If not for huge favorites Khalil Rountree and Amanda Ribas getting dusted at UFC 257, we would have been perfect on our picks, but 5 of 7 ain’t bad. Regardless, the UFC returns after a week off to bring us UFC Fight Night 184.
The main event puts old school kickboxer and horse meat advocate Alistar Overeem against the tall, rangy former Bellator heavyweight champion, Russian boxer Alexander Volkov. Here you will find the plays you need to hit your double ups and find the green in your GPPs. I’ve broken each pick into three categories to make it easy for you. Here we go:
LEAD CINCH LOCKS
Cory Sandhagen – Quite possibly the grittiest fighter on the UFC roster, Sandhagen has been on an amazing 6-1 run in the promotion, besting 135 pound stalwarts John Lineker, Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assuncao along the way (his lone stumble coming against newly minted title challenger Aljamain Sterling). Frankie Edgar is a legend and he happens to possess the best walkout song in all of MMA (“Kick in the Door” by Notorious BIG), but he’s undersized and won’t be able to outwrestle or outbox Sandhagen. He’s also lost three of five and is starting to show wear. Sandhagen should win easily.
Cody Staman – Originally slated to face Andre Ewell, Staman now faces UFC neophyte and LFA call up Askar Askar. Staman is a grinder, pure and simple. He’s amassed a very respectable 5-2-1 record inside the Octagon with his only stumbles coming against ranked opponents. Askar is a wrestler/boxer much like Staman, but Staman’s credentials and strength of competition are tons better, and he should find an easy path to victory here.
Mike Rodriguez – “Slow Mike” might not be the most fear-inducing nickname in the business, but don’t let that fool you: this guy is a strong, effective striker who is at his best when using his jab and teep/front kick to maintain distance. He scored a KO in his UFC debut and then got hosed in his fight with Ed Herman on a body shot the ref misjudged as a low blow. It’s almost as if the UFC knows he got screwed so they’re feeding him Danilo Marques. Marques has good submissions, but has trouble getting fights to the mat and is abysmal on the feet. This should be a quick Rodriguez KO.
SOLID BUT UNSPECTACULAR WINS
Molly McCann – I love “Meatball Molly” here. She’s a pure brawler who loves to mix it up on the feet, and she’s a very big 125. She has a 5-2 record inside the Octagon, and she’ll face Lauren Procopio, who dropped a decision in her promotional debut. After checking out a couple of her fights on YouTube, I don’t think she has much to offer McCann, regardless of where the fight goes. Molly’s takedown defense should hold up and in a pure striking match, Meatball wins easily.
Youseff Zalal – The Moroccan Devil was a perfect 4-0 in the UFC until he hit a stumbling block and dropped a decision to Ilia Topuria his last time out. Regardless, Zalal is very well rounded and is a whirling dervish of action inside the cage. Seung Woo Choi is a power striker who has finished the majority of his wins by KO. However, if that doesn’t happen early, he’s spent. Zalal has never been KO’d and is just a better fighter overall.
UNDERDOGS AND CONTRARIAN UPSIDE
Mabel Kape – For those of you who haven’t seen Kape fight, strap in. Over the last couple of years, he has competed for RIZIN FF in Japan and has become somewhat of a celebrity over there. He’s super brash, but backs it up with great hands and a fight IQ that is way higher than it should be at this point in his career. I think the fact he’s a UFC newcomer is the reason he’s a +115 underdog against Alexandre Pantoja who has dropped 2 of his last 3 UFC fights, but I love him here.
Beniel Dariush – Here we have a clash between two lightweights who have been absolutely rolling. Carlos Ferreira has won six straight UFC bouts, including a submission of former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis his last time out. Not to be outdone, Dariush has won five in a row and has finished the last 4 of those wins. Currently, Dariush is a +100 underdog, and that has me smiling. This should be a good one, but I don’t see anything stopping Dariush with how dialed in he has been lately.