We have a UFC Fight Night tomorrow, and what started as a pretty decent free card has turned to straight garbage. I was looking to play Thiago Alves in quite a few spots, then he pulls out making Mike Perry a near must play. Now, Arantes has pulled out, and that hurts my builds because Sanders had a very good chance at being the highest scorer on the card. We are left with 10 fights, and very little value. Really there is almost no value as there are mostly heavy favorites. Therefore, play at your own risk this weekend. I am just going to list plays, and not break them down as Cash, GPP, or Value because this card is really GPP all the way. Read each breakdown to get a feel for how good of a play I think they are.
MIKE PERRY – Perry gets a newcomer that is filling in on 3 days notice. This is about an easy of a play as we can ask for, and if you don’t have him then you are likely to lose. His price tag is $8500 because it hasn’t changed from the original fight that was set, and he is almost guaranteed 100+ points with the 1st round KO that is coming.
Gregor Gillespie – Gillespie is a stud of a wrestler that is starting to put together a boxing game. He gets a very big and long striker in this fight, but Gonzalez struggle to hold distance against grapplers. Even though Gonzalez has shown improvement in his takedown defense, he will be unable to stop the takedowns of the elite wrestling that Gillespie possesses. This will wear down Gonzalez and earn Gillespie a dominating TKO victory. Gillespie is a safe play, and one of my favorite on the card for both his grappling and finishing capability in this fight.
Kamaru Usman – Usman is another fighter with elite wrestling skills, and his athletic ability makes these skills even more scary. His striking game has improved a ton since winning The Ultimate Fighter, and he is one of the hottest prospects in the weight class right now. I don’t love the fact that Moraes is so good with BJJ because this makes the wrestling game a little more scary, but Usman has a good advantage on the feet. I believe Usman can win this fight anywhere it goes, he just can’t get caught with a submission. I really like Usman to win this fight, but due to the submission threat, other fighters in the price range, and the fact that he will be high owned; I will be underweight compared to the field.
Justin Ledet – Ledet is a crisp boxer due to his professional boxing background. It has translated to the UFC pretty well, and his length and speed make it that much tougher for his fellow heavyweights to keep up. Ledet should have no problem staying out of the reach of Anyanwu’s power, and will pick him apart as the fight goes on. For $9100 he needs an early finish, and I’m not convinced that he gets an early enough finish to pay off his price. Ledet does not grapple often, and has a very low output on his feet so if this goes to decision you are looking at 70ish points. He’s safe for the win, but I will have minimal exposure. The one upside…. He will likely be low owned, so if he does score 100+ it could really boost your lineup. Anthony Hamilton – No-one likes to play this guy, and it’s for great reason. He is not very good, and he forgets that he’s a wrestler. Well, I’m going back to the well this weekend because of the fact that no-one likes to play him. Daniel Spitz is not a UFC caliber fighter, so this is should be one of the easiest tests that Hamilton will be gifted. If he sticks to a wrestling based game plan, this will be a dominant performance. If there is an edge to be gained on this card, this is one of the fights that you’ll get it. Give me Hamilton for the low ownership, and I will sit back and close my eyes during the fight hoping I didn’t screw myself.
Gilbert Burns – Burns should easily win this fight as Saggo is mainly a submission grappler. Well, Burns is a multiple time BJJ world champion. On the feet, Burns is better versed and more active. Saggo also lacks flash KO power, and due to his lack of volume, that brings down the KO chances even more. Burns should really control this fight wherever it goes, and earn a fairly easy decision victory. I’m not sure what his ceiling is, but he is fairly safe for a win. Tony Martin – My first value play will be Tony Martin. He comes from a grappling background, but he has really improved his striking and basically outpointed a kickboxer in his last fight. Another problem he used to have was major cardio issues. Well, he has seemingly fixed that problem as well. Martin continues to improve in every facet, and is going up against more of a specialist.
Aubin-Mercier is a very good submission grappler, and is typically stronger than his opponent. OAM will not have a huge strength advantage against Martin, and he will struggle to get the fight to the mat. I think Martin will be smart to keep this standing and win a striking contest, which is how I feel this fight plays out. I will have a lot of Martin, and maybe a hedge share of OAM because of his submission upside.
Anthony Smith – This is a very dangerous pick. I have confidence in one of two outcomes: 1. Lombard catches Smith early and gets the early TKO, 2. Smith weathers the storm, Lombard gasses, and Smith beats him into a late TKO. Both of these outcomes can easily happen. Lombard has huge power, and while he is fresh, is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. Then he gasses, and becomes a low level regional scene type of fighter. Smith has really improved his takedown defense, and has a decent striking game with very good power. His main trait is his toughness. The dude is durable. I’m going to have more shares of Smith in this fight with 1 or 2 Lombard shares sprinkled in, but I do like Smith to weather the early storm and pour it on late.
Uriah Hall – Okay, so this is the pick that I fear the most, but we have to get value somewhere. Hall has been a major disappointment in his UFC career, but he still has some crazy strikes that can lead to flash KOs. Jotko is a slow deliberate fighter, and should probably win this fight. Jotko, however, lacks big power so this could easily go to a decision, and if that happens then we could see a floor of 25-30 points with that 100+ point ceiling. There are not many places to find value on this card, and this is one of the spots that I feel slightly more comfortable in doing so.
Luke Rockhold/David Branch – I’ve saved this for last, and am writing them up together, because this is a stackable fight with the way this card is setup. Both of these guys are great athletes, good grapplers, and very strong for the division. Branch had a terrible first run in the UFC then went on a tear outside of it. He has 1 fight back in the UFC where he won a split decision over Jotko. Branch has a very boring game, but it’s also typically effective. Unfortunately, it does not match up great with Rockhold. Basically, Rockhold is the same fighter, but better in every way. I think Rockhold wins this fight wherever it goes and I could even see a late stoppage. The reason I don’t mind Branch as a play is because it should not end early which gives him a floor of 30ish points for $6900. Rockhold is a great play in any format, and Branch is merely salary relief. In GPPs, don’t stack the fight, and just play each guy by themselves.
FADES: Saggo, Gonzalez, Spitz, Anyanwu