This Saturday night's UFC On FOX 17 card will represent the culmination of the biggest year the UFC has had to date. The final card of 2015 is a pretty good looking affair, with the lightweight strap on the line in the main event. There are many intriguing match-ups and the return of one half of the most entertaining family duo in MMA history, Nate Diaz (insert many "wuts" middle fingers and stick figure self-portraits here).
*Many thanks to the amazing Tommy Toehold for hooking me up with this exclusive video. Please subscribe to his Youtube channel and follow him on Twitter.*
As with all the big UFC events, Crazy Aaron from Kountermove has once again gifted Bloody Elbow readers with a free cash game. I have done a mini breakdown of the main card that will aid you in making your winning fight team, since I do have the best picks/predictions record on the site for two years running. Kountermove pricing is included in the predictions and the link to the free game will be posted at the end.
We hope you enjoy your fight day with all of us at the best fantasy MMA site around (and we were the first ones too!), Kountermove.com
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone
Kountermove Pricing: dos Anjos $5600 / Cerrone $4900
This one has fight of the night written all over it. Cerrone's winning streak since his loss to Dos Anjos in 2013 is one of the all-time great runs in the lightweight division. His eight fight win streak includes finishes of Edson Barboza, Jim Miller and John Makdessi. He took decisions from top five guys like Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez in that streak as well. He has looked frankly unstoppable at times.
Rafael Dos Anjos, however, was the last guy to beat Cerrone and he has gone from strength to strength since that fight. He's in the mix for most improved fighter over the last year and went from a tough loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2014 to destroying Benson Henderson in one round and thoroughly out-fighting Anthony Pettis in every aspect of the MMA game to take the title.
This is without a doubt the matchup at lightweight, the consensus number one and number two guys in the division, and it's going to be crazy. When it comes to crazy, no one does it better than Cerrone, and the momentum he has going into this fight could be enough to carry him to a hard fought victory, but I just can't pick against dos Anjos.
My pick: dos Anjos via UD
Junior dos Santos vs Alistair Overeem
Kountermove Pricing: dos Santos $5200 / Overeem $4400
Alistair Overeem hits people hard and often. He was a kickboxing world champion, and his single straight strikes are among the best in the heavyweight division, even today. Junior dos Santos hits just as hard, with brutal uppercuts catching opponents unaware and sleeping people left and right. Still the only man to KO Cain Velasquez, and one of the few to separate Mark Hunt from his consciousness, Junior will be able to take Alistair's best shot, but the odds are against Overeem surviving much of JDS's offense.
My pick: dos Santos via R2 KO/TKO
Kountermove Pricing: Johnson $4700 / Diaz $4900
Nate Diaz always brings it, but having fought only once in the last two years, there is definitely a strong question of ring rust. Michael Johnson is not the kind of guy you want to fight when you're not at your sharpest. Before his recent split decision loss to Beneil Dariush he was on an absolute tear, destroying some of the division's best and toughest fighters in Edson Barboza and Gleison Tibau, and with victories over stalwart Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard in there, as well.
His scary power and controlling top game should be enough to see him take the victory over Nate, but it's never a smart thing to count out a Diaz brother from his back. Ultimately, Nate's volume striking and submission game just won't be enough to overcome the physical gifts of Michael Johnson.
My pick: Johnson via UD
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Randa Markos
Kountermove Pricing: Kowalkiewicz $4900 / Markos $4700
Despite having two UFC bouts under her wing, including a victory over Aisling Daily and a close split decision loss to Jessica Penne, Randa Markos is only a -200 favorite over the debuting Pole, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The undefeated Polish lightweight has a record which includes a victory over the impressive Mizuki Inoue in Invicta FC.
Both fighters have toughness and grit and they're not afraid to make a fight ugly if they have to. Kowalkiewicz arguably has the superior ground skills and comes in with the confidence only an undefeated fighter has. On the other hand Markos has undoubtedly been facing tougher opposition in her most recent fights and has acquitted herself well. Whichever way this fight goes, it's almost certain to be close.
My pick: Kowalkiewicz via SD
Now that I've given you my picks and predictions, it's time to get to the good stuff, Crazy Aaron's free tourney for Bloody Elbow readers. Before I link you guys, I wanted to give you some standard information about Kountermove.
Players use a $25,000 artificial salary cap to draft 5 fighters from the card before each event begins. Eachfighter has a salary designated by Kountermove -- salaries range from $3,000 to $8,000. The winners are determined based on how the fight plays out rather than simply a fight's outcome (pick'em format). Kountermove calculates a fighter's fantasy score based on the number of strikes, takedowns, submissions, dominant positions, and rounds won. Scoring data from the fights flows into the site in near real-time, so players can monitor their teams as the event happens. The data used in calculating a fighter's score is provided by UFC's official stats provider, FightMetric.
The site was started with the idea that MMA in general must market "up and coming" fighters to become a truly mainstream sport. "There are many great fighters out there that no one knows about because so much of marketing in MMA is geared toward the top fighters" said Aaron Ard, a co-founder of Kountermove.com, "we wanted to create a game that would create interest and engagement in preliminary fights as well as the headliners." Statistics are bearing this out; over 85% of Kountermove players' teams have at least one fighter competing on the preliminary card. No Kountermove player has won a major tournament without a preliminary card fighter on their team.
Here's the link to the $100 tourney:
You can follow Kountermove via their Twitter account, @Kountermove
Disclaimer: Kountermove is not an advertiser on Bloody Elbow, nor are we being paid to advertise the contest. They offered to provide Bloody Elbow readers with the free tournament and are fully responsible for the contest and any associated prize payouts.