The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC VEGAS 18 and we’re pretty split on the main event. There’s a slight lean towards Alistair Overeem over Alexander Volkov, whereas most of us back Cory Sandhagen over heavy underdog Frankie Edgar in the co-main. Can you believe Edgar is the biggest underdog on this card by a considerable margin?
Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
Mookie Alexander: This is a tricky one. Overeem has the power and this older, wiser Alistair has relied on his underrated ground game to help weather early storms and just wreck people in general. Volkov has the volume and chin on his side plus his cardio is excellent. Expect him to peck away at Overeem’s body and throw lots of kicks and establish his jab. Volkov will surely be wary of Overeem’s power and won’t be too aggressive and risk getting caught on the counter. If Volkov’s leaky wrestling defense is compromised then that’s the worst case scenario as Overeem can really bludgeon him with his terrifying top control punishment. I expect an intriguing, tactical affair but in the end Volkov’s style is better for winning rounds and as long as he doesn’t get finished he’ll get the win. Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): While Volkov has plenty of experience, it’s of no comparison to that of Overeem. Overeem has been in the cage with each and every type of fighter. From the lanky to the short. From the heavy hitter to the volume striker. From the wrestler to the grappler. The only fighters who have been able to eliminate Overeem as of late have been those that specialize in a particular area. Few hit harder than Francis Ngannou or Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Overeem even came thisclose to beating Rozenstruik. Blaydes is making a case as the greatest heavyweight wrestler in the history of the sport, riding that to a violent victory over Overeem. Can Volkov overwhelm Overeem in the manner those who have most recently defeated him. I don’t think so. Overeem is as well-rounded a heavyweight there is and has done a solid job of adapting to his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, so long as their strengths aren’t in the extreme. That has me leaning towards Overeem to look for takedowns and pound out Volkov in a similar fashion as he did to the lanky Stefan Struve. Of course, Volkov’s takedown defense is better than advertised, but I’ll stand by Overeem securing enough trip takedowns… with lots of trepidation. Alistair Overeem vis TKO of RD4
Zane Simon: I love watching Overeem in the late stages of his career. The man is personifying everything it means to be a ‘crafty’ veteran and fight like one. He’s basically pushed his game entirely toward low-risk, high-reward techniques, and the result is a 4-1 record over the last two years. All that said, Alexander Volkov is exactly the kind of fighter to provide a wall to that style of fighting. He’s incredibly hard to hurt, rarely gets tired, and throws lots of volume. Overeem should have some good chances to take him down, but his takedown game is mostly predicated on difficult upper-body trips and throws. Assuming Volkov can at least survive a couple hard rounds, even on his back, I think he’ll be able to out-run the ‘Reem’’s gas tank to the finish. Alexander Volkov via TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Overeem: Stephie, Dayne, Harry
Staff picking Volkov: Zane, Mookie
Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar
Mookie Alexander: I’m a little surprised Edgar is such a heavy underdog but I also understand it. Edgar’s eroded wrestling really makes his path to victory that much harder. Frankie is by no means washed up and while I didn’t think he deserved the nod against Pedro Munhoz he certainly looked like he belonged among the ranks of bantamweight contenders. Sandhagen is tall and lanky for the division and there’s every reason to believe that he’s the more versatile finishing threat. His strength is underrated and his ability to win at distance and at range could make this a miserable night for Edgar. Cory Sandhagen by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: Much like Overeem above, Frankie Edgar has picked up a lot of tricks and done a lot of style modification as he’s aged. His bout against Pedro Munhoz proved he could be a sharp, consistent counterpuncher off his back foot for round after round after round, and when the opportunity has been there in the past, Edgar has shown off a dominating top game to go with his quick entry wrestling. Still, lately that wrestling game hasn’t been the safety valve it once was. And that’s a concern with someone who doesn’t just through a ton of volume, but does so with range and variety. Sandhagen’s wrestling is suspect, but Edgar is rarely a submission threat, and when on his back, Sandhagen makes opponents work hard. Could Edgar still exploit gaps in his takedown defense? Absolutely. But I just think Sandhagen will get enough time standing to make things really work for him at distance. Cory Sandhagen by decision.
Staff picking Sandhagen: Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Dayne,
Staff picking Edgar: Harry
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape
Mookie Alexander: I never pick against Pantoja. I feel dirty doing this now. Kape hits hard and that poses problems for Pantoja considering he’s a bit reckless with his striking and against Askarov he set a pace he couldn’t match. Pantoja has potent offense in his own right and his grappling and scrambling is super dangerous, so Kape has to be cognizant of that or else this could be a disastrous debut for him. I’ll go with the former RIZIN champ to win his first UFC appearance by taking over in the later rounds. Manel Kape by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Kape is a fascinating talent in the flyweight division. A powerful, pressure counter fighter who can land with real ferocity in a division known more for its speed and variety. Not that Kape isn’t fast, he’s definitely got that going for him, but I’m not at all sure his game is deep enough for a flyweight meta that heavily values scramble opportunities. Pantoja will come crashing into Kape, almost definitely. If Kape can find the shots to either make Pantoja’s entries predictable, or just stop him cold when he’s getting over confident, then he’s got a real puncher’s chance at victory. But given Pantoja has never been KO’d and has a quality ground game, I’ve got to pick him to mix it up enough to get things done. Alexandre Pantoja by decision.
Staff picking Pantoja: Zane, Harry
Staff picking Kape: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne
Cody Stamann vs. Askar Askar
Mookie Alexander: Askar Askar and Askar Askarov are both on the UFC roster albeit two weight classes apart. That’s gotta be confusing. Cody Stamann by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: A fight with someone like Cody Stamann is a hell of a huge ask for a UFC newcomer, especially one used to bulldozing people with power and persistence. Stamann’s tough as hell to hurt, capable everywhere, and puts out a strong offensive pace. Fighters that don’t have a big technical edge over him in at least one area tend not to walk away with a win. To that end, I just don’t see anything in Askar’s game that suggests he’ll be able to do more than surprise Stamann with his aggression out of the gate. Assuming Stamann fights that off, he should be able to control the rest of the fight. Cody Stamann by decision.
Staff picking Stamann: Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Mookie, Harry
Staff picking Askar:
Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush
Mookie Alexander: I just do not trust Dariush’s gas tank to hold up against Ferreira. He certainly beat Ferreira on the mat the last time and could do so again but I expect we’ll see a lot of striking in this one, and it’ll come down to how the opening round goes. If Dariush showcases his power and hurts Ferreira early, he might be able to finish him. If he can’t finish him then I expect him to fade and for Ferreira’s speed and combination work to take over. Diego Ferreira by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: One of the big keys to Diego Ferreira’s recent success seems to have been the absolute panic he can put people in over the prospect of going to the mat with him. It allowed him a ton of success pressuring Rustam Khabilov and Mairbek Taisumov. And in Pettis’ case, ‘Showtime’ has always struggled with opponents willing to walk him to the cage and shoot in over and over. I’m not sure Dariush presents that matchup. For one thing, he’s already beat Ferreira on the mats. And unlike someone like Pettis or Taisumov, he may be the better wrestler here as well. If he can use that to absorb Ferreira’s pressure and build some of his own, then Ferreira’s willful striking isn’t exactly the cleanest or most defensive thing in the world. The big X factor is cardio. Dariush hung with Barboza standing and dominated Evan Dunham early, but started to flag in both fights, losing one spectacularly and walking out with a draw in the other. If he doesn’t put Ferreira away, then this fight could get really ugly. Still, I’ll take the chance, Beneil Dariush via TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Ferreira: Stephie, Mookie, Harry
Staff picking Dariush: Dayne, Zane
Michael Johnson vs. Clay Guida
Mookie Alexander: There’s a really good chance Johnson dominates this fight before Guida jumps on a guillotine and Michael loses a fight he’s winning for the millionth time. I don’t see it happening but I wouldn’t be shocked. Johnson is still a slicker striker and Guida lacks the power to hurt him and he’s not really as aggressive and dangerous a grappler to put Johnson in bad spots. Michael Johnson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: By all means, Michael Johnson SHOULD win this fight. But he also should have beat Stevie Ray and Thiago Moises and Darren Elkins. All of whom he was dialing up for large portions of their bouts. This is probably going to look like a complete shitkicking for portions of it, but I just can’t get over how badly Johnson shuts down when he gets taken down. And for all that he’s looked like an older, less durable version of his classic maniac self, Guida has started doing a lot of non-stop wrestling again. What the hell, Clay Guida by split decision.
Staff picking Johnson: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry
Staff picking Guida: Zane
Rest of the card
Mike Rodriguez vs. Danilo Marques
Staff picking Rodriguez: Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Mookie
Staff picking Marques:
Martin Day vs. Timur Valiev
Staff picking Day:
Staff picking Valiev: Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Mookie
Ode Osbourne vs. Jerome Rivera
Staff picking Osbourne: Dayne, Harry
Staff picking Rivera: Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards
Staff picking Rosa: Dayne, Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Edwards:
Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio
Staff picking McCann: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Harry
Staff picking Procopio: Dayne
Seung Woo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal
Staff picking Choi: Harry
Staff picking Zalal: Dayne, Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Justin Jaynes vs. Devonte Smith
Staff picking Jaynes:
Staff picking Smith: Dayne, Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Harry
This poll is closed