The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC 265, and unsurprisingly everyone is going for Ciryl Gane over heavy underdog Derrick Lewis in the main event. Given the strength of the BE curse in recent weeks, I’d just like to congratulate ‘The Black Beast’ on winning the interim heavyweight title. As you can tell, the co-main between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz and the welterweight battle between Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa are much tougher calls.
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.
Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane
Anton Tabuena: It would be entertaining to see if Lewis can pull another rabbit out of a hat, but this is a pretty terrible match up for him. Gane will be patient and he will pick his shots from the outside en route to a one-sided match up. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he finished on the ground either. Ciryl Gane by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: This has a pretty clear two-way outcome. Either Ciryl Gane dominates Derrick Lewis and eventually wins or Ciryl Gane dominates Derrick Lewis and ‘The Black Beast’ pulls off another miraculous and violent KO. Nothing against Gane, but I’d love it if the latter happened. But it probably won’t because Lewis has had quite a few losses where he does get outclassed and stays outclassed, and I reckon this will be one of them. Cyril Gane by TKO, round 4.
David Castillo: As fun as Lewis is (well, sometimes), I just don’t see an out here. Lewis fights patiently because he has to. Gane fights patiently because he wants to. Without forcing Gane to fight beyond his point-style trappings, I don’t see what Lewis can do to close the distance. Granted, I do feel like Gane has some defensive shortcomings. His zone entries leave him oddly vulnerable. Which is strange for someone who’s otherwise so good at managing distance. But even disregarding Gane’s ability to win the fight over five rounds, he also has the wrestling gear. I could absolutely see him just taking Lewis to the ground, and making it easy on himself. Because of that, I’ll go with the unexpected. Ciryl Gane by Submission, round 3.
Staff picking Lewis:
Staff picking Gane: Mookie, Stephie, David, Dayne, Zane, Connor, Phil, Anton
Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz
Anton Tabuena: Aldo still doing well and finding success well after his prime is a testament to how great he truly is, even if people still under-appreciate his body of work. Father Time will catch up eventually, but until I see that steep decline, it will be hard to pick against Aldo against most contenders. I think he is still the far more technical striker here, and having this at just three rounds will probably play to his favor too. Jose Aldo by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: That this is a three-rounder and not a five-rounder is a major reason why I’m picking Aldo. I expect him to have a great start and then fade but it’s different when you risk fading in the championship rounds of a grueling war of attrition compared to the third round. Munhoz is likely going to have to go strike for strike with Aldo because there’s virtually no way he’ll consistently take and hold Jose down. Can he do it? Absolutely. But the trade-off here is that while I’m sure Munhoz is the more durable fighter, he’s also the greater defensive liability. Expect Aldo to really rip that left hook to the body to try and slow Munhoz down, land the sharper looking shots early on, and for Munhoz to stage a late rally that won’t quite be enough. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
David Castillo: Aldo will always be one of my favorites. After I’ve forgotten my own mother’s face, I will still recall his pivots, left hooks, leg kicks, and head movement. So it pains me to say this. But I’m picking Munhoz. Not because I think he’s better, even now, with Aldo past his prime. But it’s been awhile since Aldo’s been dragged into a dogfight. As technical and brilliant as Aldo is, his greatest weakness is that this isn’t boxing. His counterpunching can be reactive, and getting hit and hurt are typically signals of the end in MMA, whereas in boxing, being hurt can be inconveniences rather than impending doom. Against Yan, Aldo had a fighter willing to go toe to toe in technical ways. Munhoz needs one bomb to everything else to cascade into something worse. This prediction will make me look like the full idiot I am, and that’s fine if it means Aldo wins. But I have to expect Aldo hits a wall. Against someone that hits like one (walls don’t move but you get the picture), I suspect Munhoz won’t need many chances to exploit Aldo’s very subtle, and very lowkey physical decline for the intangible challenges Munhoz presents. Pedro Munhoz by TKO, round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: At some point it just has to stop working for Aldo. Sure, he has tons of advantages over Munhoz. He can lace big counterpunches through Munhoz’ porous guard and beat him up to the head and body. He’s defensively going to be able to pick off Munhoz’ jab and low kicks. But he’s just fighting an insanely durable, less shop-worn and offensively potent fighter for fifteen minutes, and the amount of time that he’s an effective fighter is being burnt down from both ends, where he’s getting clipped up at the start of fights (Yan, Moraes) as well as tiring at the end (Yan, Holloway etc). Pedro Munhoz by submission, round 3.
Staff picking Aldo: Mookie, Zane, Connor, Anton
Staff picking Munhoz: Stephie, David, Dayne, Phil
Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa
Mookie Alexander: Love this fight. Chiesa’s strength is a seriously underrated part of his game and he’s looked so much stronger at 170. If you didn’t want to put any serious stock into it against Condit or Diego, the way he bullied Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny was impressive. With that said, Luque is going to have a decided striking advantage in addition to not being easy to outgrapple. Chiesa will have to do everything in his power to avoid getting into prolonged exchanges with Vicente on the feet, or else he’s in for a long night. Can Chiesa take Luque down or clinch up with him to smother his attack? Perhaps, but I think Luque will be too much for him in the end. My only concern is Luque doesn’t make any fight easy so he may present Chiesa with some fight-winning opportunities for however long it lasts. Vicente Luque by TKO, round 2.
David Castillo: Luque is rightfully the favorite, but I’ve never been impressed with how difficult he makes exchanges. This is a guy who couldn’t pull away from Mike Perry despite the obvious imbalance in technique. Sure, it’s just one fight. But all of his recent performances have been good stylistic layups in ways whereas Chiesa, who’s practically a different brand, keeps trending up against superior competition. Michael Chiesa by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I feel like people still don’t believe in Welterweight Chiesa,- they’re just less willing to give him the credit for a weight class transformation like, say, Poirier made. He’s a smart, physical fighter. While he isn’t a good striker, I think he can broadly replicate what Barbarena did and just throw committed strikes at Luque to make him put the double forearm up, then run him into the fence to grapple him. There we’ve seen fighters like Edwards and Graves be able to wear him down. Luque’s counterpunching and his own sub game remain live threats, as well as the way that if Chiesa can’t enforce those striking combinations he’ll be stuck against a powerful low kicker (see: the Dariush fight). Still, I think I’ve seen Luque lose this fight before Michael Chiesa by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Luque: Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Chiesa: Dayne, David, Phil, Anton
Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill
Anton Tabuena: Hill has improved leaps and bounds since their first contest over six years ago. Tecia will probably still have an advantage in speed and grappling, but I think Hill will have a better striking game and will be more equipped to deal with the wrestling exchanges. I think this will be extremely close, especially with Hill’s style and lack of power not really helping with optics for some (most?) judges. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hill loses yet another heart breaker of a split decision, but I’m going with the upset. She’s due some breaks with judging anyway. Angela Hill by split decision.
Mookie Alexander: This will ideally be a better fight than their first encounter, but I think the outcome will be largely the same. It’ll be closer because Hill has made some serious strides in her overall game but Torres’ speed and takedown threat will see her get her hand raised once more. Hill unfortunately just lacks that real big power that would give me second thoughts about picking Tecia again. Tecia Torres by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I like both of these fighters a lot. I was a little worried about Torres for a while, but she genuinely seems to have found a second wind in her career, and I think she’s honestly just too quick for Hill, who will be forced to make the choice between the clinch, fighting off takedowns, and the striking phase just a bit too quickly for her own comfort again. Tecia Torres by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Torres: Mookie, Stephie, David, Zane, Connor, Phil
Staff picking Hill: Dayne, Anton
Song Yadong vs. Casey Kenney
Anton Tabuena: Yadong will have a significant skill and power advantage, so it probably isn’t the best idea for Kenney to still strike with him and try to bank on that toughness. Song Yadong by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Striking edge and power edge should do to Song but I don’t think he can deal with Kenney’s grueling pace without tiring. Kenney’s stand-up has improved enough that he should be competitive on the feet and use that to implement his wrestling effectively and outgrapple Song for the W. Casey Kenney by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Hmmmm picked Kenney but this one feels awfully close, not least because Kenney’s style is so “take one to give one” and Yadong could just tear his head off with one counter. Picking Kenney to win on volume but very very hard to call. Casey Kenney by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Yadong: Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Kenney: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Rafael Fiziev vs. Bobby Green
Anton Tabuena: This has the potential for some serious violence. Rafael Fiziev by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: This is going to be one of those fights where Green does a fair bit of good work and then is totally pissed off when the judges don’t give him the decision. I think he’ll challenge Fiziev and won’t be easy to hit, plus he’ll be looking to wrestle and make Fiziev work off of his back. And yet, I think Fiziev will win through a punishing body attack to open up those more eye-catching head shots, and his style is better suited towards clearly winning rounds than Bobby’s. Also his takedown defense figures to be outstanding so if Green can’t get his wrestling to work then I can’t envision him clearly oustriking Rafael. Should be a great scrap! Rafael Fiziev by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Fiziev’s unspoken conviction that “jabs are for losers” should make this an interesting one, as he attempts to work combinations around the guard of a more defensively stable and essentially tougher fighter than Renato Moicano. Green should be able to get some jabs in on Fiziev, but.. if he’s getting outpaced on the feet by Thiago Moises it’s not a great sign against someone as potent and consistent as Fiziev. Rafael Fiziev by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Fiziev: Mookie, Stephie, David, Dayne, Zane, Connor, Phil, Anton
Staff picking Green:
Ed Herman vs. Alonzo Menifield
Mookie Alexander: The Vivisection team of Zane and Connor picked Ed Herman, presumably because Menifield has now demonstrably proven he’s really not that good and is a one-round fighter. That’s all fine and dandy but Herman should’ve had a knockout loss in his last fight that somehow turned into a submission win, he’s still incredibly slow, and is very much the type of fighter whom I think Menifield can wipe out in a round. Alonzo Menifield by KO, round 1.
David Castillo: Ed Herman is still here?! It feels like just yesterday he was complaining about Tito not picking him. Just kidding. I’m just old. Damn. But still. Josh Haynes might as well be on this card. Alonzo Menifield wins.
Staff picking Herman: Zane, Connor
Staff picking Menifield: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Phil, Anton
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne
David Castillo: I’ve always been fond of KK. Despite being a badass professional fighter, she inserts class into a sport that otherwise doesn’t f’ing have any. Having lost her last four, it’s a miracle she’s even on the card. Against Penne, she should have the opportunity to bounce back with her brand of hard work and one-two dedication. It’s nice to see that she’s been able to manage her Hashimoto’s disease, and against Penne, who is a solid technical fighter but not much of a threat, this is as ideal as it’s gonna get. Karolina Kowalkiewicz wins.
Staff picking Kowalkiewicz: Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor, David, Phil, Mookie
Staff picking Penne: Anton
Rest of the card
Vince Morales vs. Drako Rodriguez
Staff picking Morales: Mookie, Zane
Staff picking Rodriguez: Stephie, Dayne, Connor, David, Phil, Anton
Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne
Staff picking Kape: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor, David, Phil, Anton
Staff picking Osbourne:
Miles Johns vs. Anderson dos Santos
Staff picking Johns: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor, David, Phil
Staff picking dos Santos:
Victoria Leonardo vs. Melissa Gatto
Staff picking Leonardo: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Phil
Staff picking Gatto: Zane, Connor, Anton
Johnny Munoz Jr vs. Jamey Simmons
Staff picking Munoz Jr: Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor, Mookie, David, Phil, Anton
Staff picking Simmons:
This poll is closed