Magomed Ankalaev vs Jan Blachowicz
Less appealing of a title fight now. Jiri pulled out with an injury and gave up the built very admirably to not hold the division up. Glover stated he thought it was weird they didn’t offer Jan fight to him because he would’ve accepted as opposed to Ankalaev, who he felt was a different type of opponent to prepare for. Nonetheless here we are. Jan is about 7mo removed from beating Rakic after Rakic suffered a leg/knee injury. Prior to that, he was submitted by Glover to lose his belt. So a rematch seemed way more appropriate. Jan is known for his “Polish Power”, and can seemingly turn the lights out at any moment, but he’s nearly 40yrs old, and this feels like his last real shot at reclaiming the built. He’s got great all around skills. He manages distance well when kickboxing, and has solid skill in both defensive/offensive wrestling. He lands 3.5 SS/m (absorbs just 2.77 SS/m), and averages slightly over 1 TD per 15mins (1.07). On the other side, Ankalaev is on the rise. He’s 18-1 professionally, 9-1 in the UFC. Ankalaev is the slightly better technical striker, but he’s also got solid all around tools, leans more on his kickboxing and the power in his hands. He’ll probably be the one dictating the action pressing forward, which’ll help get him ahead early on the score cards. Giving the fact he’s also nearly 10 yrs younger at just 30yrs old, the prolonged fight this time around probably gives him an edge from a cardio standpoint. I don’t feel he’s a near 3 to 1 fav in this moment, given Jan’s experience, so Jan is worth taking a chance on. But I ultimately side with Ankalaev to pull this one out. Both are durable, so a finish seems far fetched, but wouldn’t rule it out. Give me Ankalaev via decision. Volume is a question mark because both are more technical than volume heavy, so can dial back slightly from a DFS perspective. AND NEWWWWWWW
PICK: Magomed Ankalaev $23 FD ($9200 DK)
Jan Blachowicz $14 FD ($7000 DK)
Co Main Event
Paddy Pimblett vs Jared Gordon
Paddy the Baddy is the next prospect the UFC wants to make a star. He’s finished all 3 opponents so far in his UFC career and sits 3-0, 19-3 professionally overall. That leads him to his stiffest test yet here vs Gordon. Gordon has been around the UFC a bit longer, and he’s 7-4. Gordon is coming off of a decision win over Leo Santos this past August, and prior to that, suffered a late submission loss to Grant Dawson. He’s won 4 of his last 5 overall though. Gordon is solid everywhere, he uses a consistent pressuring pace and utilizes his wrestling to mix things up. He lands 5.5 SS/m (absorbs just 3.1 SS/m), and averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.97). Paddy is very similar in terms of stats, he lands 4.1 SS/m (absorbs 3 SS/m), and also averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.88). He’s just extremely active in hunting for submissions when he’s on the mat, he’s averaging nearly 5 submission attempts per 15mins (4.7), which is insane. He also likes to pressure forward though to blitz his opponents. He showed some holes his gm vs Leavitt when it came to his TDEF, but he didn’t accept positions and was constantly being defensive. That could be the case here early on with Gordon. The power on the feet sides with Paddy, but he’ll need to be better in terms of defensive striking, he has a tendency to carry his hands low when entering the pocket. That’ll catch up to him eventually given the right opponent if he’s not careful. While this’ll definitely be his toughest test, it just feels like the UFC wants to pad his record a bit before really giving him a true test. I think he’ll be able to find success when he gets his wrestling/grappling going after about 7mins or so. From there he’ll start to take over. I think he finds another submission. Late 2nd RD or some point in the 3rd. It’ll be just a matter of stats he’s able to rack up if he’s going to have a great score. But I like his price on both sites.
PICK: Paddy Pimblett $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Jared Gordon $11 FD ($7100 DK)
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Alex Morono
Ponzinibbio was set to fight Robbie Lawler, but he had to back out. So now he gets a tougher test IMO with Morono. Lawler was too willing for brawls with even more lack of striking defensive awareness. Morono is the same pretty much, but defends better on the feet. Ponzinibbio tends to start slow and picks up around the 8min mark, but by that time he’s down 2 RDs and needs a finish or split decision to win. That’s what we saw in his bout with Michel Pereira & Geoff Neal. Ponzinibbio needs this win though, he’s lost 3 of his last 4. While Morono has reeled off 4 straight, and he seems to be getting better. On the feet these two are pretty even from a number’s perspective. Ponzinibbio lands 5 SS/m (absorbs 4.7 SS/m), while Morono lands 5.3 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m). They both also have good movement on the feet. Morono should dictate pace in this one, especially early until Ponzinibbio picks it up. From a power standpoint, I give Ponzinibbio the edge, but volume should reside with Morono. Morono seems undervalued in this spot due to the late replacement, but this should be closer to a pick ‘em in my opinion. I’m residing with the dog here in Morono, just too much value, and no matter, we know volume will be there for both.
PICK: Alex Morono $12 FD ($7500 DK)
Santiago Ponzinibbio $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Dricus Du Plessis vs Darren Till
This fight is so hard to gauge. Till hasn’t won a bout since 2019 against Gastelum, and has been set back due to injuries over the last few months as he’s been trying to get back in the octagon. He now gets Du Plessis, who’s started his UFC campaign off 3-0. Du Plessis seems polar opposite in every metric here vs Till. He’s more active/aggressive on the feet, and even more engaging in terms of wrestling. Du Plessis lands 6.55 SS/m (absorbs 4.2 SS/m), while Till lands just 2.2 SS/m (absorbs 3 SS/m), some of that due to the amount of clinch work he forces and also when he’s defensively wrestling etc. Du Plessis doesn’t shoot for TDs all too often, but he averages just over 1 TD per 15mins (1.2). Till has shown decent TDEF, but again, doesn’t seem to do well against strong wrestlers. Till’s experience could come into play with an over aggressive Du Plessis and he could slow the fight down. But Du Plessis’ pressure should still ultimately decide it for him. And he has a chance to get a KO late, wouldn’t bank on that because Till is durable, but I can’t trust Till until further notice.
PICK: Dricus Du Plessis $19 FD ($8800 DK)
Darren Till $11 FD ($7400 DK)
Ilia Topuria vs Bryce Mitchell
This fight should be 5 RDs, plain and simple. They should’ve at least made it co main, it’s much more appealing than Paddy vs Gordon. Two top undefeated prospects. Topuria is 4-0 in the UFC, and Mitchell is 6-0. A win here certainly lands Mitchell in the top 15. In terms of striking numbers, neither has gaudy stats due to their approach, but Mitchell is more technical, while Topuria carries more power. Mitchell lands 2.28 SS/m (absorbs 1.6 SS/m), while having 63% striking accuracy. Topuria lands 2.87 SS/m (absorbs 2.28 SS/m). Both men average over 3 TDs per 15mins. Mitchell averages 3.4 & Topuria 3.1. Topuria hunts for submissions slightly more aggressively though, he averages almost 3 per 15mins (2.6), Mitchell close to 2 (1.9). Both are high level wrestlers so would seem tough either gets a submission, but will be a ton of scrambles. Mitchell’s TDEF could use some work, but he’ll likely be the one dictating pace early, which should allow for him to try and crack Topuria’s 100% TDEF. One thing I think favors Mitchell is his cardio, if you remember Topuria’s bout with Zalal, he slowed a bit come 3rd RD. Mitchell won’t do that, he’ll have about the same pace. I love this fight for DFS, as I think Topuria’s path lies with a KO, and Mitchell’s comes via control time. I’m siding with the dog in Mitchell, but will definitely have shares of both. Mitchell just has a certain dog in him I feel like that will pay dividends.
PICK: Bryce Mitchell $15 FD ($7800 DK)
Ilia Topuria $16 FD ($8400 DK)
Raul Rosas Jr vs Jay Perrin
Rosas Jr just turned 18yrs old 2 months ago, making him the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He’s 6-0 professionally, after winning a contract on DWCS. He’s an extremely aggressive wrestler, and that’s what he goes after almost immediately. From there, he looks for positions to lock up submissions. My concern is first and foremost, his youth. And secondly, I believe there’ll be a strength disadvantage for some of these guys he’ll be paired with, starting here with Perrin. Perrin showed well against Mario Bautista & Aorileng, having success at times with his own wrestling/grappling as well as on the feet. Perrin will be the more powerful one on the feet, and he’ll also have more volume. He lands 3.84 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), while Rosas lands just 1.3 SS/m (absorbs .8 SS/m), again, that’s due to his approach. The kid is talented, but he may be starting this journey too soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he locks on to Perrin’s back for 15 mins as Perrin just tries to stay safe, but I also think Perrin will have moments to find sustained success over the course of 15mins, which could be enough to steal 2 RDs. I like the value Perrin provides, and for that, this is a dog or pass spot for me.
PICK: Jay Perrin $10 FD ($7200 DK)
Raul Rosas Jr. $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Chris Daukaus
Something tells me this one won’t see the final horn. These are two guys looking to get back in the win column as they’ve each dropped their last 2 bouts respectively. Rozenstruik is well know for his fight ending power, and that won’t change. What he doesn’t make up with volume, he makes up with power. He lands just 2.8 SS/m (absorbs 3.24 SS/m). He’s extremely patient on the feet and knows it. Daukaus is way more active with his hands, he lands 6.47 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m). It’s troubling that Daukaus fought a similar style opponent in Derrick Lewis and ended up being KO’ed. Daukaus tried to set pace, and once Lewis connected with a solid counter, Daukaus retreated and it was the beginning of the end. There’s a chance Daukaus overwhelms Rozenstruik like Volkov did, but there was also such a height/reach advantage for Volkov that it helped keep safe distance for him. I think this fight is important for DFS as someone is going to sleep. Just a matter of how soon. I like Rozenstruik to land a couple that sets the finish up the same way Derrick Lewis did.
PICK: Jairzinho Rozenstruik $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Chris Daukaus $13 FD ($7500 DK)
Edmen Shahbazyan vs Dalcha Lungiambula
I’m personally resentful of how bad the UFC handled Shahbazyan’s start to his UFC career. I understand the talent, which is why he got the fights he did, but after the Brunson bout, he should’ve been given a step down in competition, instead, he was given Jack Hermansson, subsequently followed by Nassourdine Imavov. So he’s lost 3 straight now, a 4th doesn’t really bode well for someone’s confidence. He’s still a great prospect to watch out for though. He used to start out the gate guns blazing, but his approach changed a bit after the Brunson bout and he hasn’t been as aggressive. He lands 3.24 SS/m (absorbs 4.1 SS/m), and averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins (2.7). Lungiambula lands 3.1 SS/m (absorbs 3.6 SS/m), he averages 2.5 TDS per 15mins. Dalcha has lost 4 of his last 5, and a loss here likely gives him his walking papers. He seems to have a physical advantage over most of his opponents, but hasn’t been able to capitalize on it just yet. He has a solid base, and wants to utilize wrestling as a means to get things going. He’ll just have a tough time closing distance without taking potential big shots from Shahbazyan. He’ll be given up 6” in height. This is the fight Shahbazyan should’ve been given, a much better chance at a win, and I think he bounces back in a big way. 2nd RD KO/TKO. Not extremely crazy about his price on DK, but he could still be worth it.
PICK: Edmen Shahbazyan $22 FD ($9400 DK)
Dalcha Lungiambula $9 FD ($6800 DK)
Joaquin Buckley vs Chris Curtis
Buckley has had some up and down moments to this point in his career. He’s 5-3 so far in the UFC. While Curtis recently suffered his first loss in the UFC, and sits 3-1. Jack Hermansson’s range kickboxing was too much for him to overcome. But the talent is there. I feel like Buckley has plateaued from a talent perspective, but he can still play spoiler for other upcoming prospects. Buckley is a solid all around fighter, he has great power, and can end fights on moments notice. And he has shown in recent fights, he can wrestle if need be. Buckley isn’t very accurate on the feet, as he tends to swing widely, as evidenced by his 32% land rate. That’ll open the door for Curtis to counter effectively as he pleases. And he’s landing at nearly 60% (58%). Curtis prefers a stand up, and that’s likely what he’ll get. His TDEF is excellent, so I don’t think Buckley has much success there. Buckley is overall durable, but he’s been cracked in most of his bouts, and eventually someone will put him out like Holland was able to. Curtis mixes his shots up well, and loves to target the body which will pay dividends here again. I understand Buckley being the fav, but personally this gm fight favors Curtis everywhere. I think there’s a chance for a late finish for Curtis, but I’ll say decision as most likely outcome. Love the value he provides.
PICK: Chris Curtis $14 FD ($7700 DK)
Joaquin Buckley $17 FD ($8500 DK)
Billy Quarantillo vs Alex Hernandez
What an absolute banger this could be. All Billy Q knows is violence. Hernandez will have the power advantage in this one, but that’ll be about it. He’s not very technical, and looks to get the KO. Hernandez lands nearly 4 SS/m (3.97), (absorbs 3.94 SS/m). Billy Q is far more active & accurate. He land nearly EIGHT SS/m (7.74)(absorbs 5.8 SS/m), which isn’t particularly good, but he’s durable. He also lands at a near 60% rate (59%), compared to Hernandez’s 37%. He’s also active in pursuing TDs, he averages 1.37 TDs per 15mins, Hernandez a bit better in that department (1.43). Not sure he’ll want to go to the ground with Quarantillo though, Billy Q is very active off his back and looks for submissions anywhere. This is one of my fav fights to target. A Billy Q win likely means he’s in optimal, and should Hernandez win, it’s likely biggest he got a finish, so the same could be said for him. This should be the feature prelim IMO. Love Billy Q for DFS. He’ll either put up crazy peripheral stats on his way to a decision, or he finds a finish in the 3rd RD. Either way I love him today.
PICK: Billy Quarantillo $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Alex Hernandez $13 FD ($7600 DK)
Erik Silva vs TJ Brown
This should be another banger. Both Brown and Silva know nothing but activity/volume. Brown had questionable fight IQ his last time out vs Nuerdanbieke in key moments. That tends to plague him in most fights he loses. Brown is solid everywhere though, he lands 3.68 SS/m (absorbs 2.88 SS/m), and averages nearly 4 TDs per 15mins (3.86). His TDEF is awful though, and Silva will take advantage. Silva will also be the better striker from a power and technical standpoint. His stats are based on one fight he finished in under 2mins, so it’s skewed, but he’s landing 7.8 SS/m and averages 9 TDs per 15mins. That’ll level out as he begins to have more fights. But he’s extremely active anywhere the fight goes. Brown’s cardio will also be an issue if this fight is prolonged in any way. We saw that badly when he fought Nuerdanbieke. I think this fight finishes though, Silva will be able to pick him apart for the better part of 2 RDs before he finds a finish. I think it comes late 2nd or 3rd RD. Making him a great play for DFS.
PICK: Erik Silva $16 FD ($8300 DK)
TJ Brown $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Cameron Saaiman vs Steven Koslow
This fight is 2 debutants getting their shot. Both guys are 6-0 professionally. Koslow is known for his grappling, all his fights have finished via submission. His entries aren’t the best, and are a bit telegraphed based on what I’ve seen. But once on the mat, he’s extremely comfortable. Saaiman is much more talented from an overall perspective. He’s the much better striker, and will have better chance of winning a prolonged striking bout. I imagine Koslow tries to get this grounded as quickly as he can. Saaiman is also pretty savvy on the ground, so it won’t be easy should Koslow get it there. Both are green, so tough to be confident in either, but I think Saaiman is fit with more tools to take this one.
PICK: Cameron Saaiman $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Steven Koslow $8 FD ($6900 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)