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UFC Vegas 50: Santos vs. Ankalaev staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 50.

The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 50 card in Las Vegas, and we’re unanimously picking Magomed Ankalaev to win his light heavyweight matchup against former title challenger Thiago Santos. As for the co-main event, it’s the same unanimous belief that Song Yadong will hand former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes his fourth straight loss. To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.

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 Zane Simon 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.

Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev

Mookie Alexander: Santos is already a counterstriker by nature but he’s even more hesitant to lead post-knee surgeries than ever before. That doesn’t mean Ankalaev still can’t be wary of his striking and his kicks in particular, but this fight is either going to be Santos losing a very tepid decision against someone who’s also a counterstriker but can get the fight to the mat and produces more round-winning offense, or Santos will be aggressive and risked getting quickly knocked out. Ankalaev is on the rise and Santos might have peaked at the Big Jan fight. Magomed Ankalaev by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: There’s a small chance for Santos to put some hesitation into Ankalaev with a few power kicks from distance, but the plain and simple truth is, that the more time and space you give Ankalaev, the more likely he is to find clever ways to hurt you. And unfortunately for Santos, conceding pace and distance have always been issues in his game, even when everything was firing on all cylinders. Ankalaev just doesn’t make many mistakes all on his own, and Santos thrives on opponents walking themselves into danger. Seems primed for a slow competitive fight for a round or two until Anakalev can hit a takedown or set up a clean combo against the fence. Magomed Ankalaev via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Santos:
Staff picking Ankalaev: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Victor, Connor

Marlon Moraes vs. Song Yadong

Mookie Alexander: I think Moraes still has something left in the tank and he’s still very dangerous offensively, but I trust neither his cardio nor his chin to hold up to heavy attacks in response. Song looked real good against Julio Arce and is just a generally solid all-around fighter. I would’ve picked Moraes comfortably four years ago but I see him teetering towards the abyss. Song Yadong by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Not to overemphasize Mookie’s point, but I would have been somewhat confident picking Moraes all the way through his loss to Cory Sandhagen. Moraes was, for many years, one of the most ferociously dangerous single strike artists in MMA. Song Yadong has been a fantastic athlete and an incredibly durable fighter, but I don’t think I’d pick the kid who struggled with Cody Stamann over the guy who went shot for shot with Jose Aldo. That said, the years since have only looked less kind for Moraes and Song seems like things are really starting to click into place for him. End of the day, I expect Moraes to start strong, and very likely put Song in some trouble in the early stages of the first round. But Song has been ultra durable and only picks up the pace as fights go on, so if Moraes can’t get the unlikely quick finish, a late TKO seems very likely. Song Yadong via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Moraes:
Staff picking Song: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Stephie, Victor, Connor

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Alex Caceres

Mookie Alexander: Alex has been on a hell of a run and his game is a lot less helter skelter than it used to be. There’s always the chance Caceres latches onto a submission out of nowhere and catches Yusuff, but this is a mismatch on the feet (in theory). Caceres is normally not easy to put away though so I see this going the distance. Sodiq Yusuff by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I’m glad that Caceres is getting a fight like this, since he’s been asking for a ranked opponent for a couple years now. But it’s very hard not to look at that Seung Woo Choi fight from his last outing, and think that Yusuff can’t recreate a whole lot of the success that Choi was having up until Caceres’ miracle submission comeback. Yusuff is just too fast and too powerful, and Caceres will almost always accede to whatever kind of fight his opponent wants. If that means trading inside with Yusuff, that probably means a hard crash back down to earth. Sodiq Yusuff via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Yusuff: Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Victor, Connor
Staff picking Caceres: Stephie

Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Karl Roberson

Mookie Alexander: It’s not that I’ve got much reason to consistently trust Khalil Rountree, it’s that I trust Karl Roberson far less. He’s gonna get hit hard. Khalil Rountree Jr by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I really have no idea how Roberson is gonna approach this fight. He always carries that power-kickboxer label, but does a whole lot of wrestling and grappling when it actually comes to his Octagon performances. Sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, I’m just not convinced by him at 205, it seems like a detriment to the more physical aspects of his game. Maybe it’ll still work. Maybe he can just straight up out-strike Rountree. Either way I’d have to believe it before I see it. Khalil Rountree via KO, round 2.

Staff picking Rountree: Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Victor, Connor
Staff picking Roberson: Dayne

Drew Dober vs. Terrance McKinney

Mookie Alexander: Is it alright to say I believe the McKinney hype and yet I’m going to pick him to lose anyway? Taking another short notice fight like this is gutsy but Dober is a fair bit above Fares Ziam. I give McKinney the edge in athleticism and speed but Dober also presents a serious challenge for him with his boxing and workrate. The pace McKinney fights at could work against him against Dober, and I see Terrance starting brightly but Dober holding down the fort before stopping McKinney. Going to the body will be key for Dober. Drew Dober by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: McKinney has a serious chance to blitz Dober early, take him down, and submit him. But Dober isn’t generally that easy to control. It usually takes a lot of persistence to get him off his game. And especially on short notice, I’m just not sure McKinney can maintain his style for more than a round. If Dober can stay on his feet, even if it’s only after round 2, I think he can start overwhelming McKinney with strikes. Drew Dober via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Dober: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Connor
Staff picking McKinney: Stephie, Victor

Alex Pereira vs. Bruno Silva

Mookie Alexander: This fight becomes a lot more interesting if Silva decides to wrestle Pereira and at least try and change up the terms of the action. Most likely he’s going to go strike for strike with Pereira and eat a left hook. Alex Pereira by KO, round 1

Zane Simon: There very well may be a wrestling-grappling version of Bruno Silva that can just come out, wrench Pereira to the mat, and tap him. But that guy doesn’t surface nearly so often as the brutal brawler who will take two shots to land one, filled with the confidence that he hits harder and can take more damage. If ever there were a point where that style seems destined to backfire, it’s against Pereira. Alex Pereira via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Pereira: Mookie, Dayne, Zane, Victor, Connor
Staff picking Silva: Stephie

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Thiago Santos
    (117 votes)
  • 79%
    Magomed Ankalaev
    (466 votes)
583 votes total Vote Now