Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje
Here we go. Oliveira defends his belt for the 2nd time now. He won the vacant belt over Michael Chandler last May in thrilling fashion, and defended it 7 months later vs Dustin Poirier. And it seems like before both bouts, Oliveira wasn’t getting the respect he truly deserved, and that holds true again here vs Gaethje. Since 2018 though, Oliveira has won 10 straight, finishing 9 of those fights, 6 of which by submission. He was always regarded for his elite skill on the mat, but what’s really made him dangerous is his improvements in the standup. He has solid technical striking and packs enough power that he can get it done on the feet if needed. But he’s going up against a willing participant in this one in Gaethje. Gaethje is a brawler by nature, and that’s what he wants to do. His striking statistics are insane, he lands 7.5 SS/m, and absorbs 7.81 SS/m in return. That’s the definition of a brawler. On the flip side, Oliveira lands just a modest 3.44 SS/m, and absorbs 3.13 SS/m. Those numbers are significantly different due to the obvious difference in their gm. Oliveira also lands roughly 2.5 TDs per 15mins, and averages 2.8 sub attempts in the same amount of time. Gaethje has won 4 of his last 5 heading into this one, and the one is against the now retired former Champ Khabib. But what Khabib was able to do is what Oliveira will have to do to win this fight, and that’s get this grounded as quickly as possible and use your biggest advantage to your advantage. If he does that, I think he can lock up a sub, Gaethje has a wrestling background, but never uses it offensively. He doesn’t have a single TD in the UFC. The trouble is getting it there because you’ll have to potentially eat some shots in order to get in the clinch and Gaethje has decent TDEF (73%). Oliveira knows he doesn’t need to brawl, and either way this plays out, I don’t think we see 5 RDs. I’ve got Oliveira defending his belt for the 2nd time, by 3rd RD sub. (*revision, after writing this, Oliveira unfortunately missed weight, and therefore vacates his title upon the start of the match, and best case fights for being #1 contender should he win, should Gaethje win however, he’ll be champ, my pick remains the same)
PICK: Charles Oliveira $21 FD ($8500 DK)
Justin Gaethje $16 FD ($7700 DK)
Co Main Event
Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza
Women’s Strawweight Championship
Rose defends her belt here for the 2nd time in less than a year, after retaining in a win over Weili Zhang last November. She gets red hot Esparza who’s on a 5 fight win streak dating back to 2019. Esparza knows really one way to get things done and that’s to get the fight grounded and apply heavy top pressure for GNP & looking for a sub. She had a surprisingly dominating performance over Yan Xiaonan last time out in May of last year. Fluke performance or not, it was impressive. Yan could do nothing off her back and the ref called it after eating elbows to the face etc. She won’t have that level of dominance in this matchup I believe, but what I do know is she’ll be able to land TDs. Rose was taken down 5 times in her bout with Zhang the 2nd time, it’s just Zhang wasn’t able to do much with them, or Rose was able to do well enough offensively on her back. She’s going to face that several times across the first 3 RDs especially. However if Rose can manage to keep it standing the majority of RDs, her striking will get her ahead, she’s the much better striker between them, and due to the size difference, she should be able to maintain distance well too. She has a variety of kicks she likes to throw, as we saw in the first matchup with Zhang. Esparza needs to bank the first 3 RDs or she’s not winning this fight. She has a tendency to start to fade late, and now you’re talking about 5 RDs against someone who’s been there a few times now. The advantage will clearly reside with Rose the later this goes. She’ll defend the TDs at a higher clip, and be able to potentially wear on Esparza enough to find a late finish, she has more tools to work with. However, due to her being the highest priced fighter on FD, she needs a massive performance to come close to value, and I’m not sure she gets there with how much potential this has to play out on the mat for a few RDs. She’d need a finish RD 1 to get you where you need and I don’t think she does that. So she’s probably a fade on FD for sure, and also DK as well, she may not find herself in dominate wrestling positions early enough to rack up a lot of control time. The pick is Rose via decision.
PICK: Rose Namajunas $23 FD ($8900 DK)
Carla Esparza $15 FD ($7300 DK)
Michael Chandler vs Tony Ferguson
Since joining the UFC, the highly talented Chandler is just 1-2. With 1 loss coming against the champ Oliveira, and the other against the guy fighting for the belt in Gaethje. So no shame there at all, the guy is clearly talented. He can be a brawler if given the chance, and we saw that in the Gaethje fight. Chandler lands at a clip of 5.17 SS/m and Ferguson lands at a clip of 5.15 SS/m. These stats are obviously averaged over the course of each fighters UFC career, so these numbers are a bit inflated for Ferguson based on his last couple performances. He had an absolute war with Gaethje in 2020 though, but I doubt we see that type of output here. He’s 38yrs old now, and he simply just doesn’t have the cardio to fight at such a high pace for 15mins anymore. He’s a crafty wrestler, and he’ll need to utilize that here fast to keep this one going as long as possible, because Chandler is going to come out guns blazing throwing big shots looking for the KO. Ferguson’s toughness is never in question, but eventually these shots will take their toll earlier on in fights. On top of that, even should Ferguson look to wrestler early, Chandler is an extremely good wrestler/grappler in his own right, and nothing will be easy there, especially if Ferguson shoots and Chandler sprawls, then he likely gives his back and the GNP ensues. This is another bout, regardless of who wins, I think comes before the final bell, and I believe Chandler’s power/speed will be too much for the legend Ferguson. Chandler gets it done RD 2 via KO/TKO.
PICK: Michael Chandler $22 FD ($9600 DK)
Tony Ferguson $8 FD ($6600 DK)
OSP vs Maurício Rua
We are nearly 2yrs removed from what I thought would be Rua’s last fight in the octagon vs Paul Craig when he was dominated pretty easily before the fight was called in the 2nd RD of that one. Rua looked sluggish, he basically is willing to stand and trade with you on the feet, but eventually will look for the TD to try and change levels to look for the sub. He averages 2.12 TDs per 15mins and just under 1 sub attempt at 0.8 over the same time period. He gets OSP in a rematch from a bout they had in 2014 when OSP got the job done in just 34 seconds of RD 1. A lot has changed for both since, the combined age of this fight is 79yrs old. Rua 40, OSP 39. OSP takes a much more patient approach, but he will come forward and look to put together combinations and look for the KO. His last 2 bouts have been lost due to the speed discrepancy he faces when going against the younger guys in the division, now he gets someone at his current level, or worse in this case. Rua will be the better grappler between the two, so when this inevitably gets pressed up against the fence, he’ll have an opportunity to get it to the mat. At this stage, both guys have cardio concerns, but I think the worse could come from OSP down the stretch. This fight will be fought at an extremely low pace, so if it somehow gets to the cards, the floor is low for the winner, even more so for the loser. But something tells me one of these guys puts the other away, OSP has chin issues now late in his career, and the concerns with Rua come when you’re able to effectively wrestle him for the better part of RDs and I’m not sure OSP can do that. However, this fight is ugly no matter how you slice it, and I believe OSP can repeat the first meeting between these two, just not as quickly. He should use his reach/height to his advantage in this one again to keep Rua at bay on the feet. I think he can get the finish in RD 2, he’ll certainly be patient enough to wait on his moment.
PICK: OSP $20 FD ($9200 DK)
Maurício Rua $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Donald Cerrone vs Joe Lauzon
Between the two of these guys, they have fought a total of 63 fights in the UFC. The 64th they meet in what should be a dog fight. Lauzon hasn’t been inside the octagon since 2019, a nice 1st RD win over Jonathan Pearce. Cerrone hasn’t had much luck over his last several outings, he’s 0-5-1, his last bout coming nearly 1yr ago against Alex Morono where we saw the younger Morono blitz Cowboy and basically spell the beginning of the end of that fight, which was surprising because of the absolute war Cowboy had with Niko Price. This matchup feels more like that than the one with Morono, especially seeing as how we won’t know what Lauzon looks like after the layoff. Lauzon is a good all around fighter, he doesn’t mind exchanging in the pocket, but eventually he wants to close distance and work a heavy grapple style approach. He averages 2.39 TDs per 15mins and 2 sub attempts. Cowboy has pretty solid TDEF though at 74%, so he should be able to win some of those exchanges and keep it standing. Cowboy also has pretty good wrestling to fall back on, he averages 1.1 TDs per 15mins, so the bet is that he’ll look to keep it standing, but he’ll have that in his arsenal. Lauzon should have the advantage here early though, he’ll be the one pressuring & moving forward backing Cerrone up. Cerrone’s striking is more technical, so he could catch Lauzon if he’s too overzealous. This fight is just really tough to call, both guys aren’t who most once knew them as, so it’ll make for a great fight just because of that. I like the value Lauzon offers here, and I don’t see this going to the final horn, so whoever comes out on top likely finds themselves close to optimal. Give me Lauzon via 2nd RD finish.
PICK: Joe Lauzon $11 FD ($7400 DK)
Donald Cerrone $18 FD ($8800 DK)
Kalinn Williams vs Randy Brown
I’m really excited for this matchup. Williams has won 3 of 4, and has made hisself known for the pure power he offers and as a result is a constant KO threat. He comes into every fight extremely focused on the mission and will do just that. He utilizes a kickboxing approach, he’ll throw leg kicks out, but really as a means of setting up his striking. He looks to stalk his opponents down, but also has a really nice ability to counter when needed. On the other side, Brown has been around a tad bit longer and sits at 8-4 overall in the UFC. He’s won 4 of his last 5 fights overall, so he seems to be picking up momentum. He’s a dynamic striker, and moves really well on his feet. He uses his long frame to his advantage, and will throw hard kicks to different parts of the body. He won’t actively shoot for TDs, but when he does get in grappling exchanges he does well and can get a submission if he sees the opportunity. Williams is physically strong though, so any efforts in that department won’t come easy at all. This should mainly take place on the feet. I have a hard time seeing this one go to the final horn, we have a ton of fights on this card that should make for great fantasy options, and this is one of them. Will be playing both sides of this one. But I believe the patience of Williams picking his shots will once again be a factor, and I think he’ll get a 2nd or 3rd RD stoppage when he catches Brown.
PICK: Kalinn Williams $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Randy Brown $14 FD ($7900 DK)
Francisco Trinaldo vs Danny Roberts
Trinaldo has surprisingly won 4 of his last 5 fights, and at 43yrs old he still gets after it. Roberts is on a two fight winning streak, looking to make it 3. Unlike other fights on this card, this one sets up to be a slow paced striking match on the feet. Trinaldo has generally had success in dictating the type fight he wants by slowly marching down his opponents, throwing single shots and stiff 1-2’s. He should honestly look to get this in the clinch and try and change levels to slow the fight even more, because on the feet I think Roberts will be just a step ahead, he’ll throw more volume and should be more technical as well. From a pure power perspective I’d give the nod to Trinaldo. If Trinaldo is able to get the fight grounded, I believe Roberts can eventually work his way back up to his feet. Roberts will also carry a 4-5” reach/height advantage in this one, which should open up success early with his kickboxing and maintaining distance. It’s a tough matchup to call, and both have low floors, but the higher ceiling sides with Roberts because I think he’ll have the better shot finishing the older Trinaldo down the stretch of that fight. I’ll be cautiously optimistic and say Roberts gets it done via decision. Will use him sparingly in LUs as I’m not so confident he’ll score well in a decision.
PICK: Danny Roberts $14 FD ($8000 DK)
Francisco Trinaldo $15 FD ($8200 DK)
Norma Dumont vs Macy Chiasson
One of the more undesirable DFS matches on the night IMO. Chiasson has won 2 of her last 3, while Dumont has reeled off 3 straight looking to make it 4. Chiasson has generally done well off the fact she towers over most women in her division, making it hard for fighters to close distance without taking big shots. But one area of success that can be had with Chiasson is if you’re able to get her grounded and on her back. She will be defensive and look for submissions, but can also have a lapse in judgement and get subbed herself like in her most recent bout. On the feet, Dumont is the better technical striker, and is also more defensively sound in getting in and out of the pocket. Chiasson would be wise to utilize her kickboxing gm before trying to close the distance, although she should probably just stay at range. Dumont had some promise that she’d make a run in the division, but had been in some dog fights every step of the way and hasn’t separated herself at all much. This is set up to be a boring striking affair with occasional clinch work. And I’ll likely fade in DFS for that reason. Anything can happen, just calling as I see it. I think Dumont gets a decision win here.
PICK: Norma Dumont $19 FD ($9100 DK)
Macy Chiasson $11 FD ($7100 DK)
Brandon Royval vs Matt Schnell
The hype surrounding Royval was high after he beat Kai Kara France. Many had him fighting for the belt had he got past Brandon Moreno in the subsequent fight, but it ended very poorly with a submission win for Moreno. He then followed that performance with another L vs Pantoja, which again isn’t a bad L in hindsight. He got back on track vs Bontorin and looks to get a streak going here vs Schnell. Royval is a high paced fighter. He’ll pressure right out the gate and will stand and strike with you or will get creative with the way he gets things to the mat or goes after submissions. On the other side, Schnell is a much more calculated fighter and looks to hit you with big counters. He doesn’t like being pressured much, so this should really play ti his weakness. If Royval comes out with a measured approach, he should be able to find the finish relatively easy if we’re being honest. Royval is one of my favorite DFS plays on this slate, and has a chance to be one of the highest scorers. The pick is Royval via 1st RD finish.
PICK: Brandon Royval $20 FD ($9300 DK)
Matt Schnell $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Blagoy Ivanov vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima
The only big boy fight on the card should be a good one. Rogerio is coming into this one on a 2 fight win streak, after getting a quick KO win over Ben Rothwell last November. The Brazilian relies on quick hands and his power to try and score a KO. He pressures forward and will try to string together powerful combinations early. If that path isn’t working, he’ll look to mix things up and utilize his wrestling. But more times than not he wants to stay on his feet. Ivanov returns after nearly 2yrs away. His last bout was a decision L to Augusto Sakai in 2020. He’s a much more patient striker, with more tools in his back pocket in terms of better wrestling and durability in this matchup. He’s taken big shots from some of the best in the division, the likes of Derrick Lewis being one of them. So unless his durability is somehow now shot, this is another spot he should be fine. Ivanov is comfortable counter striking his opponents, and knowing the pressure Rogerio employs, that’s what we’ll see here. I think we’ll see Rogerio come out fast, and kind of burn his gas tank a bit heading into the 2nd, where Ivanov will begin to take over, where he likely gets it to the mat to hunt for a sub or employ GNP. Either way, I think Ivanov gets a finish at some point in the 2nd RD. Making him a great option for DFS LUs.
PICK: Blagoy Ivanov $18 FD ($8400 DK)
Marcos R. de Lima $13 FD ($7800 DK)
Andre Fialho vs Cameron VanCamp
Fialho didn’t waste time getting back in the octagon. He’s fresh off a 1st RD KO win over Miguel Baeza on April 16th. He gets UFC newcomer VanCamp here. VanCamp is an aggressive fighter, and likes to eventually get fights to the mat where he aggressively looks for submissions. He’s never really been one to control his opponents for very long if it does hit the mat though, so that seems like the path less likely to work here. Fialho has had 2 stiff test in his UFC tenure so far, and this feels like a couple steps back. Fialho should be able to pressure forward and pick his shots. He’ll eventually get VanCamp trapped up against the cage where he’ll do damage and end the fight. Likely having another really nice fantasy day. I’ve got Fialho winning via RD 1 KO/TKO.
PICK: Andre Fialho $22 FD ($9500 DK)
Cameron VanCamp $8 FD ($6700 DK)
Tracy Cortez vs Melissa Gatto
This should be a fun scrap between two prospects currently undefeated in the UFC. Cortez is 3-0, while Gatto is 2-0, both finishes. As far as numbers go, these 2 ladies are really similar on the feet in terms of output, Cortez lands 3.85 SS/m, while absorbing just 2.4 SS/m. Gatto lands at a clip of 4.19 SS/m and absorbs 2.75 SS/m. Despite the lower numbers for Cortez, the absorbed strikes are misleading, because she also averages 3 TDs per 15mins, and has moments where she gets pretty good control time, so when things are on the feet, she’s getting hit at a pretty good clip still, and I believe Gatto moves better on the feet between them. Gatto will want to keep things standing, whereas Cortez will actively shoot for TDs. Gatto’s TDEF is 85% so far though, so if she can stuff enough attempts, it’ll dissuade Cortez the later the fight goes on, especially since she starts to fade a bit. And if that’s the story of this fight, then I side with Gatto. She’ll be more technical on the feet, and even if she does end up on her back a couple times, she works well to try and look for her own submissions, she’ll just not need to accept positions if she’s unsuccessful. Cortez will be the more physically imposing fighter here, so she could surprise and just be more dominant in ground exchanges, but I don’t see it. I like Gatto via decision with another chance at a late finish if Cortez fades too badly.
PICK: Melissa Gatto $14 FD ($7500 DK)
Tracy Cortez $17 FD ($8700 DK)
Kleydson Rodrigues vs CJ Vergara
This should be a scrap. Both guys are DWCS alums. Rodrigues is making his UFC debut while Vergara sits at 0-1 after his debut loss to Ode Osbourne this past November. Rodrigues is a kickboxer that utilizes mixing targets with his kicks to control distance. He’s got really good technical striking and is well equipped to turn this into a grappling affair if needed. He displays nonstop offense and will push the pace. Vergara is a striker, and he looks to pressure forward dishing out his own nonstop offense. Vergara will also mix in his kickboxing to go along with putting together combinations on the feet. Both guys are tough and it seems unlikely that one possesses the power to KO the other, so I believe we’ll get nonstop action for 15mins. Rodrigues will have the advantage if this ever plays out on the mat at all, and he could be liable to get a sub if Vergara isn’t careful. I also feel like Vergara is live for the upset here, so he’s one of the better underdog plays to look at for your LUs. Rodrigues is the pick for me though, he’ll be more technical on the feet, and therefore will land the more impactful shots. Rodrigues via decision.
PICK: Kleydson Rodrigues $21 FD ($9400 DK)
CJ Vergara $9 FD ($6800 DK)
Lupita Godinez vs Ariane Carnelossi
I love this scrap. Both women are nearly identical in just about every aspect. The main feature being how stout/strong they both are. Loopy has seen mixed results in her UFC tenure so far and sits at 2-2, while Carnelossi had a nice 2021 campaign and sits at 2-1. Loopy’s approach is heavily centered around her grappling, she has a nonstop motor and looks to clinch and toss her opponents to the mat where she can lock up control time. Her striking on the feet is decent, but doesn’t throw a ton of volume due to the wrestling first approach. Loopy averages 4.57 TDs per 15mins. Carnelossi can also fall back on her wrestling, she averages 2.39 TDs per 15mins. On the feet, the gap is wide, Carnelossi would much prefer it staying on the feet, so she can use her powerful striking to try and wear on her opponents to get a KO. She lands at a clip of 4.21 SS/m, while Loopy is just at 1.97 SS/m. That being said I believe this is Loopy’s fight to lose, Carnelossi’s TDEF is awful, she’s at 25% in that area, and against someone so grapple minded, that’s not good. If Carnelossi can stuff most TDs from mid 2nd RD and beyond like Luana Carolina did, then she’ll have a chance, but I just don’t like her chances. This feels like a fight better suited to play on DK as opposed to FD, because most Loopy fights see the scorecards, and you’ll need more than 5-7 TDs and a decision win to pay off her price. DK she’ll have the benefit of control time. The pick is Lupita Godinez via decision.
PICK: Lupita Godinez $19 FD ($9000 DK)
Ariane Carnelossi $12 FD ($7200 DK)
Fernie Garcia vs Journey Newson
To start this card off, Newson looks to get back in the win column vs Garcia. There’s some real concern with Newson’s ability to eat damage. He was at an extreme disadvantage in his last bout in terms of height/reach when he faced Randy Costa, and one head kick is what did the trick early. Newson relies on power, he’s got a smaller packed frame and that helps the power translate when he can connect. He gets Garcia who’s another DWCS alum. Garcia is a pressure style striker, he likes to feint inside the pocket before he starts putting combinations together. He can come in with his hands down a bit, and that’s troubling vs such a powerful counter striker in Newson, so he’ll need to beware of that. He’ll also need to do a better job of checking kicks. If Newson can capitalize early with getting those, it’ll slow down Garcia’s approach. Garcia would be wise to try and get this fight grounded at certain points though, he’s the better overall grappler between them, and Newson could gas as the fight goes long. This is an exciting fight to open things up, and tough to call. However I’m a bit more concerned with Newson’s inability to eat big damage, and I think Garcia will be quick enough in the pocket to avoid eating a big shot. I’ve got Garcia via decision.
PICK: Fernie Garcia $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Journey Newson $13 FD ($7600 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)