Saturday's night's UFC 139 takes place in San Jose, Calif., and features a pair of Pride Fighting Championships legends in the main event, as Dan Henderson takes on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Although Rua is the younger of the two at 29 years of age, like many of the Brazilian Pride imports it's a battle-tested and punishment-filled 29. Hendo, on the other hand, has shown little signs of feeling his 41 years in recent bouts, most recently knocking out heavyweight Greatest-of-all-Time Fedor Emelianenko. When the two step into the cage, expect an exciting bout with some strong fantasy prospects, although the night's strongest fantasy plays can be found fighting in the early portions of the broadcast.
Potential Fantasy Stud - Dan Henderson (14.63 PPF last 3, $15)
Ultimately the main event of the evening comes down to which fighter more closely resembles his Pride self. Shogun looked strong against Forrest Griffin as he bounced back from his destruction at the hands of Jon Jones, but it didn't take a sports psychologist to determine Forrest wasn't fully invested in that fight. With his child due any hour, Griffin had the look of a fighter out to get a paycheck and get home as soon as possible, and Rua gladly obliged. Henderson, meanwhile, has had just one blip since losing to Middleweight king Anderson Silva, and I don't expect Rua to attempt to replicate Jake Shields' takedown and top-control heavy gameplan. On the feet Rua has the technical edge, but Henderson lands often enough to score solid significant striking points, and the power in his regretfully-named "H-Bomb" of a right hand makes Henderson a lights-out risk to any fighter. With a strong chin to back him up, look for Henderson to land that crushing right eventually and put an end to Rua's night. If it happens early, Henderson's points will be massive. If the blow comes later in the fight, a steady diet of significant strikes prior should work in conjunction with the knock down points to still result in solid production. Buying 10 shares of Henderson, for a maximum buy of $150.
One Man Money Pit - Kyle Kingsbury (25.61 PPF last 3, $23)
At first blush, Kingsbury looks like a fantasy stud, with a massive 25.61 points-per-fight in his prior three outings, however the high price tag and a deeper look at his opposition reveals a worrying night for any "Kingsbu" holders. At $23 per share Kingsbury is the highest-priced fighter on the card, setting a high bar to avoid disappointment. His pairing against Stephen Bonnar does little to assuage concerns that Kingsbury will fail to meet those high marks. Nearly all of Kingsbury's production comes on the feet, where 22.06 PPF provides 86.1-percent of points scored. Included in those three fights are a first-minute knockout, with 9 significant strikes added in for a 43-point night, and two high-volume striking contests with Fabio Maldonado and Jared Hamman. Both Hamman and Maldonado are inclined to stand and throw hands. While Bonnar made his name in the epic slugfest with Forrest Griffin which saw Griffin crowned Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Light Heavyweight Champion, he is a grappler who averages half the strikes-per-minute of Hamman and one-third the strikes-per-minute of Maldonado. Bonnar's best route to victory is to close the distance and attempt to drag the fight to the ground where his excellent jiu jitsu can trouble the wrestler. Whether or not he will succeed is unknown, but at $23 per share for Kingsbury all Bonnar will need to accomplish is avoiding a quick knockout to make the wrestler not worth the risk. Buying 0 shares of Kingsbury.
It's hard to go wrong with the former WEC-only weight classes when looking for an action-packed fight, and with two former WEC Champions facing off this fight should be no different. While neither fighter's per-fight scoring blows the doors off, neither do the prices at 5th- and 9th-most expensive, respectively. While many casual fans love to see a stand-and-bang war, it's on the ground where points can quickly be racked up in a fight due to the high value of takedowns, passes and submission attempts. Both fighters are strong grapplers, and that makes this an appealing fight for the potential it results in intense scrambles and takedown exchanges. Bowles' best choke is his guillotine, making every Faber takedown potentially a 30 point endeavor before per-minute division, with Faber scoring 10 for the takedown and Bowles 20 when he searches for Faber's neck. If Faber pops out to the safety of side-mount, there's another 10 for a pass. Often a long fight can be fantasy poison, due to the high divide-by number, but both men have the potential to lock on a submission and end the bout around the middle of the second round after some high-scoring action. Consider this bout the anti-Kingsbury proposition -- sure, it's unlikely either becomes the top scorer for the event, but there's a good chance of seeing above a 1 point-per-dollar return, which is never something to scoff at. Buying 11 shares of Faber for $143, and 15 shares of Bowles for $120.
It's important to always spend all, or nearly all, of your budget on every event and I like to spread this money around on a flyer who can blow up for huge numbers and a reliable fighter unlikely to be the night's top scorer, but who can be relied on to steadily accumulate points during his bout. As far as reliable scorers go, it's hard to get much better than a fighter like Kampmann. The ability to score with strikes on the feet or strong offensive grappling off his back is particularly important against a grinder like Rick Story. Story will do his best to stymie Kampmann's offense, but the Dane has the tools to overcome Story both on the scorecards and on the fantasy charts. Buying 6 shares of Kampmann for $66.
Silva on the other hand provides the boom-or-bust value which can provide a wealth of points for your team. Silva has looked well past his prime since coming to the UFC, but Le is no spring chicken himself and coming off a long layoff in Hollywood. If I'm asked to pick a winner for the fight, sadly it's likely Le in quick fashion. But there's also a chance Silva's opening blitz ends with Le starched, and while the $22 tag on Le means only a first minute KO is likely to return on your investment, Silva's event-low $7 tag makes him an appealing place to dump your last bills, as just three shares for $21 could yield an easy 100 points if Silva finds Le's off button quickly. Additionally, as this is the last event in a season, if you're well behind and need a big result to have a chance at your pool title, you can do worse than going in heavy on Silva and hoping for the best. The odds don't favor you hitting, but playing the safe bets is no way to make up lots of ground in a short period. Buying 3 shares of Silva for $21.