Tom Aspinall vs Curtis Blaydes
I couldn’t be happier for a matchup. And if I had to guess, winner gets an interim title fight vs Gane assuming Ngannou isn’t yet ready for a matchup. This may be the first time Blaydes closes as an UD in the UFC, but it may be warranted here. At just 29yrs old, Aspinall has blitzed the UFC HW division by storm, he’s 5-0 to start his UFC tenure, all by way of a finish. He blends an elite skill set of striking on the feet, with great BJJ to fall on when things hit the mat, so he’s a tough out for most in this division right now. Blaydes is known for his elite wrestling abilities, he averages just over 6 TDs per 15mins (6.06). But when he gets it there, he’s more position over submission, and that won’t work here. Aspinall’s grappling will be well ahead of Blaydes on the mat, and even if he does get TDs, Aspinall probably finds his way back to his feet. Both men feature solid, powerful striking, but in terms of technique/speed, I give the edge to Aspinall. Not to mention how well he moves on his feet, his striking defense is 64%. He lands 7.33 SS/m (only absorbs 2.65 SS/m in return), that’s elite. On the flip, Blaydes lands just 3.52 SS/m (absorbs even less at 1.68 SS/m, 60% striking defense), but that’s more so to do with his heavy wrestling approach. The interesting component of this fight, is if Aspinall isn’t able to dispatch him quickly, how will he hold up in the latter RDs (3rd and beyond), because if he somehow has cardio issues, the lay and pray approach could be beneficial for Blaydes, however, I don’t see that as the result. I think Aspinall is a unicorn, and he’s really going to announce hisself to the division with a big win here. 2nd RD TKO/KO incoming. One of my favorite plays on the slate.
PICK: Tom Aspinall $20 FD ($8300 DK)
Curtis Blaydes $17 FD ($7900 DK)
Co Main Event
Chris Curtis vs Jack Hermansson
Curtis is set to make his 4th UFC appearance Saturday afternoon after accepting a short notice bid with Hermansson here after Till had to back out due to injury. This time, less than a month removed from his win over Rodolfo Vieira. He’s shown a very well rounded gm, and has ceased opportunities to get 2 finishes so far over solid competition. He doesn’t do any one thing particularly great per say, he just has really good fight IQ, and will pressure forward putting strikes together. He mixes his shots up really well, and capitalizes on the body shots, in particular. The worry for him though, is as his competition level rises, his advantages over certain opponents likely diminishes. He had trouble at times it seemed getting ahead of Vieira in the striking exchanges, and that’s not a good thing if in a matchup with a BJJ specialist. His bread and butter in that matchup was his TDEF, he stuffed 20 TD attempts from Vieira, but those shots were poorly timed/set up, so i don’t rate that too much. He’ll have a similar feat to overcome in this matchup with Hermansson however, and I rate Hermansson as a much better wrestler than Vieira, whereas Vieira has the better grappling. Hermansson averages just under 2 TDs per 15mins (1.73), but only 30% accuracy, and to this point, Curtis hasn’t been taken down in the UFC. On the feet, this again should be pretty even, I even give Hermansson the slight edge in terms of effectiveness, and slightly better striking defense (54% vs 48%). Curtis has good enough power though that if he can pile up his numbers, he has a chance. This should be a really good matchup, and I like both sides of it, especially at their price. But I think Hermansson will have enough success in wrestling this time around that it’ll matter, and he has good ground and pound to make it count. I think The Joker gets a decision win here, but if Curtis stuffs the TDs again, it could easily go the other way.
PICK: Jack Hermansson $14 FD ($8000 DK)
Chris Curtis $15 FD ($8200 DK)
Paddy Pimblett vs Jordan Leavitt
I mean I guess you could call this an upgrade in opponent for Pimblett, but it’s certainly Leavitt’s toughest test to date. Paddy The Baddy has just 2 UFC wins under his belt, both by finish (1 KO, 1 submission). While Leavitt is 3-1 so far in the UFC. Leavitt is an odd person to say the least, he’s a wrestler/grappler that looks to lock up submissions. Despite his unorthodox nature, he’s very physically strong, and obviously well suited for a wrestling affair. His biggest concern in terms of moving forward successfully will be in developing his striking. He’s fairly decent there, but won’t ever do enough there to solely win a fight. Pimblett is all action, and he’s exactly the personality the UFC and Dana like that bring in views/$$. On the feet, Paddy will have no issues, in fact, he’ll likely hunt for the finish early, whether he gets it or not is the question. I think Leavitt is savvy enough, that he can avoid eating the big shot early, that he’ll turn RD 1 into a grappling affair where Paddy likely has top position, but won’t be in any real position to get a submission. Once Leavitt starts to slow down a bit though, that’s where he’ll find trouble, and I think Paddy blitzes him in the 2nd and finds the finish. There’s no way the UFC sets him up for failure in front of his own crowd.
PICK: Paddy Pimblett $20 FD ($8900 DK)
Jordan Leavitt $11 FD ($7300 DK)
Nikita Krylov vs Alexander Gustafsson
The return of Gustafsson. He’s been sidelined since 2020 when he was submitted by Fabricio Werdum almost exactly 2 yrs ago. We all remember Gustafsson from when he was on his gm. He’s had bouts against DC & Jon Jones. He’s a very well rounded fighter and at his best can mix it up pretty well. He averages 4 SSL/m, and just under 2 TDs per 15mins. Which the latter could play into effect big time with this matchup. Krylov’s TDEF is just 54%. I know Gustafsson has been training with Khamzat Chimaev, so I’d like to think wrestling will definitely be apart of his primary game plan. Because if this stays on the feet, Krylov will have more volume, and will likely be the more technical striker. He too has wrestling he could fall back on, which could prove to be wise against a fighter who’s essentially a shell of himself nowadays. Krylov will actually look to grapple if things hit the canvas, as he averages over 1 submission attempt per 15mins. The unknown component of knowing exactly what shape Gustafasson is in, coupled with just not being who he was makes me believe Krylov will do more everywhere this fight goes to get a decision win at the least, but i could see a late RD stoppage coming into play here too. I’ll play a handful of Gustaffson just in case, but mainly will have exposure to Krylov.
PICK: Nikita Krylov $17 FD ($8600 DK)
Alexander Gustafsson $13 FD ($7600 DK)
Molly McCann vs Hannah Goldy
Another hometown favorite in action here with Meatball Molly. She’s coming off of an exhilarating 3rd RD KO over Luana Carolina this past March. She was clearly on her way to a decision win in that one regardless. Both women here thrive off of activity. McCann lands 5.83 SS/m (absorbs 4.93 SS/m), while Goldy lands 6.05 SS/m (absorbs 4.85 SS/m). While those numbers are close, McCann is the more technical striker, and I think she has a bit more power too. Goldy is physically stronger, but won’t really have a chance to showcase that effectively in this one. Wrestling exchanges should be about even, but McCann is the more aggressive one in terms of shooting for TDs. She averages nearly 2 TDs landed per 15mins, and with just 50% TDEF for Goldy. That likely won’t be a problem for McCann. Goldy will have her moments on the feet in exchanges, but nothing that’ll clearly separate her from RD to RD. McCann will once again thrive off of the energy from the home crowd, and she very well could find another theatric finish, but I wouldn’t bank on it. I like her via decision. I don’t know if she can pay off her big price tag on either site though, so will be lower than the field on ownership most likely.
PICK: Molly McCann $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Hannah Goldy $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Volkan Oezdemir vs Paul Craig
Paul Craig is on an insane run right now, he’s won 5 straight. 4 via submission, 1 KO. So it’s no secret where he wants this fight. He’s excellent off of his back in terms of throwing up submissions. He’s fairly average on his feet in terms of striking, he only lands 2.51 SS/m (absorbs 2.49 SS/m). He’s pretty accurate in his strikes though, they just don’t offer much power. Oezdemir is in need of a win, he’s on a two fight skid, with losses to Jiri & Ankalaev, not a bad two L’s to hang your hat on. He’s a solid striker with power, he’s much more active on the feet, he lands 4.75 SS/m, and he’ll look to pressure Craig to try and get him out of there. At some point, I think either Oezdemir lands flush and knocks Craig down, and he’ll try to go for the finish, or, Craig will try to proactively get TDs of his own, he averages just over 2 TDs per 15mins. Oezdemir’s TDEF is solid though (80%), so something will give. If Oezdemir can keep this on the feet, I think he can catch Craig with something to get the TKO/KO. But if this goes to the mat and Oezdemir indulges, a submission win seems likely again for Craig. No matter, I think this one ends inside the distance for either man. I’m taking the discount and riding the hot streak with Craig here. He’ll be highly owned as a popular dog, so there’s leverage in having Oezdemir, but there’s other ways to get different on the slate outside of him.
PICK: Paul Craig $13 FD ($7700 DK)
Volkan Oezdemir $16 FD ($8500 DK)
Mason Jones vs L’udovit Klein
Jones was added to the card late, after Ignacio Bahamondes had to back out of his fight with Klein at UFC 277 next week due to injury, so both got bumped to this card and it’s the featured prelim. This seems like a dream matchup for Jones. Jones is incredibly well rounded, and he thrives off of pressure. Klein struggles with being pressured consistently, and even though he’s a good counter striker, he won’t do well with the constant pressure. Klein has the ability to land a big shot to end it, but that doesn’t seem likely in this one. Jones is extremely durable, and even if he should run into trouble on the feet in exchanges, he has solid wrestling to fall back on. Klein will need to do much better than landing 3.58 SS/m to have a chance in this one. Jones is landing at a clip of 6.71 SS/m. His one area of concern is striking defense, because he’s essentially willing to brawl to try and get it done. I ultimately see this as a bad matchup for Klein, and Jones is one of my fav plays on the slate. I think Jones piles up the SS numbers on his way to a 2nd RD KO/TKO stoppage.
PICK: Mason Jones $21 FD ($9200 DK)
L’udovit Klein $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Marc Diakiese vs Damir Hadzovic
This is a striker vs wrestler matchup. Hadzovic is a technical striker that looks to stand and trade on the feet. His Achilles heel is his TDEF (37%). Against solid wrestlers, he has trouble stuffing the TDs. That’ll be a problem in this matchup. Diakiese went back to his wrestling background heavily in his last bout vs Borschchev. He landed 11 TDs in that bout, and his cardio never caused an issue as the fight went on. He won’t try to lock up submissions as much, as he’s more position over submission, but he’ll certainly try to wear on you. He’s athletic as well, so should this turn into a kickboxing match, he can hold his own, but that’s Hadzovic’s best path to victory, so I doubt he stays there. Unless there’s been tremendous strides in Hadzovic’s TDEF, this won’t end well for him. I’m not confident Diakiese finds a finish, but I do think he takes a UD win. He’s such a solid play on DK due to the ground control aspect. On FD he’s a much riskier play, and as a result, I’ll be under the field there most likely. The pick is for Diakiese to get a decision.
PICK: Marc Diakiese $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Damir Hadzovic $9 FD ($7100 DK)
Nathaniel Wood vs Charles Rosa
It’s been close to 2yrs since Wood was last in the octagon. He lost a close decision to Casey Kenney at UFC 254. Wood is an elite kickboxer with great volume and movement on the feet. He looks to pressure forward, putting together constant volume. He throws leg kicks to all parts of the body, but will mainly aim for the mid section, to where he’ll generally find some success. Rosa is basically a shell of what he once was at this point in his career. He’s competitive for the first 5mins before his cardio starts to fail him, and he looks to mainly try and engage in wrestling exchanges to look for submissions, that’s his best path to victory. Wood is a solid wrestler though, and should be savvy enough to avoid being submitted. If Wood wants to, he will probably be successful in getting his own TDs, Rosa’s TDEF is awful (38%). Rosa is a decent striker on the feet, he just won’t be a match for Wood here. Wood is better everywhere this goes, and honestly has a chance to break Rosa and find a finish at some point. I think he can get one in that latter parts of RD 2 or in the 3rd. No matter, Wood usually puts up nice DFS numbers due to his overall volume. He comes at a hefty price on both sites though, and I’m not sure he gets there to pay off his price tag.
PICK: Nathaniel Wood $23 FD ($9400 DK)
Charles Rosa $8 FD ($6800 DK)
Jonathan Pearce vs Makwan Amirkhani
Wrestler vs grappler matchup in this one. Pearce is a relentless wrestler with excellent cardio, while Amirkhani more so thrives on grappling in the wrestling exchanges on the mat, looking for submissions. He’s pretty good at getting the guillotine choke when opponents expose their necks too much. Pearce will need to be careful, because when he shoots for TDs, he often leaves his neck vulnerable to getting caught against elite grapplers like Amirkhani. Pearce will be better on the feet too, and he’ll look to dictate things from the start. Pearce will have a few inches in height advantage, but the reach is about equal. If he’s smart he’ll use his range to help keep distance. He’ll probably look to back Amirkhani up to the cage to look for clinch situations, that’s his safest bet to getting things to the mat without putting himself in much danger of getting caught with a submission. Amirkhani is one of the dogs I’ll be on in a few LUs just due to his finishing upside, but if Pearce survives the early danger, Amirkhani will start to fade as the fight goes long, and that’ll allow for Pearce to constantly wear on him. And if that’s the case, I think Pearce can get a late RD finish in the 3rd via ground and pound. Making for a solid play.
PICK: Jonathan Pearce $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Makwan Amirkhani $12 FD ($7500 DK)
Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson
This one has potential to be a sleeper on the day. On the surface you’d think Mokaev just blows through Johnson like he did in his debut vs Durden, but I don’t think it’ll be THAT easy, although he still shouldn’t have issues. Johnson is a former LFA Champion, he can apply pressure well, and is best if he’s in the pocket trading blows. He’s got solid striking and prefers a standup. I remember seeing that he and Mokaev at one point trained together, so there’s some familiarity between the 2. However, Johnson’s biggest deficiency is his TDEF, which’ll be an issue here. Mokaev is a freak athletically, he moves extremely well, and can put his opponents in compromising positions at the blink of an eye. He’s got good technical boxing, but his bread and butter is through wrestling/grappling. He won’t have any issue getting Johnson to the mat from RD to RD. The UFC has certain prospects they want to tote and have a relative easy transition into the UFC, and Mokaev is one of them. In terms of a DFS score, this fight seems better suited for DK, and even there it’s probably a big fade. As I mentioned, I don’t think this fight looks like the Durden fight where a finish happens in 60 seconds. A 1st RD finish could be in play, but I at least think it gets out of RD 1, and at $22, you need a performance of 110+. I think others around him are much better suited at their price, on both sites.
PICK: Muhammad Mokaev $22 FD ($9500 DK)
Charles Johnson $8 FD ($6700 DK)
Jai Herbert vs Kyle Nelson
This fight is almost guaranteed to finish ITD. Both these guys have chin issues, and each of their most recent fights haven’t seen the score cards. In Herbert’s most recent bout against Ilia Topuria, he showed improvements in his striking, and at one point had Topuria stunned. Topuria’s boxing and pressure is elite though, and he made up for it in the 2nd RD with a beautiful KO/TKO to end it. He’ll have a 4” height advantage, and 6” reach advantage in this one over Nelson. Nelson is making his return after nearly 2yrs, and he’s coming up a weight class to Lightweight. Moving up a class could certainly help in terms of being as chinny as he’s been, but he’ll lack the speed advantage here. He’s got solid power, and if he can touch Herbert clean, there’ll be trouble. He’s also really solid in terms of his wrestling, and can fall back on that if he’s smart and has a game plan. I don’t think either of these men are thinking that way though, and this should be a brawl. I favor Herbert’s boxing/precision to pile it on and get it done though. Nelson is one of my favorite UD’s to pivot to on the slate though, especially at his price. Give me Herbert via 1st RD KO/TKO.
PICK: Jai Herbert $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Kyle Nelson $11 FD ($7200 DK)
Mandy Böhm vs Victoria Leonardo
This is an ugly fight on paper. Böhm made her UFC debut last September vs Ariane Lipski and it was uninspiring. She’s not extremely accurate in her striking output, so will throw a ton a volume but miss a lot, and her wrestling was poor in terms of her shooting for TDs and having success. And it seemed after about the 7min mark, her cardio started to fade on her. Ariane Lipski being able to get 2 KD’s and out-strike an opponent on the feet shouldn’t happen. We’ll see what the work has looked like in camp for her in terms of striking development and cardio. She gets a favorable matchup against another relative newcomer needing a win. She’s 0-2 to start her UFC tenure, but to much tougher competition. Leonardo will be the one to push pace here. Her striking isn’t great by any means either, but I think it’s more technical than Böhm’s, which should give her some success. I could see Leonardo leaning on her wrestling/grappling down the stretch against a tired Böhm. The pricing makes this fight easy to fit in LUs, not crazy about rostering either, as it could result in a low to moderate score for either winner, but the possibility that several fighters below them get blasted and have even worse scores is also possible. I like Leonardo via decision in what should be a close bout.
PICK: Victoria Leonardo $14 FD ($7800 DK)
Mandy Böhm $15 FD ($8400 DK)
Nicolas Dalby vs Claudio Silva
This one won’t turn any heads for FOTN honors, as it should be pretty moderate in terms overall activity. Dalby is a pressure fighter, and he wants to trade in the pocket. He only lands 3.26 SS/m (absorbing 3.54 SS/m in return). Silva is no better, he’s a grappler that looks to initiate wrestling exchanges so he can hunt for a submission. Silva averages just under 3 TDs per 15mins (2.63), and with just a 65% effective rate in terms of TDEF for Dalby, he’ll likely find success early. Silva’s biggest issue becomes his cardio, he normally slows considerably as the 2nd RD goes on and beyond, which’ll give Dalby chances to get ahead in the striking on the feet, and likely helps him stuff the TD attempts at that point. This is an ugly bout to pick, but I think Dalby can win 2 RDs. Silva a much better UD play on DK if you’re going there.
PICK: Nicolas Dalby $19 FD ($8800 DK)
Claudio Silva $16 FD ($7400 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)