Kevin Holland of the United States celebrates after defeating Anthony Hernandez of the United States in their Middleweight bout during UFC Fight Night at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 16, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. | Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs. Holland. The BE team has made its picks for UFC Vegas 22. There’s a slight lean towards Kevin Holland over Derek Brunson in Saturday’s main event, whereas it’s pretty clear where our thoughts are on the co-main between Gregor Gillespie and Brad Riddell.
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.
Note 2: For cards such as this one we’re only limiting predictions to the main card plus the featured prelim.
Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland
Mookie Alexander: A lot of this fight hinges on how well Holland can deal with Brunson’s wrestling. Kevin’s takedown defense is still a liability and Brunson can exploit this heavily and grind out a W if not get a stoppage. But Brunson also has a history of being in weird fights and Kevin Holland is the master of weirdness, whether to his own detriment or not. He’s powerful and can knock you out from damn near anywhere. While some of the takeaway from the Shahbazyan fight is that Brunson is a high-level gatekeeper at the very least, a lot of it is that Shahbazyan is mostly a one-round fighter with a very unrefined game. Holland is durable if nothing else and seems like the more credible finishing threat. The clear decider for me is the fact that Kevin Holland shares the same birthday as I do and we’re both born in California. This hard-hitting analysis is why I’m going with Kevin Holland by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Glad to see so many people picking Holland here. Maybe that means we won’t curse him, since at the end of the day I keep finding myself sliding toward a Brunson victory. Holland is great at standing firm in the pocket and trading wild shots when opponents step in. He’s got incredible confidence and a fun grab-bag of techniques. But his willingness to stand firm seems like it will almost certainly get him taken down, just as it did against Jacare. Could Holland repeat that miracle, or even get the early KO standing? Sure. But his power isn’t generally the hallmark of his victories. And if he doesn’t finish Brunson early, I have more faith in Brunson’s size wearing him down and keeping the fight ugly, than I do Holland still being an effective wildman through round 3. Had that fight with Stewart been 5 rounds, would Holland have won it? Derek Brunson via decision.
Staff picking Brunson: Zane, ConnorStaff picking Holland: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne
Gregor Gillespie vs. Brad Riddell
Mookie Alexander: Riddell has done well to avoid getting into super prolonged grappling exchanges with guys who want to take him down, but it’s clear his takedown defense is not impenetrable and that’s just not going to fly against Gillespie. He’s a different level than anyone Brad has faced and unless Gillespie gets caught on his feet this is his fight to lose. Gregor Gillespie by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Would love to see Riddell win this, and his UFC career so far should have left him well prepared for the basic dynamic. But, his fights with Mustafaev and da Silva were both close, difficult battles with Riddell dropping the first round in each before fighting his way back into things. Against a wrestler as technical and tireless as Gillespie? I just don’t think Riddell can afford to start from a deficit and try to win things back with late momentum. Gillespie is just too consistent with his takedowns. Gregor Gillespie via submission, round 3.
Staff picking Gillespie: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, ConnorStaff picking Riddell:
Adrian Yanez vs. Gustavo Lopez
Mookie Alexander: Adrian Yanez whooped Victor Rodriguez’s ass and if he can do that to a member of the Bloody Elbow staff then he means business. Adrian Yanez by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: As much as I’d love to rate beating Vic’s ass as a sign of true elite quality, I’m just not that sure that’s what it means. Yanez is a fun puncher, but his game is really limited to that singular skill set. Lopez can be hurt and finished, but he’s an extremely capable fighter everywhere, used to taking scrappy, veteran approaches to finding wins. If Yanez’s defense were tighter, I might take him, but I think he’ll let Lopez get too many chances to shoot in and take him down and out-grapple him. Gustavo Lopez via decision.
Staff picking Yanez: Mookie, Stephie, DayneStaff picking Lopez: Zane, Connor
Song Kenan vs. Max Griffin
Mookie Alexander: I’m doing the Zane Simon cheater hedgeTM after picking Song earlier in the week. Griffin is stupidly tough and while he seemingly makes every fight as complicated as possible and his gas tank is a question mark, he’s fought a higher level of competition and is probably better than his 4-6 UFC record suggests. It’s going to be a brawl and thinking it over, Song needs a KO or else he’s not going to hold up. Max Griffin by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If kickboxing Griffin shows up, he could find himself in a bad way on the wrong end of Song’s power. But even in that situation, Griffin has never been KO’d, and while he technically has a lower striking rate (by the numbers) he’s shown himself much more capable of being a high output fighter for multiple rounds. Add to all that that Griffin shoots takedowns at a super high rate and Song’s takedown D is remarkably lacking and I have to take Griffin here to pull out the tough win. Max Griffin by decision.
Staff picking Song: StephieStaff picking Griffin: Dayne, Mookie, Zane, Connor
Cheyanne Buys vs. Montserrat Ruiz
Mookie Alexander: Buys is taking on an island territory in the Caribbean? That can’t be easy, but I think she can win. Cheyanne Buys by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Buys may be the prospect with a more professional, sustainable looking style, but I really like what Ruiz is trying on. She’s got a sort of mini-Oliynyk style to her, based on blitzing power hooks and upper body takedowns into scarfhold positions where she sub hunts really well. If she can’t get Buys down, Buys’ better form will likely lead her to victory. But, I think this may be just the kind of oddball matchup that’s more difficult than expected for a prospect still very young in her career. Montserrat Ruiz via sub, round 1.
Staff picking Buys: Mookie, Stephie, DayneStaff picking Ruiz: Zane, Connor
Tai Tuivasa vs. Harry Hunsucker
Mookie Alexander: Hunsucker beats not good opposition in a round. He’s lost to Don’Tale Mayes and Jared Vanderaa. I can’t see this going well for him. Tai Tuivasa by KO, round 1
Zane Simon: Put Tuivasa in the cage with someone who wrestles even a little and he’s got trouble. Put him in with a brawler who doesn’t have much technical form to his game and that feels like a bout he should be well favored to win. Tai Tuivasa via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Tuivasa: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, ConnorStaff picking Hunsucker:
Marion Reneau vs. Macy Chiasson
Mookie Alexander: Chiasson is going to be the bigger fighter, longer reach, and Reneau is probably going to be beaten up against the cage and unable to defend Chiasson’s takedowns. Maybe she can snatch a triangle choke but beyond that Reneau is going to be outworked. Macy Chiasson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Chiasson is most likely technically worse than Reneau in every single area. And, if Reneau were younger, even with her low output, I might credit her chances here, since Chiasson is SO willing to get drawn into sloppy clinch exchanges and ground battles. But Reneau’s super low output style makes picking her to get wins is always chancy. Eventually I’ll just pick Chiasson to avoid the sub and do enough to win rounds, but I’d be lying if I said I was confident. Macy Chiasson by decision.
Staff picking Reneau: Staff picking Chiasson: Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, Zane, Connor