Following the ultra-successful UFC 205 event, the world’s largest MMA promotion is back again this Saturday afternoon with UFC Fight Night 99, live from The SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Considering how stacked UFC 205 was, it’s fair to say UFC Fight Night 99 is a much weaker card, but there are still definitely some fun fights that should be of interest to MMA fans.
Here are the top five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 99, with my analysis of some of the best fights on the card.
1) Mousasi Rematches Hall In Main Event
The main event of UFC Fight Night 99 is a five-round middleweight rematch between Gegard Mousasi ($9,600) and Uriah Hall ($6,600). The pair first met in September 2015, with Mousasi entering the fight as a massive favorite. After dominating Hall with his grappling in the first round, Mousasi was caught by a spinning back kick and knocked out in the second round, the first knockout loss of Mousasi’s career.
Since that fight, Mousasi has won three-straight fights, including a knockout win over Vitor Belfort in his last outing, while Hall has lost two-straight bouts, including a knockout loss to Derek Brunson in his last outing. It appears that the loss gave Mousasi the motivation he needed to finally break through and reach the potential many of his fans always thought he had, while for Hall the win over Mousasi is looking like a bit of a fluke at this point.
Analysis: Despite the result of the first fight, Mousasi remains a superior MMA fighter and should be able to get revenge against Hall in this rematch. I like him at $9,600 as a finish seems likely in what is a five-round fight.
2) Pearson Takes On Ray In All-UK Co-Main Event
The co-headliner for UFC Fight Night 99 is a lightweight bout between England’s Ross Pearson ($8,500) and Scotland’s Stevie Ray ($7,700). Pearson, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 9, is one of the most inconsistent fighters in the UFC lightweight division, which makes him a frustrating fighter to back. He’s 11-9, 1 NC all-time in the UFC, and he’s currently on a two-fight losing streak and a poor 2-4 over his last six outings. His opponent, Ray, was looking like a top prospect at 155lbs with three-straight wins to open his UFC career, but a decision loss to Alan Patrick in his last outing has many observers of the sport rethinking his career trajectory.
Analysis: Tough fight to call as Pearson is just too inconsistent to trust, while Ray is tough to trust here after getting dominated by a mid-tier fighter like Patrick in his last fight. I think it’s best to pass on both co-main event fighters.
3) Volkov Makes UFC Debut Against Johnson
Former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov ($8,100) makes his long-awaited UFC debut against Tim Johnson ($8,100). Since being released from Bellator in 2015, Volkov has won two-straight fights in his native Russia, which earned him a spot in the UFC. Volkov, a powerful striker who has won 18 fights via knockout, is still only 28 years old and at 6’7″ is one of the tallest heavyweights in the UFC, so he has a chance to make a run into the division’s top-15. Johnson, on the other hand, is 2-1 in the Octagon and recently broke into the UFC heavyweight division’s top-15. He is a big, durable guy with big power and an underrated grappling game, but he appears to be more of a gatekeeper rather than a future title contender.
Analysis: Johnson is very tough, but if Volkov is able to use his length and reach and keep on the outside, he should be able to outstrike his way to a victory here in his UFC debut, and maybe get a knockout win. There’s some value in Volkov at $8,100.
4) Seery Fights For Final Time Against McCall
In the final fight of his career, Ireland’s Neil Seery ($7,000) takes on Ian McCall ($9,200) in a flyweight bout. Seery, who is 37-years old, is 3-3 in the UFC. He’s a well-rounded fighter with good boxing skills and solid grappling, but he’s not elite in any area of the game. McCall, on the other hand, has long been one of the top flyweight fighters in the world. He’s underachieved in his UFC career with a 2-3, 1 NC record and he’s battled numerous injuries which have derailed him, but he’s still only 32 and has the chance to make another run for the flyweight title. McCall is very well-rounded with excellent wrestling and is extremely durable, having only been stopped once in 19 career bouts.
Analysis: McCall and Seery match up pretty well with one another, but McCall is just a bit better than Seery at everything, and he should be able to win this fight. Seery is durable enough not to get finished, so I’ll pass on McCall at $9,200.
5) Battle Of Lightweight Prospects
Two lightweight prospects go head-to-head as Kevin Lee ($8,300) takes on Magomed Mustafaev ($7,900). Lee, who is only 24, is 6-2 in the UFC and has won his last two fights in a row. He’s a well-rounded fighter with fantastic wrestling and if he keeps improving the rest of his game he could definitely break into the top-15 of the lightweight division. As for Magomedov, he’s 14-1 in his MMA career and 2-0 in the UFC with two knockout wins. All 14 of his wins have come by stoppage, and he’s one of the new wave of Russian fighters making a big impact in the sport. At 28, he’s in the prime of his career and ripe to make a run in the lightweight division, though he’s still largely unproven against high-level competition.
Analysis: Lee is a really good prospect, but his knockout loss to Leonardo Santos last year is especially concerning against a striker like Mustafaev. If the Russian can catch him on the chin, he can score the upset win. I like Mustafaev here at the cheap $7,900 price tag.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is MMAdamMartin) 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.