Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier
Adesanya makes his return with his 5th defense of his middleweight crown. His most recent being a rematch against Robert Whitaker, in which it was much of the same. Whitaker tried to implement a heavier wrestling approach, but it didn’t matter much. Adesanya is one the best kickboxers of all time, and his fight IQ is elite. He manages his distance better than most I’ve seen inside the octagon. His statistical numbers aren’t overwhelming, but he makes it count. He lands just 3.84 SS/m (absorbs 2.56 SS/m 61% defense). His Achilles heal is against extremely good wrestlers, and that’s if they can get him down and hold him for any significant time. The only one able to do that was Jan Blachowicz when Izzy competed to try and be double champ. His TDEF is solid in the middleweight division, and this matchup probably won’t yield a ton of wrestling exchanges. Since Cannonier’s move to Middleweight at the tail end of 2018, he’s been on a tear, and at 38yrs old, this is his shot at the title. There’s really no new blood in the middleweight division for Izzy to feast on, so recycling certain matchups is the plan right now outside of Cannonier. Cannonier’s claim to fame is his power. He’s a powerful striker, and looks to close distance and march his opponents down. If he gets into clinch situations, he’s throwing heavy knees/elbows. He also has great ground and pound if he’s able to get top control. In terms of numbers on the feet, Cannonier’s numbers are pretty similar to Adesanya’s. He lands 3.76 SS/m (absorbs 3.29 SS/m 63% defense). Adesanya is fine being a counter-striker, so the first couple RDs could be him gauging what Cannonier is doing before he’s more active with forward pressure. This feels like Cannonier needing a KO to win, and that doesn’t seem likely. Adesanya’s chin has held up, and I just don’t see him being in range too much to take any real shots that could hurt him. There’s a chance Adesanya could find a KO/TKO late, 4th/5th RD, but that’s hard to gauge in this matchup. Nonetheless, this feels like a cakewalk for the champ. And STILLLLLLLLLLL…
PICK: Israel Adesanya $23 FD ($9400 DK)
Jared Cannonier $12 FD ($6800 DK)
Co Main Event
Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Hollaway
Not too often you get a 3-peat if the challenger is 0-2, but here we are. Holloway gets his 3rd shot to get UFC gold back. There’s no secret that Hollaway’s approach is through constant pressure behind his jab. He lands 7.38 SS/m (absorbs 4.69 SS/m 60% defense). But that absorption rate has climbed a bit over his last couple fights, and that’s concerning, but his chin hasn’t been an issue to this point. One thing he did to try and lessen the blows was utilize his wrestling vs Yair Rodriguez, he had 3 TDs in that bout, he’d never had that many TDs in a single fight in the UFC until that point. Not sure he’d have as much success doing that in this matchup. Volkanovski is typically the one initiating his wrestling. He averages 1.95 TDs per 15mins. And on the feet, Volkanovski lands 6.63 SS/m (absorbs 3.32 SS/m 60% defense). His distance control is elite. But he can’t sit back early and let Holloway dictate things this time around. I think Holloway knows he has to apply pressure for 25mins to have his best shot, and as a result of that, we’re going to get an absolute war. My concern is Hollaway’s willingness to eat one to land one nowadays, and Volkanovski has more power, so Hollaway will wear more damage by the end of this. And I also think Volk will get 5-7mins of control time on the ground at least again, which should yield him winning his 22nd straight fight in a row and putting a cap on the Hollaway saga. And STILLLLLLLLL
PICK: A Volkanovski $22 FD ($9000 DK)
Max Holloway $15 FD ($7200 DK)
Alex Pereira vs Sean Strickland
Of all the fights this card, I believe this one I’m most interested in. Prior to Adesanya’s UFC entrance, he faced Pereira and was KO’ed. the UFC is giving Pereira the fast track to get that rematch set. I’m not sure if a win over Strickland ensures Pereira of that shot, but it’s one step closer. A win here for Strickland almost surely gives him a crack at the title next. Dating back to 2018, he’s won 5 straight, looking to make it 6. Pereira is one of the best kickboxers in MMA, and his striking is elite. He generates power that can put anyone down if he’s putting it all together. He’ll mix in various kicks to the body as well. One thing he struggles with though with such little MMA experience is his wrestling. He’s got solid TDEF, but he was still taken down in each of his first 2 UFC fights to this point. Strickland is a strong wrestler, and that’ll likely be a big part of his game plan in this one. Strickland’s approach is through his striking though. His jab is extremely good, and he wants to pressure you and outwork you on the feet. He’s got really solid range control too. He lands 5.53 SS/m (absorbs 3.94 SS/m 65% defense). Pereira lands 5.86 SS/m (absorbs 3.05 SS/m 60% defense). So it’ll be a chess match on the feet, with Pereira being the more dangerous of the two. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, and it’ll be an extremely good fight, but I can’t get past how much of a difference this is gonna be on the feet. Pereira has shown he’s working on his defensive grappling, working with Glover, and I don’t know if Strickland will be able to keep him down for as long as he needs to to win a decision. Strickland seems like a better play on DK if you go that route due to the wrestling aspect if he’s successful, but in the past against better competition (in terms of striking), Strickland has struggled. Give me Pereira to get it done. I think he kind find a finish late.
PICK: Alex Pereira $15 FD ($8300 DK)
Sean Strickland $16 FD ($7900 DK)
Robbie Lawler vs Bryan Barbarena
Prior to Lawler’s bout with a washed up Nate Diaz, his last win came in 2017. He was 0-4 in that span. He’s now 40yrs old and not getting younger. Lawler is a shell of what he once was, but still very competent inside the octagon. He’s solid on the feet, and that’s what he looks to do, pressure forward throwing shots. He lands 3.73 SS/m (absorbs 4.42 SS/m 59% defense). On the other side, Barbarena is 7yrs younger, and doesn’t know a boring fight. He gets after it, and tends to pick it up as the fights go on. He lands 5.61 SS/m (absorbs 4.83 SS/m 45% defense). He’s going to pressure nonstop throwing combinations. Lawler may opt to try and wrestle, but if he does, don’t think he’ll have much success with control for any extended time. Which’ll zap his cardio as the fight continues. Barbarena’s got a shot to find a late finish in this one and I think he does. He’ll land more shots that’ll start to wear down on Lawler, and I think he gets a 3rd RD KO/TKO. Should produce a nice fantasy score regardless though, just due to his volume he can put up. Barberena is one of my fav mid priced players to play on this slate. Avoiding Lawler regardless, and if he surprises, I’ll just have to take that chance, but I don’t see it.
PICK: Bryan Barbarena $14 FD ($7700 DK)
Robbie Lawler $16 FD ($8500 DK)
Sean O’Malley vs Pedro Munhoz
Sean ‘Sugar’ is back, he’s 15-1 professionally and 7-1 in the UFC. Outside of Chito Vera, this is probably his toughest test. Munhoz is a vet in the gm. He’s 19-7 professionally and 9-7-0, 1NC in the UFC. He’s now 35 yrs old and on the back half of his career. He’s 1-4 in his last 5 fights. He’s solid anywhere the fight goes, and relies on heavy leg kicks to slow his opponents down. He lands 5.5 SS/m (absorbs 6.09 SS/m 58% defense). That latter number will be an issue in this fight. O’Malley is one of the slickest strikers in the UFC, and he lands 8.26 SS/m (absorbs 3.52 SS/m 66% defense). And a lot of O’Malley’s gm on the feet is built on unorthodox movements in and out of the pocket to distract where the strike/kicks are coming from, and it works. At times it feels like he could get opponents out of there quicker if he dialed it back a bit, but he likes to put on a show. And against most bantamweights, his size will be an issue, this no different. It makes it hard for fighters to close distance safely. A fighters best chance to beat him is somehow dominating in wrestling/grappling, but even that is difficult because he’s able to get back up most times with ease. The only really shot Munhoz has I feel like is if another freak accident happens, and that’s not likely. On FD or DK I’d have near 100% ownership on him if I could help it. He’s either gonna find a finish, or rack up a ton of SS again if it goes to a decision. He’s always the right play when he’s on the card.
PICK: Sean O’Malley $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Pedro Munhoz $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Jalen Turner vs Brad Riddell
This is a fun scrap and likely could be candidate for FOTN. Both men have won 4 of their last 5 fights. Riddell most recently coming off of a L vs Rafael Fiziev this past December. He’s a good all around fighter, and can mix it up anywhere the fight goes. But prefers to fight at range throwing strikes. He lands 4.76 SS/m (absorbs 3.55 SS/m 53% defense). He also averages 1.87 TDs per 15mins. Turner has seemed to turn a corner, and honestly a dark horse in this division IMO. All 4 of his most recent wins have come via finish (2 KO’s, 2 submissions). So he’s shown he’s dangerous anywhere the fight goes. His fight IQ is the biggest difference IMO as to why he’s putting on such great performances. He manages distance really well, and if he turns Riddell into a counter striker in this one, Riddell is in trouble. He’s already giving up about 6” in height AND reach. So I find it extremely difficult that he’ll be able to close distance with any real success. I think Turner will stalk him and land shots with regularity, and if that’s the case, he’s getting another finish and potential POTN bonus. He gets this done within the first 2 RDs and will have a score you’ll want in your DFS LUs on both sites.
PICK: Jalen Turner $17 FD ($8400 DK)
Brad Riddell $14 FD ($7800 DK)
Jim Miller vs Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone
Both these guys are legends of the sport. Miller accepted a late notice bid against Cerrone after Bobby Green fight fell through. This is Miller’s first fight at Welterweight, so will be interesting to see this late in his career. Miller turns 39 in August, while Cerrone just hit 39 a couple months ago. Miller has shown his last couple times out that he still has fight ending power, his last 2 wins came via KO/TKO. Over lesser competition of course, but that bodes well in a fight vs Cowboy whose chin has seemingly vanished. Cowboy is 0-5-1 in his last 6, and regardless of the outcome of this one, this could be the last time we see him in the octagon. In terms of offense, Cowboy is the more active striker, he lands 4.43 SS/m (absorbs 4.49 SS/m 53% defense). Miller only lands 2.78 SS/m (absorbs 2.92 SS/m 59% defense). And both guys are extremely skilled in grappling/wrestling. Miller averages 1.61 TDs per 15mins, Cowboy averages 1.18 TDs per 15mins with each averaging over 1 submission attempt per 15mins as well. Something tells me Cowboy wants to go out with a W, and he’s already beaten Miller in the past, but under much different circumstances. Miller tends to gas as the fights go longer now, especially at this point in his career, and the same could be said for Cowboy. But I think if Cowboy survives RD 1 where the power shots from Miller will be more impactful, I think he finds a way to gut it out via decision, that’s a tall ask at this point. The other alternative to this fight is RD 1 finish for Miller, and that’s the way I see it happening for either side.
PICK: Jim Miller $20 FD ($8700 DK)
Donald Cerrone $10 FD ($7500 DK)
Ian Garry vs Gabe Green
This will be a fun scrap. 2 young UFC prospects looking to make a name for themselves, especially Garry. He’s a talented undefeated prospect at 9-0 (2-0 in the UFC). He’s got a big frame for the Welterweight division, standing 6’2, he’ll give most guys fits with those measurable’s. He can be a bit of a brawler at times when he’s throwing in the pocket, and that causes him to get hit with big counters at times. In his debut vs Jordan Williams we saw that a bit before he got the finish, and Williams is less talented than Green IMO. In his follow up vs Darian Weeks, Garry was a bit more reserved, and he acted as an effective counter striker and it got him the decision. But Weeks was able to pressure him for a good portion of the fight, Garry’s movement in/out of the pocket was good and it helped him avoid big damage. Garry lands 4.6 SS/m (absorbs 3.1 SS/m 51% defense), while Green lands 6.28 SS/m (but absorbs 6.61 SS/m 49% defense). Green has a solid chin, but against heavier strikers in the division, he’ll have more issues staying out of danger consistently. We saw that in his last fight where he ended up getting the KO, but Lainesse scored a KD as a result of Green’s aggressiveness. Green also has a knack for throwing big punches that land flush to where he’s able to get KD’s of his own. I think this is a better version of Darian Weeks that Garry is facing, and it’s gonna be a grind for 15mins I feel like. And I think Green steals a decision. Will be a close fight, but Green one of my fav value plays on the slate. Hopefully the Garry hype sees inflated ownership.
PICK: Gabe Green $10 FD ($7400 DK)
Ian Garry $19 FD ($8800 DK)
Brad Tavares vs Dricus Du Plessis
Really intrigued by this matchup. Have a finisher vs one that’s find grinding out decisions on the scorecard. Du Plessis is 16-2 professionally, all 18 fights ending before the scorecards are read, most by KO/TKO. Du Plessis is extremely well rounded, but prefers striking on the feet. He lands 5.07 SS/m (absorbs just 2.39 SS/m 68% defense). On the other side, Tavares is the more technical striker, and strikes at a slower pace, he lands 3.18 SS/m (absorbs 2.76 SS/m). So Du Plessis should be the aggressor in this one. Du Plessis does try and change levels, as he also averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins, but Tavares has solid TDEF, so he should be able to keep it standing. Du Plessis had his last couple fights get cancelled due to his opponent, and he was verbally upset by the situations which was understandable. So I think he’s even more motivated for this as a result. Tavares will have a better pace, so should this see the full 15mins, Tavares could steal RD 3, so would depend on how everything else fared in terms of who takes it. I don’t see this going to a decision though. Du Plessis is kill or be killed, and I think we see another KO/TKO win for him in RD 2.
PICK: Dricus Du Plessis $18 FD ($8000 DK)
Brad Tavares $11 FD ($8200 DK)
Andre Muniz vs Uriah Hall
Hall has turned it on as of late, prior to his last bout vs Sean Strickland. He had won 4 straight dating back to 2018. He’s 37yrs old now, so a run at a championship seems all but gone unless he dominates this fight somehow and beats another top contender. Hall wants to stand and bang on the feet, he has a slower paced striking gm, but is powerful, and if he can connect flush can put anybody out. He lands 3.47 SS/m (absorbs 4.07 SS/m 54% defense). Muniz’s numbers are even less on the feet, but that’s because he doesn’t spend much time there. He averages almost 4 TDs per 15mins. He’s an elite grappler (BJJ black belt), and he’s reeled off 3 straight arm bar finishes. He’s 4-0 to start his UFC career and not looking to slow down. He’s got solid striking, but everything he does offensively on the feet is a means to close distance and get ahold to one of those legs for the TD. I don’t envision this being on the feet for long, so Hall’s grappling will have to save him. He’s never been submitted, but neither had Souza before he faced Muniz. He’s on a different level when it hits the mat, and I think he continues his onslaught in this one. If he can get him grounded within the first 90 seconds of RD 1, he should be able to work positions to find what he needs to get it done. RD 1 sub incoming for Muniz. One of my fav plays on the slate.
PICK: Andre Muniz $21 FD ($9200 DK)
Uriah Hall $8 FD ($7000 DK)
Maycee Barber vs Jessica Eye
Jessica ’Evil’ Eye is going in the wrong direction in terms of her career. She’s lost 4 of her last 5, and a loss here could send her packing. And on the other side, Barber is trying to continue her momentum. She’s won 2 straight, looking for 3. Barber was a highly touted prospect coming into the UFC just due to the sheer power she has when she throws, and her generally being able to bully her opponents, but she took a surprising loss to now retired Roxanne Modaferri, and the striking differential was too much to overcome vs Alexa Grasso. She’s now 10-2 professionally, and has the tools to be a really solid prospect for this division. Eye has literally fought the best this division has to offer, but clearly she has a ceiling and has reached it. She can’t be much more than a gatekeeper at this point in her career. She’s a striker, and wants to get in the pocket and bang. She lands 3.96 SS/m (absorbs 4.19 SS/m 56% defense). She moves well on her feet, and that’ll be her best asset in this fight, getting in and out of the pocket. Barber lands at a higher clip though, at 4.45 SS/m (absorbs just 2.69 SS/m 54% defense). Barber will pressure early, getting her backed to the fence where she’ll either look to take her down, her just use brute strength to keep her against the fence throwing heavy shots in the clench. Barber never overwhelms with total SS landed, and I envision that here, but she should be able to just physically dominate wherever this fight is. I’ve got Barber via decision. Stay away spot on both sides of this DFS wise.
PICK: Maycee Barber $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Jessica Eye $9 FD ($7100 DK)
Jessica Rose Clark vs Julija Stoliarenko
Stoliarenko is certainly fighting for her job Saturday night. She’s 0-4 to start her UFC career with mixed results in all. She’s had her moments with each woman she’s been in the octagon with in terms of showing she has skill. 8 of her 9 wins have come via submission, and her bread and butter is the arm bar, which ironically was the way JRC lost her last bout vs Egger. The difference there though is Egger’s wrestling is much better than Stoliarenko’s. Egger was able to get top control and work her grappling from there. Stoliarenko’s wrestling is awful, and she has a tough time initiating any successful offensive grappling, which is what she needs to work on heavily, and one would assume she has been. JRC is much more athletic, and does several things pretty good. She’ll eventually try and get her wrestling going, I don’t think Stoliarenko is as dangerous with submissions off her back, and JRC should be hip to that. Stoliarenko will have more power in terms of her striking though, so JRC would be wise to not get too happy there. She’ll look to clinch with her and get her up against the cage and trade clinch shots. She averages 1.77 TDs per 15mins, so at some point she’ll try to change levels. If this somehow does turn into a 15min striking affair, i feel like that’s Stoliarenko’s best chance to steal a decision. Her numbers don’t suggest it, but she’ll be more active as the fight goes longer. I think the athleticism peace is too big to overcome though, and as long as JRC doesn’t get cute on the ground, she should take this decision. Find it hard to like either for DFS purposes.
PICK: Jessica R Clark $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Julija Stoliarenko $13 FD ($7600 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)