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UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov staff picks and predictions

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The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Boise, and despite the long layoff, everyone is going with Junior dos Santos to spoil Blagoy Ivanov’s UFC debut in the main event. As for the co-main, opinion is split on who will win between Sage Northcutt and Zak Ottow.

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.

Junior dos Santos vs. Blagoy Ivanov

Mookie Alexander: Everyone dos Santos has lost to is a dangerous striker capable of turning him into his usual mess when he has to fight off the fence or use his awful footwork. Ivanov… is not supposed to fit the bill. I mean, he can pressure, but he doesn’t pressure well and is not the striking threat that Cain Velasquez is. JDS has great takedown defense and isn’t helpless on the ground even when he is taken down. Ivanov also may have a healthy finishing rate, but he’s also gone the distance with Josh Copeland and Caio Alencar fairly recently. If dos Santos can keep Ivanov at bay with his jab, I can see him busting the Bulgarian up on his way to a dominant victory. Another bad performance here and sadly it figures to be a sign that he’s a shot fighter. Junior dos Santos by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Ivanov is just not that good. He’s got fast hands, and can throw from surprising angles. But otherwise, he’s footslow, chases after opponents rather than cuts off the cage, and very low output. The first two problems should be enough to negate JDS’ terrible tendency to back himself to the fence and get trapped. He had good success against a similarly footslow Ben Rothwell. But there’s always a chance the he backs up and Ivanov lunges in to sleep him with one odd-angle Sambo punch. And not a bad chance either. Junior Dos Santos by Decision.

Staff picking JDS: Mookie, Bissell, Phil, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Ivanov:

Sage Northcutt vs. Zak Ottow

Mookie Alexander: Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I do think Northcutt is getting better, albeit in small increments. For starters, his striking defense is still really bad. I don’t think we should put too much stock into Zak Ottow’s knockout win over Mike Pyle beyond Pyle being very very past his prime. There is the very real possibility that Ottow just takes Northcutt down and grinds him into dust, if not submit him outright, but I don’t see Ottow being any better than the youthful and athletic Mickey Gall, or the more well-rounded, higher-volume, and quite underrated Bryan Barberena. The quickness of Northcutt and his striking will get the job done. Sage Northcutt by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Ottow’s tendency to work a low-output counterpunch game off his back foot is tailor made for Northcutt to dazzle him with superior speed and variety. Ottow has the power to sleep Northcutt, especially with Northcutt carrying his chin out and his head on line (and his tendency to freeze up moving away from strikes), but Ottow likely just doesn’t have the pressure ability or consistent form to win this off one big shot. Sage Northcutt by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I’m with Zane. The one thing that Northcutt has struggled with badly is just pure aggression, and this is not really something which Ottow has displayed thus far in the UFC. Northcutt looks like he’s enjoying the sport far more since he’s gone to Alpha Male, and given the opportunity, he can just mark up Ottow from the outside. Northcutt’s over-enthusiastic wrestling is still a concern, but you can see why he throws the double legs he does, it’s just a matter of application. It’ll be interesting to see whether they remain a flaw or something that develops into more of a GSP-esque “will he strike or wrestle? how do I move forward safely” game. Sage Northcutt by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Northcutt: Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Ottow: Bissell, Nick, Dayne, Tim

Dennis Bermudez vs. Rick Glenn

Mookie Alexander: Glenn does not fit the type of fighter who normally gives Bermudez trouble… but then again, neither did Andre Fili. That said, I think Fili got a gift decision vs. Bermudez and Dennis is unlucky to be on a three-fight losing skid as a result. It does feel like he’s become an increasingly worse wrestler, but he still should be fast, powerful, and strong enough to run Glenn ragged. There’s always the concern that Glenn’s striking just busts up Bermudez’s iffy chin, but I like Bermudez’s chances in this one, especially given such a big athletic disparity. Dennis Bermudez by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Bermudez appears to be losing small steps, which is a big problem for a relatively elite fighter who has always depended on being able to be faster and stronger for longer than much of his competition. But, Glenn is about the lowest end of athletic specimen in the featherweight division. Glenn thrives on a great chin, and workmanlike, consistent form. If you fade early, he’ll be right there late plodding forward throwing combinations. I just don’t think Bermudez is declined to the point where that’s enough to beat him. Dennis Bermudez by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Elkins is just a tier above Glenn when it comes to relentless grinders, and there is a serious argument that Bermudez beat him anyway. In fact, as Mookie pointed out, I wouldn’t complain if someone said that they thought Bermudez won both the Fili and Elkins fights, which is why I suspect he’s still this high on the card. Against athleticism differentials, Glenn has needed to tire his opponents out… but Bermudez doesn’t really get tired. The terrible chin and nonexistent defense is always an issue, but Dennis Bermudez by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Bermudez: Mookie, Bissell, Phil, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Glenn:

Randy Brown vs. Niko Price

Mookie Alexander: I love watching Niko Price fight. He’s fun to watch and always goes for the finish. Brown figures to be the fighter with more upside, and he’s coming off a win over Mickey Gall, but I believe Price is more dangerous and I think he’s capable of overwhelming Brown with his power punching. This could easily backfire and see him get knocked out, though. Niko Price by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: Price and Brown both have games defined by moments of brilliance and large areas of suck. For Price, combination punching, fluidity of movement, and defense are big problems. For Brown, wrestling, grappling decision making, and positional awareness are problems. Still, since neither man is an ace wrestler, I expect Brown’s problems to be just a little less major in this fight. He’s got longer reach than Price and is better at putting strikes together. If he can keep from getting cracked by Price’s weird power or from ending up on his back he should be able to take the win on points. Randy Brown by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Niko Price is a great test for Randy Brown, as he’s well-rounded enough and opportunistic enough everywhere that he can take advantage of Brown’s oft-lackadaisical defense. Conversely, he also showed that he has a hard speed and durability ceiling when he fought Luque. So: as the better athlete, can Brown show off a consistent range kickboxing game to keep Price at a distance, without messing up badly? He couldn’t against Belal Remember The Name Muhammad, but Muhammad is both a more technical wrestler and a quicker, more defensively sound striker than Price. I still think Brown has potential and has shown slow but steady improvement. Randy Brown by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Brown: Nick, Dayne, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Price: Mookie, Bissell, Stephie, Tim

Myles Jury vs. Chad Mendes

Mookie Alexander: I wouldn’t choose Jury over the 2012-2014 version of Chad Mendes. However, are we sure the 2015 version of Chad Mendes is still with us? He’s been knocked out or dropped in three of his last four fights, then he sat on the shelf for almost three years because of his USADA suspension. Mendes is 33 years old and the rematch with Aldo might have been really brutal in the long-term for both of them. He’ll be at a tremendous size disadvantage against Jury, who is good everywhere without being among the elite. Jury isn’t one to engage in prolonged kickboxing matches, but I can scarcely recall him ever being hurt or in serious trouble. Since Mendes is just about impossible to takedown, I figure Jury can win this at range and avoid Mendes’ power shots, and make it difficult for Mendes to shoot on him and put him on his back. I’m not confident that Mendes will get back to his old form, and I believe Jury is heading into his prime years. I’ll go with Myles Jury by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I was really really impressed by Jury’s performance against Glenn. Made Glenn look every bit as out matched as the athletic disparity would suggest, and that’s not an easy task against someone as double-tough as the ‘Gladiator’. His use of combination counter punching was especially noteworthy and it’s the biggest reason why I’m picking him here. After being gone for a couple years, I’m not confident where Mendes is at right now, especially after a USADA failure. And he’s always been prone to eating counter shots as he jumps into the pocket. It’s what got him KO’d against Frankie Edgar. He’s the better wrestler, but TAM doesn’t emphasize top control, so I don’t expect he’ll just hold Jury down. If this is going to be a 3 round fight, I think Jury can find Mendes’ chin along the way. If he can’t, Mendes may absolutely work him. Myles Jury by KO, Round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Jury might not be the athletic specimen that Mendes is, but this is not a forgiving style matchup for the returning Alpha Male fighter. Mendes is all fast-twitch speed, and a natural counter fighter. Jury is also a counter fighter, but of a debatably somewhat more evolved form, where he sits back and picks his shots with less commitment and risk. This fight could get weird and slow-paced, should Mendes not be able to out-speed him enough to panic Jury. And as Zane pointed out, Mendes’ defense collapses once he’s inside the pocket, which is where Jury has a tendency to lace people. Still, the sheer speed disparity should be enough, but it’s a tricky one. Chad Mendes by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Jury: Mookie, Zane
Staff picking Mendes: Bissell, Phil, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Tim

Marion Reneau vs. Cat Zingano

Mookie Alexander: Zingano is still very much a serious threat to finish a fight or put her opponent in trouble at any given moment, and Reneau isn’t one to pour on volume minute to minute. However, considering we just saw Reneau beat Sara McMann, who has a history of giving away fights, I can’t go against Reneau when she’s fighting someone who has her own well-documented history of questionable in-fight decision making. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Like Carmouche further down the card, Zingano is an impressive athlete who never seemed to get any better over her time in the UFC. Admittedly, this could partially be down to some gnarly injuries and time on the shelf, but her decision making is just consistently poor. Reneau seems very much a “take what you give her” type fighter who relies on being insulated by her athleticism, so it’s possible that Zingano just outworks her with aggression. That being said, despite the obvious issues that she might have with her takedown defense, Reneau is someone who knows how to win, and Zingano kind of isn’t. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Zingano is always dangerous and always working for the finish at all times, but that means she’s also always getting overly aggressive and putting herself out of position. Reneau can be passive to a fault, but I think Zingano will give her too much to work with for Reneau to lose. Marion Reneau by decision.

Staff picking Zingano: Dayne, Tim
Staff picking Reneau: Mookie, Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Zane, Phil

Alejandro Perez vs. Eddie Wineland

Mookie Alexander: Ugh. I’ve always been an Eddie Wineland fan, it’s just that you can easily see this turning into a rather drab contest, even with Perez coming off the knockout of Matt Lopez. Wineland is not in his prime anymore, and he really just seems to want to box and do pretty much nothing else. Perez is more varied in his striking and can take a slow-paced decision that way. Alejandro Perez by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Alejandro Perez’s last performance against Matthew Lopez was a huge relief, as he cast aside a growing propensity for low-pace stinkers and put the well-regarded prospect away. Wineland is weird. A couple of good performances aside, his last few years have not been great. In general he’s constrained by slightly plodding footwork and a reliance on being the taller fighter to allow him to hit hard counters- these deficiencies mean that he’s vulnerable either to determined outfighters or to pure pressure. Perez is the first of the two, and I suspect that this will be less fun than the Lopez fight, as he hangs out on the outside and sporadically kicks Wineland’s legs while refusing to lead into anything dangerous. Alejandro Perez by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: A few years ago I would pick Wineland to win this fight every day of the week. Just walk Perez to the cage, and pot shot him to death by edging in and out of the pocket. But, I don’t think Wineland is eager enough to pull the trigger anymore to comfortably out-work Perez and I don’t know that his reflexes are sharp enough to slip all the counterpunches anymore. Whether Perez gets the KO or not, I think he’ll land the better punches all fight. Alejandro Perez by decision.

Staff picking Perez: Phil, Nick, Mookie, Stephie, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Wineland: Bissell, Dayne

Darren Elkins vs. Alex Volkanovski

Mookie Alexander: Had it in my mind that Volkanovski was going to thrash Elkins. Then I listened to the Vivisection and have changed my tune. Volkanovski is a dynamite wrestler with a relentlessness to his game that I absolutely love… but his strength of competition isn’t incredibly impressive. Elkins has beaten plenty of quality opponents, and has improved his striking to the point where he might even be able to trouble Volkanovski there. I’m also not completely sold on Volkanovski’s cardio when up against someone who is capable of pushing back. So… here’s the upset pick? Darren Elkins by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Volkanovski looks dominant, but his wins lack elite quality. And the fact that all of his offense tends to be tied to his wrestling and clinch games (even as the much better striker), make me feel confident that he’ll do a lot of tying up with Elkins. I assume Volkanovski will win round 1, but if Elkins pushes the pace in grappling and wrestling exchanges, and just stays messy in striking exchanges, I can see him forcing Volkanovski to fade as he takes over late. Darern Elkins by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: What a great fight. We are all in agreement that this is the actual main event of this card, right? Why the HELL is Mirsad Bektic ranked over Elkins with a win over Godofredo Pepey, who Elkins also beat? Who let Adel Brkic do UFC rankings? Why is Bermudez, who Elkins also beat, ahead of him on the card? This fight should be a grimy scrappers delight, as Elkins insane pawing transitional style goes up against Volkanovski’s Cain-esque punching combinations into takedown chains. Love it. Again I’m going with the athleticism pick, but it’s well worth noting how few people have been able to beat Elkins by fighting his fight. Alexander Volkanovski by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Elkins: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Volkanovski: Bissell, Phil, Nick

Said Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Scoggins

Phil Mackenzie: Unlike his cousins, Nurmagomedov is a powerful and defensively responsible if slightly plodding kickboxer. That seems like a not-great skillset to fight against Scoggins. Giant, noxious brainfarts have kept Scoggins back, but this seems like a relatively forgiving style matchup where he’s unlikely (?) to throw himself headfirst into a choke submission(???), and should(???!) be able to work over Lil’ Nurmy from range with prodding kicks and more volume. Justin Scoggins by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I really want to pick against Scoggins here. I love a lot of what Nurmagomedov shows up with. But what he doesn’t have is a sub grappling game to really worry about. I expect this will be an entertaining kickboxing bout until Scoggins gets bored, or clipped and turns his wrestling on. And from there I think he can just push a pace that Nurmagomedov won’t match, even if it’s not always a safe or well controlled one. Justin Scoggins by decision.

Staff picking Nurmagomedov: Mookie, Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Tim
Staff picking Scoggins: Phil, Zane

Kurt Holobaugh vs. Raoni Barcelos

Phil Mackenzie: I’m quite pleased to see Holobaugh come back to the UFC. He’s always been a fun, high-pace action fighter who throws combinations to the head and body and has a good opportunistic submission game to fall back on. Barcelos is the better athlete and more of a finishing threat, with a nasty BJJ game and a hard counter right hand which he’s probably going to land early. However, Holobaugh has never been finished, and if this fight goes late I think that Barcelos’ one-and-done approach gets him worn down by Holobaugh’s pace. Kurt Holobaugh by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Barcelos throws almost nothing but one-shot power strikes. He’s composed and well skilled, but it’s not a terribly diverse gameplan at the end of the day. Holobaugh has never been easy to hurt, and has developed a nicely nuanced kickboxing attack where he feints, varies speeds, and can really crack when he needs to. Considering that Holobaugh hasn’t been KO’d, I have to trust that his more volume based pressure game will win out over Barcelos chucking fire at him, but this should be a fun one. Kurt Holobaugh by decision.

Staff picking Holobaugh: Mookie, Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Tim, Zane, Phil
Staff picking Barcelos: Dayne

Liz Carmouche vs. Jennifer Maia

Phil Mackenzie: This is a “how much is experience worth” fight in the purest sense. Carmouche has shown minimal technical improvements over her time in the UFC, so the question here is whether she simply has too much cage time for someone as relatively inexperienced as Maia. Relatively is a key word here, because we’re talking an Invicta champion. Maia offers approximately the same threats as Alexis Davis did, being a clean striker and a dangerous mat grappler, but she’s a better athlete in area A, and just plain better in area B than Davis. Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Carmouche is the better athlete, more fluid striker, and likely the better wrestler. But, it doesn’t always feel like she knows any of these things, or how to transition between them. Maia is just sort of okay at everything, but she’s numbingly consistent and great at putting people against the fence where she can grind on them. It just so happens that Carmouche has a bad habit of giving up underhooks and getting pushed against the fence. Jennifer Maia by decision

Staff picking Carmouche: Tim
Staff picking Maia: Mookie, Bissell, Nick, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Phil

Mark De La Rosa vs. Elias Garcia

Zane Simon: Garcia is bigger, a more natural athlete, and a more diverse striker standing. He’ll likely win a wild, sloppy fight. Elias Garcia by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: I was looking forward to seeing what Mark De La Rosa could do in the UFC- he seems like a naturally calm boxer in the pocket, willing to put more than one strike together… but that fight against Tim Elliott was absolutely dismal. Some of the worst TDD I’ve seen in this division, and decision-making to match. Garcia looks promising, with a smooth countering game and neatly chambered head kicks reminiscent of stablemate Pettis Jr. Unless De La Rosa’s last fight was just a huge octagon jitters anomaly, give me Elias Garcia by unanimous decision.

Staff picking De La Rosa: Bissell, Nick
Staff picking Garcia: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Tim, Zane, Phil

Jessica Aguilar vs. Jodie Esquibel

Zane Simon: I don’t trust Esquibel to put enough offense together to make her athletic advantage or technical boxing advantage count for much. Jessica Aguilar by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Aguilar is a far better grappler, and probably not a materially worse striker. Technique-wise, she should have this locked up… but her last fight looked like she was feeling the effects of a long, hard career. Esquibel throws a lot of offense, and as in the Casey fight I sadly expect Aguilar to just fade out of it. Jodie Esquibel by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Aguilar: Nick, Tim, Zane
Staff picking Esquibel: Mookie, Bissell, Phil, Stephie, Dayne

Poll

Who wins the UFC Boise main event?

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    JDS by stoppage

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    Ivanov by stoppage

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    JDS by decision

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    Ivanov by decision

    (0 votes)

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    Draw/NC/DQ

    (0 votes)

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    France

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    Croatia

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