UFC 171 Play: Robert “Bubba” McDaniel (+115) vs Sean “Tarzan” Strickland (-135)

SeanStricklandUFC 171 Date: March 15, 2014 Arena: American Airlines Center City: Dallas, TX Middleweight bout: Robert “Bubba” McDaniel (+115) vs Sean “Tarzan” Strickland (-135) Fight Breakdown: The UFC 171 preliminary card on UFC Fight Pass will feature a middleweight contest between TUF 17 veteran, Robert “Bubba” McDaniel and promotional newcomer, Sean “Tarzan” Strickland. “Bubba” is currently a slight underdog in this contest at +115 ($100 to win $115), with “Tarzan” being a small favorite at -135 ($135 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. ROBERT “BUBBA” McDANIEL (21-7 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is coming off a unanimous decision loss against Brad Tavares at UFC Fight Night 27 over six months ago. He was a very big underdog going into the match-up, but managed to handily win the third frame by simply using his size to outgrapple the Hawaiian and hold him down. He came up short against Tavares, the loss following a third round submission win over fellow TUF 17 cast-mate Gilbert Smith. On the reality series, “Bubba” was selected by  coach Jon Jones as his number one pick because they are training partners together at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in Albequerque, NM. Jones stated that McDaniel sometimes gets the best of him in the gym but often loses his mental edge when he steps inside a cage. That proved to be true on the show, as the 30-year old’s mental weakness clearly cost him his fights versus Kelvin Gastelum and Uriah Hall (in a wild-card match). “Bubba” is a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner who displays some solid kickboxing when he is focused and on top of his game. Conditioning is not an issue for McDaniel, he could go all three rounds and is well trained to do so in high altitude. Unlike his opponent, he had a full training camp for this bout, and he’s already had two fights inside the Octagon, so I am expecting him to have the advantage in the cardio department. Considering his mental issues in the past, he should find some comfort in the fact that Strickland is taking this fight on short notice, without having fought in over half a year, and he might be faced with Octagon jitters and/or an adrenaline dump, which are things “Bubba” himself does not need to worry about considering he has already spent nearly 30 minutes under the big lights. SEAN “TARZAN” STRICKLAND (13-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is an undefeated middleweight, with nearly all of his fights having taken place in the King of the Cage promotion. He is set to make his Octagon debut, replacing an injured Tor Troeng on short notice. Strickland has not seen action in over six months and got this call on short notice, so it is a possibility that he may have been forced to go through a rigorous weight cut. If that is the case, it could certainly end up affecting his performance, so it is something to keep in mind, and seeing him step on the scale and the weigh-ins will sure help make an educated guess. “Tarzan” works a solid jab, which seems to be his weapon of choice on the feet, and he uses strikes to set up his takedowns really well. He is good at using his distance, he likes to be technical, and he is a smart fighter who game-plans well for his fights. He does not rush in the cage; he is patient and takes his time to look for openings while scoring points. The King of the Cage veteran possesses serious power in his hands, owning seven of 13 professional mixed martial arts victories by way of T/KO. He puts opponents away both on the feet and with his dangerous ground and pound. He has a nice left hook, and he works takedowns pretty well. Strickland is very effective from top position, both with his strikes and grappling. He has a solid jiu-jitsu game, so he is also a threat with his submissions. Tape on this prospect very limited, but the 23-year old appears to have potential. Fight Prediction: I think Strickland will manage to get the better of McDaniel on the feet, even though at first glance you would assume that “Bubba” has the advantage in that department. I feel “Tarzan” will find some success there, as well as on the mat, when he takes the fight there, and ends up in top position, from where he is very dangerous. The 23-year old has some serious power, so I could see him putting “Bubba” away at any point in this contest, but if that does not happen, I like him to walk away with the decision. Gabe’s Pick: “Tarzan” by KO (punches, 1:30 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Sean Strickland (-135) 2.7u to win 2u

Written by Gabe Killian

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