Bloody Elbow’s staff has made its choices for tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night: Duffee vs. Mir card in San Diego, California. Only Tim Burke and Stephie Haynes were brave enough to pick Frank Mir to beat Todd Duffee in the main event. Phil Mackenzie was the lone voice to pick Josh Thomson over Tony Ferguson. We’re leaning towards Holly Holm over Marion Reneau, but after that the rest of the main card is filled with sweeps.
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 Tuesday 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.
Todd Duffee vs. Frank Mir
Anton Tabuena: Mir will strike and try to showcase his ‘improved striking’ — mostly because he will have trouble trying to take Duffee down — and he will get knocked out by a faster, stronger and flat out better striker. Todd Duffee by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Seems pretty simple here. I don’t really think that Duffee is that good, it’s just that I believe Frank Mir is going to reach that point where he loses to guys he would otherwise normally beat. Bigfoot Silva is as agile these days as the Easter Island statues he’s compared to. Todd Duffee is basically not that, at this point. All it takes is Duffee to land his best power shots and I think Mir will be done for. Mir better work on them hammerfists, though. TODDDUFFEEBYKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Increasingly, lately, I feel like the Frank Mir I’m seeing in the UFC is a fighter that is living and dying on his feet (and mostly dying). He may still have the technical ground game that he’s always been known for and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get cracked, have Duffee follow him to the ground, and then submit Duffee. But, I think all avenues in this fight involve Mir getting cracked. Antonio Silva has been a shade of himself since the TRT ban (not sure if USADA will help change that), and otherwise Mir doesn’t have a win since the end of 2011. Todd Duffee by TKO, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: What Zane said basically. A Mir pick is entirely based on Duffee getting careless on the mat with him, but I think before that has the chance to happen, Mir will be asleep. Todd Duffee, KO, R1
Tim Burke: Look, we all know Frank Mir is shot. But I see nothing in Todd Duffee that inspires confidence. He’s large and hits hard. Big deal. I don’t think he’s smart enough to use his bulk to push Mir against the fence and beat him up there, which is the best way to wear Mir down. He’ll try to trade at range, and Mir’s still surprisingly crafty on the feet. Mir drops Duffee and submits him. Frank Mir, sub, round 2.
Staff picking Duffee: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser
Staff picking Mir: Tim, Stephie
Tony Ferguson vs. Josh Thomson
Anton Tabuena: I haven’t been impressed with what Thomson has done since his win over Nate Diaz two years ago. There’s a good case to be made on how the 36-year-old is really on the downslope of his career, while Ferguson seem to still be getting better. Also, while this can be competitive, it’s weird that the UFC matched up a guy on a 5-fight winnng streak vs. someone who has lost 3 of 4. Tony Ferguson by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Old Guard vs. New Guard. I like it. Thomson is capable of making any fighter, and I mean any fighter, look downright average to mediocre regardless of outcome. I don’t expect the fight with Ferguson to be any different. However, Thomson, as ever, is his own worst enemy out there. Other than the Nate Diaz fight, his consistent offensive inconsistencies and lack of aggression cost him on the scorecards just about every time. This is a real toss-up, I’ll go with Ferguson just because it’s meant to be that Thomson loses every split decision ever. Tony Ferguson by split decision.
Zane Simon: Oh man, this fight is super super difficult to pick. I was really undersold on Ferguson for a while, but his dominating win over Gleison Tibau was a breath of fresh air. Conversely, in his last couple fights, Josh Thomson seems like he’s had a case of Uriah-Hall-litis and is just way way too comfortable coasting out fights he’s not quite winning. Eventually, when I get a fight like this, with a seasoned vet on a slide and a prime fighter on a run, I have to go with the younger fighter. Thomson certainly could win, this is nothing he hasn’t faced before, but he’s just not getting the close wins these days, and I don’t think he blows Ferguson away. Tony Ferguson by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: My first thought was to instinctively go heavily for Ferguson. He’s a bigger hitter with longer reach who puts out infinitely more volume, and is probably more of a submission threat too. The main thing which keeps me nervous is how bad he is at cutting off the cage with anything apart from raw low kicks and how hittable he still is. Fights in which he’s struggled have been against people with good lateral movement and kicking games, and if Thomson has been fairly consistent at anything, it’s been galloping sideways and booting when he’s up against pressure fighters. So many X-factors. Is Thomson’s head in it? How’s his body holding up? Like Zane, I don’t like picking against those potential problems, but I think Thomson’s had rough style matchups and Ferguson has had good ones lately. A razor-thin, very unconfident Josh Thomson by unanimous decision
Tim Burke: Very tough fight to call. Ferguson is still criminally underrated, and Thomson has been a victim of some bad decisions (Bendo, Green). Does he still have what it takes to beat El Cucuy? If he wrestles, yes. If he strikes, no. I’m leaning El Cucuy here just because he’s the more dynamic fighter at this point. Tony Ferguson by split decision.
Staff picking Ferguson: Zane, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Thomson: Phil
Holly Holm vs. Marion Reneau
Anton Tabuena: Holm isn’t the world beater everyone was insanely hyping her up to be, but I believe she’s still good enough to outstrike Reneau. Holly Holm by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Probably a little bit of an overreaction to Holm’s showing against Pennington, but I’m really impressed with Reneau thus far. I also think Holm’s striking is overrated but relative to the rest of the division, it’s still near the top. That doesn’t mean she can’t come out and look far better in this fight than she did vs. Pennington. On the other side, Reneau’s submission game is really good and I believe she poses huge problems for Holm on the ground, but getting her there might be difficult. Ahhh shit I’m just like Zane right now. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Marion Reneau has a lot, lot less hype than Holly Holm, but she probably has just about as good a chance of making a run at a title shot. In some ways this is almost a zeta version of McGregor/Mendes. Reneau is a great athlete with a superb grappling game, but really rudimentary power striking. Holm is a bit of an overrated striker with questionable wrestling and striking defense. One thing Holm doesn’t tend to have is real fight changing power but at the same time, Reneau isn’t exactly a marvelous wrestler… Anyway, I’m hemming and hawing now, so… Marion Reneau by submission, Round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Part of Holly Holm’s problem is a bit like Wonderboy’s against Matt Brown’s- coming from a pure striking background and having to deal with people who just rush into the clinch again and again, which is coincidentally the default approach at W135. Reneau has learned to deal with the clinchy W135 archetype with distance management and counter-wrestling, but I think the range she fights at puts her back into Holm’s wheelhouse. Holly Holm by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Holm: Phil, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Reneau: Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Manny Gamburyan vs. Scott Jorgensen
Anton Tabuena: Jorgensen has lost 6 out of 8 but is still with the UFC. Manny Gamburyan by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: We finally found a WEC fight where the likelihood of feeling sad at the end of the fight is pretty high. Whoever looks less shop worn wins. So that’s Gamburyan. Manny Gamburyan by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Can we not? Anyway, list of guys Scott Jorgensen has beat in the UFC since 2011: Danny Martinez, John Albert, Jeff Curran, Ken Stone. Gamburyan’s list: Cody Gibson, Cole Miller, Michihiro Omigawa. Essentially, neither guy is beating the elite, but Gamburyan has shown a lot more success over a much higher level of fighter over the past half decade. I’ll take him to win here. Manny Gamburyan by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Grim. Gamburyan has always been really physically strong and durable, and that part of his game at least seems to still be there. Scotty just seems to be fading in pretty much every way. I think the best Jorgensen probably beats the best Gamburyan, and I’d dearly, dearly love to be wrong here, but Manny Gamburyan by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Gamburyan: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Jorgensen:
Kevin Lee vs. James Moontasri
Zane Simon: James Moontasri is a great physical specimen, but he’s not really a smart or consistent fighter. He seems to spend a lot of his fights throwing himself out of range and at his opponent, just asking to be taken down and worked over. He lands with huge power when he succeeds, but Kevin Lee has shown some real solid development of late as a technical wrestle boxer and I think he’ll make this fight hell on Moontasri. Kevin Lee by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Kevin Lee got asked a hard question last time out (“can you beat a brutally consistent, one or two-note fighter”) and answered it handily. Given that he’s already answered a question similar to the one which Moontasri poses (“can you beat an amazing athlete with terrible process”) when he beat Jon Tuck, he really should win this. Never underestimate the sheer power of athleticism, but Kevin Lee by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Lee: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Moontasri:
Matt Dwyer vs. Alan Jouban
Anton Tabuena: He would win a zoolander walkoff too. Alan Jouban by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Dwyer starching Patolino probably has a lot more to do with Patolino just not being any good than Dwyer suddenly not looking like a dude who was totally out of his depth vs. Albert Tumenov. Jouban is legitimately good and very powerful with his hands. This is going to be a starching. Alan Jouban by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: I’m a lot more sold on Jouban as a legit UFC talent right now than I am on Dwyer. Dwyer is big and aggressive and reasonably tough, but insta-KOing Patolino is more a statement of his physical tools than supreme technical improvement. Meanwhile, Jouban met Richard Walsh in the clinch, where Walsh was best, and just dismantled him. If Jouban can keep from getting beat up outside, this should be his fight to lose. Alan Jouban by TKO, Round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: I did think Dwyer looked better last time out, but Alan Jouban should be undefeated in the UFC thus far. Mini Rockhold’s durability and athleticism advantages mean that he can probably hang out on the outside against the taller fighter if he really wants to, but I doubt he does that. Dwyer’s pretty nasty in the clinch, but if Jouban holds onto the mid-range and the pocket without rushing into the plumm, then Dwyer is likely toast. Alan Jouban by KO, round 2
Staff picking Dwyer:
Staff picking Jouban: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Yaotzin Meza vs. Sam Sicilia
Mookie Alexander: I’d have picked Doo Ho Choi to beat Sicilia, but Choi got injured, and this is a hugely favorable matchup for Sicilia. Meza has gotten better but he’s still nowhere near good enough to hang with anyone who has good enough takedown defense and hard punching power. Sicilia’s KO power will shine here. Sam Sicilia by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Meza has quietly gotten better over his time in the UFC, but unless Sicilia just doesn’t want to stand and brawl, this should be a stylistic layup for him. More power and better boxing with decent wrestling against a guy who really only seems to get into the fight with opponents really willing to try and out grapple him. Sam Sicilia by KO, Round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: What Zane said. Meza has gotten better, he’s a more well-rounded fighter than Sicilia, but his ancillary skills of counter-grappling and counter-scrambling are useless in what’s just going to be a striking match with a much more powerful dude. Sam Sicilia by unanimous decision
Staff picking Meza:
Staff picking Sicilia: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Jessica Andrade vs. Sarah Moras
Zane Simon: Andrade needs this fight badly. While she’s only 23, she’s really not making the strides in her game that she should for someone with 4 years and 16 fights under her belt. Her loss to Reneau was a case of pure over-aggression in the face of opportunity. However, Reneau is a physical beast and a great grappler, Moras is not. She’s big and she’s game, but Andrade is the much better athlete and much more polished striker. Jessica Andrade by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Here we have the same problem as occurred when Andrade fought Reneau- “how much is a win over Alexis Dufresne worth?” My feeling is that in retrospect, it’s “not very much.” Andrade is way more athletic, and Moras had a relatively competitive round one against Dufresne, who subsequently proved to be really not good. Jessica Andrade by submission, round 1.
Staff picking Andrade: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking Moras: Tim
Masanori Kanehara vs. Rani Yahya
Anton Tabuena: JMMA isn’t as dead as people think it is, but Kanehara isn’t the one to showcase it to the world. Still, I think he’s good enough to beat Yahya. Masanori Kanehara by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Oh god. Picking Rani Yahya fights are the worst. Whatever, I’ll flip a coin aaaaaaaaaand the pick is Rani Yahya by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: More meaningful: A decision win over the regressing Alex Caceres or a submission of the aggressive to a fault Johnny Bedford? Both fighters have been capable of fantastic wins over the very best in the sport at times, both guys have been fighting forever. I’m inclined to think, however, that Kanehara is onto something with a bit of a late career renaissance behind vastly improved striking. Yahya still seems like the same guy who might show up and out grapple anyone, or might get worked by Chase Beebe. Masanori Kanehara by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Yahya at the core is probably a better grappler, but by how much? Like Zane said, Kanehara seems to have a hefty advantage on the feet, but that may fade if Yahya is aggressive enough. The main question is in straight-up physicality- Yahya’s been more of a bully at 135. If he didn’t have that Niinimaki loss this’d be an easier pick, so a tentative Rani Yahya by unanimous decision
Staff picking Kanehara: Zane, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Yahya: Phil, Mookie, Stephie
Igor Araujo vs. Sean Strickland
Anton Tabuena: While he should still be the better fighter here, yes, I agree with Zane. Strickland should be back at 185 with more slower and sloppier fighters. Maybe the IV ban would make him consider it for the next fights. Sean Strickland by Decision.
Zane Simon: I think Strickland made a mistake dropping to 170 where his athletic ability, grappling, and conditioning are way more the norm than they were at 185. But, Igor Araujo has major holes in his game to be exploited. If Strickland is willing to be aggressive and work his striking a bit more, he should be able to take Araujo. If not, he might fall to the same fate Ildemar Alcantara did. Sean Strickland by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Araujo is a pretty one-dimensional wrestler and Strickland, for all his faults, has very very good takedown defense. I too would like to see him go back to 185, but failing that I’d like to see him try and impose a bit more on a guy who shouldn’t have much for him stylistically. Sean Strickland by unanimous decision
Staff picking Araujo:
Staff picking Strickland: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Ildemar Alcantara vs. Kevin Casey
Zane Simon: Considering that Alcantara is difficult to sub and is generally tough, I think Casey dominates this early before getting beat up in the second and maybe even third. Ildemar Alcantara by ugly decision.
Phil Mackenzie: We’re basically talking two fighters who can both seriously fight for one round. Casey is likely better for that round… but he’s also far, far worse afterwards. Ildemar generally can at least keep fending off takedowns and throwing a strike or two in the later rounds. He might even land a body kick and finish this, but mostly I’m totally in line with Zane that this is an exciting Casey round then a brutally slow ten minutes from a couple of gassed out fighters. Root for an early Casey finish if you want this to be fun. Ildemar Alcantara by unanimous decision
Staff picking Alcantara: Zane, Phil, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Casey: Stephie
Andrew Craig vs. Lyman Good
Zane Simon: Lyman Good has a problem with power wrestlers. He also has a problem with dynamic strikers that can cut angles on him or land big shots as he comes in. Craig has some ability in that landing big shots part, but it basically gives him a punchers chance of KOing Good, or otherwise getting outworked and ground down. I expect to see Good’s pressure striking/top control game in full swing. And if we’re lucky maybe even a submission. Lyman Good by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I have an odd feeling Craig is exactly the kind of bruiser with a tendency to get bullied who actually shines when he drops a weight class. However, I still don’t really like the style matchup, and Good is obviously the safer pick. Lyman Good by unanimous decision
Fraser Coffeen: I like Lyman Good, and it’s true that he is the clear safe pick. He’s also been doing just fine in his recent fights, despite being a 10 year pro who is 5 years removed from being Bellator champion. Meanwhile, Craig is 1-3 in his last 4, and that 1 is a split decision win over the 2013 version of Chris Leben. At the same time, I can’t help shaking the feeling that Craig can wear Good down and spoil his UFC debut. Still, as much as I want to pick him, I can’t ignore those stats. I’m interested to see how this one shakes out. Lyman Good by decision
Staff picking Craig: Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Good: Zane, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Mookie
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