The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC Vegas 34 and... oh dear, those are a lot of unanimous choices. That will really put the curse to the test, including the main event between Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. We’ll see if Gastelum will benefit from the curse. Zane Simon is making the bold pick of Clay Guida over Mark O. Madsen in the co-main event.
Just as a footnote, Trevin Jones vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov was bumped to the main card in the middle of the week, after the predictions were sent out to the staff, so it’s not part of this post.
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.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Jared Cannonier
Anton Tabuena: Even if this wasn’t short notice, I’d still pick the same. Gastelum is durable and experienced, so maybe this goes the distance even against such a hard hitter, but I’m not sure he wins either way. Jared Cannonier by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: We’re really all picking Gastelum, are we? Congrats on your win, Kelvin! This is a pretty tough fight to pick because I’m pretty sure Gastelum is the better boxer and if he commits to his wrestling he may provide a serious test for Cannonier’s otherwise improved takedown defense. But Cannonier is also going to be the bigger fighter and while Gastelum is extraordinarily tough, he’s so inconsistent both with his weight cut discipline and actual in-fight performances that it’s hard to trust him. If this is not a high-paced fight then Cannonier’s cardio won’t be a factor in a five-round scenario and it’s likely Cannonier can just outstrike him from mid-range. Also Gastelum’s refusal to do anything other than box when he does strike is what leans me towards Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Kelvin Gastelum is incredibly durable and consistent from round to round. Unfortunately for him, at the highest levels, that consistency hasn’t been enough to actually win rounds. He rarely ever pushes the pace, opting instead to match the output that his opponent puts forth. For Cannonier, that should make for a pretty comfortable mid-range striking battle where he’ll be the bigger, more powerful man who throws with more variety. Jared Cannonier by decision.
Staff picking Gastelum:
Staff picking Cannonier: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Zane
Clay Guida vs. Mark O. Madsen
Anton Tabuena: With their styles, Madsen would’ve probably struggled with prime Guida, but he’s not facing that guy. Mark O. Madsen by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I do not like how Madsen faded against Hubbard in his last fight but I’m banking on him winning the first two rounds and rendering any potential Guida comeback boot. Madsen ain’t young but he’s also a high-level Olympic medalist wrestler and if Guida can’t take him down then Madsen should be able to outpoint him. I struggle to see why this is the co-main event. Mark O. Madsen by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I dunno, I feel like I’m all too willing to take a flier on Guida here. Madsen has yet to show himself to be either a comfortable grappler or striker. And while he’s obviously got a lot less mileage on him in the Octagon, at 36, he’s hardly a fresh young prospect. Has Guida ever been beat by being purely outwrestled without a lot of extra offense to go with it? And if Madsen flags the same way he did against Austin Hubbard, Guida is a lot more experienced at battling his way back into wins. I guess, until I see Madsen get a win as decent as Clay Guida I’m not gonna pick it to happen. Clay Guida by decision.
Staff picking Guida: Zane
Staff picking Madsen: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Dayne
Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter
Mookie Alexander: Porter’s resume is so devoid of decent wins that beating Josh Parisian is one of his career highlights. I don’t think he’ll be able to deal with Sherman’s striking and for all of Chase’s defensive flaws he’s more durable, I suspect. This will probably be a banger. Chase Sherman by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Porter showed a surprising ability to push the pace against Parisian, where he had the surprising status of being the faster, more nimble man in the cage. But I don’t think that will carry forward against Sherman. Sherman’s bare knuckle boxing work has improved his hands and shot selection, and he’s always been able to put out a lot of offense. He’s hittable in return, but I’m not terribly convinced Porter has the power to make that count. This feels like a footrace Sherman can win, especially given how Porter seems to get hurt regularly early in fights. Chase Sherman via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Sherman: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Porter:
Vinc Pichel vs. Austin Hubbard
Mookie Alexander: Pichel is gonna grind out Hubbard. You may not believe it but his only losses are Rustam Khabilov via 1000 suplexes and Gregor Gillespie. Dude had a long period of inactivity but since he’s returned he’s been really good. Vinc Pichel by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Pichel tends to lose only to guys that can definitively out-wrestle him. Whereas Hubbard only tends to beat fighters he can mentally break over the course of three rounds. Pichel seems like a pretty tough guy to push off his game in the cage, and Hubbard doesn’t have elite wrestling chops. Should make for a predictable Pichel win. Vinc Pichel by decision.
Staff picking Pinchel: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Hubbard:
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval
Anton Tabuena: This has real title implications and should be the co-main event at least. Oh well. Alexandre Pantoja by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I’m a Pantoja mark so of course I’m going to pick him to win regardless, but I’m surprised we all went with him. Royval is an absolute madman and I mean that in the nicest way. We should see so many scrambles and such a ridiculous pace that we may actually see rare double flyweight exhaustion if it gets to a 3rd round. We’ve seen this from Pantoja but not from Royval, but I’m unconvinced Royval’s game holds up if he isn’t getting a finish early. Also for as much as Royval is an aggressive sub hunter I’m not sure he’ll be able to outgrapple the Brazilian. Royval also may have flashier striking but I see Pantoja as more technical. This is gonna be Fight of the Night, for sure. Alexandre Pantoja by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I’m a little concerned that we’re all picking Pantoja here, with the biggest x-factor being that Royval is actually a pretty huge flyweight. If he and Pantoja are going to tangle up and scramble on the ground regularly, that just might be enough to gas out the smaller man, especially given that Pantoja has struggled to maintain his cardio against better grapplers in the past. But ‘better’ is kind of the key word here. And I’m not at all convinced that Royval does anything better than Pantoja. And while Pantoja has struggled with cardio in a couple fights, he’s near impossible to finish and Royval rarely gets to decisions. If Pantoja can stay calm and beat Royval to positions, he should be able to find his strikes standing and find spots of control on the mat. Alexandre Pantoja by decision.
Staff picking Pantoja: Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Royval:
This poll is closed