UFC Fight Night 71 Fight Breakdown: Sam Sicilia vs. Yaotzin Meza

The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale: Marcello v Sicilia One of the prelims at UFC Fight Night 71 is a three-round featherweight bout between Sam Sicilia and Yaotzin Meza. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Sicilia is a -160 favorite (bet $160 to win $100) while Meza is a +140 underdog (bet $100 to win $140). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up opened up Sicilia at -190 and Meza at +150, and so far slight action has come in on the dog Meza. I disagree with the action coming in on Meza as I highly favor Sicilia to win this fight. Here’s why. Sicilia (14-5) was a cast member on TUF 15 and has since go onto have a solid career in the UFC, going 4-4 overall in the UFC with wins over Cristiano Marcello, Godofredo Pepey, Aaron Phillips and Akira Corassani, with losses to Maximo Blanco, Cole Miller, Rony Jason and Katsunori Kikuno. The 29-year-old American is a knockout artist, having won eight fights in his career by T/KO, including three knockout wins in the UFC. He also has solid wrestling, and is able to keep most of his fights standing or take his opponents down if he wishes. However, he has some issues in scrambles and can be caught in a submission, and his chin is not great either, as he’s been dropped and knocked out before. Still, he has a good skillset and is a decent featherweight gatekeeper. He was originally set to fight Doo Ho Choi, but after Choi pulled out with an injury he now takes on Meza in a fight he is favored to win, but one that he must be careful not to get submitted in. Meza (21-9, 1 NC) is 2-2, 1 NC in the UFC with a submission win over John Albert, a decision win over Damian Stasiak, a decision loss to Sergio Pettis, a KO loss to Chad Mendes and a No Contest against Chico Camus. The 34-year-old American is primarily a grappling-based fighter and will look to use his wrestling to take his opponents down and control them and/or submit them on the ground. He has been bouncing between 145 and 135, but seems to have settled on 145. He looked solid in his last outing against Stasiak, but that’s a UFC newcomer who really hadn’t fought anyone, so it’s not the most impressive win. Meza, to me, is a grinder who can beat fighters with poor takedown defence and poor cardio, but against bigger, stronger wrestlers with superior striking he will struggle. He does train at MMA Lab, which is a plus, but overall he just isn’t that talented of a fighter, and he’s highly beatable, having lost nine times, including six times by stoppage. Especially taking this fight on short notice, I expect him to struggle, and to me the line seems a bit short. I’ve never thought highly of Meza while I think Sicilia has long been underrated. I just don’t where Meza has an advantage in this fight outside of submissions, and I think even that’s a long shot. I expect Sicilia to hurt Meza on the feet and even if he doesn’t get the knockout I do think he can use his wrestling to grind out a decision win. The fact Meza took this fight on short notice hurts him as well. I see good value in Sicilia at -160 and believe he’s worth betting on, either straight or in a two-team parlay.

Written by Adam Martin.

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