WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – FIGHTER PICKS
The UFC is back with its annual event on the weekend of the NFL’s big game, as UFC Fight Night 104 takes place this Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The card does not feature any title fights; however, it does have a number of exciting matchups that should entertain fans on Saturday.
Here are the top five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 104.
Jung Returns From Long Absence
The main event of UFC Fight Night 104 sees Chan Sung Jung ($7,800) return from a three-year layoff to take on Dennis Bermudez ($8,400) in a five-round featherweight bout. Jung is 29 years old and has a 3-1 record in the UFC overall. Before leaving the sport to complete his military service requirements, he had become one of the sport’s most exciting fighters as his UFC run consisted of a twister submission over Leonard Garcia, a seven-second KO over Mark Hominick, and a D’arce choke submission over Dustin Poirier, before losing via injury TKO to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Jung is simply a joy to watch as he’s always in extremely entertaining bouts, and he is a true finisher. The biggest problem for Jung is this long layoff he’s coming back from, because otherwise he’d likely be expected to win this fight.
As for Bermudez, he’s 30 years old and is 9-3 overall in the UFC, and he’s currently riding a two-fight win streak. He’s 16-5 overall in MMA with seven finishes and nine decisions, but he’s been finished five times which is a concern against high-level fighters. Bermudez’s bread and butter is his power wrestling game. He is able to implement his wrestling against most of his opponents and has the ability to land big, powerful slams and keep his foes on the mat where he’s strong on top. However, his striking is fairly poor overall and his chin is a bit of a question mark at this point. Still, his wrestling makes him a tough opponent for anyone at 145lbs.
Analysis: The biggest question mark in this fight is of course Jung’s three-year layoff. That’s a long time to be away from MMA, and Bermudez is definitely a tough matchup for Jung’s debut due to his power wrestling game. That being said, I still favor Jung to win this fight. I believe he is more dangerous in the standup and on the ground, has a better chin and has shown in the past he is dangerous in the later rounds. If Jung wins this fight it’s probably going to be via stoppage, so he makes a very intriguing underdog pick for that reason.
Grasso Looks To Impress Again
The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 104 is a women’s strawweight bout between Alexa Grasso ($9,100) and Felice Herrig ($7,100). Grasso is just 23 years old and is undefeated in her MMA career at 9-0, with four wins via knockout and five wins via decision. After going 4-0 in Invicta and impressing there, she was signed to the UFC and defeated Heather Jo Clark via decision in her debut. Grasso has excellent hands and her grappling keeps getting better every time she fights. The matchmakers have done an excellent job at slowly progressing her from fight to fight and this matchup against Herrig is the perfect test of her young, blossoming career.
Herrig is 32 years old and is 2-1 in her UFC career with two submission wins. In her MMA career she is 11-6 overall with five finishes and with all her losses coming via decision. Herrig is an experienced fighter who has fought a high-level of competition throughout her career and she’s proven to be extremely durable. However, she’s always come up short when fighting top-level opponents, and that’s kept her at the gatekeeper level for the last few years. Herrig is going to be a solid test for Grasso, but she is a clear underdog in the matchup.
Analysis: This should be a favorable matchup for Grasso to showcase her skillset, but Herrig is extremely durable and should be able to survive the full three rounds. I’m looking for Grasso to win a hard-fought decision, but her lack of finishing ability at this level and Herrig’s toughness makes her an iffy fantasy play for me.
OSP Fights Short-Notice Newcomer
A light heavyweight matchup sees Ovince Saint-Preux ($9,200) fight UFC newcomer Volkan Oezdemir ($7,000). OSP is 33 years old and he’s 7-4 in the UFC. After starting off his UFC career with four-straight wins, OSP has fallen on hard times as of late as he’s currently riding a two-fight losing streak and has lost three of his last four bouts overall. To his credit, he is fighting top-10 opponents. OSP is a dangerous fighter who has a crafty submission game as well as knockout power in his hands. However, his chin is a bit suspect at this point.
As for Oezdemir, he took this fight on two weeks notice. Oezdemir is 27 years old and he’s 12-1 in his career with 10 finishes. Judging by his past performances, it appears Oezdemir has big-time knockout power as he has nine career knockout wins, but he has not fought a high level of competition, and the one fight he had against a legitimate opponent in Bellator resulted in a loss. Until he proves his skills against a UFC-caliber opponent, it’s simply hard to pick him against a top-10 fighter like OSP.
Analysis: Saint-Preux has proven to be a top-10 light heavyweight in the UFC while for Oezdemir this is a massive step up in competition on short notice. All signs are pointing to Saint-Preux winning this fight, with the only question being if he does so by stoppage or by decision. I lean towards OSP winning the fight via submission, and I feel he is a pretty strong pick for any team.
Andrade Takes On Hill
In a potential women’s strawweight No. 1 contender bout, Jessica Andrade ($9,300) fights Angela Hill ($6,900). Andrade is 25 and is 15-5 overall in MMA with a 6-3 record in the UFC, including a 2-0 mark as a strawweight. With 12 finishes in her career, Andrade has proven to be one of the most dangerous female strawweights on the roster, although with four stoppage losses she has also proven to be defensively flawed. But as far as her offense goes, she’s one of the best. Andrade is extremely aggressive on the feet and on the ground as she is always looking for the finish.
As for Hill, she’s 30 years old and is 6-2 overall in MMA, including a 1-2 UFC record. After being cut by the UFC, Hill went to Invicta and won four fights in 2016, which earned her another crack at the UFC. Hill comes from a kickboxing background and has three knockout wins which shows how dangerous she is on her feet. However, her defensive grappling has proven to be a liability as she’s been submitted in her career, and that’s a concern going up against a well-rounded opponent like Andrade.
Analysis: Hill went on a nice run in Invicta, but Andrade, who has been on a roll in the UFC, is a big step up in competition. Andrade has shown to have the ability to finish her opponents, a rare trait in the women’s 115lbs division. I’m looking for Andrade to get the win over Hill in this fight, and with a stoppage along the way a possibility, I think she makes an intriguing fantasy pick.
Torres And Rawlings Look To Rebuild Stock
A preliminary card bout sees women’s strawweights Tecia Torres ($9,000) and Bec Rawlings ($7,200) square off. Torres is 27 years old and is 3-1 in the UFC. She was undefeated through her first seven career fights before losing a decision to Rose Namajunas in her last bout, which was a year ago. Torres has shown incredible wrestling skills throughout her career, and she has some decent kickboxing, but she has zero finishes and that’s a huge concern against higher-level opponents.
Rawlings is also 27 and is 2-2 in the UFC and 7-5 overall in MMA. With five finishes, including four submissions, she’s shown to be a dangerous fighter throughout her career, but defensively she has flaws, and those were exposed in her KO loss to Paige VanZant in her last outing. Rawlings is a decent gatekeeper, but she struggles against top competition, making this fight against Torres an uphill climb.
Analysis: Torres has a distinct advantage in the wrestling in this matchup, and that advantage should lead her to victory over Rawlings. However, with all seven of Torres’ career victories coming via decision, and with Rawlings being quite durable, I think it’s unlikely Torres gets a finish here. I’m looking for Torres to win a decision, but she usually isn’t a good fantasy option due to her lack of finishing ability.
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