It’s hard to believe that this Saturday will mark the UFC’s 92nd Fight Night offering. If the last five weeks were a movie, it would be The NeverEnding Story. This will mark the 7th event in that short, five-week span, and for fight fans looking for high octane action to take their minds off the summer heat, this packed schedule is just what the doctor ordered.
This weekend’s offering hits one of the last remaining untapped U.S. markets in Salt Lake City, Utah. Once again, the card features some unknowns making their promotional debuts, as well as some seasoned veterans looking to make a statement.
With cards like this, where new talent is debuting, there is always an opportunity for an upset. I’ve selected four fighters that I think have an excellent chance of surprising everyone this weekend. Let’s get started.
Trevor Smith $10,100 / Joseph Gigliotti $9,300
Trevor Smith is the seasoned veteran here, who happens to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of one. That one is his clinch game. He’s got a sizeable height and reach advantage here, and typically has it in most of the fights he’s in. He utilizes it well and has decent striking. The catch? He struggles when taking a step up in competition, and has been defeated every time he’s been squared up with someone beyond the lower tier of the roster.
Gigliotti is a prospect, but has tremendous upside. He’s a stocky wolverine who is fast…crazy fast, and has a great fight IQ despite his youth. He’s well-rounded and packs quite a wallop. He has aggressive top game and good ground and pound. Bonus: He trains at Power MMA with the likes of Ryan Bader and CB Dolloway.
Gigliotti via TKO
Thales Leites $10,700 / Chris Camozzi $8,700
Thales Leites is a marvelous grappler, and has been showing noticeable improvement with his striking. He’s a tough, durable veteran with a granite chin. However, at 34 years of age, he’s likely got a close-up view of the down side of his career, evidenced by his current two fight skid. His cardio is questionable, and with SLC being a high altitude location, he will likely have issues.
Chris Camozzi, by contrast, is on a great career upswing, winning his last three outings, one of which was a sensational stoppage of knockout artist, Joe Riggs. He keeps an excellent pace and mixes up effective kicks and solid jabs. He’s got a distinct advantage in the cardio department, as he trains out of a high altitude gym, Factory X. If this fight stays on the feet, it’s Camozzi all day and twice on Sunday. If it hits the ground, I still think his defensive wrestling is serviceable enough to keep Leites at bay.
Camozzi via Decision
Dennis Bermudez $10,400 / Rony Jason $9,000
Dennis Bermudez is one of those entertaining brawlers you look forward to seeing. He’s compact and strong and has serious power. He keeps an insane work rate and is known for engaging in all out battles. He’s also a great wrestler, even if he’s not one to keep you down once he gets you there. His defense is where the problem lies. During all that standing and banging, he tends to leave his chin unprotected and has no idea what head movement is. Because of this, he gets tagged. And dropped.
Rony Jason is a beast athlete with knockout power. He’s an acrobat, throwing flawless flying knees and snazzy kicks. He has a gnarly ground game, racking up an impressive 8 submissions from his 15 wins. Jason is an instinct fighter, and often fights like his game plan is to just let the action go where it may. I feel the bigger upside is with Jason, and the key will be one of those big haymakers he’s prone to throw.
Jason via TKO
Yair Rodriguez $10,500 / Alex Caceres $8,900
TUF winner Yair Rodriguez is an appealing prospect and has looked great—against guys that are struggling to live up to their potential, especially Charles Rosa and Andre Fili. He’s lightning quick and has devastating kicks. He’s a competent striker, but if you get him in a phone booth, there is plenty of room to unload at will. While he has “future star” written all over him, I don’t think his ascent will begin with Bruce Leroy.
Alex Caceres is a crafty, wily veteran and is ridiculously durable. He’s got that “Comeback Kid” thing going for him, and he’s very opportunistic. If you make a mistake, he’s going to seize the opportunity and punish you for it. He’s a solid grappler and does well in scrambles, and he’s added an extra coat of wax to his wrestling game, making it a very attractive facet of his skillset, especially when combined with excellent ground and pound.
Caceres via Submission
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.