The Bloody Elbow team has made its picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 44, and there’s a slight edge towards Rob Font to defeat Jose Aldo in Saturday’s main event. As for the co-main event, Dayne Fox is on his own as far as picking Brad Riddell over Rafael Fiziev in that highly anticipated showdown between two entertaining lightweight strikers. To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings SportsBook.
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. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo
Mookie Alexander: Font has never been knocked out and I think only Pedro Munhoz has ever seriously hurt him and he followed that up with immediately pulling for a guillotine. Aldo is the best striker he’s ever faced and will provide a serious test for him with the semi-return of his trademark leg kicks (which John Lineker laced up Font with), a deeper commitment to his combination boxing with that left hook to the liver, and his ability to turn defense into offense. But the concern I have for Aldo is that this is likely to be a high-volume fight and it’s over five rounds. I might actually pick Aldo if this was only three rounds because he could very well take the first two rounds against Font, but it’s impossible to ignore that he has faded in both Holloway fights and Petr Yan. Font isn’t either of those two fighters (at least not that we’ve seen) but if Aldo competes at a pace he can’t sustain then Font will be able to pour on the pressure and really get to work off of that jab. I think Font gets this in the back-end of the contest. I will, of course, be rooting fully for Aldo. Rob Font by TKO, round 5.
Zane Simon: Coming off his win over Cody Garbrandt, it’s clear that Rob Font fits a mold that can beat Jose Aldo, but does he fit THE mold? That’s harder to figure. Font has range, power, size, and an ability to throw in high volume over multiple rounds. But, he’s especially hampered by his need to make everything work behind his jab, and fighters like Rafael Assuncao and John Lineker, who could stifle the punch, more or less shut him out of the fight as a result. Aldo is excellent at countering the jab, so there’s a real chance he makes Font super uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there are other trends in Aldo’s game that are less favorable for him here. The first being that he always seems to get hurt early in fights these days. And the second that he very often fades late. Given Font’s insane durability (so far), even if he just weather’s Aldo’s offense for 2 rounds, I think he can make a late charge for the win. Rob Font via TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Font: Mookie, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Aldo: Dayne, Connor
Brad Riddell vs. Rafael Fiziev
Mookie Alexander: I am very uncertain about this fight. Fiziev pretty much refuses to jab and I think there are gonna be limitations to that style at the upper end of the division. He does hit hard and fights at a grueling pace, but he was noticeably tired against Bobby Green and that’s not an insignificant thing to notice. Riddell had to weather the early storm against Drew Dober and then not only outstruck him but also showcased his wrestling. Fiziev’s takedown defense has held up thus far but that presents an interesting wrinkle to this one. I lean towards Fiziev to kinda repeat what happened in the Green bout but wouldn’t be shocked if it turns into a Riddell win that is somewhat similar to the Dober fight. Should be fireworks nevertheless and lots of heavy body shots exchanged. Rafael Fiziev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Fiziev always starts fast, and has had some trouble with fading late. Riddell always starts slow, and is an absolute killer in the closing round. That should make for a fantastic fight no matter what happens. The thing that has me swaying in Fiziev’s direction here, is his precision and consistency. Riddell has put on remarkable comeback performances, but many of those are against fighters who have trouble really controlling their own pace and offensive tools. Fiziev may be a fast starter, but he doesn’t tend to put himself in a lot of bad spots in the process. If Fiziev gets to have a really good start with Riddell, it could easily carry him for two solid rounds before Riddell is able to find his way into the fight. If that’s the case, I gotta pick Fiziev to survive and win on points. Rafael Fiziev via decision.
Staff picking Riddell: Dayne
Staff picking Fiziev: Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Connor
Clay Guida vs. Leonardo Santos
Mookie Alexander: I mean apart from this fight being uninteresting… that’s it. That’s the analysis. Leonardo Santos by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There are concerning signs for Santos that age is catching up with him, but he still appears to be a brutally difficult puzzle to solve early in fights. A combo of range kicks, hard counters, and an absolutely lockdown submission game make him a real challenge for any fighter that isn’t an obviously better striker than him. It’s exactly the kind of combination that’s led Guida to some of his most quick and brutal submission losses. That said, if Guida can survive a round or so, the way Santos has been slowing down lately is cause for concern. Still, I feel like I’ve seen this exact loss for Guida just a few too many times. Leonardo Santos via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Guida:
Staff picking Santos: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Jimmy Crute vs. Jamahal Hill
Mookie Alexander: Hill beating OSP probably doesn’t hold much weight these days and that’s his best win. Paul Craig straight up bossed him on the ground and wrecked his arm while also beating him up with strikes. He certainly can give Crute problems on the feet but Crute has shown he can crack and it’s hard not to envision Crute just taking him down and outgrappling him before getting the tap. Jimmy Crute by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: If Hill can get Crute stuck behind his jab, he has all the consistency and control to cruise for a decision. But Crute is an insanely hard fighter to actually control. Even with his leg kicked to pieces he still found a way to take down Anthony Smith and out-wrestle him for a round. And, frankly, Crute’s punching, wrestling, and grappling form all seem a bit sharper and more finely tuned. He’ll give up all the bad positions going balls to the wall every minute of every round, but it feels like it takes someone truly more technical and experienced to really make him pay for that. I’m not convinced Hill is that guy. Jimmy Crute via submission, round 2.
Staff picking Crute: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Hill:
Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis
Mookie Alexander: Great to see Chris Curtis get that win over Phil Hawes but this is a more difficult matchup for him. Allen obviously got picked apart by Sean Strickland and is still developing as a striker, but he has the edge on the ground and Curtis is hardly an outstanding defensive wrestler. Curtis is historically very hard to submit so I don’t sense a finish but Allen should be able to make the most of his size and wrestling advantage for the W. Brendan Allen by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I love the intro that Curtis got to the UFC. A huge KO as an underdog in his debut after years of busting his ass on the regionals. That said, I still have a lot of reservations as to how well a 5’10” middleweight with a low-output counterpunching game can do in the UFC. When those KOs don’t come Curtis has struggled to create decisive, round winning offense in the past. And while Allen’s striking is still a bit of a work in progress, his high-output aggression and tenacity have meant that beating him has been more about winning the war of attrition than getting one huge shot off. I’ll take Brendan Allen via decision.
Staff picking Allen: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Connor, Zane
Staff picking Curtis:
Bryan Barberena vs. Darian Weeks
Mookie Alexander: Tough one for Darian to take on such a seasoned veteran on a Weeks’ notice… Bryan Barberena by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: First of all, boo this ^ man. After that, I’ll admit, I’m much less sold on Barberena here than I had expected to be. His last fight, against Jason Witt was pretty miserable. And while he did find his way into the fight in the third round behind his trademark grit and determination, he got hurt way way too often on the way there. A version of Barberena that doesn’t just get taken down, but gets regularly dropped is one that’s going to find a lot more difficulty being the guy who swarms his way back for the win. And while Weeks is raw, he looks like a very natural, powerful athlete with some fantastic basic technique. All that said, Weeks hasn’t been much of a single shot finisher over his career, and gives up a lot of control and dominant position when he gets overly aggressive. Assuming Barberena doesn’t get KO’d fast, I’ll pick him to pull Weeks into deep water and get the victory. But I’d have been a lot more confident in that a year or two ago. Bryan Barberena by decision.
Staff picking Barberena: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Connor, Zane
Staff picking Weeks:
This poll is closed