Check out who the Bloody Elbow community thinks will win at UFC 286
Yesterday I released our BE Staff Picks for UFC 286, but now it’s time to check out what the BE community thinks. Participation in the community picks is open to all paid subscribers on Substacks. The supporters on that platforms are making sure BE survives and thrives past March 31 (when we leave Vox Media). Please considering joining them so we can continue to build the best BE possible.
This week’s community picks also includes some analysis from our supporters. So please welcome Ayaan and Luke G! Adding analysis is a perk for both founding members (those who support us with a $500 year-long pledge) and members who got had the best record for the previous community picks.
Leon Edwards (32.4%) vs. Kamaru Usman (67.6%)
BE Community Pick: Kamaru Usman
Ayaan: Going into this rematch of epic proportions, expect Usman to look to push that 5-round pace and aim to batter Edwards and establish control on the ground and against the fence. Easier said than done as Leon has a distinct striking advantage and on the feet will make it hard for Usman on most occasions. Look out for Leon hand trapping the lead hand for an opening into striking and continuous feints to keep Usman guessing. Another overlooked aspect is the battle on the ground. After Leon did the unthinkable and brought Usman down, he established a good amount of top time, and should a similar situation arise, expect a more BJJ-oriented attack which Usman has not really dealt with in a long time. To me, it boils down to if Leon can take advantage of the openings that he no doubt will get on the feet or if Usman can fully smother him and not let his foot off the gas that cost him in the last fight. I have a more wary Usman going back to his roots and playing the safe game even safer, limiting exchanges on the feet and frustrating Leon over 5 rounds en route to a UD. But I also can see Leon stealing it away with a well-placed strike to the head again. But Usman by UD for me.
Luke G: Usman. I think if he doesn’t take his foot off the gas this time around, Leon’s success isn’t as easy to replicate.
Justin Gaethje (24.3%) vs. Rafael Fiziev (75.7%)
BE Community Pick: Rafael Fiziev
Ayaan: This is a striking fans dream come true. Of course, these two bring two different types of striking to the table. Fiziev brings a background of Muay Thai and precise technical striking to the table while Gaethje brings wild strikes from hell and debilitating leg kicks that can easily shut down any type of gameplan once more than a few land clean. However, Gaetjhe has a tendency to throw “naked leg kicks”, meaning he often gets caught during the act of throwing singular leg kicks. It happened against Charles Olivera, it was part of the finishing sequence with Dustin Poirier, and against a highly technical counter puncher and striker in Fiziev, Justin cannot afford to get caught. I think if he makes it ugly, he has his best shot to victory. If not, I see Fiziev dispatching Gaethje inside 3 rounds.
Luke G: Fiziev. I think Fiziev’s technical striking discipline and volume is going to give Gaethje issues and he won’t be able to adjust.
Gunnar Nelson (56.8%) vs. Bryan Barberena (43.2%)
BE Community Pick: Gunnar Nelson
Ayaan: Gunnar Nelson is coming from a year layoff to face one of the most exciting fighters who always brings his best in Bryan Barberena. Truthfully, if it goes to the ground, then Gunnar will find the win. But I don’t see “Bam Bam” letting it happen and letting his hands go en route to dispatching Gunnar in the second.
Luke G: Nelson. As long as Nelson sticks to his wrestling and doesn’t keep this on the feet, he’s got this.
Jennifer Maia (59.5%) vs. Casey O’Neill (40.5%)
BE Community Pick: Jennifer Maia
Luke G: Maia. I wasn’t convinced by O’Neil’s split win over Modafferi. I think Maia is a big veteran test she isn’t likely to pass.
Marvin Vettori (64.9%) vs. Roman Dolidze (35.1%)
BE Community Pick: Marvin Vettori
Luke G: Vettori. Marvin’s volume and pressure are just going to be too much for Roman.
Jack Shore (75.7%) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (24.3%)
BE Community Pick: Jack Shore
Luke G: Shore. This is a big step back for Shore after the loss to Ricky Simon and I’m really anticipating he just plainly smokes Amirkhani.
Chris Duncan (51.4%) vs. Omar Morales (48.6%)
BE Community Pick: Chris Duncan
Luke G: Morales. Pure coin flip for me here, taking the more experienced guy and hoping he doesn’t collapse.
Sam Patterson (56.8%) vs. Yanal Ashmoz (43.2%)
BE Community Pick: Sam Patterson
Luke G: Patterson. He’s got more fights against better competition.
Mohammad Mokaev (86.5%) vs. Jafel Filho (13.5%)
BE Community Pick: Mohammad Mokaev
Luke G: Mokaev. Seems like a necessary step back after a tough fight against Malcolm Gordon. Expect Mokaev to be more dominant here.
Lerone Murphy (70.3%) vs. Gabriel Santos (29.7%)
BE Community Pick: Lerone Murphy
Luke G: Murphy. Choosing him to win in England against a short notice replacement making their debut but admittedly I haven’t seen Santos fight.
Christian Leroy Duncan (40.5%) vs. Dusko Todorovic (59.5%)
BE Community Pick: Dusko Todorovic
Luke G: Taking Duncan purely because Todorovic’s only recent wins are against guys no longer in the UFC.
Jake Hadley (59.5%) vs. Malcolm Gordon (40.5%)
BE Community Pick: Jake Hadley
Luke G: Hadley. I just dont trust Gordon’s chin or overall survival instinct too many finish losses for me.
Joanne Wood (56.8%) vs. Luana Carolina (43.2%)
BE Community Pick: Joanne Wood
Luke G: Carolina. This is my underdog pick of the prelims because Wood seems to have fallen off.
Jai Herbert (62.2%) vs. L’udovit Klein (37.8%)
BE Community Pick: Jai Herbert
Luke G: Klein. There has never been a Jai Herbert fight I haven’t enjoyed but I don’t trust him after the first round.
Veronica Macedo (37.8%) vs. Juliana Miller (62.2%)
BE Community Pick: Juliana Miller
Luke G: Miller. Gotta go with a young TUF winner over a 1-4 in their last 5 fighter
Which fight wins Fight of the Night award?
BE Community Pick: Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev (91.9%)
Ayaan: Gaethje and Fiziev put a clinic on violence and take the honors.
Luke G: Fiziev/Gaetjhe for the reasons stated above.
Who wins a Performance of the Night award?
BE Community Pick: Rafael Fiziev (59.5%), Kamaru Usman (29.7%), Justin Gaethje (29.7%), Mohammad Mokaev (29.7%)
Ayaan: Mohammad Mokaev shuts down Filho for a dominating performance is my guess.
Luke G: Fiziev, Shore, Usman.
Which fight are you most excited for?
BE Community Pick: Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev (73%)
Ayaan: Definitely Usman v. Edwards, any trilogy is always an exciting time.
Luke G: Fiziev/Gaetjhe. Seems like it has the highest chance of extreme violence for obvious reasons.
Just like with our staff picks I’m tracking the community picks and maintaining this nifty table. Spots on the table are determined by correct picks. Bonus points (for correctly picking fight night award winners) act as tie breakers. As you can see Luke G is top of the table thanks to going 8-5 on UFC Vegas 71 and picking up a bonus point. If you want to get on the board, and join the conversation, head over to Substack and pick up a subscription.
About the author: Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. (full bio)
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