Everyone keeps talking about UFC 200, but UFC 199 is pretty stacked and seems to be flying well under the radar. There are several great match-ups on this card featuring some seasoned vets as well as up-and-coming prospects. Let’s not forget that there are also a couple of titles on the line, as well. From top to bottom, this is what most would call a “stacked card.”
With 13 fights lighting up the LA Forum Saturday night, there are a few underdogs that are definitely worth more than a cursory look. As is my modus operandi, I’ll be providing brief dissections of the fighters that have the potential to be points windfalls to your fantasy teams. Let’s get started.
Kevin Casey $9,800 / Elvis Mutapcic $9,600
Kevin Casey is a talented grappler with good KO power, but his overall MMA game is barely average. He’s heavily muscled and has serious issues with his gas tank. He’s a conservative striker who is content to wing his shots without much technique behind them. He also seems to move as though underwater, slow and lumbering, making him a pretty easy target for a competent striker, which Mutapcic is.
Elvis is much more well-rounded and has a slight edge in all departments with the exception being the grappling. If he controls the distance with his better striking array, he’ll likely not experience any trouble. He’s a competent enough grappler that he might well survive any attacks there, as well. If Casey were more than just the sum of his parts, and if his gas tank wasn’t always on E, it would be a much harder choice to make.
Mutapcic via Decision
Tom Breese $10,300 / Sean Strickland $9,100
In a battle of hot prospects, this fight is actually a very well-matched fight. Both gents are fairly large welterweights, with Breese coming in with a 2 inch height advantage. He carries an unbeaten record and is well versed on the ground and on the feet. His last fight gives me pause, though. Nakamura gave him more of a fight than he was expecting and there were times when he seemed to struggle.
Strickland has but one blemish in 18 professional fights, and his strength of schedule is on par with Breese’s. Where Tom has the height advantage, Sean has a 3 inch edge in reach. Both have a solid striking set and both utilize their jabs well. Strickland has very competent wrestling that may be enough to counteract Tom’s excellent grappling.
Strickland via Decision
Beneil Dariush $10,000 / James Vick $9,400
Beneil is an excellent grappler with a growing striking game. He calls King’s MMA his home under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro. His fight with Michael Chiesa showed that he isn’t invincible on the ground, and his controversial spilt decision win over Michael Johnson probably should have ended with him on the other side of the column.
James Vick has a multitude of things going for him. Confidence in his unbeaten record, length and range advantages, as well as a pretty diverse skillset and the grittiness to survive situations that most would crumble under. He just refuses to lose.
How will he win? I’ll post the quote he gave me yesterday, predicting his fight:
“He’s probably going to come out really hard with inside low kicks and body kicks. He’s going to try to back me up on the cage, but he’s not a high level college wrestler, so he’s not going to be able to take me down on the open mat. A lot of these guys don’t realize how strong I am. They think because I’m tall and skinny, that I’m not real strong. Then they lock up with me and realize that I’m stronger than they are. I think he’s going to gas himself out trying to take me down. If he stays on the outside, he’s going to lose a decision all day, so he’s going to have to come in at some point. Once I’ve stuffed all his takedown attempts, I’m going to take over and unload on him to get the finish.”
James Vick via Decision
Luke Rockhold $11,400 / Michael Bisping $8,000
Finally, Michael Bisping has his title shot. After more than a decade with the UFC, and an outstanding record, he’s getting the opportunity to compete for the belt. This will not be an easy task. Rockhold is an exceptional fighter. He’s ridiculously talented on the ground and is seamless in his transitions. He has power too, especially in those kicks.
So what will be the game changer here? Heart. Will. Grit. Michael Bisping was not supposed to win against Anderson Silva. Very few gave him a chance, but he did, and it was impressive. He withstood an onslaught that would have left many in a crumpled heap. He simply would not be denied the win. That kind of determination is hard to come by. Combine that with excellent takedown defense, good technical striking and cardio for days, and you have the recipe for an upset. At the prices listed, “The Count” is the absolute most bang for the buck on this card.