Amanda Nunes vs Julianna Peña
Women’s Bantamweight Title
This past December we witnessed probably one of the greatest upsets in UFC history when Peña dethroned Nunes of her bantamweight title. It seemed like the UFC had to give Nunes a fight and Peña was next best ‘option’, and she pulled it off. Prior to that bout, she was 3-2 over her last 5 dating back to 2016. That type of run generally doesn’t get you a title shot, but when you’re as good and dominant a fighter as Nunes, that’s what we got. Peña is talented, and a good well rounded fighter, but I think what we saw in the first fight was an insane adrenaline dump, and really just a misstep from Nunes in terms of preparation. I don’t like making excuses for fighters, but fluke was written all over that fight. Nunes decided to brawl and she paid for it, she’s generally much more calculated and in control than that. Nunes has real power for the division, and she’s good anywhere the fight goes, on the feet, she lands 4.55 SS/m (absorbs only 2.81 SS/m), and averages nearly 2.5 TDs per 15mins. On the flip, Peña lands 3.36 SS/m (absorbs 2.02 SS/m), and she also averages nearly 2.5 TDs per 15mins (2.43). Where Peña generally struggles mightily is her TDEF, it’s just 22%, and if we’re to see the Nunes of old in this fight like I expect, that’ll be a problem. Maybe Peña shocks the world again and proves she’s actually legitimate to maintain, but I don’t think so, I think Nunes has a dominant performance, and she’ll find another finish, likely 2nd or 3rd RD. She comes at a steep price, but I think she’s worth it. And NEWWWWWW
PICK: Amanda Nunes $23 FD ($9200 DK)
Julianna Peña $14 FD ($7000 DK)
Co Main Event
Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara France
Flyweight (Interim Title Fight)
A rematch from a 2019 bout takes place here, this time for much higher stakes. For Moreno, he’s looking to get his 4th and likely final matchup with Deiveson Fig., as he lost his title in the 3rd rematch via decision. For KKF, he’s turned it on as of late, since that first meeting with Moreno, he’s won 4 of his last 5, and won 3 in a row. The first meeting was entirely a kickboxing matchup, with Moreno edging out in terms of forward pressure. Both guys have gotten better since that bout, and this time they’ll be given 5 RDs to work. KKF has excellent power in his hands, and has a few stoppages over his last few wins. He pressures really well, and won’t mind getting into brawls. However, Moreno has proven pretty durable, so a finish on the feet seems pretty unlikely. I think we’ll inevitably get more wrestling/grappling exchanges in this one, given 25mins, and I could see Moreno looking to rely on that this time around, I’m not quite sure how much success he’ll have though, because KKF has pretty elite TDEF (86%). In KKF’s bout with Askarov, he showed great ability/good hips, and was successful in defending 12 of 14 attempts. So this again has all the makings of a kickboxing matchup primarily. Both will have moments of success with forward pressure, but I give the nod to Moreno in terms of being a better counter striker, and that’ll be a huge component to this fight. This reminds me so much of the Arman Tsarukyan vs Gamrot fight a few weeks back, where we’ll see two elite fighters going back and forth for 25mins. This has split decision written all over it, and a good fight to target in DFS. I give the edge to Moreno, and think he gets the decision.
PICK: Brandon Moreno $20 FD ($8900 DK)
Kai Kara France $10 FD ($7300 DK)
Sergei Pavlovich vs Derrick Lewis
The leader in UFC KO’s gets back to it, the Black Beast returns. He carry’s probably the most elite power in the division, and all he has to do is land flush with a clean 1-2 most times to start the beginning of the end. He’s one dimensional and everyone knows it. He can be a decent wrestler, but never opts to do that, he’s fine being a heavy counter striker. He’s lost 2 of his last 3 fights, both by way of KO. He’ll once again be at a speed discrepancy here, as Pavlovich is the much faster, more technical striker. Pavlovich lands 6.08 SS/m (absorbs 4.45 SS/m). Lewis only lands 2.56 SS/m (absorbs 2.51 SS/m), that being because most aren’t thrilled to try and get into a brawl with him. No matter which way this turns out, someone’s lights are going out, and this is a fight I’ll likely have 100% exposure to. I think Pavlovich’s speed and movement in the pocket will do him many favors here, and I think he can put together enough offense early to get it done. I see a 1st RD finish in this one. Love the pricing for both on both sites, but give me Pavlovich.
PICK: Sergei Pavlovich $17 FD ($8200 DK)
Derrick Lewis $15 FD ($8000 DK)
Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez
Another potential elite matchup in the flyweight division. Perez last fought for a title when he was quickly submitted by Deiveson Fig in under 2mins. A win in this one could put him right back in the picture pending the match vs Deiveson vs winner of KKF/Moreno. Perez is solid everywhere the fight goes, and he leans on pretty solid wrestling approach, as he averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins. On the feet, he’ll put more volume together than Pantoja despite what the numbers say. Perez lands 4.62 SS/m (absorbs 3.08 SS/m). For Pantoja, he’s much more a technical counter striker with solid power, and he lands 4.24 SS/m (absorbs 3.34 SS/m). He’s not as active in terms of shooting for TDs, but he lands basically 1 TD per 15mins (1.26). Pantoja is the much better grappler between them though, so Perez will be in danger of getting submitted for as long as it plays out on the mat. Perez will likely lean heavily on his kicks to set up his striking, but Pantoja will be prepared. This is another close bout, that should we get to the cards, could see a split decision, but I give Pantoja the edge slightly everywhere, and he should be the one on the right side of the decision. Not crazy about either for DFS on the surface, but will have them in a few just in case.
PICK: Alexandre Pantoja $19 FD ($8700 DK)
Alex Perez $11 FD ($7500 DK)
Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith
This fight doesn’t have anywhere near the excitement of Prochazka/Teixeira, and most Ankalaev/Smith fights will be that way. Neither guy throws a ton of volume on the feet. Smith is much more willing to invest in shots to the legs to set up any striking. While Ankalaev is fine being patient. He’s got good power, and can certainly find KO’s given certain matchups, but Smith has proven pretty durable, so that seems far fetched. Smith has solid wrestling, but it just seems like he’s plateaued, and will serve as nothing more than a gatekeeper moving forward. Magomed isn’t going to get into any unnecessary brawls, and his pressure is normally enough to keep his opponents on the back foot. Eventually this’ll get to the mat, likely from Magomed having backed Smith up to the cage and finding opportunities there. Smith’s TDEF is putrid (48%), and any fighter with solid wrestling chops can get him grounded. There’s an opportunity/chance Ankalaev wears down on him for a late finish via ground and pound, but any other method outside of that just seems unlikely. I think we’ll see another underwhelming fight from Ankalaev here, and he’ll win a decision comfortably.
PICK: Magomed Ankalaev $21 FD ($9400 DK)
Anthony Smith $8 FD ($6800 DK)
Matthew Semelsberger vs Alex Morono
This’ll be a fun scrap for these two. This is probably a step up for Morono in terms of competition. He’s won 3 straight, looking to make it 4, and 4 of his last 5 overall. He’s a pressure style kickboxer that likes to put combinations together in the pocket looking for the KO. He’s got solid movement too, so he can avoid eating big shots in return as a result. He lands 5.21 SS/m (absorbs 3.93 SS/m). He’s a decent wrestler, but won’t look to change levels probably at all. Averages less than 1 TD per 15mins. Semelsberger is the better wrestler between them, and we saw in his last bout vs AJ Fletcher that he can defend well off his back, but should this have any extended ground time, it’s because Semelsberger has initiated it. On the feet for Semelsberger, he’ll have the height and reach advantage, 2” in height, and 3” in reach, which should help him maintain his range. He’s a bit more technical than Morono, and he’ll also have more power. In what should predominately be a standup affair, this all but favors Semelsberger. His physicality and size should be too much for Morono to overcome. I think he can find a finish too, I think he gets it done in RD 2. Making for a solid DFS play today.
PICK: Matthew Semelsberger $19 FD ($8600 DK)
Alex Morono $13 FD ($7600 DK)
Drew Dober vs Rafael Alves
This is probably my favorite matchup on the card, and likely finds itself as a candidate for FOTN. Dober is a veteran of the sport, and has been with the UFC nearly 10 years now. He’s known for his finishing ability and solid chin that generally serves him well. In his most recent bout vs Terrance McKinney, he was almost finished in the 1st RD, but weathered the storm, and had a great comeback to get a finish of his own. If McKinney had any type of extended cardio though, he likely would’ve gotten it done over Dober. Dober has dynamite for hands, and can put your lights out. He’s got great volume, lands 4.4 SS/m (and absorbs 4.23 SS/m), so he’s essentially landing one to eat one, which works out fine because of his durability. He gets Alves, who’s making his 3rd trip to the octagon, who almost shocked the world in his debut when he knocked down Ismagulov and even had an opportunity for a submission, just couldn’t do enough to win 2 RDs, but that’s not a bad thing vs an opponent who has only lost 1 professional MMA fight in 25 appearances. Alves followed that up by finding the neck of Mark Diakiese in short order in their bout. He’s got a knack for finding the rear naked choke or front guillotine. And it’s no secret his best path to victory will be through extended wrestling/grappling. Dober is a solid wrestler, and we saw that vs Islam Makhachev in terms of his defensive wrestling, he eventually broke, but defending being submitted against him for nearly 14mins is something to be proud of, so it won’t come easy for Alves, but the TDs should, Dober only defends TDs at a 53% clip. Alves has power in his hands too though, so this could get interesting. I see this fight as either Dober being able to find a KO/TKO, or Alves getting ahold of his neck for a submission. Making this one of my fav fights to target. I lean Dober to get it done in the 3rd RD when Alves starts to fade a bit. But will definitely play both sides.
PICK: Drew Dober $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Rafael Alves $10 FD ($7200 DK)
Don’Tale Mayes vs Hamdy Abdelwahab
Mayes is getting a layup on short notice it feels like, after his original opponent had to back out. Abdelwahab is being passed as an ‘Olympic wrestler’, even though he didn’t medal, to make this fight seem more interesting. He’s 5-0 professionally, all coming from Jorge Masvidal’s MMA org. That should say just about all that needs to be said in terms of the level of competition he’s faced. Mayes is only 2-2 in the UFC so far, and he’ll definitely have a ceiling in terms of where he can go in such a too heavy division. He’ll be the better striker, and despite the Olympic wrestling background for Abdelwahab, I think Mayes will be the better wrestler in this matchup. It’s never smart to trust someone with such limited MMA experience, and that’s the case for Hamdy. Not trusting him at all, and if I’m wrong, I’ll just have to eat it. I think Mayes can win this fight wherever he wants, particularly on the feet. He should be able to find a finish, I don’t know how early, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic and say it comes in RD 2.
PICK: Don’Tale Mayes $20 FD ($8500 DK)
Hamdy Abdelwahab $11 FD ($7700 DK)
Drakkar Klose vs Rafa Garcia
Striker vs wrestler matchup in this one. Believe it or not, Garcia is only 27yrs old. He’ll be 28 next week, even though he looks older. So there’s room for improvement obviously. Garcia is at his best when he can chain together TDs and look for submissions. He’s got solid, but at times sloppy striking, and if he’s up against a better striker, he tends to lose those exchanges. His biggest concern right now is working on his cardio, after about 7mins, he starts to slow down, and he needs his opponent to do the same if he’s going to have a chance to win a decision. Klose is pretty well rounded everywhere the fight is, and he’ll definitely have the advantage on the feet. He lands 4.42 SS/m (absorbs 3.61 SS/m), while Garcia lands 3.54 SS/m (absorbs 4.94 SS/m). So it’s pretty clear Garcia has issues defending strikes due to his lack of head movement. Klose is also a pretty solid wrestler in his own right, he averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins, while Garcia averages just over 4. Their TDEF is decent on both sides, but they won’t have any real issues getting one another to the mat. This should be a close fight to start, but Klose will start to pull away, and he should be able to do enough to win 2 RDs. His volume could be nice enough for a decent DFS score in a win too. I’ll take some shots on Garcia as well though, he’s worth the shot.
PICK: Drakkar Klose $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Rafa Garcia $9 FD ($7100 DK)
Michael Morales vs Adam Fugitt
Morales is getting a layup here with the late replacement after Brahimaj dropped out. Morales is 13-0 as a professional, and started his UFC career off with a bang vs Trevin Giles earlier this year in January. He’s solid anywhere the fight goes, especially his grappling/wrestling. His fight IQ is elite, and he’ll pick his moments wisely. He’s huge for the welterweight division, and another one to keep an eye on. Fugitt is a Muay Thai fighter, and relies heavily on what he can accomplish on the feet. He likes to work his kicks to all parts of the body, and has solid power in his hands. This matchup seems like a bit too much to chew in his debut though. It seems more of a matter of when, not if, Morales will find the finish. I think he does it in short order, and will get it done at some point in the 1st RD via whatever he sees fit. He’s much better than Fugitt, and it’ll clearly be on display. Morales is hard to get to on DK without taking a dumpster dive at a couple dogs there, but on FD, he’s slightly more appealing, and one of my favorite plays on the slate. Loading up on him for sure.
PICK: Michael Morales $22 FD ($9500 DK)
Adam Fugitt $8 FD ($6700 DK)
Joselyne Edwards vs Ji Yeon Kim
Box score watchers will be overweight to Edwards this fight because she fought a can last time out when she faced Ramona Pascual and put up good numbers. She’s young, only 26, and no doubt has looked better than when she started, but this is a fade spot for me with her. Her striking is solid, but the only real improvements she’s made as far as her standup goes is the front kicks she’s implemented. Her striking defense is relatively fair, but she allowed Pascual to land nearly 60% of her strikes, that won’t bode well as she faces better competition, and she doesn’t have much power behind her strikes. Kim should be able to dictate this fight, whether she’s counter striking, or pressuring forward, and in a few of her past fights, we’ve seen that of her opponent wants a standup, she’s fine dishing out the volume. She’ll also be physically stronger than Edwards, and should win any clinch exchanges they’ll have up against the cage. Kim has faced much better competition simply put, and she shouldn’t have issues with this one. She’ll be the more effective striker and she’ll land with more impact. I think she wins via decision. And at her price, could make for a nice piece to LUs.
PICK: Ji Yeon Kim $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Joselyne Edwards $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Nicolae Negumereanu vs Ihor Potieria
Two young LHW prospects square off. This’ll be Negumereanu’s 5th appearance, he’s 3-1 so far. His last win via decision over Kennedy Nzechukwu, in a bout I personally think he lost. Negumereanu is a pressure fighter, with not much power in his hands that looks to get into striking affairs. His feet are constantly moving, but doesn’t do well moving his head off the center line, and as a result takes a lot of shots. He lands just 3.39 SS/m (but absorbs a massive 5.92 SS/m in return 38% striking defense). This is Potieria’s UFC debut, and has a bit of a padded record, at 19-2 overall professionally. Most have come vs cans of lower level competition, but Negumereanu’s pre UFC competition was about the same, if not a tad worse. Potieria will put things together much better on the feet in this one, as he lands 4.89 SS/m (absorbs 5.7 SS/m), so he also has concerns in regards to striking defense, but he’s shown pretty durable, and Negumereanu hasn’t shown an ability to get a finish so far in the UFC. In terms of wrestling, Potieria will be better there too, but probably won’t look to shoot for TDs. If there’s any exchanges from him, it likely comes from up against the cage. I like Potieria here in what should be a close bout. I’m a bit unsure about his overall output, but with the way Negumereanu gets hit, I could see him getting north of 100 SS landed if this is primarily a striking matchup. If Negumereanu wins, it’s likely another moderate/average score.
PICK: Ihor Potieria $16 FD ($8400 DK)
Nicolae Negumereanu $15 FD ($7800 DK)
Orion Cosce vs Blood (Mike) Diamond
Another striker vs wrestler matchup to open things up for the night. This is two fighters who are completely green. Cosce was known for his quick finishing ability on the regional scene, and came into the promotion 7-0 professionally. His debut vs Phil Rowe started pretty decently, as he was able to score TDs, but wasn’t able to keep positioning. He eventually started to fade and it caught up to him in the 2nd RD where he was KO’ed. Blood Diamond’s debut wasn’t any better, this’ll be just his 5th professional MMA fight. He has a kickboxing background, and trains out of City Kickboxing. His debut vs Jeremiah Wells saw the grappling/wrestling become too much to handle and he was submitted. Cosce will certainly try to employ that same game plan. One would think Diamond has been working on his TDEF/wrestling defense at the least, but hard to know until he’s out there. If he can keep this on the feet, his striking will be much more technical, and he’ll have more power. We’ve seen what a 2nd RD Cosce looks like, saw that could cause trouble. I don’t think either of these guys are really any good at the moment, but at the same time they each have the ability to finish the other. I think Cosce finds enough success early that he can get positioning to find a submission. But I’ll have shares of Diamond on the off chance he can keep it standing to piece Cosce up on the feet.
PICK: Orion Cosce $18 FD ($8800 DK)
Blood Diamond $12 FD ($7400 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)