See who we are picking at UFC Vegas 69.
This weekend’s UFC card provides powerful evidence that MMA is a much bigger sport than what is offered inside the Octagon week to week. I’m sure plenty of the action on offer will deliver, but it’s hard to get too excited about a card featuring so many fighters with losing UFC records and/or barely any promotional experience outside of Contender Series appearances.
That being said, the main event is an intriguing one with former strawweight champion, and perennial challenger at any damn weight she pleases, Jessica Andrade coming in on late notice to face the upstart submission threat Erin Blanchfield. This event was supposed to highlight Blanchfield versus Taila Santos (and Marlon Vera vs. Cory Sandhagen before that).
Further down the card there’s Jim Miller vs. Alexander Hernandez and Ovince Saint Preux against Philipe Lins.
Our staff has looked over the stats, the tape and the flight paths of birds (each to their own) and they’ve come up with who they think will win these bouts. Most of us think Andrade will have the experience, power and grit edge to get past the dangers possessed by Blanchfield.
Check out the rest of our picks below and please tell us who you’re picking in the comments!
Jessica Andrade vs. Erin Blanchfield
Anton Tabuena: Only thing I’m really worried about here is if Andrade can maintain her offense after having a weight cut and five round fight on short notice. Aside from that, I think this is too soon for Blanchfield. Jessica Andrade by TKO.
Tim Bissell: I’m really high on Blanchfield and I’m extremely impressed by what she’s done against UFC opposition at only 22-23 years-old. She’s a legit submission threat to anyone in the division and I think we’re going to see her in top fights in multiple divisions for a long time to come. However, I’m also a huge believer in Andrade and her ability to beat just about anyone who isn’t an elite talent. I think Blanchfield could be an elite talent someday, but right now I think is an awful time for her to test herself against Andrade, who is coming off a bloody beat down of Lauren Murphy last month. Blanchfield’s size advantage would be a key factor over anyone else in the sport. But Andrade has shown, time and again, that she can out muscle much bigger opponents. I think the Brazilian will take Blanchfield to five rounds for the first time in her career and do enough over that time span to get her hand raised. Jessica Andrade by decision.
Zane Simon: I like a lot of what Blanchfield is bringing to the table here. She’s busy with her striking, aggressive with her pressure, strong on her wrestling, and brutal with her top game. This is, however, a huge step up. Against JJ Aldrich, the gaps in Blanchfield’s kickboxing to shot wrestling game became very obvious. Aldrich was able to stick and move, slip away, and counter in combination on numerous occasions. What she wasn’t able to do was hurt Blanchfield, who just kept walking her down until she landed something big enough to turn the tide. I don’t think that’s going to be an option against Andrade, and with the striking she’s shown so far, she’ll almost certainly get hit a lot trying to make it happen. Jessica Andrade via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Blanchfield has some funky striking and world-class grappling, but is her striking game layered enough to deal with Jessica’s offense? Nah. Blanchfield and a sensational finish over Victoria Leonardo back in Invicta, but this is a very different set of problems. If this goes to the ground, I don’t expect it to be on Blanchfield’s terms, but she can totally do a lot on the mat to use technique for reversals and gaining superior position. I’d imagine Andrade is more than aware of this and will try to keep her pressed against the cage to then disengage and do damage off the break. Jessica Andrade by TKO.
Staff picking Andrade: Kristen, Chris, Victor, Zane, Eddie, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Blanchfield: Lucas, Dayne
Zac Pauga vs. Jordan Wright
Zane Simon: There’s not a lot fundamentally about Zac Pauga’s game that screams he’ll beat Jordan Wright. After all, Wright may struggle against tough dudes who can take punishment and bring a brawl to him, but he can also cruise by guys like Ike Villanueva and Jamie Pickett, we don’t really know how far above that level Pauga is. On the flip side, Wright’s weight class change, and his tendency to crumble in any hard fight, no matter how well he’s doing, make me a lot less confident in picking him against anyone up at 205 lbs. Zac Pauga via TKO, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Wright has a flashy and exciting style that got him in the door, but hasn’t been able to make things click. Pauga doesn’t fight quite as pretty and is tougher than a boiled bowling shoe. I’d be tempted to pick Wright by using distance and accurate striking, but I kinda feel like he got some monkey paw hex on him. Maybe he’ll be fast enough to outwork Pauga. Whatever. Zac Pauga by decision.
Staff picking Pauga: Kristen, Chris, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Eddie, Anton
Staff picking Wright: Dayne, Bissell
Josh Parisian vs. Jamal Pogues
Zane Simon: Guys that can take Parisian down and grind on him, or match his tempo with better form can absolutely beat him. Is Pogues one of those dudes? Right now it kinda seems like he wants to have a rangy pot-shot battle. If Parisian can storm forward and create brawls, I have more faith in him winning that kind of fight than I do of Pogues just knocking him cold. Josh Parisian via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Parisian is still here despite being rather raw and not very versatile, meaning his cardio is not great and his boxing and takedown defense being the bread and butter of his game. Unfortunately, neither element of his game is as evolved as it could be. Pogues shows promise and is a pretty good athlete but has the unfortunate distinction of feasting on lower opposition in Gladiator Challenge when he started out. His loss to Alex Polizzi is actually not bad, as Polizzi is a wily finisher. But he might get outmuscled and bullied late in this one if he’s not careful. He should still have a few more tools in his arsenal here. Jamal Pogues by decision.
Staff picking Parisian: Chris, Lucas, Zane
Staff picking Pogues: Kristen, Victor, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
William Knight vs. Marcin Prachnio
Zane Simon: The problem for Knight is never going to be one of having enough strength or speed or power to compete. The problem instead is all about consistency of technique. For such an absolute powerhouse, he’s rarely KOing anyone at the UFC level, just because he can’t follow up one moment of success with another because he gets too off balance and because he has to manage his energy too closely. Prachnio absolutely could get KO’d here, but if he doesn’t, he’s a much more consistent, high volume, range fighter who can land a lot of kicks and has been doing a much better job lately of keeping distance and protecting his chin. Marcin Prachnio via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: I guess I trust Knight overall more than I trust Prachnio. It could easily go the other way, but nah. Sticking with the more consistent guy. William Knight by decision.
Staff picking Knight: Kristen, Chris, Victor, Lucas, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Prachnio: Zane
Alex Hernandez vs. Jim Miller
Anton Tabuena: I am going with my head, but will probably hate myself if I was wrong and Jim Miller somehow turns back the clock again. Alex Hernandez by TKO.
Zane Simon: When Hernandez has a significant athletic advantage, he’s still capable of absolutely smoking someone in the first round. But whenever that fails him, confidence issues and cardio management start rearing their heads and he tends to fall apart. Miller hasn’t always been the best multi-round fighter himself, but he’s done much better managing his energy lately, and he’s always been a hell of a tough dude to put away. Jim Miller via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Jim Miller gets offered a fight against a younger up and comer and says “nice prospect you got there, shame if anyone derailed their progress…“ And he’ll do it again. The old man is the Ray Allen of MMA, sinking your dream at the last minute. He’s a From Software optional boss that will ruin you time and time again. Going with the old horse again. Jim Miller by submission.
Tim Bissell: I think Jim Miller is still savvy enough to out-fox young guns in this division and we haven’t seen a huge drop off in his physicality and cardio, yet. Hernandez has stumbled against vets in the past and I think he’ll do so again here. Jim Miller by submission.
Staff picking Hernandez: Chris, Eddie, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Miller: Kristen, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Bissell
Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Lina Lansberg
Zane Simon: Kinda not all that sure why Lansberg is still in the UFC at this point. Silva’s combination of power and submission ability seems like an especially difficult matchup for a fighter who tends to depend on grinding and volume. Mayra Bueno Silva by submission, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: It pains me to say this, but it seems like Lina has regressed. For all her striking pedigree, I don’t trust her. Mayra got the hot hand here too. Mayra Silva by decision.
Tim Bissell: I’m kind of amazed that Lansberg is still in the UFC. She was signed to be a body to put up against Cris Cyborg and since then she’s gone 4-5 and is on a three fight losing skid. Bueno Silva is on the rise and has only lost to tough outs. I think she might take home one of the ‘elbow queen’’s arms here. Mayra Bueno Silva by submission.
Staff picking Bueno Silva: Kristen, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Lansberg: Chris
Jamall Emmers vs. Khusein Askhabov
Zane Simon: Could be a shockingly tough fight for Askhabov if he’s not every bit the super-prospect he appears to be. Emmers is a good, busy boxer with a decently technical game built on tons of pressure. He’s also got a very solid wrestling game and is hard to hold down or out-position on the mat. That said, his desire to create constant offense and bring the fight to his opponent means that he has regularly struggled with good athletes and dangerous ones. Emmers will put himself in danger, my guess is Askhabov will be right there with speed and power to take advantage. Khusein Askhabov via submission, round 2.
Victor Rodriguez: Nah, son. This is horrible booking for Emmers. Askhabov is well-rounded and an explosive striker that takes risks that pay off very often. Plus he can neutralize takedown threats and shut down less complex strikers. Maybe Emmers can outwork him in the clinch. Maybe. Bonus points to Khusein for his Tapology photo, too. Breathe it in. Look at that goddamn drip. Unmatched. Your fave could never. Khusein Askhabov by TKO.
Staff picking Emmers:
Staff picking Askhabov: Kristen, Chris, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
Philipe Lins vs. Ovince Saint Preux
Zane Simon: There was a time when this would be a solid OSP pick for me. He might not win a lot of rounds, but his kind of fight changing power and toughness always made him a live dog to entirely alter the shape of a fight in a single moment. But more and more, OSP’s ability to pull the trigger while getting overwhelmed has gone away. He’s still big and strong, but more and more dependent on a couple of key exchanges winning his whole fight. The version of Lins that showed up at 205 last time around should be able to handle that. Philipe Lins via decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Ovince beat Shogun and fought Jon Jones, man. That’s crazy. Phenomenal athlete, relatively limited fighter. Can’t trust him. But I’m not sure I can trust Lins either since he could take over the fight and have Ovince bust out a King of Fighters desperation move. It’s like nobody is safe until the final buzzer goes off with him. So despite not trusting him, I’ll pick him. The hell have I got to lose?
Tim Bissell: This is actually happening right? Ok. I’ll go OSP to get a funky sub over the ex-PFL champ, who is yet to show he can hang with UFC level competition. Ovince Saint Preux by submission.
Staff picking Lins: Chris, Lucas, Zane, Eddie, Dayne, Anton
Staff picking Saint Preux: Kristen, Victor, Bissell
Evan Elder vs. Nazim Sadykhov
Zane Simon: Evan Elder doesn’t have the worst collection of skills out there. He’s a powerful kicker, he’s a decent scrambler, and he can land some solid punches when given time and space. But his game is not tightly knit at all. Elder seems to need that time and space badly to set up his shots, and when he steps in on punches, he off balances himself in ways that leave him wide open to counters. Given Sadykhov’s predilection for pressure and power punching, it seems very likely that he’s going to find Elder’s chin early and often. Nazim Sadykhov via KO, round 1.
Victor Rodriguez: Huh. I’m gonna go with Saykhov because I’ve seen more of him. Don’t expect anything more detailed or scientific out of me for this. Nazim Sadykhov by TKO.
Staff picking Elder: Chris
Staff picking Sadykhov: Kristen, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Eddie Dayne, Bissell, Anton
A.J. Fletcher vs. Themba Takura Gorimbo
Zane Simon: Gorimbo’s swing-n-cling game is very, very raw. Been a while since I’ve seen a fighter hit this level who looks so deeply uncomfortable striking. Fletcher has his problems with range and control, but he’s proven himself to be insanely tough and capable of weathering hard fights to deliver powerful offense. AJ Fletcher via TKO, round 3.
Victor Rodriguez: Another odd bit of matchmaking. I’m gonna go with Gorimbo since he’s got a finishing instinct that’s off the charts. Themba Gorimbo by TKO.
Staff picking Fletcher: Kristen, Chris, Zane, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Takura Gorimbo: Victor, Lucas
Clayton Carpenter vs. Juancamilo Ronderos
Zane Simon: Two very very raw flyweight talents. Ronderos got here with a game that can generously be described as a blanket. Carpenter seems scrappy and willing but needs lot of polish. I’ll take Carpenter by decision, but both men have a lot to prove.
Victor Rodriguez: And yet another weird matchup. I guess I’ll go with Carpenter? Sure, I’ll do that. Clayton Carpenter by TKO.
Staff picking Carpenter: Kristen, Victor, Lucas, Zane, Eddie, Dayne, Bissell, Anton
Staff picking Ronderos: Chris
Anton and Zane got their best results of the season last week, both going 9-4 for their picks for UFC 283. Just behind them were Stephie, Kristen and Chris who notched 8-4 evenings. However, thanks to decent performances from Dayne and Eddie (who both went 7-6) the top two spots in the leaderboard are unchanged. Hilariously, Chris — who picks by flipping a coin each week — is 25-25 after 50 fights. Let’s see how his Swedish kroner does this week.