The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC Vegas 21 and there’s only a slight lean towards Leon Edwards to defeat short notice opponent Belal Muhammad in the headliner. As for the co-main, everyone picked Misha Cirkunov to beat Ryan Spann, so congrats to Spann on his win in advance.
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.
Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad
Mookie Alexander: Leon Edwards has been out 20 months and his COVID spell seemed quite serious given his weight loss. That seems worth monitoring. Muhammad fights at a high pace and is in your face almost all of the time. I wonder if he can make Edwards uncomfortable off the backfoot or if he’ll get sniped by Edwards’ jab and outworked in the clinch. What may hurt Edwards is his real lack of finishing ability, such that even though Muhammad is hardly one with a penchant for stoppage wins, he’ll find it hard to discourage Belal over the course of the contest. Another key question unanswered is how Muhammad’s cardio will hold up over five rounds, considering he’s never been past four. I think Edwards may have a harder than expected time dealing with Muhammad’s pressure and striking but he’ll rely on his wrestling to get him to victory. Leon Edwards by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I’m really not confident about this fight at all. Muhammad has struggled (rarely) with the kind of tools that Edwards brings to the table. Especially rangy power punching while cutting small angles, and bodylock takedowns. However he also keeps a much faster pace than Edwards and, even in his losses to the likes of Alan Jouban and Geoff Neal, he made a lot of progress to get back into those bouts by the third round. In a five round fight, he very well might find the right adjustments to out-run Edwards to the finish behind his constant jab. Still, I think Edwards can be just that little bit more controlled in ways that most of Muhammad’s opponents haven’t been able to. Especially since he presents a legit wrestling threat that Muhammad has rarely ever had to face. Muhammad might still mount a late comeback, but I think Edwards can win enough early to get it done. Leon Edwards by decision.
Staff picking Edwards: Zane, Mookie, Dayne
Staff picking Muhammad: Stephie, Connor
Misha Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann
Mookie Alexander: Either Spann brutally knocks Cirkunov out (very possible since Cirkunov’s chin isn’t the best) or Cirkunov outgrapples Spann and gets a ground-and-pound TKO or a submission. This is designed to be a chaotic fight and we shall have plenty of chaotic moments before MIsha gets the victory. Misha Cirkunov by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: There’s a solid chance that Cirkunov gets sparked before he gets a chance to out-grapple Spann. But, even when Spann is having success standing, he usually tries to initiate a grappling battle. And when Cirkunov doesn’t get finished early, he’s shown himself to be a tough and scrappy striker who can hang with decent punchers. All that has me leaning Cirkunov to get the submission, maybe after a bad scare or two. Misha Cirkunov via submission, round 2.
Staff picking Cirkunov: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Spann:
Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker
Mookie Alexander: Definitely could come down to the ground game despite both men showing a willingness to strike. Tucker likes his takedowns in volume but not necessarily to just have prolonged control time. Ige probably won the Barboza fight (not that I think he should’ve gotten the nod) based on a critical takedown. This is a hard one to call but I think I lean Ige to have the more damaging offense on the feet and we might see him take this to the mat a couple of times when things get tricky. Dan Ige by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Billy Quarantillo was a bigger puncher or Justin Jaynes had a bit more cardio, both men may have taken wins off Tucker. Tucker has some clear technical advantages, he uses range well, has a powerful kicking game, throws sharp punches. He’s even become a solid wrestler when needed. But, as a fairly short striker who likes to play an aggressive range striking style, fighters willing to eat his shots and counter have found him hittable and hurtable. Ige may not be a deft boxer from distance, but he is a vicious counterpuncher and can put some nasty pressure on when the opportunity rises. He does tend to gas in the second round, but not nearly as bad as Jaynes did in his fight with Tucker. Could be a masterful technical performance from Tucker, but I’m taking Dan Ige via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Ige: Zane, Mookie, Dayne
Staff picking Tucker: Stephie, Connor
Jonathan Martinez vs. Davey Grant
Mookie Alexander: Davey Grant has been in the UFC for eight years and has just six fights. Wild. Anyway this is probably going to be a fun one but Martinez is better on the feet and shouldn’t get tangled in a crazy grappling bout with the Englishman. Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Grant is a bit more of a wild man with an eye toward finishing the fight in all positions, but it also always feels a bit like he’s snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. I really liked the poise Martinez showed against Thomas Almeida last time out, which blends nicely with his lunging style of rangy kickboxing and aggressive clinch fighting. If Martinez weren’t so durable, I might pick Grant to get the upset. But so far he’s been a rock. Jonathan Martinez by decision.
Staff picking Martinez: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Grant:
Manel Kape vs. Matheus Nicolau
Mookie Alexander: Kape’s gotta be much better and less showy-offy after that Pantoja fight, correct? Because if not then Nicolau can win this. Kape is the more offensively potent fighter and Nicolau’s chin has been compromised before. I think we get some RIZIN Kape on this occasion. Manel Kape by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Nicolau is a solid, evenly paced striker who works well behind a kicking and counter game to occasionally unleash big power strikes on his opponents. And he backs all that up well with some rock solid grappling. But, better athletes who have been able to go tit-for-tat with him in striking exchanges have also been able to knock him out... at least a couple times anyway. Kape’s game is still a bit of a jumble of single power punches, but he’s got good pressure, a tough chin, and real, crafty counterpunching ability. I think he’ll prove why people were so excited by his signing to the UFC this time around. Manel Kape via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Kape: Zane, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Nicolau: Dayne, Connor
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart
Mookie Alexander: Anders’ game just remains too much of a clunky mess. This might be his last UFC fight. Darren Stewart by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Were it not for Vinicius Moreira, Anders’ only clear win in the past three years would be his head kick KO over Tim Williams, in a fight he was probably losing on the scorecards. He just doesn’t throw enough or chain together his techniques well enough to surprise most opponents with the power he otherwise obviously possesses. Stewart may get a little in his own head at times, but he’s tough, and can be a punishing fighter in his own right when the opportunity presents. I’d still argue that Anders got out-struck by Gerald Meerschaert, so I gotta pick Darren Stewart via decision.
Staff picking Anders:
Staff picking Stewart: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder
Staff picking Hill: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Yoder:
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Rafa Garcia
Staff picking Haqparast: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Garcia:
Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez
Staff picking Yahya: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Rodriguez:
Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo
Staff picking Jourdain: Zane, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Rojo:
Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich
Staff picking Casey: Stephie, Dayne
Staff picking Aldrich: Zane, Mookie, Connor
Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Staff picking de Paula: Stephie
Staff picking Frey: Zane, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt
Staff picking Semelsberger: Zane, Mookie, Connor
Staff picking Witt: Stephie, Dayne
This poll is closed