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UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC 272.

The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC 272, and everyone believes that Colby Covington will prevail in Saturday’s main event over Jorge Masvidal. As for the co-main, everyone also thinks Rafael dos Anjos will take the victory over short notice replacement Renato Moicano. 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.

Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal

Anton Tabuena: I don’t remember many high profile “heated rivals” where the more the fighters talk, the less interested I get. Their personalities – especially combined – doesn’t make me want to root for or against either guy. It just makes me want to change the channel. I guess I’m glad they’ll be doing actual fighting soon. As for the match up, does anyone think Covington will even strike with Masvidal for long stretches? That’s the only way Masvidal can find a win, but even then, I think the mileage has also been catching up with him, and he’s not as potent and explosive anymore. Masvidal will probably look to land one big shot as he gets more desperate, but I expect Covington to be able to clinch and make it ugly – even if he doesn’t always get the takedown – then slow him down as the fight wears on. Colby Covington by decision.

Mookie Alexander: I don’t think this fight will be terrible but I also don’t believe it’s going to be some great epic war that is more or less implied through all of their beefing. Covington wins with volume in ways that Masvidal typically doesn’t and it often costs him rounds and close fights. He has the wrestling to put Masvidal on his back multiple times over but usually he’s not terrific at just riding out the whole round with dominant top control. Masvidal has a legit shot to win by being the bigger hitter. I think he should also heavily target the body to try and slow Colby down. Colby Covington by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: It’s really difficult to shake the feeling that the dynamic for this fight was set years ago. Whether it’s been the things the two men have said about training together, the videos of them scrapping in their apartment, or just the basic dynamics of their styles and how they match up, it’s hard not to think that Colby Covington hasn’t just been out-wrestling Jorge Masvidal for years now. Even thinking that getting TKO’d by Usman in their first fight may have changed something for Covington and his willingness to pursue with reckless aggression, it’s hard not to think he sees Masvidal as a problem he’s solved over and over again. Colby Covington by decision.

Staff picking Covington: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Masvidal:

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Renato Moicano

Anton Tabuena: Not really sure if I’d pick Moicano even with a full camp, but on extremely short notice like this, it’s really an easy choice. Rafael dos Anjos by wide decision.

Mookie Alexander: Props to Moicano for taking this on short notice even though he wasn’t even in the US at the time. I think he’s a very underrated fighter who’s got good striking that blends with his grappling at a high-level. Unfortunately for him RDA is a better striker who can be effective both at range and in the clinch. Dos Anjos may struggle physically against dominant wrestlers but Moicano doesn’t fit that bill, and I’d be stunned if RDA got outgrappled easily by Renato. Add in that this is a five-rounder and I think the paths to victory for Moicano are not plentiful. Rafael dos Anjos by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: I like Moicano stepping up and taking this fight, it’s a great opportunity for him. But I’d be surprised if the end result is anything other than a hard loss. Even in the rare points where he’s gotten out-wrestled, RDA is a near impossible fighter to control and out-grapple for long stretches. His only sub loss came via a broken jaw. I could see Moicano having a few moments of success, and maybe even landing a couple big counters as RDA presses forward. But Moicano isn’t a KO artist and if I can’t trust him to get the sub, there’s no way I’m choosing him to win a decision on short notice against a fighter this consistent and patient about winning rounds. Rafael Dos Anjos via decision.

Staff picking RDA: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Moicano:

Edson Barboza vs. Bryce Mitchell

Mookie Alexander: Two-way outcome here. Mitchell either pressures Barboza and gets past Edson’s takedown defense for a thorough grappling lesson or his legs get chopped down and he’s forced into an increasingly unwinnable matchup on the feet with a gifted striker. It’s a tough call because while you’re inclined to instinctively go with someone as talented as Mitchell on the mat, he hasn’t faced someone as good as Barboza on the feet. Edson’s defensive wrestling is also pretty good on the initial shot, so I suspect Mitchell will need to do some chaining to get Barboza down consistently. It’s a gamble but I’m going with Edson Barboza by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I would love to see Barboza win this one. And if Mitchell has a second round against ‘Junior’ the way he did against Fili, the chances that the Brazilian kicks him to pieces are definitely within reason. However, we’ve seen Barboza get relentlessly pressured, chased down, and grounded too often for me to think that a grappler as relentless as Mitchell can’t replicate that. Barboza is just too willing to get on his horse and gallop backwards under stress and the end result is very very often a hard loss. Bryce Mitchell by decision.

Staff picking Barboza: Mookie, Anton, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Mitchell: Zane, Connor

Kevin Holland vs. Alex Oliveira

Anton Tabuena: If Holland can’t win this, he probably isn’t going to be a contender on either division again. I expect him to pass this test and look good with the style match up though. Kevin Holland by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Oliveira seems to be teetering on washed and he really does not respond well when he can’t physically bully someone. Kevin Holland by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I like this matchup a lot for Holland. Oliveira is really only at his best in a couple of positions, either way outside, slinging single strikes. Or way inside, hunting for trip takedowns and top control grappling/GNP positions. That second one could present a few problems for Holland, if all his recent wrestling training hasn’t paid off. But he should be pretty huge at 170 (including having the division’s longest reach), and Oliveira isn’t exactly a technical takedown wizard. From distance, with that massive reach, Holland very likely can chew Oliveira up with volume. Eventually, whatever bad positions Holland might end up in, he’s a fighter that never seems to truly break down or give up trying. And for Oliveira, even when he’s commanding the bout and everything is clicking, opponents who just don’t go away have been able to break him. Kevin Holland via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Holland: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Oliveira:

Sergey Spivac vs. Greg Hardy

Anton Tabuena: Can he take Hardy down? I don’t know, but this ends early either way. Sergey Spivac by submission.

Mookie Alexander: Yeah this fight sucks. Hardy probably has the power to knock Spivac out and none of the ground skills to survive Spivac getting him to the mat and tapping him out. Whatever. Greg Hardy by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Do I have to? Seems like a fight Greg Hardy can win.

Staff picking Spivac: Anton, Connor, Dayne, Victor
Staff picking Hardy: Zane, Mookie, Stephie

Jalin Turner vs. Jamie Mullarkey

Mookie Alexander: Is Jalin Turner gonna cut the Mullarkey?! I think so. Jalin Turner by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Turner doesn’t fight with so much confidence that I don’t think Mullarkey can’t get something done. He’s got good timing and strike selection and the willingness to take a lot of damage to implement his own offense. But, I think the combination of Turner’s huge size and reach and his surprisingly decent top game all have me thinking that he’ll be able to turn messier exchanges in his favor with clinch control and takedowns, and that he’ll have a significant advantage way out at range. Jalin Turner by decision.

Staff picking Turner: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Stephie
Staff picking Mullarkey: Connor, Dayne

Marina Rodriguez vs. Yan Xiaonan

Anton Tabuena: Why is this buried in the prelims? This should be a fun bout between top ranked contenders and talented strikers. Yan is game, but I think Rodriguez is more technical and can get a nice win that earns her a title shot here. It’s just sad that only a few will get to see it. Marina Rodriguez by decision.

Mookie Alexander: For once Rodriguez is not subject to a barrage of takedowns, and we’ve seen that she’s capable of surviving with Mackenzie Dern on the mat. Xiaonan is a good striker who works in volume like her opponent does, but Rodriguez is the heavier hitter and is more likely to manage more damaging blows to win rounds. Should be a good one! Marina Rodriguez by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: If neither woman can be hurt or backed down by the other, this could turn into a crazy race for volume striking that either could win. But the thing with Xiaonan, and what got her beat by Esparza, is that she tends to sort of set one tempo and style for her offense and just run that game into the ground come hell or high water. When it works, she’s a swarming, overwhelming offensive force. When it doesn’t work though, she tends to get completely pulled apart, because she makes the same mistakes over and over. Rodriguez is a much slicker striker and bigger puncher, and tends to adjust better from round to round. I think she can steer this fight into her advantage over the course of three rounds. Marina Rodriguez by decision.

Staff picking Rodriguez: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Xiaonan:

Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu

Anton Tabuena: Good luck to all those who are writing play-by-play on this fight lol. Nzechukwu by decision.

Zane Simon: Should be a sloppy, ugly fight. And there’s a solid chance that Negumereanu starts fast, gets frustrated, and eventually gets broken by Nzechukwu’s size. But, Negumereanu doesn’t really strike me as a fighter that gets discouraged or gasses based on the physicality of the fight alone. He’s wild enough that he can be controlled by a fighter with a more structured, technical game. Is that Nzechukwu, though? I’m not convinced. If Negumereanu gets to start fast and just wade forward throwing wild strikes, I think he can hold on and win the fight down the stretch. Nick Negumereanu by decision.

Staff picking Negumereanu: Zane, Connor, Dayne
Staff picking Nzechukwu: Mookie, Anton, Stephie

Maryna Moroz vs. Mariya Agapova

Zane Simon: There’s a very good chance that Agapova totally blows Moroz out of the water. She seems faster, stronger, and more dynamic everywhere. But she also seems totally unhinged, especially when the fight gets scrappy and emotional. Given that she’s already walking into this one with a lot of personal animosity, it doesn’t feel like she’s going to have a very cautious, controlled fight. Given too that Moroz has never been finished, I’ll take Moroz to ride out the rough spots and wear Agapova down over the distance. Maryna Moroz by decision.

Staff picking Moroz: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne
Staff picking Agapova: Stephie

Brian Kelleher vs. Umar Nurmagomedov

Zane Simon: There are certain types of fighters Kelleher struggles with. Technical wrestlers, and top tier athletes with dynamic finishing games. Nurmagomedov seems like he’s a bit of both. If Kelleher starts fast and reckless he may very well throw himself into a quick submission. Or he can try and make it a drawn-out grind and find himself getting out-wrestled by Nurmagomedov along the way. Kelleher can scrap and he’s always got a chance to work his way into the fight. But I’ll take Umar Nurmagomedov by decision.

Staff picking Kelleher:
Staff picking Nurmagomedov: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie

Tim Elliott vs. Tagir Ulanbekov

Zane Simon: This feels like an absolute coinflip fight for me. Ulanbekov is talented, but his fight against Nascimento showed pretty clearly that good technical grapplers can really test the limits of his skills on the mat. And while Elliott may not be world class on the mats, he’s also a much more consistent, experienced talent than Nascimento in MMA. The problem is, that his interest in scrambling and aggression mean that Elliott is always going to give opponents the chance to reverse positions on him and to create strong offensive opportunities against him. And Ulanbekov seems like he’s well rounded and scrappy enough to use those chances to pull himself to victory. But every round may be a real trial by fire. Tagir Ulanbekov by decision.

Staff picking Elliott:
Staff picking Ulanbekov: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie

Devonte Smith vs. Ľudovít Klein

Zane Simon: Both men have power, both men almost exclusively like to strike, and both men tend to try and stay in middle distance and fire off single strikes and short combos. Smith is better at working behind his jab and creating pressure, both of which have troubled Klein a lot. But, Smith has also been finished a few times standing now and Klein is more creative and uses more tools. I’ll take Klein for his creativity and durability. But if Smith can stay on the front foot and keep a jab in his face, he’s got a clear path to victory. L’udovit Klein via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Smith: Mookie, Anton, Connor, Stephie
Staff picking Klein: Zane, Dayne

Michał Oleksiejczuk vs. Dustin Jacoby

Zane Simon: Oleksiejczuk will likely have to walk through a whole lot of damage to win this bout. He’s got the kind of insistent head-body combination boxing work to make something happen, but Jacoby is so practiced at kickboxing behind his jab while on the back foot. Given that Oleksiejzuk isn’t a huge power puncher, this just seems like a matchup where Jacoby can keep range and outwork him for 15 minutes. Dustin Jacoby by decision.

Staff picking Oleksiejczuk:
Staff picking Jacoby: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dayne, Stephie

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Colby Covington
    (477 votes)
  • 30%
    Jorge Masvidal
    (207 votes)
684 votes total Vote Now
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