Islam Makhachev after his UFC 267 win over Dan Hooker. | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 49.
The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 49 event in Las Vegas, and we’re predominantly picking Islam Makhachev to beat short notice replacement Bobby Green in the main event. As for the co-main event, we’re split on Wellington Turman vs. Misha Cirkunov. To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.
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 I 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.
Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green
Mookie Alexander: Bobby Green might not be ranked but he’s probably one of the more difficult matchups stylistically for Makhachev. He is not a powerful boxer but his combinations are wonderful, his jab is sharp, and he’s not easy to hit cleanly to the head. We’ve also seen that Green is more willing now to just have a better workrate which may be to offset the numerous times he has kinda just drifted into a split decision loss of his own doing. Green is also difficult to outwrestle… but has he faced someone as talented as Makhachev in that area? He’s not Khabib but he’s certainly damn good in his own right. Islam is so dominant that I think that even if he has troubles with Green early he’ll be able to adjust and find the right ways to get him to the mat and control him. Props to Bobby for stepping up, he has a legit chance to outstrike Green if his takedown defense holds up, but I’m going with Islam Makhachev by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There’s no good reason not to pick Makhachev here, especially on short notice. But, there is a potential version of this fight that gives me pause. Namely, Bobby Green never gets held down and blanketed for multiple rounds. He can get stifled, and forced into an ugly fight, but even in those he often manages to out-land his opponent. And, if his cardio holds up for five rounds, that’s a lot of time to work with and make something happen as a fighter that tends to only get better as the rounds go by. It’s a glimmer of hope in a fight that will almost certainly start with Green getting put on his back and struggling hard to escape Makhachev’s clutches. But, it’s just a glimmer. Islam Makhachev via submission, round 2.
Staff picking Makhachev: Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Dayne
Staff picking Green: Connor, Victor
Wellington Turman vs. Misha Cirkunov
Mookie Alexander: Misha went from being a genuinely good prospect for light heavyweight to not even outworking Krzysztof Jotko. That’s a low point. Honestly even if Turman isn’t that good I have very little confidence in Cirkunov at middleweight. Wellington Turman by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Wellington Turman has never looked like a very comfortable striker standing, and Crikunov appears to have lost what comfort he did have, on the back of several brutal knockout losses. Hopefully that means we get an aggressive grappling match here and not just two men standing way outside of effective striking range taking pot shots at one another. However it goes, though, if I’m looking at this fight as a bit of a mirror match, I have a lot more faith in Cirkunov’s skill to come out on top. It also feels like, if he can have a little success, it’ll be a lot easier for him to find the confident form that he’s had in the past. And which I have yet to see out of Turman at all to this point. Misha Cirkunov via decision.
Staff picking Turman: Stephie, Mookie
Staff picking Cirkunov: Zane, Connor, Dayne, Victor
Ji Yeon Kim vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Mookie Alexander: Seriously why is Cachoeira on the main card? She missed weight and then eye gouged Gillian Robertson in an attempt to get out of a rear-naked choke. Missing weight, dangerously fouling, and losing is a triple whammy and that can get a lot of fighters cut. This is a loser leaves town fight you would assume, and while Cachoeira has made improvements to her game I think she’ll get outpointed by Kim. Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: There’s no question that Cachoeira has been quietly improving. If nothing else, she’s just more comfortable and composed while swinging wild haymakers. And given that she’s got some natural pop in her hands, even a little composure can do a lot of good. For Ji Yeon Kim, it’s hard not to feel like she’s kind of the exact same fighter she’s always been. A trigger counter-puncher who lives off 1s & 2s and more or less settles for a fire fight with anyone and everyone. If Kim were chinnier, I’d pick Cachoeira, but I think Kim can her shots and simply throw more of her own, maybe even hit a takedown or two. Ji Yeon Kim by decision.
Staff picking Kim: Zane, Mookie, Dayne
Staff picking Cachoeira: Stephie, Connor, Victor
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Joel Alvarez
Mookie Alexander: Alvarez may be a dangerous guard grappler and a punishing striker, but I think Tsarukyan is a hell of an athlete and may be able to bypass Alvarez’s guard and outgrapple him. The size disparity concerns me but I think Tsarukyan has higher upside than Alvarez and he’s shown himself recently to be a potent striker, too. Should be a compelling fight. Arman Tsarukyan by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Joel Alvarez has proven himself a nearly impossible fighter to out-wrestle thus far in the UFC. He’s just too dangerous a guard grappler. But, this feels like the point where that willingness to work off his back really costs him. If Tsarukyan were more willing to work at range he might just be able to out-strike Alvarez the way Ismagulov did. But Tsarukyan loves to initiate grappling exchanges. Might make for a couple really hairy moments for him if he falls into a triangle/armbar combo, but I’ll take Arman Tsarukyan by decision.
Staff picking Tsarukyan: Zane, Mookie, Dayne
Staff picking Alvarez: Stephie, Victor
Armen Petrosyan vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Mookie Alexander: Sure I’ll be different. This should be fun, right? Petrosyan probably loses this after Round 1 but he’s a hell of a striker so here’s my gamble. Armen Petrosyan by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: This fight will probably have at least one wild exchange early on where it’ll be a 50/50 coin-flip as to whether either man gets knocked out or not. They both love to trade short hooks in the pocket, neither man moves his head much, and both have been KO’d for their trouble. That said, Rodrigues is the much, much more complete and comfortable fighter over multiple rounds. So while he’s got a 50/50 shot at getting slept early, it feels like his chances of winning down the stretch are a lot higher. Gregory Rodrigues via submission, round 3.
Staff picking Petrosyan: Mookie
Staff picking Rodrigues: Stephie, Zane, Dayne