Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Till card in Gdansk, Poland.
The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Till, and only Victor Rodriguez and Stephie Haynes have Darren Till beating Donald Cerrone in the main event. As for the co-main event, we unanimously agree that Karolina Kowalkiewicz will beat Jodie Esquibel.
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. Darren Till
Mookie Alexander: I can’t think of a single fight where Donald Cerrone lost against the low output counterstriker. Guys who overwhelm him with volume and pressure have been his downfall time and time again, and Till is not only not that type of fighter, he’s not got a trustworthy gas tank for me to think he can manage that over the course of five rounds. Cerrone still has so many tricks in his bag and he can definitely punish Till’s bad habit of just taking his foot off the gas pedal. There’s also the aspect of this fight going to the ground, and there’s no doubt Cerrone has got the edge there. I like Darren Till but unless he’s shown drastic improvement or Cerrone falls apart, I have to favor Cowboy for the win. Donald Cerrone by TKO, round 3.
Ryan Davies: Darren Till is a legit prospect, but he is being thrown to the wolves far too quickly in this main event match up. Cerrone is too crafty on the feet to be out struck by the 24 year old Brit. Till’s traditional flat footed Muay Thai style will be outmatched by the slick counters of the veteran Cowboy. Cerrone will win most of the exchanges on the feet and find a late submission. Cerrone RNC 4th
Dayne Fox: Ryan hit the nail on the head. While a fighter needs confidence, overconfidence can be just as damaging as a lack of confidence. Till falls into that category. He has shown zero respect for his opponent’s abilities, though I will grant him that he hasn’t had to yet. I see no reason he’ll treat Cowboy any different. He’ll wish he had before the contest is over. Cerrone via KO of RD3
Zane Simon: Darren Till could win this if he fights a very Donald Cerrone specific fight. Namely push a high pace, attack the body hard, and/or work behind constant fast punches, especially the jab. And unfortunately for him, Till seems like the kind of fighter who isn’t interested in tailoring his approach to anyone. Which means he’ll likely come out with a slow-paced pressure game built around power left hands. Donald Cerrone via submission in Round 4.
Victor Rodriguez: Cerrone’s probably been figured out at this point. Masvidal was able to catch him and hurt him badly more than once, and Till might be able to do the same. Till’s got great reach, uses it well and is more than happy to mix things up. Cerrone’s opening pace was historically slow, then sped up, and now seems to depend on his opponent. Clearly, both men know they have plenty of time to work and let things cook, and Cerrone knows how to remain patient and make his opponent make mistakes that lead to bigger opportunities. Then again, Till knows what he’s up against. Darren hasn’t shown much leg kick defense, and can get chopped down en route to a decision. Yet despite Cerrone’s skillset, Till should be able to surprise him with a few elbow attacks, knees, and leg kicks as Cerrone attempts to move out of range. I think the kid actually pulls this one off. Darren Till by TKO, round 4.
Staff picking Cerrone: Bissell, Dayne, Phil, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Till: Victor, Stephie
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jodie Esquibel
Mookie Alexander: Esquibel is tough as nails (as the Grasso fight showed) but she is just way outmatched against Kowalkiewicz. This kinda feels like a showcase for Karolina to get back on track after the losses to Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha, and it should make the home fans happy. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Tall order here for Esquibel, who has made the most out of toughing it out and absorbing damage. Not entirely confident that she’ll be defending as many leg kicks as she should, but her game should be entirely centered on nullifying the range advantage and immediately clinching up. The Swing and Cling approach is the only real way to victory here, and it’s a limited window, as I doubt Esquibel can replicate Claudia Gadelha’s performance, but she sure as hell is going to go for something similar. Kowalkiewicz should be crafty and strong enough to shuck off takedown attempts, work knees from the clinch, and establish things to her preferred distance to pick her opponent apart. Esquibel will be hard to put away, though – she’s gonna keep coming forward until the closing bell. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by decision.
Ryan Davies: Mrs. Dean of Mean Jodie Esquibel has been tasked with an unfavorable debut taking on #3 strawweight Karolina Kowalkiewicz in her backyard. Esquibel is a competent veteran who will end up being in the top 15 for a while, but this is way too much of an ask for her debut. Kowalkiewicz Unanimous Decision
Zane Simon: This feels like a nearly impossible fight for Esquibel, who has been styling herself as a volume boxer. She has the frame to do some power wrestling, but has never been a lockdown top player, and Kowalkiewicz isn’t easy to take down. Otherwise, if it’s a battle of who will throw the most strikes over 3 rounds, I gotta go Kowalkiewicz all the way. Add her brutal clinch game in and Esquibel has a huge task for her UFC debut. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by decision.
Staff picking Kowalkiewicz: Bissell, Dayne, Phil, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Victor, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Esquibel:
Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark
Mookie Alexander: Blachowicz’s gas tank is awful and I have zero faith in his ability to do anything good after the opening round. Clark is a decent prospect, a better athlete, and can win enough striking exchanges to take a comfortable win on the scorecards. Devin Clark by unanimous decision.
Ryan Davies: South Dakotan rising star Devin “Brown Bear” Clark will be looking for his third straight win in enemy territory against Punishing Pole Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz has devastating power and Clark has fell victim to the KO in the past. However since Clark has moved back up to his prefered 205 he has looked like a complete fighter seamlessly mixing up his wrestling and boxing in 2 victories. A knockout for Blachowicz is not out of the question, but if you had a gun to my head I’m taking Clark with the superior wrestling. Clark Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Blachowicz is the kind of gatekeeper that could only exist at (L)HW. An OK technical kickboxer with limited grappling, an atrocious gas tank, and, most damningly, without the massive punching power which would at least partially ameliorate those issues. I have to confess, though, I weirdly like him and would like to see him do well. But he’s a one-round fighter that isn’t even great at finishing within the context of that round. Clark is still learning how to be an effective wrestle-boxer, but it feels like all he has to do is survive for 5 minutes? Devin Clark by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Nope. Nopenopenope. I used to love Jan’s fights, but his fighting style has proven to be ill-suited to the kind of competition he’s facing in the UFC. Clark is not only a better and more durable athlete, he’s faster and able to outwork Blachowicz for all three rounds. Devin Clark by decision.
Zane Simon: I’m not sure that Clark is actually faster or more durable than Jan at all, and I don’t think he’s more technical anywhere. But, he does appear to have actual cardio of any sort, and fights hard for multiple rounds. Devin Clark by decision.
Staff picking Blachowicz: Bissell, Dayne, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Clark: Phil, Nick, Davies, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Stephie
Jonathan Wilson vs. Oskar Piechota
Mookie Alexander: “Johnny Bravo” is a great nickname and an underrated cartoon from the 1990s. As far as actually having sustained success at a UFC level? Ehhhhhh. Oskar Piechota by submission, round 1.
Ryan Davies: Millennia MMA’s Jonathan Wilson will make his middleweight debut after an underwhelming 1-2 record at 205. Welcoming Wilson to 185 will be Gdansk native Oskar Piechota who is coming off of a :32 knockout of Jason Radcliffe for the Cage Warriors title. Piechota is an extremely accomplished BJJ black belt under Robert Drysdale and has appeared to turned a corner with his striking. Wilson is a quality striker but it’s tough to believe this is anything more than a showcase fight for the hometown kid. Piechota Arm Triangle 1st
Victor Rodriguez: Gotta side with Ryan here. Wilson’s got some skills, but Piechota has better finishing instincts and great submission setups on the ground. Oskar Piechota by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Piechota looks like the real deal. A fantastic flowy grappler with a strong pocket striking game and real KO power? For a guy who tries to work a low paced striking game from range in Jonathan Wilson, he’s going to have his hands full. Basically, if Wilson can’t catch Piechota for the KO, something he hasn’t done against any decent competition, then he likely doesn’t have many ways to win this fight. Oskar Piechota via KO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: I try to be hard to convince when it comes to regional prospects that fight above 170, particularly in Europe. Remember when Scott Askham was considered one of the best prospects in the world? It is simply very hard to discover whether someone has a game which consistently works against good technical athletes if they rarely fight any. I feel like Piechota has perhaps too much confidence in his striking game, and Wilson is physically very tough, and his handspeed is genuinely pretty blazing fast. I can’t help but feel that at least one of the hot prospects on this card will get derailed. Why not pick the most hyped one? Jonathan Wilson by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Wilson: Phil, Tim
Staff picking Piechota: Bissell, Dayne, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Stephie
Marcin Held vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Ryan Davies: Polish BJJ phenom Marcin Held is the best 0-3 UFC fighter you will ever find. He will try again for his first octagon victory against 22 year old German prospect Nasrat Haqprast. Haqprast has trained at multiple elite camps including Tri Star and Kings MMA and been on a tear, finishing his last 8 fights via KO/TKO. However Haqprast is still very green and his opponents combined record is 16-20-1. Held is going to be too slick and savvy for the greenhorn and will dominate this fight on the mat. Held Unanimous Decision
Fraser Coffeen: Listen, Held, this is it. I’ve picked you again and again in the UFC and you keep failing me. But surely, SURELY, you’re not going to lose to the 8-1 guy with no wikipedia page, right? Don’t fail me again. Marcin Held, UD
Victor Rodriguez: Ugh. Held’s UFC record is not at all a fair reflection of his real skills and potential. Held should win against the less experienced fighter, eventually snatching a leg in the process. Marcin Held by submission.
Phil Mackenzie: Haqparast is about as threatening an unknown as you can get. Boatloads of confidence, massive finishing power, young and developing, has trained at elite gyms as mentioned by Ryan. That said, Held is still very durable and determined to get his grappling rolling, and Haqparast has no combat sports grappling background to speak of other than pure MMA. He’s a surprisingly good wrestler, but the difference in mat skills is likely enormous. He also doesn’t have the tendency to throw TD intercepting knees and uppers that Hadzovic had. Keep an eye on this kid, but Marcin Held by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Held’s UFC run has been miserable, but his actual talent in the cage has been noticeably improving. Most importantly, he’s become a very capable aggressive puncher, with a strong clinch boxing game. He’s still wooden and upright, and he’s still adjusting his game to be something more than the rolling kneebar machine he once was, but he is improving. Haqparast has the power to catch Held and potentially the top game to stay safe if Held decides to get funky and play a guard game, however he doesn’t fight well off his back foot, and doesn’t have the depth of experience or technique to change things up and surprise Held. Probably a rough debut for a promising talent. Marcin Held by decision.
Staff picking Held: Bissell, Dayne, Phil, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Haqparast:
Artem Lobov vs. Andre Fili
Mookie Alexander: Andre Fili’s record in the UFC is as follows: W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L. I am obligated to pick him to win this fight just because the pattern dictates as such. Andre Fili by unanimous decision.
Ryan Davies: SBG sidekick extraordinaire Artem Lobov will look to right the ship against Joe-Jitsu piano belt Andre Fili, who is coming off of a July decision loss to Calvin Kattar. It’s no secret what the Russian Hammer is looking to do, he is going to press forward and swing for the kill shot. While the boxing world may not have been that impressed with Artem’s striking it works out pretty well for him in the octagon. Fili is the superior grappler, but if he can’t get the takedown he will spend much of the fight losing rounds in a defense striking posture. Lobov Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Fili is quickly approaching “bust” territory, but in a super weird way. He’s never lost consistently, and it’s not that he’s technically poor, but it does seem that he hasn’t really improved in important ways while the division has taken massive strides around him. Lobov has good cardio, is tougher than an old boot, and has a gift for landing counters. However, Fili has a simply massive reach advantage, and can likely outgrapple Lobov handily. I expect something a bit like the Swanson fight, really. A fairly clear Fili win, where Lobov makes it close and ugly enough that no-one’s really clamouring to see Fili fight afterwards. Andre Fili by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I just don’t have much faith in what Fili is doing right now. Lobov isn’t a great fighter, but I get his game, how it works, and how he’s trying to fight. As his UFC career has gone on, he’s looked to push a mean pace, and focus more on drawing opponents into his counters with some decent lead offense (notably a fine kicking game). I know he’s giving up a ton of reach to Fili, but I feel like Fili’s move/feint a lot but throw a little style doesn’t have a ton of upside against a fighter who wants to throw volume, has a good chin, and knows how to counter. I feel dirty doing this and will look foolish if Fili just wrestles him for 3 rounds, but Artem Lobov by decision.
Staff picking Lobov: Bissell, Davies, Fraser, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Fili: Dayne, Phil, Nick, Mookie, Tim
Sam Alvey vs. Ramazan Emeev
Ryan Davies: Winner in 5 of his last 6 “Smilin” Sam Alvey should finally crack the middleweight top 15 if he can get by former M-1 champion Ramazan Emeev. This has fight of the night potential, both men are at their best in stand up battles and have shown the ability to absorb large amounts of damage. Alvey has had issues with pulling the trigger in the past, relying heavily on counters, but Emeev does his best work moving forward. Very few at 185 can hang with Alvey in a punch for punch battle and Emeev has been susceptible to wide looping shots which Alvey specializes in. Alvey Knockout 2nd
Dayne Fox: I was on the Alvey train until I found out how much weight he had to cut: over 34 pounds in the course of 10 days. Not impossible, but very draining. So I’m changing my pick from what I had in my preview. Yes, he still has the power in his fists and could stop Emeev on a dime, but I see him fading fast after the first round. Alvey is still tough, so Emeev will have his hands full trying to finish him off. Emeev via decision
Victor Rodriguez: I keep picking Alvey because of his ability to bait guys in close and blasting them coming in. It seems like he’s been figured out on that, but he’s able to at least win rounds and get some decent decision wins. I expect the same here. Alvey’s got decent takedown defense and enough striking chops to tag his opponent enough to win this one on the scorecards. Now that I’ve offered a somewhat sober take in which he wins by decision, he’ll probably knock this guy out just to spite me. Amazing stuff. Sam Alvey by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Alvey tends to beat people who are either strategically or technically defunct. At this stage in their careers, Nate Marquardt and Rashad are basically both of those things. Emeev is tough, reasonably defensively responsible and has beaten decent competition for a middleweight fighting outside the UFC. He’s not a monster in the clinch or an outside kicker, which are the two styles which are basically guaranteed to beat Alvey, and he has historically been quite vulnerable to right hands, which isn’t a good sign. That being said, he’s extremely tough and can keep a decent pace, and I’m just not sure that Alvey can after that weight cut. I feel I should warn people that this fight could be shockingly dire, but it’s a Sam Alvey fight, you all knew that. Ramazan Emeev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There’s every chance that Emeev gets caught bulling his way into the clinch and KO’d. But if that doesn’t happen, Alvey’s relative complete inactivity there means that Emeev can probably outwork him. Especially after a rough weight cut for Alvey and international travel. If this manages to hit the mat, I really think Emeev will punish Alvey for it, otherwise, we’re probably in for a 3 round cage grind. Ramazan Emeev by decision.
Staff picking Alvey: Davies, Fraser, Victor
Staff picking Emeev: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Phil, Stephie, Tim
Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek
Ryan Davies: Anthony Hamilton is in a must win situation in this this his tenth UFC fight. The Jackson Wink fighter is 3-6 in the octagon and has dropped his last 3 in very unimpressive fashion. Hamilton’s destiny be determined against 8-1 Polish prospect Adam Wieczorek. Wieczorek is solid in all areas but doesn’t jump out at you in any one particular aspect. He has not shown huge knock out power (not that has been needed to finish Hamilton lately) and I expect Hamilton to play it safe and revert back to his wrestling 100% and ride out a victory to keep his job. Hamilton Unanimous Decision
Victor Rodriguez: Kind of surprised that Hamilton is getting yet another shot in the UFC when you look at how he’s lost as of late. I worry that Hamilton will struggle with a big, muscular guy that can threaten with submissions and hit pretty hard, plus I worry his wrestling won’t be technical enough to get it where he wants it. Hamilton’s ability to win almost entirely hinges on his wrestling being on point, and I don’t have faith in that happening. Wieczorek will see the takedown coming, fight it off and beat up Hamilton on the ground. Adam Wieczorek by TKO.
Phil Mackenzie: Uhhh. Hamilton has looked awful lately and he’s coming back pretty soon off a brutal knockout where he almost retired. That said, Wieczorek seems to rely on toughness more than any kind of defense anywhere. In particular, a regional heavyweight who reliably has to sweep or grapple from his guard is not a good look. Solid chance Hamilton just pounds him out from top position. I can’t trust Hamilton any more, at all, and Wieczorek is at least pretty damn tough and aggressive. Adam Wieczorek by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Anthony Hamilton absolutely could beat a very unstructured Adam Wieczorek, but he could have beat Daniel Spitz too and didn’t come anywhere close. Biggest mark in Wieczorek’s favor is that he tends to keep a reasonable pace beyond one round. Sooner or later he’ll likely find Hamilton’s chin for the KO. Adam Wieczorek by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Hamilton: Dayne, Davies, Fraser, Mookie, Tim
Staff picking Wieczorek: Bissell, Nick, Victor, Phil, Zane, Stephie
Salim Touahri vs. Warlley Alves
Ryan Davies: Pole Salim Touahri will step in for “Judo” Jim Wallhead on two weeks notice to make his octagon debut in front of his hometown crowd. Touahri has a been tasked with taking on slumping TUF Brazil 3 champion Warlley Alves. Touahri appears to be a well rounded prospect and will have the edge if he can take Alves the distance. However Alves has devastating knockout power and I expect him to land hard in an early exchange to get back on track. Alves KO 1st
Phil Mackenzie: Touahri is a good, well-rounded, athletic pick-up for the UFC, and I expect him to hang around and do well. Alves has had problems being consistent from minute to minute, but I don’t think that Touahri has quite the style to beat him. Primarily, Touahri is a bit of a slow starter and tends to feel his way into fights. He can be a bit vulnerable when retracting his hands, and Alves’ solution to his gas tank issues has been to become a surprisingly effective counterpuncher with both the cross and the left hook. I think Toahri gets caught up in an exchange early and cracked, although if this goes deeper than the second Alves’ gas tank is always a concern. Warlley Alves by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: This seems like a really favorable matchup for Alves. Touahri has a ton of power and some solid timing on his strikes, but he doesn’t look like he has much wrestling defense or grappling defense at all. And for all his struggles, Alves’ problems have never been a lack of chin. I’m also not all that sure that Touahri has any better gas tank than Alves. So really it’s all about not getting caught with one magic punch. Warlley Alves by submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Touahri:
Staff picking Alves: Bissell, Davies, Dayne, Phil, Nick, Fraser, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Stephie, Tim
Damian Stasiak vs. Brian Kelleher
Ryan Davies: Brian “Boom” Kelleher will get an ideal opponent to bounce back from his July submission loss to Chito Vera. Stasiak comes from a Karate background and his wide open striking will leave many openings for Kelleher’s tight combos. Kelleher is a superior wrestler and should be able to get this to the ground fairly easily. Stasiak has a dangerous submission game off of his back and will have his best chance for victory once the fight goes to the ground. Kelleher has proven to be susceptible to the submission losing 5 of his 8 losses via tapout, but I predict a celebratory ukulele performance in Kelleher’s very near future. Kelleher Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: As far as karate-grapplers go, I think Stasiak is closer to the Tecia Torres high-volume archetype than the Gunnar or GSP sniper. I’ve been quietly impressed by his improvements: he has decent footwork and wrestling, and is a surprisingly high-quality scrambler, but can be awful wild with his hands. Kelleher is an absurdly aggressive Sonnen-esque wrestle-boxer, who much like Sonnen tends to be so aggressive that he occasionally gets himself tapped out. While Kelleher is likely the better wrestler, I think I might actually like Stasiak’s better footwork, and more dangerous submission grappling game. In particular, I think that Kelleher may be surprised when he tries to aggressively close Stasiak down and gets hit by a counter double leg. Probably the most guaranteed “fun” fight on the card. Damian Stasiak by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I both feel like I know exactly what to expect from Brian Kelleher and I have no idea at all. He’s an aggressive wrestle boxer, who picks his striking targets well and pushes a mean pace in his fights. But he’s had a lot of trouble with having that aggression used against him over the years and turning into submission losses. Stasiak could absolutely do that as he’s just the kind of slightly less athletic, but incredibly durable, and aggressive guard grappler to catch Kelleher. But, I’m banking on Kelleher not getting caught. If he doesn’t, he’s the faster, higher output fighter, more likely to win rounds with volume and dominant positions. Brian Kelleher by decision.
Staff picking Stasiak: Dayne, Phil
Staff picking Kelleher: Bissell, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Tim
Aspen Ladd vs. Lina Lansberg
Ryan Davies: Ladd will finally make her UFC debut after illness forced her to withdraw from a scheduled bout with Jessica Eye in July. Ladd is the real deal, her calculated stoic and systematic breakdown of her opponents have many believing she is the future of the sport. Lansberg has displayed off the charts toughness and effective kickboxing in her 1-1 UFC stint thus far. Lansberg may have early successes on the feet, however Ladd will drag her into deep waters to pick up her first of many UFC wins. Ladd TKO 3rd
Victor Rodriguez: Lansberg’s striking is great, her grappling is good, but her MMA game isn’t as put together as well as Ladd’s. Best example is that fight she had against Sijara Eubanks – she nailed a taller, stronger opponent while standing, outmaneuvered her on takedown attempts and kept really good control for portions of the fight on the ground. Lansberg presents a different set of challenges because her use of range is better and her striking is more technical, but Ladd’s athleticism, speed and pressure will be too much. Aspen Ladd by TKO.
Phil Mackenzie: I’m not massively taken with Ladd’s style at the moment- she doesn’t so much have striking defense as she just makes sure that she throws more in boxing range. Similarly, she doesn’t have effective offensive footwork so much as she just trots around after her opponent. I think there is probably a fairly deflating loss sometime in her near future, probably to a half-decent striker with a reach advantage. I’m not sure if it’s Lansberg. She’s not really any better as a boxer, or any more defensively sound. The one thing she has is that she’s very powerful in the clinch. If Ladd walks her way in there, she’ll be in trouble. I think she probably stays at mid-range and throws more in a fun slobberknocker. Aspen Ladd by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I think there’s actually a pretty high likelihood that, given how much Ladd pushes forward and how badly Lansberg wants the clinch that this fight does end up there quite a lot. However, despite it being where she’s best, Lansberg isn’t exactly a controlling force in the clinch, she just tends to throw more. My guess is Lansberg starts strong and wears down while Ladd starts winning more 50/50 clinch position battles and generally out-works Lansberg all fight from range and/or on the mat if it hits there. Aspen Ladd by split decision.
Staff picking Ladd: Bissell, Davies, Dayne, Nick, Fraser, Mookie, Victor, Phil, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Lansberg: Tim
Felipe Arantes vs. Josh Emmett
Ryan Davies: This will be Arantes second fight with against a Alpha Male fighter, the first being a back and forth decision loss to Andre Fili in 2014. Previous losses to stablemates is typically not a pertinent detail, but the Alpha Male team all has a very similar attack and the Fili fight may give us critical insight to how this may play out. On the, feet neither is going to light the world on fire, but I would give the slight edge to Emmet due to the unorthodox strikes, running hooks etc. Arantes is very dangerous off of his back and that will be his undoing in this fight if he can not secure a submission. Emmett takes a close one with top control and sight advantage on the feet. Emmett Split Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Hmmm. This is exactly the kind of fight I’d normally pick someone like Emmett to lose. Coming down a weight class against someone going up more often means that the bigger fighter struggles with the speed and the pace more than the little guy struggles with the power. What’s keeping me from that is that he’s Team Alpha Male, and they tend to be absolutely top-shelf when it comes to physically preparing their fighters, and he likely has a lot of training partners around Arantes’ size. Arantes is also very dependent on being physically able to bully his opponent, and I’m not sure he can do that to Emmett. Josh Emmett by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Yeesh. Conventional logic should lead me to favor the durable wrestler with good top control, etc. I’m just feeling that Arantes can take this. Emmett’s striking isn’t up to par here, and Arantes can defend takedowns competently for the first round. Emmett’s not going to stop going for the takedown until he gets it, and Arantes should be able to punish him coming in. Gonna roll the dice on this one and go with the wild pick. Felipe Arantes by TKO.
Zane Simon: Arantes’ inability to control the area where his fights take place seems like it could be especially costly against a more powerful fighter like Emmett. As long as Emmett is willing to bull forward the way he usually is, Arantes will likely be right there to meet him, and possibly throw a kick that gets caught and gets him taken down. Or just pushed around. If Emmett backs off and stays outside and just lets Arantes do whatever’s comfortable, then he could have big problems. But the way Emmett pushes pace and distance makes me think he’ll have Arantes moving backwards or on his back. Josh Emmett by decision.
Staff picking Arantes: Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Emmett: Bissell, Davies, Dayne, Nick, Fraser, Mookie, Phil, Zane, Tim