The BE team has made its main card picks for UFC Vegas 26, and you have all been put on notice because there’s unanimous agreement that Marina Rodriguez will beat Michelle Waterson in Saturday’s main event. Makes your bets accordingly because you never know when #TheBEStaffCurse will show up. As for the co-main, only Stephie Haynes is backing Alex Morono to beat Donald Cerrone.
Mookie Alexander: Waterson would really be well served attacking Rodriguez’s legs and practically spamming takedowns. Rodriguez’s takedown defense is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. But what’s just really hard to ignore is the size disadvantage for Waterson. There are not too many instances I can think of where she conclusively beat a much bigger fighter… you may have to go back to Invicta FC for that. Rodriguez is the more offensively potent fighter and while I have serious pause about Rodriguez in a five-rounder compared to Waterson’s experience in 25-minute fights, I think Michelle really needs her wrestling to work or else she risks getting picked off at range too often against a harder hitter. Marina Rodriguez by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: It’d be foolish to think that Waterson doesn’t have a very clear path to victory here. While she’s best known for her range kicking game, Waterson is a pretty decent and persistent shot wrestler, and tough as nails to boot. If she can get Rodriguez down repeatedly, the route to a win could be pretty clear. It’s really Rodriguez’s own ability to gain momentum that has me leaning her way. The longer fights go, the more offense she tends to throw out there. If she can stop the takedown at any point and force Waterson into a prolonged firefight, I think she can take it. Especially at 125, where she might be able to carry a bit more weight and lean on Waterson to tire her out. Marina Rodriguez by decision.
Staff picking Waterson:
Staff picking Rodriguez: Mookie, Stephie, Harry, Dayne, Connor
Mookie Alexander: This is a very chancy pick because at some point Cowboy is just going to lose to guys he used to be way better than. He came pretty close against Niko Price and a draw was fair, but he’s not quite there yet. Morono can be a bit of a wild man and at this point him landing a clean shot on Cowboy and putting him down and out would not be a surprise, but Cerrone is still the more technical fighter and he’d be wise to take this to the mat and make the most of his grappling advantage. Donald Cerrone by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Morono is almost certainly going to start this fight out taking the action right to Cerrone. It’s a good course to follow, given that Cerrone’s first instinct when pressured is to pressure right back, and he’s often just a bit cold and a half step behind early in fights. Unfortunately for Morono, however, he’s just not the most dangerous finisher in the world. And fighters who don’t wilt to Morono’s game tend to be able to find some serious gaps in his defense and physicality. And while some fuss has been made over his durability, if Niko Price and Anthony Pettis couldn’t put him away, I’m not trusting Morono to get the job done. At which point, it seems like just the kind of fight where Cerrone survives an early scare and turns the tide with a persistent, technical veteran performance. Donald Cerrone by decision.
Staff picking Cerrone: Mookie, Harry, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Morono: Stephie
Geoff Neal vs. Neil Magny
Mookie Alexander: Feels like this fight is largely dependent on whether or not Neal can handle Magny’s wrestling. If he can then I think his striking is both too smooth and powerful for Magny to deal with, particularly if/when Neal gets on the front foot. If Magny can get takedowns against someone with notoriously tough takedown defense then it’s probably Magny’s to lose. I’m backing Neal. Geoff Neal by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: While it’s definitely powerful, Neal’s offense has been pretty one-dimension to date. But he’s thrived, in part, because he’s also very difficult to dissuade from that offense. Opponents who don’t want to have a boxing match with Neal are going to find themselves hard pressed to take him off his feet and keep him on the ground. That said, Magny is a decently competent and very willing wrestler, so he’s almost certainly going to give that path a try. If it works, he’ll likely take the win. But, if it doesn’t, I think Magny’s just not quite evasive enough to stay away from Neal in the small cage. Geoff Neal via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Neal: Mookie, Harry, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Magny: Stephie, Dayne
Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Mookie Alexander: Why. Marcos Rogerio de Lima by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: I like Mookie’s blind optimism that if this goes more than 5 minutes Lima will be still in position to win it. He almost always seems to make some terrible decisions as fights go on. But early in bouts he’s still an absolutely hellacious striker, with great power and speed. And unfortunately, to date, Greene’s responses to hard pressure and power strikes haven’t been inspiring. He tends to back straight up with his head on line, and get caught clean. If he survives that here, he’ll probably find a way to win. But I’m taking Rogerio de Lima via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Greene:
Staff picking de Lima: Mookie, Stephie, Harry, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie
Mookie Alexander: Not feeling confident about this at all. Gillespie could repeat a good chunk of what Dariush did to Ferreira without completely replicating the gameplan. On the feet there’s a clear advantage for Ferreira, especially if it becomes a battle in the pocket. The theme to almost all of my picks is that I’m trusting the fighter whom I believe will win to not get outwrestled. Diego Ferreira by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Ferreira can’t persuade Gillespie that he’s too dangerous to be messed around with on the mats, then there’s a decent chance Gillespie just rides him for 15 minutes to victory. But, Gillespie’s tendency to rush his way into dangerous exchanges, both standing and on the mats has me thinking that he’s going to give Ferreira exactly the chances he needs to get a finish. Diego Ferreira via sub, round 2.
Staff picking Ferreira: Mookie, Stephie, Harry, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Gillespie: Dayne
Angela Hill vs. Amanda Ribas
Mookie Alexander: It will be interesting to see how Ribas will bounce back after such a devastating knockout loss to Marina Rodriguez. What Hill lacks in power she makes up for in volume and I think she should be able to outwork and outland Ribas. My main concern is whether Hill will get drawn into prolonged wrestling and grappling exchanges with Amanda, at which point it’s to the Brazilian’s advantage as she’s the more dynamic fighter. I think Hill takes this in a competitive, back-and-forth battle. Angela Hill by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If there are a few fighters in this event that could really benefit from scoring takedowns, Angela Hill really needs to keep this fight standing. Ribas is a confident fighter everywhere, but her striking defense is very porous. Unfortunately for Hill, even as her striking has improved over the years, she’s still just not much of a finisher. And with Ribas’ ability to hit quick, dynamic takedowns from bodylock clinch entries, I get the feeling she’ll be able to surprise Hill early and put her on her back. Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Hill: Mookie, Stephie, Harry, Dayne
Staff picking Ribas: Zane, Connor
This poll is closed