UFC Vegas 63
Arnold Allen vs Calvin Kattar
Kattar has long been a contender in the Featherweight division, and has been on the cusp of title contention for the last several years. Primarily regarded for his chin, he hasn’t been KD’ed yet in his UFC tenure, which is impressive for the total amount of SS he’s absorbed. He’s north of 1200+. He showed absolute resilience in his bout with Max Holloway to start 2021 in an absolute clinical performance from Holloway. And turned right around and shocked many when he beat kickboxer heavy Giga Chikadze. Chikadze couldn’t keep pace with the pressure Kattar was able to gain and he coasted. Kattar prefers to push pace and engage in a striking match with his opponents. He lands 5.19 SS/m (but absorbs 7.15 SS/m, that’s pretty bad). Not very active in any type of wrestling approach generally, but has really solid TDEF (91%), which could be of use in this matchup. And in terms of striking accuracy, he’s just a shade under 40% (39%). So he relies on volume & getting ahead early so he can find his rhythm. He now gets surging Allen here, who’s greatest demise to this point has been inactivity, as he mainly fights just once per year. But he’s 9-0 in the UFC, coming off an impressive KO win over Dan Hooker in the 1st RD earlier this yr in March. Prior to that, picked up a solid win over Sodiq Yusuff. Arnold has a full bag of tricks. He’s a great technical striker, that generally won’t throw a ton of volume, lands just 3.3 SS/m (absorbs 2.22 SS/m), but showed a sudden change of pace in that Hooker fight, which ultimately led to the stoppage. He landed nearly 50 SS in less than a RD, that would’ve averaged to over 5 SS/m. If he has that same aggression here, it’ll spell trouble for Kattar in terms of keeping a good pace consistently. Allen is much better in terms of his defensive striking, and won’t take as much damage as Kattar will in this bout. He moves well on his feet, and will likely opt to wrestle at times to change pace. He averages 1.4 TDs per 15mins (w/50% accuracy). So I have to imagine over the course of 25mins, he’ll change pace. This’ll be as close as the odds suggest, but I favor Allen just about everywhere. He’ll land more impactful strikes, take less damage, & ultimately have more paths to win. I like him via decision, & will be a key fighter to have in DFS LUs Saturday afternoon. If doing ME, definitely have some Kattar LUs simply because he’s Kattar.
PICK: Arnold Allen $18 FD ($8200 DK)
Calvin Kattar $17 FD ($8000 DK)
Co Main Event
Max Griffin vs Tim Means
Feels like Hawes/Dolidze or even Rountree/Jacoby should’ve been in this spot. But nonetheless, we get vet vs vet. Means has had 45 professional MMA bouts to this point (24 with UFC), while Griffin has had 27 professional MMA bouts (13 with UFC). So they’ve been around. They’re both coming off of losses, & prior to that, both had reeled off 3 straight wins. So each looking to get back on track. I’d consider both these guys as good well rounded fighters. They each have a good kickboxing base, while also having solid wrestling to fall back on. Means lands 5.01 SS/m (absorbs 3.6 SS/m), while Griffin lands 4.36 SS/m (absorbs 3.94 SS/m). What will matter most there will be who can get out in front in terms of pressure, and I think Griffin will edge that out. I also believe Griffin holds slightly more power in his striking than Means. Neither fighter is afraid to try and change levels to mix it up, each averaging over 1 TD per 15mins; Means (1.02), Griffin (1.48). And again, I believe Griffin will have more success there, both have average TDEF, but Griffin holds up a tad bit better (75% vs 66%). Griffin also lands TDs at a higher rate (50% vs 39% for Means). This all leads me to believe that Griffin should do enough to sway the judges scorecards and come away with the decision. As far as scoring goes, I think this fight offers a pretty nice floor, as it should keep a pretty solid pace, & if either can effectively wrestle, they’ll rack up control time for more points on DK. Give me Griffin via decision.
PICK: Max Griffin $18 FD ($8800 DK)
Tim Means $14 FD ($7400 DK)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs Jared Vanderaa
Vanderaa hasn’t had the start to his UFC career that one would hope for to this point. He’s lost 4 straight bouts, most recently getting KO’ed in a back and forth affair against Chase Sherman in the 3rd RD in what would’ve otherwise likely been another controversial scorecard. Prior to that, got submitted by Oleinik, & before that lost a tough decision to Arlovski. A loss here likely sends him packing, so he needs to cash in. He gets DWCS alum Cortes-Acosta. Cortes-Acosta is currently undefeated as a professional (7-0), and is making his debut. He’s had success with basically brute force and being able to basically overwhelm his opponents on the feet with wild heavy shots. His striking isn’t very technical, and he almost just plods forward in his attack. That’s not a recipe for sustained success in the UFC. I’m not quite sure why the odds were so wide here, mainly due to lack of success for Vanderaa in terms of wins I’d assume. But as far as his overall approach/tools are concerned, he has more than a good enough shot to win this. His pace/striking will be much better, and if he avoids the early trouble and doesn’t take anything flush to the chin, that should lead to good things. As I’m not sure I trust Acosta’s cardio down the stretch, and we know Vanderaa can keep a good pace for 15mins. The odds suggest Acosta goes in and handles Vanderaa in short order, and I just don’t see that as the case here. All 4 of his recent losses were to better opponents than Acosta. And 2 were extremely competitive. I love this spot for Vanderaa. Think his pace does it for him. He’ll score decently too if he lands north of 100+ SS, which he should be able to do given 15mins.
PICK: Jared Vanderaa $12 FD ($7200 DK)
Waldo Cortes-Acosta $19 FD ($9000 DK)
Josh Fremd vs Tresean Gore
Fremd made his UFC debut on short notice this past April vs Anthony Hernandez in a bout that was more so about him surviving the onslaught more than anything else. Hernandez’s wrestling was too much to overcome. Fremd showed flashes on the feet though of having solid striking techniques & power that could serve him well against the bottom tier fighters in the division. His long frame will go a long ways as well. His best advantage in this fight would be to get it to the ground as quickly as possible, his grappling is much better than Gore’s. And I could see a submission being in play if he gets it there for a prolonged period. He had pretty slick jiu jitsu at times with Hernandez. Gore made a camp switch to Fortis MMA, that alone should serve him well moving forward. He has the physical attributes to be a force in the division. Just needs to put it all together. He has solid striking, with decent power as well. His chin was tested last time out, and got caught with a check hook that surprisingly put him down, and the fight was over pretty soon afterwards. Fremd likely tries to expose that early utilizing his range, but one thing Fremd does is keep his chin high with not much head movement in the pocket. Gore also recently shared personal struggles he’s had leading up to this fight with his mother that I think motivates him even more heading into this one. I’m willing to take a chance on him in this matchup, both are green, and neither deserves a reason to be favored over the other at this point in their career. Gore via 2nd RD finish to shake things up.
PICK: Tresean Gore $14 FD ($7500 DK)
Josh Fremd $16 FD ($8700 DK)
Dustin Jacoby vs Khalil Rountree
This is a bout I’m really looking forward to, and as mentioned earlier. Would’ve voted this as a much better candidate for co-main. Opening up the main card is fine too I suppose. Jacoby is quietly on a tear, with some solid wins recently. He’s won 4 straight, and is 4-0-1 in his last 5. Rountree has reeled off 2 straight KO wins. But against opponents he was supposed to do that to, a washed Karl Roberson & underwhelming Modestas Bukauskas. But what we did see in those 2 bouts was a much more focused and hungry Rountree. How far can that aggression carry him? He has considerable power, and can bully his opponents. This go round, he’ll be the smaller man in the cage, giving up 2” in height. When he’s at his best, he’s pressuring forward stalking his opponents, looking to land KO ending combinations. We haven’t really seen what a full performance looks like from him. So not sure what to make of his wrestling, but we’ll definitely find out in this matchup, as Jacoby is a solid wrestler. But he won’t shoot for TDs often himself. This’ll largely play out as a kickboxing match. Jacoby will utilize his kickboxing to help keep distance while he puts his combinations together. Rountree likes to throw big leg kicks as well, but will likely be on the back foot in this one. I think Jacoby will have success with pressure early that’ll dictate the pace. I’m which case, we could see the Rountree of old, which is a much more timid fighter that’s too patient to put his offense together, which’ll put him behind on the score cards. I actually think there’s a good chance this fight finishes either way, so a great bout to target. I like what Jacoby has to offer just a tad more than Rountree in this matchup. Think we see a 3rd RD finish after both have slowed down a bit.
PICK: Dustin Jacoby $17 FD ($8300 DK)
Khalil Rountree $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Phil Hawes vs Roman Dolidze
Both men come in having won 4 of their last 5 bouts. And it’s a great test for both to see where they’re really at. Hawes has had some up and down moments in fights where he’s shown his chin is a liability if he gets caught. Early last year in his bout vs Imavov, he got caught a couple times late in that one that had him hurt bad, Imavov just didn’t have enough time to capitalize & Hawes’ wrestling did just enough to save him. Later in his bout with Chris Curtis. Curtis’ pressure was enough, and he landed a shot that stunned him, then followed up with a gut shot that spelled the beginning of the end there. His last outing was his best to date vs Deron Winn over the summer. But let’s face it, Winn was outmatched from the jump. Such a size/reach discrepancy, and his chances were never going to work without his wrestling. Now he’s faced with someone bigger than he is, and whom has a much better skill set. Hawes is extremely well rounded, has solid power, & good wrestling. Averages over 2 TDs per 15mins (2.27) & has 100% TDEF to this point in his UFC career. Dolidze has similar tools, utilizes kickboxing early to control distance to set everything else up. He’s not shy about mixing levels with his kicks as well, and with his height advantage, I’m certain flying knees/kicks to the head will come. He’s very patient on his feet, and prefers a more technical approach than volume. Dolidze also thrives in wrestling/grappling though. He averages close to 3 TDs per 15mins (2.68) and close to 2 submission attempts (1.5). The biggest question is being able to crack Hawes’ stout TDEF. If he’s unable to do so, it’ll make his path much more difficult because I imagine it’ll be Hawes having success with TDs. Dolidze’s TDEF is average and it won’t take much for Hawes to get it grounded if in the clinch. I ultimately decided to side with Hawes by a hair. I’m trusting that he’ll not engage in a brawl early and will try to close distance to look for TDs etc. This fight has potential to score well even if it sees the cards due to ground control/TDs etc. Play both sides here if doing ME.
PICK: Phil Hawes $17 FD ($8400 DK)
Roman Dolidze $15 FD ($7800 DK)
Marcos Rogerio De Lima vs A. Arlovski
The 1st heavyweight fight of the evening and it involves Mr. Decision himself, Arlovski. He always finds a way to win a decision if it gets to the cards, because I’m not sure what the judges watched his last fight, but he didn’t beat Jake Collier, & I’d argue he could’ve taken an L to Vanderaa as well. Arlovski is 43yrs old now, and at this point in his career, he’s even more of a straight forward fighter. He’s a point fighter, and has a way of slowing fights down with his pace. He has solid tools everywhere, but mainly likes to use his striking. He’s surprisingly won 4 straight fights to this point, and that’s impressive at the stage in his career. De Lima is coming off of a loss to Blagoy Ivanov in a close contested bout that could’ve gone either way. De Lima loves pressure, and he’ll definitely set the pace in this one. He throws big shots, and mixes in his wrestling well. He averages a little over 1 TD per 15mins (1.11). Arlovski has solid TDEF (76%), but De Lima’s strength will eventually become overwhelming to stuff most of the shots. I favor De Lima everywhere in this one, pressure, power, wrestling. And he should dictate how this plays out. He has an opportunity to get a KO or even a submission when it hits the mat. The question comes in his DFS value, because it very well could go to a decision, and if so, will his output be enough overall. It could be, with control, TDs, total strikes and SS, he’s very active in terms of activity on the mat and won’t just lay and pray. Solid play today IMO with great upside.
PICK: Rogerio De Lima $20 FD ($8900 DK)
Andrei Arlovski $10 FD ($7300 DK)
Jun-yong Park vs Joseph Holmes
I agree Park should be favorite, just based on experience, but as big of a favorite that he is? You’d think Holmes was an absolute bum, and he’s not, just young in his UFC career. He picked up an impressive 1st RD finish over Alen Amedovski via submission back in May and wants to show his improvements. He’s got solid technical striking, lands 3.3 SS/m with 51% land rate (absorbs 2.9 SS/m). Can mix it up well with his wrestling and averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.89). Park has won 4 of his last 5, coming off a win over Anders, which I feel like he lost, but that doesn’t matter. He spent most of the fight defending being in the clinch or trying to stuff TDs, he was successful in defending 21/24 total attempts, and even with that, his overall TDEF is only 70%, so his TDEF isn’t great, and due to Holmes’ size, I think he’ll find success there eventually. Holmes will a 4” advantage in height, and 7” in reach, that should be a huge help to him. He’ll be able to utilize his kickboxing to keep distance, which’ll allow his hands to flow better. Park will need to be the more aggressive one so he can get inside Holmes’ range if he’s going to find success, I’m not sure he can without paying for it. In terms of DFS output, this fight has low floor, but upside is good. Because should it see a decision, Park won’t touch his price tag in regards to value, but should Holmes win, it’s probably fine either way, but a finish would be an absolute smash. I like Holmes for the upset, this line is disrespectful.
PICK: Joseph Holmes $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Jun-yong Park $21 FD ($9300 DK)
Chase Hooper vs Steve Garcia
Interesting matchup here. Both fighters have alternated wins/losses over their last 4. Hoper coming off of a mauling win over Felipe Colares & Garcia off of a 1st RD KO loss to Maheshate. So either the trend continues or someone breaks it. Garcia is primarily a striker, he plods into the pocket throwing big looping shots looking for the KO. That’s what got him caught vs Maheshate. Hooper has shown to have a pretty solid chin though, so I doubt Garcia lands anything that just stuns Hooper. Hooper doesn’t have much power at all in his strikes, anything he throws is basically fillers to close distance, shoot for TDs, and go to work on the mat. As much ground time as he spends, he doesn’t get a ton of TDs from match to match, he averages a shade over 1.5 per 15mins (1.59). He gets taken down and reverses position in some of his exchanges. I’m not sure Garcia will invite that in this matchup even though he’s a good wrestler himself. He averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.84). His TDEF is 100%, so Hooper will need to show improvements in his entries if in fact Garcia keeps it standing. On the mat though, Hooper is suffocating, and he’s always reversing/sweeping/hunting for submissions. He averages over 2 submission attempts per 15mins (2.4). His cardio hasn’t failed him yet, as his opponents will generally just be more tired if fights go late. I again love this matchup for Hooper. Garcia will doom himself as he plods forward, it’ll allow Hooper to find trips, and even chances to get TDs. He’s not physically strong enough yet where he can get them at will, just extremely crafty. Due to his control/activity, he’s got a chance to smash here again regardless of outcome. Put Hooper in your LUs.
PICK: Chase Hooper $22 FD ($9200 DK)
Steve Garcia $8 FD ($7000 DK)
Cody Durden vs Carlos Mota
Durden gets a late replacement in Mota after Kleysdon Rodrigues fell through. Mota was ready for this moment, dude flew from Brazil on short notice, came in and made weight and looks ready to go. He’s solid everywhere and carry’s power in his hand, especially his left. He moves well in the pocket and likes to pressure. Durden is high energy, and he likes to mix it up at insane pace. He averages 3.98 SS/m (absorbs 4.12 SS/m), and in wrestling, averages an insane 4.24 TDs per 15mins. I just don’t think Durden is that good, he’s gotten the benefit of the doubt with opponents for the most part. But we saw how quickly his bout with Mokaev ended. Fighters with better tools find success against him in some way. Kind of a mystery he was able to beat Aorileng in hindsight. But Aorileng admitted that the weight cuts for Flyweight were a bit much, he’s performed better since moving up. Durden has a clear ceiling, and I think he’s about there right now. He doesn’t do anything better than Mota based on what I’ve seen. This has the potential to be a smash spot for him. I think he can find a finish on the feet or in his submission gm. I personally think he sparks him on the feet though and gets the finish that way, I’ll say it comes in RD 2. His ownership shouldn’t be too high either because of the unknown and late debut, so a nice contrarian play to plug in.
PICK: Carlos Mota $16 FD ($8500 DK)
Cody Durden $13 FD ($7700 DK)
Christian Rodriguez vs Joseph Weems
Weems will forfeit 30% of his purse to Rodriguez for missing weight by 3.5lbs. Weems steps in on short notice, so the miss is somewhat excusable, but still not a good look. Rodriguez debuted against Jonathan Pearce earlier this year in February and had an extremely good showing. His grappling/wrestling is really good, and he had moments in that bout where he almost locked up a submission. He ultimately spent too much time in bottom position that he took the L. But the kid is talented and this is a perfect spot to get his first win. Weems does his best work on the feet in striking exchanges, so a prolonged wrestling bout doesn’t bode well IMO. Rodriguez took some decent shots vs Pearce, so I don’t think Weems surprises him with anything there. Rodriguez likely pushes pace early and closes distance where he should have success getting TDs. I think he’ll do enough work on the mat to where he’ll find a submission at some point. I’ll say it comes in 2nd RD. Finding a KO on the feet isn’t out of the realm of possibility either. Another solid play today, but probably a stay away on DK depending on how many dogs you take a chance on. There’s a good chance a few dogs win, so could easily get him in because of that.
PICK: Christian Rodriguez $18 FD ($9400 DK)
Joseph Weems $12 FD ($6800 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)