The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC Vegas 30, and we are unanimously on the side of Alexander Volkov to defeat Ciryl Gane in the main even. Ditto for Tanner Boser over Ovince Saint Preux in the co-main event. Hey, the BE curse only emerged once out of the top three fights from UFC 263, so maybe it’s starting to wear off!
Ciryl Gane vs. Alexander Volkov
Mookie Alexander: Hmm… this is not an easy fight to pick despite the lopsided picks in favor of Volkov. Gane has heavy kicks, a punishing jab, and he’s shown in a couple of fights that he’s a more than formidable grappler. But I’m not sold on how he’ll fight if it’s a faster pace. Volkov can basically do everything Gane can on the feet but at a higher volume, and other than absolute elite wrestlers it seems as if Volkov’s takedown defense has improved well enough that either opponents get stuffed or don’t do a lot of damage on the ground. I just see Volkov being able to have more minute to minute success and Gane won’t have the Derrick Lewis type of power to dissuade Volkov from throwing and landing at a higher clip. Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Yeah, I gotta agree with Mookie here, I’m not at all happy to see ALL of us picking Volkov. I don’t wanna say BE has cursed the Russian... but, we might have cursed the Russian. My biggest worry honestly for Gane is that the most nuanced striker he’s fought to date was a Junior Dos Santos so far past it that just about any pushback from Gane was likely to spell doom for ‘Cigano.’ Otherwise he was more or less able to freeze Boser and Rozenstruik from range in a way that I really don’t think he’ll be able to do with Volkov. Volkov pretty much always keeps a pace, is always tough to put away, and will either stay outside if he has the advantage there, or find room inside to push the fight if he starts getting tagged. Is Gane a good enough defensive striker really to handle a war with Volkov, is he a slick enough striker on the front foot to just dance around him and pick him off? Maybe, but I’m a lot more willing to bank on Volkov fighting his way to a gritty 5 round win than Gane just being that much slicker. Still, don’t like to see all of us picking it, feels like a fight where both men could win two rounds and we’re splitting some hairs on what made either of them more effective. Alexander Volkov by decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): Volkov also has proven to be exceptionally durable. Everyone remembers Derrick Lewis finishing him in the waning seconds of their contest, but Lewis could stop a Mack truck if given the opportunity. Volkov has also put on a lot of healthy weight, coming near the heavyweight limit without seeming to sacrifice any of his stamina. The Russian seems to understand if he’s ever going to make a run to the top, this is the time. It’s going to be a hell of a chore to get past Gane as the Frenchman is the superior athlete. It could be argued Gane’s ground game is superior as well, but Volkov has proven to be extremely difficult to keep down. Plus, it’s hard to name a situation Volkov hasn’t endured in his 40-plus fights. I’m a big fan of the attitude Volkov has displayed recently too. I’m going with the Russian to give Gane the first setback of his career in an upset. Volkov via TKO of RD4
Staff picking Gane:
Staff picking Volkov: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Tanner Boser vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Mookie Alexander: I mean, this is a fight. It exists. OSP might be able to Von Preux his way to victory at heavyweight, but I think his chin is fading and Boser has shown enough power that I think he can knock OSP out and avoid OSP wrestling him to the mat. I do have some hesitancy given how poorly Boser dealt with Latifi’s wrestling even after Ilir had his arm broken. Tanner Boser by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Have I said that I’m just not picking OSP to win fights at heavyweight before? Because that’s really all it is. I’m not picking OSP to win heavyweight fights. His already low output only seems to be getting lower lately, which probably means this fight will be a 3 round slog, with Boser doing lots of clinching with OSP on the fence, between each man landing a few big shots. Tanner Boser by decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): An X-factor in the contest is OSP’s wrestling. He has a power shot and the first time Boser faced someone with a decent wrestling game, he performed poorly. It wasn’t just that Ilir Latifi took him down; it was that Latifi kept him down, Boser replicating a turtle on its back. The issue with OSP wrestling is it tends to sap his energy levels in a hurry. Perhaps not needing to cut to 205 will allow him to retain his stamina better. I can’t say for sure, but despite all the factors working against Boser, I’m still picking him. I trust OSP even less than Boser. Given OSP has always been so reliant on his physical skills and they are in decline, there’s even less reason to trust him than there was before. Boser via decision
Staff picking Boser: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking OSP:
Timur Valiev vs. Raoni Barcelos
Mookie Alexander: This should be the real co-main event. Barcelos is a criminally underrated bantamweight and he is a serious threat wherever the fight takes place. He’s got good power and really can do damage in the pocket, and I think that’s where Valiev will be susceptible. And if it goes to the mat I suspect Barcelos will have the advantage there as well. Raoni Barcelos by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This should be a high quality war. Both men can strike, both men can wrestle, and both men can grapple. They’re both good high level physical fighters, and both well trained and experienced veterans. Still, I’m a much bigger fan of Barcelos’ process than I am Valiev’s who seems to be more of a one-at-a-time striker who looks to confuse opponents with variety and get in on takedowns behind it. Barcelos is much more of a wade into the pocket and look to slip and trade in combination with big power kind of guy. That gets him caught hard and clean on the counter sometimes, but even then, he’s usually the one landing the bigger more punishing shots. I’ll take that kind of calculation to see him through this fight, but it’ll probably also be exactly what makes it a nail biter down to the end. Raoni Barcelos by decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): Given Valiev tends to push an insane pace, it’s possible he could exhaust Barcelos, especially if his wrestling proves to be superior to Barcelos’. Most would believe that to be the case at first glance, but Barcelos is a top notch BJJ practitioner and Barcelos has had rock solid takedown defense. Then again, he hasn’t faced anyone with Valiev’s wrestling. What appears to be holding Valiev back is a lack of power and whether he has confidence in his chin given he engaged on the feet as little as possible against Martin Day after being put away by Trevin Jones. There’s a part of me that believes Valiev can pull off the upset – he does have a high fight IQ after all – but Barcelos’ flair for the finish has me sticking with the favorite. Barcelos via KO of RD3
Staff picking Valiev:
Staff picking Barcelos: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Andre Fili vs. Daniel Pineda
Mookie Alexander: Easily a favorite for Fight of the Night. Pineda very much operates in a “finish or be finished” world and while Fili is not a prolific finisher he’s capable of some outstanding performances. Pineda made a pretty awful decision to chase an early KO of Cub Swanson and paid for it dearly by gassing out and getting KO’d himself. I give Fili the edge in wrestling and boxing and he might be able to chip away at Pineda on the counter to get the finish. Andre Fili by TKO, round 2.
Dayne Fox (from preview): The issue is Fili doesn’t excel in a single area. He’s a fundamentally sound boxer. A strong wrestler. An underrated grappler and scrambler too. But he doesn’t come close to ranking anywhere near the elite in any one of those categories. Fili’s survival skills will be put to the test by Daniel Pineda. While no one tends to refer to Pineda as a top notch striker, he packs one hell of a wallop and has good timing on his strikes. Of course, Pineda’s defense is easily his biggest weakness as he tends to take a kill-or-be-killed approach, never having won a decision in his 43 fight career. Pineda does have twice as many submissions as he does KO/TKO finishes, willing to pull guard on a guillotine or nabbing a triangle from off his back. Pineda’s approach makes this contest a strong favorite for FOTN, but I see Fili’s durability and improved submission defense will allow him to escape trouble and finish off a fading Pineda. Fili via TKO of RD2
Staff picking Fili: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Pineda: Stephie
Tim Means vs. Nicolas Dalby
Mookie Alexander: This is more a gut feeling than anything because Means should win this — he has vicious clinchwork and is far more effective in close quarters exchanges than Dalby. I’d say the chin advantage goes to Dalby and if he can get his takedowns going early he might be able to stem the tide of Means’ stand-up. Also I just have the feeling that Means is entering the downside of his career even acknowledging his two wins over Staropoli and Perry. Nicolas Dalby by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: The hard part of picking this fight is really the fact that Dalby is the kind of fighter who can get outstruck by 20-30 sig. strikes in a fight and still win and Tim Means is the kind of fighter who can out-land someone by 20-30 sig. strikes in a fight and still lose. Means is clearly the much more technical man in the cage, but he tends to get into scrappy wars just because those are the kinds of fights he loves to have. Dalby also tends to scrap, but it seems like more of a product of an arsenal that isn’t quite as technical and deep as he’d like it to be. I’m especially concerned with how Dalby looked in his bout against Jesse Ronson, who has a similarly pocket based technical style as Means, and absolutely had Dalby’s number for as long as the bout lasted. If Dalby were a better finisher at this level, I might give him a shot to just put Means away at some point, but I think it’ll be Means landing the better shots all fight. Tim Means by decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): Though Dalby is a considered to be well-rounded, it doesn’t take a lot of film study to recognize he’d rather avoid sitting down in the pocket and trading fisticuffs, alternating between slinging kicks from the outside and clinching up in his most recent appearance. The problem there is those are the two areas where Means functions best, arguably better than Dalby. If Dalby can get his wrestling going – something he’s struggled to do in both UFC runs – it would help open up his striking and potentially put Means away. Given that getting his ground game going has been an issue for the Dane, the most likely scenario sees the busier Means outworking Dalby for a decision. Means via decision
Staff picking Means: Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Dalby: Stephie, Mookie
Renato Moicano vs. Jai Herbert
Mookie Alexander: Moicano may have fallen in love with his hands a little too much. His approach to the Rafael Fiziev fight was the absolute worst one to take and a baffling one that saw him predictably knocked out. Will he do the same with Herbert? Perhaps, but I think he can use his striking to set up his grappling and win from there. If not, then Herbert is absolutely capable of sparking him out. Renato Moicano by unanimous decision.
Dayne Fox (from preview): A slick back take specialist with a stupendous jab and solid timing on the counter, the biggest problem for the Brazilian has been a fragile chin. Part of that is Moicano often forgetting the girl that brought him to the dance: his grappling and scrambling. In his last four contests, Moicano has one successful takedown… in the lone victory he’s had in that period. He’d be foolish to test his striking with Jai Herbert as the Englishman has a freakish 77” reach and a good knowledge of how to use that length. He touches up his opposition with simple combinations and lays the heavy lumber in the clinch. Herbert’s wrestling has been a major question mark, but he is a competent scrambler and grappler. Will it be enough against Moicano? I’ve got my doubts, especially if Moicano can find his back. Herbert may be able to touch up Moicano’s chin before the fight hits the mat, but given he’s more reliant on volume than power, I’d favor Moicano nabbing a sub. Moicano via submission, RD1
Zane Simon: The smart pick here is probably Moicano. Herbert is a much less consistent or technical striker than all the other men to KO the Brazilian. A loss here would, no doubt, be the worst of Moicano’s career to date. But, I really like Herbert’s length and speed, combined with a kinda funky striking rhythm. He tends to surprise just about everyone right out of the gate with just how fast and perfectly placed his striking is. Even in good performances, Moicano often tends to flounder in round 1s. So I’ll take the upset, Jai Herbert via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Moicano: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Staff picking Herbert: Zane
This poll is closed