Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 99 as Gegard Mousasi looks to avenge his 2015 loss to Uriah Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Uriah Hall (Record: 12-7, +450 Underdog, Power Ranking: B-) One of the most hyped fighters in the history of The Ultimate Fighter, Uriah Hall has gone 5-5 outside of the house, with four of those five losses coming to ranked opposition. This a rare rematch in the UFC in which Hall looks to rekindle the magic that he was able to display when he stunned Gegard Mousasi for the biggest win of his career. Hall is currently on a two-fight losing streak, albeit both losses to opposition ranked in the middleweight Top 10. The Jamaica-born Hall is one of the most feared strikers in the middleweight division. With a 79-inch reach, Hall is right near the top of the division and is able to land strikes others are simply not able to. His physical gifts make him an awkward matchup for most fighters in the division. He’s not only able to strike from range, but it’s the creativity he has in the stand-up that makes him a big time threat. Hall uses a lot of spinning attacks and has opponents guessing what he’ll do next. If Hall lands clean, he can knockout anyone in the division. His problem has been that he can become a bit static on the feet. There are periods of inactivity in his bouts where he simply doesn’t exchange and has ended up on the wrong side of the total strikes in a fight and therefore takes a loss. Hall can be controlled on the ground. His takedown defense is decent at 74 percent, but he has been a bit overwhelmed by fighters who can limit his mobility and score points in the ground exchanges. Gegard Mousasi (Record: 40-6, -600 Favorite, Power Ranking: A-) The Iranian-born, Dutch-raised Mousasi has fought in nearly all of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotions, including Dream, Pride, Strikeforce and the UFC. Since his stunning knockout loss to Hall one year ago, Mousasi has been on an absolute tear, winning his last three fights in dominant fashion. Mousasi is a lifetime mixed martial artist. He picked up judo at age eight and later boxing and kickboxing as a teenager. He has solid output landing 3.67 significant strikes per minute. He’s a crafty striker. He’s not overly creative, but the technique is clean and certainly stands out when he fights. Where he’s tremendously successful is his defense. He absorbs a stunningly low 1.17 significant strikes per minute defending 69 percent of strikes against him. Since 2010, only Jacare Souza connected on more than 30 strikes against Mousasi. He certainly prefers to strike, but he has gone to his ground game against dangerous opponents. He’s successfully landed 1.61 takedowns per 15 minutes in the cage and does well to control his opponent on the mat. Outside of a submission loss to Jiu-Jitsu ace Souza, Mousasi hasn’t been submitted since 2006. The loss to Hall has been a blessing in disguise for Mousasi, who has been much more calculated in his last few fights and is on the verge of contendership. Matchup An important matchup for Mousasi, as this is the fight that has haunted him more than any fight in his UFC career. Mousasi knows he’s a much more diverse and well-rounded fighter than Hall. On that night in Japan in September 2015, Hall landed the most stunning spinning back kick/flying knee combination to pull off the improbable win. It was a major setback for Mousasi, but this is his opportunity to make up for that list and put it in his past. This fight all comes down to Mousasi’s approach. In his last three fights, Mousasi has fought very calculated, minimizing risks and finishing when his opponent was vulnerable. He didn’t force the action or the exchanges. I fully expect that Mousasi will do that in this fight against Hall. It’s important for Mousasi to earn the win in this bout and move on with his career. Mousasi has a much better ground game, and I expect him to utilize wrestling quite a bit in this fight. On the feet, he knows he cannot give Hall a lot of space. Similar to the Vitor Belfort fight, he will close the gap and not allow Hall opportunities for any potential knockout strikes. I expect the rejuvenated Mousasi to dominate this fight from start to finish either winning 30-27 or by a stoppage midway through the fight. Given the price tag (-600), I don’t see much opportunity to bet this fight. The points prop handicap (line not currently released) may be worth looking at. If Mousasi TKO moves up to over +200, that could be worth a stab as well.
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