The undercard to UFC 144 appears to be stacked with potential upsets. Will Steve Cantwell be able to avoid Fukuda’s crafty takedowns? Is Chris Cariaso’s speed and movement enough to negate Mizugaki’s massive size advantage? And can Kid Yamamoto reverse his disappointing 0-2 record against British bantamweight, Vaughan Lee?
UFC 144: Facebook Matches &
Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
Although both these men are officially coming off a loss,
many believe Fukuda was robbed in his promotional debut against Nick Ring. In
fact, the scoring was so bad that Dana White decided to award Riki his win
bonus despite the judges scoring the fight against him.
Throughout that fight Fukuda utilized his basic striking to
set up and score a few takedowns early and late in the fight. In the first
round he showed off his nice double within the first minute of the match. His
wrestling isn’t anything special for the division but it’s obviously his
biggest edge over Cantwell.
Perhaps most impressive was the how competitive he managed
to keep the stand-up against an accomplished striker like Ring. He was able to
find some success his straight left and short uppercuts on the inside. He showed a few glaring holes defensively,
but he proved to be surprisingly hard to hit in the second and third rounds.
With that said, Cantwell is clearly the better striker here.
He has great timing and precision behind his overhand right and shortens the
punch well on the inside. If he does happen to get taken down here his ground
game should prove to be savvy enough to avoid being submitted.
The best UFC pick here is probably a prop bet on Fukuda by
decision. Cantwell should start to show sports betting value at anything over +155, however
I’m hesitant to back him in UFC 144 until he shows us he’s retuned to his pre-injury form.
UFC Pick: Riki Fukuda
Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
transitional phase from Japan to the UFC has been one of the biggest letdowns
for the Bantamweight division. Prior to the signing, many expected Kid to
breathe new life into the division and possibly even emerge as a legit
contender to the belt.
gone 0-2 with the promotion, including a disappointing loss to Darren Uyenoyama
as a -400 UFC betting favorite. At this point his decline as a fighter is simply
thing Kid still has going for him is his one punch knockout power. I still
consider him to be one of the pound for pound hardest punchers in the sport,
and possibly even the biggest knockout threat within the division.
loves to sit back and ambush opponents with his big straight left followed by
his right hook. His hand speed is still highly impressive despite his decline
in other areas. To his credit he did manage to drop Uyenoyama with a left hand
in the second round and impressively survived having his back taken for over
around a third of the fight.
meanwhile, has a nice arsenal of strikes himself but really lacks the fluidity
and combination ability to be considered an elite striker. He likes to stay
aggressive with his guillotine choke and has a few nice trip takedowns against
Simply put, Vaughan Lee is peaking as a fighter whereas kid
seems to be on a rapid decline. I
regretfully have to advise a play on Kid at anything close to even but I
certainly wouldn’t hesitate to back Lee at anything over +140. With so many
x-factors, the best play here may end up being no play at all.
UFC Pick: Norifumi Yamamoto
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
In his last 3
performances, Chris Cariaso has proven undervalued by the odds makers -- going
2-1 in the process.
a decision off of Will Campuzano, he went in as a +350 underdog against Michael
Mcdonald and managed
to fight him to a split decision. His speed, leg kicks and
rapidly improving ground game were all on display in a close loss.
Chris is great at getting in and out of the pocket with his
leg kicks while using them to initiate the majority of his combinations. He has
a sneaky short left on the inside and usually prefers to counter with his lead.
His ground game has
also shown steady improvements since getting submitted by Renan Pegado at WEC
53. Aside from securing an omoplata against Mcdonald, he achieved full mount in
the second round against Vaughan Lee and even managed to take his back in the
size and takedowns, however, should be enough to ensure that he opens as the
betting favorite. His takedown ability
was on full display in one of his more recent bouts against Reuben Duran. He
showed a nice double leg from the outside and repeatedly took Duran down with
an impressive body lock against the cage.
He may be at
a disadvantage in the striking department but he has a nice right hand that he
usually looks to stalk and counter with. At times he’ll also look to
persistently attack his opponent lead leg from the outside, which he
successfully used to slow Duran down
late in their fight.
have to side with Mizugaki here but Cariaso is a very live dog at anything over
+140. His improved takedown defense, massive speed advantage and ever evolving
ground game all lead me to believe he may be once again underpriced here.
UFC Pick: Cariaso at +140 or higher.
Zhang Tiequan vs. Issei Tamura
As a late replacement for Leonard Garcia, Issei Tamura
will be looking to upset one of the more consistently overrated fighters in the
entering the UFC/WEC in 2010, Zhang Tiequan has proven to be one of the more
consistently overrated fighters by the oddsmakers. At -250 over Danny Downes,
he gassed out and dropped a decision to one of the worst fighters in the
division. More recently, he came in as a slight favorite over Darren Elkins
and managed to get out wrestled and out struck in route to another decision
From the limited footage out there, Issei Tamura failed to
impress me. He has a solid right hand but no real set up or footwork to get
inside. However, the fact that he has short, stocky limbs and seeing him
survive the active guard of Gustavo Falciroli does lend slight credibility to
his submission defense.
you know he’s usually going to either secure an early choke or fade late. I’m
hoping to get Tamura at decent dog-price here, otherwise I would avoid this
UFC Pick: Issei
UFC 144 Fight Card