MMA DFS Playbook – UFC Fight Night 121

UFC Fight Night 121

Welcome back fight fans to the MMA DFS Playbook. We’re back for UFC Fight Night 121, which sets up shop at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia. This card is light on names, but should provide for some decent fights. Headlining the card is a heavyweight match-up between Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura. Last week saw us do just ok, going 6-4 with a couple misreads that I should not have made. We’ll get back on track here, so let’s get to the picks.

Main Card (FS1)

 Fabricio Werdum ($9,300) vs. Marcin Tybura ($6,900)

In the headliner of the evening, submission ace Fabricio Werdum takes on the up and coming Marcin Tybura in a heavyweight bout that figures to shake up the rankings. Werdum makes a quick turnaround following his 1st round submission over Walt Harris a little over a month ago at UFC 216. Werdum has alternated wins and losses since winning the title unification bout against Cain Velasquez at UFC 188. Tybura comes into this bout against Werdum as a heavy underdog, and was originally scheduled to fight Mark Hunt. Since dropping his UFC debut to Timothy Johnson, Tybura has rattled off 3 straight wins, including a unanimous decision over former heavyweight champ, Andrei Arlovski in June.

Werdum

Werdum hopes to cash in on the short-notice match-up with Tybura.

Werdum fights are fairly easy to break down, and this one is no different. Werdum will rely on a competent striking game to clear openings for a takedown, and eventual submission. While Tybura seems to have some promise, he’s definitely in over his head in this bout, as Werdum should have the advantage everywhere. For Tybura to have any chance here, he’ll have to catch Werdum in an exchange without being taken down at any point. He holds an 80% takedown defense rate, which will certainly be tested here, though that statistic comes against fighters not nearly the caliber of Werdum. I see Werdum hanging around in the striking game, before eventually landing his takedown that sets up the end of the bout. The pick is Werdum by submission early in the 1st round.

 Bec Rawlings ($8,600) vs. Jessica Rose-Clark ($7,600)

After a compelling bout between “Rowdy” Bec Rawlings and Joanne Calderwood fell through, Australia’s Jessica Rose-Clark got the call to face Rawlings on short notice to serve as the co-headlining bout. After a very promising start to her career in Invicta, Rawlings has found the transition to the UFC to be a tough one, going just 2-3 since her stint on TUF. She moved up to flyweight from strawweight, hoping to garner some momentum in a more natural weight class. Rose-Clark is also a veteran of the all-female promotion (Invicta), and makes her UFC debut following a win over longtime veteran Carina Damm in August.

While I enjoy watching Rawlings fight, it’s safe to say that she has not fared well at all in the UFC, and I’m really beginning to wonder if she’s cut out for this level of the sport. She had 2 decent wins in a row over Lisa Ellis and Seo Hee Ham, followed by 2 devastating losses to Paige VanZant and Tecia Torres. She looked overwhelmed in the 2 losses against high-level fighters, and she faces another tough fighter here in Rose-Clark. I’m rolling with Rose-Clark in this one. She’s priced way too low against someone who has not found their footing within the UFC yet. Rawlings could very well look much better at flyweight, but I’m going to take my chances against her after seeing her so out-classed in her 2 previous bouts. Give me the value with Rose-Clark, and she wins by decision.

 Tim Means ($9,100) vs. Belal Muhammad ($7,100)

“The Dirty Bird” Tim Means tales on Belal Muhammad in a welterweight bout on the main card. Means has seen a successful 2nd run with the UFC following his release after his unsuccessful 1st stint with the promotion. All together Means is 9-5 with one no contest in the UFC, and has provided a few highlight-worthy performances along the way. Muhammad gets a match-up with Means following a potential bout with TUF Redemption winner Jesse Taylor being scrapped due to a USADA violation by Taylor. Muhammad is 3-2 in the UFC and has won his last 2 bouts in a row, including a unanimous decision victory over the bright prospect Randy Brown.

 

Means

Will Means keep the momentum rolling?

 

Despite my belief that this one doesn’t last long, I believe these guys’ styles bring the potential for fireworks, as well as Fight of the Night honors. Means and Muhammad bring the thunder every time they enter the cage, and this fight should be no different. I expect this to be a barn burner, with Means eventually taking over, and winning the bout. While Muhammad is as tough as they come, he’ll be the smaller fighter, and I expect Means to eventually wear him down. Expect means to catch Muhammad with something devastating in an exchange, possibly a fight-ending combination involving elbows, as “The Dirty Bird” is prone to throwing. The pick is Means by TKO late in the 1st round.

 Jake Matthews ($8,500) vs. Bojan Velickovic ($7,700)

Promising young Australian prospect Jake Matthews hopes to reverse a string of bad performances when fights Bojan Velickovic in a welterweight bout. After opening his UFC career with an incredible 4-1 run with 4 stoppages, Matthews has dropped his last 2 bouts, including a loss to recent title challenger Kevin Lee. At just 23 years old, Matthews has plenty of time to earn his way into the welterweight rankings, and a win over Velickovic would be a step in the right direction. Velickovic has gone 2-2-1 after debuting with the promotion last year. He took Darren Till to the scorecards in his latest fight, and owns wins over Nico Musoke and Alessio Di Chirico.

This is the perfect opportunity for Matthews to grab a victory in front of his home country, and I think he does. It won’t be easy by any means, but Matthews is simply the better fighter in this match-up. He’s got a dominant ground game that I expect him to showcase here with success. Once he gets Velickovic down, he’ll likely catch him in a submission, as he’s prone to do in his time with the UFC. I think Matthews softens Velickovic up with strong ground-and-pound before he gives up his back, where Matthews capitalizes with a rear-naked-choke. The finish will come in the 2nd round.

 Elias Theodorou ($9,000) vs. Daniel Kelly ($7,200)

“The Spartan” Elias Theodorou looks to rebound from a loss to Brad Tavares when he takes on Australia’s own Dan Kelly. The loss to Tavares snapped a 2-fight winning streak for the Canadian, but a win over the durable Kelly would put Theodorou right back into the mix in the middleweight division. Kelly had an impressive 4-fight winning streak ended when he was knocked out quickly by Derek Brunson in June. Kelly is 6-2 overall in the UFC, and has been much more successful in the UFC than anyone could have predicted.

Theodorou is the rightful favorite here, and I’m taking him to best Kelly. Theodorou is very well-rounded, and has an incredible gas tank, that will wear on Kelly as this fight progresses. While Kelly is undeniably tough, his previous bout with Brunson proved that toughness without all the tools you need in the UFC, only gets you so far. He’s a solid wrestler, and has incredible strength, but will be outclassed in the standup by the lanky Canadian, and probably won’t be able to keep up at the pace put on him. Theodorou should wear Kelly down late, taking home a TKO victory near the end of the 3rd round.

 Preliminary Card (FS1)

 Will Brooks ($9,400) vs. Nik Lentz ($6,800)

In a lightweight bout, former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks takes on grinder Nik Lentz. Following an incredibly successful run in Bellator, Brooks made a successful debut in the UFC over Ross Pearson, but has been stopped in his last 2 bouts, and desperately needs a win to stay relevant in the promotion. Lentz won his first 2 bouts back at lightweight following a moderately successful run on the featherweight division, but was thoroughly handled in his last bout by Islam Makhachev.

 This should make for a pretty compelling fight, as both men have their backs against the wall when it comes to their standing within the promotion. I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if the loser of this one gets their walking papers. Brooks is a very well-rounded fighter, as he excels on the feet as well as the mat. His striking accuracy in the UFC is at 58%, and he defends well at 55%. His takedown accuracy is at 51% and his defense is at an impressive 81%. With those numbers, it’s hard to believe that he’s been on such a slump. He obviously has talent, as evidenced by his run in Bellator, so my guess is that he hasn’t been all there mentally yet. He’s good enough to correct that, and I think he will here. He should stuff the majority of the takedowns that Lentz will undoubtedly search for, and should pick him apart on the feet. I think we see a well-rounded performance, ending in a clear-cut unanimous decision win for Brooks.

 Adam Wieczorek ($8,700) vs. Anthony Hamilton ($7,500)

Originally scheduled to fight each other at UFC Fight Night 118, Adam Wieczorek and Anthony Hamilton finally battle here in Australia. The original bout was canceled due to security concerns. The Polish heavyweight Wieczorek makes his promotional debut, and is 8-1 overall with most of his wins ending by stoppage within the first round. He’s a legitimate heavyweight at 6’5” and 250 lbs., and should be fun to watch with his penchant for brutal stoppages. He takes on Anthony Hamilton, who somehow finds himself in another bout against a heavy-handed opponent, despite being stopped in the 1st round in his last 3 bouts consecutively.

This bout, like Hamilton’s previous one, is one of the easier ones I’ll ever break down, and this won’t take long. To me, Hamilton has no business fighting anymore, and his chin is so suspect, that it legitimately worries me. He’s been knocked out twice this year, and I expect nothing less here. Hamilton spoke about possibly retiring after his previous loss, and I can’t imagine what more he needs to endure. Wieczorek is large, strong, and will more than likely find Hamilton’s jaw early. I’m taking Wieczorek by KO in the 1st round.

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