The Octagon rolls into Salt Lake City for the very first time on Saturday night for UFC Fight Night 92 on FOX Sports 1. The event is headlined by a five-round bout in the featherweight division as rising star Yair Rodriguez takes on UFC veteran Alex Caceres.
Below are our studs, value plays and fighters to avoid when making your fantasy line-ups for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 92 event.
Teruto Ishihara ($11,500)
Teruto Ishihara made a name for himself in his last fight and he will be looking to back it up when he returns to action Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 92. Ishihara will be attempting to score his second straight win after scoring a second-round knockout win over Julian Erosa at UFC 196 in March. Ishihara followed that was a charismatic series of post-fight interviews where he let it be known that he is fighting to impress women.
He has done plenty of impressing with seven knockout wins in his career, and his two losses on his record have come to fighters who have fought inside the Octagon. Ishihara will have the experience edge over his opponent, Horacio Gutierrez, who has just four career bouts. Gutierrez has lost his last two fights but still has some solid power in his hands and is a big featherweight. Ishihara is a more complete striker, and he has the better grappling between the two. Ishihara has the highest salary on the card, and he looks to be the biggest lock on the card.
It is safe to roll him as a top play despite the fact his salary will push some fantasy players away.
Yair Rodriguez ($10,500)
This event is built around showcasing Yair Rodriguez in the headline position and he has a favorable match-up on Saturday night as he takes on Alex Caceres in the five-round main event. Rodriguez is 7-1 in his career and has won five straight fights leading into this bout. While he has only scored finishes in three of his seven wins, he also scored finishes in his two tournament bouts when he won The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America season one.
Rodriguez is also coming off a spectacular head kick knockout win over Andre Fili at UFC 197 in April. Caceres has had his ups-and-downs in the UFC, but he has won two straight fights since moving back up to 145 pounds after suffering three straight losses at 135 pounds. Caceres has improved his overall game, but he doesn’t have the flashy striking of Rodriguez. Caceres has a better shot at winning if he is able to get inside the pocket of Rodriguez and utilize the clinch but Rodriguez will use his kicks to keep him at a distance. Rodriguez will strike a lot and has an excellent chance at scoring a finish of Caceres.
Even if he is unable to, I see Rodriguez getting the win, and the potential for the fight to go 25 minutes opens up more scoring opportunities. Rodriguez is set up for a win, and I expect him to get it, and he is an excellent play for your line-ups.
Joseph Gigliotti ($9,300)
Joseph Gigliotti is making his UFC debut on Saturday night, and he immediately gets a main card spot when he takes on veteran Trevor Smith. Gigliotti is an excellent prospect, and very young at just 22-years-old. He is a perfect 7-0 in his career and has won all seven of his fights by stoppage, with three by knockout and four by submission.
Meanwhile, Smith is a 35-year-old who will be competing in his 20th professional fight, but he hasn’t fought in over a year. He is just 13-6 in his career, and five of his six losses have seen him finished. It isn’t an easy debut for Gigliotti, but he has the better athleticism of the two. Giglotti has power in his hands, a good wrestling game, and has shown an astute ability to snatch a submission. He is giving up some size to Smith, who is a big middleweight, and Gigliotti’s future in the UFC may be at 170 pounds.
Gigliotti is actually the betting favorite in this fight, but he has a much lower salary than Smith, which makes him the interesting play, and the big value play. I see Gigliotti being able to get a finish, and a quick one as well.
Chris Camozzi ($8,700)
Chris Camozzi is entering Saturday night’s event riding a three-fight win streak, and his decision win over Vitor Miranda in May may have been his best overall performance in his 16-fight UFC career. He has definitely improved his skills, and he gets the chance to showcase himself in a high-level fight against a perennial top-fifteen fighter in Thales Leites.
Leites has lost his past two fights after knocking on the door of title contention by scoring five straight wins in his return to the UFC. Despite Camozzi’s recent win streak and Leites’ recent losing streak, Leites is the big betting favorite and has a very high salary when it comes to fantasy. Camozzi is the better fighter on the feet and will be looking to establish his dominance there early. Where Leites excels, and where Camozzi lacks, is the ground game. Camozzi has ten losses in his career, and five of those have been by submission. Camozzi has never been finished by strikes in his career. Leites will be looking for the takedown and his grappling is dangerous.
There is a reason Leites is a big favorite, but Camozzi’s striking can’t be overlooked. He can frustrate Leites on the feet, and that makes him a very solid value play on the card.
FIGHTERS TO AVOID
Viktor Pesta ($9,900)
Viktor Pesta came into the UFC with a perfect 9-0 record, but he has been a big disappointment since stepping foot inside the Octagon. He is just 1-2 in his three UFC bouts, and they haven’t been what fans would call exciting fights. He is coming off a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis in his most previous bout.
Pesta had scored seven of his nine prior wins by stoppage, and six of those had come in the first round. Suddenly, once he stepped foot inside the Octagon, that finishing ability seemed to be lost. He has had tough opponents, but he hasn’t shown the flashes of ability that got him signed. He is decent on his feet but works best in the clinch. He takes on Marcin Tybura on Saturday, a fighter who could have the same things said about him as Pesta does.
The loser of this bout is likely to be cut, so I see both men taking the safe route. We have seen some lackluster heavyweight bouts, and this one has the potential to be a lackluster one. I’m recommending avoiding both men, but especially Pesta as he has the higher salary.
Tatsuya Kawajiri ($9,100)
Tatsuya Kawajiri has been around for a very long time and Saturday will mark his 47th professional fight. It will be his sixth appearance for the UFC and he looks to bounce back from a decision loss to Dennis Bermudez.
Kawajiri takes on Cub Swanson in the headline bout on UFC Fight Pass, and their fight is likely the fight most fans are looking forward to the most. Kawajiri’s best days are behind him, and Swanson is the better fighter at this stage of their careers. Kawajiri doesn’t have the striking to match Swanson, but he does have a serious grinding style that he could utilize. Kawajiri won’t beat grapplers who are better than him at this stage, but he could give Swanson some fits. Swanson will need to keep this fight standing as he lands with a lot of volume. Kawajiri has a low salary and it will make him tempting to use, but I don’t see him defeating Swanson.
If he is able to, I would think it would be a boring and lackluster decision win, and his point-scoring potential would be limited. It’s just not a favorable match-up for Kawajiri, and I’m passing on him this weekend.
RYAN FREDERICK- Yair Rodriguez ($10,500), Dennis Bermudez ($10,400), Zak Cummings ($10,000), Chase Sherman ($9,700), Joseph Gigliotti ($9,300)
I like Yair Rodriguez in the main event. His striking is flashy, and this is a favorable match-up for him against Alex Caceres. Caceres has definitely improved, but he still has been finished six times in his career. I like Rodriguez to be the seventh fighter to finish Caceres. Dennis Bermudez has had his ups-and-downs in the UFC, but he looked impressive against a tough Tatsuya Kawajiri in his last fight. He gets Rony Jason coming off of being out of action for well over a year after being suspended. I like Bermudez to dominate and submit Jason. Zak Cummings has quietly won four of his five UFC bouts and he has an edge in styles over Santiago Ponzinibbio. Cummings hits hard and has good submissions, and I like him to win.
Chase Sherman is a debuting heavyweight taking on another debuting heavyweight in Justin Ledet. Sherman has nine wins, all by knockout, and all in the first round. Ledet is actually a light heavyweight, and he will be giving up tons of size to Sherman. I see this as an easy win for Sherman. I’m filling out my team with Joseph Gigliotti. He has a ton of potential and is a proven finisher, and he should be the favorite over Trevor Smith. He is one of my value plays, and I almost see him as my lock of the night as far as predictions go.
PAUL FONTAINE- Maryna Moroz ($10,900), Yair Rodriguez ($10,500), Zak Cummings ($10,000), Justin Ledet ($9,700), Horacio Gutierrez ($7,900)
Maryna Moroz might be even better than her record shows. Her only loss came to Valerie Letourneau, who subsequently went five rounds with the champion. Her opponent has a similar record but against far lesser competition. She’s the biggest favorite on the card for a reason. Rodriguez should make quick work of Bruce Leroy in what could be his coming out party in the main event. Cummings has deceptive power and his opponent Ponzinibbio has shown to have a vulnerable chin and I think he goes down here.
Justin Ledet is an unbeaten heavyweight who has finished every one of his career opponents. His opponent has KO’s in every one of his career wins so this one is a bit of a toss-up but I’ve seen Ledet fight on AXS TV and I was impressed. My last pick is a longshot for sure but it’s the only way I could get 4 favorites on the team. Horacio Gutierrez has a .500 record but his opponent is new to the UFC level as well and anything can happen with two young, hungry fighters.
PEACH MACHINE- Thales Leites ($10,700), Dennis Bermudez ($10,400), Zak Cummings ($10,000), Tatsuya Kawajiri ($9,100), Alex Caceres ($8,900)
Bermudez is my man. He’s a bad styles match up for “Jason” and I think he gets the finish. Leites is more a pick against Camozzi who I think of as basically a job guy. Leites over. Kawajiri is a bad styles match up for Swanson. I think he’s gonna take him down and ground him out. Bruce Lee Roy is an underdog pick but I’m surprised to see how much of a dog he is. That seems off to me so I’m taking him.
And Cummings is always game. All of this said, I can see me missing every single pick. Recently, I’ve gone bi-polar on my picks. I’ve killed it on a show, followed immediately by getting killed. Nothing in the middle. I got killed last weekend, so here’s hoping!