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UFC Fight Night 74: TO THE MAX!

UFC Fight Night 74: TO THE MAX!
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UFC Fight Night 74: TO THE MAX!

Ah, yes. A week off without any fights warms the heart and reminds us to never take violence for granted. This week delivers a promising  main event scrap against two guys who always bring it every fight against anyone. Max Holloway is on a sizzling 6 win streak with all but one by some sort of finish, and he already has 12 UFC fights under his belt…..at 23 years old! “Blessed” finally got his wish from the UFC, as they paired him up with another young gun on a winning streak in Charles Oliveira, currently riding a 4 win streak with 3 of those by way of submission. The deadly BJJ black belt has already made himself know as poison on the ground,  going for wild and unimaginable submission setups that has helped Oliveira notch 12 submission wins of his 20 victories. He also has 13 UFC fights under his belt at 25 years of age! Goodness! The future is indeed bright in the featherweight division with these two young warriors, but what about the rest of the card? A couple of promising light-heavyweights with a penchant for finishing in the 1st round, Erick Silva, Olivier Aubin-Mercier against Tony Sims, and a guy named Misha fill out the rest of the live and free on TV card. Hopefully we all have a great ol’ jolly time watching Jolly get choked out unconscious! Or maybe not? Only one way to find out….

Elias Silverio (-270) vs Shane Campbell (+230)

Elias Silverio recently saw his undefeated 11 fight winning streak vanish into thin air after a 3rd round TKO loss to technical striking beast Rashid Magomedov. He looks to bounce back with an opponent that seems tailor made for Silverio in Shane Campbell. “Shaolin” is also coming off a TKO loss in the 1st round to John Makdessi, much to everyone’s surprise. It was Campbell’s UFC debut, so maybe cage jitters had something to do with it. Nevertheless, both men will come out firing on all cylinders to get back on the winning road.

ELIAS SILVERIO

Strengths
  • A wrestler-striker, Silverio likes to use quick jabs and kicks to set up his take-downs
  • Loves to throw the left hook against pressure and as a counter, will land the occasional headkick/body knee as well
  • Prefers to stay at range and pick apart his opponents as he circles around with jabs and body kicks, not necessarily a counter-striker
  • Changes levels often and shoots for single/double leg take-downs using his strength to power through the attempt
  • Doesn’t make many advances but will use enough ground and pound to continually stay active and rack up sig strikes
Weaknesses
  • Pretty average overall defense, striking technique is sloppy at times especially when he tries to string together combinations – was frustrated by Magomedov’s superior technique and defensive wrestling
  • More on his defense, he often puts his chin high and overextends himself on some punches, especially his hooks, that open up counter windows for his opponents

SHANE CAMPBELL

Strengths
  • Longtime kickboxer with a 62-9 record, also owns a purple belt in BJJ if that matters
  • Throws a high volume of strikes, using the low left leg kick as a combo finisher mixed in with some right straights – likes to batter lead legs and land some accurate body kicks as well
  • Nothing technical or fancy, simply all about volume and pressure – pushes forward to try and break down his opponents purely by putting the heat on them
  • Decent wrestling, good double leg take-down if facing an opponent with less than stellar take-down defense and good out of the clinch
Weaknesses
  • Mediocre striking defense, eats a ton of damage trying to land a counter – Makdessi took advantage of Campbell’s weak defensive efforts
  • Not great off his back, looks lost at times
  • Decent take-down defense versus most opponents of same size, but will struggle versus stronger wrestlers such as Silverio
  • All about volume and power shots, struggles against quicker, more technical strikers – ends up covering up instead of circling out against flurries

This match-up just seems perfect for Silverio as he should be able to overpower Campbell with his take-down attempts and get the fight to the ground. Silverio typically seems to struggle against more technical strikers who can pick apart his sloppy punches and stuff his take-downs, which isn’t really Campbell’s forte. Campbell is all about volume and landing power bomb counters while tenderizing opponents’ lead legs. He’s not really technical and gets hit too often, but he does have a chance to batter around Silverio if he’s able to keep himself upright. I’d like to see better usage of combinations from Silverio and less silly kicks while putting more emphasis on keeping his chin low. Silverio wins this one by beating up Campbell on the ground with GnP, maybe finishes him late?

Silverio via unanimous decision

Chris Beal (-165) vs Chris Kelades (+145)

Battle of the Chrises! Kelades has had a rough start to his UFC career, having to face two of the best prospects in the flyweight division in Paddy Holohan and Ray Borg. Kelades was able to fend off Holohan’s utter domination of a 1st round to pull off the 29-28 decision upset over the Irishman, but was not able to do the same against Ray Borg, submitting to a 1st round kimura. He gets yet another promising prospect in Chris Beal. Poor Kelades. Chris Beal suffered his 1st UFC loss to Neil Seery after gassing out at the end and was unable to stave off the Irishman’s pressure striking. He will look to use his size advantage over Kelades and get back on track. Can he do it? YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.

CHRIS BEAL

Strengths
  • Athletically gifted bantamweight, has the speed and power to give opponents fits
  • Will be the bigger man against Kelades, 2 inch height advantage
  • Not going to land many combinations, but right hand power is legitimate and Beal can land a quick strike from most angles – has a boxing background
  • Mainly a counter-striker which suits him with his speed and power advantage he has over most BWs and his willingness to be aggressive
  • Good, solid wrestling and take-down offense – uses his physical strength to overpower his opponents more than timing and technique
  • Not the greatest at utilizing ground and pound when on top, but it’s still a tool at his disposal
  • Circles out often and helps set himself up for counter-striking opportunities
Weaknesses
  • Hasn’t shown enough mixture of attacks, can be predictable at times
  • Gas tank a little bit of an issue near end of matches, tired out versus Neil Seery
  • Average on his back, sometimes gets himself into bad situations to get submitted
  • Little bit too dependable on his counter-striking, can be inactive at times on the feet despite showing some good aggression and pressure

CHRIS KELADES

Strengths
  • Pulled off a major upset in his UFC debut against Paddy Holohan – on short notice to boot
  • Gritty striker with decent take-downs and opportunistic BJJ game as he owns a purple belt in that regard – 3 of 10 wins by submission
  • Great when he has top control as he knows how to prevent opponents from getting back up and stifling all attempts
  • Feisty striker but doesn’t have real power, just really average all around
Weaknesses
  • Struggles versus take-downs, mediocre scrambling and sprawl ability
  • Doesn’t have a great guard, passive off his back and can be dominated from top
  • Strikes with volume rather than accuracy and timing, can be countered to death

I like Chris Beal. I think he could grow into a top 10 flyweight if he can get more consistent with his attacks and learn some ground and pound. He’s got the physique to be a frustrating match-up against strikers with average/below average take-down defense and the power to blow away the quick hitting flyweights. He’s just not technically there with his boxing and relies on his counter-striking/aggression to land the majority of his strikes. Kelades is as scrappy of a fighter as they come, but he just doesn’t have enough technical striking to overwhelm Beal. I don’t think he’s capable of taking down Beal either, and I could conceivably see Beal knocking out Kelades with a well timed overhand or just dragging him to the mat and slapping Kelades around. I dunno. Take Beal and hope for a knockout.

Beal via unanimous decision

Frankie Perez (-135) vs Sam Stout (+115)

Ah, Sam Stout. Still trying to fight? Even after back to back knockout losses? Sigh. The wily UFC veteran Sam Stout looks to change his career trajectory from being actually old Gray Maynard to….well old BUT NOT ACTUALLY OLD Sam Stout with a win over Frankie Perez. We last saw Perez get curbstomped by LW phenom Johnny Case, in an UFC debut that Perez admitted to not being ready for or interested in fighting. So, can Perez actually be ready to fight old man Stout? I think so! WHY, YOU SAY? WELL BECAUSE……

FRANKIE PEREZ

Strengths
  • Quick and effective striker, uses fundamentals to set up his combinations, usually likes to stay at range with leg kicks and using jab to set up overhands
  • Prefers to go for clinch take-downs, using a wide array of trips
  • Makes decent amount of passes and sets up submissions, not much GnP and doesn’t use heavy top control
Weaknesses
  • Not very strong for his weight class, struggles versus bigger guys like Johnny Case
  • Mediocre take-down defense and seems to get stuck up the cage if it ends up there
  • Fundamental striking means he isn’t going to blow you away with counters or be a real knockout threat

SAM STOUT

Strengths
  • Long time UFC veteran who loves being involved in brawls
  • Powerful hooks and goes for the power bomb on most of his combinations, frenetic fight style with plenty of low kicks
  • Decent wrestling but nothing to write home about
  • Can push the pace and make it a high energy fight, back in the day his chin was pretty sturdy which complemented his striking style
Weaknesses
  • Age and frenetic fighting style has caught up to Stout’s chin, not what it was before and now has suffered back to back knockout losses after never being knocked out beforehand
  • Still has all the defensive incidences from his olden days, which obviously isn’t a good thing now with a deteriorated chin
  • Mediocre take-down defense, and I also suspect maybe his cardio isn’t too great either

Just another whatever fight to me, but at least Sam Stout can actually get a win this time around. Perez isn’t a strong wrestler or a powerful striker, so I don’t think Stout’s chin issues should be an issue. It’ll likely come down to whether or not Perez can utilize his trip take-downs to his advantage against the wild swinging Stout. It’s pretty close but I think Stout should be able to squeak by Perez.

Stout via unanimous decision

Marcos Rogerio De Lima (-145) vs Nikita Krylov (+125)

Wooooooooo! Someone’s gonna leave the cage unconscious after the fight! Marcos Rogerio De Lima, or “Pezao” as he is better known as, He was a fight away from fighting in the finals against Vitor Miranda on TUF Brazil, but Antonio Carlos Jr had something to say about that. His next two fights? 2 1st round knockouts. Pezao faces off against a very, very intriguing fighter in “Al Capone” Nikita Krylov, who has finished every single one of his opponents in all of his wins (18!). Krylov is an enigma of sorts, a crazy and aggressive Karate fighter with legitimate power and quickness, but has shown he can be prone to boneheaded moves inside the octagon as far as fight IQ goes. If he can be more consistent and be more aware of what he’s doing in the cage, he will be a legitimate contender in a thin LHW division. Oh, did I mention that he’s only 23? YEAH.

MARCOS ROGERIO DE LIMA

Strengths
  • Big light-heavyweight at 6’2 with 75 inch reach, tremendous power in his hands as he owns 10 of his 13 victories by KO/TKO and 2 others by submission
  • Keeps hands tight to his body, likes to to be a counter-striker with heavy hitting straights and power hooks
  • Lands a ton of hard leg kicks at any range, even if he misses with a punch
  • Can be a load if he pushes his opponents up the cage and gets in some dirty boxing
  • Decent circling out ability when in middle of octagon and not threatened
Weaknesses
  • Weak take-down defense, can get his punches telegraphed into a take-down
  • Mediocre off his back, doesn’t seem to stop most guard pass attempts
  • Tends to not keep head on a swivel, not necessarily keeps chin high but his head movement can be pretty minimal at best which diminishes his striking defense
  • Gas tank issues at end of fights if gets taken down over and over

NIKITA KRYLOV

Strengths
  • Black belt in Kyokushin Karate, several Master of Sport titles – lanky LHW at 6’3 with 77.5 inch reach
  • All 18 of his wins by KO/TKO/Submission, and he’s only 23!
  • Likes to use a lead jab/left hook as he pushes inside, right straight mostly as a counter-poke
  • Loves to land plethora of kicks, from low side kicks, body kicks, and quickly switching from body to headkicks at an instant – very good at landing high amount of kicks at a high accuracy clip
  • Decent take-downs, mostly body-lock take-downs and the occasional single leg
  • Aggressive with his top control, goes for every submission imaginable- will even go for heel hooks from top
  • Loves to get into the clinch and rain down knees and uppercuts
Weaknesses
  • Laughably bad on his back, even got Von Flue’d by Ovince St. Preux which he brought upon himself by not letting go of the guillotine choke when OSP was in side control – 3 of 4 losses by submission
  • No take-down defense of note, just wants to fight his enemies head on and break their spines – can get GnP’d to death
  • While he can circle out and has some foot movement, he doesn’t really have a sense of striking defense and gets hit wayyyyyyy too much despite being able to land accurate kicks

Both men have an affinity in getting the finish early, with 28 total combined finishes between the two. Krylov is an expert with his kicks and will go for the crazy angle whenever he feels like it, but does have a pretty strong right straight that he doesn’t use enough times. Pezao is more technically sound and could destroy Krylov’s legs to the point where Krylov might end up having to depend on his boxing. Krylov’s defensive incidences may spell doom for the young killer as Pezao has some powerful bricks for hands, but since neither guy will likely go for the take-down (maybe Krylov), it’s really a toss up of who can get the most damaging shots in first. Maybe Krylov takes Pezao down and gets in a quick submission win as he’s pretty good in top control when given the chance, but it’s probably a stand-up war. AL CAPONE VS BIGFOOT (that’s what Pezao means)!!!!!!!!!!

Krylov via 1st round submission

Felipe Arantes (-200) vs Yves Jabouin (+170)

A pair of guys looking to stay employed in the UFC! Arantes fights hard, has an iron chin, and some sneaky good jiu-jitsu. Jabouin…..well, he’s got side kicks! No, not sidekicks, SIDE KICKS! Ugh, scroll down already.

FELIPE ARANTES

Strengths
  • Black belt in Muay Thai, brown belt in BJJ with 7 KO/TKO and 4 submission wins out of his 16 Ws
  • Heavy handed right overhands and left hooks with multiple body kicks mixed in, a willing brawler
  • At range striker, I’d say he switches between the aggressor and a counter-striker, but seems most comfortable in a counter-striking role as his looping hooks can land from afar
  • Has one hell of a chin, no one’s gonna knock him out and if they do…..they’ve earned it
  • Mostly goes for double leg/bodylock take-downs if he needs to, ground and pounds it out in full guard and goes for passes if in side control/other positions
  • Submission skills mostly on display from a dominant position such as full/back mount, otherwise he doesn’t really set up anything – does have a solid active guard that helps Arantes pull off several sweeps and reverses
Weaknesses
  • Struggles against pressure fighters as Arantes tends to just land random overhands instead of paying attention and staying composed – chin saved Arantes from a 1st round blowout against Andre Fili’s pressure
  • Really no take-down defense at all, doesn’t use any underhooks or sprawls, relies on using his guard to escape/reverse positions
  • Can overextend himself on some combinations which opens Arantes up to follow-up counter-straights/overhands

YVES JABOUIN

Strengths
  • Shifty striker who likes to use a wide stance and constantly moves left to right
  • Trains out of great MMA camp TriStar, very similar fighting style as John Makdessi – a teammate of his
  • Has a good jab/left hook and a side kick that generally stymies opponents from rushing inside recklessly – lands headkick with same set up as his side kicks
  • Counter-right hand can knock out opponents if timed well, otherwise you won’t see it much – 11 of 20 wins by KO/TKO
  • Jabouin showed off his take-down offense against Mike Easton, so I guess he could do that sometimes, but probably not
Weaknesses
  • While Jabouin tries his best to be a shifty fighter by ducking under punches and sliding left to right, he doesn’t seem capable of timing the duck well enough to actually avoid getting hit
  • Chin is very questionable, big striking windows given up by Jabouin due to his preference to duck under instead of covering up – 5 of 10 losses by knockout and 3 more by submission
  • Average take-down defense and pretty bad off his back
  • Side kick can be telegraphed which also led to some knockout losses for Jabouin

I just don’t think Jabouin belongs in the UFC just yet. He’s got all the tools and the shiftiness to be a frustrating/effective fighter, but his chin and strange head movement has been a deterrent for him rather than as an aid. Arantes may not be as polished as his fancy black belt in Muay Thai may say on paper, but he’s got enough weapons at his disposal, power in his hands, and some decent take-down offense to be able to take over the fight. Jabouin could pull off the Mike Easton plan to a T and lay’n’pray Arantes for the full 3 rounds much to the chagrin of the crowd, but I doubt that happens. Take Arantes with confidence and hope he can get the knockout/submission before it goes to the judges.

Arantes via 1st round KO

Daniel Jolly (+400) vs Misha Cirkunov (-500)

Hey, a legitimate LHW prospect! Finally! Haven’t seen one of those since Patrick Cummins, and we didn’t even know he was one till after Cormier blasted him away in the 1st round! Cirkunov was originally supposed to fight Sean O’Connell (which would have ended in a quick 1st round sub for Cirkunov anyways), and instead gets a newcomer in Daniel Jolly on less than 2 weeks notice. Jolly’s nickname is “The Werewolf of Texas”. Scaryyyyyyyyy!!!! The undefeated LHW propsect-ish will be looking to get the massive upset over Cirkunov, but can he do it? Probably not. Why? BECAUSE.

DANIEL JOLLY

Strengths
  • Has one of the best nicknames in MMA – The Werewolf of Texas
  • Undefeated 5-0 record with 3 finishes
  • Powerful overhands but mainly uses an assortment of kicks as his striking offense – hard low kicks, surprisingly fast headkicks and some liver kicks
  • Last fight showcased good ability to change levels and notch some double leg take-downs/power blasts but not much else
Weaknesses
  • He’s only got 5 fights under his belt and most of those were over before it began and against pretty mediocre competition so hard to tell true strengths/weaknesses
  • Take-down defense is unknown as no one really tried to take him down
  • Average gas tank, the only 2 fights that went past the distance Jolly seemed pretty gassed in the end
  • Last fight showed that Jolly may struggle against pressure as Foster did hit Jolly a few times with looping hooks and overhands before getting taken down

MISHA CIRKUNOV

Strengths
  • Big, tall light-heavyweight at 6’4 with great power and fantastic grappling skills that is the highlight of his game – 7 of 9 wins by TKO/Submission and will have 3 inches of height on Jolly
  • Not as skilled standing as his grappling, but has quick and effective jab/straight combination, landed a devastating headkick against Rodney Wallace so he has that kind of ability
  • What you need to know about Cirkunov is his grappling/clinch work and judo background – fantastic array of take-downs from clinch including the famed suplexes that all Russians seem to love using (even though he’s Latvian and trains in Canada….BUT I DIGRESS)
  • On the ground Cirkunov seems to make passes effortlessly despite his own aggressiveness in hunting for the submission – I even saw a standing arm triangle attempt that he turned into a take-down and ended his opponent with brutal GnP
  • Speaking of GnP, he’s very much like Mirsad Bektic in his usage of dehumanizing ground and pound as he swiftly moves through his opponents’ guard which makes Cirkunov as dangerous as they come on the ground
Weaknesses
  • Can be overly aggressive on the ground (for good reason but still) and gets caught into submissions – 2 career losses by submission
  • Stand-up isn’t quite as polished as some would like and seems to rely on overhands, but I think Cirkunov has enough fight IQ to overcome that and still be a great fighter for the LHW division

I’m sure some of you guys will be cheering for Daniel Jolly to win just off his nickname. I mean, Werewolf of Texas? That’s awesome. Cirkunov is a legitimate prospect though, and with Jolly taking the fight on less than 2 weeks notice and against a really, really good grappler, it’s not looking so good for the Werewolf. Jolly has shown some promising kicking ability in the 1st round and definitely packs enough power to put away anyone, but this is too fast, too soon for Jolly and against a real opponent. Cirkunov shows Jolly the power of Mother Russia Latvia and ends it in the 1st round by some sort of submission.

Cirkunov via 1st round armbar

Maryna Moroz (-190) vs Valerie Letourneau (+165)

Coming off a fantastic upset win over a legit fighter in Joanna Calderwood, Maryna Moroz looks to continue padding her undefeated record as she faces off against Valerie Letourneau. We last saw Letourneau pull off a tight victory over Jessica Rakoczy, albeit in a fight that should have been over in the 1st had Letourneau realized Rakoczy’s weaknesses on the ground which she found out about 2 rounds too late. Still, she can’t afford to take the “Iron Woman” lightly as Moroz has some legitimate talent for a young prospect. This might just turn into a fun brawl!

MARYNA MOROZ

Strengths
  • Undefeated at 6-0 with all but 1 finish by submission, but don’t be fooled – Moroz is a good boxer in her own right
  • Powerful 1-2 combinations, likes to land the heavy overhand right when in close proximity and doesn’t start landing flurries until she’s close enough to do so
  • Prefers to stay at range and let her opponents come to her before Moroz dictates the pace, sort of like a trained assassin
  • Throws the occasional headkick as a surprise attack, while it may not be effective at times it’s still a good change of pace
  • 5 of 6 wins by armbar, so obviously that’s her go to submission on the ground – went for a flying armbar on Joanna Calderwood and got it
Weaknesses
  • Before her UFC debut against Joanna Calderwood, there were limited fight videos on Moroz, so only really going on what I could find + the Calderwood fight
  • While her boxing is good and all, she does leave her chin high and can be a little slow at times – thought it’d be an issue versus Calderwood but she took Calderwood to the shed standing
  • Noticed she may struggle against body kicks which Letourneau does employ often

VALERIE LETOURNEAU

Strengths
  • A little bigger than usual for a strawweight as she’s usually fought at 135 pounds
  • Loves to throw the left hook especially as a counter, lands occasional body kick that helps sets up more combinations
  • Stays at range and uses her length to pick apart her opponents with quick jab/straight successions, can pile on the sig strikes
  • Surprisingly good on the ground with some nice submission set ups and good usage of trip take-downs
  • When she gets into a rhythm and finds her range, her jab combinations can start to add up – landed 104 sig against Elizabeth Phillips
Weaknesses
  • Weight cut may be too harsh for Letourneau, looked very drawn out and drained during weigh ins her last fight
  • Doesn’t use her take-downs enough when the match-up is advantageous for her to take it to the ground
  • I feel like I say this about almost every strawweight/bantamweight, but majority of those fighters seem to leave their chin high and get hit way too much

While Moroz’s upset victory over Calderwood was impressive in every aspect including how she dominated Calderwood with her boxing, it’s still limited exposure on Moroz’s abilities and how she really fights/reacts. I’ve seen enough out of Letourneau to know her strengths and weaknesses, and she should be the bigger/rangier striker of the two, which should help her keep away from Moroz’s power shots. I have a sneaking feeling that Moroz’s submission skills is much better than I anticipate, so maybe Moroz notches a take-down and lands that favorite submission of hers. THE ARMBAR! Still, as long as her weight cut isn’t too bad, Letourneau might be able to land 100+ sig strikes again and keep the Iron Woman away from her chin. Upset special!

Letourneau via unanimous decision – EDIT BELOW

EDIT – After the UFC FN 74 Weigh ins, Letourneau looked pretty bad and drawn out on the scale and ended up being a pound over. That’s not good for her health-wise and match-up wise, as Moroz didn’t seem at a big size disadvantage + looked fresh. So, I will go with Moroz by a 2nd round submission instead. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was still a 3 round war with the edge going to Moroz. – 2ToN

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-245) vs Tony Sims (+205)

Tony Sims will be stepping in for Chris Wade on a couple weeks’ notice, and while Sims isn’t an easy fighter to face, Chris Wade was a tougher match-up for OAM more than Sims is. Olivier Aubin-Mercier is a promising lightweight with plenty of potential with his judo/submission skills and an improving stand-up game. Tony Sims is coming off a fantastic 1st round knockout over Steve Montgomery that proved in my opinion that he’s a legitimate prospect to keep an eye on. Oh, not to mention that was at welterweight which wasn’t even his natural weight! It’s lightweight you dummies. Sims has some great power boxing and an underrated guard that could give OAM some trouble if it does go to the ground. Prospectssssssssss!!!

OLIVIER AUBIN-MERCIER

Strengths
  • Black belt in Judo, brown belt in BJJ, and blue belt in Taekwondo
  • Improved stand-up to the point that it’s no longer considered a weakness – fights out of southpaw stance
  • Likes to use a wide stance and utilize the body kicks to set up left straights, moving away from being a counter-striker to a combination guy
  • Crux of OAM’s game is his groundwork, set up by his strong double leg take-downs and clinch throws
  • Deadly on the ground with well timed passes and constantly looks for submission opportunities
  • Forces opponents to have to defend all passes rather than sitting back and allowing them to climb back up on the feet
Weaknesses
  • While stand-up has improved over the last couple fights, it’s still a continuing work in progress and someone of Sims’ extensive boxing background may be able to overwhelm OAM standing
  • Can sometimes stay in one dominant position too long waiting for his submission opportunities rather than forcing the issue and capitalizing on his opponents’ mistakes
  • Struggles a little bit against pressure fighters, needs space to operate for his stand-up game to be effective

TONY SIMS

Strengths
  • Long time amateur boxer with all 12 of his wins by some sort of finish, mostly by KO/TKO
  • Fast, powerful boxing primarily out of southpaw stance but shows willingness to switch stances if necessary
  • Throws high volume of power shots, doesn’t really set his punches up – mostly relies on accuracy and pressure
  • Fantastic hooks and uppercuts, precision and accuracy name of his game with his boxing
  • Decent wrestling, mostly going for double leg take-downs when threatened or when cutting off the cage, good top control with GnP usage
  • Underrated guard, not clueless off his back and knows how to set up submissions especially the triangle
Weaknesses
  • Relatively unknown up to this point, has basically destroyed most of his opponents – closest one I could see was vs Dober and he broke his hand in that fight
  • Even though I said his guard is underrated, that’s against lesser competition in comparison to those in the UFC, so still a possible question mark
  • Doesn’t use jabs and even though his accuracy is pretty damn good, someone like OAM who could in theory be able to keep Sims at a range with body kicks and jabs could frustrate Sims and force a lunging attempt
  • Take-down defense seems okay enough but Dober was able to take him down a couple times, OAM is better than Dober as far as take-down offense goes

When I first watched Tony Sims in preparation for his fight against Steve Montgomery, I was fairly impressed. He has real power in his hands and an accuracy that not many boxers show enough of throughout their career. I also was surprised by his ground IQ and active guard, which makes me think Sims may give OAM a tougher test than most may realize. OAM has improved his standing to the point where he actually feels comfortable keeping it on the feet and waiting to pounce on a take-down opportunity. OAM has more tools up his sleeve and may be able to power through a take-down and test Sims’ guard. Can he finish the fight? Certainly, as could Sims with a power left. Tough one here in my opinion but gotta go with the guy training under a full camp and has the better take-downs/ground game.

OAM via 3rd round RNC

Chad Laprise (-360) vs Francisco Trinaldo (+300)

Chad Laprise won TUF: Nations over Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Francisco Trinaldo is a big guy. Yeah….whatever. Mediocre fight.

CHAD LAPRISE

Strengths
  • Quick and effective jab/straight combinations with well timed leg kicks to keep his distance away from opponents
  • Great fight IQ, knows which angles to take and when to time for a take-down attempt – never seems to put himself in a bad position
  • Strong wrestling and take-downs, doesn’t abuse it and is smart about his usage – power blasts, single and double leg take-downs, and trips from clinch lead the way
  • Stifling top control with decent GnP but not much else
  • Good overall movement, great footwork on his jab combinations
Weaknesses
  • Seemed to gas out at the end in his last fight and starting getting sloppy with his technique which opened himself up to damaging blows
  • Not dynamic on the ground to be a real threat with either GnP or submissions, so for fantasy purposes he’s limited in that area as far as finishing ability

FRANCISCO TRINALDO

Strengths
  • Black belt in BJJ
  • Big, hulking lightweight with real power in his hands
  • Throws a ton of power bombs in the 1st round, looks for the knockout early and often – spams the power hooks quite often
  • Strong top control and good submission ability if he feels like it but mediocre take-down offense makes it difficult for Trinaldo to put his jiu-jitsu skills to the test
  • Seemed to have added more combinations and improved stand-up versus Norman Parke, but I wouldn’t bet on that version of Trinaldo showing up against Laprise
Weaknesses
  • Shoddy cardio after the 1st round, gas tank gets emptied early often which renders Trinaldo into a punching bag for some opponents
  • Sloppy stand-up that’s all about power and leaves giant holes in his stand-up
  • While Trinaldo is no doubt a dangerous man on the ground, he often chooses to stay in one position rather than advance and ends up making it a “boring” fight

Realistically, this is Laprise’s fight to lose. He is much better than Trinaldo on the feet with his sound fundamentals and crisp jab combinations that should allow Laprise to avoid Trinaldo’s power bombs. He’s also a better wrestler and should be able to fend off any take-down attempts that may come from Trinaldo. Couple that with Trinaldo’s terrible cardio and it looks like Laprise may end up being fantasy relevant if he can land over 70+ sig strikes with his jabs and quick little leg kicks. Who knows though, Laprise may just end up holding/taking down Trinaldo in an effort to gas him out even faster. Still, should be all Laprise anyways.

Laprise via unanimous decision

Josh Burkman (-135) vs Patrick Cote (+115)

“The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman looks to end his 2 fight losing skid against tough out Patrick Cote. Um, whatever. I don’t really have anything to say about these guys. Burkman looks like Pornstache from Orange is the new Black. Cote is a handsome man with a chin made out of steel. Yeah, I’m comfortable with my sexuality. Are you?

JOSH BURKMAN

Strengths
  • Been around the MMA game for a long time, has fought in the UFC before
  • Wild, unpredictable fighting style that’s based on Burkman staying back near the cage and trying to land a counter-strike
  • The kind of strikes he throws are random, from spinning kicks, elbows, an overhand or two, or several body kicks at once as he switches stances
  • Take-down defense is mostly using the cage as an advantage, makes it difficult to get Burkman down to the ground since he uses his back as leverage up the cage
  • Not much wrestling, really just a random as hell striker with a surprisingly active guard and a good guillotine choke – has 10 submission victories
Weaknesses
  • Nothing special or remarkable about his stand-up, gets beat to the punch by better overall strikers, not even just technically sound strikers but anyone who actually use combinations
  • Get Burkman away from the cage and there goes his take-down defense, can be taken down at will by stronger guys
  • While Burkman is coy with his guard and can be a little dangerous tangling with on the ground, as long as Burkman is unable to get back up quickly he can get his face bashed in by GnP guys

PATRICK COTE

Strengths
  • Strong for a welterweight, has fought at middleweight before
  • Won’t surprise you or wow you with any fancy combinations, gritty fighter who looks to land his power right hand
  • Solid wrestling that Cote seems to want to utilize more as of late, determined to land that double leg take-down
  • Goes for the GnP on the ground and will advance if needed but is comfortable staying heavy on top
  • Has a pretty sturdy chin, only has been hurt once in recent history and that was to the phenom in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson
Weaknesses
  • He’s just really average everywhere, other than MAYBE his right hand power which if given the chance can crack anyone’s chin – that goes for his overall defense as well including take-down defense
  • Nothing great on the ground, not a real threat for submissions
  • I suspect his cardio is dwindling as Cotes gets older, which makes his renewed passion for wrestling all the more interesting

Look, this is probably going to be pretty awful to watch if Cote goes to his wrestling roots early. If he doesn’t and it ends up being a back and forth striking affair, then anything goes. Both guys are just average fighters who keep getting older but not improving themselves. The loser likely gets cut and possibly retires, so there’s some pride involved in the fight. Cote has better wrestling and a pretty strong right hand, and while Burkman can be unpredictable at times, I just don’t think he merits any consideration due to his bad fight IQ and mediocre take-down defense away from the cage. Cote may be on the downhill of his career and has been for some time, but he’s still better than Burkman.

Cote via unanimous decision

Erick Silva (-170) vs Neil Magny (+150)

Neil Magny will be stepping in on a couple week’s notice for Rick Story against the enigmatic Erick Silva. Why is Silva enigmatic? Well, for one, he’s an absolute killer in the 1st round and has all the tools to be a dominant contender for years to come, but after the 1st round? Not so much. Two, his chin doesn’t seem to hold up long enough for Silva to continue his wrecking ball fighting style against everyone. Three….hmm, I can’t think of a third reason. Oh well, Magny gets yet another tough test after Demian Maia took him to school with his jiu-jitsu. Hyun Gyu Lim is a similar fighter to Erick Silva in some ways, so this might spell doom for the rangy Magny. Heh, that almost rhymed. SCROLL DOWN!

ERICK SILVA

Strengths
  • Extremely aggressive and fast paced southpaw striker, majority of his wins are over in the 1st round
  • Wide array of attacks that can be landed by Silva with good mixture but seems to like using body kicks and trying to land his speedy but power left straight
  • Also fantastic on the ground with his BJJ black belt, aggressive in hunting for submissions
  • Take-down offense could use some work but his pressure generally helps Silva notch a take-down or two – was able to take down Jon Fitch which is pretty good
  • Can be incredibly unpredictable standing to the point where he’s just such a dangerous opponent to face in the 1st round if caught off guard by his aggression
Weaknesses
  • Has a pretty bad gas tank that always seems to get emptied in the 1st round so if it goes past the 1st then everything goes out of the window
  • Also has a very questionable chin that’s been exposed in some fights and derailed his hype train some
  • More to the point of his gas tank, he will gas out even with a dominant position for most of the 1st round – see his back mount versus Matt Brown that somehow completely gassed him out for the Brown comeback victory

NEIL MAGNY

Strengths
  • 6’3” with a 80 inch reach, tops in the division and Magny knows it
  • Has an excellent jab that he uses profusely, likes to be a long range striker with some stance switching and good usage of long attacks
  • Good defensive wrestling and scrambling ability also an assist to his long range striking style
  • Uses length and movement in addition to proper timing combos to frustrate opponents
  • Brown belt in BJJ and it shows whenever he gets top control or nabs a take-down versus lesser grapplers
  • Has heart and will even in dangerous situations, has had several comeback wins
Weaknesses
  • When he faced someone who was just as tall and long as Magny in Hyun Gyu Lim, he struggled to stay away from the power punches and almost got wiped out in the 1st round – also couldn’t stay away from Lim’s pressure
  • Isn’t very good off his back as he tends to try and scramble back up while giving up his back – not a good idea against better grapplers
  • Against guys who could overpower him on the ground with their passes and usage of top control, Magny struggled to defend passes and submission attempts – Moraes was able to submit him from mount and Maia completely dominated him on the ground

Poor Neil Magny. Riding a 7 fight winning streak and looking like a changed man, then he meets Maia after narrowly escaping death versus Lim. Now he gets to fight an angry Erick Silva on short notice? Poor, poor Petree. If Magny somehow survives the 1st round and Silva’s incoming onslaught, he just might be able to squeak out a 29-28 decision win if Silva’s gas issue woes continues to plague him. Still, I don’t think Magny’s good enough to stay away from Silva’s attacks especially once that piranha smells blood in the octagon.

Silva via 1st round knockout

Charles Oliveira (+200) vs Max Holloway (-240)

Such a great, great main event that the UFC served up on a platter for us! A technical beast of a striker versus possibly the deadliest submission hunter! This will be by far Holloway’s biggest test at featherweight (no, I’m not counting the McGregor fight as both men were injured in that fight), and possibly Oliveira’s toughest test to date due to the stylistic match-ups of the fight. Who has the advantage? Will Max be “Blessed” or will the submission skills of Charles “Du Bronx” end his winning streak and derail the Holloway hype train?

CHARLES OLIVEIRA

Strengths
  • Black belt in BJJ and has proven himself to be the most dangerous guy to tangle with on the ground in the division – 12 of 20 wins by submission and 6 others by KO/TKO
  • Has one of the better reach advantages in the division with a 74 inch reach
  • Improved striking over the years as he’s grown and matured, likes to use leg kicks in most combinations and has added the 1-2 combo more and more lately
  • While Oliveira isn’t a slouch standing, what he really wants to do is get the fight to the ground ASAP and he’s got the take-down offense to do it
  • Great out of the clinch with hip tosses, leg trips, changing levels for the double leg take-down, or just pulling guard
  • Goes for insane submission attempts and contorts himself into a pretzel in order to land whatever the hell he wants – no situation is impossible for him to get into/out of
  • While he can make plenty of passes and advances through guards with no issue, he’s mostly looking for a choke rather than a particular dominant position which makes him all that more dangerous no matter how much time is left
Weaknesses
  • Questionable chin but seems to have gotten better lately as Oliveira has tightened up his striking defense
  • He does put himself in perilous situations that maybe a better fighter could be able to take advantage of, but so far no one has been able to capitalize on Oliveira’s kamikaze style submission game
  • Striking has definitely improved, but Holloway is as technical as they come and doesn’t succumb to pressure + has pretty good take-down defense, could be at a big disadvantage on the feet especially if Holloway starts to land his usual flurries

MAX HOLLOWAY

Strengths
  • Long and lanky featherweight at 5’11 with a 70 inch reach and long legs that Holloway excels at using to stay at range
  • Heavy on using combinations, never uses the one punch/kick routine
  • Very technical and fast boxing, utilizes jabs and low kicks to stay at range and pick apart his opponents, never seems to make a mistake standing
  • Adept at landing a plethora of kicks if allowed space to do so, lands spinning body kicks and random headkicks when he starts feeling it and gets into a rhythm
  • Excels at landing the body punch that many strikers seem to ignore using it as a tool
  • High volume oriented striking also helps Holloway’s fantasy prospects as he can land copious amount of sig strikes – remember this is 5 rounds!
  • May be a blue belt in BJJ but man if he gets a chance to be on top on the ground, he’s just as deadly as a black belt with plenty of nasty choke holds and other submission attempts – won’t go for the take-down though
  • Great defensive wrestling and just overall defense, very difficult to hurt Holloway both standing and on take-downs – he’s usually ready for everything and seems to find counters quickly
  • Also has great scrambling and sprawling ability, very difficult fighter to take down and keep to the ground
  • Here are Holloway’s sig strike numbers in some of his 12 UFC fights…. – 82 sig and a 3rd round finish vs Swanson, 31 sig and a 1st round finish against Corassani, 124 sig against Collard, 74 sig and a 2nd round finish against Chope, 75 sig in a loss vs Bermudez, 120 sig against Garcia, and 118 sig against Schilling
  • YEAH THAT’S ALOT OF SIG STRIKES!!!!!!!!!!
Weaknesses
  • Very few holes in his game but if I had to think of one, it would possibly be that he’s not that great off his back even though he’s got a serviceable guard
  • May struggle versus bigger/stronger wrestlers as he did versus Dennis Bermudez, but that was long ago and he’s improved tremendously in every department
  • Same thing goes for his submission loss to Dustin Poirier in his 1st UFC fight, Oliveira is as deadly as they come on the ground though

I absolutely love this fight, and the fact that it’s a main event makes me love it EVEN more! Max Holloway has been sizzling as of late, and his complete dominance over Cub Swanson really gave his rising star some legitimacy. His technical prowess and crisp, clean but quick and high volume oriented boxing is a beautiful thing to watch. Charles Oliveira isn’t as good standing as Holloway is, but his submission skills and take-down offense is tops in the UFC, not just the division alone. It really truly is a striker vs wrestler (sorta) match-up that I have no idea wins outright. Oliveira is capable of landing a quick take-down at anytime during the fight then ending it with a submission of his own as he really is poison on the ground. Holloway is also capable of shutting everything about Oliveira’s fight game down and annihilate him standing with flurries of punches and kicks. Five rounds to decide who is the best rising phenom of the division? WHO WILL WIN?????? TO THEEEEEE MAX!!!!!

Holloway via unanimous decision

OOOOOOOOH YEAH!!!!!! Some nice PPV cards coming up soon including a loaded UFC 192 card! Yeah, I’m ignoring UFC 191 cuz well….Demetrious Johnson! Be sure to tune in to FS1 to watch two of the brightest stars in the UFC square off in the main event! MAX! CHARLES! BLESSED! DU BRONX! WOOOOOOOOOO!!!

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