The Bloody Elbow staff has submitted its predictions for UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre, and because this is a major show, we’ve divided these posts to main card and preliminary card. This column focuses on the prelims, which is now sans Ion Cutelaba vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk. The majority of us are picking Joe Duffy to top James Vick, whereas there’s only a slight edge in Ovince Saint Preux’s favor against Corey Anderson.
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.
Joseph Duffy vs. James Vick
Anton Tabuena: Good matchup, and it should be fun either way, but I think Duffy is just overall the better fighter here. Joe Duffy by Decision.
Ryan Davies: Like Eddie said the 6’3” frame of Vick gives lightweights a very unfamiliar look that causes problems. Vick will use his long limbs to maintain the distance on Duffy and utilize his lethal clinch and knees when it comes to close quarters. That being said Duffy is war horse and won’t go out easy, he will pick up steam in the later rounds, but not enough to sway the judges. Vick failed his first test against a top 15 striker, this will be his chance to prove he is ready for upper echelon on the division. Vick Split Decision
Eddie Mercado: Vick is the tallest opponent that Duffy has ever faced, and I think that will present some new challenges for Irish Joe. Also, check out my interview with James Vick by clicking HERE! James Vick by Unanimous Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: What a fantastic fight. Vick has quietly built a pretty scary offensive boxing game, with a mean jab, hook and fadeaway counters. He's enormous, locks up on the head in scrambles, and keeps a great pace despite being so grotesquely huge. I think his primary weakness in this fight will actually be his size, however: he struggles to keep himself covered up, and Duffy is a ferocious body puncher. The interplay between body shots from Duffy and Vick's step knee and headlock game should be fascinating, but give me Joseph Duffy by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I love this fight so much. Duffy is game, a slick boxer and has a smooth grappling and submission game. Vick is a massive and long lightweight that can crack, and his grappling is more of an overpowering game with great submission hunting instincts. Duffy will have trouble dealing with Vick’s range and output, and I worry about how he’ll fare both in the clinch as well as off his back. The more I think about it, the worse it looks. James Vick by TKO.
Zane Simon: Big question here is, how well can Vick lock Duffy down with his clinch game inside. If he can do that, he may force this into being a range war where he’s the longer (if still less technical) man. However, if he can’t, his unwillingness to wrestle should give Duffy the perfect opportunities to work a crafty pocket boxing game built around slick body-head combos. Joe Duffy via TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Duffy: Bissell, Ram, Phil, Nick, Dayne, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Vick: Eddie, Davies, Stephie, Victor
Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
Ryan Davies: Walt Harris should collect more than a participation trophy in this match up. Godbeer can take a licking and keep on ticking, but Harris will provide him a licking that he won't soon forget! That sounded a lot tougher in my head. Harris TKO rd 2
Phil Mackenzie: The basic dynamics haven't changed since last time. Harris is still bigger, more athletic and a cleaner striker. Walt Harris by TKO, round 1.
Eddie Mercado: WARRRRRR WALTTTTTTTT!!!! Walt Harris by KO in round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: (Shudders) Godbeer is tough as nails, but Harris is too fast, too strong, and good an athlete to not put him away. Walt puts him on his back and ruins him after a big overhand. Walt Harris by TKO.
Zane Simon: Godbeer loves to dip his head when he throws, Harris has a mean counter uppercut game. Walt Harris by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Godbeer: Bissell, Ram
Staff picking Harris: Phil, Nick, Dayne, Eddie, Davies, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Tim
Corey Anderson vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Ryan Davies: These 2 top 10 light heavyweights are coming off of main event performances with very different outcomes. OSP defeated former title challenger Yushin Okami with his third Von Flue (soon to be St.Preux, sorry Livewire) choke. While Anderson came up short against Jimmi Manuwa. Anderson has trouble with opponents he can’t outwrestle, while OSP doesn’t have the collegiate wrestling credentials, his freak athleticism will help him avoid going to the ground. On the feet Anderson is evolving into a technically proficient striker, but OSP’s unorthodox, freewheeling style will find holes in Anderson’s striking defense to pick up another impressive knockout. OSP TKO 2nd
Phil Mackenzie: This division is depressing. Anderson is broadly functional but lacks both power and focus. OSP is a mess. I suppose OSP makes more sense as a pick- he's beaten better opponents, and is tougher and more dynamic. But I just don't like his style. Give me jabs, leg kicks and takedowns over counterpunches and Von Flues in a pretty underwhelming fight. Corey Anderson by unanimous decision.
Eddie Mercado: This is gon get ugly and I don’t care who wins. OSP, I guess, by sloppy decision.
Victor Rodriguez: OSP is weird. His strikes come from strange angles, his timing is off-beat and his movement is janky. Anderson’s gonna have a hard time trying to figure him out and will undoubtedly get caught with something coming in for takedowns. Corey’s got great top control and makes smart striking choices on the ground, but if OSP ends up on top he’s far more efficient. It’s far likelier that Anderson gets to top position first, but his gas tank won’t hold up as well here. OSP will eventually get either back up to his feet or on top, and do damage from there. Ovince St Preux by TKO.
Zane Simon: I’m just echoing Phil here. OSP’s game is basically to lose fights until he wins them, if he wins them. Anderson is much more a guy who wins fights right up until he loses them. I’ll take the guy who’s out there winning rounds over the guy who has a funky knack for weird finishes. But not happily. Corey Anderson via decision.
Staff picking Anderson: Ram, Phil, Dayne, Fraser, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking OSP: Bissell, Nick, Davies, Eddie, Mookie, Anton, Victor, Tim
Randy Brown vs. Mickey Gall
Anton Tabuena: Both have looked pretty good in their short UFC careers, and both are still likely improving a lot. It’s a tough pick, but at the end of the day, one guy has been facing far better competition. Randy Brown by Decision.
Ryan Davies: I am in the minority that see elite potential in the polarizing prospect that is Mickey Gall. It’s true he has not taken on the stiffest of competition, but in his 3 UFC outings he has shown a effortless fluidity of movement in his grappling exchanges and a high fight IQ, staying out of brawling exchanges and fighting to his strengths. Brown is also a intriguing talent with creative and dynamic strikes, but his inability to stop a takedown has prevented him from taking the next step in his career. Gall will play it smart and get this fight to the ground whenever the opportunity presents itself. The submission may come late, but my money would be on a convincing decision. Gall Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Gall is a talent, but really has shown next to nothing apart from being talented in his MMA career thus far because the people he's beaten are just so bad. Brown is athletic and skilled, and has just been fighting much tougher competition. Gall seems to be a natural wrestler, a skillset that continues to give Brown issues- he still seems to be in the process of finding a stable game. Brown is a good striker and reasonably dynamic everywhere, and I can't stress enough the difference between fighting Belal Remember The Name Muhammad and fighting Sage Northcutt. Randy Brown by submission, round 3.
Fraser Coffeen: Listen, if Gall can dominate CM Punk, then realistically, who can stop him? Mickey Gall, decision
Victor Rodriguez: Brown’s gonna have to learn early, often and hard to establish the pace here, and it just feels like Gall’s wrestling game and top pressure will be too much. Mickey hits him with the flypaper approach and tries to chain submissions together, but wins the fight via control and ground strikes leading to unsuccessful submission attempts. Mickey Gall by decision.
Zane Simon: If Brown makes it deep into round 2, he likely wins this fight. Gall is a terribly wooden striker and looked like he was sucking air pretty badly against Northcutt when he dropped him. He is, however, also a fantastically technical wrestle-grappler who chains his shots well and does a great job in the ride and taking the back. I can just see Brown getting taken down early too easily and submitted as he tries to scramble. Still, if he survives, he probably wins. Mickey Gall via submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Brown: Phil, Dayne, Eddie, Mookie, Anton
Staff picking Gall: Bissell, Ram, Nick, Davies, Fraser, Stephie, Vick, Zane, Tim
Curtis Blaydes vs. Oleksiy Oliynyk
Ryan Davies: This match up of high level grapplers will be a passing of the guard of sorts. 26 year old Blaydes will not throw anything at the 40 year old Oliynyk that he has not seen before. However Blaydes does posses the power, explosiveness and stamina to take over this fight with his wrestling while avoiding Oliynyk’s unconventional choke attempts. Blaydes Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Blaydes is clearly not learning striking as fast as people hoped, and he looked dreadfully wooden on the feet in his last fight. However, I'm not a big believer in Oliynyk's gas tank, and if Blaydes doesn't walk his way into a weird choke from bottom, then his youth and athleticism just wears Oliynyk down over time. I think he'll be cautious, but will essentially look to replicate what Omielańczuk did. Curtis Blaydes by unanimous decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Yeah, I don’t like this. Blaydes can hurt people, man. Oliynyk ate a lot of damage to rally back against Browne, and is a super legit threat no matter what position he’s in. I just don’t think he’ll make it long as a damage sponge with Blaydes being a harder hitter with really good wrestling. This is basically shades of Godbeer/Harris, only Oliynyk has more tools to win and is a smarter fighter. That said, I still don’t like the odds for Oliynyk here. Curtis Blaydes by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Sure, Blaydes could jump on top of Oliynyk and get himself choked in that way that only Oliynyk opponents seem to get themselves choked, but my guess is that he’s just too much of a physical hulk for that. I feel like Blaydes may have broken his wrestling game a little in learning how to strike, so I think this will just be 3 rounds of wall-n-maul, as Oliynyk wears out quickly and Blaydes stifles him. Curtis Blaydes by decision.
Staff picking Blaydes: Phil, Nick, Davies, Mookie, Anton, Stephie, Victor, Zane
Staff picking Oliynyk: Bissell, Ram, Dayne, Eddie, Fraser, Tim
Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi
Anton Tabuena: Unfortunately, this might be the only time Firas celebrates tonight. Aiemann Zahabi by decision.
Ryan Davies: Both of these highly regarded prospects eked out controversial decisions in their debuts. Now they will look to pick up their second win in a more impressive manor. Zahabi, like the majority of Tri Star fighters,is a master of controlling the distance in the striking department. Ramos has shown flashes of brilliance on the feet, but Zahbi will have a noticeable technical striking edge. Ramos does his best work on the mat, however getting Zahabi down will be a bridge too far for the lanky 22 year old. Even if it does go to the ground Aiemann’s many years of coaching up from big brother Firas will have him more than ready to deal with the youngsters submission attempts. Zahabi Unanimous Decision
Phil Mackenzie: Zahabi feels like a fighter who is incredibly well-coached but is already visibly bumping up against the limits of his athleticism, which don't appear to be very high. He hurt Vieira in his last fight by being better at drawing the shorter line between two points with his punches, but he also got hit quite a lot. Ramos is bigger, and the less technical but the more impactful striker, and is an aggressive, powerful grappler. Ricardo Ramos by unanimous decision
Victor Rodriguez: I love this fight so much. Zahabi’s been training with top-level guys for years now and his brother’s a genius coach. Ramos is tough and probably a more complete athlete, but Zahabi has more tools to win. Aiemann Zahabi by decision.
Zane Simon: Zahabi’s defensive instincts don’t seem very sound yet. Which means he has to rely on consistent pressuring or risk getting overwhelmed by his opponent’s offense. That leads nicely into Ramos’ dynamic countering game. Ricardo Ramos by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Ramos: Dayne, Phil, Zane
Staff picking Zahabi: Bissell, Ram, Nick, Davies, Eddie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Victor, Tim