally does his best work in the clinch. There is an obvious path to victory for Lawler: hurt Magny early and keep hurting him to a finish or an unassailable round lead. Other people have done it, but Lawler is not a great R1 finisher, nor can he keep an aggressive start going. Neil Magny by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: The closer this fight gets to happening, the more able I am to start convincing myself that Lawler just might win it. He’ll likely start hot, like he’s been doing lately, and even if he takes round 2 off, he could land enough big shots to steal the third. Still, my brain keeps telling me that the jab and the low kick are going to be there in abundance for Magny and that Lawler is more willing to be inactive and depend on a few big moments than ever. Magny is also fully capable of slowing fights to a grind in the clinch, or getting the occasional takedown and landing some solid GnP. End of the day, I’m banking that Magny will just be too busy, and Lawler will never really get his offense clicking the way he needs to to win. Neil Magny by decision.

Staff picking Lawler: Mookie, Stephie

Staff picking Magny: Phil, Dayne, Zane

Ji Yeon Kim vs. Alexa Grasso

Mookie Alexander: Grasso is giving up two inches in height and six inches in reach. I don’t really think she’s suited for flyweight but on paper she is a better striker than Kim. One of the concerns for Grasso is her takedown defense but Kim has never shot for one in her career, so this is likely to be striking and clinchwork. I favor Grasso as the superior athlete and she’ll be able to close the distance and land the more impactful blows. Alexa Grasso by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Grasso did not strike me as a large strawweight at all, so the way she struggled with the weight cut was something of a surprise. That being said, she was an extremely quick and venomous puncher at strawweight, which I expect to be exacerbated up a class. If this goes late I think the physical disparities which Mookie mentioned might make the fight ugly, but sheer handspeed and toughness should allow Grasso to Gastelum her way to a decent lead. Alexa Grasso by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Kim is a lot of fun, but she’s also very much been a one-note test for women in the flyweight division. Can you plan around a solid right hand? If so, Kim isn’t that hard to takedown, or out-work, or just land kicks on and stay away from. Even the wins she’s had haven’t been that convincing. Grasso should be too fast and present too much variety. But Kim will always make it fun. Alexa Grasso by decision.

Staff picking Kim:

Staff picking Grasso: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Dayne, Zane

Ricardo Lamas vs. Bill Algeo

Mookie Alexander: I remember Bill Algeo from when Brendan Loughnane dared to wrestle him at the end of a fight and lost a UFC contract as a result. I’m really worried that Lamas is starting to fade and his chin is just not holding up as well as it used to, but if the Lamas who bludgeoned Darren Elkins can show up, he should win this. Ricardo Lamas by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Algeo isn’t a big puncher and is a very willing grappler. Lamas may not have the durability he once did, but if you can’t put him out, he still throws heat and is almost impossible to beat on the mats. Not hard to see Algeo tying up with Lamas in the clinch, getting taken down, and then getting seriously out-hustled on the ground. Ricardo Lamas by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Lamas: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Dayne, Zane

Staff picking Algeo:

Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba

Mookie Alexander: These two are just going to swang and bang again and I can’t totally guarantee that Ankalaev will repeat what he did to Cutelaba, only this time with a fair stoppage. If Cutelaba comes out red shot and smokes Ankalaev early I wouldn’t be shocked, but I think Ankalaev rocks him with a head kick again since he’s good at that. Magomed Ankalaev by KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Their previous fight was one of the most comical moments in recent MMA memory, as Cutelaba managed to convince an MMA ref(!!!) that he was hurt badly enough to stop the fight. Hopefully he can use the rage from that as fuel for victory, giving us the rubber match that we all want. That being said, though, Ankalaev was winning the standup pretty easily and that wasn’t even how we expected him to win? He can presumably still just take down Cutelaba and ruin him on the floor. Magomed Ankalaev by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Ankalaev just seems like he’s sharper than Cutelaba everywhere. A more technical striker, a better wrestler, and a more positionally solid grappler as well. Both men have a brutally efficient top game, but I think Ankalaev is much more likely to put that in play than Cutelaba ever would be. And even as goofy as their first fight was, Cutelaba was getting pretty thoroughly out-struck. There’s always a chance he can land the big one-punch KO, but without that, I gotta take Magomed Ankalaev via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Ankalaev: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Dayne, Zane

Staff picking Cutelaba:


Rest of the card

Maki Pitolo vs. Impa Kasanganay

Staff picking Pitolo: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Zane

Staff picking Kasanganay: Dayne

Mallory Martin vs. Hannah Cifers

Staff picking Martin: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Phil, Zane

Staff picking Cifers:

Alessio di Chirico vs. Zak Cummings

Staff picking di Chirico: Mookie, Phil, Zane

Staff picking Cummings: Stephie, Dayne

Alex Caceres vs. Austin Springer

Staff picking Caceres: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Phil, Zane

Staff picking Springer:

Polyana Viana vs. Emily Whitmire

Staff picking Viana: Zane

Staff picking Whitmire: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Phil

Sean Brady vs. Christian Aguilera

Staff picking Brady: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Phil, Zane

Staff picking Aguilera:

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Anthony Smith
    (193 votes)
  • 63%
    Aleksandar Rakic
    (343 votes)
536 votes total Vote Now