Islam Makhachev vs Charles Oliveira
Probably one of the most anticipated championship fights the sport has seen in recent memory. For multiple reasons; Charles being stripped of his belt in what was supposed to be his title defense last time out vs Gaethje for missing weight; to both men combining to be 21-0 in their last 21 (Charles 11-0, Islam 10-0); and just the overall evolution of Charles to get to this point. But none of that will matter once the cage locks. They both have to face it. Charles is probably the most talented all around fighter in the division. He’s got elite jiu jitsu skills, excellent striking, and has a knack for making things interesting fast. He’s been matched with heavy hitting strikers recently, and has been knocked down several times, but has always found a way to rally and make it his fight. The question is can he do that this time around? He’s facing literally one of the best grapplers/wrestlers in the world in Islam. It’s no secret Islam comes from the Khabib tree of fighters/success, but time and time again he’s proven why. His game is simple, any striking/kickboxing on the feet is all a means to close distance so he can shoot for TDs and go to work on the mat. He averages 3.4 TDs per 15mins (with just over 1 sub attempt in same time frame (1.2)). On the feet, he’s landing only 2.27 SS/m (absorbs only 0.84 SS/m, this speaks to his dominance in the grappling/wrestling). He also has excellent TDEF, and knows how to use his hips to keep good leverage etc. On the flip side, Charles is the more dangerous of the two due to the fact he has a couple of avenues to win a fight. Whether that be striking, or finding his opportunity on the mat to take the back and hunt for his submissions. This time around though, I believe he’ll be behind the 8-ball when it hits the canvas, and certainly if he allows Islam to have top control. We’ve seen Charles not be really effective at all when he’s on his back, and it won’t be easy at all to submit a guy like Islam. His fight IQ is too high. I’ve gone back and forth on this fight for weeks, because like most, you just can’t help but love Charles. But when it comes to DFS & trying to win $$, you have to be rational about certain things. And fact of the matter is, if Charles doesn’t surprisingly KO Islam within the 1st 10mins, he’s not winning this fight. Islam is in his backyard with the crowd behind him, and he knows go not exchange in a striking battle on the feet, especially early. If doing ME, then definitely have both shares of this fight, if not, the safe pick is Islam. We haven’t seen Charles go deep waters in a 5 RD fight before, and this likely gets there, and that only favors Islam. His cardio is elite, and he’ll never stop chasing the game plan. Ownership should be high on this fight, but surprisingly leverage will ride with having Islam at 10-15% less ownership if I had to guess. The pick is for Islam to take this via unanimous decision with an opportunity to rack up big time control numbers. Could see 3-5 TDs in the mix as well.
PICK: Islam Makhachev $19 FD ($8400 DK)
Charles Oliveira $13 FD ($7800 DK)
Co Main Event
Aljamain Sterling vs TJ Dillashaw
Sterling looking to defend his belt now the 2nd time, this time vs a resurged Dillashaw. We all know the trouble Dillashaw has had over the last few years with his suspension etc. That’s behind him, he’s ready to move forward. In his last outing last summer, he edged a split decision over Cory Sandhagen. My personal opinion is that he lost that fight, but that’s neither here nor there. What we saw was an extremely sharp Dillashaw who never stopped pressuring forward. He’ll be the better striker in this matchup, and he’ll certainly pack more power. Sterling is a sharp striker, he just doesn’t have power. He hasn’t registered a KD in his current UFC run. His main goal is to take the backs of his opponents and swallow them, while hunting for submissions. On the feet though, Sterling lands 4.56 SS/m (absorbs 2.24 SS/m), while Dillashaw lands 5.26 SS/m (absorbing 3.27 SS/m). Both men are extremely active on their feet, and constantly moving in the pocket. Dillashaw’s striking defense the worst between the two, but not worried he’ll eat anything that’ll detour his offense. Both men look to actively engage in wrestling as well, each averages less than 2 TDs per 15mins (Sterling, 1.7, Dillashaw 1.6). But the biggest difference is in their TDEF, Dillashaw’s TDEF is much better than Sterling’s, he defends at an 86% clip, while Sterling is just at 41%. That number probably skewed due to the first meeting between he and Petr Yan when Yan got 7 TDs, nonetheless, not a good look in this matchup. Sterling will be the better athlete in this fight, but I think Dillashaw will be successful enough defending TDs, that he’ll have more success on the feet and will take rounds as a result. Sterling will always be live to get a submission if he’s able to take the back, but Dillashaw is sound enough on the mat that I think he’ll keep himself out of eminent danger when it gets there. I like Dillashaw by a hair. Again, if doing ME, have shares of each fighter here, could easily see winner being optimal. AND NEWWWWWWWW
PICK: TJ Dillashaw $16 FD ($7700 DK)
Aljamain Sterling $18 FD ($8500 DK)
Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley
It’s been said that the winner of this fight is basically next in line for the bantamweight belt. So huge implications. O’Malley long dealt with accusations of running from elite fighters in the division. That can’t be said anymore, but even still, he fought Vera, who’s much improved himself since that outing. And just recently took on Pedro Munhoz, which ended in a no contest after an eye poke by Sean. Most thought we’d see the Sean we’d been used to in the octagon vs Munhoz, but instead we saw a much more reserved/patient O’Malley. He wasn’t aggressive in terms of his output, and he basically allowed Munhoz to chop away at his legs. Through nearly 2 full rounds, there was only 51 total SS landed between the 2. That won’t cut it. Now he gets Yan, an even better opponent than Munhoz in terms of overall effectiveness. But he’ll once again try to use his range to keep distance. Sean lands 7.75 SS/m (absorbs just 3.48 SS/m), while Yan lands 5.45 SS/m (absorbing 3.88 SS/m). One area we haven’t seen Sean consistently is on his back defending in wrestling exchanges, and that could be a part of Yan’s game plan here, to get inside and look for TDs. He averages 1.48 TDs per 15mins, and gets TDs at a 60% clip, which is pretty solid. Sean’s TDEF is only 64%. What will be interesting is seeing Yan in RD 1 here, because he only has 3 RDs with which to work as opposed to the 5 he’s seen over his last 4-5 fights. He’s got a reputation of basically taking RD 1 off to gauge his opponent. If he does that again here, he’ll most certainly need a flawless back half to convince the judges. As exciting as this fight looks on paper, I’m going to temper my expectations on its outcome. I really feel like we’ll see just a slightly better version of Sean’s last outing vs Munhoz, where the volume won’t be great, while just be about who’s more effective. And despite the significant reach/height advantage, I have to side with Yan, I think he’ll find a way to be successful, whether by chopping hard at Sean’s legs to get a stance switch, or having some success in his wrestling and making Sean defend what he’s not used to. However I do think Sean is getting disrespected in terms of the betting line, and he’s 100% worth a shot in LUs at that price. Will definitely have shares, I’m just not taking him outright. Have Yan via decision. Wouldn’t go crazy with this fight in DFS LUs Saturday morning.
PICK: Petr Yan $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Sean O’Malley $14 FD ($6900 DK)
Mateusz Gamrot vs Beneil Dariush
Gamrot has absolutely put his name on the map with his surge. He’s now won 4 straight, looking to make it 5. His last bout vs Arman Tsarukyan was a split decision win and an absolute beauty to watch in terms of technicality/skill for 25mins. Gamrot is extremely well rounded and can find success wherever he chooses. Dariush has very quietly reeled off 7 straight wins, and while he looks much older, he’s only 33 yrs old. So this fight has just as much implications in terms of a title shot soon, as much as it does for Gamrot. Dariush is another extremely well rounded fighter, and will take the fight wherever it happens. Both fighters are extremely aggressive in terms of their wrestling approach. Dariush averages 2.1 TDs per 15mins, and Gamrot averages nearly 5 TDs per 15mins (4.83). Both have outstanding TDEF though, Dariush (81%), Gamrot (90%), so something will have to give. On the feet, each Carrie’s power in their striking. Dariush lands 3.8 SS/m (absorbs just 2.58 SS/m), while Gamrot lands 3.54 SS/m (absorbs 3.19 SS/m). Each has shown to be durable to this point, but anything can change the fight. What I do believe will be the difference in this one will be Gamrot’s athleticism. I think he’s the better athlete, and therefore will have better exchanges in wrestling as a result. The urgency will be there for both, as this is a 3 RD fight this time around. Each could have some success with control time, but not significant on either side IMO. Gamrot’s pressure should he just enough to take this. Dariush a solid dog to take a gamble on though, he’s crafty in his submission game as well and could find something. Hard to see a finish, and the upside in terms of scoring feels limited. I like other fights with salaries around this range personally.
PICK: Mateusz Gamrot $17 FD ($8800 DK)
Beneil Dariush $13 FD ($7400 DK)
Manon Fiorot vs Katlyn Chookagian
This should be a treat. Fiorot has stormed her way up the very thin Flyweight division, and has started her UFC campaign off 4-0. Chookagian is the decision queen, and has reeled off 4 straight wins since being TKO’ed by Jessica Andrade. Both women are great kickboxers, and this likely plays out that way. Chookagian is used to being the bigger woman inside the octagon, and that allows her to use her range to her advantage in most bouts, she won’t have that luxury in such a wide margin in this one. She’s only got a 2” height advantage over Manon here. Normally she’s seeing a 4-5” edge. Chookagian isn’t really accurate in terms of land rate (35%), however, she does land 4.56 SS/m (absorbs 4.26 SS/m), which isn’t bad, but against actual better strikers, which in this case she’s seeing again, that’s a problem. Manon lands 6.6 SS/m (absorbs just 2.52 SS/m), and is better technically (45% land rate). Manon will also be the more powerful striker between the two. And if all else fails, Manon has the wrestling advantage. She averages just under 2 TDs per 15mins (1.91). Chookagian’s TDEF is awful (54%), so could see that has the path to least resistance for Manon should she choose. Manon shouldn’t have any problems taking a unanimous decision at the least here. She’ll have more impactful strikes, be the aggressor, and has wrestling to fall back on, not to mention the upside of potentially finding a finish. Chookagian needs a flawless performance here to have a chance, and I don’t see it. The pick is Manon via decision.
PICK: Manon Fiorot $19 FD ($8900 DK)
Katlyn Chookagian $12 FD ($7300 DK)
Sean Brady vs Belal Muhammad
Undefeated in MMA (15-0), Brady takes his shot with Muhammad. Muhammad is 4-0, with 1 NC over his last 5. So this fight has big implications on who’s next man up once the Usman/Edwards rematch takes place. Especially with word Khamzat might go up to 185. Brady is solid everywhere the fight goes, but most effective as a grappler looking for submissions. He’s averaging 3.22 TDs per 15mins (while attempting basically 1 submission per 15mins (0.9)). Muhammad also a solid wrestler, he averages 2.29 TDs per 15mins. Both men have great cardio, and can keep a solid pace given only 15mins. On the feet, I give power edge to Brady, he’s also more technical and lands at a higher rate, 54% vs 43% for Muhammad. Muhammad lands 4.31 SS/m (absorbs 3.58 SS/m). While Brady lands 3.91 SS/m (absorbing 3.22 SS/m). Muhammad will try to force the pressure early, and will be interesting to see how he handles potentially having his TDs stuffed. As both men have great TDEF, Muhammad 91%, Brady 87%. As a result of this, I do think there’ll be a little more standup, but both could find success getting TDs. If we do see more of a kickboxing match, then I favor Brady’s power to make the difference down the stretch. Brady will also be more dangerous on the mat with his grappling, just not sure how much ground control either of them can rack up. This feels like a fight that has a low floor, with a middle of the pack ceiling if it goes to the scorecards, which is likely. But at their price, have to take the chance one of them matters. I like Brady just a little more here via decision.
PICK: Sean Brady $14 FD ($8200 DK)
Belal Muhammad $14 FD ($8000 DK)
Caio Borrahlo vs Makhmud Muradov
Interesting matchup. Wrestler vs striker. Borrahlo has come in and been able to show just how dominant he can be once things hit the canvas in terms of his control time, especially. He’s got smothering top pressure, and it’s tough for anyone to get back up once he has you on your back. We saw just recently in Muradov’s last bout vs GM3, that once on his back, he can put himself in positions to get submitted. But on the feet, he’ll be dangerous, and can find his shot at any time. He lands 5.39 SS/m (absorbs just 3.17 SS/m), while Borrahlo lands just 2.82 SS/m (absorbs 1.82 SS/m). But don’t let the numbers fool you, Muradov hasn’t had any particular fight with high SS numbers, mainly due to the length of his fights. Muradov has shown solid TDEF (80%), but Borrahlo will certainly continue to push that issue in terms of shooting for TDs, and he’ll eventually find success. Once on the mat, Borrahlo will have success once again with his control, and could potentially find a submission. Not crazy about having Borrahlo in LUs due to low/moderate volume on the feet, and not much ground and pound on the mat. So in terms of DFS, feels like a dog or pass spot and hope Muradov’s power shines through on the feet. But the pick is Borrahlo via decision.
PICK: Caio Borrahlo $17 FD ($9000 DK)
Makhmud Muradov $13 FD ($7200 DK)
Nikita Krylov vs Volkan Oezdemir
This should be a banger for as long as it last. Each fighter is 3-2 over their last 5 bouts, each coming off of a win. Oezdemir faced Paul Craig his last time out, and avoided the antics of going to the mat with Craig, and as a result, he won a decision, as he was able to maintain his range and win a striking affair. Krylov didn’t have such luck when he fough Craig and was submitted. But Krylov certainly made amends in his last outing with a violent RD 1 finish over Gustafsson. Krylov starts fast, and that won’t change anytime soon. Oezdemir’s general slower pace will need to change quickly if he wants to have a chance. Both guys have great finishing power in their hands. But I give the edge to Krylov there. And regardless who wins this one, I think it’s because they knocked the other out. Oezdemir will need to effectively counter in this one if he wants to come away with the win. I don’t see that happening though, and I think Krylov gets another RD 1 finish. Making him one of my fav plays on the slate.
PICK: Nikita Krylov $16 FD ($8600 DK)
Volkan Oezdemir $13 FD ($7600 DK)
Abu Nurmagomedov vs G. Omargadzhiev
This fight probably won’t turn many heads, but should be interesting, as it’ll be about who can successfully get their wrestling going first. Nurmagomedov coming off of a win where he showed solid skill in the wrestling/grappling, and got a win over Jared Gooden. Omargadzhiev didn’t have such luck, and lost his debut vs Caio Borrahlo. Both men strike at a low rate, and ultimately want to get things grounded. Nurmagomedov is the slightly better striker in terms of land rate, 49% vs 41%, but I give the technical edge to Omargadzhiev. I also favor Omargadzhiev’a wrestling over Nurmagomedov’s, and think he’ll have success on his entries to try and get this fight grounded. Both have suspect TDEF, so in actuality they’ll each find their moments. But on a card with such few hope in some of the dogs. Need to take some somewhere, and I like Omargadzhiev here to win a decision off the back of his wrestling. Don’t expect a high score from this one either way, but should Omargadzhiev win, it could be all you need.
PICK: G. Omargadzhiev $14 FD ($7500 DK)
Abu Nurmagomedov $15 FD ($8700 DK)
Armen Petroysan vs AJ Dobson
This should be a scrap. Both guys capable of knocking the other out with their power. Both coming off losses to wrestlers, so a delighted change of pace I’m sure for both of them. Petroysan actually surprised me with his win over Gregory Rodrigues in hindsight. His movement/volume was able to do what was needed for the win. He’s got great striking, and can turn the lights out. When Dobson entered the UFC, many thought he’d blow through Jacob Malkoun and get a KO. That wasn’t the case, and Malkoun’s relentless wrestling eventually gassed Dobson on his way to a decision loss. Dobson has solid wrestling chops, and could certainly opt for that route. But the movement of Petroysan on the feet will make it difficult to find any real success closing distance. Dobson’s striking defense leaves much to be desired (39%), and that could be his demise in this one. Petroysan lands 5.17 SS/m (absorbs only 2.26 SS/m), while Dobson lands 4.7 SS/m (absorbs 4.55 SS/m). All signs point to Petroysan being able to find his rhythm early, and start to piece up Dobson. I think there’s a chance for a finish here as Dobson gassed later in the fight. Give me Petroysan via 3rd RD KO/TKO. Another nice dog spot to be on though, Dobson could also find the finish.
PICK: Armen Petroysan $20 FD ($9100 DK)
AJ Dobson $11 FD ($7100 DK)
Muhammad Mokaev vs Malcolm Gordon
Gordon has surprised in his last couple outings. He’s on a 2 fight win streak, looking for 3 here vs the young phenom Mokaev. Gordon has solid tools, he’s got good striking, and has shown he can scramble when things hit the mat. But plainly put, there’s levels to this, and we’ll see a similar outing to the one when he faced Albazi in his debut. Mokaev is an animal, the kid will go far in this division. He’s averaging 11.27 TDs per 15mins. That’s absolutely insane. His cardio isn’t an issue, and his entries seem to always be entertaining/sporadic. He literally wants to drawn his opponents with pressure, and there’s not been much anyone can do about it. Except this time around, I think he’ll actually find a submission. Gordon could make this interesting for about 2mins, but eventually Mokaev will get the back and lock up a rear naked choke. Being most expensive fighter comes with nice assurances, but I don’t think he’ll see his way in optimal unless a couple of cheap dogs upset today. First RD submission win on the way.
PICK: Muhammad Mokaev $23 FD($9600 DK)
Malcolm Gordon $8 FD ($6600 DK)
Karol Rosa vs Lina Lansberg
Rosa was on a 4 fight win streak prior to her last outing vs McMann, where the wrestling/grappling just didn’t come together offensively, and she was on her back the majority as a result. But prior to that, had high hopes to maybe make a run in a slim division. Which is still possible. Rosa has great all around tools, but generally at her best utilizing high volume striking on the feet. She lands 6.65 SS/m (absorbs 4.45 SS/m), averages 1.4 TDs per 15mins as well. On the other side, Lansberg has lost 2 straight, hoping to not make it 3. She’s 40yrs old now, and clearly past her best in terms of performance. She lands on 2.74 SS/m (absorbs 3.89 SS/m). She’s also averaging less than a TD per 15mins (0.62). Rosa is 12 yrs younger, and should have no problems dictating the pace of this one. I could see a scenario where a late ground and pound finish is possible in RD 3 after Lansberg starts to gas. Not confident Rosa smashes in this spot, but it would be a great way to differentiate LUs, and to start the morning off for that matter. The pick is Rosa via 3rd RD stoppage.
PICK: Karol Rosa $21 FD ($9200 DK)
Lina Lansberg $9 FD ($7000 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)