UFC 173 Play: Aaron Phillips (+130) vs Sam Sicilia (-140)

3343376AaronPhillipsUFC 173 Date: May 24, 2014 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Featherweight bout: Aaron Phillips (+130) vs Sam Sicilia (-140) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Pass preliminary portion of UFC 173 will be featuring a featherweight affair between promotional newcomer Aaron Phillips and The Ultimate Fighter season 15 veteran Sam Sicilia. Phillips is a +130 ($100 to win $130) underdog heading into this contest, with his opponent Sicilia being the favorite to win at -140 ($140 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. Aaron Phillips (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is an undefeated striker who is set to make his promotional debut on short notice, replacing an injured Doo Ho Choi, who himself was getting ready to make his debut inside the Octagon. After wrapping up 2013 with four victories and three finishes, I think Phillips feels ready to pick up his first victory of the year on the world’s biggest stage. Fighting on short notice, his conditioning will be questionable In this fight, especially considering the fact that it is also the biggest fight of his career and promotional debut, so Octagon jitters and adrenaline dump may also play a factor. If that happens, Sicilia may find success in using his superior wrestling to secure a round or two, or possibly stop a fatigued Phillips via strikes. That said, I am not expecting cardio to play a factor, especially considering his opponent Sicilia has had his own share of troubles in the department. The 29- year old is a talented Muay Thai striker who has solid boxing and owns a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He has decent wrestling skills, including pretty good takedown defense. He is good at keeping the fight on the feet, though he has yet to compete against a talented wrestler. I think Sicilia may find success in taking the fight to the mat, but Phillips is no slouch there. When taken down, he is good at getting back to his feet, but if he stays on the canvas, he remains active off his back. He attacks with strikes and submissions, and considering he owns a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is very capable of submitting opponents from any position. That would be a realistic possibility against Sicilia if the fight does indeed hit the mat, because while Phillips is at a wrestling disadvantage against the Washington native, he will hold the advantage in Jiu-Jitsu. Sam Sicilia (12-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) will be making his sixth Octagon appearance, coming off of a second round rear-naked-choke submission defeat at the hands of Cole Miller back in January. Miller dropped him with a stiff jab, and then immediately took his back on the mat to secure his signature finish, which ironically also happens to be the signature finish of Sicilia’s best pal Michael Chiesa, who is also competing on the UFC 173 fight card. The Ultimate Fighter season 15 veteran is not well-versed in the submission game, and will be at a disadvantage in the department in this bout against the newcomer Phillips. However, he will be holding advantages in wrestling and Octagon experience, both of which may play a factor in him getting his hand raised. Sicilia’s conditioning differs from fight to fight but it is generally not very good. When he fights, I think it’s always a realistic possibility that he may not have much to offer should the fight hit the third frame. That said, I can’t say for sure whether he will be at an advantage or disadvantage against Phillips in this bout, as it is unsure how the promotional newcomers cardio and adrenaline will hold up. The native of Washington is a decent wrestler, but he does not use his offensive wrestling much. He uses his wrestling defensively, to keep the fight standing, where he can do what he truly loves: use his hands. For a featherweight, his hands are serious weapons, as he possesses tremendous knockout power. In fact, he has knocked out seven of the 12 opponents he has defeated in his professional mixed martial arts career, and that is not including the impressive knockout he scored to get into the TUF 15 house. While Sicilia hits really hard, his striking skills are really not anything to write home about. It is worth noting that he has continuously been showing improvement in that department, including adding a kicking game to his arsenal, but his main weapon is still that overhand right, which he keeps looking for throughout his fights. Nothing satisfies Sicilia more than putting his opponents away with his hands, and while it is assumed he will attempt to use his superior wrestling in this bout, I think he will start things off looking for what he wants most, that knockout. Gabe’s Prediction: I feel as though Phillips is, in general, the superior fighter. I think he will manage to keep the fight on the feet for most part, should Sicilia try to take him down. Though, if the fight does hit the mat, I don’t think he will be in too much trouble. There is a chance he may be able to tap Sicilia off his back, though not a great chance. Regardless, he will find his way back to his feet, or at the least remain active off his back. That said, I think the majority, if not entirety of this bout will take place on the feet, where I think he holds a big advantage. I think there is a decent chance he stops Sicilia, but if he doesn’t and doesn’t gas, I feel confident he will earn the nod from the judges. Though Sicilia is the toughest test of his professional mixed martial arts career, I favor Phillips to upset him in his UFC debut. Gabe’s Call: Phillips by KO (headkick and punches, 3:09, round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Aaron Phillips (+130) 2.5u to win 3.25u

Written by Gabe Killian

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