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UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson staff picks and predictions for the newly shuffled fight card

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC 279.

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UFC 279 goes live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday night, with a fight card that has been shuffled at the last second due to Khamzat Chimaev’s epic miss on the scales.

We started with Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson vs. Li Jingliang and Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez. What we’re left with is Chimaev vs. Holland, Diaz vs. Ferguson and Li vs. Rodriguez. All bangers.

And the BE staff believe Diaz and Chimaev will both come out victorious tonight. With just me* picking Ferguson to upset Diaz’s UFC swansong, and only Stephie backing Holland to derail Chimaev. Opinion is more split on the third shuffled fight with equal picks being handed out to Li and Rodriguez.

Check out our picks below for all the fights...

*Reminder: I’m making my picks based solely on fighter’s past winning percentages as an experiment to see how effective that nugget of data is at predicting fight outcomes. More on that here. You can see the data here. This method of picking fights is currently 9-3.

LIVE! Watch UFC 279 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

BLOCKBUSTER WELTERWEIGHT SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Sept. 10, 2022, with a must-watch updated Welterweight thriller that will see perennial fan favorite, Nate Diaz now battles former top-ranked Lightweight contender, Tony Ferguson, who will return to the 170-pound weight class for this last minute, upgraded assignment. Meanwhile, In UFC 279’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, we now get the undefeated No. 3-ranked contender, Khamzat Chimaev, opposite Kevin ‘Trailblazer’ Holland.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!


Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson

Anton Tabuena: This is hard to pick, which only makes me happier that we don’t have those two original bouts that clearly would’ve left both veterans badly outgunned. This should’ve been the original match up all along (I predict dees tings), and I’m glad the UFC’s arm was twisted not only to book what we all wanted, but to also pay them better. As for the actual match up, there’s so many intangibles and question marks about each fighter right now, including Diaz not looking in the best of shape and Ferguson only preparing for three rounds. They’re not in their prime anymore, but it should still be a pretty fun contest between two well loved veterans regardless. I expect it to go back and forth, with Diaz likely getting tagged with some early shots, but still being durable enough to make things interesting. I’m interested in seeing who wins that battle of attrition and when, but I have a feeling that Diaz’s volume and pace will get him a hard fought win for the perfect send off. Nate Diaz by late TKO.

Zane Simon: I guess I might pick Nate Diaz here? I dunno. Nothing about Tony Ferguson’s jump up to 170 lbs feels good to me. He’s a guy who has done things his own way forever and has been left grasping at straws late in his career as he tries to end this awful slump. He actually looked better in the Chandler fight than he had in a while, but got sparked in the process. Diaz’s lack of motivation has been a big topic of fight week, and he himself has had trouble pulling the trigger like he used to, but he’s still durable and dangerous for all five rounds. I guess I just trust that a tiny bit more right now. Nate Diaz by TKO, round 4.

Tim Bissell: Ok, let’s do this again. Diaz vs. Ferguson is a more interesting match-up to me personally than what was previously on offer. This is one of those where you can’t believe it hasn’t happened already. I’m picking Ferguson here to continue to test my thesis on whether fighters with the best UFC win percentage win a given fight. Ferguson, despite his wretched 0-4 run has the better pedigree in the UFC when it comes to getting his hand raised. For all his popularity and highlight moments, Diaz hasn’t done a great job of securing wins in the Octagon. His UFC win percentage is a very average .577. Ferguson has a pretty decent .750 (buoyed by the 12-fight win streak he had prior to his loss to Justin Gaethje). When you look at their wp for overall MMA fights, Ferguson still has the edge. His .781 well beats Diaz’s .606. Tony Ferguson via decision.

Staff picking Diaz: Zane, Stephie, Dayne, Kristen, Anton
Staff picking Ferguson: Bissell

Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kevin Holland

Anton Tabuena: Is Chimaev injured? Or did he really just not care about the Diaz fight? Either way, everything was already set up and handed to him on a silver platter, but Chimaev just completely fumbled the bag on his biggest stage. He should still be the favorite to win this, but it’s a tougher fight that won’t do much for his career. Holland has shown improvements to his wrestling, especially after dropping down to 170, but Chimaev basically came in as a middleweight and also has that same grappling and strength of those other 185’ers that beat him. Holland’s best bet is to try to survive until the later rounds, and hope Chimaev slows down. It’s an uphill battle though, and if Chimaev shows up close to his normal form, he should be able to dominate on the mat. Khamzat Chimaev by TKO.

Zane Simon: The players may have changed but the rules are still just the same. Holland has been too big to boss around on the mats down at 170, and he’s clearly put a lot of work into improving his wrestling game after some ugly decision losses. But I can’t pretend any of that makes me feel like he can hang with Chimaev on the mats. Too technical, too strong, too persistent. Khamzat Chimaev via TKO, round 2.

Tim Bissell: Chimaev has an undefeated record, so I’m forced to pick him here. Numbers wise Holland is a lot closer to Chimaev in winning percentage than Diaz was. Trailblazer holds an impressive .786 over 15 contests (a remarkable number of fights to have had in such a short stint in the UFC). Without looking at the numbers, it feels pretty difficult to pick Holland here. He’s shown a lot of struggles against wrestlers so far in his MMA career and Chimaev seems to have better MMA-wrestling than anyone he’s ever faced. So I think it could be a long night for the American. Khamzat Chimaev via decision.

Staff picking Chimaev: Zane, Bissell, Dayne, Kristen, Anton
Staff picking Holland: Stephie

Li Jingliang vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Anton Tabuena: Li is the real gangster of UFC 279. Everyone kept messing with his plans all week, but he still took it in stride and stepped up to face a guy 10 lbs heavier. It’s a tough match up, especially compared to the one he originally hard, but I think he can still get the job done. Hopefully he gets a chance to show off that fancy suit in the post-fight presser. Li Jingliang by decision.

Zane Simon: This may be the toughest of the newly booked bouts for me to figure. Both D-Rod and Li favor a busy, boxing approach, and while both can work in volume, I think the ‘Leech’ is just a little bit better at picking up momentum behind his creative combinations. But, he’s also struggled a lot with reasonably high level fighters that can just hang in with him and keep it difficult. Rodriguez has the kind of power and output to very definitely do that. And he didn’t have to go through half as brutal a weight cut during fight week. I’ll favor D-Rod here to steal early momentum and keep it long enough to get the decision win. Daniel Rodriguez by decision.

Tim Bissell: This is a really interesting fight, even if it’s not the jump up in competition Rodriguez would have been hoping for. I think we can all agree that it’s great that both these men weren’t left out in the cold thanks to the debacles—at both the press conference and weigh-ins—that neither of them played any part in. Rodriguez has a fantastic wp at .875, earned off eight UFC appearances, so he gets the pick. Li’s wp is a less stellar .688, which he got over 16 performances. There is a large disparity in UFC fights between both men and Li has fought stiffer opposition with losses coming to Chimaev, Neil Magny and Jake Matthews. That would prevent me from falling too in love with what the algorithm is going for here. Daniel Rodriguez by decision.

Staff picking Li: Stephie, Kristen, Anton
Staff picking Rodriguez: Bissell, Zane, Dayne

Irena Aldana vs. Macy Chiasson

Tim Bissell: Despite being in the UFC for two years longer than Chiasson, Aldana only has two more UFC fights than her opponent. This is due to some long injury lay-offs and rotten luck with fight cancellations. When she has gotten into the cage she’s been decent, albeit not spectacular — winning 60% of her contests. The former TUF winner Chiasson was won 75% of her UFC fights. Chiasson has also had more success in her overall MMA career than Aldana. So this pick goes for the more active Chiasson. Macy Chiasson via decision

Victor Rodriguez: Macy should have a size and strength advantage, and her grappling doesn’t get enough credit. Aldana has a very smooth striking game and better overall flow in terms of controlling distance and pace. Macy might find herself flustered here, and I expect Aldana’s striking to add up and overwhelm Chiasson. Irene Aldana by decision.

Zane Simon: Even when Chiasson is doing well, she seems to push herself into danger. For such a long and lanky fighter, she rarely stays at range. And if a bout is going to become a brutal war of attrition, she often seems to be the one that starts to flag and look for breathing room. Aldana can still be a bit predictable on her combinations, but in a fight like this, predictability is good. Irene Aldana via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Aldana: Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Victor, Zane, Kristen
Staff picking Chiasson: Bissell

Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cutelaba

Anton Tabuena: Cutelaba badly needs a win, but I’m not too confident about picking Walker nowadays. He just hasn’t looked great, he has taken a lot of damage, and his coaching has him changing styles and even negating the few things going well for him. Ion Cutelaba by KO.

Tim Bissell: This should be fun. Neither Walker nor Cutelaba seem to mind taking one in order to land one (although, Walker showed a much more tepid approach in previous bouts with Thiago Santos and Jamahal Hill). This approach has lead to win records that are close to 50-50 for both men. Walker’s is marginally better than Cutelaba’s at .556, though. Cutelaba has a losing record in the Octagon leading to a .418 wp (which is one of the worst records on the card considering he has 12 fights in the promotion). Pick is for Walker here, who could win with something epic/strange or by eeking it out with that recently spotted more patient approach. Johnny Walker via decision

Victor Rodriguez: I say this quite often, but I don’t trust guys that go into SBG Ireland after they’re somewhat established. No disrespect to them, I just don’t see the improvements in their game that they seek. But after landing there, Walker isn’t as reckless as before. Cutelaba can do what Corey Anderson did to press hard and fast early before Walker finds his footing, which may be a good idea to try here. But given Walker’s nefound patience and overall MMA game being slightly more expanded, he might actually work with a deeper toolset and use that same patience to outwork Cutelaba. Both guys hit hard and can be put away in just the same order. That’s what makes this dicey. I’ll go with the guy that has a more controlled pace. Johnny Walker by decision.

Zane Simon: Both men live and die by the sword, but lately, Walker seems to have found himself in a moment of crisis. He’s paid the price for his past wild aggression so many times now that he no longer looks like he wants to pull the trigger the way he used to. Cutelaba has suffered his share of setbacks as well, but it’s never taken his confidence away in the cage. In a battle of glass cannons, I’ll take the guy that I can trust more to show up looking to engage in a fire fight. Ion Cutelaba via KO, round 2.

Staff picking Walker: Bissell, Victor, Kristen
Staff picking Cutelaba: Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Zane

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Julian Erosa

Tim Bissell: Dawodu has won more in the UFC and outside of it than Erosa, given him one of the highest wp advantages on the card (.205). So my pick is for him to follow up on his decision win over Michael Trizano with another addition to his W column. Hakeem Dawodu via decision

Victor Rodriguez: I’ve been a fan of Dawodu since his stint in World Series of Fighting, and his overall game has improved since his UFC debut. He’s demonstrated finding a better rhythm, defending against takedowns and working competently while there. That confidence allows him to work with more freedom while standing, and he’s really, really good in the standup department. Hakeem Dawodu by TKO.

Zane Simon: Both men love to throw in volume, but when Dawodu lets his hands go, he tends to shut down the offense his opponent is throwing back at him. The same can’t be said for Erosa, whose best fights tend to look like all out wars of attrition. Hakeem Dawodu via decision.

Staff picking Dawodu: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Victor, Zane, Kristen
Staff picking Erosa:

Jailton Almeida vs. Anton Turkalj

Anton Tabuena: He’s a pretty big underdog, but maybe the oddsmakers have it wrong because I have it on good authority that Anton T’s are pretty awesome. Anton Turkalj by flying darce choke.

Tim Bissell: Malhadinho has looked great while going 3-0 in the UFC (all finishes). His opponent Turkalj is also undefeated in the UFC, having won his debut on the Contender Series earlier this year. With them being tied with 1.000 wp, we choose the fighter who has the most UFC fights on their record. That would be the Brazilian. Jailton Almeida via submission

Zane Simon: On DWCS Turkalj told commentators that he wouldn’t describe his fighting style, because it had to be seen and experienced. Then he went full swing-n-cling for 3 rounds and bored the pants off everyone. If that’s all he’s bringing to the table, then Almeida should tear him to pieces. Jailton Almeida via submission, round 1.

Staff picking Almeida: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne, Victor, Zane, Kristen
Staff picking Turkalj: Anton

Denis Tiuliulin vs. Jamie Pickett

Tim Bissell: Tiuliulin is 0-1 since joining the UFC, so Pickett’s less than stellar .375 wp over 8 UFC contests is enough to get the pick here. When looking at their whole MMA careers, Pickett has the slimmest of wp advantages over Tiuliulin (.025). Jamie Pickett by decision

Zane Simon: Tiuliulin is a bit of a mess. An action-first striker who loves to brawl in the pocket and doesn’t have a lot of takedown defense (or any other kind of defense). But, he does have a lot of confidence. And I can’t say the same for Pickett, who all too often looks like he has to be talked into having a fight with someone. Considering that he’s no kind of submission ace either, I’ll take Tiuliulin to fight his way through some bad spots to do more damage and land more shots. Denis Tiuliulin via decision.

Staff picking Tiuliulin: Zane
Staff picking Pickett: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Kristen

Jake Collier vs. Chris Barnett

Tim Bissell: Collier has the wp edge in UFC bouts, with Barnett having only fought in the Octagon three times to date. Barnett has a marginally better wp in total MMA fights, though. The method we are testing considers UFC records first and foremost so Collier gets the nod here. Jake Collier by TKO

Victor Rodriguez: BIG CHUNGUS HOURS, BABY. Yeah, I have nothing against Collier, but you can’t expect me to pick against the guy with the sick Taekwondo skills that sent Gian Villante to hunt dinosaurs in Gondwanaland. Chris Barnett by KO.

Zane Simon: I know Barnett has been going through some stuff lately, and that he’s capable of a lot more creative wildness than Collier. But his game is just still awfully incomplete for me to really trust picking him against most heavyweight opposition right now. Jake Collier via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Collier: Bissell, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Barnett: Dayne, Anton, Victor, Kristen

Norma Dumont vs. Danyelle Wolf

Tim Bissell: A match-up like this doesn’t really mesh what we’re testing here. Danyelle Wolf has extensive boxing experience but her only pro MMA action is the one victory on the Contender Series. This means her UFC and MMA wp is a perfect 1.000. The more experienced Dumont has won 60% of her UFC contests (77% of all contests), but her experience isn’t taken into consideration with this picking method. Let’s see if the UFC’s gamble on Wolf pays off here. Danyelle Wolf by TKO.

Victor Rodriguez: Norma’s tough and can take a hit, but I have to wonder how she’ll deal with Wolf’s striking and better athleticism. While it’s still a very winnable fight for Dumont, I’m going with Wolf. Danyelle Wolf by decision.

Zane Simon: Y’all trippin’. If Dumont loses this fight then she probably shouldn’t be fighting at all. Norma Dumont via TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Dumont: Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Zane, Kristen
Staff picking Wolf: Bissell, Victor

Chad Anheliger vs. Alatengheili

Tim Bissell: The undefeated Canadian Anheliger (2-0 UFC) gets the nod over ‘The Mongolian Knight’ whose only blemishes in the Octagon are a draw to Gustavo Lopez and a loss to Casey Kenney. Chad Anheliger via TKO

Zane Simon: Seems like a really bad booking. Heili went tooth and nail with Casey Kenney, and has only looked like a more reliable power puncher in the time since. Anheliger is a fun brawler who depends on being able to out-last his opposition. At some point that should stop giving returns. My guess is that point is here. Alatengheili via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Anheliger: Bissell, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Alatengheili: Dayne, Anton, Zane, Kristen

Melissa Martinez vs. Elise Reed

Tim Bissell: With this method the debutantes are always faded against a fighter with UFC experience (even when that experience is minuscule). Elise Reed by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Mely is a calculated striker with clean and crisp combinations that will ruin you the moment you take the bait. Reed can get in her face and neutralize her weapons, but there’s some levels here she may not be ready for. Melissa Martinez by TKO.

Zane Simon: Could be a very messy fight. Both women love to trade hard single shots from distance. Martinez’ form isn’t as clean, but she’s the busier of the two. Still, I think she gives Reed a whole lot of the kind of fight Reed can win via superior firepower. Elise Reed via decision.

Staff picking Martinez: Anton, Victor
Staff picking Reed: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Kristen

Darian Weeks vs. Yohan Lainesse

Tim Bissell: Weeks is still looking for his first UFC win in two appearances. Lainesse is 1-1. So the model is picking the ‘White Lion’ to win here. Yohan Lainesse via decision

Zane Simon: I like a lot of the ideas Weeks has, but he has yet to marry them together into a style that lets him win rounds. He’s mindful of his defense, clean in his offense, but if his opponent can bring something back to him and not get overwhelmed, he doesn’t seem willing to take the chances he needs to win. Lainesse, on the other hand, is just out there to slang power at people and get knockouts. Not sure he’ll finish Weeks, but I’ll take him to deliver the better shots over three rounds. Yohan Lainesse via decision.

Staff picking Weeks: Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Lainesse: Bissell, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Kristen


Leader board (as of Sept 3):

1. Zane 11-1 | .917
2. Bissell 9-3 | .750
- Stephie 9-3 | .750
3. Anton 7-5 | .583
- Dayne 7-5 | .583

Honourable mention: In his final (?) staff picks entry Mookie went 8-4.


Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Nate Diaz
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Tony Ferguson
    (0 votes)
0 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Nate Diaz
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Tony Ferguson
    (0 votes)
0 votes total Vote Now

And because it seems like a shame to just delete these, here are the staff’s picks for the three original match-ups:

Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz

Anton Tabuena: This is such a terrible style match up for Diaz, and blatantly set up to try and ruin his value as he leaves the UFC. They’ve already earned millions upon millions on Diaz’s name, and this is how they give him a send off? Tony Ferguson is fighting on the same card. That was the fight to make. They really didn’t have to do this to Diaz, and that’s why I will be rooting for chaos and hoping he gets to pull another rabbit out of his hat. I just don’t think it’s very likely. Khamzat Chimaev by TKO.

Tim Bissell: Chimaev is obviously undefeated so to test my theory I have to pick him against anyone who has a loss on their record. Many others will be picking ‘Borz’ for a variety of other—and perhaps more valid—reasons. In this match-up Chimaev’s perfect winning percentage (wp) is .423 higher than Diaz (that’s a lot). Though he’s rarely out of a fight, Diaz has lost his fair share in the UFC, earning him a below average wp of .578. I obviously see Chimaev winning the fight, but think Diaz will be able to tough it out over five rounds and maybe even hurt Chimaev in the process (that’s if Diaz doesn’t tap the canvas one second into the fight and then flip off Dana White before leaving for good). Khamzat Chimaev via decision

Victor Rodriguez: Bruh. This sucks so much. It’s so transparent, and even Chimaev has agreed that he absolutely doesn’t need this fight. And here’s the thing for me: Anton and Tim made excellent points above, points that I agree with. But if you’ve been around here long enough, you understand that there are times I’m the kind of animal that refuses to follow any other instinct than pure and unrestrained goddamn spite.

No, there’s no scientific analysis of any sort here. I just want Nate to win. I will pick him to win as well, because the world is shit. Here we have a multi-billion dollar company that nickel and dimes literally anyone that comes in through the door and they’re doing Nate this dirty on his way out for having the audacity to call them out on their practices and refusing to be tied down to a long-term deal that didn’t benefit him. Nate Diaz, a man that came from the Ultimate Fighter, did so much of what was asked of him, and yet he gets the honor of being a sacrificial lamb to a rising talent that is on paper the most laughable mismatch in recent history at best. And all for what? To add another notch on Chimaev’s belt? A man that isn’t widely popular with MMA fandom taking out a man that is for better or for worse one of the most beloved figures in the sport? That’s gonna get him over with fans? And yes, Nate is older and more limited, so a win for Chimaev doesn’t even get him a bump in reputation. Marketing genius at work over here, gotta love it. Jesus.

To echo Trent Reinsmith’s sentiment, a win for Nate on the way out would be utter pandemonium. If he wins, he leaves with his head held high and the chance to finally be free from his contractual shackles. Besides, he gets the last laugh over the UFC. What are they gonna do, run it back? By the time they think of ways to do that, Nate’s already in Rosarito smoking Gelato with some Venezuelan girls, so good luck with that shit.

Nate’s been a soldier, despite some of my past misgivings about him. But a company that continues to accrue more power and revenue than ever with literally no signs of slowing down or stopping can take this small hit to their reputations and egos. They didn’t have to make this fight, but they did. And now we’re here. I’ve never wanted Nate to win as bad as I do now, and that’s the horse I’m going with. Nate Diaz by whatever.

Zane Simon: If the fight even happens it’ll be an utter shitshow. Khamzat Chimaev via TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Chimaev: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Zane
Staff picking Diaz: Victor

Li Jingliang vs. Tony Ferguson

Anton Tabuena: Like I said above, they’re both already fighting on the same card and Diaz vs Ferguson really was the fight to make. We should’ve had a fun main event between two well loved veterans, but instead we’ll mostly likely just get two depressing outcomes. I guess the only good outcome is that at least Li will finally get to show off that nice suit on the post-fight presser. Li Jingliang by TKO.

Tim Bissell: Tony Ferguson has had a nightmarish run as of late, losing four in a row with the last one coming in devastating fashion. Historically, he’s been the better fighter than Li Jingliang. And the method I’m testing for picking fights right now is all about a fighter’s whole body of work, not the most recent performances. Ferguson holds an impressive .750 wp in the UFC. That’s even more impressive considering he’s had 20 fights in the Octagon. Li’s wp is nothing to sniff at. He holds a .688 clip after 16 fights. When looking at both men’s entire MMA record, Ferguson still has a small lead over Li in wp. If Ferguson does win on Saturday, it would mean that his quality of a fighter remains despite his dip in form (against some of the toughest fighters on the planet right now). If that’s true, watch out welterweights. Tony Ferguson via submission

Victor Rodriguez: The tricky thing here is which Tony Ferguson shows up and how not having to cut the additional 15lbs affects Tony. Li can wrestle, but his style is more straightforward whereas Ferguson has different angles on his entries and can chain his attempts way better. If Chimaev can get him down, Ferguson might succeed there as well. But Tony can be cracked, and Li got that firepower. I want to have more faith in Tony, but I haven’t seen enough of what his training situation is like or what his overall health — especially as it pertains to mental health — is like to make any assessment that lead to him winning here. Li Jingliang by KO.

Zane Simon: A few years ago, this would have been a fascinating battle. Two men known for starting slow and picking up the pace with long, crafty boxing combinations as fights wear on. At his peak, Ferguson was far and away the more creative and iron-willed of the two men, but Jingliang’s size and style still would have made this a tough fight. Unfortunately, even at his best, Ferguson has always had to lean on his durability. And that appears to be failing him. Assuming this fight still happens, I got Li Jingliang via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Jingliang: Stephie, Dayne, Anton, Victor, Zane
Staff picking Ferguson: Bissell

Kevin Holland vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Anton Tabuena: I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but they could’ve easily just done Diaz vs Ferguson, Holland vs Chimaev, and Li vs Rodriguez instead. Jeezus. Anyway, I know this is at a weird catchweight, but Holland has looked good since dropping down, and I think it’s a great move for his career not having to fight massive dudes at 185 anymore. Holland by Decision.

Tim Bissell: Kevin Holland always brings the fun and sometimes he brings the weird, too. This combination has contributed to his impressive .787 wp over 16 UFC fights. However, Rodriguez—albeit with seven fights less on his record—holds a gaudy .875 wp, which is the highest wp on the card outside of the five undefeated fighters at the event (of which only Chimaev has more than three UFC fights under his belt). Rodriguez’s MMA wp is .122 higher than Holland’s, too. So my pick is for Rodriguez to extend his win streak to four fights and add another recognizable name to his list of victories. Daniel Rodriguez via decision

Victor Rodriguez: Holland’s been somewhat inconsistent to me, and while he’s got his range and slick boxing, Daniel can do a lot of damage in short order. Plus he can defend takedowns and has that modern MMA tendency of not wasting time on working from guard and immediately hustling to get back on his feet. Not sure what either guy’s cardio is gonna look like but I’m gonna go with the guy that can soak up a bit more damage and work better counters. Daniel Rodriguez by decision.

Zane Simon: A really, honestly intriguing matchup. Holland has the range and the creativity to bring a lot to Rodriguez. But, despite sometimes looking like a bit of a brawler, ‘D-Rod’ is one of the better, more consistent power punching counter-fighters in the welterweight division. He can push a great pace, never seems to get lost in the middle of action, and packs a whole lot of pop. Holland has the ability to create some big flashy moments, but I’ll take Rodriguez’s consistency and hard-headedness to get the job done. Daniel Rodriguez by decision.

Staff picking Holland: Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Rodriguez: Bissell, Dayne, Victor, Zane