By @fightnomics There are a lot of good wrestlers at UFC 192 this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see any knockouts. Sometimes the wrestling skills of two fighters cancel out, and we end up with a toe-to-toe war. But no matter how it ultimately goes down, the fight card this weekend is bringing us one title fight, plus two potential title-eliminators. Meanwhile, fans will have plenty of talent to choose from for their fantasy teams. In fantasy MMA there’s no more valuable a rule than “bang for your buck.” Fighters who manage to score lots of knockouts or submissions normally come at a premium, so the trick is to hunt for finishing potential in fighters that are reasonably priced. To rack up big points, you need winners and finishers. The other helpful factor is the betting line, because heavy favorites do indeed tend to win quite often. But you can’t just load up your roster with favorites; you’ll need to make some value picks on underdogs or pick ‘ems to stay within the salary cap. So in order to win your pool, you’ll need winners, finishers…plus maybe an upset. And if you can’t find an upset, at least take an underdog with the potential to put up some points and avoid getting finished. We first need to separate the favorites and underdogs by their value, so here are a few recommendations for this weekend’s big card. Likely Winners and/or Finishers The hype for the UFC 192 fight card begins and ends with current champ Daniel Cormier. Cormier wrestling credentials are unquestioned, and he has rag-dolled larger and more experienced grapplers than Alexander Gustafsson. If Cormier leverages his mat skills adequately, he’ll have no trouble getting the win, and he could secure a finish on the mat at some point. Despite being a lofty $5,600, Cormier should post solid points, and fortunately there are plenty of value plays to help round out your roster under the cap. Joseph Benavidez is also steep at $5,400, but he’s never lost to non-champion caliber opponent. He’s more than three-to-one favorite over Bagautinov, and that’s because Benavidez combines a busy standup pace with well-rounded wrestling and jiu jitsu skills. He’s another solid anchor who should put up winning points. Just Too Pricey Johny Hendricks may be a former champion, once known for his out-of-nowhere power left hand, but those memories are slowly fading. Hendricks has been facing elite competition, and held his own, but he’s facing a larger and less weathered opponent in Woodley that is just as much of a dual threat striker-wrestler as Hendricks is. The matchup is a close one and certainly not a lock for Hendricks, so avoid the $5,300 price tag and hunt for value elsewhere. Rashad Evans is another former champion entering as a betting favorite, but like Hendricks, he’s facing an opponent who is stylistically very similar with a good pairing of wrestling skills and power punching. Evans isn’t going to break the bank at $5,100, but he’s vulnerable and coming off a very lengthy layoff that presents too much uncertainty. We have no idea what to expect from Evans this weekend. Bargain Favorites and Fliers Julianna Pena is the fighter who has utilized dominant ground position the most of anyone on the card this weekend, and she happens to be facing the fighter who has fared the worst on the ground. As a clear betting favorite, Pena is likely to win, and could also find herself in a positon to finish on the ground at some point in the fight, as she has in both her UFC appearances so far. At just $4,600 she makes a great bargain play. Tyron Woodley is a considerable underdog, and the cheapest fighter for the night at just $4,300. But he’s also one of the hardest punchers on the card facing an opponent in Hendricks who is a little too willing to take a punch. It’s a risky maneuver to count on Hendricks to suffer his first ever career knockout, but with such a low price this flier could pay off big-time while allowing room for a team of favorites. Disagree? Good! Take a crack at Tommy Toe Hold’s latest pool for a chance at $8,000 in prize money! Or for the not so high rollers who still want action at a big prize, check out the $5 game with $1,000 in prizes
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