Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski
Here we go. A chance for Volk to really cement himself into UFC glory forever. He’s been dominant enough as is. This is a new ball game this time around though. They are a combined 48-2 professionally. And have each won 22 straight. Makhachev has made easy work seemingly of everyone he’s faced, including when he got the belt from Oliveira. Khabib’s protege has lived up to every bit of the hype. We know what to expect in his grappling, but he’s shown improvements in his kickboxing as well, we saw flashes of that vs Oliveira. So it’s not as if he’s a one trick pony. However, I do think he’ll be wise to get this grounded as quickly as possible, because he will be outmatched in striking in this matchup. Volkanovski is one of the best strikers in the UFC right now. Volk lands 6.79 SS/m (absorbing just 3.5 SS/m). His foot work is excellent in the pocket which makes his counter striking excellent too. Makhachev’s numbers aren’t as prominent of course, but he’s landing 2.3 SS/m (absorbing less than 1 SS (0.95)/m). That speaks volumes to his dominance in grappling. He’s not taking much damage at all in his bouts. Volk has excellent wrestling chops himself, he miraculously escaped being submitted by Ortega before sealing that W. But the fact he’ll be giving up 4” in height, & Islam likely coming in looking double his size, I find it extremely hard to believe he’ll be able to hang with Makhachev once it gets grounded. The strength disadvantage will be too much to overcome. Makhachev averages 3.4 TDs per 15mins @ a 65% success rate. Volk has decent TDEF (73%), but again, just a different ballgame in this one. What I will say from a DFS perspective is this, we’ll never see Volk this cheap again, so for that reason alone he’s worth taking a shot on. But Islam is gonna do what he does, and I think he’ll get another submission win in the 2nd or 3rd RD. At his price, may be able to avoid & pivot to other areas and still be fine. It’s really hard to find $9500 & above in optimal LUs. AND STILLLLLLLLLLL
PICK: Islam Makhachev $23 FD ($9500 DK)
Alexander Volkanovski $13 FD ($6700 DK)
Co Main Event
Yair Rodriguez vs Josh Emmett
Interim Featherweight Title
While Volk fights for double champ. These two determine who his next opponent will be at Featherweight. Emmett has been on a solid run, he’s won 5 straight. His last loss came back in 2018 when he got KO’ed by Jeremy Stephens. He had 2 fights in 2019, and one fight each yr afterwards. This is Emmett’s only real shot at gold. He’ll be 38 next month. So not sure how much longer he sees himself competing at a high level. Nonetheless he’s skilled. I personally thought Kattar beat him in his last outing 48-47, but my vote doesn’t matter. He of course had his moments, but I thought Kattar controlled pace well for the bulk of it, and he got ahead in the striking. Judges have shown they value damage much more these days so I guess that’s what mattered. Emmett’s best weapon his the overhand right which he tries to setup to knock his opponents out. Not sure he’ll have much luck in this one with that. Rodriguez hasn’t been KD’ed to this point in his UFC career. But he’ll be mindful of the power. Rodriguez vs Holloway was one of my fav fights in 2021, and although Rodriguez lost, he once again displayed his ability to have a unique approach in his striking at times. He’ll be much more creative on the feet in this one. And for what I assume will be a kickboxing match for almost the entirety of the bout. That’ll help separate him on the cards. He’s got great movement on his feet as well. He’ll mix targets with his kicks to all parts of the body too if Emmett decides to give him space. There’s not a ton of dogs on this card I like outright, so this is another spot to take a chance on one. But I think Rodriguez takes this UD either 49-46 or 48-47. He’ll be just a step ahead in the striking & Emmett won’t cover enough ground. Volume could see Rodriguez north of 150 SS landed. So his score could still be really solid in this one.
PICK: Yair Rodriguez $20 FD ($8500 DK)
Josh Emmett $17 FD ($7700 DK)
Jack Della Maddalena vs Randy Brown
JDM has 3 fights in the UFC to this point, and has 3 first RD KO’s. The kid is talented, and this’ll be his toughest test to date by far, so we’ll know more once it finishes. Nonetheless he’s got solid tools everywhere and if he can put his hands together successfully his opposition is in trouble. He’ll be aggressive in pressing forward in this one, much more than Kalinn Williams was vs Brown. Williams is known for his power, but he was far too willing to be patient trying to sit behind his jab that Brown was able to get ahead using his length to his advantage. Brown would be wise to utilize a similar approach here. He’ll have a 4” edge in height and 5” edge in reach. He had similar advantages over Vicente Luque, but Luque was still able to successfully get inside his distance and from there went to work. JDM has more power IMO than Luque, so Brown won’t wanna see that happen. Neither man will actively approach wrestling/grappling, but if I had to choose one over the other, I’d think Brown would be wise to try and do so to slow the pace, he’s got solid grappling and can lock up submissions. On the feet, they’re both solid technical strikers, but JDM’s volume is nearly double in terms of his output. JDM lands 8.4 SS/m (absorbs 4.2 SS/m), while Brown lands 4.3 SS/m (absorbs 3.25 SS/m). Both have solid footwork in the pocket, and understand distance well, but as I mentioned earlier. JDM is going to be far more aggressive here, and that’s going to pay dividends. With the home crowd behind him, I think JDM can find another finish on the feet. I won’t say it’ll be 1st RD again, because there’ll be a feeling out process, but late 2nd feels about right.
PICK: JDM $21 FD ($9200 DK)
Randy Brown $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Justin Tafa vs Parker Porter
This is going to be a banger. Two heavyweights who like to throw leather going at it. Tafa is in need of a win. He’s 2-3 in his last 5. Coming off of a win vs Harry Hunsucker, probably the worst heavyweight in the division. Prior to that, he took back to back losses to Vanderaa & Carlos Felipe. Both guys I believe have slower hand speed than Porter. Tafa will have more power here, but he’ll get behind in numbers again if he doesn’t find a finish. Tafa lands 5 SS/m (absorbing 5.9 SS/m). While Porter lands 6.4 SS/m (absorbing 6.3 SS/m). Both guys have defensive striking flaws, so a matter of who does the most damage will be what this boils down to. Porter won’t have the power he needs to finish Tafa, but volume will be his friend. At some point he could try to shoot for a TD or two. But Tafa’s clinch work is solid, and he has a 100% TDEF to this point. Porter’s team has to know that. So a 15min kickboxing match is what I think we could be in for. Tafa needs a finish to win this IMO, and he probably knows it. If you give Porter the better part of 15mins, he’ll likely out strike you. I think given the home crowd and energy that’ll be surrounding him, I think he does find a way to put Porter out, within the 1st 8mins, if it gets beyond that, it’ll be dicey.
PICK: Justin Tafa $16 FD ($8400 DK)
Parker Porter $15 FD ($7800 DK)
Jimmy Crute vs Alonzo Menifield
This is the fight I’m most intrigued to see. Both these guys have had lapse in judgement while inside the octagon, and both have shown high IQ moments. Tough to know which of both of them will show up. Crute was last inside the octagon vs now champion, Jamahal Hill at the end of 2021. It didn’t take long for Hill to find the chin and put him out. Prior to that, and injury to his leg after Anthony Smith blasted it for most of the 1st RD, saw that fight end at the start of the 2nd when he couldn’t walk normally on it. So the hype around Crute has faded, while the other has made some noise as of recent. That’s usually the time to jump on the guy people have lost faith in. Menifield has won 4 of his last 5, but if you look at the wins. You could say his best win was his most recent in Cirkunov, & that isn’t saying much IMO. Menifield has power in his hands, and doesn’t mind being patient waiting on his opportunity to throw big punches. And when he does throw, he leaves himself open for counters. Crute won’t get a lot of love here, but he’s actually better in terms of volume on the feet, and he has power hisself. He lands 4.3 SS/m (while absorbing 2.7 SS/m), while Menifield lands 3.9 SS/m (absorbing 3.2 SS/m). The big what-if in this matchup is if Menfield’s 85% TDEF holds up. Crute’s best attribute is his wrestling/grappling. He averages nearly 5 TDs per 15mins (4.87), and from there, looks to lock up a submission, he averages 2 sub attempts per 15mins. He’s also landing TDs at a 75% success rate. I imagine both come out patient in the beginning, which’ll help Crute more so than Menifield. And from that point, think Crute will test the TDEF of Menifield early. Menifield gasses as fights go deep, so should this see late 2nd/3rd RD, Crute will have the opportunity to melt Menifield away, which I think is what happens, and I see a 3rd RD TKO/submission happening. It’s a gamble, but I definitely think this fight will be needed in terms of optimal at these price tags.
PICK: Jimmy Crute $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Alonzo Menifield $13 FD ($7600 DK)
Tyson Pedro vs Modestas Bukauskas
This is an interesting fight. The UFC seemingly gave Pedro two layup opponents upon his return to the UFC after being away nearly 4yrs. He fought Ike Villanueva & Harry Hunsucker. Two of the worst the division had to offer. And he did what you should do in those situations and that’s get finishes. So the public eye or people not really paying attention will have a lot of faith in Pedro being able to do the same here. Bukauskas is a UFC returnee, in the last fight of his first UFC contract, he suffered a bad knee injury that had him sidelined for about a year. He returned to Cage Warriors, where he became LHW champ. Now he takes this fight on short notice to make his 2nd run. Prior to Pedro’s drought, he was finished in back to back bouts, so there were concerns on his ability to have sustained success at this level. He’s got solid tools, fast hands with some knockout power. And he’s pretty savvy on the mat. But it was clear that most fights that got outside of the first RD for him didn’t go his way. His cardio would start to fail him as fights go long. He now gets matched with someone he won’t have a physical edge against, and for the most part, has shown to be durable. Bukauskas’ best attribute was his size advantages as well. He won’t have that luxury in this one. But his kickboxing is solid, and he has decent power also. Pedro lands 2.9 SS/m (absorbs 2.3 SS/m), while Bukauskas lands 3.5 SS/m (absorbs 4.5 SS/m). Bukauskas has solid TDEF, 100% so far in the UFC, so will be interesting to see if Pedro implements later on if his hands don’t do the trick. I can see the first RD playing out as a bit of a stale mate, with each feeling the other out. Which’ll open the door for Bukauskas to spring the upset. Again, there’s not a ton of dogs to like on this card, so this feels like a prime spot to take advantage of someone I feel hasn’t proven themselves just yet. Bukauskas has enough that I think he can steal a decision. Pedro’s best chance is in the 1st.
PICK: Modestas Bukauskas $12 FD ($7300 DK)
Tyson Pedro $18 FD ($8900 DK)
Melsik Baghdasaryan vs Josh Culibao
Not sure everyone saw the face off between these two, but it made me that much more excited for this fight. Baghdasaryan came in to the UFC with a lot of hype, and deservedly so. He’s got heavy hands and can work at a high pace, as evidenced by landing 6 SS/m (absorbing just 3.4 SS/m). He’s extremely technical as well, landing at a 62% clip so far. His last bout vs Souza was frustrating as he wasn’t able to effectively deal with the karate style approach Souza had. Culibao fights orthodox, so he won’t have that same approach, but he does fight at a slower pace. He lands 3 SS/m (absorbing 3 SS/m). He’d rather try to fight smart as opposed to brawls. He’s won 2 straight, and has a draw with Charles Jourdain. He’ll largely be a counter striker in this one, so he’ll need to be smart about when he decides to. His kickboxing would be wise early to attack Baghdasaryan’s lead leg. Baghdasaryan is going to pressure forward consistently, and he’s shown pretty durable to this point. It’s a matter of volume should this go to a decision, or if he can actually find the KO, which is possible. Culibao will slow the pace for sure though, but I think Baghdasaryan will manage better SS numbers than he did against Souza should this go the full 15. I like Baghdasaryan either way, and at his price with his upside, almost have to take a chance he finds the chin.
PICK: Melsik Baghdasaryan $15 FD ($8000 DK)
Josh Culibao $15 FD ($8200 DK)
Kleydson Rodrigues vs Shannon Ross
Rodrigues is in for another scrap. His debut didn’t go as planned. Taking a decision loss to CJ Vergara. I could imagine it being frustrating, because Vergara is clearly one of those guys that has a ceiling, and he won’t budge past that much at all, he’s a grind it out type of fighter that doesn’t give in. And that through him off a bit. But Rodrigues does have solid overall skills, and has nice power for the division. He lands 5.7 SS/m (absorbs just 3 SS/m). While Ross, given just the 1 sample size, lands 7 SS/m (absorbs 8.4 SS/m). Ross’ aggression will be his downfall here. He’ll come out early swinging, which’ll cause Rodrigues to retreat early until he can find his range. Once he does, he’ll start to pick Ross off. Ross will also not have the same cardio advantages Vergara had. He’ll start to slow should this extend any period of time. Rodrigues has advantages most everywhere in this one, and if he can get a TD, could possibly find a submission as well. Solid bounce back spot for him. Think a 2nd RD KO/TKO is in order. Just a matter of scoring and if he’ll payoff his price tag.
PICK: Kleysdon Rodrigues $20 FD ($8800 DK)
Shannon Ross $9 FD ($7400 DK)
Jamie Mullarkey vs Francisco Prado
This is setup to be another banger. Mullarkey has won 3 of his last 4 overall and gets undefeated debutant Prado. Prado is 11-0 professionally, with 100% finish rate. So the likelihood someone goes to sleep in this one would seem high. Mullarkey’s level of competition is of course much higher. And outside of him being completely mismatched vs Jalin Turner, his returns are generally good. His bout with Michael Johnson was a lot closer than I expected going into that one, but he weathered some early storms in that one and maintained his approach. Hard to say who’ll pressure more in this one, but Mullarkey counter striking has found him success at times. No official stats for Prado in terms of numbers yet, but Mullarkey lands 4.1 SS/m (absorbs 4.8 SS/m). And is actually pretty active in terms of his wrestling as well. He averages 2.5 TDs per 15mins, and has decent TDEF (66%). He’ll need to be careful on the mat though, because Prado has slick submission skills. This feels like a fight Mullarkey should be in control of from start to finish. And I think he finds a finish at some point. Likely 2nd or 3rd RD via KO/TKO. Prado is another solid dog to take a chance on though with the upside being that he likely finds a finish himself if he wins.
PICK: Jamie Mullarkey $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Francisco Prado $11 FD ($7500 DK)
Jack Jenkins vs Don Shainis
Jenkins is making his UFC debut in this one after having an appearance on DWCS. Shainis is making his sophomore appearance, after a quick loss in his UFC debut vs Sodiq Yusuff found himself getting submitted in short order. Jenkins isn’t really a high paced fighter. He seemingly does enough well that he could stay ahead of his opponents. He’s got a smothering wrestling game that he tries to implement to wear down his opponents. He averages basically 4 TDs per 15mins (4.1), at a near 70% success (66%). On the feet, he doesn’t throw a ton of volume, and won’t have threatening KO power, he lands 3.5 SS/m (absorbs 1.1 SS/m). His wrestling will give him the upper hand in this one, as Shainis struggles when he’s off his back. Shainis actually has the quicker hands of the two, I just don’t know that he’ll have much of a chance to display it. A finish here is possible for Jenkins, but if he gets it, it’s likely later in the fight, 3rd RD and would likely be a submission again. It’s hard to predict submissions, but Shainis seems inept enough on the mat that he’ll probably succumb to that outcome again. Don’t really like Jenkins all that much because should this go to a decision, his upside is extremely compromised. This’ll largely be a stay away spot from a DFS perspective.
PICK: Jack Jenkins $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Don Shainis $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Loma Lookboonmee vs Elise Reed
The lone women’s fight on the card today comes early. Reed has seen a mixed bag of results to this point in her UFC career, and has alternated wins/losses. She sits 2-2 so far. Her last outing being a win over Melissa Martinez. She was able to find success in her striking that translated to having successful moments wrestling surprisingly. She’s a technical striker, and likes to work behind her jab, although she’s landing just 2.7 SS/m (absorbs 3.5 SS/m). And although she had success offensively wrestling her last outing, that typically isn’t part of her game. She averages less than 1 TD per 15mins (0.94). The 3 in her last bout helped that number. On the other side, Loma has won 3 of her last 4, and is seemingly much more active everywhere the fight goes in this one. She lands 4.2 SS/m (absorbs just 2.5 SS/m), while averaging nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.83). Reed’s TDEF is awful (50%), so if Loma is smart, she’ll lean on her wrestling early and often. If she does, we’ve seen Reed basically give up, especially when she’s gassed. Loma is durable enough to take Reed’s best shots too. Loma isn’t known for being much of finisher. She grinds it out, but given the opponent, she has a real chance. I’m not confident she does, but from a DK scoring perspective. She’ll hopefully be smart enough to rack up control time at the least on her way to a unanimous decision. Which could still yield solid results. She’s an underrated play today that could pay off, and not a lot of people will be on her.
PICK: Loma Lookboonmee $19 FD ($9000 DK)
Elise Reed $10 FD ($7200 DK)
Shane Young vs Blake Bilder
Young could very well be fighting for his job Saturday. He’s just 2-3 so far in the UFC. And has lost back to back fights. Young tries to put together his kickboxing on the feet, and lands 5.2 SS/m (absorbs 5 SS/m), and hopes to find a finish there. Bilder is making his debut here and comes in undefeated at 7-0–1. He’s got solid all around tools, but is most successful when he can establish his grappling. If he gets it grounded, he’s always working towards locking up submissions. On the feet, doesn’t have a ton of power, and looks to be more technical than anything. He’ll need to be weary of the high kick that’ll surely come from Young if given the chance. But I think he finds a way to get inside, where he’ll shoot for TDs and find success. From there, should able to at the least grind Young out for the better part of 3 RDs. I like him to get the job done, and obviously love the price tag.
PICK: Blake Bilder $14 FD ($7900 DK)
Shane Young $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Zubaira Tukhugov vs Elves Brenner
Tukhugov missed weight AGAIN, it’s time he moves up to Welterweight after this. Doesn’t make sense to have such inconsistencies. And for a guy who’s gone to decision 12 times, with over half of those being split, I don’t understand how WIDE this fight is. Probably has more so to do with the late notice and level of comp, but still. Near 7 to 1 to win this fight is insane. Tukhugov does have a solid skill set though, he’s got a solid wrestling/grappling base. And his kickboxing is decent enough to keep him respected enough in that area. He’s not an accurate striker per say, landing at just a 39% clip, and won’t have a ton of volume, lands just 2.9 SS/m (absorbs 2.8 SS/m). He makes up for it with his grappling, he averages 2.4 TDs per 15mins, and his TDEF is 100% to this point. Brenner has 11 submission wins of his 13 victories. And working out of the same camp as Charles Oliveira will certainly help hone those skills. On the feet, Brenner will have more volume and he’ll be able to be the aggressor if he chooses because of it. It’ll be tough to find entries though to have successful TDs against Tukhugov, his best chance might come in scrambles where he’s able to reverse position. If doing ME, I would definitely take a chance with Brenner, he could be a slate breaker on DK more so than FD if he can grind out a decision. The upside is just too low for Tukhugov. I think he’ll squeak out another decision here, but won’t come close to paying off his insane price tag. I’m staying away from him completely.
PICK: Zubaira Tukhugov $23 FD ($9600 DK)
Elves Brenner $8 FD ($6600 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)