Get In The Game For UFC 196
This Saturday night in Las Vegas, the culmination of roughly 11 days of promotion for the main event of UFC 196 will come to its fruition in the form of a short notice bout between featherweight champion, Conor McGregor and Top 10 lightweight contender, Nate Diaz. It should be noted that this fight has been set for the welterweight limit of 170 lbs.
The hullabaloo surrounding this match-up is nothing short of amazing, but we must take great care to not overlook the rest of this excellent card, which presents some great opportunities to make yourself a winning Draftkings team with underdog action. While there are no clear cut blowouts to speak of, there are definitely some dogs you may want to bank on. Here are my Top 4 underdog picks for UFC 196:
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz is the hard underdog here, but you shouldn’t count him out. He looked fantastic in his last fight, and is very good at controlling range in his fights. His absolute dismantling of Donald Cerrone actually set some records for punch output, and if that Nate Diaz shows up, especially with a longer reach (something Conor hasn’t really experienced yet), we may see this fight go all the way to a decision. The other factor, and likely the more important one to consider, is Nate’s exceptional grappling. If the fight hits the mat, there’s a very, very good chance we see Mystic Mac end up sleeping on the job.
McGregor has no doubt been absolutely incredible in his fights, but how much of his speed and timing will be affected by going into this fight 25 lbs heavier than all of his others. How offputting will Nate’s reach and ability to control the distance be?
Yesterday, I interviewed one of Nate’s past opponents, Jim Miller, who had this to say of his chances against Conor,
“He has a very awkward style, and what makes Nate very dangerous, is that he’s planted. It happened to me, it happened to Gray (Maynard), you try to cover that distance, and he plants and throws a straight two down the pipe, and you run into it [laughs]. It’s like running into a brick wall. If Conor gets caught trying to hop in and close the distance, and he runs into one of those punches, like I said, it’s running into a wall.”
Underdog Prediction: Nate Diaz via submission
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Chas Skelly vs. Darren Elkins
Darren Elkins is a grinder. Of his 13 UFC outings, he sports 9 victories, but only 2 were finishes. He gets the job done with dominant wrestling and a really good top game. His fights might not be pretty, but he gets the job done. His losses have come to top tier competition with names like Chad Mendes, Charles Oliveira Hacran Dias and Jeremy Stephens.
Chas Skelly has a great 15-1 record, and is also a wrestler with some impressive submission wins, but against lesser quality competition. I think the experience card might be the factor here that could ultimately lead to a decision victory for Elkins.
Underdog prediction: Darren Elkins via decision
Corey Anderson vs. Tom Lawlor
Tom Lawlor was a bit of a mixed bag for a while, but seems to have turned a corner in his career. He’s had just 2 fights in a little under 3 years, but both those fights ended in spectacular finishes. The layoff can be viewed as a boon to his overall conditioning as he’s not been put through multiple, rigorous training camps.
I interviewed Tom yesterday, who gave his own prediction of the fight,
“Second round, stoppage win for Tom Lawlor. Last time, I said I was going to beat Gian Villante in the second round by submission, but I ended up knocking him out instead. This time, I’ll say knockout, and it will probably be a submission.”
Anderson is still a young prospect, with just 8 fights under his belt. His only loss comes at the hands of Gian Villante via TKO. I’m not really a subscriber to MMA math, but if you happen to be, this might be the deciding factor in choosing Lawlor.
Underdog prediction: Tom Lawlor via TKO
Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate has been improving her game exponentially with each outing. She’s got a very methodical style, with good wrestling and decent striking. Her golden ticket is that she doesn’t panic in sticky situations and she’s super durable. She won’t be crumbling under the pressure of some well-placed punches from Holm. The key for her is to close the distance and get Holly to the ground, a feat that I fully believe she can accomplish. She will probably be the biggest challenge Holm has had to date.
Holm has been in the game for 5 years now, but up until she got to the UFC, she was fighting subpar competition. I feel that experience is a big factor in this fight, and that’s something Miesha has in spades. She’s also faced a better level of competition over the course of a 10 year career (if you count her amateur fights).
Underdog prediction: Miesha Tate via decision