Maybe this makes me a nerd, and if so I wear it proudly, but I love fantasy sports. From Pursue the Pennant back in the day, to what we used to call "Rotisserie League baseball," all the way to today's ubiquitous fantasy football, pretending to manage my own sports franchise is one of life's simple pleasures.
Despite, as my friend Matt Roth would tell you, my complete and utter lack of skill, fantasy sports are a fun way to get closer to (and smarter about) the games you love. That's why it's always bothered me that there hasn't been a fun fantasy option for MMA. Sure, there have always been pick-em contests, but that fails to capture the nuance that makes fantasy special.
There had to be a way to do fantasy MMA right—I just wasn't smart enough to figure out how. Luckily, Aaron Ard is just a little bit smarter. His Kountermove game is on the path to being MMA's first real fantasy option, one worth spending a little time considering.
A bit about the game. Earlier this year, we talked to Ard about his creation and he broke down the basics:
"Our game is fairly simple on its face; our games are played over a single night during one event. Prior to the event, players get a total of $25,000 fantasy dollars and you get to pick five fighters for your team," Ard said. "Each fighter is given a specific price by Kountermove. We assign a value for each fighter based on how we believe the fight will go.
"Points are scored if your fighters scores a finish, wins a round, lands significant strikes, knocks an opponent down, scores takedowns, secures dominant positions or attempts submissions. The more dominant your fighters' performance, the more points you're going to score. If you score more points than your opponents, then you win the money."
The winners in each game are determined by total fantasy points earned by their team of fighters during the event—strikes landed, submission attempts, knockdowns, dominant positions, rounds won, and knockout or submission bonuses.
Scores are based on full-event stats, not just overall wins like a basic pick’em game. Therefore, even if a fighter on a member’s fantasy team loses, it is still possible for that member to win the game.
All cash entry fees are added into a prize pool that is divided among the league’s winners at the end of the game. After each event, Kountermove updates game results by listing the points members received for that event, the rankings, and prize pool winnings.
Starting with UFC 152, you can now check and update your Kountermove teams on your phone. It's too easy. Last year, according to Ard, 41 percent of fantasy sports players used their smart phones to access real-time updates about their fantasy teams and 28 percent used their phones to make changes to their fantasy team rosters.
“MMA fans are an even younger, smart phone carrying demographic. And most MMA fans watch the big fights with friends at parties or in a bar, not in front of their computer, so we built Kountermove mobile for our members to play on-the-go,” Ard told Bleacher Report.
Kountermove spent the summer building this mobile website and they expect that offering the popular fantasy MMA game on mobile will dramatically increase member engagement during live events.
No more excuses. I believe in this game and am going all in.
So, going forward, I'll be doing a Kountermove Preview for every major event. We'll also, in the weeks to come, have our own tournament, so the commenters who think I'm a drooling moron can prove their superiority on the field of (fantasy) battle.
UFC 152 Preview
As you can see, Kountermove (based on a number of factors including: historical points scored, fighter's style, weight class, opponents style and skill) believes that Jon Jones, Michael Bisping and Joseph Benavidez are all significant favorites.
Main Card Lock for UFC 152: Jon Jones
Come on. The best light heavyweight in the world is fighting an old middleweight who probably still has Anderson Silva's foot imprinted on his face. I like Jones early, for big bonus points.
I agree with the odds, but also see an upset looming in those big three fights. Remember, the possibility of an upset doesn't necessarily mean you should make a play, but it might mean you avoid picking the favorite and getting stuck with a big money, little point fantasy albatross.
Upset Pick for UFC 152: Brian Stann
I think Bisping is the more talented overall fighter, but Stann has one punch knockout power. Fifteen minutes is a long time for that not to come into play. Stann may not beat Bisping, but the risk of an upset is significant enough that you should at least reconsider dropping serious bucks on the Brit.
Of course, the key to a successful Kountermove campaign is careful study. The better players pick from all over the card and don't limit themselves to just the higher-profile fighters, which means you have to do your homework on these fighters.
Undercard Lock for UFC 152: Jim Hettes
Jim Hettes is a safe play. He should walk all over Brimage. He has it all: good boxing, takedowns, and competent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. What makes him a great pick is his relatively cheap price for a fighter who is likely to get the early round finish for lots of points.
There's also something to a valiant loser, especially when the salary structure doesn't always allow you to pick five fighters who are prohibitive favorites. Your going to have to pick an underdog, so you might as well make the most of it.
Dog of the Week: T.J. Grant
Grant is cheap ($4000) and at the very least I don't see him getting submitted or knocked out. So, while you may not get points for a win, you will at least get all three rounds of statistics.
I encourage you to take a look at their site and give the game a shot. I've read the comments—many Bleacher Report readers believe themselves experts. Just between us, I think I know a thing or two as well. Now's our chance to go out an prove it. See you there.