UFC on FOX 16: Dillashaw vs. Barao 2 staff picks and predictions

Bloody Elbow's staff has submitted its predictions for Saturday's UFC on FOX 16 event in Chicago, Illinois. Last year, the entire team picked T.J.…

By: Mookie Alexander | 8 years ago
UFC on FOX 16: Dillashaw vs. Barao 2 staff picks and predictions
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Bloody Elbow’s staff has submitted its predictions for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 16 event in Chicago, Illinois. Last year, the entire team picked T.J. Dillashaw to lose to Renan Barao. This year? Only Tim Burke is going with Barao in this bantamweight title fight. He’s also picking Takanori Gomi to beat Joe Lauzon, but he also thinks Gomi is going to beat Dillashaw, too. Ignoring his ramblings, the staff is pretty split on several fights, including the co-main between Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected on Friday. 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.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao

Anton Tabuena: I don’t think this looks the same as the first bout. Dillashaw blasted Barao early, and that changed the entire complexion of the fight. I think this time around it becomes much closer, but everything said, I still think Dillashaw takes it. I expect a back and forth match with both men taking and landing good shots, but I think TJ’s wrestling, movement, and cardio will be able to keep Barao off balance to win key rounds. T.J. Dillashaw by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: I’m picking Dillashaw, but I really would prefer that Barao wins so we can have a long-term rivalry in a division that is seriously fragmented right now. It’ll certainly be more competitive than it was the first go-round. Barao may seriously have to consider making this a grappling type of affair, because on the feet he looked completely overwhelmed, and that included the opening minutes before the knockdown. TJ’s footwork, speed, and timing really flustered him throughout the contest. Barao shouldn’t be discounted because he’s still a great fighter who was steamrolling everyone else prior to Dillashaw. I just feel like when there’s a full-on ass kicking like we saw in the 1st fight, I need to see something from the loser to suggest a rematch, especially one as quickly as this one, to make me believe the outcome will be different. Barao didn’t show that against Gagnon, and I’ve got TJ going 2-for-2. TJ Dillashaw by TKO, round 4.

Zane Simon: I have to say this for myself, to start off my prediction on this fight: Renan Barao is an amazingly good fighter. Amazingly good. I’m saying that, because I expect Dillashaw to take this and I expect it to look a lot like their first fight. The big part of that, for me, is camp adjustments. JDS, Barao, Eduardo, Leites… even Jose Aldo. All of them showed remarkable growth over the course of their careers, but they weren’t exactly crafting games for the fighters in front of them. For Aldo, he got good enough at enough things that he became the mold other games were broken against, for the rest of these fighters, even as champions, they were fighters that opponents could solve. Dillashaw and his camp seem like they have Barao’s number and they’ve probably been working overtime on decoding him even further. I’m not as sure that Barao will be making the same adjustments and he’s far enough along that it doesn’t makes sense to expect vast improvements. I think we might see Barao throw more of a particular kind of strike or try and implement more of different aspects of his game, but I don’t think it will matter. T.J. Dillashaw by TKO, Round 3.

Tim Burke: I firmly believe that the first fight was a total aberration. Dillashaw was a 10-1 dog for a reason in the first fight – he caught Barao early, and that’s why it went how it did. I don’t believe that will happen again, and the fight will look remarkably different from the first one. Barao might not dominate, but he will convincingly win rounds, and he will pick up a late submission victory. Renan Barao by submission, round 4.

Fraser Coffeen: I’m with Zane here. To me, rematches are all about the ability of a fighter (and, importantly, his coach/team) to make adjustments and learn from the first fight. I think of fights like Couture/Rizzo 2, Penn/GSP 2, Penn/Edgar 2 – in all of those, the fighter with the more varied arsenal who was able to use what he learned from the first fight came back to beat his opponent. And to me, that edge goes to Dillashaw and Bang Ludwig. That’s not to say Barao is at a bad camp – far from it. But I just don’t see him as a student of the game the same way Dillashaw is. Look for the champ to do what he did last time, only better. TJ Dillashaw by KO, R3

Staff picking Dillashaw: Stephie, Phil, Zane, Mookie, Fraser, Anton
Staff picking Barao: Tim

Jessica Eye vs. Miesha Tate

Anton Tabuena: I haven’t really been impressed with Tate’s game. She is so slow and sloppy with her strikes, and her wrestling — her best attribute — isn’t really that great either. But that said, Tate is still probably the better overall fighter here. I guess that’s the (non-Rousey) Women’s BW division for you. Miesha Tate by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Eye is one of the best athletes in the division, which goes a long way at women’s 135. She’s a better striker than Tate and I don’t think she’ll succumb to Tate’s wrestling (or look as remotely lost off of her back like McMann was). Buuuuut Tate is better than she’s given credit for, and that’s mostly because of her general behavior outside of her actual skills. This is a tight one to call and Tate can most definitely find another way to win and set up her next loss to Rousey, but I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll see the upset. Jessica Eye by split decision.

Zane Simon: Picking this fight sucks a little. I don’t like Eye for some of her outside the cage antics (namely threatening to sue people for correctly reporting her drug test failure), but I really have no interest in seeing Miesha Tate dominate everyone but Ronda in this division (and no I haven’t forgotten about Zingano). It’s just that Tate’s style is so clunky. She’s boxing, or she’s wrestling. She does both decently but I think I can hear levers pulled when she switches from one to the other. Unfortunately, having two distinct skills puts her a level above most of her division and I really don’t know that Eye is on that level. So far all we’ve seen is a take-one-to-give-one striker that’s pretty good at staying on her feet. Still, hope springs eternal. Jessica Eye by decision.

Staff picking Eye: Stephie, Phil, Zane, Mookie
Staff picking Tate: Tim, Fraser, Anton

Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder

Anton Tabuena: I think we’re set for another highlight reel knockout. Unless his chin gives out, which ends in that result, or it’s Edson Barboza by KO.

Mookie Alexander: This fight hinges on Felder being able to pressure Barboza and crack him often. Barboza is super hittable and reacts quite poorly to getting hit on a consistent basis. I’m not sure Felder is ready to be declared a top 10 guy yet, and Barboza is a dangerous striker himself (more his legs than his hands, in my opinion). I’m leaning towards Barboza being too much for Felder standing. Edson Barboza by TKO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Ways to beat Edson Barboza are to actively push him backwards and exploit his slightly suspect hands and striking defense. I don’t think Felder does this. He hasn’t shown fantastic cage-cutting footwork or footspeed, and instead has been content to let his opponents come to him. There are some lightweights that I’d pick to beat Barboza in a long to mid-range kickboxing bout (notably Pettis and probably Cerrone), but I think it’s overselling Felder to assume he belongs in that company. Barboza’s wack chin is always a factor, but Edson Barboza by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: The centerpoint of this fight to me is, does Paul Felder represent a style that Edson Barboza is not well equipped to deal with, or is Felder not technical enough to implement a game plan that other fighters have used to beat Barboza. Because at this point, the plan to beat Barboza is pretty well laid out, and Felder seems like he could have the tools to do it. Of course, as I say this Phil’s comments above are giving me a lot of doubt. Still, I think if Felder is willing to close range, and trade inside, he has the better chin and bigger power in his hands. You know what, I’m calling on the power of the cheater hedge and taking Barboza here. I’ve been convinced. Sorry Vivi people, but you have to jump on Barboza and stay on him to beat him and even decent fighters who have done that haven’t won. So, Edson Barboza by decision.

Staff picking Barboza: Phil, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Anton
Staff picking Felder: Stephie, Tim

Takanori Gomi vs. Joe Lauzon

Anton Tabuena: Don’t unfollow me, Tim. Joe Lauzon by Submission. (Sorry)

Mookie Alexander: Joe Lauzon has declined considerably, but I still love watching his fights and think that if he gets it to the ground then this is done. Also, I want to piss Tim Burke off and this is the best way to do so. Joe Lauzon by submission, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: In his prime, Gomi would likely be a horrendous matchup for Lauzon, with stout enough defensive wrestling to force Lauzon to stand and trade with the way more powerful puncher. Gomi’s undergone a little technical resurgence in the last few years- slowly rediscovering the leg kicks and the body punches which actually set up the big overhand. However, he’s also old and he hasn’t looked after his body, and Lauzon is probably more likely to pick up either a strike-submission finish, or win rounds. Joe Lauzon by submission, round 1

Zane Simon: I really really doubt that Gomi shows up well or looks good for this fight. And because of that, I think Lauzon styles on him ugly. Joe Lauzon by submission, Round 2.

Tim Burke: Grab a drink and take a seat, because this is going to be an extremely rare two-paragraph pick. As I write this on Thursday night, four people are picking Lauzon. That means I have to unfollow four people on Twitter, tell Mookie’s parents about him sneaking out to drink two Bud Light Limes for the first time, not hang out with Zane when I’m in Seattle ever again, have Phil banned from Canada, and…well, Steph picked Frank Mir with me, so she gets a pass.

But seriously, if you’re picking Joe Lauzon here, you’re insane. Does Lauzon have enough power in both hands to knock a mammoth unconscious? No. Does he have a Pride belt hanging in his house? Of course not. Does he have the ability to drink like 94 beers in two hours after a fight? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Gomi’s nickname is The Fireball Kid. That’s epic. Lauzon’s nickname is J-Lau or some %^$. That’s lamer than Reebok’s spell check department. Gomi is the lightweight champion of the world and the best P4P fighter of all time. Joe Lauzon shouldn’t even show up. It’ll be better for his long-term health. Takanori Gomi by epic KO, WHENEVER THE HELL HE WANTS.

Staff picking Gomi: Tim
Staff picking Lauzon: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Anton

Tom Lawlor vs. Gian Villante

Anton Tabuena: The Reebok deal means no special walk-out for Tom Lawlor, which is probably the only interesting moment he would have in a 2015 UFC bout. Gian Villante by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: It’s going to take a lot more than one decent performance for me to believe in Gian Villante, but Lawlor’s been out for a hot minute, he never struck me as a particularly huge middleweight, he’s a really one-dimensional wrestler, and he was losing to Michael Kuiper. Villante’s gas tank is the big question mark for me, but it looked OK in his last two fights. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him tire and get guillotined though. Gian Villante by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I have no faith in Tom Lawlor coming back and immediately being a competitive LHW. That’s essentially what I’d have to believe to see him winning this. Villante isn’t a rare talent, but he’s big, athletic, tough and very very slowly improving. Lawlor could still just out work him or land a big shot or out wrestle his gas tank, but that’s a lot of faith to have in a guy who has been out for years with bad knees. Gian Villante by decision.

Staff picking Lawlor:
Staff picking Villante: Stephie, Phil, Zane, Tim, Fraser, Anton, Mookie

Danny Castillo vs. Jim Miller

Anton Tabuena: I have no idea how this one plays out, but despite his decline, I’m leaning towards the more proven vet. Jim Miller by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: On paper, Miller wins this fight at least 8 times out of 10. But it’s pretty clear to me that Jim is on that steady decline where better athletes are able to consistently beat him. Castillo’s best bet is probably to win this standing (and even there, his chin is really shaky), because Miller is still a really talented grappler and Castillo shouldn’t play around with that. I’ll go with Jim Miller by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Another very tricky one to pick. I guess I lean Castillo just because he’s been competing in his fights with the upper tier athletes and Miller has been getting blown out of the water. In general Castillo’s problems appear to be the ones he’s always had- a 2 round gas tank and a suspect chin. He’s had years to try to work around these. Conversely, Miller’s waning athleticism is much more of a recent development. Even if he’s fading, Miller’s still on the right end of the durability and power ratio here, but I think Castillo is probably the slightly superior pure boxer and takedown threat. Danny Castillo by unanimous decision.

Tim Burke: I will never climb off the MillerBrother war wagon. They’re awesome. And they don’t wear headbands. Jim Miller by decision.

Zane Simon: I dunno about this fight. I actually think I’d have to lean in Miller’s direction as, despite having more wear on the tires, he’s younger and has a more complicated wrestling/grappling game. I think if Castillo wants to make this a striking match, he could win it, but even then I’m not sure he has the better chin. Basically, I’ve just never been sold that Castillo is all that great and other than super ugly fights with Tim Means, Tony Ferguson, and Anthony Njokuani his best recent selling point is that he had Barboza’s number early before totally giving up his advantage in that fight. I won’t be surprised if Castillo wins, but I think Miller can out work him. Jim Miller by decision.

Staff picking Castillo: Stephie, Phil, Fraser
Staff picking Miller: Tim, Mookie, Zane, Anton

Kenny Robertson vs. Ben Saunders

Anton Tabuena: LETS. Ben Saunders by Awesome Bruce Lee Ninja Moves

Mookie Alexander: Robertson has considerably improved his all-around game to something that suggests he can be what Mike Pierce used to be. Robertson is a good wrestler, and Saunders frankly has always had problems with his wrestling, so he’s more content to work an aggressive guard. It’s every bit possible that Robertson grinds Saunders out for three rounds to a decision, but it’s also possible that Killa B introduces him to his fists and knees. On that note … Ben Saunders by something amazing, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: Oh I think you know how these picks are going to go. Let’s… Ben Saunders by some sort of insane highlight reel finish in the first round

Phil Mackenzie: Kenny Robertson is on a clever, surprising, Pyle-esque run, but who cares. Lets. Ben Saunders by the B’s knees, round 1.

Zane Simon: Tough, tough fight for Killa B. But if he stays crafty and violent he can make it happen. Ben Saunders by KO, Round 2.

Staff picking Robertson:
Staff picking Saunders: Stephie, Tim, Fraser, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Anton

Bryan Caraway vs. Eddie Wineland

Anton Tabuena: People keep bagging on “Mr. Tate”, but he has legit skills. Bryan Caraway by Decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Bryan Caraway is still incredibly underrated as a freakish tough Shields-esque drag-em-down submission grappler. I have to go for Wineland- I think he can strand Caraway on the outside and is a far, far better striker, but I can’t shake the nagging idea that Caraway just wants it more. Wineland has always been a bit of a front-runner, and Caraway’s historically been an over-performer. Hmm. Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision

Fraser Coffeen: Grind, grind, grind. Caraway has a huge advantage on the ground game here, and like Phil, I think that ground game tends to get underrated (much like I said about Bisping last week – it’s people confusing their dislike of Caraway as a person with dismissal of his skills). Certainly Wineland wins the stand-up, but I like Caraway’s chances of getting it down more than Wineland’s chances of keeping it standing. Bryan Caraway by UD

Zane Simon: A few years ago, this would be an easy pick for Eddie Wineland. Now I’m really not sure at all. Caraway struggles mightily with good strikers who can stuff takedowns, but give him a chance to out work you and he’ll do it as well as anyone. And I’m not convinced Wineland won’t give him that chance. I don’t even remember who I picked yesterday, but I’m going with Caraway here just because I think he has more left in the tank to implement his stifling wrestle-grappling game than Wineland does to keep him at bay all fight. Bryan Caraway by decision.

Staff picking Caraway: Fraser, Zane, Anton, Mookie
Staff picking Wineland: Stephie, Phil, Tim

Daron Cruickshank vs. James Krause

Phil Mackenzie: Well-matched fight here. Both men have had problems reaching the limits of their physicality- Cruickshank gets pushed around and bullied by stronger fighters, and Krause doesn’t have the power to pop a grape. However, he is much, much taller than Cruickshank and puts out decent range volume which I think will slow Cruickshank’s kicking offense. Krause’s problems have mostly been people just biting down and blowing through his shots, and I’ve only seen Cruickshank show significant power when kicking. Think this is a close, nip-tuck thing, I go back and forth. In general I think Cruickshank will land more “memorable” shots for the judges, so Daron Cruickshank by split decision.

Zane Simon: If Krause hangs out at range against Cruickshank I think he gets hurt badly. If he closes him down, I think Cruickshank will put him on his back. The only question then becomes, is Krause a good enough grappler to submit Cruickshank? He might be, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Daron Cruickshank by decision.

Staff picking Cruickshank: Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Krause: Tim

Andrew Holbrook vs. Ramsey Nijem

Mookie Alexander: Nijem actively puts out a welcome mat on his face for his opponents’ fists but Holbrook isn’t that type of guy to exploit it. It either comes down to Holbrook being so good on the ground that Nijem can be tapped, or Nijem styles on him. Ramsey Nijem by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Holbrook as a somewhat skilled wrestle-grappler seems like a good matchup for Ramsey Nijem’s all-terrain aggression, as you normally wouldn’t expect him to have the punching power to hurt Nijem. However, Nijem frequently grants power to his opponents by flinging himself headfirst into their fists. Still, Ramsey Nijem by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Holbrook’s best chance in this fight frankly plays right into Ramsey Nijem’s strengths. Holbrook looks like a real grappling talent, but without a wrestling or striking game to go with it, he’s got to be talented enough to submit guys in the UFC. Frankly, most grapplers aren’t good enough to do that consistently. And Nijem for all his wildness is a pretty solid top control wrestler with good ground and pound. Ramsey Nijem by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Holbrook:
Staff picking Nijem: Stephie, Phil, Tim, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Anton

Jessamyn Duke vs. Elizabeth Phillips

Anton Tabuena: I think the incredible Four Horsewomen streak will continue. Elizabeth Phillips by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Lady Struve belongs in Invicta right now or at least some other promotion for her to develop. The UFC isn’t for at this time. Also, Four Horsewomen and all that jazz. Elizabeth Phillips by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Duke is one of those fighters where expectations plummeted so far and so fast that it’s difficult to normalize them. Correia and Smith were inside boxers who were near-guaranteed to dismantle her nascent range kickboxing game. I’m not writing her off, I still think she’s pretty talented and she’s been out for a while so she might have worked out the kinks, but based on what we saw last time Phillips is probably the more powerful striker and the better wrestler, and Duke is mind-blowingly hittable. Elizabeth Phillips by TKO, round 2

Fraser Coffeen: The Duke train has slowed down considerably, but I’m not quite ready to hop off yet. A loss here though, and yes, I’m out. Jessamyn Duke by submission, round 1

Zane Simon: I may not have any faith in Sikjitsu’s ability to teach their fighters to strike well, but I have zero faith in CSW to do that. Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir, hell, even Josh Barnett aren’t exactly masters of the fistic arts. And I haven’t seen enough development of other skills for fighters coming out of that camp to have faith that Duke is going to have an otherwise well rounded arsenal. Phillips is raw, but I feel confident she’ll be the better prepared fighter. Elizabeth Phillips by decision.

Staff picking Duke: Tim, Fraser
Staff picking Phillips: Stephie, Phil, Mookie, Zane, Anton

Zak Cummings vs. Dominique Steele

Phil Mackenzie: Can we please get some love for the fact that the full titles for Steele’s last match were Dominique Non-stop Action-Packed Steele vs Cold Steel Chuck O’Neil? Anyway, this fight is basically a big grinder against a bigger more well-rounded grinder who isn’t on short notice. Zak Cummings by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: Cummings is actually a pretty solid (if basic) wrestle boxer with some slick grappling. He’s big and powerful, hits a nice blast double, and throws hands with surprising speed and accuracy. Steele is big and powerful, but he’s not a great wrestler, grappler, or striker, and he’s slow as all get out. That sounds like a pretty straightforward fight to me. Zak Cummings by decision.

Staff picking Cummings: Stephie, Phil, Tim, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Steele:

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Mookie Alexander
Mookie Alexander

Mookie is a former Associate Editor for Bloody Elbow, leaving in August 2022 after ten years as a member of the staff. He's still lurking behind the scenes.

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