Connect with us



UFC Columbus

Main Event

Curtis Blaydes vs Chris Daukaus


Love this matchup because we’ll really get to see if Daukaus can make a run at heavyweight. He got his chin tested for the first real time in December vs Derrick Lewis and that was over in short order. Both of these men were another notch in the Derrick Lewis KO tree in 2021. Blaydes was potentially setting himself up for a rematch vs Ngannou had he not dropped that one. But now he’s looking to go on another run to make his case, especially with elite prospects like Gane, and Tom Aspinall on the rise. The former just recently had his shot at the title and lost. I’ve got to figure the UFC will match Gane vs Aspinall within the next year for that title shot again. But looking at this matchup, it’s oddly going to be wrestler vs striker anytime Blaydes is involved. His knack for it in this weight class is truly amazing, and his cardio is never really a question, he wants to close distance with strikes and low leg kicks so he can shoot for the TDs. He averages an insane 6.27 TDs per 15mins. The advantage on the other side for Daukaus is in the SSLpM department, he leads that category in this one 7.71 vs only 3.44 LpM for Blaydes, but we know why. It appears Daukaus bulked up a bit on the scale for this one, likely to help counteract the wrestling, but idk if it’ll be enough. Daukaus has a strikers chance, and he’s got power to shock Blaydes, but it’s not on Derrick Lewis’ level, and Blaydes knows what to expect. I also can’t get past the pure athletic gap in this one; Blaydes will be the much stronger one here, and that’ll serve him well. Blaydes is equipped to go 5 RDs, that’s yet to be seen from Daukaus. Daukaus is a live dog to consider, but chances seem slim. I like for Blaydes to basically maul him until he gets a ground and pound stoppage, or potentially surprising him on the feet at the start of the later rounds after Daukaus potentially gasses. The pick is 3rd RD KO/TKO for Blaydes.

PICK: Curtis Blaydes $23 FD ($9200 DK)

Chris Daukaus $12 FD ($7000 DK)

Co Main Event

Alexa Grasso vs Joanne Wood

Women’s Flyweight

These two women are at different points currently as far as recent fights have gone. Grasso, is on a 2 fight win streak, looking to extend to 3 with a win here. She’s won 3 of her last 4 overall. While Wood, is on a 2 fight losing streak, and has lost 3 of her last 4, so a win here is crucial for Wood. As far as the matchup os concerned this should mostly play out on the feet; Wood lands 6.71 SS/m, while Grasso lands just under 5 at 4.96 SS/m ( Those numbers while true, can be a bit misleading though in terms of impactful strikes and accuracy. A lot of what Wood can throw at times is wild, and therefore her defense is lacking as a result. She absorbs 4.55 SS/m, while Grasso is at 3.61 SS/m. Wood generally is the one pressing forward forcing the action, and in this particular matchup, that’s fine for Grasso because she’s a much more technical striker, and doesn’t mind countering, she’ll also be the one dishing out more damage, which will do favors on the judges score cards. Wood is another fighter I consider to be a live dog because you just never know, but I favor Grasso here again, especially if she starts to dictate more in the 2nd/3rd RD. Wood will need to rely on her wrestling a bit more than normal here to stand a real chance. If this plays out primarily on the feet like I expect, the numbers for both in the striking department will be nice. Could see north of 100 for both, but I especially think so for Grasso, Wood is going to invite it. The pick is for Grasso to win a clear decision.

PICK: Alexa Grasso $20 FD ($9000 DK)

Joanne Wood $10 FD ($7200 DK)

Bryan Barbarena vs Matt Brown


Interesting matchup for Brown here, he’s obviously on the back half of his career, and wins are becoming more difficult at 41yrs old, but he’s tough, and he only knows one way and that’s to grind it out and make fights dirty. Both guys are 2-2 over their last 4. And Matt Brown gets to go home for this one, so should be added fuel in the fire for him to perform well. As far as the numbers are concerned, both these guys can dish out volume. Brown lands at a clip of 3.68 SSLpM and Barberena lands at a higher clip of 5.44 SSLpM. Browns striking defense is just a tad better though, which could serve him well in this matchup. Barbarena likes to pressure forward putting together combinations, and doesn’t shoot for TDs much at all, so this should play out mostly on the feet. Brown mixes up his wrestling at times, and shoots for TDs at a clip of 1.52 per 15mins. The one thing to look for in this as the fight goes long is Brown’s cardio, he starts to fade a bit, and if he does, that won’t serve him well because Barbarena should be the fresher fighter late. Brown still carries power in his striking, but I figure his best chance is early if he’s looking to score a KO. This fight is extremely close, and I think the winner earns themselves a TKO/KO victory. I know Brown is in his home town, but I think the later this fight plays out, it means he’s likely behind on the score cards. Give me Barbarena via 3rd RD KO/TKO. I’ll definitely be on both sides of this matchup though.

PICK: Bryan Barbarena $16 FD ($8000 DK)

Matt Brown $15 FD ($8200 DK)

Askar Askarov vs Kai Kara France


This is probably the fight that should’ve been co main in all honesty. If the UFC didn’t just book Moreno/Fig for the 4th time, Askarov is probably the next in line for a shot. So this fight figures to be huge in terms of who gets the winner of that title fight. Askarov is undefeated, and has 1 draw vs former champ Moreno. While KKF has won 3 of his last 4, the 2 most recent being via 1st RD KO. Both these guys have high motors, and move extremely well on the feet. But I’ve got to figure KKF’s best chance is in the 1st catching Askarov on the chin with something, and that seems very slim. Askarov’s striking defense is really good, he only absorbs 2.65 SS/m. KKF throws at a much higher clip than Askarov though, at a rate of 5.09 SSLpM. We’ve seen KKF’s struggles with elite grapplers/wrestlers though, and that’s what he’s up against here. Askarov lands TDs at a rate of 2.75 per 15mins, and generally has great control time when he gets it there. After this gets out of RD 1, I feel like KKF’s chances of a win plummet greatly, and it gives Askarov more time to hunt for that submission. However, I think KKF can keep himself out of danger as far as being submitted, but won’t do enough to win a decision. I think Askarov continues his undefeated streak with another clear decision. This matchup is much more suited for DK due to control time, unless you believe either of these men gets a finish, i personally don’t think so. The pick is Askarov via decision.

PICK: Askar Askarov $20 FD ($9100 DK)

Kai Kara France $9 FD ($7100 DK)

Ilir Latifi vs Aleksei Oleinik


What an absolute mess of a fight this is, Latifi is almost 40 and Oleinik is 44. The matchmaking here is interesting too. Latifi has power, but he throws at such a low pace that it may not matter. He generally walks his opponents down, and can count on brute physicality to neutralize anything his opponent wants to do if he can get in the clinch. It’s what helped him in his fight vs Derrick Lewis. Lewis counts on landing a 1-2 combo that generally starts the beginning of the end, but he could never get that going. Oleinik’s bread and butter is in the grappling exchanges, hunting for a submission, so it’ll be interesting to see what the latter rounds look like in this one. I give the edge to Oleinik on the feet, he throws more volume and will sport a near 7 inch reach advantage. And as far as pure grappling is concerned, if this was 5yrs ago, I’d say Oleinik as well, but he’ll be at a strength disadvantage here so it’s hard for me to say. This fight comes down to if Oleinik can stuff any of the TDs Latifi will shoot for, because if he can’t, I find it hard to believe he can get up with any regularity to use his striking to get ahead. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, and will 100% stay away from this DFS wise on FD because it’s hard to see a finish. It’s much better suited on DK. I think Latifi’s strength once again sees him through, and he’ll win an ugly decision with really low output on the feet.

PICK: Ilir Latifi $19 FD ($8600 DK)

Aleksei Oleinik $13 FD ($7600 DK)

Viacheslav Borshchev vs Marc Diakiese


This is a really nice matchup. Diakiese is coming off of a submission loss to Rafael Alves this past November. He’s extremely athletic, and a good all around fighter, but is at his best as a striker on the feet. He counters really well, which will be needed in this matchup at some point due to Borshchev’s pressure. One thing I’ll say about Slava is that he is still pretty green, and this is probably his toughest test to date, but I still give him the nod in almost every aspect. His striking is more technical, and he mixes his target really well. If Diakiese does opt to wrestle, i don’t think he’ll get any type of meaningful control time. So that’ll start to wear down Diakiese’s gas tank down the stretch. Both have a tendency to leave their chin up in striking exchanges, but Slava seems more durable, and he’ll have more power IMO too. This should be a striking match, and if it is, it favors Slava. He’ll mix in his kickboxing as well. I think he’ll have another opportunity to show he’s got finishing ability. Think he gets a late KO/TKO in the 3rd.

PICK: Viacheslav Borshchev $18 FD ($8700 DK)

Marc Diakiese $12 FD ($7500 DK)

Neil Magny vs Max Griffin


I absolutely love this matchup. Two guys who probably have already plateaued, but both still willing to trade with anyone. Griffin is quietly on a 3 fight win streak looking to make it 4. Griffin has great footwork, and he looks to pressure forward throwing out combinations. Has good power, and an underrated wrestling game. Magny has won 4 of his last 5. He’ll sport a 4” reach and height advantage in this one, which generally serves him well in matchups. Both these guys have really similar numbers in terms of output. On the feet, Magny throws at a clip of 3.67 SSLpM, while Griffin sits at 4.35 SSLpM. The biggest thing for Magny is his striking defense, only absorbs 2.06 SS/m, but that’s generally a result of his wrestling exchanges. Where this fight will be won for Magny is in those grappling exchanges, and Griffin has really good TDEF, it’s better than Magny’s. Magny has defended TDs at a 57% clip, while Griffin is at 70%. Griffin’s fight is against Carlos Condit was very encouraging because he stuffed all 4 of Condit’s attempts to get the fight grounded, and we all know Condit is a tireless wrestler, and I have a hard time believing Magny is stronger than Condit, so that leads me to believe this should play out on the feet for the better part of this matchup , and if it does, I think it favors Griffin. I absolutely love this spot to actually pick a capable underdog. I think Griffin steals it via decision. Has split decision written all over it at that. Should be a really close fight.

PICK: Max Griffin $10 FD ($7400 DK)

Neil Magny $20 FD ($8800 DK)

Karol Rosa vs Sara McMann

Women’s Bantamweight

In my opinion this fight is much closer than the odds on it. It reminds me of Elise Reed vs Cory McKenna last week. I’m fine if Rosa is the favorite, but shouldn’t be near -180/-200 range. Rosa is 4-0 to start her UFC career, all coming via decision. She’s extremely well rounded, and doesn’t mind having a striking match, or if things hit the mat. She’d probably prefer a striking match though if we’re being honest. Both women are extremely strong for the division, which is an advantage Rosa mostly had in all her bouts, but not today. McMann will match her in that department. For those particular matchup though, I see it playing out largely on the mat, McMann doesn’t exchange with many on the feet for any long amount of time, instead she’ll throw combinations so she can close the distance and look to get into the clinch and look for trip TDs. Rosa has been submitted before, so there’s some cause for concern if she can’t find her way back to her feet. McMann’s matchup vs Lina Lansberg showed how dominant she can be with control time if her opponent can’t stuff the TDs.  McMann got herself in trouble vs Julianna Peña on the mat and she was submitted as a result in RD 3. I’m not so sure Rosa has that level of skill to turn the tide against McMann if it plays out like that. If Rosa keeps this standing, she honestly has a chance at a TKO, because the later this fight goes, that means McMann is probably gassing. But I think McMann can get at least 1 TD per rd and get good control time to steal at least 2. For FD, this is another stay away spot for me, but it’s great for DK. I like McMann for the upset via ugly decision.

PICK: Sara McMann $11 FD ($7300 DK)

Karol Rosa $19 FD ($8900 DK)

Danaa Batgerel vs Chris Gutierrez


This should be a strikers delight.  Batgerel is 3-1 to start his UFC career, and Gutierrez sits at 5-1-1. Batgerel is coming off back to back RD 1 KO’s over Brandon Davis & Kevin Natividad. It’s safe to say Gutierrez is a step up from those 2. Both guys have great output on the feet, Batgerel lands at a clip of 6.28 SSLpM, while Gutierrez is at 4.63 SSLpM, but Gutierrez is a lot more accurate (59%), while Batgerel is just under 40%. That’s largely due to the heavy leg kicks Gutierrez throws. Batgerel’ a striking is powerful, and as a result he has a chance to finish anybody he’s up against, but this fight figures to provide some resistance. Gutierrez generally is able to stifle his opponents forward movement landing the big leg kicks. It’s hard to know how that’ll affect what he wants to do on the feet. Neither guy will shoot for a TD, at least not on purpose. The activity from Gutierrez could play key here, because I think he’ll have more output in the end because the leg kicks will allow him to move forward in the later rounds. Another KO is not out of the question for Batgerel here, it’s just too hard to gauge in this style matchup. I favor Gutierrez slightly and think he gets it done via decision.

PICK: Chris Gutierrez $14 FD ($7700 DK)

Danaa Batgerel $18 FD ($8500 DK)

Aliaskhab Khizriev vs Denis Tiuliulin


The much anticipated debut for Khizriev, he’s a DWCS alum, and was apart of the 2020 season. He’s got everything, he’s extremely credentialed on the mat, and has well enough striking that he can pretty much get the type of fight he wants. He gets matched with the short notice replacement Tiuliulin here, who literally got the contract basically so Khizriev could fight. Khizriev has ballooned to about a -900 favorite in this matchup when he opened the week around -300, so if you got him then consider yourself lucky. This feels like it’s really a matter of how the fight will end more than anything. Khizriev is just too skilled. Tiuliulin struggles mightily when things hit the mat, so I think the plan will be to get it there. Tiuliulin does have some KO power, but it won’t make a difference too much here. I think Khizriev gets it done via ground and pound or by submission at some point in RD 1. He’s had a finish via submission before inside 60 seconds, so the inside 60 second bonus could be in play on DK.

PICK: Aliaskhab Khizriev $22 FD ($9300 DK)

Denis Tiuliulin $8 FD ($6900 DK)

Manon Fiorot vs Jennifer Maia

Women’s Flyweight

Fiorot is one of my fav fighters to watch at the moment, and I’m excited to see if she can keep it going. This’ll be her biggest test to date here vs Maia. Fiorot is an aggressive striker, she marches forward throwing combinations in bulk, ultimately looking to get her opponent out of there. The biggest question mark in this matchup will be how well she does in the wrestling exchanges, because at some point Maia will change levels because she’ll be outmatched on the feet. To date though, Fiorot’s TDEF is 100%, she keeps her hips really well and makes it tough to get her down. Maia has good striking too, but not good enough to take over at any point in this fight. The biggest question in this matchup to me is if Fiorot can get another finish, and I’m not so sure she can. Maia has faced the likes of Shevchenko and survived, although that particular matchup was more of a grappling affair. Fiorot won’t opt for that route too much. Ultimately I think Fiorot wins a clear decision, and am hoping she can get north of 100 SS landed to help her score. She definitely won’t be worth her price tag on DK if you ask me though.

PICK: Manon Fiorot $21 FD ($9400 DK)

Jennifer Maia $9 FD ($6800 DK)

David Dvorak vs Matheus Nicolau


This should be a fun scrap, both these guys are really good technical strikers that move well on their feet. Nicolau is more of a counter striker though, so at times finds himself on the back foot picking his shots. They each have similar numbers on the feet, Dvorak lands at a clip of 4.46 SSLpM, while Nicolau is at 3.88 SSLpM. Nicolau is more inclined to shoot for TDs though, but averages just 1.75 attempts per 15mins. Dvorak’s TDEF is 78% though, so that could be a wash. This fight will come down to output on the feet, and I think Dvorak will lead the charge there, he’ll also be the one hitting with more impact, and that’s always a plus on the judges score cards. This should be a close fight, and I wouldn’t mind taking the dog here, but i side with Dvorak via decision.

PICK: David Dvorak $17 FD ($8400 DK)

Matheus Nicolau $14 FD ($7800 DK)

Luis Saldana vs Bruno Souza


Souza made his debut back in November vs Baghdasaryan in what I thought was a layup matchup for Melsik, that was not the case, instead was an extremely frustrating matchup to watch. Souza spent most of his time moving backwards trying to throw counters. He has a heavy karate style approach, and doesn’t deviate to much from that. Saldana is the better we’ll rounded fighter in this matchup, and will mix things up on the feet and on the mat, and I figure if things are stale on the feet, Saldana will try to close distance and shoot for TDs, there he can hunt for submissions. I’ve been seeing people confident that Saldana can finish this fight, and I’m not sure why. This screams boring decision to me. But I think Saldana is the more active fighter, and his activity gets him a close decision to open the card.

PICK: Luis Saldana $15 FD (8300 DK)

Bruno Souza $17 FD ($7900 DK)

by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)

More in MMA