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Diggin’ Deep on UFC on FOX 29 – Main card preview

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Get the scoop on the early action of UFC on FOX 29’s main card card, featuring an anticipated scrap between Michelle Waterson and Cortney Casey and exciting striker Israel Adesanya in his sophomore effort.

Though there are contests on the prelims of UFC on FOX 29 that feature fighters who are thought to be better than those who open up the main card, but that hardly means the UFC is skimping on the fight quality for that section of the card. Instead, the UFC is maintaining a theme of action fights that stems from the top. Nobody has ever accused Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, or Carlos Condit of being in a boring fight. Though young in his UFC career, the same could be said of Israel Adesanya. Or Cortney Casey. For all the crap the UFC has received from the fans and media – some of it well deserved, some of it not – it doesn’t deserved to be thrown under the bus for the main card here. In fact, I would highly recommend it for those who are more causal observers as this should be damn good television.

The main card begins on FOX at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on Saturday.

Israel Adesanya (13-0) vs. Marvin Vettori (12-3-1), Middleweight

It’s been just over two months since Adesanya made his UFC debut in Australia, but he made enough of an impression the UFC wanted to rush him back into the cage as soon as they could. Adesanya isn’t the best striker in the division yet, but he very well could be in a year or two. It isn’t that the former kickboxer needs to improve technically. It’s that he needs to shore up his takedown defense. Once he does that, his creativity and extensive arsenal will truly be unleashed.

Vettori has been steadily improving as a striker since coming into the UFC, displaying power and slick combinations. However, he doesn’t possess the speed or length of Adesanya, making remaining on the feet a risky proposition for Vettori. He isn’t an overpowering wrestler, nor is he reputed to be a great grappler, his eight submission wins coming over less-than-stellar compeition. Nonetheless, he owns a significant advantage on the ground over Adesanya and has ended a bunch of contests with a deep guillotine.

It isn’t that Vettori has been a disappointment, securing a 2-1-1 record since coming into the UFC. He simply hasn’t shown enough to lead anyone to believe he’s going to be anything more than a gatekeeper. Thus, the UFC is looking to feed him to their shiny new toy, Adesanya. Before everyone rushes to jump on his bandwagon, it needs to be noted Vettori is a far superior opponent than Rob Wilkinson. Then again, Vettori showed in his last appearance against Omari Akhmedov that he doesn’t respond well to getting hit hard… and Adesanya hits HARD. Look for Adesanya to deliver some vicious elbows and knees in the clinch early which will make Vettori too passive for his own good. Adesanya via decision

Michelle Waterson (14-6) vs. Cortney Casey (7-5), Women’s Strawweight

Entering the contest on consecutive losses, it’s unlikely the undersized Waterson will become the star management hoped she would be. Those losses can be forgiven as they came to the current champion Rose Namajunas and perennial contender Tecia Torres, but the same can’t be said if she falls short here to Casey… a distinct possibility.

Casey was an all offense, no defense fighter upon her UFC entry. While it led to some nice bonus money as she earned FOTN in her first two UFC contests, she didn’t pick up a win in either contest. While she is still an offensive-minded fighter, Casey no longer spends the entirety of her time in the pocket waiting for the opposition to touch her up the way she did in her earlier fights. In fact, her offensive arsenal has grown to include the occasional takedown to keep opponents on their toes and some sneaky grappling chops to boot. Few can be as aggressive as Casey is and find the level of success she has, but her unique toughness and size for the division allow her to get away with it.

Given Waterson’s natural weight class is atomweight, that could be a recipe for disaster for the former Invicta champion. That will only happen if Waterson gets caught. An excellent manager of distance, Waterson’s kicking arsenal makes it difficult for opponents to manhandle her. In fact, Waterson is usually the one taking the fight to the ground, utilizing precision timing on her slick trips and throws that couple with her supreme scrambling and grappling chops. There may not be anyone quicker at finding an opponent’s back in the strawweight division.

It’s a bit surprising to learn Casey has yet to be finished in the UFC given how she finds herself in firefights and in bad situations on the ground. That’s a real testament to her toughness. Waterson is an intelligent fighter with a quickness advantage, but Casey has improved her ground game. Couple that with her strength advantage, there is a strong likelihood this fight turns into a breakout performance for Casey. Casey via decision

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