Let’s cut straight to the chase here since this predictions post is a hair shy of 5,000 words: Zane Simon and Stephie Haynes picked Miesha Tate to upset Holly Holm, while Tim Bissell, Rainer Lee, and Artem Safarov are going with Nate Diaz over Conor McGregor. Somehow, Vitor Miranda vs. Marcelo Guimaraes is the only fight out of 12 with a unanimous agreement (we all think Vitor wins).
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.
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor
Anton Tabuena: We’ve had a fantastic build up in just a couple of days. If only this was the original fight that was booked, we’d be in for an intense lead up to a much more competitive fight. Diaz’s weakness isn’t exactly Conor’s strengths (wrestling, leg kicks), so this would’ve been a much more compelling matchup if he had more than that 3-day camp. Now, even if McGregor uncharacteristically plays Nate’s game, I’m not even sure Diaz can maintain that nice pace and volume he is known for. I’ll be rooting for underdog, hoping that the 209 could pull off a coup, but everything is in McGregor’s side on this one. Conor McGregor by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Either McGregor knocks Diaz out, or Diaz submits McGregor and then double-birds him while he’s on the ground and either unconscious or favoring his arm. The power and precision of Conor’s punches are going to be too much for Nate, who will give it a really good effort and probably tag Conor more than anyone else has. Side note: Would anyone be surprised if Diaz just randomly went for a takedown? I wouldn’t. Anyway, Conor’s body shots and stinging power punches will break Diaz down in the later rounds. Conor McGregor via TKO, round 3.
Victor: Gotta love this fight. Neither guy is going to back down from the other, neither will give up any ground. Nate looked fantastic in his last bout against Michael Johnson, and not to take anything away from the man, but that was also largely due to Johnson playing to Diaz’s strengths and thinking he could outbox the guy. We’ve had the blueprint laid out for a while now – you don’t stand and trade with pure bravado with a Diaz brother. They’ll smother you with volume and pick you apart with precision, plus the cardio will ensure they’ll ruin you before you even think they’re going to run out of gas. McGregor’s a smart cat, and his coach is as well. They know what to do here – lots of lateral movement, lots of leg kicks until he starts checking them (which I was pleasantly surprised Nate did very well in parts of the Johnson fight), and flustering Nate’s timing much like Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson did. McGregor via TKO, R4.
Artem: I think we should expect an intense fight. Both fighters have their strong sides and weaknesses. McGregor’s striking is amazing, but I still believe in Diaz. Nate Diaz by KO.
Zane Simon: I can’t not believe in McGregor right now. We know what his problems are, that when he starts wading in with punches and kicks on offense, he can be taken down by a power reactive takedown. He gets overly focused on striking to the point that (at least against Mendes) counter wrestling just doesn’t seem like a priority. But master of the reactive takedown is not Nate Diaz. He’s more the kind of guy that forces you to take him down and then taps you out for it. Beyond that, while it’s possible Diaz could shock the world, especially if McGregor can’t find his way inside and is too single-minded to change things up, I have to pick McGregor for the early KO. Diaz is hard to hit clean, but not that hard to hit. And even with glancing blows I think McGregor can potentially do enough to change the tempo of this fight and make it look something like what Josh Thompson did. McGregor via TKO, Round 2.
Lewis Mckeever: The Vegan in me wants Nate Diaz – one of the baddest plant eaters on the planet – to pull off something special, but Conor McGregor is on another level. I see Conor coming out of the gate fast – like he’s promised – and immediately dictating the action. I see him opening up with a spinning body kick, playing around with lateral movement and possibly landing a head kick KO. I hope we get to see Diaz put up a good showing and throw in some plant-based Stockton slaps, but McGregor’s aggression, kicks and precision will be too much. McGregor via late first round TKO
Stephie: To say Diaz doesn’t have a chance here is foolhardy, but the scales are tipped in McGregor’s favor, in my opinion. His fancy footwork and ability to control distance makes him the cage general and when you couple that with his aggression, it creates a perfect machine. I also feel like he’s really gotten into Nate’s head, so I have to go with McGregor, R2 TKO.
Staff picking Diaz: Rainer, Artem, Tim Bis
Staff picking McGregor: Nick, Victor, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Zane, Tim, Lewis, Stephie
Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate
Anton Tabuena: Tate’s wrestling (and footwork) will probably be a bigger issue for Holm than Ronda’s predictable bull-rush-to-clinch game plan. I also assume Tate wouldn’t play Holly’s game by constantly running into counters, so I expect this to be similar to what some fans called the “boring” early UFC bouts from Holm. Performing better than Ronda doesn’t mean she’ll win the belt though, as I expect Holm to slowly pick her apart standing. Holly Holm by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I can’t shake off how mindless Tate’s fightplan was against Rousey in the rematch, or how bad she looked against Sara McMann in round 1, or the arguable gift decision over Liz Carmouche. She’s definitely improved and the Jessica Eye win was a highly impressive one, but if we are to believe that Holm was essentially playing possum for her otherwise “meh” showings in the UFC pre-Ronda, I don’t see her getting the win. In theory, Tate’s actually a more well-rounded fighter than Rousey, but there’s just too much of an athletic gap for Miesha to ever beat Ronda. I have a feeling this won’t be a particularly exciting bout, but Holm will commit to a smart gameplan (a JacksonWink staple) and potshot Tate for much of the fight. Her stand-up is just too good and I don’t see Tate being able to pressure Holm into bad decisions without paying for it on the counter. Holly Holm by unanimous decision.
Victor: I really, really want to see Miesha be competitive here, but Holm has Izzy Martinez in her corner. Izzy got Holly ready for Ronda’s Judo arsenal, so they’ll be ready for Miesha’s wrestling game. Jackson/Winkeljohn has all sorts of world-class wrestlers to help prepare Holm for Miesha offers, and we don’t need to say anything about the disparity in striking. Tate can make this ugly and get some work done in the clinch, but it’s going to be difficult to keep Holm there long enough to do anything that significant. Holly Holm by decision.
Artem: Miesha is a great fighter, but in her rematch with Rousey she demonstrated difficulties with following a game-plan. Holly is a very disciplined fighter – she won’t do anything stupid and won’t try to finish Tate early. She destroyed Ronda and she will dominate Tate as well. Holly Holm by late TKO.
Zane Simon: Ronda Rousey was the perfect matchup for Holly Holm. A great combination of unbreakable confidence and underwhelming striking skill. That doesn’t make Rousey half as bad a striker as people want her to be, just way more confident in her skills than she has a right to be. Tate doesn’t suffer from that problem. And because of that, I think she’ll fight a craftier, more careful fight and we’ll see the Holly Holm that took ugly decisions on her way to Rousey. Only this time it won’t be Raquel Pennington or Marion Reneau, but a fighter with an actual takedown game and some varied offense. Miesha Tate via decision.
Stephie: Miesha Tate has been improving her game exponentially with each outing. She’s got a very methodical style, with good wrestling and decent striking. Her golden ticket is that she doesn’t panic in sticky situations and she’s super durable. She won’t be crumbling under the pressure of some well-placed punches from Holm. The key for her is to close the distance and get Holly to the ground, a feat that I fully believe she can accomplish. She will probably be the biggest challenge Holm has had to date. High five to Zane for his bold pick. Tate via decision
Staff picking Holm: Anton, Rainer, Tim Bis, Nick, Artem, Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Tim, Lewis
Staff picking Tate: Zane, Stephie
Ilir Latifi vs. Gian Villante
Anton Tabuena: Boy did the quality of the card sharply drop after the fantastic top two bouts. Ilir Latifi by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Anton can shut it. These Holm and McGregor types are all fine and dandy, but the greatest of all-time is entering that building tomorrow night. There’s nothing I have against Gian Villante — Strong Island and all of that jazz — but when you willingly sign up to face the man, the myth, the legend, the god that other gods bow down to, the baddest of badasses, the living, breathing manbeast that is Ilir Latifi, you know what you’re gonna get. It’s gonna be a bloodbath. Ilir Latifi via KO, whenever he god damn pleases.
Tim Burke: DA SLEDGEHAMMER. Ilir Latifi by MDK, round 1
Victor: Ilir THA GAWD will grace us once again, and he’s bringing violence. Look, Villante’s a nice guy and a hell of an athlete, but he plods around a lot and just isn’t effective with his standup. His wrestling is his bread and butter, and good luck trying to ragdoll a human version of the rock people from the Zelda series. I highly doubt Gian’s done anything to fix his horrible cardio, either, plus his chin is suspect at best. Hate to be harsh, but it’s true – Latifi will continue his rise, one that we do not deserve yet are grateful for. U-N-I-T-Y, indeed. Ilir Latifi by KO, R2
Zane Simon: I pick Gian Villante to look great for a round before getting a new hole punched into his face. That’s kinda his MO. He has the actual power and skill to stop Latifi early if he can keep Latifi on the outside and not put himself in danger. But sooner or later I think his technique will crack and Latifi will hurt him bad for it. Ilir Latifi via KO, Round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: I don’t really like picking people to do dumb things, because it’s probably one of the easiest single things to fix. Villante actually looked like the best version of himself against Lawlor before getting KOed, and it was one of those really bizarre fights where I was watched him shitkick Lawlor with an overwhelming sense of “he is going to over-commit and get absolutely melted any second.” …and sure enough. While I love Ilir, he is so damn slow, and there’s a real, massive chance he just gets stuck on the end of Villante’s jab and leg kick. I’m also not sure about his training situation- I think we’re talking an Alpha Male situation where he’s functionally gone and is basically full time ATT stateside, but still paying lip service to being with Allstars. ATT is a step up, but could also represent disruption. Ilir Latifi by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Latifi: Tim Bis, Nick, Victor, Artem, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Phil, Lewis, Stephie
Staff picking Villante: Rainer
Corey Anderson vs. Tom Lawlor
Mookie Alexander: I absolutely think Lawlor has a good chance at winning. Good punching power, crafty submissions, and is far more of a threat to abruptly end a fight than Anderson has shown. Corey is a quality prospect but he’s still at the point of his career where he can suffer another upset loss. That said, his wrestling is outstanding and the infrequency at which Tom fights has me weary about picking him for the upset. Beastin’ 25/8 will grind Lawlor down to take a decision. Corey Anderson by unanimous decision.
Victor: Another great bit of matchmaking here. Anderson’s an outstanding athlete with pretty smart MMA wrestling and he’s on a 2-fight win streak that has seen him putting things together slowly but steadily. Lawlor’s a crafty submission wrestler that loves getting into dogfights whether it suits him or not. Wouldn’t be surprised if Corey got the TKO finish here, but smart money’s on the seasoned veteran with good fight IQ and better positional grappling. Tom Lawlor by decision.
Zane Simon: It turns out (at least statistically) Lawlor has been a pretty good headhunting power puncher in his UFC career. That may have been helped somewhat by the competition he’s beat (which generally hasn’t been stellar) but it still stands. Lawlor has a shot to go the Villante/Anderson route if Anderson runs out of ideas. However, Lawlor doesn’t kick like Villante which is what really set up that KO and Anderson has only gotten better since then. I think this will be something of a smothering, with Anderson taking a clear decision. Corey Anderson via decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Tom Lawlor has been fighting incredibly infrequently, and in both his last fights he was losing before Lamas’ing a stoppage win out of nowhere. Gian Villante, sure. Michael Kuiper, though?! His ability to grind successfully appears to have just faded away, and so he’s been heavily reliant on being given tiny moments of offense of late. In this fight, all the moments will be filled with beastin’. More than all the moments. Corey Anderson by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Anderson: Tim Bis, Nick, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Phil, Stephie
Staff picking Lawlor: Rainer, Victor, Artem, Lewis
Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko
Mookie Alexander: Read Zane’s pick at the bottom and you’ve pretty much got my thoughts just written out more intelligibly. I’d love to see Nunes get a title shot with a win, but I’d also love Shevchenko to become a new contender in a thin division. Tough call but I’ll go with the more proven commodity. Amanda Nunes via TKO, round 2.
Victor: I haven’t been this giddy for a women’s match since Rousey/Holm, and this could be the sleeper of the night. Nunes comes forward with crazy range and athleticism, but Shevchenko is far more technical and doesn’t seem to expend as much energy to get from point A to point B whether it’s striking, grappling, or both. Shevchenko’s got better accuracy and a vicious set of elbow and knee attacks that could turn the tide of the fight fairly quickly if she’s in trouble. Nunes could bullrush and work ground strikes as she’s done before, but nothing she brings will intimidate Valentina. Valentina Shevchenko by decision
Artem: Valentina is surely a future star. I expect her getting a title shot after another 2 consecutive wins. She’s powerful, precise and aggressive. Shevchenko by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Effective outside games are particularly tough to make work in a UFC debut, even moreso on short notice. That Shevchenko had as much success with her striking but was also able to win in her ancillary skillset (the clinch) against Kaufman says really, really good things. I expect her striking to look even better this time out. She may have problems in the first round, of course, but Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I see this going one of two ways. Amanda Nunes beasts Shevchenko early either by cracking her right out of the gate or by just hulking her to the ground and wailing on her… and then TKOs her. Or, all that first part except she can’t get the finish and then she gasses out and gets picked apart for the rest of the fight. There’s also the possibility that Shevchenko can just pick apart Nunes at all points with her technical game and frustrate the Brazilian enough to force her to break down her technique and make her predictable without going through hell and high water to do it. But, for my money, Nunes has beat too many good MMA fighters early in fights, and while Kaufman is a great win, she’s not the athlete Nunes is. Amanda Nunes via TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking Nunes: Rainer, Nick, Mookie, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Shevchenko: Tim Bis, Victor, Artem, Anton, Fraser, Phil, Tim
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Brandon Thatch
Mookie Alexander: Too long a layoff against too good an opponent for me. I worry that Thatch is just the striker’s version of Erick Silva, but even then, he’s good enough to just style on Bahadurzada. Brandon Thatch by KO, round 1.
Victor: Love, love, love this fight. It feels like Siyar’s been out since Dukakis conceded in the ‘88 election, but it’s great to have him back. Bad news is, he’s got a tall order ahead of him. Literally. Thatch struggles on the ground more than he does on the feet, and this fight has no danger of either guy trying to take the other down. Unless Siyar can use angles and level changes to get inside and do damage, Thatch is gonna style on him, hard. Brandon Thatch by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: This should be super violent. Thatch is fairly hittable, which is worrying considering how hard Bahadurzada hits, but other than that he’s bigger and better at working from a distance, better in the clinch and a better wrestler and submission grappler. My other worry is that I still fear he might be a bit of a super-athletic and nice front runner, like Erick Silva (below). Still, haven’t seen it much in the UFC but think Thatch hits the ol’ knockdown into RNC for some reason. Brandon Thatch by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Bahadurzada had a long MMA career under his belt before he got injured. Now, I have no idea what kind of shape he’ll be in, and his style of fighting almost belongs to a different era. The wheels are off the Brandon Thatch hype train right now, but this is the kind of opponent that could turn that around for him, with a gritty, hard fought decision. Brandon Thatch by decision.
Staff picking Bahadurzada: Tim
Staff picking Thatch: Rainer, Tim Bis, Nick, Victor, Artem, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Zane, Lewis, Stephie
Erick Silva vs. Nordine Taleb
Mookie Alexander: The Silva that fought against Magny will not be in the UFC much longer. Hopefully that was a one-off because that’s the only thing preventing me from confidently picking him to beat Taleb. Erick Silva by submission, round 1.
Victor: Silva went from finally notching a two fight win streak (against a seemingly outmatched Mike Rhodes and a shot Josh Koscheck, no less) and lost a decision to a surging Neil Magny. Taleb is big and very strong for his weight class, but Silva should have what it takes to exploit his defensive gaps, as well as making good use of his own athleticism which is better than Taleb’s. If he loses this fight, though… hoo, boy… Erick Silva by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Silva looked very bad against Magny. If he was previously a huge explosion of violence followed by a cataclysmic decline, then that was a small, farty detonation followed by a consistent plain of meh. Flattening out the peaks and troughs, and not for the better. Taleb is a picture of consistency and if Silva hasn’t fixed whatever the hell was wrong while he’s been training at King’s, he’s probably going to lose an underwhelming decision. I’m picking “Cordeiro and someone who’s really good at body kicking” rather than specifically picking Erick Silva here, and as you might guess, not with any confidence Erick Silva by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: I’m not going to pick Erick Silva, I’m not going to pick Erick Silva, I’m not going to pick Erick Silva, I’m not going to pick Erick Silva, I’m not going to… Erick Silva by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Silva: Rainer, Tim Bis, Victor, Arte, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Lewis, Stephie
Staff picking Taleb: Nick
Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Vitor Miranda
Victor: Despite having winning stats that aren’t that far apart, Miranda’s further along in the game here. Guimaraes just beat Andy Enz, but Lex Luthor’s got a hotter hand having just TKO’d Clint Hester, so I gotta go with him. He’s faster, has better athleticism and reflexes. That and the fact that he’s more precise and hits a lot harder when the throws shots down the middle. Vitor Miranda by TKO.
Phil Mackenzie: Not quite qualifying for inclusion in the Middleweight Chronicles, we have a clear BJJ Guy With Suspect Gas Tank (although it’s not that bad in all honesty) on one side, but a different kind of dude on the other- perhaps the new and upstart faction of Brazilian Knock-offs (along with “Lyoto”). Close fight, I think Miranda appears to be putting together what is a slightly more efficient high-level game, namely “striker with good TDD.” Also, said it last time, I’ll say it again: send John Howard back to middleweight to fight Miranda, god dammit. Vitor Miranda by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Vitor Miranda is one of those fighters that will probably always be a little better than I think they are, and yet still not good enough to contend. He’s a powerful striker who really needs the right moment to land his shots. Still, I think Guimaraes will give him that moment, as he tends to put his chin straight in the air and on-line when striking. He’s also not a great takedown artist, so I think Miranda will have a lot of opportunity to work at range and set things up. That’s bad news for Guimaraes. Vitor Miranda via KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Guimaraes:
Staff picking Miranda: Tim Bis, Nick, Victor, Artem, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Stephie
Darren Elkins vs. Chas Skelly
Phil Mackenzie: I like Darren Elkins. There is no-one on roster who looks more like they should be wearing overalls and a straw hat on their way to the fight. That said, he is near-totally dependent on having a wrestling advantage, and I don’t think he has one here. Skelly is a younger, more athletic and far more offensively adept version of the Elkins archetype, with more power in his ugly-but-functional striking, and more effective submission grappling. I don’t think that translates to a finish, but I do think it translates to Skelly winning key moments in a fight which should be a gritty grinder’s delight. Chas Skelly by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I hate to break this to Phil, but Skelly isn’t really younger or less experienced, he’s just been in the UFC for a lot less time. Elkins is the very definition of an upper-tier gatekeeper. He’s stupid tough, endlessly aggressive, wild to a fault, and can keep it all up round after round after round. Skelly is basically the exact same guy with more grappling chops. But, I’m a lot less sure he can keep it up round after round, and given that Charles Oliveira is the only guy to submit Elkins, I’m not really sure Skelly can do that either. I think this is where he meets someone that plays his pressure wrestling game, but better and harder. Darren Elkins via decision.
Staff picking Elkins: Rainer, Anton, Zane, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Skelly: Tim Bis, Nick, Artem, Phil, Mookie, Fraser
Jim Miller vs. Diego Sanchez
Anton Tabuena: Diego should exclusively be put in fun bouts against fan favorites like Miller, Lauzon, or even Kawajiri, and less against top 5 killers. He hasn’t won a legitimate bout in half a decade and has been looking more diminished each time out, so there’s really no point having him constantly get dropped and beat up by those guys… Now this match-up could be close depending on how their wrestling stacks up, but I’m picking Jim Miller by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I’m a fan of Jim Miller and would be more bummed if he lost this fight than if Diego loses again. Miller has quite noticeably slowed athletically, but if this is a scramble-heavy fight, I have to favor him to win. If it’s not, then Diego might get the nod through his impressive 4% connect rate. Jim Miller by unanimous decision.
Victor: Easy. Miller submits Sanchez with a picture perfect leglock, the fight gets stood up and restarted, resulting in a 30-27 Sanchez decision win. Split decision, too. Because the gods of combat are fickle and most cruel. But seriously, Miller by submission.
Phil Mackenzie: Diego should be on a seven fight losing streak, and his last win which wasn’t an out-and-out robbery was over Paulo Thiago in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten. I remember people being genuinely complimentary over how good he looked in the Lamas fight, a 30-27 shutout in which he landed no significant offense and got his leg kicked to pieces. Miller is no spring chicken himself, but really, what is there to say about this fight. Jim Miller by whatever.
Zane Simon: There’s a weird possibility that Miller gets caught up trying to KO Diego, can’t do it, gasses out, and then loses the sort of ugly decision that Diego Sanchez can win. But that’s a real long shot and not something I feel happy about even considering. Much more likely is that an increasingly worn out Sanchez gets hurt badly enough early that he never gets into the fight at all and we’re left watching him get worked over for three rounds. Jim MIller by decision.
Staff picking Miller: Rainer, Tim Bis, Nick, Victor, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Phil, Stephie
Staff picking Sanchez: Artem, Lewis
Jason Saggo vs. Justin Salas
Phil Mackenzie: This should be a pretty fun, competitive brawl where I think pretty much everyone sees that Saggo has the key advantages in wrestling and physicality, but I don’t think anyone would be hugely surprised to see Salas outworking him on volume. Jason Saggo by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Jason Saggo is a lot more like the current MMA metagame than meat & potatoes wrestle boxer Justin Salas. Saggo has a nice chain takedown game, good grappling, and a decent range kicking game. I think he’ll be able to throw off Salas’ timing from the outside and then out work him in the clinch for takedowns and out grapple him on the ground. Jason Saggo via submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Saggo: Tim Bis, Nick, Artem, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Salas: Anton
Julian Erosa vs. Teruto Ishihara
Victor Rodriguez: Hard uphill battle for Ishihara, who just had a draw against Mizuto Hirota at the Road to UFC Japan finale. Erosa’s a hell of a talent, with flashy kicks and a fair amount of power and clever submission setups in scrambles. Erosa should take this one. Julian Erosa by submission.
Phil Mackenzie: Road to UFC Japan had an underwhelming end, but Ishihara almost managed to upset the seemingly inevitable Fight-Master-esque Mizuto Hirota win, and, er, converted it into a draw instead. Not a huge upgrade. He looked good and improving, but he worryingly got worn down by his own successful offense. I expect him to improve on that showing again, but big size advantage for Erosa here. While I really don’t think he beat the Polish Zombie, he did show he could go three hard rounds with a physically strong and high-pace opponent, and still be the more effective fighter at the end. Julian Erosa by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I feel bad saying this after the two picks above me, but Julian Erosa is the low end of what makes for a UFC featherweight and if Teruto Ishihara can’t beat him, he probably doesn’t belong in the division. Erosa is almost entirely feints as a striker, and rarely sits down on or actually throws anything at range. He’s got a decent clinch game, and uses his big frame well inside, but isn’t any kind of dominating wrestler. His grappling is mostly built for the regionals and is heavily based off him working off his back. In short, he’s the kind of guy that most solid UFC level fighters beat. Ishihara might not. Ishihara is a much better athlete and a much harder puncher, but he doesn’t work in volume and he’s not nearly as defensively sound as he wants to be. He looked better against Hirota, but if Erosa ties him up against the cage for long stretches, Ishihara could just lose and ugly decision. I’m going on prospect hope here, though. So, Teruto Ishihara via decision.
Staff picking Erosa: Tim Bis, Victor, Artem, Phil, Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Ishihara: Rainer, Nick, Zane
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