UFC Fight Night 57 Fight Breakdown: Matt Wiman vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg

Isaac-Vallie-Flagg The opening main card bout at UFC Fight Night 57 is a three-round lightweight bout between Matt Wiman and Isaac Vallie-Flagg. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Wiman is a -195 favorite (bet $195 to win $100) while Vallie-Flagg is a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Wiman at -230 and Vallie-Flagg at +170, and the betting public is on the dog IKE so far. This is a competitive matchup but I lean towards Wiman and believed he should be favored. Here’s why. Wiman (15-7) was once one of the top gatekeepers in the UFC lightweight division but injuries and a lack of desire to fight in MMA have limited him to just two bouts in the last three years. Now 31 years old, Wiman is ready to come back to the UFC and get back in a position to compete with the best in the world, which he was doing before his recent two-year layoff. 9-5 overall in the UFC, Wiman was last seen in the Octagon getting knocked out by TJ Grant at UFC on FOX 6, and many do think he’s on a decline. However, we have to keep in mind Grant is a stud, and that loss really isn’t that bad. Prior to that loss, Wiman had reeled off five wins in six bouts (with his only loss in that stretch a controversial decision defeat to Dennis Siver). He showed during that run that he is a well-rounded fighter with decent wrestling, solid striking, and very underrated submissions. I wouldn’t pick Wiman against any of the elite lightweights in the UFC, but I definitely feel like the promotion is giving him a winnable fight here against Vallie-Flagg, and I agree that he should be favored going into the matchup. Vallie-Flagg (14-5-1) was a crossover fighter from Strikeforce and since coming to the UFC is 1-2 with a win over Yves Edwards and losses to Elias Silverio and Takanori Gomi. The 36-year-old American is constantly in close fights it seems, and it makes sense given his high-pressure attack and toughness. He is constantly walking forward throwing strikes, and although his punches and kicks don’t always connect, it looks good to the judges when he’s being aggressive. He also has passable wrestling to back his striking up, although it’s far from elite. The problem with Vallie-Flagg is he’s aging and he’s taken a lot of damage in his career. He always seems to get cut up in the face in his fights, and that’s not a good thing when facing off against technicians like Gomi. Fortunately for Vallie-Flagg he is being given a winnable fight here against Wiman, a guy who doesn’t have stopping power, so it’s possible he could steal a decision like he has so many times in the past. But until he shows he can finish fights at this level, it’s hard to bet on him knowing he’ll be in close fights, and that’s why he’s the dog heading into this matchup. I am expecting a competitive fight here, but I do believe Wiman is the more complete mixed martial artist, as well as the more dangerous finisher, and I have to pick him in this matchup. The long layoff is no doubt a huge concern here, but Vallie-Flagg is one of the oldest fighters in the division and as we saw against Gomi he isn’t particularly fleet of foot, which could cost him against a guy who throws a high volume of strikes like Wiman. It’s hard to back a guy coming off of such a long layoff, and the last time we did see Wiman he looked awful, but I think he has more ways to win this fight and I’m expecting him to get the win over Vallie-Flagg by decision. The long layoff is concerning, but I can’t blame anyone who does put Wiman in a parlay, because he should absolutely win this fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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