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UFC 247: Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes staff picks and predictions

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The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for Saturday’s UFC 247 card, and consensus opinion is that Jon Jones will successfully defend his light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes. As for the co-main event, everyone except Alex Scaffidi (who’s really going for the upset of all upsets) has Valentina Shevchenko beating Katlyn Chookagian to defend her women’s flyweight belt.

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.

Note 2: We did not make a pick for James Krause vs. Trevin Giles, seeing as the fight was made at the last minute and we didn’t have time to adjust accordingly.

Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes

Anton Tabuena: Jones’ defense (mainly his defensive boxing) is still his biggest “weakness,” and Reyes certainly has the power and skills to capitalize and make things interesting. There’s also a case to be made that Jon Jones isn’t JON JONES anymore, but until I actually see it, that’s really not going to be enough reason for me to pick against such a dominant champion. There’s still a lot of question marks in Reyes’ overall game too, and regardless of what you think about the guy, Jones is a tremendous fighter, who is tough and great at adjusting to his opponents, even mid-fight. I personally hope Reyes can make this a good fight, but I think Jones gets hit a few times early, then he will probably adapt and eventually take over. If there will be a finish, it will probably be with that scary ground and pound he’s been known for all these years. Jon Jones by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: I can’t wait to read Toe to Toe to see Phil’s explanation for picking Reyes. Presumably this is “I’m sick of Jon Jones’ game working, he’s been looking worse, and Reyes is the type of athletic finisher who can finally end his reign.” Another thought is that Phil is against Jones because he’s been beating formerly generic middleweights who have since become light heavyweight contenders. Anyway, Reyes is a live dog here. He is a composed, structured striker who works extremely well off the counter and we’ve never really seen him in any sort of serious danger of being hurt or on the cusp of getting stopped. If he gets Jones’ timing down even off the backfoot and he can stop Jones’ takedowns, this is a very different bout. This is also Jon freaking Jones; last fight aside I can’t recall too many instances of Jon fighting a stupid fight. He is exceptionally hard to hurt and not easy to hit. Reyes is not going to be able to put Jones on his back and Jon is the better grappler, plus Jon’s striking is likely to consist of beating up Dom from range through leg kicks and body shots, while outworking Reyes in the clinch. This will be more entertaining than the Santos bout and more competitive than Smith, but the end result is Jon Jones by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Reyes really does have a lot going for him in this fight, and it’s not just that he’s tall (but that certainly helps). The fact that Reyes has been ultra durable, is a functional kickboxer to all levels, more than just a head-hunting puncher, and can fight a composed gritty fight into the third round should give him lots of opportunities to make something happen. He’s also a southpaw and has a good hard kicking game he goes to early and often. I’m just not sure that the pace or control are there to take a fight from Jones. The biggest concern is that Reyes has been very willing to let himself get backed up and clinched with the idea that he can either find consistent counters, or turn the clinch battle in his favor. If he lets Jones pressure him, and if he lets Jones get inside on him, Jones is just a much much better clinch fighter than anyone Reyes has faced to date. And a much better wrestler (although I’m not necessarily convinced Jones will press that advantage). Still, if Reyes can’t keep his back off the cage, I think Jones is just too tough and too much of a bully to let Reyes walk out with a decision. Should be more thrilling than recent fights however, just because I think Reyes is a lot less likely to go away quietly than either Santos or Smith were. Jon Jones by decision.

Staff picking Jones: Anton, Zane, Shak, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Reyes: Ed, Phil, Alex

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Katlyn Chookagian

Anton Tabuena: Shevchenko is just too good, and as of right now, I don’t see any flyweights that could be a huge threat to her title reign just yet. Valentina Shevchenko by lopsided decision.

Mookie Alexander: Chookagian doesn’t really have a chance. She can’t outstrike Shevchenko, can’t outgrapple her, can’t outwrestle her, so… what can she do? Win with volume? Hahahahaha. Valentina Shevchenko by whatever she wants.

Zane Simon: I like that Chookagian is molding herself into more of a puncher lately. But that’s also probably exactly the kind of transformation that leads her to a more thrilling loss at the hands of Shevchenko. Chookagian might even be able to land two strikes for every one from the ‘Bullet’ but she can’t hit as hard. And if she’s really going to try and press a pace, Shevchenko will almost definitely just bodylock her and throw her to the mat and jump into half guard. Valentina Shevchenko by decision.

Staff picking Shevchenko: Ed, Phil, Anton, Zane, Shak, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Chookagian: Alex

Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa

Anton Tabuena: Yup. This is really a boxing style PPV… Anyway, you never really know with these heavyweights, but I guess I’ll go with Adams by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Tafa’s probably going to throw himself into a counter KO loss. This has no business being on a main card. Juan Adams by KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Juan Adams seems like a nice guy and has some moderately compelling gifts for a heavyweight. Why on earth is this the third fight on a double champ PPV card. Juan Adams by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Adams throws a lot of arm punches. But he also throws a LOT of arm punches, firing at a rate of somewhere near 200 per 3 rounds. Tafa seems like he’s a fun brawler with some power. But I have no faith that he’s got the cardio to go more than 5 minutes. Or really, the defense or toughness to actually hang out in this division at this level long term. Juan Adams via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Adams: Ed, Phil, Anton, Zane, Shak, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Tafa: Alex

Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige

Mookie Alexander: Last chance, Mirsad. You have the edge in athleticism, power, wrestling, boxing, and explosiveness. Ige can win this on volume and just wearing Bektic out, or just hurt him given how Mirsad does not react well to getting hit. Ultimately, and this is knowing how well Ige has fought lately, I still think Bektic is the better fighter and his skills and athletic gifts will get him the W. Mirsad Bektic by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I made this pick on Heavy Hands so I must avoid the Zane Cheater Hedge and pick it again, but am increasingly convinced that it’s the wrong call. Bektic has a big athleticism advantage in almost every area, but just does not seem to enjoy fighting all that much. His flinchy striking and tendency to get discouraged by adversity have not fixed up over time. Conversely, Dan Ige has developed into a defensively lackluster but offensively nasty aggressive striker to go with his smothering wrestling. I guess I was picking Bektic to level change and jab him up from range and dictate wrestling exchanges, but if Ige can just draw Bektic into punching with him (and not get his head ripped off) he can probably convince Bektic that he doesn’t want to be there any more. Bah. Mirsad Bektic by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Bektic has a big athletic advantage over a lot of this division. And, given Ige’s willingness to exhaust himself in the scramble, that could mean Bektic just gets him down early and often and grinds him away. But, Bektic has also struggled a lot down the stretch against guys he couldn’t control easily on the ground. And of those, Ige is probably the best striker. There’s also a chance that Bektic’s jab flummoxes him, just like Julio Arce’s did—but Bektic doesn’t have Arce’s output or comfort standing for long stretches. Eventually, I think both men could easily end up totally gassed after two rounds, but I’ll take Ige’s greater comfort standing to win out somewhere along the way. Dan Ige via KO, round 2.

Staff picking Bektic: Phil, Anton, Dayne, Alex, Mookie
Staff picking Ige: Ed, Zane, Shak, Stephie

Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi

Anton Tabuena: I’m incredibly curious to see how Latifi looks at heavyweight. This could either be super fun, super funny, or both. Derrick Lewis by last second KO.

Mookie Alexander: What is Latifi going to do? He is 5’10” and even though his neck has disappeared with his bulking up, his takedown attempts will just lead to him getting caught in Derrick’s trap of “you think you’ve got me in a bad spot, but I’m about to stand up effortlessly!” Latifi will gas himself out between that and failed haymakers, and Lewis will capitalize with a monstrous KO that will make me happy for the Black Beast and sad for da gawd Latifi. Derrick Lewis by KO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: We saw something deeply perturbing from Lewis in his last fight: he showed up in shape, and made an effort to win rounds. This is unacceptable. He has a beautiful meme fight set up for him, against a Swedish rock golem, and what, is he going to work behind a jab? Try to dictate pace? No. This is not what we’re here for. NO. I want Latifi to hit Lewis with a flying powerbomb of some description. I want Lewis to hide and cringe and then punch him into outer space. Don’t let us down, Derrick. Don’t try to be good. Derrick Lewis by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Latifi will probably come out and dominate this fight for about 4 minutes. Hell, he may even snatch a sub in that time, or turn that domination into another round of top control. But, I’m not trusting his cardio with another 20lbs on him (it was already bad at 205). And I’m not trusting his chin at heavyweight at all (it wasn’t great at 205). Lewis may be a one-note fighter, but that one note specializes in putting guys away who get tired trying to out-wrestle him. Derrick Lewis via KO, round 3.

Staff picking Lewis: Phil, Anton, Zane, Shak, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Latifi: Ed, Alex

Alex Morono vs. Kalinn Williams

Zane Simon: Williams is just not very good. At all. He’s probably more athletic than Morono, but just about everyone is, and Morono wins a whole lot more than he loses. Williams could have used a few more years of seasoning outside the UFC. Alex Morono via TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Morono is building a small, reasonable reputation for himself as an underathletic, Ruebusch-attracting overachiever. He deserves better than this. Alex Morono by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Morono: Ed, Anton, Zane, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Alex, Phil
Staff picking Williams:

Lauren Murphy vs. Andrea Lee

Zane Simon: This could easily be a razor thin fight if Murphy is just willing to stay in exchanges, try to be first, and try to be last. She did well with that against Borella for her most recent win, and her striking has been looking more comfortable lately. But she was still squeaking that Borella win out before the late top-control TKO. And Lee is just a much more deft striker with a wider range of tools to draw from. Lee is also a pretty good top control wrestler herself, when she can lead the exchanges. Eventually, I expect this to be a closer fight than it should be, but Lee should be able to edge out the rounds. Andrea Lee by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Lee’s comfort in striking exchanges when she’s not dictating is slowly creeping upwards, but as her last fight showed, it can be cracked. Can Lauren Murphy do that? Maybe. But Murphy herself is fairly inconsistent, and if nothing else she’s just incredibly footslow and Lee at least has quick hands in the pocket if Murphy is plodding after her. Andrea Lee by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Murphy: Alex
Staff picking Lee: Ed, Anton, Zane, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil

Miles Johns vs. Mario Bautista

Zane Simon: Johns has a decent, basic, well-structured wrestle-boxing game in the works. He does a lot of things well offensively, if lacking in some depth and nuance. But, he also has a lot of defensive gaps. He gets lost in scrambles, and can get tagged out at range. He probably wouldn’t have won his last fight if Cole Smith weren’t totally lost anywhere other than the clinch. Bautista isn’t near the athlete that Johns is, but he’s a dyed in the wool scrapper with a pretty well rounded, nuanced striking and scrambling game. I can easily see Johns hitting takedowns, but not being able to hold Bautista down, and then getting swarmed when the fight is standing. Could lead to some controversial judging, but Mario Bautista by decision.

Staff picking Johns: Ed, Shak
Staff picking Bautista: Anton, Zane, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Alex, Phil

Domingo Pilarte vs. Journey Newson

Zane Simon: Pilarte has a slightly more diverse arsenal, and some dangerous grappling, but man does he get hit hard, and seem to have no real mind for defensive positioning at all. Felipe Colares was able to just wail on him in multiple positions where Pilarte just didn’t seem to have any clue how he should be protecting himself. Newson is mostly a boxer, but he’s mindful of range and positioning, and consistent with his strike selection. I think he can beat Pilarte if he doesn’t just jump into a submission. Journey Newson by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Pilarte: Ed, Anton, Dayne, Alex
Staff picking Newson: Zane, Shak, Mookie, Stephie, Phil

Andre Ewell vs. Jonathan Martinez

Zane Simon: I’m a lot more appreciative of the development of Martinez’s game than I am of Ewell. Martinez seems like he’s finding his stride as an exciting range threat, who likes to close distance behind unpredictable power shots. But… that’s kind of the one game that Ewell is really well suited to. If Martinez were a better counter threat, or a more consistently willing wrestler and grappler, he could absolutely take Ewell out. Even just being a more comfortable pocket striker with a willing pressure game might do it. But, it feels like he’s probably going to spend a lot of time way out at range trying to snipe with Ewell. And I don’t think that’s a game he can win. Andre Ewell by decision.

Staff picking Ewell: Ed, Anton, Zane, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Alex, Phil
Staff picking Martinez:

Youssef Zalal vs. Austin Lingo

Zane Simon: Zalal is working on the fundamentals of a reasonable, functional MMA game. Jabs, low kicks, takedowns, back takes. Simple stuff that all works. But, there’s not a lot of real dynamic danger to any of it, or a huge amount of technical depth behind it. On the other hand, Lingo is a funky combo of super dangerous power punches, and opportunistic scrambling subs. Lingo’s game is much more made to be picked apart at the upper levels. But, at the moment, Zalal feels like exactly the caliber of opponent that Lingo has been dusting in LFA. Austin Lingo via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Zalal:
Staff picking Lingo: Ed, Anton, Zane, Shak, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Alex, Phil


Who do you think will win the Main Event at UFC 247?

  • 72%

    Jon ‘Bones’ Jones

    (614 votes)

  • 27%

    Dominick ‘The Devastator’ Reyes

    (230 votes)

844 votes total

Vote Now

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