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Fantasy MMA – UFC DraftKings Picks – UFC on ESPN+ 31

High Priced

Edmen Shahbazyan

Since a split decision win over Darren Stewart in his UFC debut, Shahbazyan has finished each of his last three opponents in the first round. This includes a tremendous head kick knockout of Brad Tavares in his last fight. Shahbazyan has solid grappling, displaying it at the UFC-level, but that likely won’t matter in this fight. Instead, he’s going to rely on his striking and power. Shahbazyan has ended 9 of his last 11 wins via (T)KO with each of his 10 finishes coming in the first round. 

Derek Brunson is an athletic fighter with powerful striking and strong wrestling. He has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu if this fight hits the ground, as well, but Brunson has the defensive wrestling to keep it standing. He’s ended 11 of his 20 wins via (T)KO with many coming in the first round. Brunson has also been knocked out in 5 of his 7 losses. Excluding a questionable decision loss to Anderson Silva, Brunson has only lost to elite competition (Israel Adesanya, Jacare Souza, Robert Whittaker) in recent fights. 

Shahbazyan is a ridiculous -315 favorite with -150 odds to win inside the distance. I expect his power to be far too much for Brunson to handle early in this fight. Brunson certainly has the power to finish this fight early as well, but I trust Shahbazyan’s chin to hold up much more than I trust Brunson’s. 

 

Mid-Priced

Jamall Emmers

Emmers gets a great matchup against Vince Cachero this weekend. Cachero is taking the fight on short notice and fighting up a weight class. Emmers will have a significant height and reach advantage, allowing him to dictate where the fight takes place. Cachero does have solid boxing, but it’s difficult to believe he’ll work his way inside on Emmers in this fight. 

I expect Emmers to be able to dictate if he wants to take this fight to the ground, as well. He’s going to be the significantly larger and stronger fighter. He flashed takedown potential in his first UFC fight, and he is likely to find success if he chooses in this fight. 

Emmers is a -335 favorite with +135 odds to win inside the distance. He was originally an underdog before taking this short notice fight, causing his price tag to sit at $7.8K. Emmers is a must play in cash games and can be used in GPPs, as well. 

 

Low Priced

Nathan Maness

Johnny Munoz Jr. stepped in on short notice to fight Maness. This fight is relatively simple from a fight script perspective. Maness will be looking to utilize his striking while Munoz will look to take him down and advance position. The major issue with Munoz is that wrestling is tiring and he’s taking this fight on short notice. It’s unlikely his cardio holds up if he doesn’t end this fight early. That will allow Maness to take over, assuming Munoz can get early takedowns. 

Because it’s a late notice fight, each fighter is $7.2K on DraftKings, meaning the winner will likely be on the optimal lineup. Maness is currently a -140 favorite with +300 odds to win inside the distance. I trust him more because of his clear striking advantage and likely cardio advantage. Either side of this fight can be used in tournaments, but Maness is another must play in cash games.

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