UFC On FOX 20 started out as an above average card when it was to be headlined by Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira. Unfortunately, that fight fell through and the women’s bantamweight bout featuring Valentina Shevchenko and Holly Holm moved to the main event position.
The card is very modest on paper, but I’ve learned to give cards like this plenty of room to gain steam. Time and again, we’ve seen events that didn’t look great on paper turn out to be barnburners of the highest order. I’m hoping that this one will end up in that category.
Right now, it’s time to look at the underdog action available from the 11 fights being presented. As is my modus operandi, I’ve chosen four contests that I believe will end in upset, and could likely be beneficial to your fantasy teams. Let’s get started:
Dmitry Smoliakov $10,100 / Luis Henrique $9,300
Smoliakov appears to be a worldbeater if you don’t actually look at his previous opponent’s records, which average out to an overall record of 20 wins and 26 losses against very regional competition. He has very good Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, but against the more rounded Henrique, who has great takedowns and manages top control and ground and pound very well, he likely won’t emerge with the victory. While this fight is fairly well-matched, I’ve got to go with Henrique here, due to a better level of competition and excellent position management.
Henrique via Dec
Michel Prazeres $10,900 / JC Cottrell $8,500
Prazeres has looked great and holds respectable wins over Mairibek Taisumov and Leandro Silva. He’s a robust, fireplug of a man who does well when fighting in a phonebooth. His Achilles heel is the fighters that can control the distance on the feet.
Cottrell is the bigger man here with a 3-inch height and 4-inch reach advantage that he knows how to use well. He has a penchant for trying to throw his opponents through the mat and has good, technical wrestling. His standup defense leaves something to be desired, but he’s got strong boxing (particularly a good hook). I think distance control will be the biggest factor here, and will net Cottrell the win
Cottrell via Dec
Kamaru Usman $10,800 / Alexander Yakovlev $8,600
Usman is a beast. He’s one of the most highly decorated wrestlers in the UFC and has speed and power to match. His top game is pretty much untouchable, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be caught under that kind of crushing pressure, you might as well resign yourself to a punishing loss. That said, he had a hard night against Leon Edwards and that fight left an impression that he might need a bit more fine tuning before the sparkly gates of the Top 10 open up for him.
Yakovlev is the seasoned veteran here, and while he will be the smaller guy with a power disadvantage, he’s got a serious uptake in his wrestling and also has slightly better striking that appears to be improving with each outing. His fight with Demian Maia, while a loss, showed how well he fights under pressure and impressed me mightily. His scrambles and transitions are also excellent and this will be a key factor in securing a victory over the highly touted Usman.
Yakovlev via Submission
Frankie Saenz $10,000 / Eddie Wineland $9,400
Frankie’s stock rose incredibly in his fight with Urijah Faber, even though it was a loss. His wrestling was great and his durability and refusal to give up any ground was admirable. He’s got good wins to his credit under the UFC banner, against mid-level competition.
Wineland, a tough 13+ year veteran, is starting to show some fading in the tapestry, but still has plenty in the tank to get the job done here. He’s got excellent striking and has managed to maintain speed in the face of all that mileage. He’s also got pretty capable wrestling and should be able to defend well against the inevitable takedowns that will be launched by Saenz. Experience and great striking are the biggest factors for a Wineland victory.
Wineland via TKO
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