TUF 27: Full Breakdown

Tyler Diamond $8,400 vs. Bryan Mitchell $7,800

Diamond was the best fighter on TUF this season, but bad fight decisions, gassing out, and poor fundamentals down the stretch, lead him to dropping his last fight against Jay Cucciniello. Additionally, I think guys on the heavier side of a division like Diamond struggle with the weight cuts on TUF more than other fighters. Diamond is the most polished prospect on this season of TUF. He is a definite Team Alpha Male fighter, with very strong wrestling, ground control and striking, and power punching. Bryan Mitchell also looked like he could have a future in the UFC, albeit he needs some more work. Hist striking is not as refined as Diamond, and he’ll have hard time pushing in to force his own takedowns. Mitchell is pretty decent on the ground, but I think he’s a little over confident in his ability there and a solid grappler in Diamond won’t let up on any sloppiness in transition.

My Prediction

Diamond via 3rd Rd TKO.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

Mitchell is a solid young fighter, but I don’t think he’s quite UFC ready yet. Diamond is. He also has very solid grappling upside in this matchup, and will be in nearly all of my lineups.

Oskar Piechota $9,000 (-235) vs. Gerald Meerschaert $7,200 (+195)

Piechota has maintained his undefeated status across two UFC bouts. A patient counter striker, Piechota circles and retreats often. In this fight, Meerschaert will definitely be the aggressor—as he moves forward constantly. Piechota does have decent power, though I don’t think it’s enough to finish Meerscahert, and I’ve yet to see Piechota challenged by a legit pressuring striker like Meerschaert. Piechota’s greatest strength is his ground game, hence his name “the vice”. He is one of the better wrestler to come out of the European MMA circuits, with slick takedowns and fantastic ground pressure. I suspect this fight will be decided on the mat.

Meerschaert has had decent success in the UFC thus far. Meerschaert isn’t the most athletic guy in the ring, but he is exceptionally calm and wields deceptively heavy hands and vicious body kicks. Meerschaert is at his best on the ground—where that ultra calm demeanor carries over and Meerschaert makes very smooth transitions to land the submission finish. He has 19 across his career. Before making it to the UFC, Meerschaert’s greatest weakness was his own submission defense, taking 7 of his 9 losses via submission. However, he’s put the work in over the course of his career to build really solid grappling defense. As such, since 2013 his only losses have been to solid UFC middleweights in Sam Alvey and Thiago Santos.

My Prediction

Oskar Piechota via Split Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

Meerscahert is the kind of veteran fighter that gives up and comers like PIechota trouble. He’s very relentless in the pursuit, has a very strong chin, and a very underrated ground game—particularly in terms of defense. I don’t hate playing PIechota, but Meerschaert is the much more interesting play to me here. I do think Piechota lands regular takedowns, but doesn’t do much with it—rather attempting to avoid dangerous spots and exert pressure, as Meerschaert hunts for submissions. This fight is far from a must play to me, but the exposure I do have will be to Meerscahert.

Matt Bessette (-170) vs. Steven Peterson (+150)

This should essentially be a fight to stay on the roster. Both of these guys have the distinction of getting shots in the UFC despite losing on the TNC series. Bessette dropped his debut against the very solid Enrique Barzola. In that fight Bessette flashed some decent ability—being a pressuring power puncher, he had some good moments in that fight. However, like many opponents, he fell victim to Barzola’s wrestling. Peterson will likely look to replicate that performance, as he does his best work on the ground. Standing up, Peterson wanders into range without much thought for defense—thankfully for him he has one of the more durable chins I’ve seen in a while.

My Prediction

Peterson via Split Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

This is not a highly technical fight, but I think Peterson can get it the ground a couple times— but won’t be able to finish it there given Bessette’s ground skills. The striking may slightly favor Bessette, but I don’t think he’ll do enough to fully sway the judges. I’m likely to fade this fight.

John Gunther $8,400 (-185) vs. Alan Zuniga $7,800

Neither of these fighters have shown that they are at the UFC level yet. Gunther has a lot of heart and a very hard head, but his striking is incredibly raw and slow. His best bet in any fight is dragging it to the ground. In the clinch he has decent strength and some equally decent trips. Zuniga also didn’t look very impressive on the show, though his striking is probably just above Gunther’s in terms of pure technical ability. Like Gunther, Zuniga is very tough and isn’t likely to be put away. The biggest knock on Zuniga is that he is severely undersized. The guy should probably be fighting at Bantamweight.

My Prediction

Gunther via Unanimous Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

I don’t expect too much from this fight. These guys are both physically tough and fight at a relatively high volume, so it well could be a very entertaining and potentially even solid for fantasy points if it becomes a real barn burner. However, short of them just throwing everything at each other early, I don’t see it finishing. It’s arguable that Gunther could have takedown upside, but I’ll be taking my chances and fading the fight all together.

Luis Pena (-380) vs. Richie Smullen (+315)

Luis Pena won his TUF fight before getting sidelined due to a broken foot. On TUF, and beforehand, Pena has flashed some dynamic striking ability, with flashy kicks and very rangy punching from his 6’3’’ frame. Standing up he will have a big advantage over Smullen, who is very raw in the striking game. On the ground Smullen should have the distinct advantage, and in particular Pena will be wise to avoid getting his long legs wrapped up by Smullen, whose leg locks are something to reckon with.

My Prediction

Pena via Unanimous Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

It’s yet to be seen how well Smullen can use his leg lock heavy style at the higher levels of the sport. My guess is that it’s not a long term strategy for success, especially in the UFC. Against a raw prospect like Pena it may be enough, but I’m betting it doesn’t. Pena is rangy and technical enough to avoid going to the ground and I haven’t seen evidence of Smullen having the game to bring this fight to where he needs it to win. Just as well, Pena’s power is not very convincing either, so I’ll be fading what should be a relatively slow moving decision.

Montana De La Rosa $8,500 (-175) vs. Rachel Ostovich $7,700 (+155)

Here we’ve got a matchup between two past TUF alums. De La Rosa has made a name for herself as a grappling fighter. She has a high school wrestling background and parlayed that quickly into a pro MMA career. On the mat she’s quick to try to find the submission finish, and has taken most of her wins that way. She has no stand out victories but her most recent losses have all come against solid competition; Cynthia Calvillo, Mackenzie Dern, and Nicco Montano. I don’t think she’s at that level yet, but she has potential.

Ostovich is another fighter who can be described as having potential. With a strong judo background, she is also very adept at getting the takedown. Most say De La Rosa is the more accomplished takedown artist and defender, but I’m unsure about that. Ostovich is the stronger fighter here, and has a decent ground game herself. Standing up, I’d give the narrow edge to Osotovich. While her striking can’t be described as highly technical, she slings decently heavy hands and does a better job at pressuring with her short combinations than De La Rosa does. If the fight stays standing up, I’d give her the edge, despite having a reach disadvantage.

My Prediction

Ostovich via Unanimous Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

This fight should essentially be a pick em’. However, I’ve seen Ostovich take bigger strides across her career, and show greater competence in the stand up game. I think both fighters slightly cancel out each others takedown upside, but I’m far from being sure about it. I’m fading this one.

Julian Marquez $8,800 (-160) vs. Alessio Di Chirico $7,400 (+140)

Marquez gave us an incredibly entertaining back and forth contest with Darren Stewart last time out. All of Marquez’s talent, abilities, and deficiencies were on display there. Marquez is a pretty raw talent still, with very heavy hands, relentless pressure, and faith in his iron chin. He also flashed some new skills recently—landing his first submission win. Marquez is a complete finisher, taking all of his wins inside the distance.

Di Chirico is an interesting fighter, being that he is a counter striker at his base, but is also very comfortable turning fights into brawls once opponents do press in on him. With the exception of his most recent win, Di Chirico has had most of his success when the fights gets ugly. That’s not good for him here, as Marquez is likely far more comfortable and capable in a chaotic fight. Additionally, Di Chirico has shown a lack of grappling skill, albeit against a strong submission artist. It’s possible we see a growing Marquez try again for the submission here.

My Prediction

Marquez via 1st Rd TKO.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

I have a lot of faith in Marquez as a talent. He still has a lot work to ever make a legit climb up the ladder, but Di Chirico is the kind of middle of the road middleweight that Marquez should eat up. This fight should finish, and I expect it to at the hands of Marquez fairly early. He is likely a bit chalky, but in this case, I’ll eat the chalk.

Barb Honchak $8,700 (-185) vs. Roxanne Modafferi $7,500 (+160)

Barb Honchak is big figure in the history of women’s featherweight MMA. It’s a shame the division wasn’t made earlier in the UFC, as Honchak has fallen off a bit in terms of ability, and would have made a much better member of the roster a few years back. Honchak is fundamentally sound in her Kickboxing, even though she’s lost a step. And will be the much better striker in this fight. Especially when it comes to footwork/defense. Honchak does look worse now when she’s pressured, and the one thing you have to give Modafferi is that she has no problem relentlessly coming forward with volume. I’m not sure if Honchak’s striking, regardless of solid technique and accuracy, will be enough from keeping her from being backed into the fence. Honchak, a complete veteran, is also a complete fighter. Honchak isn’t a great wrestler, but once on the mat she is much more dangerous then she is often given credit—even from her back. Though she lacks control in transition at times, and can give up submission opportunities to someone like Modafferi. Modafferi is first and foremost a jiu jitsu player. She is, to put it in simple terms, a bad athlete. However, she is a smart fighter with a lot of heart, and she knows what she does well. She is very much like a female Eric Spicely. Her striking is just enough to get close on many opponents, and her wrestling is just enough to drag it to the ground. Once on the mat she will have a distinct advantage, even here against a veteran in Honchak.

My Prediction

Modafferi via 3rd Rd Submission.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

I see Honchak winning a decision right up until she does get submitted. Modafferi, for all her lack in athleticism and stand up game, is undeniably dangerous on the ground. Honchak should gather a lot of SS strikes regardless of the outcome. Modafferi absorbs punches like a sponge and Honchak is a relatively high volume striker. Modafferi may land a takedown or two, but she will find it harder to consistently land on Honchak the way she did against Montano. It’s an odd situation for me. Modafferi, my marginal pick to win, shouldn’t end up with many fantasy points regardless, but is cheap. Honchak may not be my pick to win, but I think she has a strong chance to win still and will likely have a huge volume of strikes behind it. Ultimately, I’ll probably fade this fight, given that I’m having a hard time deciding on an outcome and there are plenty of other options on the slate.

Alex Caceres $8,300 (-135) vs. Martin Bravo $7,900 (+115)

Caceres is a very talented and entertaining fighter, but he hasn’t had the consistency or growth to make the kind of moves up the rankings he once seemed capable of. In space, Caceres still looks fundamentally solid standing up. His kickboxing is rangy and fast, and his defensive movement can frustrate opponents that try to fight him patiently. Caceres is also a decent grappler, and likely has the advantage getting to and being on the mat here. It may be wise for Caceres to use his ground game here, but given poor decision making in the past, that is far from a guarantee.

Martin Bravo came to notice through TUF, winning despite fighting above his natural weight class (lightweight). Bravo is the kind of fighter that can cause problems for Caceres, given he is a pressure fighter. The question is whether he has the ability to pressure Caceres the way other fighters like Jason Knight or Wang Guan have. If it goes to the mat, Bravo is at a significant disadvantage.

My Prediction

Caceres via 2nd Rd Submission.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

Caceres has not always fought smart, so you can’t expect it here. However, I don’t think Bravo is quite at the level of those who have been beating Caceres as of late. If Caceres can drag this fight to the ground at any point, i have confidence he can pull off the submission. Particularly if Bravo tires himself out with his style in the first. I’ll be playing a significant amount of Caceres.

Joe Gianneti $8,600 (-165) vs. Michael Trizano $7,600 (+145)

On this season of TUF, both of these fighters stood out as decently rangy strikers with the chops to cause problems for the competition standing up. The difference here, for me, is the ability on the ground. Trizano had far too many struggles staying on his feet with John Gunther for me to have confidence in his takedown defense, and so in the occasion that Gianneti can’t find success in the striking game he has the more complete ground game to turn too. Additionally, I was impressed by how calm and patient Gianneti was in his striking—though some amount of that may have been because of how green his competition was.

My Prediction

Gianneti via Unanimous Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

I’m not sure how the striking game plays out here, as being against an equally long opponent may slow both of their games down considerably. Ultimately, Giannetti gets the nod given his more complete game and ability to finish with the submission. Trizano is far from a bad play given his price, but neither of these fighters seems to have remarkable power. Gianneti makes for a decent play given his ability to pull in the submission quickly, but he’s far from a must play.

Brad Katona $8,600 (-245) vs. Jay Cucciniello $7,600 (+185)

Brad Katona was a stand out on this season of TUF. A wrestler at his core, Katona is consistent in his hunt to bring the fight to the mat. Though, his counter hooks also stood out to me in his time on TUF. Katona may not have the best power, but his left hand is well trained in terms of accuracy and timing. Perhaps most importantly, Katona is a smart fighter. Tyler Diamond, a very similar if not more refined version of Katona, lost his fight against Cucciniello, largely because he got sloppy in his hunt for the finish. I don’t Katona will do the same.

Cucciniello needed some luck getting to this fight, losing his debut on TUF but then filling in for another injured fighter. Cucciniello is, like most European prospects, a striker first and foremost. The crux of his kickboxing game is pushing a fast pace and being incredibly tough. Against a patient counter striker in Katona, I don’t know if that’s a great plan. Additionally, Cucciniello stands very upright much of the time—and unsurprisingly has been brought to the ground with regularity against wrestling fighters.

My Prediction

Katona via Unanimous Decision.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

Katona fights a smart fight here and Cucciniello is hard to put away. I think this could potentially be a gold mine for takedowns and advances by Katona, though it’s not a guarantee given Katona will likely fight very cautiously in the early going. The argument could be made that Cucciniello already beat a better version of Katona in Diamond, that’s a narrative I considered when first looking at this fight. However, what Katona lacks in polish he makes up for with Fight IQ, so I have full confidence in my picking him. Katona is in my core.

Israel Adesanya $8,200 (-130) vs. Brad Tavares $8,000 (+110)

Adesanya is one of the more exciting prospect to enter the UFC in the last year. A highly accomplished kick boxer, Adesanya’s striking stands out as some of the flashiest and best the middleweight division has to offer. His striking flows so easily from one attack to the other, and his ridiculous range allows him to do so while avoiding a large portion of his opponents strikes. A lot was made recently of his somewhat close bout with Marvin Vettori, though Vettori is an underrated fighter, and in particularly a very underrated striker. Adesanya’s biggest hole remains his grappling, but he has developed enough TDD to continue climbing the rankings for now.

Tavares has been around for a long time, and is one of the most underrated guys in the division. Primarily a kick boxer, Tavares is patient to a fault; leg kicking and retreating with regularity as he prods with occasional short combinations. That style has led to a lot of decision, despite decent natural power. It’s also a recipe for disaster here. Tavares gets beat by two kinds of fighters; KO artists with elite striking and wrestlers. Adesanya certainly isn’t the latter, but he is 100% the former. Tavares does have some wrestling chops, but not enough to cause problems for Adesanya.

My Prediction

Adesanya via 1st Rd TKO.

Confidence and Fantasy Value

I really like Tavares, but Adesanya is one of the best prospects the UFC has. Additionally, this is just a bad matchup for Tavares. Adesanya still ate up Vettori on the feet, and Vettori is a pressuring striker. With the patience and space Tavares brings, Adesanya will be 100% comfortable to implement his game. I don’t see how you don’t play Adesanya.

About the Author


  • WuChef1986

    you dont seee how someone doesnt play izzy????? uh WHAT

  • Cfiander

    @WuChef1986 said...

    you dont seee how someone doesnt play izzy????? uh WHAT

    Like I said, you don’t fight patiently and with space against an elite rangy kickboxer like Adesanya. That’s what Tavares is likely to do given his track record. Could be wrong about the fight, but I think that would mean Tavares emphasizing his wrestling, which he might be decently capable of, but not to the extent that I think he wins across three rounds here.

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