UFC 193 Kountermove Fantasy Preview
The two female champions competing atop this weekend’s UFC 193 card are tied neck and neck as -2000 betting favorites heading into the final days of fight week. Surely those lines could tighten up at the books after weigh-ins, but parlay action could still keep them as monster favorites. That means either woman could set a new record for the biggest favorite in UFC history.
Sure, they’ll probably both successfully defend their belts, but do Rousey and Jedrzejczyk belong on your fantasy squad this weekend? That’s a tougher call, as big betting favorites make for pricey players, and that affects the rest of your roster.
In fantasy MMA there’s no more valuable a rule than “bang for your buck.” Fighters who manage to score lots of knockouts or submissions normally come at a premium, so the trick is to hunt for finishing potential in fighters that are reasonably priced. To rack up big points, you need winners and finishers.
The other helpful factor is the betting line, because heavy favorites do indeed tend to win quite often. But you can’t just load up your roster with favorites; you’ll need to make some value picks on underdogs or pick ‘ems to stay within the salary cap.
So in order to win your pool, you’ll need winners, finishers…plus maybe an upset. And if you can’t find an upset, at least take an underdog with the potential to put up some points and avoid getting finished. We first need to separate the favorites and underdogs by their value, so here are a few recommendations for this weekend’s fantasy fight card.
Likely Winners and/or Finishers
Ronda Rousey is probably the most obvious (and speediest) finishing threat in the UFC. Her price is extreme at $6,000, yet it’s shockingly not the highest on the card. Against the boxer Holly Holm this weekend, Rousey should be smart enough to know to close the distance as soon as possible, and not allow Holm to stay at range with her precise combinations that often include dangerous head kicks. Rousey may be turning heads with her rapidly developing power striking, but her strike defense is still soft. Expect her to get close fast and remind us how good she is at submissions. It’s an expensive play, but she’ll bring solid points with an early finish.
Melbourne’s own Jake Matthews would have drawn a lot more attention as a massive -1000 betting favorite were it not for Rousey and Jedrzejczyk on the same card. But Matthews is a well-rounded and powerful young prospect who will likely improve with each outing. At $5,400 he’s a reasonable play against the inconsistent Akbarh Arreola, who will be fighting in Matthews’s own back yard. Arreola’s submission game is a concern, but he’s unlikely to keep pace with Matthews, and could succumb to ground and pound eventually.
Stefan Struve had a rough patch for a few years both in and out of the cage, but the towering Dutch Kickboxer with the sneaky jits game is back on track mentally and physically. He went toe-to-toe with the legend Big Nog’ on a risky away game in Rio de Janeiro, and nearly finished the accomplished Brazilian fighter several times during the fight. Struve has the range and technique to make anyone pay at long range, and the ground game to make anyone hesitant about being in his guard for long. Jake Rosholt, while an accomplished wrestler and a grinder on the mat, is vulnerable on both fronts. If Rosholt pushes forward desperate for the takedown he could eat a fight-ending punch, and if he succeeds getting to the ground, fifteen minutes is a long time to defend Struve’s submissions that come at an unusually high rate. Struve is only a mild favorite, but he can finish fights in a variety of ways. So he’s a solid add at $5,000.
Uriah Hall took this fight on short notice, having just pulled off a big upset of highly regarded (and ranked) Gegard Mousasi. Hall’s hype train got derailed early, and a few lackluster performances dropped him out of the elite circles reserved for future superstars. But he has quietly pushed forward against mid-tier talent and gone 5-1 in his last 6 fights, with only a Split Decision loss to crafty veteran Rafael Natal. His weakness will continue to be his wrestling game and endurance, but Whittaker isn’t much of a wrestling threat, making the $4,800 cost of Hall likely to return a win one way or the other.
Just Too Pricey
Joanna Jedrzejczyk is becoming a superstar in her own right as a key part of the new Strawweight division and the growing wave of high profile European fighters. And she’s been statistically impressive in her prior performances thanks to a decorated Muay Thai experience base. But while she overwhelms her opponents with technical striking and volume, she doesn’t have the knockdown power of Rousey, and her finishes may take a while to develop, if they come at all. She’s the most expensive fighter on the card at $6,100, and she may not return the points that Rousey does. Either woman will set your roster back a pretty penny, but the risk in Joanna’s finishing speed makes her too pricey.
Mark Hunt is a tempting play against the fading Bigfoot Silva. Hunt’s power striking is accurate and dangerous, and Silva’s chin has been roughed up in recent years. But that was true the first time they fought as well, when they took each other to one of the unlikeliest decisions in MMA history. However, Silva’s positive drug test hints at what may have buoyed his strength that night, and he’s only take more damage since. That makes a Hunt KO a strong possibility, and yet Hunt himself has also been damaged in the fights since. Still, Hunt is a reasonable T/KO prospect, but there’s risk spending $5,300 that could sink your roster if he’s taken down early and stuck under the stifling ground and pound of Bigfoot.
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