The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Anders, and only Stephie Haynes and Tim Burke are going with Eryk Anders to go to Brazil on short notice to defeat “Marreta” down in Sao Paulo. As for the co-main event, it’s a unanimous pick for Alex Oliveira to take care of short notice replacement Carlo Pedersoli Jr.
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 Wednesday 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.
Eryk Anders vs. Thiago Santos
Mookie Alexander: Well let’s see… Anders likes to wait around and not do much of anything, while Santos likes to be aggressive to the point where occasionally he gets sparked out. Anders has a route to victory here, but I don’t see how he’s going to contend with Santos’ kicks and power. It is college football season, so maybe Anders gets a power-up because he’s a former Alabama linebacker, and the Crimson Tide are hard to beat. Seriously though… Thiago Santos by liver kick, round 2.
Zane Simon: Anders is a curious case for the UFC. An obvious physical talent, with a great backstory, but still a very very shallow toolkit for fighting. It’s gotten him some high profile bouts, this one included, but hasn’t lead to very good fights against decent competition. Most notably, even against Tim Williams, Anders had a ton of trouble letting his punches go early, losing the first round off leg and head kicks. If he’s going to stay outside and simply stalk Santos without throwing, it seems like an open invitation to get cracked right in the jaw. Thiago Santos via TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Anders: Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Santos: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Zane, Phil
Alex Oliveira vs. Carlo Pedersoli Jr
Mookie Alexander: Short notice replacement who’s reasonably dangerous enough to make Oliveira work for this. I’m still not entirely convinced Oliveira has erased his “old” form of letting guys like Joe Merritt be competitive at times with him. That said, he’s an offensive machine and that’s often enough to overcome his defensive deficiencies. Pedersoli looked good against Brad Scott, and he throws with volume, but I don’t think he’s got enough power to scare Cowboy off. Alex Oliveira by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Much like Anders, Pedersoli clearly has some physical gifts to work with, but his MMA game still seems pretty basic. Unlike Anders, he’s not a brutal one punch finisher. That should line up pretty well with Oliveira whipping hard strikes at him from outside and then wrenching him to the mat to work him over there. Alex Oliveira via submission, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: It’s not crazy to imagine that Pedersoli just maintains distance and snipes Oliveira, who is still not a great striker and relies heavily on his frame and freak athleticism. However, he’s also fairly low-power, and Oliveira is pretty smart at knowing when to run to his grappling game. Alex Oliveira by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Oliveira: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Phil, Tim
Staff picking Pedersoli:
Sam Alvey vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Mookie Alexander: So… how ‘bout that UFC 229, eh? Sam Alvey by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: It’s Sam Alvey! Against another defensive southpaw counterpuncher! Do you want to see Lil’ Nog get blotted out while Alvey’s rictus grin looms over him? Or would you rather a fight where absolutely nothing happens? Maybe we’ll get a combination of the two! Sam Alvey by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Ugh. This pains me. Alvey looked like garbage in the Emeev fight and I was ready to write him off, but then he moved up and he’s back to his Smilin ways. And sadly, this seems like a very bad style match-up for Lil Nog. Ugh. Sam Alvey, KO, R2
Zane Simon: Lil’ Nog is at his best pushing forward behind combinations. Alvey is at his best countering aggressive strikers. Lil’ Nog is 5 million years old. Sam Alvey isn’t. That’s the math. Sam Alvey via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Alvey: Nick, Harry, Phil, Mookie, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Nogueira: Bissell, Tim
Renan Barao vs. Andre Ewell
Zane Simon: Another blown weight cut doesn’t portend well for Barao, who’s struggled badly getting back to 135 lately, and seems to have more mental blocks going into fights than anything lately. Still, I have trouble picking a green talent like Ewell to beat him just off faith. Barao’s chin is still fine. His hands and feet are fast, and his wrestling and grappling are very good. But, when he gets hurt now, he seems to panic and gas out badly. Ewell could hurt him, but seems prone to gassing himself, with a powerful, dynamic striking style that’s a bit low on technique. Even if he’s dangerous early, I don’t see him having the pace or consistency to turn a bad moment into a bad loss for Barao. I expect this will look a lot like his Phillipe Nover fight. Renan Barao by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Ewell is huge, aggressive, has good finishing instincts, and throws himself right into grappling exchanges even when he doesn’t want to. Assuming some part of Barao is left, he should be able to just hit a takedown and arm triangle him. Renan Barao by submission, round 1
Staff picking Barao: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Ewell:
Randa Markos vs. Marina Rodriguez
Zane Simon: If Markos can’t get Rodriguez down, then she might be in trouble. But I’ll believe that Rodriguez has the takedown D to win after I see it and not before. Randa Markos by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Rodriguez’s aggression and frame is reminiscent of Markos herself, but at a much earlier stage of her career and with better striking but without the baseline grappling skill. Randa Markos by submission, round 3.
Staff picking Markos: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Rodriguez:
Charles Oliveira vs. Christos Giagos
Mookie Alexander: … Why. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: This card has some bad fights on it. This is not one of them. Giagos is pathologically aggressive, and as such it’s possible that he could hurt the somewhat fragile Oliveira, but more likely he’s just going to charge into a grappling situation and get tapped very quickly. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Giagos seems like he more and more depends on being able to chain power strikes into power wrestling into a power top game. The necessity for all of those things to work together probably means that he chains himself right into an early, brutal submission loss. But if he can fight Oliveira off in round 1, there’s a solid chance that ‘Do Bronx’ fades down the stretch. Charles Oliveira via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Oliveira: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Phil, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Giagos:
Evan Dunham vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Zane Simon: I’m essentially trusting Trinaldo’s physicality here and his penchant for body kicks and counter strikes from outside, to keep Dunham in check. Things could get interesting if Trinaldo can’t control Dunham on the mat, or if Dunham can keep the fight in the pocket and try to out-work Trinaldo in rounds 2 & 3. But that all feels like betting on Dunham to get in dangerous positions and survive them well enough to turn them into advantages. Francisco Trinaldo by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Dunham’s otherworldly ability to tire opponents out can definitely get some play here. If Chiesa could simply wear Trinaldo down, then Dunham probably can as well. However, Dunham is also painfully footslow, and Trinaldo is increasingly a range counterstriker with a penchant for body kicks, and Dunham has proven particularly poor at dealing with them. Dunham has been consistently fun, gritty and underrated, and part of me is sad to see him retire, but I’m also glad that he’s getting out before he goes on a slide Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Dunham: Harry, Dayne, Fraser
Staff picking Trinaldo: Nick, Bissell, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Luis Henrique vs. Ryan Spann
Zane Simon: I don’t trust Henrique’s cut to 205. And Spann doesn’t have a great gas tank, but he’s a pretty decent wrestler and the much more fluid, natural power puncher. Ryan Spann by TKO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Henrique is pretty tough, if little else, and I’m not sure if I trust Spann to hold up past a single round. Henrique is going to be absolutely glacially slow at this weight class, but if he can get a hold of Spann I think he can grind him out. Luis Henrique by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Henrique: Bissell, Harry, Fraser, Phil, Tim
Staff picking Spann: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Chase Sherman vs. Augusto Sakai
Mookie Alexander: Chase Sherman is fun to watch, has a tough chin to crack, and has some of the worst defense of any UFC fighter I’ve ever seen. He is who he is, at this point. Augusto Sakai by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Until Chase Sherman stops getting hit by literally every strike thrown at him, it’s hard to pick him against any big, durable heavyweight that can push a consistent pace. Augusto Sakai via decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Like Henrique, Sherman showed some early promise which hasn’t really gone anywhere. Sakai has a bit of that Tuivasa thing going, where a doughy body hides some deceptive speed. Augusto Sakai by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Sherman: Tim
Staff picking Sakai: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Sergio Moraes vs. Ben Saunders
Phil Mackenzie: Moraes hits everyone he fights really hard at least once, and I’m not sure if I can trust Killa B’s chin. I definitely like him down the stretch should he get out of round 1, but Sergio Moraes by TKO, round 1
Fraser Coffeen: I consistently underrate Moraes for his very fundamentally sloppy striking, and I’m probably doing it again here, but Saunders seems like the kind of guy who can make you pay for that sloppiness. Right? Ben Saunders, Dec
Zane Simon: Moraes is generally tough to hurt, wings awkward, hard shots from the outside, and has a venomous ground game. I love Saunders, but he’s been getting hit really really hard lately, and won’t have his ground game to fall back on here. He can absolutely win if he can keep Moraes on his feet in the clinch, but I gotta take the Brazilian. Sergio Moraes by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Moraes: Nick, Bissell, Phil, Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Saunders: Harry, Dayne, Fraser
Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Gillian Robertson
Zane Simon: Robertson still has some major gaps in her striking game, but just showing a lot more patience against Molly McCann last time out was a big step forward. Otherwise, she’s a great dynamic wrestler and grappler, who really seems to have a strong understanding of flow to positions of dominance. Gillian Robertson by submission, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Robertson showed surprising maturity in taking out Molly McCann. The main element about Silva is that she seems a much better athlete than her competition, although that’s not a terribly high bar. Whether that translates against Robertson seems debatable. She’s an improving talent at the best WMMA gym in the game. Gillian Robertson by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Silva: Dayne
Staff picking Robertson: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Phil, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Thales Leites vs. Hector Lombard
Mookie Alexander: We’re in for a long night. Thales Leites by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Cripes. You look up at Alvey vs Lil’ Nog and you think: there can’t possibly be a worse, more dispiriting fight on this card. But maybe, like… there is? Lombard is a stylistic nightmare for Leites who is primarily a shot (in both senses of the word) wrestler but Lombard has also looked absolutely dire recently. A loss to late career Johny Hendricks? It is very hard to imagine either man doing well in a second or third round. I guess Leites has lost to better fighters and is at least physically durable. Thales Leites by submission, round 3.
Zane Simon: I dunno… I guess Leites has generally looked tougher and more eager to battle it out. Lombard just seems to be getting lower and lower paced. And while he can still get hit a few times, it seems like there’s just a point in every fight now where Lombard gets absolutely clubbed and hurt bad. Thales Leites by decision.
Staff picking Leites: Bissell, Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Lombard: Nick, Harry, Dayne, Tim
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Luigi Vendramini
Phil Mackenzie: I am very bummed that Belal Remember The Name Muhammad is no longer on this card. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Vendramini looks like a reasonably athletic can crusher. Zaleski makes very good opposition look incredibly crushable. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via KO, round 1.
Staff picking ZdS: Nick, Bissell, Harry, Mookie, Phil, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Vendramini:
Livia Renata Souza vs. Alex Chambers
Zane Simon: LRS should wreck shop on Chambers. She’s bigger, a better grappler, more powerful, and Chambers isn’t so skilled anywhere or defensively minded, that she should be able to easily hurt LRS. Livia Renata Souza by submission, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Chambers hasn’t shown much beyond an opportunistic sub game in the UFC, and Souza is, as mentioned, bigger, more athletic and comes from a BJJ base. Livia Renata Souza by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Souza: Bissell, Mookie, Phil, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Chambers: Harry, Fraser