“Old man…look at my life. I’m a lot like you were.” — Neil Young
Fighters get to choose their own walkout songs, but both combatants in the main event of UFC Fight Night should be compelled to walk out to Neil Young’s “Old Man.” Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson are a combined 83 years old with 37 years of pro MMA experience. This is the third and last time they will fight…we think. Let’s break down UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson.
Vitor Belfort ($10800) vs Dan Henderson ($8600)
I can’t imagine people not playing this fight because it most certainly will end by knockout, and quick finishes mean big fantasy points. Henderson likes to take his time early in the fight and find his range for that big right hand, but seeing as Belfort storms out of the gate like a bat out of hell, he will not be afforded that luxury. Belfort knocked Henderson out in their last bout with a head kick in just under 80 seconds. I see something similar happening again. Still, if you make multiple lineups/entries, Henderson and his big KO power are a good hedge. The majority of my lineups will feature Belfort, but I will hedge with Hendo.
Pick: Belfort by KO/TKO
Glover Teixeira ($11000) vs Pat Cummins ($8400)
Because Teixeira lost two in a row recently — one to Phil Davis, the other to Jon Jones — his stock has dropped some. The $11000 also seems a bit high at face value. Still, Teixeira is the favorite for a reason. Cummins is a fantastic wrestler. As a striker, Cummins is a fantastic wrestler. See what I did there? The most likely scenario is Teixeira dominating this fight on the feet and knocking Cummins out — and back to fighting guys outside of the top 10. This one will be very similar to the Cormier fight. Cummins will go down in a heap and it should be early in the bout.
Pick: Teixeira by KO/TKO
Anthony Birchak ($8500) vs Thomas Almeida ($10900)
Speaking of domination, at 19-0 Thomas Almeida may be the best fighter not on the casual MMA fan’s radar. His last two fights have been highlight-reel material, with a flying knee KO of Brad Pickett and a first-round knockout of Yves Jabouin at UFC 186. He is averaging an insane 7.06 significant strikes per minute and has knocked out 15 of his 19 opponents. He’s only been to a decision once. He is the real deal, and arguably the top prospect in all of MMA right now. Birchak is also an excellent prospect, and he’s coming off an excellent victory against Joe Soto. But I don’t think he is on the same level as Almeida when it comes to striking. Almeida will make quick work of Birchak, moving to 20-0, and he should get a top-5 bantamweight in his next fight.
Pick: Almeida by KO/TKO
Alex Oliveira ($10500) vs Piotr Hallman ($8900)
Hallman has been fairly disappointing during his UFC run, going just 2-3, with two losses in a row. As you might expect, he hasn’t lit it up in fantasy points either, averaging 54.1. Oliveira averages just 1.46 significant strikes per minute and has scored takedowns in both his wins. That won’t happen against Hallman, who defends takedowns at a 66% clip. Overall I think this is a horrible matchup for Oliveira, and his hometown fans are going to be disappointed when Hallman’s hand is raised after three grindy rounds.
Pick: Hallman by decision
Gilbert Burns ($9400) vs Rashid Magomedov ($10000)
Sometimes you just have a feeling and you go with it, even if it defies conventional wisdom. And so it goes here, as I predict Burns will submit Magomedov, something you are unlikely to read anywhere else. While Magomedov is a stud in defending takedowns at 91%, I believe that Burns will get him to the ground — and he is nothing short of amazing with his ground game. His striking is getting better too, though it has been awkward and low volume to date. I’m picturing Burns getting the submission win then jumping on top of the fence to the screams of the Brazilian crowd. Are you seeing that, too? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t.
Pick: Burns by submission
Corey Anderson ($11100) vs Fabio Maldonado ($8300)
When you think of who has taken the most punishment over the last few years in the UFC, Maldonado comes to mind. And that catches up with guys at some point, even with the toughest of guys, which Maldonado certainly is. The point being that the lights start to go off quicker the more the punishment adds up. It’s no secret that Anderson will get Maldonado to the ground at some point, and he has become vicious in his ground and pound. He’ll finish Maldonado there, and do it in round one.
Pick: Anderson by KO/TKO
Abel Trujillo ($9600) vs Gleison Tibau ($9800)
Not sure if you know this or not but Gleison Tibau is Portuguese for “decision.” These are two journeymen fighters, evenly matched and I will be shocked if this doesn’t go to a decision. I’m staying away, but I do think Tibau will grind it out.
Pick: Tibau by decision
Johnny Case ($10600) vs Yan Cabral ($8800)
Cabral has 12 wins, 11 by submission. Case has finished 18 times in his 21 wins. The judges can go grab some food during this fight. Cabral has little in the striking department, and I have doubts that he can get Case to the ground. Even if he does, Case has not been submitted on the ground since his pro debut. Case will nullify Cabral’s ground game and on the feet it’s not a fair fight. I think it will be later in the fight, but Case will knock out Cabral.
Pick: Case by KO/TKO
Thiago Tavares ($9200) vs Clay Guida ($10200)
I love Clay Guida and Tavares is a well-respected fighter. But neither of these guys light up the fantasy point scoreboard. Tavares has accumulated most of his wins by submission, but he won’t submit Guida. What will happen is Guida will score some takedowns, maintain control from the top and simply outwork and frustrate Tavares. It will go to the scorecards and neither fighter is likely to break 50 fantasy points. Guida will win, but I’ll pass on playing this fight.
Pick: Guida by decision
Kevin Souza ($9300) vs Chas Skelly ($10100)
Chas Skelly is one of those guys that is an absolute pain to fight. He always keeps coming, even after taking your best shots. His last fight against Jim Alers is a testament to that. He is an unorthodox striker with a terrific ground game, and no one will outwork him in the Octagon. However, Kevin Souza is a different kind of beast, with 13 knockouts in his 15 wins. The problem is he’s not adept at defending on the ground. All three of his losses have come by submission, and he has trouble defending takedowns. Knowing how Skelly will pressure him and get him to the ground is really all I need for a prediction here. Skelly will take hard shots, but he will survive, get Souza down and choke him out.
Pick: Skelly by submission
Viscardi Andrade ($9500) vs Gasan Umalatov ($9900)
Not excited about this at all. Umalatov has been outstruck by all three of his UFC opponents, going 1-2 in those fights and registering just 27 points per fight. Andrade is averaging over 60, but that’s mostly due to his first-round KO of Bristol Marunde. Neither fighter throws in volume, but Andrade will have a reach and power advantage, so I pick him. But he needs to finish Umalatov to make picking him a wise choice. I can’t predict that with any sort of confidence, so I’m staying away here, even if I think Andrade will win.
Pick: Andrade by decision
Jimmie Rivera ($9000) vs Pedro Munhoz ($10400)
I’ve been a fan of Munhoz since seeing him fight MMA pioneer Jeff Curran in the RFA. There is nothing he doesn’t do well. Rivera, has a stellar record of 17-1, and after piling up countless decisions, he’s knocked out three straight opponents. It’s unlikely he will KO Munhoz, who has never been finished in his pro career. I think this is more evenly matched than the salaries would indicate, and as such I predict this fight goes the distance, which means I’m staying away. I do think Munhoz will win, it just won’t be worth more than 10k of your salary cap.
Pick: Munhoz by decision
Matheus Nicolau ($10300) vs Bruno Korea ($9100)
Two fighters that are both making their UFC debuts, which is always a bit tricky when it comes to picking who will win. But Nicolau is certainly the more polished fighter with good power and more experience. Korea was a contestant on TUF Brazil, but he has only four pro fights, and just one against a fighter with more than five pro fights. Conventional wisdom has Nicolau ending this quickly and I agree.
Pick: Nicolau by KO/TKO