UFC San Diego
Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera vs Dom Cruz
One of the best MMA fighters of all time, Cruz, gets back after it Saturday night. He’s won 2 straight, and his previous L was to Cejudo in 2020. He’s 24-3 professionally and his losses are title shots. Vera is the younger fighter here, and he’s trying to make his mark. He put on an absolute clinic a few months ago vs Rob Font, in a fight that seemed like he could’ve/should’ve finished on multiple occasions, but it felt like he was just stalking Font the entire time. Both men are gifted well rounded fighters, but Cruz will have the better wrestling chops. Vera has a slick submission gm too though, so it won’t come easy for neither of them in this fight. Given 5 RDs, we see what Vera is able to do, he’s got good power, and though his output will be less, the damage he causes typically piles up on his opponents, and that’s one of the most important criteria when judging a fight. By the numbers though, Vera lands more SS per min, but absorbs almost twice as much per min than Cruz. Vera lands 4.33 SS/m (absorbs 4.99 SS in return), while Cruz lands 3.82 SS/m (absorbs just 2.56 SS/m). One thing Cruz has always done well is move well in and out the pocket to avoid taking big shots. Vera has a tendency to start slow, so I could see him definitely dropping RD 1 of this one. After which he tries to adjust to get his offense going. Where Cruz likely finds most success will be through TDs, he averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins (2.88), and Vera’s TDEF is decent at best (68%). But it’s tough to keep him grounded, and he’ll also look for submissions off his back. Simply put, this is probably Vera’s toughest test to date, even with Cruz being 37yrs old. This has split decision written all over it. And I’m slightly siding with Vera just due to him probably being able to do more damage over the course of 5 RDs. Both men incredibly durable and tough to finish. There’s an avenue where stacking this fight could make sense. Vera’s last fight vs Font was most optimal if you used them both.
PICK: Marlon Vera $22 FD ($8500 DK)
Dom Cruz $16 FD ($7700 DK)
Co Main Event
David Onama vs Nate Landwehr
What an opportunity for Onama here. He’s getting his first Co Main slot pretty early in his career. He’s only 2-1 in the UFC. Landwehr is 2-2 so far in the UFC. Onama has 2 nice finishes so far, he got a submission his last time out vs Armfield, and his striking got the best of Gabriel Benitez prior to that. He has size & speed that will give most fits in this division, but so far one of the biggest things I’ve seen that he needs to improve on is his striking defense. He keeps his chin high in the pocket and doesn’t move his head well when he’s engaging. Eventually that’ll cash up with him if he’s not careful. Landwehr has been caught on the feet and KO’ed, but it seems to depend on which version of Landwehr shows up. In his last bout vs Ludovit Klein, it all but seemed like another KO L was on the way, but he showed patience in the 1st RD and didn’t overextend himself. He pressured at the right moments, and at the end of the 1st RD that fight took a change. And it was the 2nd RD where he basically broke Klein. This contest should largely be a kickboxing match on the feet. Onama will likely set the pace early, and if Landwehr weathers that storm, it could get interesting. Onama doesn’t like pressure, and that’s Landwehr’s best path to victory. I see this one of two ways, Onama landing something early that Landwehr can’t bounce back from and he gets the finish, or Landwehr finds himself being patient, waiting for his moments in the 1st and surviving. Then implementing the same game plan he had with Klein, and that was to outwork him and try and find the finish. I think this fight ends up in optimal one way or the other, and I’ll have shares of both. But my gut says Nate The Train finds a way to get it done. RD 3 KO/TKO.
PICK: Nate Landwehr $9 FD ($7600 DK)
David Onama $21 FD ($8600 DK)
Yazmin Jauregui vs Iasmin Lucinda
These are two young prospects making their debuts. Jauregui is only 23yrs old, while Lucindo is even younger at 20, she made her professional debut when she was only 15. Jauregui is undefeated to this point, 8-0, while Lucindo has a little more experience and sits at 13-4 overall. Neither woman has really faced tough competition on their rise, but Lucindo’s best attribute is through her wrestling and gaining top control. She has minimal striking, and won’t put together a ton of volume, but will throw power shots. She’s looking to clinch her opponents and get them grounded. Jauregui will be the much better striker, she definitely has room to work on her technical approach to her striking, but the power and volume is there. She’s also solid in the clinch, and if things do get grounded, she’s shown solid enough skill to make it interesting. This is obviously one where we just don’t know enough to make a confident guess as to who’ll win. But from what I’ve seen, as long as Jauregui is able to keep this standing for the bulk of the fight, there’s no reason she shouldn’t get the win. I think she grinds out a decision. This fight seems better suited on DK if somehow the wrestling becomes a big part of it, and hard to be confident in either women getting another KO win.
PICK: Yazmin Jauregui $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Iasmin Lucindo $12 FD ($7500 DK)
Azamat Murzakanov vs Devin Clark
Murzakanov’s outloook in the LHW division doesn’t seem sustainable at his size, but he’s been given 2 comparable opponents in his first 2 outings that it won’t be too bad a matchup. His first bout vs Tafon Nchukwi ended with him getting a RD 3 KO due to a well timed knee. Prior to that though, he was likely on his way to a 30-27 or 29-28 unanimous L. He seemed too patient, and was really loading up on power shots. He only landed 28 total strikes in the fight after 10+ mins. That won’t cut it against the tougher competition in the division. He does like to mix in his wrestling, but couldn’t find success with Nchukwi enough to make it matter. Now he gets matched with someone who has an even higher motor than his last opponent in Clark. Clark features a heavy wrestling approach, he averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins (2.48). And from there, he wants to grind and wear his opponents down. On the feet, Clark will have the edge in pressure and volume for once. He only lands 3.08 SS/m (absorbs 2.54 SS/m). And Azamat lands 2.43 SS/m (while absorbing 3.42 SS/m). Clark has had some chin issues in the past, but toughness was never the issue. That seems like it’ll be the case here, the only way Clark loses this is if he gets caught on the feet. Other than that, I think he’ll have more overall activity/pressure that will do enough to win him RDs. With the possibility to break Murzakanov late in the fight. Murzakanov looked exhausted heading into RD 3 vs Nchukwi. It was Nchukwi’s corner who doomed him by telling him to be more aggressive and go for the finish. I love this play for Clark on DK more than FD, but at his price, he’s a solid play in general. Think he gets a decision win here.
PICK: Devin Clark $14 FD ($7800 DK)
Azamat Murzakanov $17 FD ($8400 DK)
Ariane Lipski vs Priscila Cachoeira
This fight was scheduled for last weekend, but cancelled on account of Lipski’s camp. Cachoeira knows one way and that’s violence. She has powerful striking, and lands 4.46 SS/m (but absorbs an astonishing 7.91 SS/m in return). That latter number is going to catch up to her eventually. Even in her last bout vs Kim, she was hit more than 150+ times, it was just her damage in return that won her that fight. Lipski will be the much more technical striker in this one, and she even has nice power of her own, but her jab will win her points as this fight goes. Neither woman will actively shoot for TDs unless one is hurt, but if either of them do, they’ll likely have success, as their TDEF is average at best on both sides. Lipski has shown she can be hurt on the feet, so she’ll definitely have to be careful. But she seems to move well enough in the pocket that I think she’ll know to avoid staying in the pocket too long. Cachoeira wants a brawl. Lipski only lands 3.33 SS/m (absorbs 3.9 SS/m), but can find success. I’ll play both sides of this one for sure, but will probably be overweight to Lipski. Cachoeira just gets hit too much for me, and she’s going against someone with more power in her strikes that can take her out. I like for Lipski to put up good overall SS numbers on her way to likely a split decision victory.
PICK: Ariane Lipski $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Priscila Cachoeira $13 FD ($7500 DK)
Bruno Silva vs Gerald Meerschaert
A clash of styles in this one. Grappler vs striker. Silva is 3-1 to start his UFC career, and his loan loss was recently at the hands of Alex Pereira who’s now challenging for the belt later this year. Not a bad look. Silva has absolute power in his hands, and if this turns into a kickboxing match, Meerschaert is all but doomed. Meerschaert’s grappling is much better than his wrestling, so getting this to the mat is no easy task, and even if he does, Silva is better defensively now on his back, and if he’s able to get top control, he has vicious ground and pound. This one is pretty straightforward for me. At some point Silva is going to put Meerschaert’s lights out. Meerschaert’s striking is decent, but it isn’t enough to win him a fight. He’ll try to shoot for TDs early, and Silva likely stuffs them and turns them around to his favor. I think we get a late RD 1 KO/TKO win for Silva, making him one of my favorite DFS plays on the slate.
PICK: Bruno Silva $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Gerald Meerschaert $10 FD ($7200 DK)
Lupita Godinez vs Angela Hill
I’ve got to think Hill is fighting for her job Saturday night. She’s lost 4 of her last 5, and while a couple of those losses could easily be considered in her favor, that doesn’t matter. She draws another tough test against the talented Godinez. Hill prefers kickboxing matchups, she lands 5.34 SS/m (absorbs 4.92 SS/m), while Godinez lands just 2.23 SS/m (absorbing 1.73 SS/m). Loopy’s approach lies in her wrestling/grappling. She averages nearly 6 TDs per 15mins (5.37). Hill has always had good TDEF (76%), but she’ll be at a nice strength disadvantage here, and Loopy will find success over the course of 15mins. Loopy will pressure well and keep Hill primarily as a counter striker, and if that’s case, she’ll need big moments to win RDs. I like Hill personally, I really do, but I think she gets rag dolled in this one. I’m not confident she finds a finish, but from a DK perspective, her TDs and ground control time will rack up points. Not willing to pay for her on FD. Give me Loopy via decision.
PICK: Loopy Godinez $23 FD ($9200 DK)
Angela Hill $8 FD ($7000 DK)
Martin Buday vs Lukasz Brzeski
Buday made his UFC debut vs Chris Barnett this past April picking up a decision win. He’s a solid fighter, and doesn’t do anything particularly great. He maintains distance well, and has solid striking output. He also does well in the clinch with controlling his opponents and striking in the clinch. Brzeski is another product of DWCS. He moves well on his feet, and has solid output and power in his striking. He’s at his best for the first 5mins of a fight, then his cardio starts to fade a bit. He’ll be much lighter than Buday in this one, as he weighed in at 236.5lbs, Buday at 266. So if this does somehow turn into a wrestling affair late, it could cause troubles. But on the feet, he’ll have the speed/output advantage. I’m not over the top excited about Buday’s future, and it was sort of troubling that he couldn’t get a much shorter, less skilled opponent like Chris Barnett out of there in their matchup. Shows his power isn’t really a concern for really anyone in the division. It’s more a build up of his performance. This fight will be closer than odds suggest, and I’ll take chances with Brzeski in some LUs. I do think Buday can do enough to win a decision down the stretch however, especially if this gets out of RD 1. So I’ll take him outright. Think he’ll score better on DK as opposed to FD.
PICK: Martin Buday $20 FD ($8900 DK)
Lukasz Brzeski $10 FD ($7300 DK)
Cynthia Calvillo vs Nina Nunes
Calvillo could be fighting for her job Saturday night. She’s lost 3 straight, and a 4th doesn’t bode well. Nunes has lost 2 in a row, and is 3-2 in her last 5. Calvillo’s best path will be through wrestling/grappling, as she averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.75). Her striking is decent, but she gets hit more in return nowadays. She lands 4.27 SS/m (absorbs 4.1 SS in return). Nunes will be the better technical striker on the feet, and will have more volume and better movement. She lands 4.64 SS/m (absorbing just 3.5 SS/m). She has solid enough TDEF (76%), that she should be able to keep this standing for the bulk of the bout. On paper this is ugly, and at near 2 to 1 odds in favor of Calvillo. This is a dog or pass spot. I think Nunes can do enough in 2 RDs to get the job done, likely ending Calvillo’s UFC stint.
PICK: Nina Nunes $13 FD ($7900 DK)
Cynthia Calvillo $17 FD ($8300 DK)
Gabriel Benitez vs Charlie Ontiveros
If Ontiveros’ fight IQ could match his physical gifts as a fighter in this division. He’d be much better off. His size/length would give most fits. He’s 0-2 to start his UFC tenure, and a loss here may see him get one more crack at it, but he needs a win. When he puts his striking together, he’s serviceable, and he has stopping power. If he were smart, he’d keep distance as best he can in this one, and with Benitez coming off of a brutal KO less than 6 months ago, it could be a sign of things to come for Benitez against great strikers. Benitez is in trouble of getting cut himself, he’s lost 4 of the last 5. But when he puts his striking together on the feet, it’s a beautiful thing to see. He moves well in the pocket, he lands 4.6 SS/m (absorbs 3.98 SS/m 65% defense). This should primarily be a kickboxing matchup, as neither one tends to actively shoot for TDs. This is another fight where I see winner being in most optimal, because I don’t think this sees the final horn. Ontiveros is a dog to take a few shots on, but Benitez’s fight IQ is much better, and he should be patient and find his shots to get inside. Think he gets a RD 2 KO/TKO.
PICK: Gabriel Benitez $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Charlie Ontiveros $8 FD ($6900 DK)
Ode Osbourne vs Tyson Nam
Osbourne has won 3 of his last 4, and may be finding his footing. He had an impressive KO win his last time out with a beautiful counter shot followed up with a couple ground shots that sealed it. He bounces in and out of range looking to mix up his striking combinations. He lands 4.82 SS/m (absorbs 4.99 SS/m). Nam is durable, but he’ll be 39yrs old in a few months, and time only gets away. Hard to see many more fights coming his way. He’s got power in his hands and can turn the lights out if he can catch you clean. He also has solid volume, and lands 3.64 SS/m (but absorbs 5.69 SS/m). Osbourne also looks to wrestle at times, and at some point will look to go there. Nam has excellent TDEF, so he’ll have to work for it, but at the least should be able to find success in the clinch. There’s an outside shot Osbourne finds another finish here, but tough to make that call against a guy like Nam. I think Osbourne gets a decision win. The only other unknown will be how much volume can he actually get over the course of 3 RDs for DFS purposes. I like others around his price point just a tad bit better, so will be on him lesser as a result.
PICK: Ode Osbourne $19 FD ($8800 DK)
Tyson Nam $11 FD ($7400 DK)
Josh Quinlan vs Jason Witt
Another contrast of styles here. Witt is only 2-3 in the UFC, but has much more professional experience than Quinlan, who’s just 6 bouts into his professional career (5-0, 1NC). But what we do know, is that he’s a finishing machine, and has the power to end it quickly. However, if that’s unsuccessful, Witt is going to wrestle until someone breaks. Witt averages nearly 7 TDs per 15mins (6.89). And while Quinlan has shown good TDEF so far, it’s hard to keep someone with that much of a wrestling background off of you for 15mins if he’s still standing. Witt has alternated wins & losses in the UFC to this point, his last being a KO loss to Phil Rowe in RD 2 of their bout. The game plan was there, he was successful in RD 1, getting 4/7 TDs, but when Rowe was able to finally stuff a couple and get his shots off, he was able to put him away. I think we’ll see a similar outcome in this one too, Quinlan will give up some early TDs, should find his way back to his feet, and from there he’ll do damage. Once he lands a nice combination clean, he’ll wobble Witt on his way to a finish. I think it’ll come RD 2. Quinlan one of my fav plays on the slate. I’ll have shares of Witt, but will be minimal. He’s better suited for DK.
PICK: Josh Quinlan $19 FD ($9100 DK)
Jason Witt $12 FD ($7100 DK)
Youssef Zalal vs Da’Mon Blackshear
Zalal needs this win badly, he’s on a 3 fight skid, and a 4th could give him his walking papers. He’s dropping down a weight class, so that should definitely help in terms of his size in the division. Gets a late replacement opponent with Blackshear here. Blackshear is a solid prospect, he has decent striking with nice power, but doesn’t put combinations together. He loads up at times. He’s a solid wrestler, and looks to get into the clinch to try and control his opponents. Zalal is a very good wrestler both offensively and defensively. Zalal will also be the better kickboxer on the feet, and should maintain his distance well. He’ll actually actively look for TDs of his own, and the later this fight goes, the more success I think he has. If this fight finishes it’s likely due to a submission from one of them, and I’d favor Zalal. But wouldn’t count on that. I think Zalal grinds out a decision here, mixing in TDs with his striking, as well as meaningful control time. He never puts up gaudy striking numbers due to his mixed bag of tricks, so he’s a better play on DK.
PICK: Youssef Zalal $16 FD ($8200 DK)
Da’Mon Blackshear $15 FD ($8000 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)