The summer run of big fights continues in the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 199. We saw a title change hands at UFC 198 when Stipe Miocic upset heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, and a pair of challengers hope to replicate that feat this weekend. For challengers Michael Bisping and Urijah Faber, it would also mean a measure of revenge against Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz, who hold wins over them in their most recent meetings. The card is much deeper than just the two title bouts however. Featherweight contenders Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas could put themselves in line to face the winner of the UFC 200 bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Holloway is on one of the best runs in MMA right now, with eight consecutive wins including victories over Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, and Cub Swanson in his past three. Lamas is often the overlooked man in the 145lb division, holding a 7-2 record since dropping from lightweight with the only losses coming against Aldo and Chad Mendes. The other main card fight without a line is a battle between two aging fighters who headed in different directions in weight, and now have met back in the middle. 45-year-old Dan Henderson is the oldest fighter, and has the second earliest UFC debut (UFC 17) of any fighter on the roster right now. Following an impressive run in Strikeforce and a legendary battle with ‘Shogun’ Rua, Henderson earned a UFC title shot that never materialized, and things have been downhill since. Not only has he gone 2-6 since the ‘Shogun’ bout, but the once iron-chinned Henderson has been stopped in each of his past four losses (three by T/KO). Lombard was finished for the first time in his MMA career in his last outing, and has failed to live up to expectations coming into the UFC from Bellator. His 3-3 (1 NC) record has shown a failure to evolve from the fighter who was terrifying in the first round but loses steam quickly after that. Now moving back up to middleweight, he could be hoping for one last run before the end of his career. The Fox Sports 1 undercard also features some interesting bouts, as prospect Brian Ortega faces Clay Guida in what could shape up as a fantastic, scramble-laden grappling bout. Another undefeated fighter steps in the cage just prior to that, as James Vick takes on Beneil Dariush in a lightweight fight that will impact the bottom half of the top 15. Moving down further to Fight Pass, there are a couple notable bouts. First, young welterweights Sean Strickland and Tom Breese, with a combined record of 27-1, square off. And in the people’s main event, the one true king of MMA will be crowned, as “King” Kevin Casey takes on Elvis “The King” Mutapcic in a middleweight scrap. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for the full slate of bouts at UFC 199 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View, 10pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 1, 8pm ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6pm ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: While Ricardo Lamas has often been looked past in bouts previously, I think this is a very difficult style matchup for him. Normally he’s able to bring either his solid wresting or underrated finishing skills to bear, but Holloway has developed excellent takedown defense, and hasn’t been finished since he came into the UFC as an extremely green 19-year-old. I expect Holloway to keep this standing, and turn what will be a competitive bout early into a rout by the end with his constant pressure and combination punching. As Holloway often does, I could see a third round stoppage as well. This is the one fight where it won’t matter if Lombard tires, because his skills still perfectly align with Henderson’s. Even tired, he’ll be able to defend any takedown attempts Henderson throws at him, and in the striking he only has to worry about the overhand right. Lombard still has a good chin, and is exponentially faster in every facet of the striking game, even if he tires. If I can get a price under -300 here, I’ll have to throw Lombard in a parlay, and I’ll be even more interested in his inside the distance and round one lines. Clay Guida has proven in the past that he can neutralize dynamic guard players in MMA, but the best two examples of that have come against Anthony Pettis and Hatsu Hioki, two fights that most people felt he lost. This fight could be very similar, since Ortega hasn’t shown particularly good takedown defense so far and Guida is still solid in top position. However, Guida may not be what he once was, and Ortega is a more relentless grappler than either of the aforementioned opponents, so I’ll have to side with Ortega slightly here. Still, don’t be shocked by a close decision that has people on both sides complaining. For a long time, I wasn’t sold on Beneil Dariush, and I’ve lost some money betting against him. For some reason, I didn’t continue that trend in his last outing, and look what happened. Despite that, I have to favor him again here, with the biggest factor being James Vick’s deficient takedown defense. Vick doesn’t have the wrestling or scrambling to get into a dominant position like Chiesa was able to. That said, Dariush’s conditioning has to be a point of concern, and that’s a strength for Vick. If this turns into a kickboxing bout in rounds two and three, advantage Vick. I have to think Dariush will be smart to get back in the win column though. Jessica Andrade would be wise to just power forward with strikes and trap Jessica Penne against the fence in this one. Penne has a bad habit of letting her opponent dictate where the fight will take place, and I can see her hanging around on the fence letting Andrade get some serious work done. However, Andrade is prone to mistakes in fights. A lot of them. At some point I think he ends up on the ground with Penne which is a losing proposition for her. Even on the feet at range, Penne has the sharper striking and a 5-inch reach advantage. Andrade has a clear path to victory, but I can’t trust her to take it without putting herself in bad positions. Cole Miller and Alex Caceres is a very strange fight. Miller may suffer from a letdown after finding out he’s not fighting BJ Penn, and Caceres is coming in on short notice. As far as their skills go, Miller is a better version of Caceres and normally I’d be behind him here. However, he sounds like he’s got one foot out the MMA door already, and that’s never a good thing to place faith in. I tentatively pick Miller, but pass for a bet. I’m simply not on board the Tom Breese train yet. I took a stab on Nakamura in that fight because the line was absurd, and I’m hoping the hype on him gives me another nice number on the much more capable Strickland. Strickland is frustrating because it’s easy to see the talent, but he doesn’t fight with enough urgency. Even still, his length and jab should provide a great deal of trouble to Breese on the feet, and if anyone ends up on top here it will be Strickland. That is not a good place to be, even for a fighter like Breese who has show good sweeps and submissions from his back thus far. I’ll take Strickland as a dog if I can get it, but I can potentially see myself pulling my hair out as he does nothing and coasts to a decision loss. Stay away. Both Wilson and Waisten have undefeated records, both have faced sub-par competition (although Waisten did beat Ildemar Alcantara in his last outing), and both make a habit of beating up undersized, undertalented opponents. What happens when they face somebody the same size that can actually do something? Who knows. Stay away. One might even say this fight is MMA’s Royal Rumble. Get it? Because they’re both nicknamed ‘King’. Ah! You guys are hopeless. Mutapcic’s takedown defense should keep this from hitting the ground the further it goes, but Casey will mix in takedown attempts early and probably have more success than Barroso did. The takedown attempts, even if unsuccessful, could keep Mutapcic from firing his own offense as well. As pure strikers, Mutapcic has the advantage technically, but he needs to pull the trigger for 15 minutes, not just in desperation mode. If he can do that, he’ll probably win but that’s extremely hard to bank on especially since it’s not just a new problem Mutapcic is encountering. I don’t really think either of these guys should be in the UFC, but this could be sloppy fun. Both fighters struggle when their opponents put them on the ground, but shouldn’t really have to worry about that here. I guess Polo Reyes gets the edge due to his aggression, but Not Dong Hyun Kim has more than enough power to clip him on the way in, so be somewhat cautious.