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UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis card in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its picks for UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Pettis, and we are fairly split on who will win Saturday night’s main event between Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis. As for the co-main event, only Ryan Davies likes Diego Sanchez to defeat Matt Brown, in what is supposed to be the final fight of Brown’s career.

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.

Dustin Poirier vs. Anthony Pettis

Mookie Alexander: I’m really torn here because I’ve been thinking Poirier most of the way, but now I’ve actually got a change of heart here. I believe Poirier is clearly the better boxer and I’ve never been convinced by Pettis’ boxing, but as an overall striker, Pettis has the edge. He’s also got a really tricky guard and should be lauded a lot more for his submissions than is actually advertised. It seems as if Poirier hits a bit of a wall whenever he faces someone who holds a considerable athletic advantage over him, and I fear that this is what will lead to his demise in this fight. Anthony Pettis by TKO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: At no point in his career have I ever been 100% on board the Pettis train. He always has seemed like a guy on the verge of losing, and it feels like a lot of his career has played out that way. Meanwhile, Poirier really overperformed against Alvarez and showed a ton in that fight. I frankly didn’t think he was quite in that league, and he proved me wrong. I think he makes a statement here. Dustin Poirier, KO

Dayne Fox: I love this contest. I have no idea who is going to win, but that’s a big reason why I love it. I’m leaning Pettis even though he is no longer the athletic phenom he was in his prime for a few reasons. First, Pettis may be fragile in terms of making it to the fight, but he’s tough as nails when he makes it in the cage. Only Max Holloway has finished him despite having faced consistently strong competition. That was after Pettis was dehydrated following a botched weight cut. On the flip side, Poirier– who isn’t noted for his defensive prowess — seems to be finished when facing a noted hard hitter. Pettis is still a solid athlete and certainly better than Poirier. Thus, I expect the former champion to continue to make good on his return to lightweight. Pettis via TKO of RD2

Ryan Davies: In a 3 rounder I can see Pettis out pointing Poirier in a close fight, but in a 5 rounder Poirier’s grit will reign supreme. Pettis will out finesse Poirier in the early rounds, but Poirier will turn up the heat in the later rounds to get the stoppage. Poirier TKO 4th

Staff picking Poirier: Phil, Nick, Fraser, Stephie, Davies
Staff picking Pettis: Bissell, Dayne, Mookie, Tim

Diego Sanchez vs. Matt Brown

Mookie Alexander: Seems like a cut-and-dry fight to me. If this is a grappling-heavy fight in which Sanchez pushes for takedowns and wins scrambles, then it’s his fight to lose. Should Diego be content to stand and trade, Brown will wipe him out. Sadly, I fear the latter will happen. Matt Brown by KO, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: Once upon a time, this would have been such an awesome fight – one of those Super Violence type battles that warms the heart. Both men are past that point in their careers, no doubt, but they are also the kind of fighters who are never going to completely walk away from that style. Both are also pretty shot, though Diego still can manage to Diego his way to a sketchy judge’s decision. There’s a very real chance that happens here – don’t overlook the possibility. But smart bet says the bigger Immortal One gets things done. Matt Brown, KO

Dayne Fox: Does this fight have to be happening? Diego Sanchez should have retired a long time ago and now he’s returning to welterweight? Try and picture him standing back-to-back with Darren Till and remember they now fight in the same division. Brown may be the one retiring, but he still has something left in his tank. Brown’s power + Diego’s fading chin = early finish. Brown via TKO of RD1

Ryan Davies: YES! YES! YES! Diego by decision YES! YES! YES!…

Staff picking Sanchez: Davies
Staff picking Brown: Bissell, Phil, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie, Tim

Andrei Arlovski vs. Junior Albini

Mookie Alexander: This card is simultaneously good and has a lot of sadness potential. Junior Albini by KO, round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: Arlovski’s fight against Tybura looked like it might have have one of those stirring, turn-back-the-clock moments when he flurried in the second. Alas, it was not to be, as Arlovski sank slowly into the sadness sludge of the third like the horse in the Neverending Story. He is typically a deeply boring fighter when no-one’s getting knocked out, so I’m not sure what would be more grim: him getting flatlined again, or going full-on hiding-in-the-clinch mode and getting gradually outworked by a man who looks like a young but extremely porcine Lyoto Machida. Junior Albini by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: If Albini’s fists can break the walking red wood that is Tim Johnson, they should have no problem with the fragile fern that is Arlovski. Albini Knockout 1st

Staff picking Arlovski: Dayne, Tim
Staff picking Albini: Bissell, Nick, Fraser, Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Davies

Nate Marquardt vs. Cezar Ferreira

Mookie Alexander: What? Why? I echo Phil’s thoughts, except this could depressingly go the distance. Cezar Ferreira by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: WHY. WHY IS MARQUARDT FIGHTING A LOW PACE SOUTHPAW COUNTERSTRIKER AGAIN. WHAT DO THEY THINK IS POSSIBLY GOING TO HAPPEN for pity’s sake why. I’m going to pray that this ends early somehow. Cezar Ferreira by submission round 1.

Ryan Davies: This will probably be the last we see of Nate “The Great”, it would be nice if the 38 year old former King of Pancrase could end on a W, but Mutante is a horrible matchup. Ferreira will have a significant size, strength and most importantly youth advantage. At 3-7 in his last 10 this will most likely be Nate’s last walk to the octagon unless Vitor gets his Senior division approved. Ferreira Knockout 1st

Staff picking Marquardt:
Staff picking Ferreira: Bissell, Phil, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Tim, Davies

Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez

Mookie Alexander: Well Lopez’s bad weight miss makes this easier for me. Assuncao may not be a fan-favorite given some of his less-than-exciting wins, but he’s still an elite bantamweight and Lopez really hasn’t shown that. The Brazilian really should win this comfortably. Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: As below with Dodson-Moraes, the vet seems like a really rough style matchup for the relative newcomer. Assuncao is hard to take down, grapples exceptionally well and Lopez’ wide-open hyper-aggressive style will leave him open to right hand and step knee counters. Unless Assuncao gets old overnight, or some part of Lopez’ game takes a sudden vast leap, I struggle to see how Lopez wins this. Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: Assuncao has knack for edging out opponents in close kickboxing matches and that is the path this matchup will take. Lopez’s bread and butter is his ground and pound, but with Assuncao’s guard being so dangerous he will be forced to stay on the feet and duke it out. Assuncao Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Assuncao: Bissell, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Mookie, Tim, Davies
Staff picking Lopez: Stephie

Joe Lauzon vs. Clay Guida

Mookie Alexander: Guida has never had cardio issues, Lauzon is notorious for being labored after a round. Stylistically speaking, Lauzon can probably submit Guida fairly quickly or just blast him in the clinch, as he’s just a way better offensive fighter than Guida has ever been. However, I don’t trust Lauzon not to inevitably fall to pieces after about 7-8 minutes, and newfound “I’ve learned meaningful ground-and-pound” Guida, or at least the one we saw against Erik Koch, can probably overcome Lauzon’s early attacks and get the decision win. I do hope we get alllllll the scrambles for this one. Clay Guida by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: It’s difficult to know where these guys are from a wear-and-tear perspective, so the best thing to do is just to assume that they are approximately equally declined versions of their younger selves. This is perhaps a little unfair to Lauzon, who has gotten much better at managing his gas tank as he has aged, but the basic dynamic of Guida being still sorta difficult to finish, and keeping a pace that Lauzon can’t has me favouring him slightly. Clay Guida by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: Team Alpha Male trained Guida 2.0 appears to be reinvigorated and fighting like it’s 2006. Lauzon is one of the savviest submission artist on the roster and Guida has been submitted 4 times in his decade plus in the octagon. If there is one thing that the Alpha Male fighters are good at it’s not getting submitted. Guida will use his upgraded submission defense, non stop pace and captain caveman wrestling skills to pick up his 14th UFC win. Guida Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Lauzon: Bissell, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Stephie, Tim
Staff picking Guida: Phil, Mookie, Davies

John Dodson vs. Marlon Moraes

Mookie Alexander: This could be fireworks or it could be one of those John Dodson fights where he fights in 10 seconds bursts three or four times per round and does nothing else for the remaining amount of time. I feel like Moraes’ speed disadvantage hurts him here, and the fact that he got suckered into low-volume kickboxing with Raphael Assuncao has me fearing that he may repeat that mistake against a more competent and heavy-handed striker. John Dodson by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Dodson’s only losses going back to 2009 are against Demetrious Johnson and a bogus split decision against John Lineker. Of late I think we’ve actually seen the best version of him. He’s throwing in combination and keeping a low but steadily punctuated pace- Wineland was the kind of fighter we might have seen him have an unnecessarily close fight against in the past, but Dodson made sure that it was a clear win. Moraes has been matched incredibly hard, and this seems like another rough style matchup: his best weapon is probably his leg kicks, but he’s not the fastest bantamweight in the world and I think he struggles to close Dodson down to land them. John Dodson by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: Dodson has more ways to win this fight, but Moraes’s striking is a game changer. His combos are efficient, tight and powerful, his lack of lack of volume in his loss against Assuncao will not be repeated and he will edge out Dodson in a fan friendly striking battle. Moraes Split Decision

Staff picking Dodson: Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Moraes: Bissell, Nick, Tim, Davies

Tatiana Suarez vs. Viviane Pereira

Phil Mackenzie: Hm. The one thing that Pereira showed which really impressed me against Letourneau was her distance management. She was very hard to hit, despite being at a massive reach disadvantage, and she showed against Jamie Moyle that she can draw out ugly, raw shots from her opponents by simply not giving them a clean step-in. Suarez is a monstrous wrestler and top position player for the division, but Pereira fights like a veteran. Perhaps she just gets blast doubled and mangled from top position, and she does have a bit of a worrying tendency to clinch up of her own accord, but I think I’ll take the upset in one of those slow-paced matches where people start complaining “why doesn’t the wrestler just shoot?” Viviane Pereira by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: There will be a massive size advantage for Suarez who has been sidelined since her TUF victory last July and will be eager to get back to work. Pereira is a gamer and has shown a diverse skill set that would be best suited for 105. But with no talks of an atomweight division in the near future, larger foes like Suarez will prove to be too much for the pint-sized Brazilian. Suarez TKO 2nd

Staff picking Suarez: Bissell, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Davies
Staff picking Pereira: Phil

Sage Northcutt vs. Michel Quinones

Phil Mackenzie: I said this last time, but I just don’t think Sage likes fighting very much. Instead, he was told he likes fighting and has never really questioned that. When he wins he looks like he’s going through the motions, when he’s losing he fights like he’s trapped. Moments where he looks like he’s enjoying himself (talking trash to Gall) are brief. Despite these glaring flaws, I think I’m still going to pick him over Quinones, for one basic reason: size. Quinones is a former featherweight going against a huge lightweight / decently sized welterweight, and has terrible basic takedown defense. Northcutt has been training with TAM and has a solid double leg. Still reckon MMA just isn’t his thing though. Sage Northcutt by submission, round 2.

Ryan Davies: Quinones is coming up from featherweight and Sage is coming down from welterweight which makes this sound like a physical mismatch. However Quinones was an enormous 45er and he won’t give up much, if any size advantage to Zach Morris Jr.

Quinones is the striker Sage will be 5 years from now. If Northcutt is smart he will utilize his TAM takedowns, but his love of kung fu fighting will get the better of him. Quinones will win a striking battle, pacing himself better and outlanding the future movie star. Quinones Split Decision

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

Staff picking Quinones: Davies

Angela Hill vs. Nina Ansaroff

Phil Mackenzie: We (sort of) saw Namajunas turn the corner last week, and while Hill has been more obviously functional and consistent than Namajunas, it still feels like we’re waiting for something to click with her, and I think that something is power. At the moment she’s a female Cruz, dancing around and annoying the opponent with leafblower volume, but she struggles to hurt her opponents. Ansaroff’s power and fundamental boxing has improved of late, but I suspect she just isn’t quite quick enough to close Hill down. Should be a competitive fight but Angela Hill by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: Ansaroff’s path to victory in this one is very narrow. Hill is the superior striker and her take down defense has improved tremendously since her time on TUF. Hill will need to start finishing opponents outside of the top 15 if she intends on making a title run anytime soon. She will turn it up late to finish the very tough Ansaroff. Hill TKO 3rd

Staff picking Hill: Bissell, Phil, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Davies
Staff picking Ansaroff:

Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland

Phil Mackenzie: McGee is in many ways a perfect fighter, in that I can’t really think of a way that he could be better than he is,because he fights in exactly the way which emphasizes his limited physical gifts. I could see him beating Strickland just by burying him in volume, like he did to Bobby Knuckles back in the day. Conversely, I could see McGee’s pace opening him up to Strickland’s counters- it all depends on how Strickland responds mentally. In the end, his reach, power and wrestling advantages are all too much to pick against. Sean Strickland by unanimous decision.

Ryan Davies: Court is a straightforward, blue collar badass who will continue to push the pace until his opponent breaks. Unfortunately for the TUF 11 winner he is matched up with a young fighter who will be able to match his pace and out point him on the feet. Strickland will use his long limbs to keep his distance on the Utah based vet and land hard counters to win this one on the cards. Strickland Unanimous Decision

Staff picking McGee: Dayne
Staff picking Strickland: Bissell, Phil, Nick, Fraser, Stephie, Mookie, Tim

Jake Collier vs. Marcel Fortuna

Phil Mackenzie: Fortuna has mostly been a striker in his UFC career, but if he doesn’t take down the smaller and less skilled grappler that would be silly. I’ve always found Collier to be just a touch more interesting than he appears: without any combat sports background, he’s one of those tough dudes who just has a natural knack for fighting. If this stays on the feet I think Collier drowns Fortuna in pace, but AKA have to have been training some takedowns into him… right…? Marcel Fortuna by submission, round 2.

Ryan Davies: Collier is well rounded and durable but fails to overly impress in any particular area. Fortuna is a world class BJJ player, but has showcased a rapidly improving muay thai game in his 2 octagon performances. Collier’s only chance at victory in this match up is Fortuna completely abandoning his ground game and deciding to brawl with Collier. Even then, Fortuna could win a kickboxing match. The stand up exchanges will be close but Fortuna will win rounds with takedowns and ground control. Fortuna Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Collier:
Staff picking Fortuna: Bissell, Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Phil, Stephie, Mookie, Davies, Tim

Karl Roberson vs. Darren Stewart

Ryan Davies: Stewart moved down to 185 after he was outmuscled by Francimar Barroso in his last fight. Unfortunately for Stewart, Roberson is one of the bigger middleweights on the roster. Stewart won’t want to trade in the pocket with Roberson. Stewart’s best chance at a victory would be to wear Roberson down in the clinch and look for takedowns. But my money is on Roberson staying on his feet and outstriking Stewart to the horn. Roberson Unanimous Decision

Phil Mackenzie: Ehhhh. So little to work with. All we really know about Stewart at this level is that he’s not powerful enough to beat Barroso at light heavyweight without headbutting him, and that is not surprising? In the tiny amount of footage available, Roberson at least seems like a good prospect. He’s calm under fire, generates a lot of power in small spaces, and has the odd distinction of cleanly KOing an aging Jerome Le Banner in a kickboxing fight which he would go on to lose by decision. I guess that’s enough for me. Karl Roberson by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Roberson: Nick, Fraser, Dayne, Davies, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Phil
Staff picking Stewart: Bissell


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