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UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Edwards staff picks and predictions

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The BE team has submitted its predictions for Saturday’s UFC Singapore card, and the majority of us are going with Leon Edwards to beat Donald Cerrone in the main event. It’s a little more split for the co-main between light heavyweights Tyson Pedro and Ovince Saint Preux.

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.

Donald Cerrone vs. Leon Edwards

Anton Tabuena: Edwards is on a nice run, but this first headlining spot against Cerrone will also be a bit of a step up for him. Cerrone is 35 and has lost three of his last four bouts at welterweight, so nothing is a sure thing. But if he hasn’t fallen from a cliff and fights close to the Cowboy we know, he should still be good enough to take this. Donald Cerrone by late TKO.

Victor Rodriguez: I don’t want to count Cerrone out, but he’s been vulnerable for some time and had worse struggles with pressure guys that don’t give him much breathing room. Edwards is a very smart fighter, yet I worry that Cerrone’s expertise, accuracy and combinations will lead to a loss that halts his momentum. My heart’s with Donald, but I get the feeling that Edwards will walk him down early and pour it on steadily as the rounds go by. Leon Edwards by decision.

Dayne Fox: My immediate thought when this contest was announced was that it would be Edwards’ breakthrough moment. The more I looked at this contest, the less I believed that. Cerrone’s biggest weakness has always been pressure fighters. Edwards can pressure, but that isn’t his M.O. when he chooses to stand and trade. In fact, Edwards can be tentative in a striking affair. And though Edwards has developed a sound wrestling game, name the last fighter to repeatedly take the Cowboy to the mat. Cerrone is certainly on the decline, but he still has enough in the tank to take down Edwards. Cerrone via TKO of RD3

Zane Simon: My head says pick Cerrone. He has problems with pressure fighters and strikes to the body, neither of which Edwards is terribly consistent about, and he’s never been just held down and ground out for multiple rounds (at least not for years and years) which is the backbone of Edwards’ current game. As fights go on, Cerrone tends to get better and better, and he’s got all the 5 round fight experience on his side. But, he’s also nearly a decade older than Edwards, and he’s looked a notable step slower, lately, even in wins. Edwards has lots of speed and power, even if he doesn’t apply it consistently. And he’s become a very very good technical wrestler. It doesn’t give him a set path for an easy points victory, but my gut says pick him here. Leon Edwards by Decision.

Staff picking Cerrone: Dayne, Anton, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Edwards: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Zane, Victor

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Tyson Pedro

Anton Tabuena: On pretty evenly matched contests like this, it’s hard for me to pick against the guy who has fought better competition. Ovince Saint Preux by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: It’d be nice to pick Pedro and have him pick up a win, but honestly I don’t really know where his strength lies aside from being a solid athlete. More concerningly, OSP is probably still physically superior. He’s also an underrated offensive wrestler as well as a dangerous counterpuncher, and has a ton of weird, fight-ending tricks. He does occasionally come out looking flat, but this is normally against functional stand-up technicians (Oezdemir, Manuwa). Pedro, as of now, is not really a functional stand-up technician. Ovince Saint Preux by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: If OSP isn’t KOing someone or Von Flue-ing them, he’s usually losing. He drops rounds consistently to opponents due to general inactivity and a lack of technical depth to his game. Still he could absolutely blast a too-green Tyson Pedro at some point. But, Pedro seems to have a good chin, a good sense of distance and timing, and a good ground game. He’ll run into danger once or twice I’m sure, but if he can fight through it, I have way more faith in him picking up the win. Tyson Pedro by submission, Round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Ovince likes looking for the big shot and then working his wrestling, while Pedro is still green. Tyson can finish this standing, but he’s going to get outwrestled first. That’s OSP’s clearest path to victory here, but he’ll have to eat a ton of damage for that to happen. And Pedro can do damage. Going with the fresher fighter here. Tyson Pedro by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking OSP: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Dayne, Anton, Phil
Staff picking Pedro: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Victor

Jessica Eye vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

Victor Rodriguez: Eye showed better fight IQ in her last fight against a sturdy veteran like Kalindra Faria, but that’s not enough for me to trust her on this one against an opponent with the wind at her back. Much like teammate Roxanne Modafferi, Clark has made a lot of improvements at Syndicate in Vegas, incorporating wrestling and being smarter about when to engage and what strikes to throw. Eye is still very strong and has a good basic boxing game but gets easily flustered if she’s interrupted, with only enough to barely survive when on her back. If Clark’s able to land a few takedowns, she can win with control and ground strikes over stretches of the fight. Might even bust out her submission game here, but I’m seeing a finish as being less likely. Jessica-Rose Clark by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Jessy Jess is one of the good-everywhere, great-nowhere fighters that Jessica Eye might end up beating. Where does Clark really hold an advantage in this fight? She’s probably not the more technical striker (although has improved greatly in that regard in recent years), not a phenomenal wrestler and lacks Eye’s occasionally venomous mat work. That being said, she does try hard to win, and is improving. That’s good enough for me. Jessica-Rose Clark by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: There’s no real serious logic to go by here. Eye is the better wrestler, better athlete, likely better grappler, and every bit as functional a kickboxer when she wants to be. But she’s a lot worse at finding a game-plan that works and sticking to it. She may be able to take Clark down and grind on her, maybe, but just as likely she’ll give up whatever dominant position she has for a scramble she ends up losing. Or she’ll just get patiently out-worked standing up. Jessica-Rose Clark by decision.

Staff picking Eye: Harry, Tim
Staff picking Clark: Bissell, Nick, Victor, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Anton, Phil, Fraser, Zane

Li Jingliang vs. Daichi Abe

Anton Tabuena: Li is just the better fighter overall, so he will probably win this. Hopefully not by double eye gouge. Li Jingliang by TKO.

Victor Rodriguez: I’ve gushed about Abe’s skills in the past, but Jingliang hits hard as a truck and has such a good wrestling game. Sorry, Daichi. Li Jingliang by submission.

Phil Mackenzie: Why did you do it, Leech. You were such awesome mid-tier fighter to root for, until you tried to rip Jake Matthews brain out through his eye sockets. Not cool. I’m still a fan, and will reluctantly accept that you maybe didn’t know what you were doing, but it wasn’t a good look. Abe is an interesting style matchup here, and a somewhat dangerous one, as a sharp and powerful counterpuncher who struggled to deal with Jumeau working on the outside and shifting from wrestling to striking. The Leech’s tendency to come in with aggression with his huge head up high may well get him tagged and badly hurt. Still. Li Jingliang by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Jingliang will likely have to wade through danger early as Abe fires off counters to his rote combinations. But after an early scare or two, Jingliang is much more likely to pick up Abe’s timing and change his approach than Abe is to keep up his success. There’s also a high probability that Jingliang’s pace forces Abe to fight at a speed that exhausts him quickly. Li Jingliang via TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Jingliang: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Victor, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Abe: Dayne

Teruto Ishihara vs. Petr Yan

Anton Tabuena: I’m rooting for Teruto, but he’s got a pretty tough match up here. Petr Yan by Decision.

Ishihara’s a pretty big dude for this weight class, and a true physical talent that deserves more credit than he gets. Peter Yan, though? My mans is the future. Rough night for Teruto. Petr Yan by TKO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Ishihara is really just not much better than he was. As a weird dude who looks for a powerful left cross then gets tired, he lost the battle of Bootleg McGregors back when he was beaten by Lobov. Petr Yan is a comparable athlete but light years away from Ishihara as a combination boxer and clinch striker, and his struggles with wrestlers largely seem to be in the past, and they came from much better wrestlers that Teruto anyway. Petr Yan by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: Ishihara is a very dangerous puzzle for Yan to solve. It’s almost all dynamic left hand counters, but they come with speed and power and with unexpected timing and accuracy. Yan loves to pressure and switches between pot-shotting, counter-punching, and pocket combinations. He’s an active defender and comfortable sitting inside and returning fire. That should give him too much variety for Ishihara to deal with, but it also means he’ll likely give Ishihara strong openings to work with. Petr Yan via decision.

Staff picking Ishihara: Tim
Staff picking Yan: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Victor, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Zane

Felipe Arantes vs. Song Yadong

Anton Tabuena: Does anyone really know Song Yadong’s actual age? Because apparently it’s not just fight records that get jumbled up with Chinese fighters, as every year I see a different reported age for him. Anyway, he looked good in his debut, but he didn’t exactly fight a high level opponent — one that was signed off a loss, seemingly to get the Chinese prospect a win in his home country. I hope he does well as it could help the MMA scene in China, but Arantes is tested and more experienced against high level competition, so he’s the safer bet here. Felipe Arantes by Decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Song Yadong has the look of a legitimate prospect, someone with both baseline athleticism and a feel for fighting. However, this is a huge step up in competition, and people who have beaten Arantes have traditionally been very capable, three-dimensional fighters who can strike and grapple and tire him out. No real reason to think that Song Yadong is ready for that level of competition, although it would be great to see. Felipe Arantes by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Consider me aboard the Yadong hype train. I really like his composure, his hair-trigger counter game, and a seeming wealth of athletic talent to make it all work just the way he wants it to. Arantes is a BIG step up, and there’s a solid chance that Yadong chases him to the mat and gets subbed, or just gets taken down and tapped. But, I really didn’t like what I saw early from Arantes against Josh Emmett. He looked completely at-sea in that bout until late. And he’s rarely if ever been a fighter to win by imposing his game on an opponent. If Yadong can stay controlled then he can pick him off. Song Yadong via KO, round 1.

Staff picking Arantes: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Anton, Phil, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Yadong: Zane

Rolando Dy vs. Shane Young

Anton Tabuena: I’m not picking against a Filipino, although Dy actually has a very good chance of pulling off the mild upset. His bottom game needs work, especially with how to scramble or use the fence to get back up, but his takedown defense is constantly improving, and his counter striking is pretty good. Rolando Dy by Decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Dy seems like a solid kickboxer who is near-crippled by fight nerves and tension. Shane Young is a low-pace, clinical outside striker. I think I like Young to stay safe and not give Dy the exchanges he seems to need in order to build his confidence back up after his inevitable slow start. Shane Young by unanimous decision.

Zane SImon: Young seems like he’s most comfortable in casual sparring matches where just being the better athlete and better technician is enough to get him by. He likes to throw a lot of low power kicks and punches, occasionally mixing in something hard to surprise people. But, it means he’s not much of a KO artist, and has often relied on a questionable submission game to finish fights. Dy is low output and I worry that he may not really be durable enough for the UFC, but he’s the more technical, more powerful standup fighter and seems more interested in turning a hard fight into a brawl than Young, who just kind of went away against Volkanovski. Young may just outwork him, but I’m taking Rolando Dy via decision, for landing the better shots round to round.

Staff picking Dy: Harry, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Young: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Tim, Victor

Song Kenan vs. Hector Aldana

Anton Tabuena: I mean no disrespect to Aldana by saying this, but the UFC really throws a lot of softballs at their newer Chinese fighters, as they’re still hoping to truly break in that market. Song may not end up as an actual contender, but I’m guessing he can beat an inexperienced cast member of TUF Latin America, who hasn’t competed in three years. Song Kenan by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: I have no idea whether Kenan Song is any good or whether Bobby Nash is just terminally chinny. Similarly, Hector Aldana hasn’t fought for ages and didn’t look very good when he did. Aldana perhaps looks like he might be the better athlete but honestly this is not a fight where there’s much to choose. The main thing is that limited regional tape of Aldana shows someone who can’t really grapple much at all and Kenan is a willing wrestler. Song Kenan by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Hector Aldana looks really pretty bad, and I’m not at all sure why he’s in the UFC. Kenan is raw, but appears much more composed and consistent. Song Kenan via TKO round 2.

Staff picking Kenan: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Zane
Staff picking Aldana:

Shinsho Anzai vs. Jake Matthews

Anton Tabuena: Anzai is tough, but Matthews is just clearly the better and more well rounded fighter here. Jake Matthews by Submission.

Phil Mackenzie: If the JingLiang fight disappointed Leech fans, it gave a ton of hope to those who like Matthews, as he showed an effective countering game, a willingness to exchange, and just seemingly turned into a more rugged and tough fighter overnight, who is finally leveraging some of that athleticism. Anzai is very much a pressure striking and power game, and I think that may be a little too similar to Jingliang – allowing Matthews to land those explosive counter combinations or shot takedowns as Anzai moves in. Jake Matthews by submission, round 2.

Zane Simon: I really do worry that Matthews won’t get this down and will have to rely purely on an athletic power punching game as he backpedals away from Anzai, but even then, I think he’s fast enough and strong enough to win. Matthews still isn’t technically levels above anyone anywhere, but Anzai’s pressure brawling wrestling game seems to require an opponent who is more willing to fade out of the fight than Matthews tends to be. Jake Matthews by decision.

Staff picking Anzai:
Staff picking Matthews: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Zane

Yan Xiaonan vs. Viviane Pereira

Anton Tabuena: Yan is such an entertaining fighter to watch as her Sanda base is always on full display. Her hands need some work, but her sidekicks are just a joy to watch. This should be a pretty competitive bout, but I have a feeling Yan can pass this test. Yan Xiaonan by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Perieira is low-pace to a fault and her takedown defense was badly exposed in her last fight. However, I think her footwork is improving and she is by far the better athlete of the two. Xiaonan’s consistent aggression should feed Pereira’s counters. It may also just cause Pereira to shut down, but I think she wins a close decision where she lands more power, if less volume. Viviane Pereira by split decision.

Zane Simon: I expect this to be an amazingly ugly fight. Pereira is hyper low-volume and loves to clinch grind, Xiaonan is a high volume striker who doesn’t really look like she has a grasp of the nuances of MMA yet. If Pereira just tries to kickbox, that could mean a good win for Xiaonan on volume alone, but I’m going to bet on Pereira putting a grind on her for long enough stretches to take a very close, debatable decision. Viviane Pereira by split.

Staff picking Xiaonan: Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Pereira: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Zane

Matt Schnell vs. Naoki Inoue

Anton Tabuena: Inoue needs quite a bit of work to shore up his overall game, but he has a high ceiling as a prospect and is still just 21 years old. But he’s currently 11-0 and has shown a lot of good things already, making him one to keep an eye on from Japan. Naoki Inoue by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I’m still interested in Schnell- his chin is clearly not good (at all) and perhaps he is simply just too big for flyweight, but he can wrestle, strike and grapple. Inoue is a more stable striker and the better top game threat, but I do think that there’s a potential route for Schnell to win on volume. However, his durability and his not-bulletproof takedown defense are still elements which favour Inoue, who is clean, technical and confident in every phase. Naoki Inoue by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Standing, I’d say Inoue and Schnell are pretty evenly matched. Both throw straight punches well in combination, while Inoue likes to lead, and Schnell prefers to counter. Schnell’s chin has been exposed, but frankly I’m not about to be sure Inoue’s is way better (his competition may just be that much worse). The thing is, when pressured, Schnell is too willing to get into a firefight, where he makes mistakes, and while he’s a good grappler, I feel like if he gets tied up with Inoue and ends up with this fight on the mat, he’s going to find himself in a lot of trouble. Naoki Inoue via submission, round 1.

Staff picking Schnell: Harry, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Inoue: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Victor, Zane

Jenel Lausa vs. Ulka Sasaki

Anton Tabuena: This should be a fun scrap. Ulka should have a huge advantage with his grappling and scrambling ability, but he is also tricky on the feet and shows willingness to trade at times. If he does that for long stretches though, he could get himself in trouble against the hard hitting former boxer. Lausa should be a big underdog here, but again, I’m not picking against a Filipino. Jenel Lausa by TKO.

Phil Mackenzie: Sasaki is developing an oddly Diaz-esque game. While his defense is still fairly mediocre, his ability to probe from range with shots is getting much better, and he remains an extremely threatening ground player, whether from top or bottom position. Lausa is an infinitely more forgiving style matchup, who has struggled badly with grappling in the UFC. Given his reach advantage, Sasaki should be able to flex his striking some, but as Anton said he should probably be cautious of pushing that too far. Ulka Sasaki by submission, round 3.

Zane Simon: Sasaki tends to break down a bit when opponents can dictate the avenue where the fight takes place. If you can box with him and take him down, his form in either area can break down a bit. I just don’t trust Lausa to be able to make that happen. He’s clearly the better athlete, and a big puncher. But he works at a very low rate and outside some big takedowns, his ground game is not deep. My guess is Inoue trades with him standing a bit, Lausa shoots for a big slamming takdown, and puts himself right into a submission threat. Either that or he just gets out-worked and taken down by Inoue standing if he gets too passive. Either way, Ulka Sasaki via submission, Round 2.

Staff picking Lausa: Anton
Staff picking Sasaki: Bissell, Nick, Harry, Mookie, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Zane

Melinda Fabian vs. Ji Yeon Kim

Anton Tabuena: Kim looked surprisingly good on her debut against Justine Kish, and I think she can make it two in a row against TUF vets. Ji Yeon Kim by Decision

Phil Mackenzie: Kim showed a touch more physicality than I expected in being able to wear down Justine Kish. She’s no-one’s idea of a technical marvel, but she just throws and throws and throws until the opponent is discouraged. Fabian just doesn’t appear to be very good. She’s footslow, lacking in power, and allows herself to be pressured without doing much about it. Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: This is a fight Ji Yeon has to win. She’s the better athlete, cleaner puncher, and harder hitter. However, Fabian is much more willing to fill space with strikes and willing to use a lot more tools to win. If Ji Yeon can’t knock her out, she may find herself in a scrappy brawl fighting just to match Fabian’s output. However, I don’t trust Fabian to ever exert enough control on this fight to take it over. Ji Yeon Kim by decision.

Staff picking Fabian: Harry
Staff picking Kim: Mookie, Nick, Dayne, Stephie, Phil, Anton, Fraser, Tim, Victor, Zane

Poll

Who wins the UFC Singapore main event?

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    Cerrone by stoppage

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    Edwards by stoppage

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    Cerrone by decision

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    Edwards by decision

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    Draw/DQ/NC

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