Salary Cap Game Strategy & Stats (UFC 139)


Alright assdicks, the last scheduled event of the MMA Salary Cap Challenge beta is bearing down, and given the game's shamefully undeserved lack of popularity, it's anyone's guess whether or not it will resurface after this Saturday. That being said, I'm gonna try to sink this ship in style, won't you join me?



Stephan Bonnar Kyle Kingsbury
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0.93 0 0.465 4.165 0 8.33 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 7.51 6.06 7.775 9.895 8.04 13.73 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 1.96 0 1.200 1.555 0.44 3.11 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0.44 0 0.665 0 0.89 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 2.20 0 1.100 0.220 0 0.44 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 11.205 15.835 Total Expected Fantasy Points


The first main card fight of UFC 139 pits Ultimate Fighter darling Bonnar against Ultimate Fighter lab experiment Kingsbury. Though the younger, more athletic Kingsbury should take this fight handily, it's interesting to note Bonnar's apparent defensive success across three contests. He has generously outgrappled his past two opponents (Pokrajac and Soszynski twice... kinda racist), going so far as to deny every single grappling maneuver attempted against him (assuming there were any at all, of course). While Kingsbury is a gifted wrestler, he may be better off avoiding the mat and risking a Bonnar submission; instead using his striking power to batter the skilled but physically weaker veteran.



Rick Story Martin Kampmann
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0 0 0 0.280 0 0.56 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 5.96 3.38 4.960 4.710 3.96 6.04 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 1.78 2.67 1.555 1.445 1.33 0.22 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 2.22 0.44 1.330 1.555 0.44 2.67 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.44 1.56 1.555 1.335 2.67 1.11 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 9.400 9.325 Total Expected Fantasy Points


Story vs. Kampmann is as even a contest as I've seen in the past couple months of playing MSCC. Both fighters are evenly matched not only in total expected points, but over four of the five point categories. Kampmann's most marked advantage is his striking power, but Story has thus far displayed a tough beard. On a card stuffed with flashy strikers, this is my dark horse pick for Fight of the Night, ending in a hard-earned decision in Story's favor or a third round TKO win for Kampmann.



Urijah Faber Brian Bowles
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0 0 0 0 0 0 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 4.98 3.82 5.620 4.640 6.26 5.46 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 0.58 0.76 0.625 0.910 0.67 1.06 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 2.67 0 1.335 0.835 0 1.67 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.67 0 0.335 0.220 0 0.44 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 7.915 6.605 Total Expected Fantasy Points


It's a little strange to glance at the Knockdowns row for this matchup and see nothing but zeroes, but it's actually true that neither Faber nor Bowles have hit the mark with any bombs in quite awhile. As a matter of fact, points-wise, this is the least compelling matchup on the main card. Fortunately, it's my expectation that these two can bring out the absolute best in each other. Bowles' higher Takedowns stat is a bit of a red herring, as he completed those attempts against wrestlers highly inferior to Faber. With that supposed edge erased, Faber should be able to pick up the win wherever he so chooses.



Wanderlei Silva Cung Le
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 0.56 8.33 0.875 5.950 1.19 3.57 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 5.56 9.73 4.765 10.915 3.97 12.10 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 0.44 1.33 0.330 0.665 0.22 0 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0.44 0 0.220 0 0 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.22 0.67 0.110 0.335 0 0 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 6.300 17.865 Total Expected Fantasy Points


Bring out your dead, bring out your dead. I have a sad and overwhelming suspicion that Wanderlei Silva, in whom we've seen both bloodthirsty demon god and mild-mannered advice columnist, will not get the better of this fight. Silva's best chance appears to hang off the possibility that Cung Le's busy acting itinerary will render him rusty and uncomfortable in the cage. While that's certainly a possibility (as Rampage once demonstrated), my understanding is that Le is not only a prizefighter, but a lifelong martial artist with matching pride and dedication. It would surprise me if he used his film career as a "vacation" from his craft, the way some fighters might. Much as it pains me to say, I expect Wanderlei's eroding chin to prove a frequent and unfortunate target for Le's speedy combinations.



Mauricio Rua Dan Henderson
Last 3 Opponents' Expected Fantasy Points Opponents' Last 3
Knockdowns 6.25 0.64 4.335 1.530 2.42 2.42 Knockdowns
Sig Strikes 8.63 6.35 5.615 7.535 2.60 8.72 Sig Strikes
Takedowns 0 2.44 0 1.675 0 0.91 Takedowns
Sub Attempts 0 0 0 0 0 0 Sub Attempts
Ground Passes 0.83 2.69 0.415 2.635 0 2.58 Ground Passes
Total Expected Fantasy Points 10.365 13.375 Total Expected Fantasy Points


Like the co-main event before it, Saturday's main attraction will spell doom for a decorated Pride veteran. The difference in this bout is that both contestants carry that distinction. Two of Rua's past three performances have been vintage beatdowns of top-tier opponents. Even so, Henderson leads him in expected fantasy points by a fairly comfortable margin. Both men have well-documented knockout power, but Rua was outwrestled badly in his title loss to Jon Jones. Henderson will be no more merciful if given the chance, and I don't see him falling for any kneebar attempts from Rua. Hendo just has more ways to win, and I think he'll be adding another impressive win to an already sterling record.



Fantasy Value Leaderboard
Fighter Points Cost PPD
Wanderlei Silva 6.300 $7 0.900
Dan Henderson 13.375 $15 0.892
Stephan Bonnar 11.205 $13 0.862
Martin Kampmann 9.325 $11 0.848
Brian Bowles 6.605 $8 0.826
Cung Le 17.865 $22 0.812
Rick Story 9.400 $12 0.783
Kyle Kingsbury 15.835 $23 0.688
Mauricio Rua 10.365 $16 0.648
Urijah Faber 7.915 $13 0.609


  • 21 on Silva ($147)
  • 10 on Henderson ($150)
  • 11 on Bonnar ($143)
  • 5 on Story ($60)
  • 47 plays total ($500)


The MSCC staff posted some interesting prices for this event. Wanderlei Silva, while very likely to get trounced, should be able to perform well enough to be a steal at $7. Not only that, but if dreams really do come true and he manages to axe murder Le, those 21 buys will rake in an absurd amount of points. Henderson and Bonnar's purchase costs are a little more defensible, and still great deals.

With $60 left, I would normally make as many buys as I could on the #4 ranked fighter (Martin Kampmann) on the value leaderboard. This time, however, it crossed my mind to work out the expected payoff from laying that $60 on each of the remaining fighters, since the prices don't always divide into the budget evenly (for example, $60 on Kampmann ($11) would secure 5 buys, but leave $5 unspent). Sure enough, the best return came from #7 Rick Story, whose $12 cost divides evenly into my leftover funds, preventing any wasted dollars.

"What is the MMA Salary Cap Challenge?"

MSCC is a game designed by the fine folks at It applies the concept of point-based fantasy games from stick-and-ball sports to mixed martial arts.


"How does it work?"

Before MSCC, two types of games were available to MMA fans: gambling on bookmaker odds, or "pick 'em" games, where players try to predict winners/victory methods/etc. Like traditional fantasy sports, MSCC ignores the win/loss outcome of a team or individual, instead emphasizing an individual's statistical performance. In fantasy football, a player will benefit from his quarterback's exceptional performance, even if the QB's real-life team ultimately loses. Likewise in MSCC: If you invest in a fighter who dominates wildly for 14 minutes, you will be handsomely rewarded even if that fighter is suddenly knocked out or submitted. The distinction between winning and losing is disregarded entirely.

MSCC measures success in fantasy points. Fantasy points are calculated by tallying a fighter's successful execution of a specific maneuver, dividing the total by the number of minutes spent fighting, and increasing the results via Fightmetric-defined multipliers, as follows: knockdowns x25, significant strikes x2, takedowns x10, submission attempts x20, and ground passes x10.

For example, if Fighter X knocks down his opponent three times en route to a stoppage victory in the fourth minute of the third round, his fantasy points in the knockdowns category would equal 5.357 (3 successful maneuvers, divided by 14 minutes, multiplied by the x25 knockdown bonus).


"What is my role?"

In traditional fantasy sports, the player typically takes on the role of a team's general manager. The player will construct a fantasy team by purchasing, drafting, or trading for athletes that will likely perform well in the coming season, and earn points for successful maneuvers.

In MMA, teams and managers do not exist in the same way that they do in stick-and-ball sports. Additionally, MSCC players may "buy" a fighter multiple times, which is not generally permitted in other fantasy sports games. Consequently, when playing MSCC I find it clarifying to assume the perspective of an MMA sponsor. As in real life, exciting fighters are able to demand higher contract prices from sponsors. Each "buy" or "play" in MSCC could represent anything from having a logo on the fighter's shorts to booking him to sign autographs at an expo. In any case, every play made on the same fighter before an event could be thought of as making him more synonymous with your "brand." And of course, the payout: if the fighter performs admirably, a stronger association with him will net more revenue, in the form of fantasy points.


"How do I use your tables?"

The fight tables and fantasy value leaderboards in this series present a mixture of information provided on the MSCC website and potentially helpful statistics derived therefrom.

In the fight tables, the numbers in white boxes are the average MSCC fantasy points scored both for and against each fighter, across five categories, over their last three fights. The outer columns report their respective fighters' successes, the inner columns their failures. The gray boxes house my expected fantasy points, which are merely the average of a fighter's outer column and his opponent's inner column: an estimation based on one man's recent offensive output and the other's defensive insufficiency. The expected totals reside in the bottom row of each table.

The fantasy value leaderboard ranks all fighters on the active roster by their total expected fantasy points divided by their purchase cost (points per dollar or PPD). My MSCC plays are based on who has the highest expected PPD value and how many buys I can make before reaching the $150-per-fighter limit. Obviously don't just copy my buys, but the leaderboard might open your eyes to a fighter with more upside or risk than you realized.

\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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