I still haven’t made any official plays for UFC 257. Right now my top 3 ML bets are Hooker, Albazi, and Calderwood. In that order. I will post if I end up playing anything myself but those are the 3 I am debating on still. Here are my best bets for every fight on the card:
BigMarley3’s UFC 257 Best Bets Breakdown
Event – UFC 257 Location – Abu Dhabi
This weekend, we have a 12-fight PPV card back at Fight Island with the return of Conor McGregor. This card is half chalk and half close fights so it is a tricky one. My goal here each week is to give you a short breakdown of how I see the fights going and give you my favorite bets for each fight. However, ultimately, I want you to learn how to handicap fights and figure out where you think the value is yourself. I can handicap a fight one way and think I have an edge over the books line, but it doesn’t mean I am right. It is just an implied edge with my number compared to the books number. The goal in handicapping is to gain an edge over the books line compared to the line you would create for each fight. If you think one fighter wins 70% of the time in their specific matchup but their betting line is -250, you should not bet that fighter because that line indicates a 71.43% chance of winning. Handicapping is all about betting numbers, not fighters, or teams. I can think Jon Jones is going to win every match, but Vegas will think the same and betting Jon Jones at -125 vs -400 are two different things. Every betting line indicates an implied probability that fighter will win that matchup and a line like that -125 would indicate they should win 55.56% of the time. If you don’t think they win more than that, there is no value. Same with a line of -400. You have to be able to confidently say that fighter wins more than 80% of the time for a line of -400 to be any value to you. My goal here is to help you create your own betting lines and see where the perceived value is based on the information you have gathered, as well as throwing out some options I like for every fight. If you want my official tracked bets for each card then those are available in weekly, monthly, and yearly options.
With that said, let’s break down these UFC fights and hopefully, I can help you make some money on this card: (odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook and Best Bets for each fight are listed in order of my favorite to least favorite)
Conor McGregor -330 vs Dustin Poirier +265 – McGregor is back! This is a rematch from 2014 when McGregor knocked Poirier out in the 1st round. Poirier has never been in a boring fight and if he can stay conscious in this fight then he has a good chance to win with a decision or a submission. He has heavy hands and could KO Conor as well, but Conor is much more dangerous and more durable as well. I think we see another early KO from Conor in this fight. I don’t think Poirier will have a wrestling-heavy game plan and McGregor’s striking is as high-level as it gets, and he has big power. This is a big price to pay on him but if you want a better line then I would take the TKO prop at under -200 since I think that is by far his best chance of winning. I don’t think he can hang at the pace Poirier can put out over 25-minutes and Poirier has the edge on the mat. I also like McGregor TKO in round 1 as a prop play as well.
McGregor by TKO -195
McGregor ML -330 in a parlay
(Pick is Conor McGregor)
Dan Hooker -136 vs Michael Chandler +116 – Chandler is making his UFC debut here in a big fight after being at or near the top of the Bellator division for over a decade. Hooker just came off a FOTN candidate against Poirier and even in a loss his stock is at an all-time high. I think this should be an amazing, high-paced fight and it should be close. If Chandler is able to mix in his wrestling each round, I think that is going to be his best path to victory here. Wrestling is the only real advantage I give him here though and I think Hooker is more dangerous on the feet and on the mat. I also think Hooker will be the one landing more strikes while the fight is standing. I am going to take Hooker to get a TKO finish and I think he has fought much better competition over the years. If this goes to a decision, I think it can go either way, but I would favor Hooker because I think this fight mainly plays out on the feet.
Hooker ML -136
(Pick is Dan Hooker)
Joanne Calderwood -112 vs Jessica Eye -104 – This should mainly be a striking match and it will be Eye’s boxing vs Calderwood’s kicks/Muay Thai. I think Calderwood is the better and more dangerous striker of the two and she puts out a high output which I always like. I think she wins a volume-based decision here, but I don’t think we see a finish and it is always scary trusting judges in a fight where leg kicks are a good percentage of the volume. I do think she can take this with a clear 30-27 if the judges score fights the way I do.
Calderwood ML -112
(Pick is Joanne Calderwood)
Amanda Ribas -335 vs Marina Rodriguez +270 – Marina is one of the best strikers in WMMA. Her issue is that she can’t stop a takedown. Ribas is one of the most well-rounded WMMA fighters and she can hang on the feet in this fight. Marina gets the striking edge by a bit here but Ribas has a huge edge on the ground and that is why the line is as high as it is. We have seen Ribas KO’d by a worse striker in the past, but I think she gets multiple takedowns in this fight and either picks up a submission or a clear decision win.
Ribas ML -335 in a parlay
(Pick is Amanda Ribas)
Arman Tsarukyan vs Matt Frevola – Frevola’s fight just got a lot harder and I think Tsarukyan will be a big favorite it this one. I think all of the edges are on Tsarukyan’s side now. Frevola should have been preparing to wrestle against his last opponent but now he doesn’t have any wrestling edge and he needs to turn this into a brawl. I think he needs a KO though because I don’t see him winning this fight any other way. Give me Tsarukyan 30-27.
No Betting Line Yet. I think Tsarukyan should be around -300 though.
(Pick is Arman Tsarukyan)
Brad Tavares -130 vs Antonio Carlos Junior +108 – There are a lot of striker vs grappler matchups on this card and we have another one here. Tavares is going to look to keep this fight on the feet and if he can I like him to win a decision. ACJ is going to be looking to get this fight to the mat and if he is successful, he can work for a submission or get a decision win of his own. I can see this going either way, but I would rather lean with the underdog in a 50/50 fight.
Carlos Junior ML +108
(Pick is Antonio Carlos Junior)
Sara McMann -132 vs Julianna Pena +112 – McMann is 40 years old now, but I still give her the wrestling edge over most people in the division. Neither of these fighters are anything special on the feet but I would favor Pena there with her aggression and she should be the one pushing forward. I do think most of this fight plays out on the mat though and I see McMann being the one who is able to keep top control so I will lean with her to get 2 or 3 rounds here.
McMann ML -132
(Pick is Sara McMann)
Khalil Rountree -325 vs Marcin Prachnio +265 – Prachnio has been a kill or be killed fighter. 14 of his fights have ended in round 1 and he was knocked out early in all 3 of his UFC fights. Rountree has big power and he is the better overall striker so this should be a good matchup for him. I am not even sure why Prachnio is getting another shot here, but I see him getting knocked out early once again.
Rountree by TKO in Round 1 +110
(Pick is Khalil Rountree)
Makhmud Muradov -146 vs Andrew Sanchez +124 – This is a good fight and both guys are coming off brutal KO victories. Sanchez looks like he has really improved his striking and he used to have big cardio concerns that look to be more under control now as well. I do think he can hang on the feet in this matchup, but I do favor Muradov there and I think he will have higher output and more power behind his shots. Sanchez gets the wrestling advantage, but we haven’t seen him wrestle as much because that is what was making him gas out earlier in his career. If he can mix in takedowns successfully, I think Sanchez is live in this spot. I am going to lean with Muradov to win this fight on the feet though and get the judges’ nod.
Fight Goes the Distance -116
(Pick is Makhmud Muradov)
Movsar Evloev -560 vs Nik Lentz +420 – Evloev seems like a younger, better version of Nik Lentz. I like this guy a lot and I think he is going to have the edge anywhere this fight goes. He is the better striker, has more speed, higher output, and more power on the feet. He is also the better wrestler and grappler as well. For Lentz to win this fight, I think he will need to keep up the same pace on the feet and try to beat Evloev to the takedowns. I just don’t think he can do that, and I am going to lean with Evloev to get a clear 30-27.
Evloev by Points -140
(Pick is Movsar Evloev)
Zhalgas Zhumagulov -116 vs Amir Albazi -102 – This is a pretty solid curtain jerker. Zhumagulov is the more experienced fighter and he has fought the much better competition. I would give Zhumagulov the striking advantage here but really not by a lot and I think Albazi has more power behind his strikes. I like Albazi to have the edge on the mat though and I think his grappling advantage is bigger than Zhumagulov’s striking advantage. I do see Albazi being able to work in takedowns so I will take him to win 2 of the 3 rounds. He is the younger fighter who should be making more improvements. I think has the higher ceiling in the sport as well where I don’t see any new changes coming with Zhumagulov.
Albazi ML -102
(Pick is Amir Albazi)
- When I am capping a fight, I usually want a perceived 5% edge or more against the books line. If you think a fighter wins 65% of the time in that matchup, but the betting line is only -200, that gives you a 1.67% edge and that isn’t enough for me to play.
- I would not bet every fight on every card; I usually limit my straight bets to 1-5 bets per card. Props are the ones I would bet more for fun.
- I prefer keeping parlays to 2-3 legs unless you’re making fun parlays to hit big. You should also like the ML on the fighter if you are willing to parlay them.
- Be careful with betting debut fighters, you don’t always get what you see on film and the UFC jitters are real (especially with a crowd).
- Shop around for the best prices.
BigMarley3’s DraftKings Breakdown
Event – UFC 257 Location – Abu Dhabi
This weekend, we have an 11-fight PPV card back at Fight Island with the return of Conor McGregor. This is a decent card and DraftKings has some awesome contests for us to win money on this week. The main GPP is a $25 buy-in & $200k goes to 1st place with $1,000,000 in total being paid out. I will probably throw a bunch of lineups in that contest & then focus on a main 1-3 lineups for SE & 3-entry max contests. I will make a cash lineup as well, but I am mostly just going to hunt for non-badges in the H2H lobby instead of posting every week & playing 50/50s & double-ups.
A tip I will give for cash games is to frequently check through the H2H games & look for players with no badges posting games. It doesn’t mean they are a bad player, but it does mean they don’t have much experience & you should have an edge there. Also, if you are a player with no badge yourself, don’t post H2Hs because it will get picked up by a sharper player & it could even be me since I do hunt for those games. The best cash games to join for beginners would be the $1-$3 double-ups & 50/50’s because the DraftKings pros who have invested more than $1M into games are not allowed to play those games under $5, so the competition is a bit easier in general.
We have new rules for MMA DFS in 2021 so keep that in mind and think of how the new format will gain you an edge. Here are the new rules:
|Significant Strikes||+0.2 Pts|
|Control Time||+0.03 Pts/Second|
|Fight Conclusion Bonuses|
|1st Round Win||+90 Pts|
|2nd Round Win||+70 Pts|
|3rd Round Win||+45 Pts|
|4th Round Win||+40 Pts|
|5th Round Win||+40 Pts|
|Decision Win||+30 Pts|
|Quick Win Bonus
(First round win in 60 seconds or less)
With that said, let’s break down these UFC fights, & hopefully, I can help you build some winning lineups:
Zhalgas Zhumagulov $8,300 vs Amir Albazi $7,900
Gym: Arlan MMA Pro Team
UFC Record: 0-1
Last Fought: 4 Months
Last Five: 4-1
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: -115
Zhalgas Zhumagulov was unsuccessful in his UFC debut. He had a decent showing but lost a close decision against Raulian Paiva. Zhumagulov has proven he’s around top fifteen level even without a UFC win. He has recent victories over fighters such as Ali Bagautinov, Tagir Ulanbekov, & Tyson Nam even though some of those fights were controversial. Zhumagulov needs a win here to avoid getting cut. Starting 0-2 in the UFC at FLW is not good. Zhumagulov is a super boring fighter to me. Zhalgas is super low volume. He has decent boxing and will switch stances, but just isn’t very dangerous or fun to watch. Zhumagulov really only looks for the left hook. He goes to the well with it over & over, and it’s definitely his money punch. He will throw low kicks to left hooks or vice versa. Zhumagulov has some good body attacks. He will close the distance with body shots & then come up into hooks. He will do the same with uppercuts into hooks. Zhumagulov has good forward pressure and cuts the cage off well. He has good head movement & defense overall. He can be low volume, and also be hittable at times. He just walks forward in straight lines at times & gets hit coming in. Zhumagulov will mix in some fake level changes into spins. He is a decent fighter overall. Zhalgas isn’t a power guy. He has 6 KO/TKO’s in his career. He has only been finished one time by strikes.
Zhalgas Zhumagulov is a well-rounded fighter. He has fights where he wins with striking heavy game plans & grappling heavy game plans. Zhumagulov hits nice double leg takedowns, but his top control really isn’t very good. He will hit multiple takedowns in one round but isn’t dangerous & struggles to hold his opponents down. He has only one career submission. Zhumagulov landed a nice, little foot sweep takedown against Paiva a few times. Zhumagulov has above average takedown defense. He has been taken down taken down & controlled in rounds of fights. Zhumagulov is defensively sound on the mat & has pretty good get-ups though. His last loss was due to being grinded out, and while he has wins over wrestlers recently, I honestly think he lost. Zhumagulov has very good cardio & a will to win. He will push hard in round three or five & is a tough, durable guy.
Gym: London Shootfighters
UFC Record: 1-0
Last Fought: 4 Months
Last Five: 4-1
Current Streak: W2
Betting Odds: -105
Amir Albazi had an impressive showing in his UFC debut. He dispatched Malcolm Gordon very easily, finishing him in the first round. Albazi has a really good record of 13-1 with his only loss coming to former UFC fighter Shorty Torres. Albazi is getting a significant step up in competition when he takes on the former Fight Nights Global champion, Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Albazi is a grappler, but his striking isn’t horrible. Albazi is big for the division. He is going to be taller & longer than most of his opponents Albazi has good in & out movement and likes to work behind the jab. He will jab the body a lot. Albazi throws heavy one-twos. He likes to throw the jab, overhand right. He throws a really sharp uppercut. Albazi has hurt several of his opponents with his uppercut. He will throw a lot of front knees up the middle, some good round & front kicks to the body, as well as some spinning attacks. He will feint level changes a lot to freeze his opponents and come with a shot. The issue with Albazi’s striking is he drops his hands and floats his chin. He is there to hit flush and has been dropped and hurt because of that. Albazi overextends on the jab a lot & doesn’t move his head when he throws it. Jose Torres was able to counter his jab with overhands and hooks. Albazi has still yet to ever be finished and has no quit in him. Even after being dropped multiple times against Shorty Torres, he never stopped coming.
Amir Albazi is a strong grappler. He is very aggressive looking for the submission early. Four of Albazi’s last five wins have been first round submissions. He has good timing on his level changes, and solid takedowns in the clinch. Albazi’s freestyle wrestling is average, but he does have good timing on the level changes. He hit a nice single leg against Malcolm Gordon. I have seen a couple fighters counter his single leg with a strong whizzer and put him on his back. Albazi is very aggressive looking for the back or to jump on the neck in the clinch. Albazi will jump on the back from standing, and whenever he has a chance to take that position he will. When he gets there, he has excellent control. He will get that body triangle locked in & hunt for the rear naked choke. When Albazi gets the back mount, he usually is taking the neck home, and at the very least he’s usually keeping his opponent in that position for the rest of the round. Albazi will pull guard & is comfortable off his back. He has a solid guard, and dangerous submissions. Albazi has a good kimura from inside his guard. He hit a nice triangle against Gordon. Albazi did seem to get tired in his fight with Torres & became comfortable fighting off his back. He spent the majority of the third round on bottom & lost the round & fight due to it. Albazi has eight submissions in his career. Albazi is a warrior & super tough. He breaks most fighters with his pressure and pace. Albazi has only been to decision one time in 14 fights & he lost. The fight was vs a high-level opponent in Jose Torres, and Albazi was able to take the second round. Amir Albazi is a solid prospect & fighter for the division.
This is a pretty solid curtain jerker. Zhumagulov is the more experienced fighter and he has fought the much better competition. I would give Zhumagulov the striking advantage here but really not by a lot and I think Albazi has more power behind his strikes. I like Albazi to have the edge on the mat though and I think his grappling advantage is bigger than Zhumagulov’s striking advantage. I do see Albazi being able to work in takedowns so I will take him to win 2 of the 3 rounds. He is the younger fighter who should be making more improvements. I think has the higher ceiling in the sport as well where I don’t see any new changes coming with Zhumagulov.
Albazi is my preferred DraftKings play in this one. He is an underdog I am picking to win and if he does win, I think it will mainly come through the ground game. Even in a decision I could see him scoring well but I think he is live for a submission as well. Zhalgas is going to need to win this fight on the feet so the only way I see any real ceiling from him is a knockout. I don’t think I will get much exposure to him, but I will look to go overweight to Albazi and I like him in all formats.
Winner – Amir Albazi via Unanimous Decision
Movsar Evloev $9,400 vs Nik Lentz $6,800
Gym: Tiger Muay Thai
UFC Record: 3-0
Last Fought: 5 Months
Last Five: 5-0
Current Streak: W13
Betting Odds: -550
Movsar Evloev is jumping in here on short notice to take on a veteran in Nik Lentz. Nik Lentz was scheduled to face another killer in Mike Grundy, but the fight didn’t materialize. Evloev is jumping in here on less than two weeks’ notice. This fight is also at 150 lbs and Movsar is already the smaller fighter. On the feet, Evloev isn’t the best, but he’s awkward and effective. He walks fighters down constantly & is a just a work horse. He has heavy one-twos that he throws stiff. He will throw jab, uppercuts, and jab, overhand rights. He has good, straight punch leads. He throws hard & with a lot of volume. It’s tough for fighters to get aggressive or get a good read on him because he has amazing level changes mid combination. He will throw some heavy low kicks and body kicks. He will even throw some high kicks, front kicks to the face & spinning kicks. He will try to dig body shots. I’m sure his striking is constantly improving while training at Tiger Muay Thai. Evloev is still stiff. He’s improving his footwork & lateral movement, but he can still back up with his chin high. Evloev doesn’t react the best to pressure & fighters who throw longer combinations. Barzola was able to tag him with some shots as he followed him with punches as he went straight backwards.
Movsar Evloev is an elite grappler for MMA. He has been called the mini Khabib for how he mauls his opponents. His wrestling is similar as well. Evloev’s style is more Greco Roman. He will shoot in on the legs, but usually only to push his opponent to the cage & take them down in the clinch. He is excellent at shooting in on singles & doubles, and then coming up into a body lock. His level changes are amazing, extremely fast and well timed. He did struggle to takedown Enrique Barzola after round one who is a great scrambler. Evloev is excellent in the clinch against the cage. He will look for foot sweeps, body locks, and has very good control there. In this fight, I think Evloev needs cage grinding time to win. He is extremely strong & will dig underhooks & muscle opponents to the ground. He likes to get into half guard & smash opponents. Most of the time when he’s taking an opponent down, they don’t get free from him for the remainder of the round. Even if they stand up, he stays attached and mat returns them. He has a strong mount & will throw hard G&P. He has great back takes & back control. He has tremendous grappling cardio & wears on fighters with his pressure, pace & riding ability. He has been in five round fights & not slowed down. He is good off his back at sweeping to top position as well. He was taken down late in round two with a big double leg by Barzola and ate some ground & pound shots. Evloev got taken down a few times his last fight but showed amazing scrambling ability & cardio. Evloev has 4 submissions, all rear naked chokes.
Gym: Sanford MMA
UFC Record: 14-8-1
Last Fought: 11 Months
Last Five: 2-2
Current Streak: L2
Betting Odds: +425
Nik Lentz is making his return after a year layoff. Lentz had to undergo eye surgery after his fight with Arnold Allen. At 36 years old Lentz has definitely taken a lot of damage. He still is competitive though, and hard to beat. Lentz is one win away from fifteen UFC wins which very few people can say they did. Lentz isn’t chasing titles anymore, but if you want to move to that next level you need to beat someone like him. Lentz is a bit of a plodder, but he is aggressive. He will switch stances & is improving with his trickiness. He has nice, heavy low kicks. He will throw jab, right hooks, and he has good body kicks. He will counter jabs with overhand lefts or rights and has some ok pop in that shot. He likes to come over the top with hooks and then try to use that to get in the clinch & dirty box. Lentz has a solid left kick to the body. He showed off a nice head kick, dropping & ultimately finishing Maynard with it. He is also good at catching kicks himself & taking opponents down or striking off it. He is slow though & there to be hit as he enters range. He also can be backed up & give up the center. He doesn’t move his head well & really took a lot of damage in his fight with Charles Oliveira. He is tough & has a good chin, only being finished three times in his career.
Nik Lentz is a grinder, and grappling is his bread & butter. He does a good job of using punches to close the distance or just taking shots to get inside and get in the clinch. He likes to get the single collar clinch & push opponents to the cage. He has good knees to the body & head and great elbows. He was able to control Scott Holtzman against the cage enough to steal a decision in their fight. He has good double legs as well as body lock takedowns, & on top he has great ground & pound. He will throw nasty elbows & good punches & slow cooks a lot of his opponents with a steady stream of shots. He is very opportunistic with submissions & has great guillotines especially. He has 11 career submissions & has only been submitted twice in his career. In his last match, he did get dominated in the grappling realm, but was able to show his ability to survive on bottom vs an elite black belt. Lentz has decent cardio is extremely gritty & will be there all night unless you take him out. He does get tired in the third round of high paced fights & can survive to the finish.
Evloev seems like a younger, better version of Nik Lentz. I like this guy a lot and I think he is going to have the edge anywhere this fight goes. He is the better striker, has more speed, higher output, and more power on the feet. He is also the better wrestler and grappler as well. For Lentz to win this fight, I think he will need to keep up the same pace on the feet and try to beat Evloev to the takedowns. I just don’t think he can do that, and I am going to lean with Evloev to get a clear 30-27.
I like Evloev in this matchup, but he is the most expensive guy on the slate, and I like the 3 fighters priced below him more. That will limit the exposure I get to Evloev this week, but I am also not X’ing him out of my player pool and I do think he can score 100+. He has all the advantages here and Lentz could push a pace that ends up helping Evloev. I do think he more likely scores ~80 in a win though and that won’t cut it in GPPs, so I will probably be underweight. I don’t have any interest in Lentz really, but he will have sub 10% ownership, so I think he is in play for a deep GPP and maybe he can squeeze out a tight victory that possibly puts him on the optimal lineup as the cheapest fighter on the card. Evloev is a guy I like more so in cash games because I think he is the “safest” win on the slate and the ceiling is less important there.
Winner – Movsar Evloev via Unanimous Decision
Makhmud Muradov $8,600 vs Andrew Sanchez $7,600
Gym: Monster Gym
UFC Record: 2-0
Last Fought: 1 Year 1 Month
Last Five: 5-0
Current Streak: W13
Betting Odds: -145
Makhmud Muradov will be looking to make it fourteen in a row in one of the biggest spots of his MMA career. After winning on two UFC fight nights, he now will get to compete on a Conor McGregor undercard. With his fighting style, & link to Floyd Mayweather the UFC could push him quickly. Muradov didn’t fight all of 2020, and had several fights cancelled. Muradov landed a nasty right hook to the body to a left hook, overhand right combination that flatlined Trevor Smith. Muradov has sixteen knockouts in his twenty-four wins. He has only been finished one time in his career, and it was due to a clavicle injury. Muradov is a great athlete with plus skills across the board. He can kick, has fast hands, good crosses, and his movement is good. There are some things I dislike about Muradov, though. He doesn’t have big one-shot power to me and throws a lot of one shot attacks. In terms of his defense, Muradov does float his chin and in exchanges he is vulnerable. Muradov isn’t low volume but he doesn’t throw much in combination. He also slowed down in his fight with Di Chirico. In the third round, Di Chirico had success grinding Muradov against the cage and also landed some big punches. Muradov definitely has a good chin. He has 19 knockouts himself also.
Makhmud Muradov has a solid grappling game. He has fast double leg shots and finishes well. He can explode into big slams or turn the corner. Muradov looks heavy in top position, and when he can posture up will rain down heavy elbows & punches. He doesn’t look super comfortable in top position at times. Alberto Uda was able to threaten him with his guard and make him stand up out of top position. He was able to drop Uda with an overhand right later in the fight. He followed up with brutal ground & pound that put Uda to sleep. He threw a disgusting flying punch that landed clean & followed up with concussive elbows. In his last match, he took down Wendell Oliveira, almost took his back, but once again just let him back to his feet. In the second round he once again took him down. This time he took the wrestling ride position on the back & finished the fight. He is good at trapping the far wrist & raining down unanswered blows. Muradov can back himself up towards the cage at times. He also sometimes gets crazy with his jump kicks or flying knees & puts himself in position to be taken down. Muradov has very good takedown defense in recent fights. In the clinch, he is extremely hard to takedown. He digs double underhooks of his own quickly & changes position. He will look for trips along with just disengaging depending on the situation. I haven’t seen someone take him down in any recent fights. Muradov is just dangerous to takedown also. He will counter with flying knees, uppercuts and can knock opponents out. It looked like Muradov had issues with submission defense early in his career. He was submitted three times out of his first four losses. Muradov hasn’t lost by submission since 2013. He isn’t a big submission threat with just three in his career. Muradov is constantly exploding & using huge movements & he did slow down in round three of his debut.
Gym: Tristar Gym
UFC Record: 5-3
Last Fought: 5 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: W1
Betting Odds: +125
Andrew Sanchez arguably had the best performance of his UFC career in his last fight. He entered an underdog against Wellington Turman and finished him by brutal first round knockout. Sanchez has won three of his last four fights, with the one loss coming against a beast in Marvin Vettori. Sanchez has always been a very legit grappler. Now showing knockout power, if he can continue to improve his striking he could start to potentially work his way into the top fifteen. Andrew Sanchez is a well-rounded fighter. On the feet, he is loose and flowy. Sanchez has good fakes & feints. He will probe with the jab or check hook and try to walk fighters into his straight-right. Sanchez showed great timing with his jab & crosses in his last fight. He viciously knocked out Turman with a straight-right hand. Sanchez has nice uppercuts he throws. When he can back fighters to the cage, he will land nice multi punch, boxing combinations to the body & head. Sanchez likes to touch more with his punches, and then mix in harder shots. He will mix in some kicks. He has nice front kicks to the body. He will throw some nice round & question mark kicks to the head. He likes to pull fighters into spinning backfists & has pretty good timing on them. Sanchez holds his hands down and is hittable himself. In his fight with Marvin Vettori, Sanchez struggled with the forward pressure & combination punching. Sanchez will use a high guard and cover. He has decent defense, but he leaves his body available, and it mutes his offense. Sanchez has a solid chin, but when he gets tired his movement slows, and he gets hit flush. Sanchez has been finished by strikes in the third round of two fights where he gassed out. Sanchez has been finished by strikes three times overall. Andrew Sanchez has six knockouts of his own.
Andrew Sanchez is a very good grappler. He has a strong college wrestling background, and good Jiu-Jitsu. Andrew Sanchez does a good job of using his touch & move style to get fighters to overextend or chase and then he can grapple. Sanchez has a really nice single leg. He will use the single to drive fighters to the fence. From there Sanchez is really good at playing with the legs, looking for trips, or taking the back. When Sanchez gets on top, he is excellent at grape vining the legs and trying to move directly into mount. Sanchez will also grape vine the legs, trap the far wrist and rain down shots. Sanchez is really good with his top control, and just grinds guys out. He isn’t a super active wrestler, and I feel it’s because his cardio has cost him in the past. He needs to be in the best shape of his life for this fight, and wrestle. Sanchez has two submissions in his career and isn’t a big sub threat. His takedown defense is amazing. Sanchez has 100% takedown defense in the UFC. He has never been submitted in his career.
This is a good fight and both guys are coming off brutal KO victories. Sanchez looks like he has really improved his striking and he used to have big cardio concerns that look to be more under control now as well. I do think he can hang on the feet in this matchup, but I do favor Muradov there and I think he will have higher output and more power behind his shots. Sanchez gets the wrestling advantage, but we haven’t seen him wrestle as much because that is what was making him gas out earlier in his career. If he can mix in takedowns successfully, I think Sanchez is live in this spot. I am going to lean with Muradov to win this fight on the feet though and get the judges’ nod.
I am cool with both sides of this fight on DraftKings, but I don’t love the fight as a whole. Sanchez might even be my preferred play just because he is a live underdog. He is also the one more likely to wrestle and if he does wrestle, I like his chances of winning even more. Muradov is the better striker though and I think he is more likely to land a KO shot as well as being the higher output striker. I don’t love his price though so that is why I would prefer Sanchez. I think either guy can be used in cash games but again Sanchez would be the guy I prefer there because he can score 40 in a decision loss.
Winner – Makhmud Muradov via Unanimous Decision
Khalil Rountree Jr. $9,300 vs Marcin Prachnio $6,900
Gym: Tiger Muay Thai
UFC Record: 4-4-1
Last Fought: 1 Year 3 Months
Last Five: 2-2-1
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: -340
Khalil Rountree is making his return after a long layoff. Rountree hasn’t fought in over a year, and his MMA future has been called into question. Rountree has contemplated retirement and it’s hard to gauge if his head is truly in it. He did have a change of heart and resigned with the UFC, so we will see if he has some renewed vigor. Rountree has been very inconsistent in his performances, so if he can have another excellent showing here, that will prove progression. Rountree is also extremely explosive especially in the first round & this fight should be fireworks. Against Anders, Rountree was hopping on his lead leg, staying very light on his feet & threw vicious leg kicks. He was controlling distance very well with his jab. He was double jabbing into range for hooks & straight punches. He dropped Anders several times with left & right hooks. He was exploding into range & looked super dangerous. The leg kicks from Rountree early really was the tale of the fight. After he lit him up with a few kicks in the first round, he really neutralized Anders. Anders really never got any offense going. Rountree has shown his elite striking ability in MMA time & time again. He had a scintillating knockout of kickboxing legend Gokhan Saki. Rountree has finished all but one of his UFC wins by KO. In his decision victory vs Anders, Rountree had 4 knockdowns. Rountree has 5 KO/TKO’s in 8 wins & has been finished by strikes twice.
Khalil Rountree’s Achilles heel in his career has been grapplers. Rountree was quickly dealt with in the clinch against Johnny Walker, which is what implored him to go to Thailand. We didn’t see any of his clinch game vs Anders, so it’s still a question mark how much it’s truly improved. Rountree didn’t have to deal with very many takedown attempts at all against Anders. He sprawled on one takedown, but the leg kicks early really nullified the takedown threat. Rountree showed the hole was still there though when he faced Ion Cutelaba. He got taken down early and smashed with ground & pound. Rountree’s wrestling has really been bad in UFC competition. He will try to use guillotines instead of defending the takedown. Michal Oleksiejczuk was able to easily take him down with single legs. His takedown defense is just 52% & he has never attempted a takedown in the UFC. Khalil also has 0 career submissions. He has been submitted one time via rear naked choke.
Gym: Tatsujin Dojo Deventer
UFC Record: 0-3
Last Fought: 5 Months
Last Five: 2-3
Current Streak: L3
Betting Odds: +280
Marcin Prachnio is fighting for his MMA career here. Prachnio has been awful so far during his UFC run. He has been knocked out three times in a row all in the first round. If he doesn’t show up in this fight, he will almost certainly be cut. He is a very aggressive, karate fighter. He has a long stance and he is in constant forward motion. He throws some nice, long punches, front kicks up the middle, and knees. He is very wild and doesn’t care about defense or setting his shots up. He will throw a lot of naked kicks, as well as being very wide with his punches. He walks forward and wings hooks while looking for the finish, but he is very upright in his stance, as well as not moving his head and keeping his hands low. He has power, and if he can connect he can knock guys out. He will throw a sloppy spinning wheel kick blind. He had a pretty brutal KO loss to Sam Alvey, in which he showed poor fight IQ getting dropped, instead of being defensive. He walked forward while he was hurt with his hands down and got knocked out. He does seem fearless and he has big heart and the will to win. He is just not very talented overall. He has 10 TKO’s in his 13 wins.
Marcin Prachnio is not an offensive grappler. His takedown defense is not very good. His forward pressure leaves him susceptible to takedowns. I have seen him get taken down on the regional scene. In this fight, I expect it to play out on the feet. Prachnio slows down significantly in fights. He has bad cardio & poor fight IQ.
Prachnio has been a kill or be killed fighter. 14 of his fights have ended in round 1 and he was knocked out early in all 3 of his UFC fights. Rountree has big power and he is the better overall striker so this should be a good matchup for him. I am not even sure why Prachnio is getting another shot here, but I see him getting knocked out early once again.
Rountree is a top play for me in this fight. Prachnio has been KO’d in round 1 by 3 guys who probably don’t hit as hard as Rountree does. I think we see another round 1 KO here and that will be 100+. He is also a possible 25-point bonus guy with the first 60 seconds. I am cool with Rountree in all formats and I will look to be overweight. Prachnio is a sneaky, sneaky underdog play who could land a big shot of his own and get a KO at no ownership. Deep GPP only for him but I do think he can break the slate at low ownership so I will have exposure to him as well. However, he does suck and likely loses so it is a high-risk, high reward type play because not only would you only have to compete with sub 10% of the field, but you kill off near half the field in the process if Rountree is KO’d.
Winner – Khalil Rountree via 1st round (T)KO
Sara McMann $8,200 vs Julianna Pena $8,000
Gym: Revolution MMA
From: South Carolina
UFC Record: 6-5
Last Fought: 11 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: W1
Betting Odds: -130
The Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann is making her return looking to make it two in a row. McMann got back to her winning ways smashing Lina Lansberg one year ago. McMann is 40 years old now, and this will be her first MMA fight outside of North America. She is getting a solid matchup here as she takes on fellow grappler Julianna Pena. McMann’s striking is a bit open and wild when she throws, but she has big power in her overhand and in her leg kicks. McMann really relies on closing the distance with explosive blitzes & her right hand. She can come up short with her punches a lot but uses it to fall into the clinch. McMann doesn’t use feints or fakes & can be very obvious and deliberate. When she gets tired, the blitzes come slower & she gets much more hittable. She doesn’t like getting hit and struggles with faster, straight punches. When she throws, she’s very tight & can have her eyes closed. McMann has only been finished once by strikes versus Amanda Nunes. She has just one TKO victory.
Sara McMann is a former silver medalist wrestling champion. She relies on that predominately to win her fights. McMann has excellent clinch takedowns & really rag dolls opponents. She also has a very nice, blast double leg. She will use the blast double to run opponents to the fence & finish with the single leg. On top, McMann has improved with her control & Jiu-Jitsu, but her ground & pound is still not very good. She doesn’t throw devastating shots and really lacks power. She is good at getting to dominant positions like side control or the mount & throwing a lot of punches and controlling. She has gotten better at getting arm triangle submissions. She does have five career submissions. McMann can get very tired in fights & when she gets takedowns, will hang out in opponents’ guards and make mistakes. She has gotten submitted back to back times and three times overall. McMann will quit in fights and has a weak mentality. Her cardio is questionable. She is much more of an athlete than a fighter.
UFC Record: 5-2
Last Fought: 3 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: +110
Julianna Pena is jumping right back in the cage looking to rebound from her loss in November. Pena looked as if she was on her way to victory having the momentum in her favor & the fight where she wanted it. Unfortunately for her she was submitted by the kickboxer Germaine De Randamie late in the third round. Pena has now been submitted in two of her last three fights. Pena has her hands high when she comes forward, throws a lot of one-twos & head kicks to get inside. She will throw hooks on the inside but gets wild and wide with her hands. Her pressure and aggressiveness make opponents have to respect her on the feet though and she can usually get inside. She was able to feint the level changes against the cage and throw hard shots against Germaine De Randamie hurting her a couple times. Pena doesn’t have KO power on the feet, but she does have a few ground & pound TKO’s. She has never been finished by strikes.
Julianna Pena is a very good wrestler grappler. She has made a living using her grappling to win fights. Pena is super physical and tenacious. She will use her striking to back fighters to the cage & maul them in the clinch. She has good clinch takedowns and stays active with knees and short punches. Pena does a good job of making fights her fight. Just about all her UFC fights have been grappling heavy. Even in her matchup with Valentina Shevchenko, you could argue she was out grappled, but she made it her fight. Pena can be taken down but is solid off her back. She is a good scrambler, never accepts bottom position and will attack subs. She did get rag dolled by Cat Zingano in the clinch and I worry about that for this matchup. She had a good bite on the arm of Shevchenko late in the first round of their fight. Pena is a pressure fighter in top position. She likes to rain down nice elbows & forearms from inside her opponents’ guards. She will pressure pass to side control where she likes to work. She will look for the crucifix position and take the back if given the opportunity. She has good back takes & control. She will flatten opponents out & finish with ground & pound. She has three rear naked choke victories. Her ground & pound comes early & often, and she is relentless. She has 3 TKO’s all via ground & pound. Pena is good at staying heavy on the neck keeping opponents down & hunting chokes. She has now been submitted twice in her last three fights.
McMann is 40 years old now, but I still give her the wrestling edge over most people in the division. Neither of these fighters are anything special on the feet but I would favor Pena there with her aggression and she should be the one pushing forward. I do think most of this fight plays out on the mat though and I see McMann being the one who is able to keep top control so I will lean with her to get 2 or 3 rounds here.
This is our mid-range fight of the week and I am cool with both sides of this fight. I won’t be heavy on it, but I probably would have both fighters if making 10-20 lineups. I do prefer McMann though because she is the better wrestler, and she will get some credit for ground strikes now. She also doesn’t need 100+ at her price and I think she can get 10x in a win. She is 40 years old though and Pena could have success of her own if she can get in top control. She also might win the fight on the feet. So, I am cool with some Pena exposure as well, but I will have less of her than McMann and this fight will be in less than half of my total lineups.
Winner – Sara McMann via Unanimous Decision
Brad Tavares $8,700 vs Antonio Carlos Junior $7,500
Gym: Xtreme Couture
UFC Record: 12-6
Last Fought: 1 Year 2 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L2
Betting Odds: -125
Brad Tavares is looking to get back on the right track after back to back beat downs. Tavares got destroyed by Israel Adesanya for five rounds, and then was dusted in the first round against Edmen Shahbazyan with a high kick. Tavares hasn’t fought much in recent years and has battled a lot of injuries. He has fought just two times in almost three years. Tavares once again has taken over a year away from the octagon before this fight. Tavares is a very skillful and technical striker. Tavares snaps off a great jab and has nasty leg kicks. He will double jab into range and throws a lot of one-twos & three-twos. His left hook, straight-right hand is very nice. He likes to throw overhand right to a left hook to the body combination. Tavares is always feinting and faking, controlling distance and throwing a lot of volume to get off first and win a striking battle. He uses a lot of lateral movement, his jab to gauge and control distance and pull his opponent into his bigger shots. He has a very nice straight-right hand & excellent, tight left hook inside. Tavares is good at getting off first and controlling when the exchanges happen. He has a solid flying knee he will throw. On the feet, he is always technical. He will have a high guard and good defense. He never really gets emotional and puts himself in harm’s way. He sometimes gets his hand back a little low on his jab and can get countered with hooks. He seems to be a bit stiffer if his opponent forces him to throw shots in the pocket. He is more comfortable hitting and moving and staying sharp. Israel Adesanya was able to target the body with kicks that hurt Tavares, as he uses a very high guard. Tavares is most susceptible to shots up the middle like front kicks, straight punches, uppercuts & knees. Overall, he is very hard to hit, and constantly walking his opponents down. He attacks all parts of the body, and while having flashed power, is more of a decision fighter. Tavares has taken an extreme amount of damage in his last two fights. Against Shahbazyan, he looked washed & got knocked out viciously in the first round. Tavares has six KO/TKO’s, but just three in the UFC/Ultimate Fighter show.
Brad Tavares is not an offensive wrestler. He is strong in the clinch against the cage. He digs double underhooks well and has very good head positioning. He will work short shots from that position and try to slow down the fight. Tavares did shoot a couple singles & double leg takedowns against Adesanya but was unsuccessful. He did get one takedown in the fight but didn’t do anything with it. In Tavares’s last ten fights he has just five takedowns. Tavares likes to get the back mount when he takes top position. His top control isn’t the greatest. Tavares is going to look to keep it on the feet in this matchup. His takedown defense is very good. He has a great sprawl and digs underhooks very well. He is excellent at disengaging with nasty right or left hooks. When opponents try to clinch with Tavares, he will let his hands go in combination to the body & head & disengage. He has a great switch if fighters get a takedown on him and will use to reverse to top position. He is very good at using the hip ride to bounce right back to his feet. He will belly down into single legs to stand up from bottom & is hard to hold down. Tavares is hard to control & hasn’t been submitted since 2010. He has been submitted just one time by Court McGee on the ultimate fighter. Tavares has just two career submissions early in his career. Tavares shows good cardio in all his fights, and definitely has a major experience edge here. Tavares has spent almost 4 hours inside the UFC’s octagon & fought over 20 times for the promotion.
Antonio Carlos Junior
Gym: American Top Team
UFC Record: 7-4-1
Last Fought: 1 Year 4 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L2
Betting Odds: +105
Antonio Carlos Junior is another veteran who has fallen on hard times. ACJ has lost his last two fights by decision and hasn’t won in almost three years. He hasn’t fought in over a year himself. His last loss was controversial, and he hasn’t taken the same concussive damage Tavares has. Carlos Junior is big & moves well, but I wouldn’t say he’s the greatest athlete. He is getting better at his striking, but he still needs to do a lot of work. He has a wide stance & solid in & out movement. He likes to pressure forward & make the cage small for opponents. He has a nice jab & a heavy one-two. His straight-right hand has power. He can lean back with his chin right up in the air after he jabs. He has a good uppercut. He has very heavy leg kicks. He has hard round & front kicks to the body. He likes to throw a jab, head kick combination. He will pull back with his chin up in the air when fighters blitz him as well. His last three fights, and most of his fights there is not much striking. His last fight was probably the best his striking has ever looked. He was more comfortable exchanging in the pocket with Tim Boetsch & was much faster. Against Tavares, I don’t see him being comfortable striking with an explosive, fast guy who can shut his lights out, and will look to wrestle much more quickly. He has no KO/TKO’s & has been TKO’d one time.
Antonio Carlos Junior is one of the best BJJ fighters in the sport. He is dynamic with his Jiu-Jitsu for a heavier weight fighter. Carlos Junior doesn’t have the best takedowns, but he is very strong for the division, and will get the body lock and drag his opponent down. He will get double underhooks and put his opponent against cage and work from there. He is very good at playing with the legs, looking for trips & the back. He will throw knees to the body in the clinch. ACJ has good double legs against the cage also. He is good at shooting singles from the outside. He was able to push Boetsch to the cage using a single & then landed an explosive double leg slam. He is very good on top. He is excellent at guard passing & will move from guard to half guard to mount with ease. Once he takes the mount, he will throw heavy shots as well as look for arm triangles. He is very good at getting the back mount especially for a big guy and is good at scrambling. When he takes the back, his control & finishing ability is superb. He has 6 RNCs in his career & four in his last five wins. He can be taken down himself. When fighters can close the distance & get him against the cage, they can control him against the cage & put him on his back. Marvin Vettori was able to take him down a couple times & land some nice ground & pound. He will attack with a high guard off his back and will throw nice elbows while looking for armbars or triangles. He will look for leg locks as well to sweep to top position. In this fight, I don’t see him having to worry about being taken down or swept. Carlos Junior has 8 career submissions. He needs to close the distance, cut the cage off, get the double leg & finish the fight. I feel when if he gets a takedown, he may just need one to finish the fight.
There are a lot of striker vs grappler matchups on this card and we have another one here. Tavares is going to look to keep this fight on the feet and if he can I like him to win a decision. ACJ is going to be looking to get this fight to the mat and if he is successful, he can work for a submission or get a decision win of his own. I can see this going either way, but I would rather lean with the underdog in a 50/50 fight.
ACJ is my preferred DK play here and he is the one with the higher ceiling IMO as well. His best path to victory is on the mat and that could be multiple takedowns, or a submission win. Tavares has never been submitted so I do think a decision is more likely. I am not confident in ACJ at all here, but he is one of the dogs I am picking outright so I will look to go overweight. Tavares is going to be priced out of my lineups and I don’t see him on the optimal unless he can get a KO in round 1 or 2.
Winner – Antonio Carlos Junior via Split Decision
Amanda Ribas $9,200 vs Marina Rodriguez $7,000
Gym: American Top Team
UFC Record: 4-0
Last Fought: 6 Months
Last Five: 5-0
Current Streak: W4
Betting Odds: -310
Arguably the UFC’s fastest rising star, Amanda Ribas is set to take center stage. Ribas will be getting a showcase spot on the main card of a Conor McGregor PPV. If she wins this fight don’t be surprised to see her in a title eliminator later in the year. This is a tough test for Ribas. It’s clearly the best striker she has ever faced in her career. Ribas is much more of a grappler than striker. She has improved her striking, but I expect her to be trying to get this fight to the mat. On the feet, Ribas is a good athlete with a long reach. She is light on her feet and throws a lot of feints. Ribas will use her jab & low kicks to close the distance. From there she has good head movement & counter punching. Ribas will slip & return with her straight-right. Ribas has improved the sharpness of her punches and is fairly accurate. Ribas will change the target of her cross and go to the body as well with it. In the pocket, Ribas is good at throwing punches in bunches and she has fast hands. Ribas will throw nice one-twos, and she likes throwing her right cross to the body or head to a left hook to the head. Ribas will throw a lot of nasty kicks. She attacks the body very well with round & spinning kicks to the body. Her range and distance control are good. Ribas has some awesome output & forward pressure as well. Ribas still is hittable. She can throw lazy jabs and get countered. Ribas also sometimes can get sloppy in the pocket and hang her chin out there. Ribas needs to be smart in this fight, and not get in too many exchanges.
Amanda Ribas is a terrific grappler. She is a black belt in judo & Jiu-Jitsu & is extremely strong, especially at 115 lbs. Ribas has excellent clinch takedowns, and is getting better at working her way in with her strikes. Ribas has really nice body locks & trips. She will also hit really nice judo throws. Ribas did a great job of taking the back from standing multiple times in her fight with Emily Whitmire. On top, Ribas has a crushing top game. She is an aggressive passer, and heavy ground & pound. Ribas will use submission attempts to open up passing opportunities. From half guard she will hunt for arm locks or arm triangles. Ribas is mean on top too & has an edge about her. She definitely has some of the best ground & pound in women’s MMA. Ribas is an elite scrambler. She has excellent positional awareness & usually always ends up on top. Ribas is very comfortable even if she does end up on bottom. She was almost taken down with a couple single legs against Makenzie Dern, and Markos was able to hit a single in their fight. Ribas was able to hit a really nice sweep off her back against Markos after threatening an armbar. In her fight with Paige VanZant, Ribas hit the armbar.
Gym: Thai Brazil Floripa
UFC Record: 2-1-2
Last Fought: 6 Months
Last Five: 2-1-2
Current Streak: 2-1-2
Betting Odds: +255
Marina Rodríguez suffered the first loss of her career last July. Rodriguez went in there with former champion Carla Esparza, and in what was a very competitive fight, she lost a split decision. Rodriguez has had a very strange UFC career. She was unbeaten in her first four fights with the promotion, but two of those fights were draws. Rodriguez needs to figure out how to distance herself from her opponents and get cleaner wins on the scorecards. Rodriguez is a sharp striker. She is good at striking going forwards & backwards, playing the range game very well. Rodriguez has a nasty jab and super straight punches. Her one-two is a piston. She will mix in long hooks with both hands that make up a lot of distance. Rodriguez will blitz forward with a one-two or right hook, straight-left hand combination followed by low kicks. She has excellent front kicks to the body & head along with oblique kicks to the legs. She will also throw sidekicks with her back leg. All her kicks tend to come with the back leg. When Rodriguez gets confident, she will start to close the distance with superman punches & elbows and spinning kicks. She has excellent elbows & knees in close range that can bust opponents open. Her Muay Thai clinch is excellent. Rodriguez doesn’t have the fastest feet and can do a lot of standing in front of opponents. Randa Markos had success with her striking by pressing forward & throwing combinations. Rodriguez doesn’t move her head much & if her opponent can walk through her shots & counter, she is there to be hit. Markos also established the takedown early, and had success feinting the takedown & coming over the top with hook or overhand combinations. Rodriguez has a strong chin though and likes to brawl. She has four knockouts of her own.
Marina Rodriguez is an average grappler. Her clinch game is elite & she can really batter opponents with elbows & knees. She will get a great frame with her forearm on the head to create distance & just go to town. She will force opponents to give up takedown attempts with the elbows, along with really breaking their posture effectively with the frame. Rodriguez has no offensive wresting or Jiu-Jitsu game. Rodriguez’s overall takedown defense is very weak. In the clinch she makes a lot of mistakes & I think Ribas will easily be able to take her down from those positions. Off her back, Rodriguez is scrappy, but she is not very technical. She gives up dominant positions and has gotten 10-8d in multiple fights after being taken down. At thirty-three years old I just don’t know if you can expect Rodriguez to improve too much. Rodriguez is tough and has great cardio. She also has the experience of fighting better fighters.
Marina is one of the best strikers in WMMA. Her issue is that she can’t stop a takedown. Ribas is one of the most well-rounded WMMA fighters and she can hang on the feet in this fight. Marina gets the striking edge by a bit here but Ribas has a huge edge on the ground and that is why the line is as high as it is. We have seen Ribas KO’d by a worse striker in the past, but I think she gets multiple takedowns in this fight and either picks up a submission or a clear decision win.
Ribas is my preferred play here and she has a high ceiling if she looks to grapple. Marina can win this fight on the feet but Ribas is good there and I am not positive she has a wrestling-heavy game plan. That makes me worry about paying her price, but if she does wrestle heavily, I think she has 100+ upside. I like her in all formats and Marina is probably a fade for me just because I don’t think this fight will be close if Ribas does wrestle. She is a high-volume striker and can win on the feet like I said, so I won’t talk you off her if she in in your cash or GPP lineup.
Winner – Amanda Ribas via Unanimous Decision
Arman Tsarukyan $8,900 vs Matt Frevola $7,400
Gym: Khabarovsky MMA
UFC Record: 2-1
Last Fought: 6 Months
Last Five: 4-1
Current Streak: W2
Arman Tsarukyan is one of the UFC’s youngest, shiny prospects. Tsarukyan has all the skills and is coming off an impressive victory over Davi Ramos. He was supposed to be facing another young gun in this fight in Nasrat Haqparast, but unfortunately that was called off and he will now be facing Matt Frevola, as his fight was also cancelled against Ottman Azaitar. Tsarukyan showed off he isn’t just a grappler in his last fight. He dominated Davi Ramos on the feet. Tsarukyan is very athletic. He has excellent in & out movement and distance control. He has excellent footwork. Tsarukyan was landing nice combos, while being in & out against Ramos. Tsarukyan has nasty calf kicks. He was throwing tight one-twos. His uppercut, left hook combination is nasty. Tsarukyan has a nice check hook as he’s moving backward. You can tell he really has improved his boxing. Tsarukyan will pull fighters into spinning backfists or spinning kicks. Tsarukyan has really nasty kicks; Round kicks & front kicks to the body & head with both legs. He has nice question mark kicks. Tsarukyan has improved his defense a lot. He got hit with a couple big shots against Ramos but avoided the large majority. Tsarukyan showed he has a good chin though, eating some big shots from Ramos. He also ate a lot of body shots against OAM.
Arman Tsarukyan is a super grappler. He has an amazing single leg takedown which is what his main entry is. He will use the single to push fighters against the cage & grind. He is pretty good at taking the back from standing. He will also time double legs off naked kicks or catch the kick and take his opponent down. He did struggle to take down OAM. In top position, Tsarukyan is active. He will land nice ground & pound punches and elbows from inside opponents’ guards. Tsarukyan was able to takedown, control and stay safe inside a BJJ, black belt World Champion’s guard in his last fight. Tsarukyan will look to pass & get into some dominant positions but is very much content to just stay on top & ride out rounds. He tends to get submissions after he wears fighters out with mat returns, takes the back and chokes them. Tsarukyan has great defensive grappling skills as well. He has very good takedown defense, is awesome in scrambles and very hard to hold down. He has very little weaknesses as a fighter. Tsarukyan has five submissions. Tsarukyan has incredible cardio. He showed good fight IQ, and the ability to fight to a game plan in his last fight as well.
Gym: Gracie Tampa South
From: New York
UFC Record: 2-0-1
Last Fought: 1 Year 3 Months
Last Five: 3-1-1
Current Streak: W2
The perennial underdog Matt Frevola will be looking to spring the upset once again, this time on Fight Island. This will be the first time Frevola has fought outside the United States. Matt Frevola has been the underdog in his last three fights and is unbeaten in all three. His last two he has cashed as the underdog. Frevola is the definition of a grinder. Frevola is a dog & a banger who will go for it. Frevola is very aggressive and likes to walk opponents down and throw hard hooks. He has a good straight-right hand, and he will double up on it, and then shoot a single or double leg. He likes to throw a kick to the body and then a straight-right hand combo. He will also end combinations with head kicks. Frevola has decent head movement, but he drops his hands after he throws and gets hit clean. He also is not the most athletic fighter and his hand speed is not up to par with most fighters at the UFC level. In his last match with Luis Pena, Frevola was getting tagged trying to get inside over & over. Frevola doesn’t have the best chin & reacts badly to a lot of shots. He doesn’t have huge power, and just has one KO finish in his UFC career. Frevola has been knocked out one time & rocked in every UFC fight he’s been in.
Matt Frevola is not a bad grappler, and that’s what he will need to rely on in this match. He does a good job of setting up his shots with punches. Frevola likes to use his straight punches or hooks inside to flurry & then duck into a takedown. He has good double legs and single legs especially when he has fighters against the cage. In space, he can struggle to cut an angle & is definitely better at going for takedowns against the cage. Frevola will go for the takedown right away to start a round if he feels his opponent is weak there in the previous round and does a good job of keeping top control and grinding fighters out. He seems to not be the greatest in the Jiu-Jitsu realm, and in his DWCS fight he was swept multiple times and threatened with an armbar. He has good chokes and is able to get different variations such as guillotines or anaconda chokes. He has good cardio and comes in shape ready to stay in his opponent’s face. He was able to win fights with Luis Pena & Jalin Turner due to his wrestling. Frevola has 3 career submissions & has never been submitted. His lone loss is via KO.
Frevola’s fight just got a lot harder and I think Tsarukyan will be a big favorite it this one. I think all of the edges are on Tsarukyan’s side now. Frevola should have been preparing to wrestle against his last opponent but now he doesn’t have any wrestling edge and he needs to turn this into a brawl. I think he needs a KO though because I don’t see him winning this fight any other way. Give me Tsarukyan 30-27.
Frevola was going to be my favorite underdog on the card when he was matched up against Azaitar. Now I don’t care for him as much and I like Arman more than I did in his last matchup. I would guess DK keeps their prices the same but now I would want to be around field weight on Frevola and possible overweight on Arman. I think Arman is the better fighter everywhere and he could get a KO or rack up takedowns in a decision victory. It is just hard to know what we get here on a day notice, so I don’t think I would want to use either side in a SE GPP lineup because a decision win from Tsarukyan might not get him there.
Winner – Arman Tsarukyan via Unanimous Decision
Joanne Calderwood $8,400 vs Jessica Eye $7,800
Gym: Syndicate MMA
UFC Record: 6-5
Last Fought: 5 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: -120
Joanne Calderwood is returning to the cage pissed off looking to right the wrongs of her last fight. Calderwood put her guaranteed UFC title shot on the line on short notice against Jennifer Maia in what she says now was a mistake. She went on to lose that fight by first round submission. Now she will have to start all over and try to earn her title shot again. If Calderwood can defeat Eye, she will be right back in the mix though. Calderwood is a slow starter. That caught her again in her last fight. If you look at her record, three of her five losses are by first round submission. Luckily for Calderwood, Eye has only one career submission. Calderwood is a forward pressure fighter. She walks opponents down and does a good job of controlling the center of the cage. She is very good with her lead leg and uses it to control distance like a jab. She has a nice front kick to the body & head, and solid, front round kicks to the head. She has nice inside leg kicks and has a very kick heavy style. She has a decent straight-left & left hook. She likes to throw body kick to straight-left combinations. She has nice spinning backfists and spinning back kicks to the body. She will throw nice, front elbows and front knees to the body as well. She throws a high volume of shots out there, and if opponents don’t give her anything to worry about she will get confident & walk them down with combinations. She is a bit slow & doesn’t move her head, so she is very hittable. She enjoys getting hit & tasting blood and hasn’t been finished by KO/TKO yet in her career. She has 5 KO/TKO’s in her career.
Calderwood has been training a lot of grappling since moving to Syndicate and it paid dividends. In her last two matches she has been able to mix it up & use her grappling to help win fights. Calderwood will look for takedowns, usually either single legs or body locks. She has a solid body lock trip, & a good timing on her single leg. She also will level change very well into body lock entries & mixes it up well. Her takedown defense is questionable. She can be taken down when she’s pressuring with well-timed shots. She was taken down again early in her last fight. She has shown a nice bottom game, attacking with half guard sweeps, & submissions. She was able to get an armbar in her fight against Kalindra Faria. She will also attack with elbows from bottom trying to cut opponents open. Calderwood has good cardio & can easily go three rounds. One of her main issues is getting put on her back & getting submitted early in fights. She has been submitted three times.
Gym: Xtreme Couture
UFC Record: 5-7-1
Last Fought: 7 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: +100
Jessica Eye is looking to bounce back herself after an unsuccessful outing in her last fight. Eye was soundly beaten by Cynthia Calvillo in a bad performance. It was the second consecutive fight she missed weight for at flyweight and now she is having to travel to Abu Dhabi on top of the weight cut. Jessica Eye is a boxer with good hand speed. She has a nice jab, and good straight-right hand. She does a good job of using a lead left hook to a right straight combo. She has a good overhand right, left body kick combination. She likes to catch fighters as they close distance with the right hand. In her last fight, she was trying to use a high guard, head movement & hooks to get in the pocket. She will throw decent, outside leg kicks, and body kicks. She will go high with her rear kick and front kicks to the body and face. She isn’t as fluid with her kicking game and is much more of a puncher. She doesn’t have big power, and just 3 TKO’s in her career.
Jessica Eye has tried to round out her game, and even competed against the likes of Meisha Tate in a Jiu-Jitsu competition. She has decent double legs and will try to get body locks in the clinch. Katlyn Chookagian was able to easily defend her takedowns, and reverse the position, but her takedowns were effective against Jessica Rose-Clark. She will throw heavy elbows, and search for submissions on top also. She has good back takes and will go for rear naked chokes. She also likes to attack with leg locks and will use the 50-50 position to get on top. Eye was taken down in her last match repeatedly by Cynthia Calvillo in a very poor showing.
This should mainly be a striking match and it will be Eye’s boxing vs Calderwood’s kicks/Muay Thai. I think Calderwood is the better and more dangerous striker of the two and she puts out a high output which I always like. I think she wins a volume-based decision here, but I don’t think we see a finish and it is always scary trusting judges in a fight where leg kicks are a good percentage of the volume. I do think she can take this with a clear 30-27 if the judges score fights the way I do.
Calderwood is my preferred play here, but the new scoring system hurts her on DraftKings, so I don’t love this fight as a whole. Calderwood is a volume striker and significant strikes are now .4 points instead of .5 in the old system. I think Calderwood can still score 90+ in a win here but I don’t know that she has 100+ upside. Either fighter can mix in takedowns and I think Eye is a fine play as well if you like her to get the victory. I don’t see me getting much, if any Eye, and Calderwood is someone I probably look to be around field weight.
Winner – Joanne Calderwood via Unanimous Decision
Dan Hooker $8,500 vs Michael Chandler $7,700
Gym: City Kickboxing
From: New Zealand
UFC Record: 10-5
Last Fought: 6 Months
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: L1
Betting Odds: -140
Dan Hooker is coming off a loss, but this to me is definitely the biggest fight of his career. Hooker is on the co-main event of a Conor McGregor card & welcoming one of the biggest free agents entering the UFC in recent memory. If Dan Hooker can go out there and melt Michael Chandler, he will be right there to fight for the title. As a striker he has a great jab and a nice straight-right hand. He uses great movement and angles and will keep fighters on the end of his punches. He switches stances a lot and can jab off both stances making him tricky. He also will switch stance mid combination, and throw straight punches when he sees angles to catch opponents coming in. He was able to overwhelm Burns with his precision and hurt him early. He sniped & took out James Vick in round one also. Hooker has great kicks; Nice leg kicks, great round and snap kicks to the body and nice head kicks. He battered the legs of Al Iaquinta with low calf kicks that basically won him the fight. Iaquinta could barely stand by the third round. Hooker has a really nice snap front kick. He also has a great lead knee that he’s knocked out Ross Pearson and Jim Miller with. He is a vet and does a great job of picking up the pace as the fight goes on with great cardio. He has 6 KO/TKO’s. He was finished by strikes for the first time in his career vs Edson Barboza. He took an ungodly amount of damage to all parts of the body. His legs were battered he got dropped several times & was finished with body shots.
Hooker is a solid grappler, but not much of a wrestler. He will try to close the distance and get the fight against the cage. He will try to get singles and double legs. He also has good clinch trips, and his height gives him an advantage in those positions. He does a good job of getting the back when he gets on top, and he has good control, and long arms which he can find a choke with. His takedown defense is not great, but he has an awesome guillotine he will counter with when fighters attempt takedowns, and he has a great squeeze. He has 7 career submissions. He is susceptible to being beat up and submitted if he’s put on his back and has been submitted twice.
Gym: Sanford MMA
UFC Record: 0-0
Last Fought: 5 Months
Last Five: 4-1
Current Streak: W2
Betting Odds: 120
Michael Chandler will be making his UFC debut in what is his 30th pro fight. Chandler had an illustrious career in Bellator and is getting huge hype before he even enters the octagon. Chandler already was the alternate for a UFC world title fight, and if he can impressively defeat Dan Hooker, I think he will get a title shot. Michael Chandler is 34 years old, but still is in the prime of his career. Since his loss to Will Brooks in 2014, he only has two losses. His loss to Brent Primus was a bit of a fluke with his leg giving out on him, and he ended up avenging that loss. Chandler’s other loss was to Patricio Pitbull where he got clipped and finished one minute into the fight. Michael Chandler is a wrestler, but his striking is super dangerous also. Chandler is extremely aggressive and throws absolute hammers. Chandler is very fast & explosive. He is good at staying light on his feet, feinting, bouncing in out, and then exploding in with his shots. Chandler has a decent jab, but that’s not going to be relevant in this fight. Chandler has a nasty straight-right hand. Chandler loves to throw his straight-right, left hook in combination. Chandler is excellent when fighters lean back to get out of the way of the straight-right, coming with the hook and touching them when they don’t see it coming. He is very explosive and closes distance super quickly. Chandler is good at switching stances and will do it mid combination. He got a nasty knockout with a straight-left hand from southpaw his last fight. Chandler will throw the straight-right hand to the body. He uses body shots to setup his level changes. When he backs fighters to the cage, he will throw nasty straights & hooks to the body. Chandler has nice kicks as well; Heavy round kicks to the legs & body. Chandler will overextend on his punches & fall into counters. He also can load up & fighters can touch him with a jab or straight shot and make him reset. Chandler has had issues with leg kicks. His first fight with Brent Primus ended due to leg kicks, and he is heavy on his lead leg. In Chandler’s first fight with Benson Henderson, he struggled with knees to the body.
Michael Chandler is a beast grappler. He is a NCAA division one All-American and had integrated his wrestling into his MMA game very well. Chandler’s main takedown is his power double. He will come forward with a big flurry, duck under and run through his opponent. His single leg is excellent as well. Chandler has amazing level changes. Chandler has decent takedowns in the clinch against the cage. When Chandler gets on top, he has very good control. Chandler doesn’t mind hanging out inside his opponent’s guard and just winning rounds and chipping away. He is very hard to get-up from bottom on & throws some big elbows. Chandler has elite scrambling ability and takedown defense. In this fight I highly doubt we see that, but that’s why he’s always been an intriguing matchup for Khabib. Chandler is going to need to be careful how he level changes against Dan Hooker, but if he can get in on the legs safely he should have a big advantage in the wrestling. Michael Chandler isn’t a big submission threat, but he has a few rear naked chokes and arm triangles. He has never been submitted. Michael Chandler’s cardio is solid. In high paced fights he has had the tendency to slow down though.
Chandler is making his UFC debut here in a big fight after being at or near the top of the Bellator division for over a decade. Hooker just came off a FOTN candidate against Poirier and even in a loss his stock is at an all-time high. I think this should be an amazing, high-paced fight and it should be close. If Chandler is able to mix in his wrestling each round, I think that is going to be his best path to victory here. Wrestling is the only real advantage I give him here though and I think Hooker is more dangerous on the feet and on the mat. I also think Hooker will be the one landing more strikes while the fight is standing. I am going to take Hooker to get a TKO finish and I think he has fought much better competition over the years. If this goes to a decision, I think it can go either way, but I would favor Hooker because I think this fight mainly plays out on the feet.
This is a fight where I could see me being 33% Hooker, 33% Chandler, and 34% fade. I could see this fight going a few different ways and both guys have high ceilings if they can get clear wins. If this is a back-and-forth fight maybe the winner doesn’t get 10x, but I would rather have this fight in more than half of my lineups rather than less. Hooker can KO Chandler and end up on the optimal that way, and Chandler can rack up takedowns in a high-paced fight and end up on the optimal as well. I do prefer Hooker so I would guess I end up with more exposure and leverage to him this weekend. I am not against moving from Hooker to Chandler if it gets me up to somebody else that I like more in my lineup, though. I think both sides are playable in cash games as well and you can fade the fight in cash if you don’t feel confident in either side.
Winner – Dan Hooker via 3rd round (T)KO
Conor McGregor $9,100 vs Dustin Poirier $7,100
Gym: SBG Ireland
UFC Record: 10-2
Last Fought: 1 Year
Last Five: 3-2
Current Streak: W1
Betting Odds: -290
Mystic Mac returns, this time in a rematch against fan favorite Dustin Poirier. All the talk has been that Conor is renewed and a new man, so we will see if that’s truly the case here. The last time we saw Conor he was decimating Cowboy inside of one minute. If he can replicate that he will be officially back. Conor McGregor is one of the best strikers in the history of MMA. He likes to walk down his opponents with his hands low, giving them the illusion that he is open to being hit. He then will land his famous, pull counter left hand. He has a great kicking game, and it is what mainly sets up his punches. He used nice inside and outside leg kicks against Nate Diaz, and commonly uses the oblique kick to the knee. He has nasty, front snap kicks to the body, really taking the steam out of his opponents. He has nice spinning kicks, and capoeira kicks. He used those frequently in the first Dustin fight. He landed a nasty head kick that hurt Cerrone very badly. I do think Conor will throw the occasional front kick to the body and the oblique kick to the knee just to slow the forward pressure of Poirier. McGregor is immensely aware in the cage, and extremely calm in the fire. He does a fantastic job of slipping punches in the pocket, countering, and always calculating what he wants to do next. He has nasty uppercuts in the pocket, and when he lets his combinations go he is arguably the most accurate puncher in UFC history.
I would say Conor’s wrestling is a bit underrated. He showed decent takedown defense against Khabib, but ultimately was largely taken down at will. He has a good double leg takedown, and very nice single legs. His defensive wrestling is very good. For one, his footwork and movement make it very hard to time a shot on him or get in on a body lock. He has phenomenal balance in the cage and is never out of position or makes himself easily taken down. He has a very nice sprawl, he is very strong in the clinch, and able to muscle his way out of situations. He was taken down by an explosive wrestler with well-timed shots vs Chad Mendes. Nate Diaz was able to get him up against the cage and control him for portions of their fight. He was able to get deep on several double legs that were defended nicely, and ultimately did get a trip takedown in the clinch. If McGregor allows Poirier to get in these positions against the cage, I believe he will undoubtedly end up on his back. He has shown some good BJJ off his back. He swept Diaz with a z guard in their first fight. He didn’t have much off his back against Mendes and was really beat up with some good elbows and controlled. He has a very good chin, but he does have a tendency to gas out and find a way out if the going gets tough. He will need to keep this fight in the center of the octagon. If he can use oblique kicks to the knees and lateral movement to walk Poirier into his left hand that is his best chance at victory. He cannot let himself get backed up behind the black line in the cage, and anytime his back is near the cage he should act like it’s lava and get out of there. This is a winnable fight for both guys, but will the layoff effect McGregor, we will have to wait & see.
Gym: American Top Team
UFC Record: 18-5-1
Last Fought: 7 Months
Last Five: 4-1
Current Streak: W1
Betting Odds: +245
Dustin Poirier is in yet another big spot. This may be one of the biggest spots, if not the biggest spot he has ever been in. Arguably fighting Khabib for the belt was bigger, but this is huge. If he can defeat Conor McGregor, especially if he can finish him that will be incredible. Poirier is coming off that FOTY war last year with Dan Hooker. He took a lot of damage but wore it well and broke Hooker down the stretch. Poirier is a powerful, counter, southpaw striker. He has an excellent jab both to the body & head, and hard one-twos. He will throw a nasty straight-left, right hook combination. His left hook is extremely powerful & he can knock opponents out cold with it. He will switch stances & throw it as opponents are looking to exit & hits them when they don’t see it coming. Poirier has great low kicks. He has a very nice, left round house kick & front kick to the body. He has adapted a style of using long range shots such as jabs & straight punches to pick at opponents, and then counter when they become aggressive. His counter left hook is nasty. His ability to counter moving backwards will be crucial in this fight. If he can’t land shots that back Conor off, it could be a short night on the feet for him. Poirier hits extremely hard especially at 155 & has more one punch power. He has 12 KO/TKO’s. He has been finished twice by strikes.
Poirier is going to need to have the grappling performance of his life here. He is very good in the clinch. He will throw a straight-left hand into the single collar clinch & then throw nice uppercuts and short punches. He is excellent at getting clinch takedowns. He has very good trips & foot sweeps. He will also look for double legs. He does a great job of controlling opponents against the cage until he can take them down. He has very good takedown defense. He will attack with front chokes, specifically darces to defend takedown attempts, and is very good at them. Poirier is strong on top. He has good control & will also look to just land shots from his opponent’s guards if he can. He postured up & battered Anthony Pettis with punches & elbows before finishing him on the ground. Pettis has an elite guard & couldn’t submit Poirier. He was able to pass the legs when Pettis went for subs & took the back several times. He will get mount & look for armbars. Poirier has 6 submissions & has only been submitted one time.
McGregor is back! This is a rematch from 2014 when McGregor knocked Poirier out in the 1st round. Poirier has never been in a boring fight and if he can stay conscious in this fight then he has a good chance to win with a decision or a submission. He has heavy hands and could KO Conor as well, but Conor is much more dangerous and more durable as well. I think we see another early KO from Conor in this fight. I don’t think Poirier will have a wrestling-heavy game plan and McGregor’s striking is as high-level as it gets, and he has big power. This is a big price to pay on him but if you want a better line then I would take the TKO prop at under -200 since I think that is by far his best chance of winning. I don’t think he can hang at the pace Poirier can put out over 25-minutes and Poirier has the edge on the mat. I also like McGregor TKO in round 1 as a prop play as well.
Neither of these guys have a win on their game log less than 100 DK points. I think we see the winner score over 100 again here so this is basically an all-in fight for me. I think we can stack in cash, but I think we can fade it there or just go Conor solo. Conor is my preferred play because I think he gets another knockout. He is just too good and dangerous on the feet and I think he beats every striker in the division. Conor will be a core play for me this week, but he is going to be the highest owned as well. One reason to get away from this fight would just be ownership purposes. Maybe Conor scores 105 and if another 9k fighter can beat that then they can kick him off the optimal. Maybe I won’t have 100% of the fight for that reason but I will be pretty much all in and probably 80/20 in favor of Conor.
Winner – Conor McGregor via 1st round (T)KO
Thanks again for purchasing this breakdown & be sure to hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions. I hope this write-up helps with your lineup building & I hope if I don’t take down a GPP that somebody reading this does. Good luck this weekend & enjoy the fights!
*Fighter skill sets are written mainly by MMA Prediction Guru (Jack Dokell, @PredictionMMA on Twitter). You can check out his YouTube channel with his picks & predictions at this link: https://www.youtube.com/c/MMAPredictionGuru
**All DraftKings advice & fight predictions are still from me, Kyle Marley. If you have any questions you can DM me on Twitter at @BigMarley3.