Gustafsson vs Smith

UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Smith staff picks and predictions, The Bloody Elbow staff has made its predictions for UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Smith, and it is a clean sweep for three-time light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson to beat Anthony Smith in the main event. On that note, congrats in advance to Anthony Smith on his upset win. Only Dayne Fox is picking Jimi Manuwa over Aleksandar Rakic in the co-main.

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: 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: 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.

Victor Rodriguez: As much as we love Smith around these parts, we’ve seen his ceiling. He may have a strength advantage and underappreciated durability and fight IQ, but lacking in speed and striking diversity will be the largest problems standing. Add to that the fact that Alex has ruthless top position striking and you have a recipe for a terrible beating. Smith can pull a rabbit out of a hat and work the body, cut off Alex’s angles and escape routes to prevent him from running to recircle back towards the center and work an ugly clinch game, but a lot of things have to go wrong for Alex in order for things to go right for Smith. Smart money says that doesn’t happen. Alexander Gustafsson by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: As much as we love Smith around these parts, we’ve seen his ceiling. He may have a strength advantage and underappreciated durability and fight IQ, but lacking in speed and striking diversity will be the largest problems standing. Add to that the fact that Alex has ruthless top position striking and you have a recipe for a terrible beating. Smith can pull a rabbit out of a hat and work the body, cut off Alex’s angles and escape routes to prevent him from running to recircle back towards the center and work an ugly clinch game, but a lot of things have to go wrong for Alex in order for things to go right for Smith. Smart money says that doesn’t happen. Alexander Gustafsson by decision.

Zane Simon: Technically, I’m not that convinced that Rakic has this in the bag. He may have a clear wrestling advantage over Manuwa, but does out-wrestling Justin Ledet really tell us that? If not, Rakic is a decent offensive kickboxer, who tends to hang his chin out and rely on quick movement to get him out of the way of strikes. It’s got him cracked a few times already, in fights where he was clearly head-and-shoulders above his competition. Manuwa is unquestionably the most dangerous striker he’s ever fought, and his left hook could be a game changer.

But, Manuwa has also been knocked out several times in the UFC now. Rakic would be the worst loss yet of his career, but Rakic is more than a decade younger and he’s been hurt, but never stopped via strikes. Just based on those metrics, as well as Rakic’s size and decent wrestling game, I’ve gotta pick him here. Aleksandar Rakic via KO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: I like Jimi Manuwa, but I just can’t trust Jimi Manuwa. Like, people forget what a holy terror this cat can be sometimes, and this is just from his UFC wins. That’s to say nothing of the sort of finishes he was getting on the regional circuit. Maybe the time at AllStars finally gets things to click against an athlete of Rakic’s caliber, but no. I’ll resist picking Jimi and go with the guy with more varied striking and better use of range. Aleksandar Rakic by decision.