June 4, 2016

UFC 199 and the Continued Rise of MMA Prospects

By Raphael Garcia

At UFC 199 the promotion will continue the showcase the surging prospects on its roster. Just as with UFC Fight Night 88, this card features a number of undefeated fighters looking to grab the attention of hardcore and mainstream fans alike. Brian Ortega, James Vick, and Tom Breese are three men who have big fights on Saturday and will be presented with opportunities to shine on a major PPV event.

As the UFC continues to develop its roster and build up potential stars for the future, young prospects that excelled on the regional or international scene remain part of the company’s plans. In Ortega, Breese, and Vick, the UFC possesses fighters that can be developed into interesting attractions.

At 145 pounds, Ortega developed into a slick Jiu Jitsu practitioner while establishing his name as a part of Respect in the Cage and Resurrection Fighting Alliance promotions. His 2014 debut was spectacular until it was discovered that he failed a test due to the performance-enhancing drug known as drostanolone, which resulted in a suspension of nine months and his victory over Mike Dea La Torre at UFC on Fox 12 being overturned. However, he wouldn’t let that setback stop him, as he returned to the cage nearly a year later and earned finishes over UFC veterans Thiago Tavares and Diego Brandao. These wins over formidable Brazilian opponents proved that Ortega is a viable talent.

The 29-year-old James Vick is the oldest of the group, but he’s already put together a 5-0 UFC campaign. Vick is a long and tall lightweight who has a very dynamic striking attack, which he uses to overwhelm his opponents into making mistakes. He’s a very competent grappler as well, but he faces a very difficult challenge in Beneil Dariush. A win would immediately place him in the Top 15, but a defeat shouldn’t knock him too far back down the ladder. 5dimes lists Vick as a +170 underdog, but such a close figure just serves to represent how dangerous of a fighter he is at this point in time. 

Then there is the Tristar Gym standout Tom Breese. Breese may boast a record of “only” 10-0, but he’s stepped into the cage so many times as an amateur that he brings a wealth of experience into the Octagon. As his three UFC battles occurred overseas, Breese has flown under the radar, but this matchup will be the first time he fights in front of an American crowd under Zuffa employ. He’ll be welcomed by the 17-1 Sean Strickland, who is another young fighter that has quietly put together a winning UFC campaign. This is a great matchup where the winner should expect a ranked opponent next.

Even though veteran names such as Urijah Faber and Michael Bisping adorn the marquee, there are a number of athletes due to compete further down on the UFC 199 card who are in the position to capture the attention that has eluded them to this point in their careers. As they walk to the cage, Ortega, Breese, and Vick will each have the chance to push their mixed martial arts careers to the next level.


UFC 199: Rockhold vs. Bisping 2 (formerly UFC 199: Rockhold vs. Weidman 2) takes place on June 4, 2016 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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