Prime Picks: UFC Fight Night 198 ‘Vieira vs. Tate’

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A long 10-week stretch of Ultimate Fighting Championship shows will come to an end with UFC Fight Night 198 on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It may not be as star-studded as the last three cards, but as we have learned, rough events on paper can deliver, too. A decent three-outcome parlay is on the table for this night of combat, as are a few calculated but solid prop bets. Coupling those choices with the sprinkling of a few underdogs will round out the action for the UFC Fight Night “Vieira vs. Tate” edition of Prime Picks.

Ketlen Vieira-Miesha Tate Goes to Decision (-150)

This bantamweight matchup, a potential title eliminator based on the course of the division of late, is one that comes between two grappling-minded women. Neither Vieira nor Tate is known for her striking acumen, volume or power, and much of the fight is expected to play out along the fence or on the ground. To get the fight to where she wants, Tate will have to do what only an Olympic medalist wrestler was able to achieve and put Vieira on her back. With a smothering top game that excels in racking up control time, Vieira on the other hand will try to put the women formerly known as “Takedown” on her back. Both are dangerous from an offensive grappling standpoint, but their skills serve to nullify the other and could very well turn this into a kickboxing affair. No matter where the fight goes, the exchanges will not likely be speedy or dramatic, and time will tick off the clock until the judges get called into action.

Five of Vieira’s seven UFC outings have lasted the full duration, and the lone stoppages along her tenure came courtesy of porous submission defense from Sara McMann and a blazing left hand of Irene Aldana that shut her lights out. Tate has neither the crisp technical boxing nor the lack in on-mat awareness to succumb or dish out such a finish, and Vieira should be more concerned with the ground game than anything. Activity, or the lack thereof, has been a thorn in the Brazilian’s side for much of her time in the UFC cage, as this will be the first time since 2017 that Vieira has fought more than once under the UFC banner. Despite this, most of her own UFC career has taken place while Tate was retired, so the question marks still loom large for both bantamweights as they try to get the gears turning towards frequent competition.

Of the two, Tate appears on paper to be the one to bust this play up, as she celebrates not one but two late choke finishes on her ledger over Marloes Coenen and Holly Holm. Even on the losing end of scorecards to that point, and having taken quite a beating, Tate still has the ability to pull out the stops and impose her grappling game against fatiguing foes. Scheduled in many five-round affairs over her years, Tate has still yet to go to that final bell. Her opponent Vieira has yet to compete beyond the 15-minute mark as a pro, although most of her UFC appearances have gone the distance, and she can get tired if she is not the one holding top control after the second frame.

If you instead believe that Tate can eventually force a finish as the rounds progress, look to Tate Wins Inside Distance at +375. Tate would become the first woman to submit Vieira should she achieve this, and her ground-and-pound historically—and not including her recent drubbing of Marion Reneau—is more of a means to an end to soften her foe up and look for a sub than one that stops a fight. If there were a key parlay to hunt for on this 12-fight offering, it is that the last three women’s matches on the card will all go the distance. Adding up this play of -150 with Joanne Wood-Taila Santos at -270 and Konklak Suphisara-Lupita Godinez at -280 gives a quite decent +210 three-fight option. The Goes to Decision line for all three makes perfect sense given each woman’s respective history, and at high plus money, it should not be ignored.

Rani Yahya Wins by Submission (+315)

Perhaps the most obvious narrow prop bet on the card features grappling wizard Yahya tapping out the returning Kyung Ho Kang. Not only has Yahya recorded every one of his career finishes by submission, but the Brazilian won multiple world jiu-jitsu championships and even took a gold medal in an Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships in his weight category. It is a bit of all-or-nothing for Yahya, with submissions in every one of his wins dating back the last five years. The hope for his opponent has been to outlast him, thwarting attempts and letting him tire himself out until they turn the tide on him. With Yahya a quick starter and Kang still trying to get his sea legs about him after nearly two years off, this has all the makings of another vintage Yahya performance.

The sample size may be extremely limited, but every man to attempt a submission on Kang has beaten him in the Octagon. Those grapplers that attempted to tap him were not Yahya, who is an opportunist of the highest order that chains maneuver into maneuver and scramble into reversal relentlessly. It is unfair to simply characterize Kang as a better striker than his opponent, because Yahya is one of the last true specialists in the sport, the last bastion of a man that excels at his craft so well that he can make up for deficiencies elsewhere. The danger is if Kang enters the contest expecting that he will outgrapple his opponent, as the majority of his own wins have come by submission and he has only fallen prey to one submission over a decade ago. If Kang can keep this on the feet and at a safe range, he has a chance to spoil this option for Yahya. As it stands, the clearest outcome for this bantamweight pairing is Yahya by submission, and with a line this valuable, it cannot be passed up.

Joanne Wood (+290)

Until she racks up a few wins in the higher echelon in the 125-pound division, Santos will always bring with her ample question marks. Her record, oft-derided as being one very carefully cultivated, does not stand up under a microscope. Her UFC career, which started with a defeat to Mara Romero Borella, seemed to prove that she was all hat and no cattle. A trio of growingly impressive wins over Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson and Roxanne Modafferi have blown her stock sky-high, to the point that she enters as one of the biggest betting favorites of the night. Wood has struggled against some of the best that flyweight has to offer, falling into a role of a gatekeeper to the top, but on the feet, she should have a serious advantage. This is where Wood can play spoiler, and her tool kit is the kind that could blunt the momentum of the Brazilian.

At her core, the muay Thai specialist formerly known as Calderwood has grown as a striker under the tutelage of now-husband John Wood at Syndicate MMA. A record spotty with recent defeats does not speak the whole picture—the armbar loss to Jennifer Maia cannot be questioned—as her recent decision setbacks to Lauren Murphy and Katlyn Chookagian were both hotly contested and arguments can be made that Calderwood should have gotten her hand raised. It would be in her best interest to stay at kicking range, picking away at a woman that can get sucked into a brawl, and stay elusive and away from the cage wall. It might not be the most visually appealing of strategies, but as long as she does not wind up on her back for long stretches of the fight, there is upset potential in Wood. With odds this wide, a flier on Calderwood is not an unrealistic option.

Terrance McKinney (+102)

The tape study of McKinney’s entire Octagon tenure can be measured in seconds, as it took exactly seven to make a splash and flatline Matt Frevola. As a pro, McKinney’s all-offense approach has gotten him into trouble against foes ready for it or willing to set up a trap. Beyond snapping his leg in two throwing a kick with full force against Tyrone Henderson, the fighters to catch “T. Wrecks” did exactly that. Whether a flying knee from an escaping Sean Woodson, or a triangle choke from the slick Darrick Minner, McKinney is firmly of the live-by-the-sword-die-by-the-sword mentality. An equal opportunity finisher that has never gone the distance, McKinney has all the skills to make life miserable for Fares Ziam and even force a stoppage in the early going.

Staring down the berserker out of Washington State will be the well-rounded mixed martial artist known as “Smile Killer.” Decent wherever the fight takes place, capable of throwing up a quick guillotine choke if pressured against the cage or slinging a lights-out head kick out of nowhere, he presents some problems for the marauding McKinney. The trick for the Frenchman will be to outlast the initial barrage, as McKinney comes out like he is shot out of the proverbial cannon, with four consecutive knockouts in 2021 in a combined 1:52. Chances for Ziam’s success will go up should this 155-pound collision reach the second frame, and keeping out of the way of McKinney’s most dangerous strikes will be paramount to his victory. Ziam has yet to get blitzed and taken out with strikes, but given how hard “T. Wrecks” throws early on, his chin will undoubtedly get tested. The combination of McKinney’s reckless aggression and his surprisingly effective ground attack with several rear-naked chokes and even a kneebar in his ledger will be the difference maker to allow him to spring the mild upset.

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