About last night...
All I can remember is the first prelim, then waking up on the floor with two little faces hovering over me and a German Shepherd licking my face. I sat up and said, "Mirror... Mirror!"
The little girl’s eyes shifted to meet the little boy’s before reluctantly rummaging through a Hello Kitty makeup bag and pulling out a pink hand mirror. She handed it to me.
The thing staring back at me was devoid of any recognizable landmarks of a human face. It was like a child’s rendering of Martin after he got his ass cracked by the Hitman Tommy Hearns. Lumps with lumps growing on top of them, no definable orifices. I smashed the mirror against the ground and stumbled out of the room, laughing maniacally.
It was a 3-9 night, tying the worst record in Weekly KO history. It was a night of imposters, Coachella holograms parading around as their flesh and blood counterparts. L’s were pried from the jaws of dubbs, and several fighters entered the downside of their careers right before my eyes. It felt like the Mr. Krabs meme, the world around me a spiraling blur. But rest assured, from the rubble, a Pheonix will rise. Pickers pick and when you're surrounded by toss-ups, the only option is to pick your way out.
Song Yadong vs. Chris Gutierrez
It ain’t a main event party until Yadong comes out. You didn’t tell me it was a Yadong fest in this bish. Main event Song is back and facing a guy responsible for creating more cripples than Polio, Chris Gutierrez. It seems like you can’t take Yadong out anywhere these days. He just keeps sleeping people. Song has won three of his last four with all three coming via TKO/KO, and a win on Saturday night will surely land him in a high-profile matchup in 2024. Figueiredo vs. Song would make for a dope Fight Night main event. Meanwhile, Chris Gutierrez is standing there looking around confused like John Travolta as if Punahele Soriano vs. Dustin Sotltzfus didn’t teach me a damn thing. Nothing is a given, and Gutierrez isn’t showing up to get Benny Dariush’d in one minute. Beware of the trap fight.
Roll that beautiful Yadong footage. Yadong was one of the creators of the Marlon Moraes challenge that swept the MMA world. Fighters were lined up, vying for their chance at sleeping Marlon after Yadong turned him into a Pez dispenser with a Shoryuken. Yadong is a minimalist striker like toe shoes and biodegradable underoos; he won’t wow you with intricate footwork or nifty combinations. He moves in Etch-A-Sketch straight lines, and his offensive arsenal only consists of primitive Stone Age crosses, hooks, and rear-hand power uppercuts. But he fights like he just got hit with a Mario star power-up and has possibly the best one-punch KO power in the division. Yadong reminds me of a miny Rafael Fiziev minus the kicks and looks like Li Jingliang when the curse is lifted. When Yadong comes up to bat, the outfield moves back to the warning track. He takes nothing but Ken Griffey Jr. Home Run Derby hacks, swinging for the fences with every punch he throws.
Speed + Power = Ass Whoopin’s. It’s the only equation you need in life, and Yadong is the reference from which it was derived. His hand speed is quicker than the bubble guts after eating at Miguel's, and his punches create damage even when properly defended. He averages over four and a half SLpM and eclipsed the one hundred strikes landed mark three times in his twelve-fight UFC career. Overall, Yadong fights like a bull in a bong shop. Down at the bong shop. He throws nothing but bombs, and his constant pressure is enough to break most opponents, especially in a five-round fight. Ask Ricky Simon. In his last bout, Yadong displayed takedown defense like the great Pyramids and battered Simon for over twenty minutes before finishing Simon in the fifth round. The keys for Yadong against Chris Gutierrez will be defending leg kicks and staying in Gutierrez’s chest. Yadong can’t give Gutierrez space to get off his kicks and spinning shit. Gutierrez’s weakness is his hands, and Yadong will have a massive advantage in the pocket, forcing back-and-forth exchanges.
Chris Gutierrez has more kicks than the Rockettes. He’s one of those strikers who throws kicks as much as he does hands. Gutierrez is an And-1 mixtape of kicks. He’s Hot Sauce with the round kicks and The Professor with the spinning shit. His special move is the Shonie Carter spinning backfist, and he sets it up with spinning back kicks. He will attack the body with back kicks and then suddenly turn it into a backfist. But Gutierrez’s bread and butter is leg kicks. He’s the bantamweight version of Jonathan Martinez. Gutierrez is a smooth dual-stance striker who attacks the legs inside and out from both stances. He whittles your legs to stumps and will have you taking a side gig aerating turf. Your neighbors will put up Do Not Walk on Grass signs on their lawns. His hip feints make you start seeing ghosts and reacting to kicks that aren’t there before he starts opening up with his hands.
But that there lies Gutierrez’s major malfunction. His hands. They aren’t wack, but they aren’t deadly, either. He’s a one-punch striker and rarely gets to third and fourth-level strikes. He’s an anti-pocket striker. He’s like Alka-Seltzer tablets; he dissolves, dilutes in the pocket. A firefight is the last thing Chris Gutierrez wants. He needs controlled kickboxing exchanges from the outside. At all costs, Gutierrez has to dictate the range, and his means of doing so is by immobilizing Yadong with leg kicks. In his last bout against Alatengheili, Gutierrez landed over one hundred significant strikes, and fifty were leg kicks. Fiddy, like "Go! Go! Go, Shawty! It’s your birthday." Even with a high volume of kicks, Gutierrez is the higher output striker, averaging over five SLpM. For his career, Gutierrez is 20-5 with noine TKO/KOs and one sub. He’s also a quiet 8-2-1 in the UFC with three TKO/KOs, including one by leg kick TKO.
Yadong is heavy, as in the heavy favorite, returning (-375). And Gutierrez is the (-290) dog. The bigger finishing threat is Song Yadong; he has one-punch power, and he can finish with accumulative damage. Gutierrez’s Fantasy value will be in moderate strikes landed if he can avoid damage early. He could flip the script entirely if he could damage Yadong’s legs and make it difficult for Yadong to sit down on his punches. But I think Gutierrez will eventually have to rely on his hands, and Yadong’s boxing is far more dangerous. After last week’s card, nothing is certain, but this seems like a fight meant to keep Yadong busy before a big matchup next year.
The main event-winning streak went down like the Hindenburg last week. In this sport, the cliff approaches quickly, and Beneil Dariush went from a big win over Mateusz Gamrot and on the verge of a title shot to coming face to face with his fight mortality in just two fights. Next up for Arman Tsarukyan is a title eliminator or even a rematch against the champ. Anywho, Song Yadong via TKO, round three. Put that ish on wax.
Song: TKO/KO (+120) Sub (+900) Dec (+150)
Gutierrez: TKO/KO (+900) Sub (+2800) Dec (+550)
Anthony Smith vs. Khalil Rountree
Tong Po, his fists wrapped in glue and glass, is back. Khalil Rountree was responsible for enacting the most violent twenty-five seconds in the UFC’s history when he kicked the shit outta Karl Roberson worse than Life has Will Smith ever since the infamous slap heard 'round the world. In his most recent bout, Rountree sent Chris Daukaus back to POST certification to get tased and pepper sprayed. But Anthony Smith isn’t Karl Roberson or Chris Daukaus. Smith is a man who plays chicken with the dub, holds it by its ankles over the ledge atop a one-hundred-story skyscraper, threatening to let drop at any moment. No, Anthony Smith is no simp for the dub, and he’s fresh off a battle of attrition against Ryan Spann, in which Spann didn’t want the dub a little more than Smith. But Tong Po don't play that shit; if Anthony Smith steps into the Octagon dancing that same old half-step, it could be the last time we see Anthony Smith.
Khalil Rountree fights like a sociopath. He lowers your defenses with extended lulls of activity, making you forget that shit ain’t sweet, that it’s actually quite bitter. Then he flips on you like a suspect magician with a hare up his ass. One minute he’s a suit-and-tie gentleman, and the next, he’s Pat Bateman with a chainsaw. Rountree is a rare fighter who changes styles between rounds. He will come out in a classic squared Muay Thai stance, complete with the stomping lead leg, and then come out for the second round in a crouched, strafing boxing stance. Muay Thai Khalil is the scariest. His rear-round kicks can chop down sequoias. And his hands are deceptively fast as he alternates between stiff straight punches down the middle to whipping hooks and overhands around the guard. He’ll even bust out standing hammerfists. The key for Rountree against Smith will be activity. Keeping a consistent pace throughout the fight and committing to combinations. Oh, and staying on his feet. If he ends up on his back, especially early, Smith might finish him with the quickness.
Anthony Smith has toys in the attic; he operates within the gray area of sanity. In the middle of a fight, he will accuse you of heinous atrocities to psyche himself up, "You stowed away in the belly of a giant wooden horse and opened the city’s gates to the Greek heathens and allowed my family to be slaughtered!" Against Johnny Walker, Anthony Smith accused Johnny of trying to murder his family in the middle of the second round. Walker didn’t know whether to keep fighting or lawyer up. This dude, Anthony Smith, makes shit personal, "He wanted to touch gloves before the fight, and I took that personal." Exit light, enter night; Anthony Smith goes to a dark place when he scraps, and that’s why when Anthony Smith is on top of his game, he fights so violently.
I’ve recently dismissed his stand-up, but he’s still as dangerous as ever. Smith uses both stances and throws everything overhand, no straight punches. And his round kicks are near the same level as Khalil Rountree’s. Smith is at his best when he attacks the legs from both stances and punctuates his kicks with alternating hooks that seem satellite-guided around the opponent’s guard.
But fook the stand-up. Smith’s path to victory will be using his Jiu-Jitsu. Smith has fourteen career submissions to go along with twenty career TKO/KOs. Wait, what? How many fights does this guy have? Fifty-five. His career record is 37-18, and he finished all but three of his career dubs. Those are Dak Prescott MVP-like stats. BUT (big but), of his eighteen career L’s, fourteen came by a form of finish. Kill-or-be-killed? Yippee ki yay muhf**ker! Anthony Smith dies hard, like Bruce Willis. If he stands and bangs with Khalil, Smith can hang and possibly finish Khalil, but Smith will have a massive advantage in taking down Khalil and creating damage while hunting for Khalil’s neck from the top position. For his career, Rountree rocks a fifty-six percent takedown defense, and although Smith doesn’t have traditional level changes in his grappling arsenal, he has nifty trips from the clinch and can even pull guard.
Khalil Rountree is the (-230) favorite, and Smith is the (+190) live dog. Not only can Smith finish Khalil on the feet, but he can also do so on the mat. Both fighters are the last guys you want to bet on; you have to be a real gambling savage to bet on Khalil Rountree and Anthony Smith's fights. You just never know which version of each fighter will show up, the lover or the fighter. Stats-wise, they both average three SLpM and have never reached the one hundred strikes mark in a three-round bout. Although both are finishers, I think there is value in a decision one way or the other. Both tend to slow as the fight wanes, and their best chances at a finish will come early. After last week, the last thing I want to see are toss-ups. But here we are. I think Smith has more ways to win this fight. Anthony Smith via decision. On wax.
Smith: TKO/KO (+550) Sub (+600) Dec (+700)
Tong Po: TKO/KO (-135) Sub (+1600) Dec (+550)
Su Mudaerji vs.
Allan Nascimento Tim Elliott
Su su sussudio! Su Mudaerji is back from the dead like a Taraja ancestor. In his last bout, he set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most ass-kicking delivered to an opponent in a loss. Against Matt Schnell, Su went full Ocean’s Eleven; he broke into the Dub World bank and made off with a duffel bag filled with ink-stained dubs that he couldn’t spend anywhere. But I’ll say this: Matt Schnell had to walk through hell and had to nearly kill Su to finish that fight. Su looked peaceful, lying on the mat unconscious, like in an 1800s outlaw coffin picture, complete with the red rouge on the cheeks. He was in a better place and even got to see his fourth-grade hamster that his parents flushed down the toilet because they didn’t know it was hibernating and not dead. But all that shit is of the old variety, and today is about shit of the new.
Su Mudaerji is built like an eel, long and slippery. His hands are NASA Sputnik-guided ICBM missiles. They’re like poisonous blow darts. He’s quick, fast, swift, all that shit, and his speed is accentuated by punches devoid of even a degree of curve. Su is at his best when he’s focusing on pot-shotting you with half-speed punches from the outside and allows the power shots to flow naturally. But sometimes, he gets over-aggressive and leaps into punches, giving up his hips. He can’t afford to do that against the heathen Tim Elliott. Mudaerji has to be patient on the outside and work behind his jab. There almost always comes a point in the fight when a wrestler hits the takedown wall and gets stranded on their feet. Su has to survive long enough to get Elliott to that point. He can do that by chipping away and creating damage on the outside and making Elliott pay for takedowns with knees and uppercuts.
Su Wu is 16-5 for his career with thirteen TKO/KOs and one sub, including 3-2 in the UFC with one TKO. He also averages nearly five SLpM, but I’d expect him to be below his averages facing a guy looking to level change whenever Su engages. Tim Elliott is a lot to handle early and does his best work on the mat, but he also has some tricky unorthodox boxing. In many ways, this is as tough or maybe an even tougher fight than Allan Nascimento would have been. Nas and Elliott are both excellent grapplers, but Elliott can offer a little more on the feet. A little.
Hello darkness my old friend. The lights in the arena dim like a séance table whenever Tim Elliott steps into the cage. Yo, DJ, cue "The Kids Aren’t Alright" and "Insane in the Brain" and mix that shit! Tim Elliot was the kid who liked to burn ants with a magnifying glass and sprinkled salt on snails to watch them foam. Elliot is a real-life Huckleberry Finn, a grimy, mischievous mf who looks like he goes barefoot everywhere. No shoes, no service, mf! But put all that aside. Tim Elliott is a super savage with that Pet Sematary dog in him. "Sometimes dead is better." This guy is a high-energy/high pace wrestler with Payless Dominick Cruz striking. On the feet, Elliott wings punches from odd angles while bobbing, weaving, and switching stances. Fundamentals? The fook are those? None of that applies to Elliott’s striking; the stand-up is simply a means of creating chaos and opportunities to close the distance and get the fight to the mat, where Elliott is especially sadistic.
Elliott averages nearly four takedowns per fifteen minutes. He’s a high-output wrestler traveling along the Merab spectrum. Elliott never gives up on his wrestling and turns every fight into a battle of attrition. Once he gets you to the mat, he’s damage and creating blood above everything else. He’s the ultimate grinder who out-works and out-hustles you until... he gasses. Elliott tends to fade like a sixty-four-channel mixer. I don’t blame him though; he never stops moving and pushes an impossible pace but usually crawls to the finish line. Elliott often gives up early leads, and the big question is, what does Tim’s cardio look like stepping in on four days' notice? Tim is 19-13 for his career with 3 TKO/KOs and six subs and averages just under three and a half SLpM.
Even on just days’ notice, Elliott is the (-150) favorite, and Su is the (+125) live dog. The key will be Su’s sixty-six percent takedown defense and if he can scramble back to his feet when he ends up on the mat. The most telling stat: Su Mudaerji has been finished by submission five times. That’s a bad look heading into this one. But if he can survive early and keep it standing late, he will outclass Elliott on the feet. Also, Tim Elliott is a very heady fighter; you never know where his mental is heading into a fight. If he’s focused, he will win this fight. But that’s not a given. Su Mudaerji is a solid low-tier Fantasy option with a good chance at scoring a finish late in the scrap. I've been off on these grappler vs striker matchups lately, but I’m gonna ride with the grappler one more ‘gain. Tim Elliott via decision. I don’t feel good about this one but put that shit on wax anyways!
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Jamie Mullarkey
Nasrat Haqparast, aka NASDAQ Haqparast, aka flashback Kelvin Gastelum, aka Big Mac Kelvin Gastelum, when you order him versus what he looks like on the menu, is back. So is the MMA Mr. Hanky, and as we near Christmas, this is his time to shine! Jamie Mullarkey is the doodie the Mario Bros can’t plunge. Mullarkey used to be an undercover sleeper, but the wire was exposed. He won’t be sneaking up on opponents any longer, and this one should be a crunchy little banger featuring two underrated strikers.
Now that I’m thinking about it, Nasrat reminds me of a more technical Benny Dariush on the feet. Nasrat has a similar whipping overhand left, but he hides it better behind his lead hand. Haqparast uses a good mixture of straight punches down the middle and whipping punches around the guard. And he has speed like a virgin, like a virgin, for the very first time... Nah, don’t cue that shit; she’s fookin’ weird. Nasrat has catch-you-by-the-boo-boo hand speed, and he uses constant pressure to trap opponents against the cage and unload body shots. But he has a bad habit of shoeshining the body, leaving himself open to counters over the top. Get your shine box! Also, Nasrat has a wide base that makes him susceptible to leg kicks. Haqparast’s path to victory will be using range and speed. He has to stay on the outside, working behind the jab, and use his speed to attack with third and fourth-level combinations.
For his career, Nasrat is 15-5 with noine TKO/KOs, including 7-4 in the UFC. Nasrat is riding a two-fight dub streak since Bobby Green turned him into the Bonnie and Clyde car. Bobby Digi wore his ass out like a pair of Daisy Dukes. Fantasy-wise, Nasrat averages nearly six SLpM and landed one hundred seventy-one significant strikes in his most recent bout against a game Lando Quinones. Even in a one-sided loss to Bobby, Nasrat closed in on eighty significant strikes. He is high volume, and this matchup favors a high output if he can keep it standing.
Jamie Mullarkey looks like Gingersnaps Cartman, but don’t let that fool you. I learned early in life not to mess with kids with blonde eyebrows. They’ve been through some shit and tend to have a short fuse. Imagine being asked, "Where are your eyebrows?" every day growing up. This guy’s boxing is tight like nuts and bolts, complete with Oculus goggles head movement. Jamie rolls in and out of the pocket and off his strikes. This allows him to load up on hooks while making you miss. He also has excellent rear-leg round kicks, especially to the legs. Jamie Mullarkey’s major malfunction is that he’s just not as athletically gifted as most of his opponents. He’s not very fast or powerful, but he’s crafty and built tough like Dungarees. Also, Mullarkey can switch shit up and throw some double legs at cha if you start feeling yourself on the feet. I think he should commit to wrestling against Nasrat. In addition to averaging four and a half SLpM, Mullarkey averages two and a half takedowns per fifteen minutes.
Mullarkey is 17-6 for his career with ten TKO/KOs and three subs, but other than his win over Michael Johnson, most of his dubs have come against super mid fighters. He has faced stiff competition like Jalin Turner and Brad Riddell, but he lost those fights. But I think Mullarkey is the bigger finishing threat. Narat will have the speed advantage, but Mullarkey has a knack for landing potentially fight-ending shots.
I’m a little surprised Nasrat is the (-215) favorite, and Mullarkey is the (+175) dog. Make that a live dog. This is another one that will be much closer than the odds suggest, and Mullarkey will have a ton of Fantasy value not only as a guy who can land around the eighty significant strikes range but also as a finishing threat. They’re fookin’ with me. This is another complete toss-up in my book... Dammit. I’ve gone back and forth on this one all week. There is a ton of value on Jamie Mullarkey as the dog here, and this might be a put my money where my mouf isn’t situation. But I think Nasrat’s speed might be the difference. Nasrat Haqparast via decision. On wax.
Mullarkey: TKO/KO (+600) Sub (+1400) Dec (+350)
Haqparast: TKO/KO (+300) Sub (+2000) Dec (+110)
Jun Yong Park vs. Andre Muniz
"I like tuttles." LFG! Weekly KO favorite Jun Yong Park, aka The Iron Turtle, is back. He looks like an AA Ninja Turtle, but don’t let that fool you. My stable of favorite fighters is a Motley Crue, and Jun Yong Park is the Tommy Lee of that bish, hammering out drum solos from the top position until the ref can’t headbang any longer and is forced to step in. This time around, The Iron Tuttle will be up against a pretender like the Philadelphia Eagles, Andre Muniz. In his last two bouts, Munis was held up to a lamp, swiped with a counterfeit pen, and exposed as fraudulent. The Frontrunner Drag Racing Quarterfinals is set between Andre Muniz and Ion Cutelaba. Cutelaba is somewhere making a bowl of oatmeal and catching stray shots. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to drag you into this. Anywho, this should be another undercover banger, rounding out a solid main card.
Jun Yong Park is an old MMA soul. When he gets the fight to the mat, he’s a throwback to the original ground and pounders, the Mark Coleman’s and Tito Ortiz’s of the world. For a round man, Park floats well from the top, maintaining top control and providing no escape routes, and he’s damage over everything. Park constantly chips away with punches and elbows from the top. When the opponents shell up, he uses the opportunity to pass or take the back. Also, Park uses the guillotine not only as a submission but as a torture device. He kinks your neck like a water hose, and it’s very painful. I’ve been caught in guillotines that made the inside of my throat bleed for days. I catch PTSD flashbacks every time I see The Turtle sit down on a guillotine choke. And he doesn’t have to give up position by pulling guard; he latches on to standing guillotines and makes every position uncomfortable.
On the feet, The Tuttle has sneaky good boxing, complete with a teleporting jab. He uses the Michael Jai White jab. Google Michael Jai White and Kimbo Slice. White shows Kimbo a jab without a shoulder hitch, which makes it harder to pick up. Park’s jab has no hitch, no tell, and seems to materialize at the target like it hit a wormhole. In addition to his jab, he throws tight, short combinations with power you have to respect. He will be the more technical striker on the feet, but he does tend to take heavy damage. Park is 17-5 with five TKO/KOs and six subs, and he averages five SLpM to Andre Muniz’s two. As in one more than one. Park is riding a four-fight dub streak and is coming off a second-round finish of the highly touted Albert Duraev.
The Paul Craig vs. Brenden Allen main event of a couple of weeks ago was the Cracked Andre Muniz’s Ass Bowl, presented by Jerome’s Furniture. After starting his UFC career 5-0 with a dub on the Contender Series, Muniz has dropped two in a row, and each time, he was dominated in his area of expertise, grappling. The problem is, Muniz has commitment issues; he gets cold feet, leaves the takedowns at the altar. He also suffers from a slight case of Mackenzie Dern takedown syndrome. His takedowns aren’t great, and he’s too quick to bail on them if they are not immediately successful. When he does get the fight to the ground, he is too top-position dependent. Also, his takedown defense is an abysmal thirty-five percent, and after the first round, his active guard turns into the ol’ rigor mortis guard. But if he can achieve the top position against Park, his size alone will make it hard for Park to get back to his feet. Muniz has a submission win against Jacare, one of the Jiu-Jitsu OG’s, and has fifteen career submissions and four TKO/KOs in twenty-three career dubs.
This fight could be won or lost on the feet, and Muniz is very limited there. He has power you can’t scoff at, but he’s mostly a counter striker. He waits for you to engage and tries to same-time counter with alternating left/right hooks. He isn’t particularly fast or nimble, so he relies mostly on the opponent to cover the distance for him. And his arms are too long; they get tangled like old-school headphone cables (when they had them). Overall, Muniz is built like he should be better than he is and has terrible takedown defense for a grappler-first. His size advantage and gaining the top position will be the keys for Muniz. The last thing he wants to do is end up beneath The Tuttle. If it stays standing, Muniz can hang because he throws everything heavy, but his output is nearly as pathetic as his takedown defense.
The Tuttle will be the (-195) favorite, and Muniz will be the (+160) dog. I talked all that shit to say this: Andre Muniz has a ton of Fantasy value. My biggest worry for Tuttle is that he’s a little undersized in this matchup, and if Muniz can’t get on top early, he has excellent shoulder/arm attacks and arm triangle variations. If you play Muniz, play the submission. Although there’s also value in a decision, Park has been finished twice by submission. And Muniz is a finisher from the top. But you already know what time it is. We rollin’ in with the Big Tommy Energy. Jun Yong Park via TKO, round three. On wax. First bold prediction of 2024: An Iron Tuttle main event.
Park: TKO/KO (+215) Sub (+400) Dec (+320)
Muniz: TKO/KO (+1200) Sub (+300) Dec (+500)
Happy Fight Night, homies!