After getting off to a scorching hot start in the UFC, Mike Perry has lost 5 of his last 7 fights. He has faced incredible competition, though, and has picked up a few impressive wins throughout his career. He’s a power puncher through and through earning 11 of his 13 wins via knockout. He boasts a solid chin, as well, losing by knockout for the first time in his career in his last fight. Perry’s biggest issue is his terrible fight IQ.
Mickey Gall was a young fighter that the UFC wanted to get behind. They gave him an easy, notable win against CM Punk before giving him the opportunity to beat Safe Northcutt, who was the next big thing at the time. Since then, Gall has gone 2-2 in the UFC, losing by TKO to Diego Sanchez in the process. He’s a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and isn’t overly dangerous anywhere else in a fight. In other words, he’s a master of one trade.
Perry is a -320 favorite with -215 odds to win this fight inside the distance. He’s likely going to dictate where this fight takes place, and if it stays standing, it won’t be long before he knocks out Gall. The issue is his lack of fight IQ, such as taking Donald Cerrone to the ground before quickly being submitted. Perry may play into Gall’s game to prove a point, as he has done before. That would be a mistake, though. I’m taking the chance that he takes the safest route, which could end up being another highlight-reel knockout on his resume.
Dustin Poirier was on an elite run in the UFC before meeting Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last fight. He’s an elite boxer, who features the takedown defense to keep the fight standing. Along with his pressure and combination striking, Poirier rounds out well with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His striking is where he’s at his best, though, recently landing 178 and 174 significant strikes against Max Holloway and Justin Gaethje.
Dan Hooker is coming off of a split decision win against Paul Felder. He relies heavily on his kickboxing while possessing a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Similarly to Poirier, Hooker has great takedown defense to go along with tremendous power on the feet. He has a number of ways to find knockouts, making him an extremely dangerous striker. Hooker also has a height and reach advantage in this fight.
Poirier is currently a -235 favorite against Hooker. He boasts -115 odds to win this fight inside the distance. I expect this fight to play out mainly on the feet. Essentially, it should be a boxer against a kickboxer. Poirier has the combinations and pressure to get inside on Hooker, and he’ll be the more active party. It adds to his upside on DraftKings, as well. I expect Poirier to find a knockout at some point in this fight, but he has proven he can score at an elite level in a five-round decision.
Youssef Zalal won his first fight in the UFC with six takedowns against Austin Lingo. He flashed solid, if unspectacular, striking to go along with plenty of defense. He’ll be the safer, more technical striker in this matchup, but will likely look for takedowns early and often. Zalal has submission skills, but they aren’t quite on par with his opponent, Jordan Griffin.
Griffin has looked relatively bad in the UFC early in his career. He has two losses to Dan Ige and Chas Skelly before grabbing a Guillotine win against T.J. Brown in his last fight. Griffin has some power in his hands and will likely be throwing heavy shots while on the feet. He struggles to defend takedowns, as he’s fine hunting for submissions. It’s a high-risk strategy that we’ve seen fail quite often.
Zalal is priced as the underdog, but he’s a -125 favorite this weekend. This is a step up in competition, but I expect him to control the fight enough to pick up the decision win. He has to stay out of Griffin’s submission, which is generally easier said than done. Still, Zalal should win the majority of the striking exchanges on the feet, while accruing time on top. It may be a mediocre win, but finding any underdog that wins is generally a plus.