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Diggin' Deep on the UFC 199 FS1 prelims

Get the rundown on the four televised preliminary card fights slated for UFC 199: Rockhold vs. Bisping 2 in Inglewood, California. Featherweights Brian Ortega and Clay Guida are the feature fighters on FS1.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Depending upon your viewpoint, BJ Penn admitting to using an IV in March was either the best thing to happen to these prelims or the worst. Some of us still believed that a motivated and well-trained BJ was going to give us glimpses of what he once showed us on a regular basis over the majority of his Hall of Fame career while others of us breathed a sigh of relief, anticipating another beating like the ones seen over Penn's last three fights that reflected a tired and worn out vet who can't admit that he doesn't have it anymore.

Star power isn't everything to fight fans though and while the element of mystery on what we'll get is greatly lessened by his replacement in Alex Caceres, we have a greater promise of a quality showndown when he meets Cole Miller. Beyond that there are some names that are still quite young in Brian Ortega, Beneil Dariush, and James Vick that don't seem like they've come close to hitting their peak. And the women's match? Hell, I don't know what to expect out of that...

FS1 Prelims start at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT

Brian Ortega (10-0, 1 NC) vs. Clay Guida (32-16), Featherweight

Ortega and Guida couldn't be on more opposite career trajectories. Ortega is one of the brighter up-and-comers at featherweight while Guida seems to be winding down a long UFC career on a whimper. Does the vet have anything left to offer the youngster?

At first glance this fight favors Ortega all the way as he is a submission specialist, something Guida has been prone to falling prey to. That includes Guida's last appearance which was a 39 second loss to Thiago Tavares, someone Ortega has already disposed of. A closer look at the stylistic matchup and it is a closer battle than originally thought... provided Guida can avoid the submission of course.

Ortega has been able to win such a large percentage of his fights thanks to his aggression while looking for the available sub. That same aggression has also led to him taking a lot of damage from the same Tavares and Diego Brandao before he was able to pick up stoppages in the third round in fights that he was likely to lose had they gone to the scorecards. He doesn't pay much mind to his defense and isn't a real KO threat with his strikes, though he is willing to throwdown and can eat some heavy shots thanks to a chin that has thus far held up well.

What makes this fun is that Guida isn't a KO threat himself but is just as willing to get involved in a firefight with punches flying everywhere. He's traditionally had one of the sturdiest chins in the game which means this could add up to a hell of a brawl. The reason why few are willing to bet this could be FOTN is Guida has exercised a far more cautious strategy as the years have gone by, emphasizing wrestling and striking defense which has drawn the ire of the fanbase which once supported him so vehemently, explaining why he has gone from a fan favorite to a name often despised by many as his defense often has him darting in and out of the pocket without any real threat of offense.

Ortega may be a submission threat, but he hasn't shown much when it comes to his wrestling chops offensively or defensively. It is true that there is always the possibility he catches Guida in a choke just as Tavares did in his W over Guida, though counting on that is horrible strategy. Ortega does have one of the most dangerous guards in the sport and Guida will no doubt be aware of that. Guida usually gets caught due to overaggression and if he is aware of Ortega's abilities, I'd anticipate a more cautious strategy.

I only see two possibilities for this fight: Guida winning by decision or Ortega scoring a submission. Guida's wrestling is sure to give Ortega problems and will give him the victory if he can avoid getting caught. The question is whether or not he will. I'm saying that he gets caught eventually as Ortega is good at making in-fight adjustments which will leave Guida's UFC career in jeopardy. Ortega via submission of the second round

Beneil Dariush (12-2) vs. James Vick (9-0), Lightweight

Perhaps the most overlooked fight on the card, Dariush is hungry to get back on the winning track after his upset loss to Michael Chiesa while this represents Vick's opportunity to break out.

Fair or not, a lot of people have been jumping off of the Dariush bandwagon. His victory over Michael Johnson was controversial which had a lot of people turning their backs on him in the first place only for Dariush to underestimate Chiesa's death grip of a choke which led to the aforementioned loss. Those same people are probably forgetting he owned Chiesa in the first round of their contest with his slick striking. It's hard to believe that Dariush won't learn a lesson in humility from his loss to Chiesa as Dariush is one of the best pure BJJ grapplers in the sport who was overconfident in his abilities. Anyone see that happening again to him any time soon? Me neither.

After five striaght wins against lower competition, Vick is finally getting his chance at a higher level opponent. He has proven to be a physical conundrum for opponents to overcome thanks to his 6'3" frame and 76" reach which makes him one of the largest lightweights in the sport. Like many other rangy fighters, he relies heavily on a jab and front kicks to keep his opponents outside of his range. Well... less skilled strikers are kept out of his range as he has yet to perfect that skill.

Dariush has traditionally struggled with longer opponents, though he was at a reach disadvantage against Chiesa too and didn't have many problems in their striking battle. Neither Vick nor Dariush has proven to be a consistently heavy striker, though I'd give Dariush a slight advantage in the technical department as well as power. What will likely end up seperating Dariush on the feet is his heavy kicks to the legs honed by the legendary trainer Rafael Cordeiro which has opened up level changes in the past.

Vick will absolutely look to keep the fight standing as Dariush's grappling chops couples with Vick's wrestling being his biggest weakness make a striking battle a must for him. To make up for his poor wrestling, Vick makes his opponents pay a stiff price for the attempt with knees, uppercuts, and the threat of his guillotine choke which he has pulled off a couple of times. While Dariush isn't a world class wrestler, he is underrated in that area, typically timing his level changes well to take the fight to the floor. Vick isn't a slouch on the ground himself, but my guess is Dariush would be too much for the Texan to handle on the ground.

I'm glad to see Vick is finally getting his chance to break out in the division as he put together an impressive five fight winning streak. What I don't like are his chances against a Dariush motivated to avenge his last fight as that was a fight that he never should have lost and he knows it. Regardless of his loss to Chiesa, he is still one of the most talented youngsters on the roster and he'll be dead set on proving it. Dariush via submission of the first round

Jessica Penne (12-3) vs. Jessica Andrade (13-5), Women's Strawweight

It's been a while since we've seen either Jessica in a UFC cage and it is expected they will look significantly different from their last appearance... for different reasons.

The last time we saw Penne she was caked in blood after Joanna Jedrzejczek had given her one of the most epic beatdowns ever seen in a title fight. Hopefully Penne has had enough time to recover her soul and resume her career, though others who've received similar beatings with such high stakes (Joe Stevenson, Evan Tanner, and David Loiseau for example) were never the same afterwards. I can't say for sure what she'll look like, but history isn't on her side.

Andrade on the other hand is dropping not one, but two weight classes (due to the UFC not having a women's flyweight division). Though there is a chance that the drop in weight will be beneficial for her 5'1" frame where she was continually at a reach disadvantage as well as she measures in at 62". She has always been a thick fighter though and it is no small feat to drop one division much less two. Will she be completely drained? Just like Penne, it will be hard to know what version of Andrade we will see in the cage: either a smaller yet still effective version of herself or a depleted version without the energy to competitively compete.

The size advantage (well, perhaps strength is a better word than size) that Andrade will enjoy is perhaps even more pronounced than at first glance as Penne is one of the smaller strawweights in the division as she is a former atomweight champion in Invicta. It will be difficult for Penne to execute her trips and throws on someone with a low center of gravity such as Andrade and that doesn't even bring up Andrade's sound takedown defense. If she can get the fight to the floor, Andrade has been prone to mental gaffes before whereas Penne is one of the slicker female grapplers with a knack for getting the back. Don't be surprised if it is Andrade that takes the fight to the ground as her ground and pound is heavy as hell, though she'll need to beware of Penne's guard as that is the type of situation where she has suffered major brain farts.

Andrade will have to risk getting into range of Penne's clinch in order to execute her own brawling offensive game. Then again, you already knew that due to her lack of reach. She isn't the most technical striker, but she does hit hard and throws an exceptionally high volume. She usually gets hit a lot in return thanks to her style, though she has shown a tough chin. Penne has a stinging jab and some sound kicks, but they aren't a threat to end a fight like Andrade's fists and I don't see those being enough to keep Andrade at bay.

With so many unanswered variables in this fight, you'd be stupid to put money on this contest. I could just as easily see Andrade knocking Penne's block off as Penne drawing Andrade to the ground and submitting her. I don't think Andrade dropping two weight divisions is a wise idea and I thoroughly expect her to show the ill effects as Brazilians have typically not done well with extreme weight cuts while Penne strikes me as being mentally tough. Hopefully I'm not wrong. Penne via submission of the first round

Cole Miller (21-9, 1 NC) vs. Alex Caceres (11-8, 1 NC), Featherweight

Perhaps this fight is a letdown to a big chunk of fans as it was supposed to be BJ Penn's return fight... only for Penn's ignorance to USADA's rules resulting in him being suspended. Star power be damned though as this is probably the better fight.

A long and tall featherweight at 6'1" with a 74" reach, Miller has better learned to use his frame to his advantage in the striking department with a stinging jab and a lot of front and leg kicks. There isn't a lot of power in his punches with only one finish by strikes in his 18 UFC appearances (10 wins). What Miller specializes at is the submission game as he is an expert at utilizing his long limbs to his advantage to either lock in the hooks once he gets his opponent's back (a specialty of his) or throwing up a triangle from his back.

Caceres actually has a lot of similarities to Miller in that he is a longer fighter known for his submission prowess. At first glance though you'd never compare him with Miller as Caceres is much more carefree in his approach, often keeping his hands down to goad opponents to throw so he can counter while utilizing a bouncy stance. He also exercises a much more active kicking game, throwing head kicks while mixing in some spinning shots. He might need to adjust his strategy a bit as he had been plying his trade at bantamweight (where he was used to being the rangier fighter) for the last few years before returning to featherweight earlier this year.

What makes this an intriguing matchup will be the grappling department. The funny thing is that neither offers much in the wrestling department which means it will be highly curious to see just how the fight will be taken there. I'd probably give a slight wrestling advantage to Caceres as he has shown the ability to get opponents with wrestling skills similar to Miller to the ground from time to time in addition to him being quicker and thus better in scrambles. Still, I can't give him the overall advantage as he has been overaggressive at times which has led to him getting caught and then tapped while Miller has never been submitted over the course of his long career.

While I admit that I was curious to see if Penn still had anything to offer, I like this fight better as it is a safer bet to provide a competitive fight as opposed to a one-sided beating. I'm picking Miller since he has had the longer camp -- just barely, but it has to count for something-- and Caceres has never faced anyone nearly as long as the Georgia native. Miller via decision

Odds (from Odds Shark)

Brian Ortega (-260) / Clay Guida (+180)

Beneil Dariush (-170) / James Vick (+130)

Jessica Penne (-210) / Jessica Andrade (+160)

Cole Miller (-185) / Alex Caceres (+145)

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