Salary Cap Game Strategy & Stats (UFC 137)

UFC 137 is limping to the starting line, which means it's time for everyone to make their picks for the second MMA Salary Cap game. Below are my stat tables for each main card fight. I'll always calculate Expected Fantasy Points the same way (the average of Fighter A's points and Fighter B's opponents' points), but this time around I'll be sharing my plays, which are now based on much more sensible criteria.

Hatsu Hioki George Roop
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0 0 4.165 0.895 8.33 1.79 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 6.40 2.53 5.960 7.575 5.52 12.62 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 2.00 0.67 1.475 0.335 0.95 0 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0 1.33 0 0.665 0 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.67 0 0.690 0 0.71 0 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 12.290 9.470 Total Expected Fantasy Points

As Japan's last great hope for the foreseeable future, Hioki enters UFC 137 under considerable pressure, against a dangerous and underrated opponent in Roop. From a statistical standpoint, this looks to be a striker vs. grappler matchup, but Hioki has more striking talent than it seems here. He held his own on the feet opposite Marlon Sandro, a much more threatening striker than Roop. For his part, Roop is currently on the right side of a knock out or be knocked out campaign, but I'm not confident that he can put Hioki away before getting dragged to the ground and submitted.

Scott Jorgensen Jeff Curran
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0 0 0.280 0 0.56 0 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 6.85 7.52 4.960 4.780 3.07 2.04 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 1.82 0.80 1.465 0.510 1.11 0.22 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0 0.44 0.220 1.110 0.44 1.78 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.44 0.13 0.440 0.175 0.44 0.22 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 7.365 6.575 Total Expected Fantasy Points

While I'm a fan of both, Jorgensen vs. Curran is the frontrunner for slow burn of the night. Over their past six fights combined, neither man has made an especially dramatic hammer or nail. Jorgensen tends to get hit, but there isn't really any version of Curran that can effectively exploit that fact. I believe the numbers will spoil the ending for us this time: Jorgensen is good at takedowns; Curran is good at getting taken down. Curran will inspire moments of hope with spirited sub attempts, but for the most part Jorgensen will keep him under wraps and beat him up with enough ground and pound to take a clear decision.

Mirko Filipovic Roy Nelson
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0.56 2.26 0.560 5.295 0.56 8.33 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 3.71 4.13 6.435 6.420 9.16 8.71 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 0 0.95 0.780 0.475 1.56 0 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0.89 0 0.445 0 0 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.67 0.24 1.000 0.120 1.33 0 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 9.220 12.310 Total Expected Fantasy Points

The statistics here would have you believe that Mirko Cro Cop is a more talented grappler than Roy Nelson. While the opposite is almost certainly true, this inconsistency actually highlights a legitimate flaw in Nelson's approach: poor gameplanning. His shortage of points earned on the mat is a result of refusing to force or even oblige his opponent in going there. Instead, he's elected to absorb punishment on the feet from top 10 fighters, while trying to land the one hitter quitter that paid off against lesser opponents. Fortunately for Nelson, the general opinion seems to be that a slow, aging Cro Cop is the perfect victim for such an approach, and no better off if the fight hits the floor.

Cheick Kongo Matt Mitrione
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 2.78 5.56 1.390 6.810 0 8.06 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 7.74 2.92 5.925 6.160 4.11 9.40 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 2.50 0.44 1.695 0.220 0.89 0 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0 0 0 0 0 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.56 0.22 0.615 0.110 0.67 0 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 9.625 13.300 Total Expected Fantasy Points

Interesting to note is Kongo's significant grappling advantage in his bout with Mitrione. The Frenchman- not at all known for his wrestling acumen- is the most prolific takedown artist (as of late) on UFC 137's main card. If memory serves, a large portion of this statistic is thanks to the defensive shortcomings of Paul Buentello, but Mitrione hasn't exactly faced a murderers' row himself. Either way, Mitrione should be capable of fending off Kongo's takedowns and racking up points via the combination of his punching power and Kongo's suspect chin.

BJ Penn Nick Diaz
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 8.33 0 5.000 0.835 1.67 1.67 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 6.16 6.60 8.280 11.435 10.40 16.27 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 0.71 1.29 0.520 0.710 0.33 0.13 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0.44 0 0.220 0.335 0 0.67 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.44 0.13 0.220 0.130 0 0.13 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 14.240 13.445 Total Expected Fantasy Points

High expectations for Penn's performance are built largely upon his blistering knockout of Matt Hughes last year, not to mention Diaz's stubborn (and awesome) willingness to wade into high-volume exchanges. The two headlining fighters are poised to have the highest point outputs of anyone on the main card, and that's hardly taking into account the ground war they're very liable to get into. Next, I'll discuss whether or not their tempting point values are worth any fantasy buys.


Making Plays

From this point on, I will be employing and sharing a new method of making plays, based entirely on the MMA Salary Cap game's system of calculating an event's "Ideal Points."

Once an event is complete, each fighter's point output is divided by their dollar cost, yielding a points-per-dollar value. Ideally, the fighter with the highest score in this category would have contributed the maximum amount of plays to a fantasy player (remember that $150 is the most that may be spent on a fighter). This would continue down the list until the $500 budget was depleted. A fantasy player who mimicked these exact buys, whether by luck or true prescience, would receive the ideal number of points for the event.

My new system of making plays is nearly identical to the above process, except for replacing actual fantasy points with the expected fantasy points from the previous tables. For the last event's game, I tried spreading my buys out, making between one to five plays on all ten fighters. If I had used this new method, my earnings would have jumped from the low 500s to low 600s.

Fantasy Value Leaderboard
Fighter Points Cost P/$
Mirko Filipovic 9.220 $7 1.317
George Roop 9.470 $10 0.947
Jeff Curran 6.575 $7 0.939
Cheick Kongo 9.625 $11 0.875
Nick Diaz 13.445 $16 0.840
BJ Penn 14.240 $17 0.838
Matt Mitrione 13.300 $18 0.739
Scott Jorgensen 7.365 $11 0.670
Hatsu Hioki 12.290 $20 0.615
Roy Nelson 12.310 $23 0.535

Cro Cop, whom I believe will earn 9.22 points whether in victory or defeat, has by far the highest expected points-per-dollar value, with an event-low cost of $7. His opponent, the highly-favored Nelson, is a terrible value, likely earning just about a half fantasy point per dollar spent. It's an interesting coincidence that the two opponents are on mirrored ends of the value spectrum; one that becomes downright strange when one realizes the same applies to all five pairings, all the way down to Diaz and Penn meeting in the middle. It is also without exception that the betting underdogs are the best deals for fantasy play. I'll be sure to check for this pattern in future events, as it may speak to how purchase costs are assigned to fighters.

At any rate, here are my buys for UFC 137's Salary Cap Game.

  • 21 on Filipovic ($147)
  • 15 on Roop ($150)
  • 21 on Curran ($147)
  • 5 on Kongo ($55)
  • 62 plays total ($499)

Just to clarify, I fully expect all of these fighters to receive medium to heavy ass-beatings. I would not place any victory bets on them (although a savvier gambler might). However, since the salary cap game wholly disregards win/loss outcomes, I believe that the fighters I've chosen will likely kick up enough dust to justify the dollar amount spent on them.

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\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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