Before the welterweights completely take over on the UFC 171 main card, fight fans are in store for what could be one of the best sets of prelims in quite some time. A solid welterweight bout between Rick Story and Kelvin Gastelum headlines a preliminary card that also includes highly touted prospects Alex Garcia and Justin Scoggins. Add to that a women’s bantamweight bout that seems destined to turn into a brawl, the contrasting grappling styles of Dennis Bermudez and Jimy Hettes, and a pair of undefeated prospects making their UFC debuts, and there’s something worth watching in nearly every one of these fights. Earlier this week we broke the opening odds for the main card of UFC 171 at 5Dimes Sportsbook, and Nick Kalikas now has the opening odds set to go for the remaining fights at UFC 171. ——————– MAIN CARD (PPV, 10pm ET) Johny Hendricks -290 Robbie Lawler +210 Carlos Condit -130 Tyron Woodley -110 Hector Lombard -165 Jake Shields +125 Myles Jury -210 Diego Sanchez +160 Ovince St. Preux -280 Nikita Krylov +200 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (Fox Sports 2, 8pm ET) Kelvin Gastelum -150 Rick Story +110 Jessica Andrade -170 Raquel Pennington +130 Dennis Bermudez -175 Jimy Hettes +135 Alex Garcia -315 Sean Spencer +235 ——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6pm ET) Frank Trevino -125 Renee Forte -115 Justin Scoggins -280 Will Campuzano +200 Bubba McDaniel -165 Sean Strickland +125 Daniel Pineda -230 Robert Whiteford +170 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Eight fights on the prelims and five of them are really close as far as the odds go. The fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Rick Story looks extremely even to me. Both are good wrestlers with improving striking and solid submission games. Gastelum may have a slight cardio edge here, but sometimes Story’s cardio looks really good and other times it’s a bit shaky. Both guys also come out aggressive and like to push forward, meaning this could a fight of the night contender. I do slightly lean towards Gastelum, but Story is so seasoned that I’m not willing to play him unless I can get at least even money. A close line that I don’t necessarily agree with is the Andrade/Pennington fight. In women’s MMA, the better athlete wins 90% of the time, and Jessica Andrade is the better athlete here. Raquel Pennington is a bigger fighter and slightly better at range, but she isn’t technical enough or powerful enough to keep distance against an aggressive fighter like Andrade. Pennington also lets other fighters get off first, which isn’t smart against the faster Andrade. Andrade also has a grappling advantage here if the fight hits the ground. Overall I like her advantages quite a bit in this fight, and expect the public to also come in on the Brazilian. Speaking of close lines, I’m not sure the Hettes/Bermudez line will stay close for long, even though it should. Bermudez has an advantage on the feet — even though he’s flawed defensively — but Hettes is improving there in addition to having a length advantage and being a southpaw which will make the fight relatively close there. Where it really gets interesting is on the ground, where Bermudez inevitably takes all his fights. He has attempted nine or more takedowns in all of his fights that have gone to decision, and I would expect him to try to take Hettes down even though Jimy is the better grappler. Bermudez has found himself in bad positions again multiple fighters, and none of them are as dangerous as Hettes on the ground. I wouldn’t back Bermudez here, but if the public jumps on board him and his six-fight win streak there may be some value in Hettes. Alex Garcia has an insane hype train right now, and while it is mostly deserved there are still some areas of his game that he needs to improve. The biggest one is cardio, and if Sean Spencer can survive the first round he can definitely test that aspect. However there’s a very good chance Garcia can get Spencer down to the ground early and take advantage of him there to get an early sub. Even if it stays on the feet, Garcia has big power and nice technique, so he could even dispatch Spencer there. I actually lean a bit towards Renee Forte against the debuting Frank Trevino. Trevino is dropping down from 170 to 155 for the first time to make his UFC debut here, and is taking a big step up in competition with Forte. We’ve seen regularly that fighters making their UFC debuts haven’t put on good performances and I expect that to be the case again. Even at the best of times Trevino is little more than a decent Muay Thai striker with solid takedown defense, but I actually think Forte can match him on the feet. Although people may be eager to play the 11-0 Texan, I certainly won’t. Sean Shelby has not done Will Campuzano any favors since bringing him back to the UFC. First he gets matched up with uber-prospect Sergio Pettis, and now he gets just as highly touted Justin Scoggins. I actually think Scoggins is a worse matchup for Campuzano than Pettis was, because he’s a better overall wrestler than Sergio while being an equally deadly striker. Wrestling is where Campuzano found the bulk of his success in that bout and it just won’t happen here. If there’s one fighter on this entire card who could be safe parlay material it might be Scoggins. Going from a safe bet to a completely risky one would be playing either side in the McDaniel/Strickland fight. Strickland is another unbeaten prospect making his UFC debut, although he’s doing it on very short notice. He brings a decent wrestling game and ground and pound to the cage, but realistically, he’s outmatched everywhere in this bout if Bubba’s head is on straight. That’s where the risk comes in, you never know what’s going on in Bubba’s head. Robert Whiteford gets his second shot in the UFC after stepping up on short notice to face Jimy Hettes in his debut. He gets a similar style matchup in this fight, and I think the fight plays out about the same. Daniel Pineda isn’t as good a grappler nor is his cardio as good as Hettes’, but he’s very aggressive and should be able to put Whiteford in some bad spots early on. If he doesn’t get the early sub he could run into some trouble, but more times than not I think his grappling overwhelms.
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