Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 59.
The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC Vegas 59 event, and everyone is going for Jamahal Hill over Thiago Santos in the main event. As for the co-main, only Stephie Haynes is picking Geoff Neal over Vicente Luque.
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 Zane Simon 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.
To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill
Mookie Alexander: Even with how terribly he’s looked post-surgeries, Santos’ striking and especially his kicks should still be respected. I don’t think Hill can just park out at kicking range without giving Santos an increased chance to win. He’s hardly a defensive wizard and there will be opportunities for Santos to hit him. But Hill is otherwise faster, more athletic, bigger, and his ability to close distance and land big shots should get him the W over Santos. I’d pick the pre-knee injuries Santos over Hill without hesitation, but he seems long gone and is now just forever fighting like he’s deeply unconfident in his own game. Jamahal Hill by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: There’s a real solid chance this ends up being another 5-round stare and circle contest for Thiago Santos. He can still be a violent puncher on the counter, but with opponents well keyed in on that fact, his opportunities have been fewer and further between lately. Fortunately for him and for fans, Hill’s career has been marked by pace and confident aggression. He’s a blazingly fast handed striker, he knows it, and he relies on it. If he’s confident he can take Santos’ strikes, that could make this a lot more fun for fans and a lot more dangerous for Hill. No matter what path Hill takes, I’ve just seen Santos be too hesitant, too often lately for me to pick him against someone who is going to likely double or triple his output. Could he land the one big KO punch? Sure. Especially with the way Hill picks his chin up as he throws and relies on his speed to dodge punches. Someone in the elite ranks will likely catch him hard, and it easily could be ‘Marreta’. I just don’t have confidence Santos is that guy anymore. Jamahal Hill by decision.
Staff picking Santos:
Staff picking Hill: Dayne, Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Connor
Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal
Mookie Alexander: Luque cannot help but put himself into imminent danger against any stylistic matchup, so that alone gives me pause in picking him, but Neal’s tendency to only use his boxing (and really just head hunt over anything else) seems like it has major drawbacks against a more versatile, more powerful striker in Luque. Vicente Luque by decision.
Zane Simon: I have a sneaking suspicion that this fight could be a lot tougher on Luque than it looks at first blush. From the jump, the Brazilian seems like a clear pick. He’s the more consistent pressure fighter, the better trigger counter striker, he has a deeper arsenal of striking techniques to draw on, he varies his targets more, and he has the kind of grappling threat that means any mistakes from Neal in a scramble could mean the fight ends in an instant that way as well. However, because Luque is so insistent on being a pressure counter puncher, and on chasing his opponents down, he often fights a bit down to their level. His style of offense really gives guys a lot of chances to hit him clean on his way into the pocket. And giving someone as fast as Neal a chance to land clean over and over again is a potential recipe for disaster. If Luque is going to let Barberena and Price go to war with him, that’s a war Neal just might win. Still, it’s a might win. And until he does win it, he’ll probably be losing. Vicente Luque via TKO round 3.
Staff picking Luque: Dayne, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Neal: Stephie
Zac Pauga vs. Mohammed Usman
Mookie Alexander: I mean… did anyone really watch TUF? I’ve seen Usman pre-TUF and he’s never struck me as being that impressive. Zac Pauga by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Usman has heavyweight size and a heavyweight frame, but he’s an awfully clunky striker with no clear path to getting to other parts of his game. His entries are predictable and often involve him ducking his head as he steps into the pocket. Perfect fodder for an uppercut. Pauga is probably best served as a future light heavyweight, but he’s got a consistent pressure boxing game and some quick hips for stuffing takedowns, if he can keep the pressure on without getting tossed around or caught with one massive shot, I think he’s got a much better chance of being fresh late into the fight and landing better, cleaner strikes. Zac Pauga via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Pauga: Dayne, Zane, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Usman:
Brogan Walker-Sanchez vs. Juliana Miller
Zane Simon: Miller is far more determined and aggressive and confident in her ability to create chaos and overwhelm people. But she’s also a far, far less athletic specimen and she takes every bit as much punishment as she dishes out making her fight happen. Walker-Sanchez is falling a bit into some Chookagian/Calvillo traps of focusing on being a technician at the cost of actually being dangerous and landing with authority, but she’s got a big speed and power edge and the ability to stuff takedowns that makes me feel like Miller just won’t ever get the fight she wants. It’ll likely be a scrap all the way through, but I’ll take Brogan Walker-Sanchez by decision.
Staff picking Walker-Sanchez: Zane, Connor, Mookie, Stephie
Staff picking Miller: Dayne
Augusto Sakai vs. Sergey Spivak
Mookie Alexander: Yeah I think Sakai’s hit his UFC ceiling. This shouldn’t be on the main card over a Terrance McKinney fight. Sergey Spivak by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: The only real question I have to ask here is: is Augusto Sakai a better wrestler than Sergey Spivak? If he is? There’s nothing stopping him from putting a grind on the Moldovan standing. If he isn’t? Then he’s gonna have a bad time. The real unfortunate thing for Sakai is that his game off his back is weak enough that it really only likely would take one takedown to change this fight dramatically. Given that, I’ll give the edge to Spivak. Sergey Spivak by TKO, Round 3.
Staff picking Sakai: Dayne
Staff picking Spivak: Mookie, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Connor, Stephie
Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Mookie Alexander: Well uh… Lipski missed weight. Badly. She’s not trustworthy whatsoever which is so disappointing considering her hype from KSW. That said, she should have a considerable skill advantage over Cachoeira, who in turn is more durable than Lipski and may have the edge if this turns into a brawl. If Lipski was sensible she’d just look to wrestle and grapple as much as possible, but I don’t even know at this point. This is a chancy pick of Ariane Lipski by decision.
Zane Simon: Assuming she doesn’t just get knocked out at some point, I don’t think there’s any kind of fight that Lipski might have where she wouldn’t be capable of beating Cachoeira. She can match her for power, she’s got a clear edge in technique, and she’s the much more functional wrestler and grappler when she chooses to use it (not that that says a lot). Lipski is, however, has been very easy to draw into a brawl in the past. And Cachoeira is likely to force that out of her. If she does, this fight could get awfully 50/50. But I’d still take the cleaner striker to land better. Ariane Lipski by decision.
Staff picking Lipski: Dayne, Mookie, Victor, Zane, Connor, Stephie
Staff picking Cachoeira: