Welcome all to the Bloody Elbow staff picks for UFC Paris: Gane vs. Tuivasa. I (Tim Bissell) am inheriting this column from the irreplaceable Mookie Alexander, who is leaving BE for pastures new.
I’ll do my best to keep this feature interesting for all folks who want to check out what our staff is thinking and want to celebrate our wins and (most likely) troll us for our losses.
Despite writing about MMA professionally for around seven years now, I’m not the best mind for Xs and Os. I’m more of an outside-of-the-cage expert. So for this feature, instead of trying to give you my own technical analysis of how certain people fight, I’m going to take the opportunity to test some theories about what may predict the outcome of a bout.
For the foreseeable future the theory I will be testing is that fighters who have the better winning percentage going into the fight will win that fight. Winning percentage (or wp) is the value generated when you compare all of a fighter’s past wins against their total number of fights. In my opinion, this will be an interesting experiment to see whether doing away with all the other variables and intangibles and just considering fighters’ abilities to win their past fights will determine who has the best shot of winning a given match-up.
Some housekeeping: I’ll be picking the fighter who has the highest wp for their past UFC fights. Draws are considered losses in my calculation (because the fighter failed to win). No contests aren’t counted in the calculation (because they are too weird). Exhibition fights on The Ultimate Fighter don’t count (they are exhibitions under unusual circumstances). Contender Series fights will be counted (since they go on pro records).
In the case of a tie in fighters’ UFC wp, the fighter with the most UFC fights will be selected as my probable winner. If that is a tie, then I will compare fighters’ overall MMA wps and finally their total number of MMA fights.
So, with that out the way, here are our BE staff predictions (including mine which have been picked using the calculation described above).
Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa
Anton Tabuena: This is an interesting match up, mainly because of Tuivasa’s power and the fact that he will not allow Gane to coast and play his normal game. That can either make Gane look better than normal as he’ll find a more willing dance partner that’ll take risks — and get countered, or he’ll get caught and stopped. Either way, this’ll be fun and will make for a heavyweight contest that I can actually look forward to. I can see it going both ways, but since this is heavyweight, I’m going with chaos and the big upset. Tai Tuivasa by KO.
Tim Bissell: Ciryl Gane has a winning percentage (wp) of 88.89% in the UFC. This is 16.6% higher than Tai Tuivasa’s wp of 72.73%. So my pic will be for the 10-1 Gane, whose sole pro loss came in his UFC heavyweight title unification bout with Francis Ngannou last time out.
You may think that Tuivasa’s wp suffers from a stronger schedule than Gane. However, though it feels like Gane is relatively new on the block he only has two fewer fights than Tuivasa against UFC-level competition.
Gane also has the wp edge in overall MMA fights. With Gane holding an impressive 90.91% compared to Tuivasa’s still pretty great 83.33%. Tuivasa has had seven more total fights than Gane. Ciryl Gane by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Tuivasa’s huge power alone makes him a threat to Gane and pretty much every other heavyweight out there. Gane is very measured, safe almost to a fault, and if he senses danger if/when Tuivasa charges forward with big shots he will try and wrestle. As much as I love Tuivasa it’s been a minute since he’s had his ground game seriously tested, and Gane figures to have a huge advantage there. Gane keeps range very well and works behind his jab, with a committed and elite kicking game to boot. While he’s not unhittable or even defensively great, he’s yet to be in any serious trouble in his UFC career. I’d love for Tuivasa to spring another surprise but Gane’s a big favorite for a reason... and also I don’t want my last prediction as a member of the staff to be a wrong one. Ciryl Gane by decision.
Zane Simon: This feels like a pretty simple fight to dissect, honestly, and can really be broken down to the fights both men had against Derrick Lewis. For Gane, the bout was a complete shutout, operating at the end of his jab and low kicking game on his way to a third round TKO that saw Lewis land all of 16 significant strikes. Tuivasa’s bout with Lewis was a two round 50/50 war, where both men landed huge shots in pocket exchanges and Tuivasa managed to find the killshot first. How is he going to break through Gane’s command of distance if Gane isn’t willing to sit down and trade with him? Between the two of them, Gane is the more likely to hit takedowns and control the grappling. Unless Gane slips up really badly, it seems like a bout where he can punish ‘Bam Bam’ for his wild overthrowing and lack of cage cutting. Ciryl Gane by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Gane: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Staff picking Tuivasa: Anton
Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori
Anton Tabuena: Sucks that Whittaker is in that Rich Franklin territory and contemplating a move up in weight, because I think he’s far superior to every other middleweight not named Adesanya. I think he’ll pick apart Vettori, who will just try to rough him up by the fence but not really land enough significant offense. Robert Whittaker by decision.
Tim Bissell: Robert Whittaker’s UFC wp is 77.78%, which is only slightly better than Marvin Vettori’s 70%. Even though Whittaker’s lead in wp is just slight, I feel good about picking him because he has 18 contests in the Octagon, eight more than his Italian counterpart. When you factor in both men’s entire MMA careers, Whittaker still holds a slight wp advantage (1.05%) over Vettori. Robert Whittaker by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Whittaker and Adesanya aren’t the same fighter but the one common problem Vettori will have is his inability to effectively establish his takedown game. Robert’s not going to be outwrestled by Vettori, which means Vettori has to have the power to hurt Whittaker or the ability to outstrike him in volume or do more damage. Vettori is a pretty good striker but he’s facing a great striker with an excellent left hook and terrific timing that could really throw Vettori off. Marvin’s pace and toughness could make this a more interesting fight (especially since Whittaker has been hurt at least once in five of his last six fights), but not enough for me to pick the upset. Robert Whittaker by decision.
Zane Simon: I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this is a much more difficult fight for Whittaker than people expect. When faced with an opponent who can take his shots and fire back, Whittaker’s tendency to chase prolonged exchanges in the pocket means he often gets hit fairly often himself. Vettori isn’t likely to settle into the kind of low-output turn-taking game that Gastelum and Cannonier got lost in, which could mean that this fight gets a lot scrappier than it seems like it should. Unfortunately for Vettori, even as his boxing has improved over the years, he’s yet to really show himself as a power puncher and he’s got a pretty limited technical bag of tricks to draw from. So I’ll still take Robert Whittaker by decision. Just don’t think it’ll be an easy victory.
Staff picking Whittaker: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Vettori: Dayne
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Roman Kopylov
Tim Bissell: This is an interesting match-up for testing my theory. Di Chirico has quietly put together a 10-fight tenure in the UFC. He has an unimpressive 40% wp which includes wins against Joaquin Buckley, Julian Marquez and Oluwale Bamgbose. But his 40% is way better than Kopylov’s bit fat zero for wp. He’s 0-2 in the UFC since joining from Fight Nights Global (where he was a champion).
When you consider their overall MMA wp, Kopylov has a massive 80% compared to Di Chirico’s before average 68.42. But the theory is that Di Chirico’s UFC success means he’ll be the winner in the Paris. Alessio di Chirico by decision.
Zane Simon: Both these men have big problems picking up wins at the UFC level. For Di Chirico, his low output ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ style means that any opponent who can take him a more technical fight in any one area can often find a path to victory. For Kopylov, his bullying volume striking game has shown big holes at a level where few fighters find his physicality intimidating, and many hit harder than he does. Still, I feel like there’s more room for Kopylov to surprise and impress here. If he can stay busy, will Di Chirico do enough to steal rounds? Roman Kopylov by decision.
Staff picking Di Chirico: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Kopylov: Zane, Dayne, Anton
Nasrat Haqparast vs. John Makdessi
Bissell: The wps in this match-up force me to pick the veteran, and underdog, John Makdessi here. In their overall MMA careers Makdessi’s wp is .22% lower than Nasrat Haqparast’s, with Makdessi competing seven times more than Haqparast. But, again, it’s the UFC numbers we care about here.
With a 5-4 record Haqparast’s UFC wp is 55.56%, 5.55% lower than Makdessi’s 61.11%. Makdessi’s higher score comes despite him having double the amount of fights against UFC competition than his opponent does. John Makdessi by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Crazy fun fight. Pretty crazy that Makdessi has been in the UFC for 12 years. Makdessi is the more diverse striker but Haqparast has faster hands, is more powerful, and can pose problems for the Canadian with his southpaw stance. Haqparast has historically struggled with guys who have depth to their game, and he pretty much refuses to wrestle so he can’t exploit Makdessi’s weaknesses there. And yet, I feel like Makdessi’s lack of power and physicality means Haqparast will remain aggressive and total up the more damaging blows over the course of the contest. Nasrat Haqparast by decision.
Zane Simon: Nasrat Haqparast’s time in the UFC has seemingly been marked by surprising stagnation. He entered the promotion with a solid base as a dynamic fast athlete with a developing boxing game and a competitive scrambling grappling ability on the mats. And... that feels a lot like exactly where he’s at now 5 years later. And in his last fight, Bobby Green was able to take a pretty slick counter boxing game to Haqparast and find him with clean combinations over and over. Is Makdessi as slick as Green, no probably not. But he’s definitely capable of sticking to a more technical striking game for 3 rounds. And despite a couple hard KO losses, he tends to be pretty rugged while doing it. I’ll take a chance on John Makdessi by decision.
Staff picking Haqparast: Mookie
Staff picking Makdessi: Bissell, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
William Gomis vs. Jarno Errens
Tim Bissell: This is a fight between two UFC newcomers, so both have a UFC wp of 0. This means I’ll be comparing their overall MMA wp. This means I’m picking William Gomis (83.33%) to please his hometown crowd with a win over Jarno Errens (76.74%). William Gomis by TKO.
Zane Simon: I like both these guys a lot as far as raw prospects go. They’ve got a lot of speed and both men have a serious willingness to sit down in the pocket and throw with power. Between them, however, Gomis seems to be the more creative combination striker and the more assertive scrambler. I expect both men to have some heavy clashes in the pocket and some wild exchanges on the ground, but I think Gomis will come away the better for it more often than not. William Gomis via decision.
Staff picking Gomis: Bissell, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Errens: Mookie
Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood
Tim Bissell: When you look at the numbers for Charles Jourdain you notice that, though he is a dynamic fighter who has been part of some incredible fights, he hasn’t had a lot of success in getting his hand raised. His UFC wp is just 44.44%. Nathanial Wood holds a 71.43 wp. This is the largest wp differential on the entire card. Jourdain has only two more UFC fights than Wood and he also trails the Englishman when it comes to total MMA wp. Jourdain has 68.42% in that category compared to 78.26% for Wood (who also has four more total fights than Jourdain). Nathaniel Wood by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Great matchup. A lot of this fight is dependent on how much Wood can get Jourdain going backwards, because Jourdain is fantastic when he’s leading the dance but he can struggle a bit when he’s pressured. I thought Jourdain got a raw deal against Shane Burgos and had a case for a 10-8 final round with how much he was beating Shane up. Wood’s only just getting his feet wet at featherweight and while he looked great against Charles Rosa, this Charles is a much more potent offensive fighter. This really can go either way especially with Wood’s want of a fast pace and the prospects of both men hurting each other. I trust Jourdain’s durability over Wood’s so the pick is Charles Jourdain by decision.
Zane Simon: I’m really split on this fight. On the one hand, Wood has exactly the kind of patient pressure, slick counters, and even some solid takedowns, to play hell with Jourdain’s discomfort fighting off his back foot. On the other hand, I’m a bit concerned about the way Wood tends to hang around in the pocket after combinations and leave himself open for counters. If he does that too often against Jourdain, the Canadian absolutely has the violence potential to break him. Especially up at 145, where Wood really will be a small fighter. Still, I’ll take Wood’s consistency over Jourdain’s dynamic strikes. Nathaniel Wood by decision.
Staff picking Jourdain: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Wood: Bissell, Zane
Dustin Stoltzfus vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov
Tim Bissell: This is another interesting match-up for the wp theory. I’m picking Stoltzfus in spite of an unimpressive 1-3 UFC record (25% wp) because his opponent is an Octagon newcomer (therefore a 0% UFC wp). When you dip into their total MMA numbers, you see that Abusupiyan Magomedov, who only has one fight fewer than Stoltzfus, has a higher wp. So we will see if Stoltzfus’ lone Octagon success is a good predictor for how he’ll do against someone who did better than he did before making it to the big show. Dustin Stoltzfus by decision.
Zane Simon: Both these men are slow, lumbering middleweights, but Magomedov has some decent technical skills to draw on when he gets the opportunity. Stoltzfus tends to be down to scrap anywhere the fight goes, but if that means ending up on the mat with Magomedov, I think he’ll have real problems. Abusupiyan Magomedov by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Stoltzfus: Bissell
Staff picking Magomedov: Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
Fares Ziam vs. Michal Figlak
Tim Bissell: Fares Ziam is 2-2 (50% wp) trumps the 0% wp Figlak gets for having no UFC experience. Outside of the UFC Figlak is undefeated in 8 fights (100% wp). Ziam’s total MMA wp is 75. Firas Ziam by TKO.
Zane Simon: I like the basics of Figlak’s game a lot. He boxes in volume, working the head and body inside the pocket. But it’s not a power style and there aren’t a lot of secondary pieces to that game yet. It could be enough if he can really keep the pressure on Ziam, but otherwise, Ziam has a major range advantage and mixes up his tools a lot more. Fares Ziam via decision.
Staff picking Ziam: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Figlak: Dayne, Anton
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Joaquin Buckley
Tim Bissell: Nassourdine Imavov is another France-based fighter who I’m picking based on this theory. He has a wp of 75% compared to Joaquin Buckley’s 71.43%. Buckley holds a minuscule 0.38% wp advantage in overall MMA fights. Nassourdine Imavov by submission.
Mookie Alexander: This fight should’ve been higher up on the card. Buckley has that big explosive knockout power that could seriously test Imavov’s chin, and I worry how Imavov could respond to Buckley’s pressure. Imavov has the more well-rounded game in theory but I think about his wins over Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan and I can easily argue that those wins were over a fading fighter and a broken prospect who has a round of cardio. Buckley’s not defensively sound, his gas tank isn’t phenomenal, but I can very much see him fighting through difficult spots to land a massive shot that has Imavov going out. If we get the Buckley who whooped Duraev and not the one who scraped past Abdul Razak Alhassan, I believe we get the upset. Hey, it’s my last predictions and I don’t want to just go all chalk. Joaquin Buckley by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Both of these men are excellent as spotting opportunities to end fights and taking advantage of them. Buckley tends to be more active and persistent no matter what the opportunities in front of him are, while Imavov feints and waits for just the right moment to strike. Given Buckley’s tendency to fight on straight lines and in set rhythms I think he’ll just offer too many targets for Imavov to find. Nassourdine Imavov via club-n-sub round 1.
Staff picking Imavov: Bissell, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Buckley: Mookie
Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Gabriel Miranda
Tim Bissell: It will be a memorable night for France if this theory holds true. Benoit Saint-Denis is taking on an Octagon debutante in Gabriel Miranda, so his 50% wp means he gets my pick here. Benoit Saint-Denis by KO.
Zane Simon: Not at all convinced that Miranda has the physicality, wrestling, or striking to compete at this level. Benoit Saint-Denis via TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Saint-Denis: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Miranda:
Khalid Taha vs. Cristian Quinonez
Tim Bissell: Cristian Quinonez has a perfect 100% wp thanks to his 1-0 UFC record, spawned from one fight on the Contender Series. I’m picking him over the 25% wp Khalid Taha, who has had four fights in the UFC. Cristian Quinonez by TKO.
Zane Simon: I like the fundamentals of Khalid Taha’s game a lot more. He’s a busy pocket puncher with real power in his hands. But, there’s not a whole lot else going on with it. And at this point it’s worth wondering if there ever will be. Quinonez takes a lot of chances throwing combinations in volume without a lot of great volume or footwork, but there are just too many ways for Taha to start falling behind. Can really see low kicks chewing him up here. Cristian Quinonez via decision.
Staff picking Taha: Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Quinonez: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane
Ailin Perez vs. Stephanie Egger
Tim Bissell: I’m fading another newcomer here. Stephanie Egger has a 50% wp, though her overall MMA wp of 70% is far behind Ailin Perez’s 87.5%. Stephanie Egger by decision.
Zane Simon: Perez is extremely raw and tends to need physicality and takedowns to take over fights. Egger is way bigger and has a nasty knack for finding armbars. Stephanie Egger via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Perez:
Staff picking Egger: Bissell, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Dayne, Anton
This poll is closed