UFC 168 Date: December 28, 2013 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, N.V. Featherweight bout: Estevan “El Terrible” Payan (+160) vs Robbie “Problems” Peralta (-185) Fight Breakdown: Kicking things off for UFC 168 will be a preliminary bout between a pair of Latino featherweights that will be featured on Facebook and Youtube. In a possible “loser goes home” match-up between two men looking to get back in the win column, Estevan “El Terrible” Payan will be squaring off against Robbie “Problems” Peralta. Payan is the underdog heading into this bout at +160 ($100 to win $160), with Peralta being the favorite at -185 ($185 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. ESTEVAN “EL TERRIBLE” PAYAN (14-1-1 NC MMA, 0-1 UFC) makes his return to the Octagon, following a bloodbath defeat he took against “Lil’ Heathen” Jeremy Stephens at UFC 160 seven months ago. Payan was getting the better of Stephens on the feet, then Stephens scored a takedown, and did some serious damage on the ground, as he cut Payan deep with an elbow. He had Payan in trouble several times throughout the fight, including a rear naked choke that left jaws on the floor when he survived it. Payan’s performance against Stephens, although a losing one, was arguably the biggest display of heart I’ve ever seen inside the Octagon. He lost more blood in that fight than any fighter I recall seeing. He started bleeding badly in round one, and it kept pouring for the remainder of the fight. He was bleeding hard for the majority of 15 minutes and it’s a testament to his heart that he lasted the full three rounds. He proved to be an incredibly tough fighter with absolutely no quit in him. “El Terrible” is a talented kickboxer who packs a lot of power in his strikes, more so than his five knockouts would suggest. He moves well on the feet, throws some nice combinations, and remains very effective. His takedown defense is good, and a lot better than his performance against Stephens indicated. Stephens took him down numerous times, but I believe that is mostly because Payan had become weak due to a tremendous amount of blood loss, and was fighting at about 25 percent of his potential. I don’t think he is easy to take down, especially by someone who does not have wrestling credentials. However, when he is taken down, he is very good at working his way back to his feet. He is very hard to keep down. Payan, when in the bottom position, does not allow his opponent on top to rest. He remains very active and constantly attacks. He is not easy to hold down and beat up. He is a striker, but can hold his own in the grappling and submission departments. He defends well, but does not really attack with many submissions, as he prefers to get the knockout finish. Training out of Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe, A.Z., Payan is an extremely well-conditioned athlete who will be able to go all three rounds with Peralta without breaking a sweat. ROBBIE “PROBLEMS” PERALTA (16-4-1 NC MMA, 2-1-1 NC UFC) makes his return following an upset loss against Akira Corassani in Sweden nearly nine months ago. Peralta was a near 5-1 favorite over Corassani, and lost the fight three rounds to none on the judges’ scorecards, although one judge did score one round for Peralta. I of course had a play on Corassani in that bout, as I had him capped at +140 and was more than happy to take him at +420. Peralta tested positive for marijuana after the fight, and was suspended for nine months. He did not fight to his full potential in his last outing, but with the time away from the cage, it is likely that he has been training very hard and the hunger has been growing. He may very well be a beast on Saturday, a more vicious beast than the one who knocked out Jason Young in just 23 seconds last year. One thing the Young and Payan fights have in common is that Peralta had a decent amount of time to prepare. He was coming off of a 10 month layoff when he knocked out Young, and it’s been about nine months since he came up short against Corassani. If history should repeat itself, we will see a very hungry and ready Robbie Peralta on fight night. “Problems” likes to move forward and throw heavy punches. While he does not possess good footwork, he is a solid counter-striker who is good at catching opponents as they are coming in. He likes to deliver vicious leg kicks, and used said kicks to hurt and outpoint Mike Lullo in his promotional debut; a blueprint Edson Barboza had already laid out for him. Peralta is not a great wrestler, but he does have some wrestling skills. He works a decent double-leg, and can be dangerous on the mat from top position. I think he is hit-or-miss with his cardio, and if I had to guess, I would say he’ll be tired heading into the third frame. I think he will be at a disadvantage in the conditioning department heading into this bout against Payan. He will also be at a size disadvantage; Payan looked much bigger than him at the weigh-ins, although he is only two inches taller. Peralta’s bread and butter is his striking, and most believe he will be at an advantage in that department against Payan, but I think it will be the other way around. I think his best route to victory may be to employ a wrestling-based gameplan, because I think Payan is the superior striker, and he does have a two inch reach advantage over Peralta. Fight Prediction: To put it simply, I think Payan is going to outstrike Peralta on the feet. I think there is a decent chance that he will knock Peralta out, likely while Peralta is rushing in, but if he doesn’t get the finish, I think he will do enough to take home a decision and end the year on a high note. Both fighters have good chins but have both been hurt in the past, especially Payan. That said, if anybody is getting knocked out in this fight, I feel like it’s going to be Peralta, and considering his style, I think if Payan times it just right, he can catch him coming in. It is also worth noting that Peralta has a full time job outside of MMA, while Payan is a full time fighter and father. Gabe’s Pick: Estevan “El Terrible” Payan by KO (left/right hook, 1:34 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Estevan Payan (+160) 2u to win 3.2u, Payan +3.5 (-150) 3u to win 2u, Payan by T/KO (+665) 3u to win 19.95u. (I gave this play out at +800 on the At Odds MMA Show, so hopefully you heard it and tailed. I personally played it for 2.5u to win 20u, but it has since dropped to +665, so I recommend locking in 3u ASAP; you may need to wait to bet the full 3 units, if you meet the max-limit for the prop) – Also: Payan (+160) parlayed with Ronda Rousey in round 1 (-120) for +386 2u to win 7.72u, Payan (+160) parlayed with Barnett (-190) for +296 2u to win 5.9u, and Payan (+160) parlayed with Dustin Poirier (-225) for +275 1u to win 2.75u. I definitely see value in Payan, as I think he should be a -250 favorite. Out of all my friends in the MMA community, I seem to be the only one who feels this way. Hopefully I will be right, because along with Rousey and Barnett, Payan is one of my top three favorite plays on the entire card.