What it lacks in name value, UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Strickland makes up for in prospect potential. That’s basically how you have to look at a card like this. Pundits and fans alike, myself included, have cracked wise in reference to the lackluster lineup, but we have to remember that the UFC has a large roster and stars take a little time to develop. And while there’s only one fight of consequence that has any sort of title implications—and that’s a bit of a stretch considering Uriah Hall is No. 8 and Sean Strickland is No. 11—it’s still a good measuring stick to see which of these young guns will impress the matchmaking brass enough to possibly get paired with a low-tier contender.
Another overtone of this show is the unfortunate series of fights needing to be rebooked due to COVID-19 protocols. Two fights had to be moved and another saw a last-minute replacement. When it’s all said and done, I think we will probably end up with another electrifying show that flies directly in the face of its modest bout sheet. Pleasant surprises frequently await us when these little sleepers kick off and I’m of the opinion that this one will deliver plenty of action.
We’ve selected four fighters from the event that will illustrate why they are worthy of their lofty or budget-conscious price tags in an effort to help you select your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups. Let’s get started.
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MMA NEWS ALERT: The following fights have been pulled from Saturday's UFC card:— DK Nation (@dklive) July 30, 2021
Nicco Montano vs. Wu Yanan
Ronnie Lawrence vs. Trevin Jones pic.twitter.com/tfzeeaeiYg
Bryan Barberena, $9,600
Bryan Barberena is an action fighter who goes hell for leather from Jump Street, willing to eat five to land one. He’s not a super athlete, but he has grit and aggression in spades. His record is spotty, but he has a solid perch on the roster thanks to his fan-friendly style. He also bears a pretty unique distinction in that he’s beaten brothers Jake and Joe Ellenberger. His best win is likely Warlley Alves, his most recent, a unanimous decision over Anthony Ivy last September. His opponent, Jason Witt, is a bit of a glass cannon who is as slow as molasses and with a mighty big button on his chin. That said, he’s the better guy on the ground, and that could make things interesting if the fight ends up there. While the pricing is wide considering Barberena’s penchant for making things way more difficult than they need to be, it’s a comfortable choice for me to make.
Pricing: Too lopsided
Nicco Montano, $9,100 Nicco Montano was the inaugural women’s flyweight champion many moons ago when the division was introduced. Injury setbacks crippled her momentum, and since winning TUF 26 back in 2017, she’s fought just twice since. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. At 32, she’s not endured the wear-and-tear many of her similarly aged peers have. She is a capable grappler and throws tons of volume. Considering her opponent, Wu Yanan, is as defensively porous as Spongebob, the volume striking will likely be her biggest boon. Of all the fights on this card, Montano-Yanan might be the easiest to pick, not so much because of what Nicco brings to the table, but because of what Yanan doesn’t. Look for Montano to win a pretty one-sided decision. Pricing: Perfect
EDITOR’S NOTE: The scheduled bout between Nicco Montano and Wu Yanan has been removed from the card.
Uriah Hall, $6,900
Uriah Hall at $6,900 is a bargain! Listen, I know Sean Strickland is a technical striking dream with a smooth style that wows all the boxing heads that have come to proliferate the sport, but one cannot deny the equalizer that Hall possesses is exactly what put Strickland away when he faced Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos back in 2018. A spinning wheel kick set that sensational knockout in motion, and we all know that Hall can land those at will. Hell, he can probably land them in his sleep. I do understand that Strickland’s style is custom designed to break down guys like Hall, but since being at Fortis MMA, Uriah seems to have turned a corner and has put together a more complete style. He’s also quite capable of turning a fight around, as we saw in the contest with Antonio Carlos Jr. Yes, this is a super bold pick, and one that I may end up regretting mightily come Sunday morning, but I can’t help myself. If anyone is capable of spoiling a favorite’s night, it’s Uriah Hall.
Pricing: Could be a smidge closer
Rani Yahya, $7,700 Rani Yahya has been in the game for 19 years as a professional, yet he’s just 36 years old. He’s had 38 fights and won 27 of them—21 by submission. That last part is the most important distinction, “21 by submission.” Many are giving his opponent, Kyung Ho Kang, the edge because of his moderate youth and distinct size advantage, and because he’s a seasoned grappler who has also seen a measure of success with 11 submission wins of his own. Both are low output fighters who prefer to get the fight on the ground as soon as they can and neither packs much power. Kang has just two TKOs on his record with the most recent being from 2011 while Yahya has none. Where the line will be drawn is the grappling and any way you slice it, Yahya is the better of the two and at a higher level. I know that won’t carry him too far past guys like Kang, nor do I entertain ideas that somehow he’ll end up in the title picture on a Robbie Lawler-esque career arc. I also know this could end up being the fight where we see his competitive edge truly dulled to the point where we have to start wondering going forward how to match him safely, but my money is on the “He wasn’t ready” factor Kyung Ho has hanging over him. Pricing: Perfect
EDITOR’S NOTE: The scheduled bout between Rani Yahya and Kyung Ho Kang has been removed from the card.
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