Kountermove Fantasy MMA Preview for UFC’s Triple Fight Week
With over 60 fighters competing in the UFC this week on three separate nights of fights in Las Vegas, MMA fans have a lot to take in! We could imagine that it’s the longest undercard ever for the ultimate marquee matchup between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo in the final fight of UFC 194. But remember that it’s really three separate events with different objectives, and the first two fight cards are scheduled for a small venue at The Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan, requiring the use of the small UFC cage.
Fantasy players have tons of fighters to choose from this weekend, so let’s consider some of the best value plays on each card, and look to see where the salaries might be too steep for your squad.
Fight Night 80
Aljamain Sterling would be the biggest betting favorite on the Fight Night 80 card were it not for the addition of the buzz-generating prospect Sage Northcutt. But despite heavy favorite status, Sterling is still an affordable $5,300. Sterling’s wrestling is the key differentiator: he’s spent 91% of his ground time in control of opponents, while his opponent Santos has been in control for just 3%. Add in an 11-year Youth Advantage for Sterling and he makes a safe pick to post a win.
Mike Chiesa makes for a sneaky value pick at just $4,700, and he’s priced below his opponent Jim Miller. Miller is no doubt the more experienced veteran who has faced more top talent, but Chiesa makes for a tough out for anyone. Chiesa is huge for a Lightweight and will be the busier and more durable striker, but also has solid takedown defense to stay away from Miller’s dangerous submission game.
Rose Namajunas is an underdog priced like a favorite. It’s hard not to like this tiny, scrappy “Thug,” but this matchup seems like a tossup between a skilled technical fighter in Rose versus a higher-volume grinder in Paige VanZant. This fight really could go either way, and that makes the $5,300 price tag for Namajunas unaffordable given the risk that she gets out-wrestled. Though you may have to pass on drafting one these girls to your squad, the fight itself is not to be missed.
TUF 22 Finale
Heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga is a double-threat finisher, in a division of finishers.The fight could be over in a flash, and Gonzaga is not without risk (as any Heavyweight fight is always one punch away from an upset). But at just $5,000, Gonzaga could deliver big points with an early finish against the brute of an opponent, Konstantin Erokhin. Playing Gonzaga is relying on superior experience to overcome.
Ryan LaFlare has looked great against solid opponents, and only fell short in one UFC appearance against arguably one of the best grapplers in the sport, Demian Maia. While LaFlare stacks up quite evenly on paper with Mike Pierce, and there are big unknowns about Pierce’s conditioning, LaFlare is still at risk if he ends up on his back as he did against Maia. Pierce is a tough grinder, but age and two years of ring rust make an otherwise close matchup lean back towards LaFlare. At just $4,900, LaFlare should still post a win and give you salary cap room for other favorites.
Chad Mendes is typically a massive favorite whenever he’s not in a title fight. But against Frankie Edgar in the main event of the Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale card, Mendes is the slight underdog, and it’s not hard to see why. Both men are excellent wrestlers, but Edgar has demonstrated more effective striking, and has looked his best since dropping to Featherweight. In fact, Edgar was always undersized at Lightweight, but with a 6-inch reach advantage over Mendes, this will be the biggest reach advantage Edgar has ever had over an opponent. If the wrestling defense between them negates takedowns, expect these two guys to box it out. Mendes is certainly a threat with his power, but Edgar should get the edge in rounds and could emerge as the new number one contender and a front row seat for UFC 194’s main event.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has evolved to be more than one of the most dangerous submission grapplers in MMA, he has now developed a solid standup game. Against Yoel Romero, there will be no shortage of exchanges and violence, but Souza’s double-threat fighting style should threaten a finish at some point, one way or the other. At $5,000, Souza is rarely priced so low, so grab him while you can.
Gunnar Nelson is barely a pick ‘em underdog against the elite grappler Demian Maia, but you wouldn’t know it with his bargain price tag of $4,700. Nelson’s grappling is solid, but he also has a striking base that is a threat to Maia’s need to get the fight to the ground. Nelson is a very reserved striker, but pinpoint accurate. If Maia forces takedown attempts from a distance, as he is prone to doing, Nelson could make him pay dearly on the way in.
Conor McGregor’s stock has never been higher entering his title unification matchup against Jose Aldo as an unprecedented betting favorite over the incumbent champ. And while McGregor’s striking stats are certainly impressive, Aldo has succeeded against the best in the business for a very long time. At $5,400, banking on McGregor to continue his TKO streak against far-and-away the most talented striker he’s faced yet is just too much of a long shot. Aldo is a great technical striker, and an important factor in that is his excellent strike defense. Being hard to hit has contributed the fact that Aldo now has the longest average fight duration in UFC history. No matter how much ill will there is between them, it would be surprising to see this fight end quickly on either side.
Disagree? Good! Head over to Kountermove, scope out this weekend’s games, and pick your roster!