UFC Vegas 67
Sean Strickland vs Nassourdine Imavov
Strickland’s relevancy at Middleweight has faded quickly. With back to back losses to now current champ, Alex Pereira, and most recently 4 weeks ago against Cannonier in an extremely close bout. Had that gone the other way, I don’t think many would’ve questioned it. Due to the timing between those bouts & Strickland accepting this bout on short notice, it moves to LHW. This isn’t a permanent move for either fighter. More for convenience in making sure we had a solid ME to start the year. Imavov is starting to come into his own, nicknamed the ‘Sniper’, he has very solid technical striking, backed by a solid wrestling base. He’s won 3 fights in a row and 4 of his last 5. Can mix it up anywhere the fight goes. There was a ton of animosity in his last outing with Buckley, and he put on a solid overall performance. He has decent power as well. He lands 4.08 SS/m (absorbs just 2.4 SS/m) and is over 50% in land accuracy (54%). On the flip, we have Strickland, who wants nothing more than to get back in the win column. Prior to his last two outings, he had won 4 straight, and was a win away from a title shot had he got past Pereira. Hope isn’t lost, but dropping a 3rd in a row wouldn’t do much good. He’s an excellent striker as well, and wants to get in the pocket and bang. He also has solid wrestling, but neither will truly lean on it unless they’re in trouble. Strickland is much more active on the feet, and will likely be the one pressuring more throughout. He lands 5.59 SS/m (absorbs 4.18 SS/m), and is much less accurate in terms of land rate (40%). He has solid movement on his feet though, and will definitely need to be at his best to pull it out. Imavov will be fine relegated to a counter striking role if needed. This has all the makings of a solid ME to start the year, and yet another close call. I do favor Imavov slightly. I think he’ll take ‘less’ damage that matters over the course of 25mins, and he may actually utilize his wrestling in the latter parts of the fight to secure a win, as he did against Buckley. No problem at all taking the discount on Strickland, but the outright pick is Imavov via decision.
PICK: Nassourdine Imavov $19 FD ($8700 DK)
Sean Strickland $19 FD ($7700 DK)
Co Main Event
Dan Ige vs Damon Jackson
What an absolute turn around it’s been for ‘Action’ Jackson. He’s reeled off 4 straight wins heading into this one, and gets a big moment here. Ige is on the opposite end of that spectrum and has loss 4 of his last 5, albeit to MUCH tougher competition. Ige has been fighting the best of the division for the most part. Losses to Evloev, Josh Emmett, Korean Zombie, and Calvin Kattar aren’t anything to be ashamed of, but he needs a win here. Ige’s clear chance to win here is keeping it standing, where he’ll be the much more powerful striker. He lands 3.8 SS/m (absorbs 3.56 SS/m). And I actually think he’ll use his own offensive grappling in this one, he has solid submission defense, and hasn’t been finished to this point in his UFC career. He averages 1.2 TDs per 15mins, and Jackson’s TDEF is awful, 42%. Ige’s isn’t much better either FWIW (51%). So there will be clear opportunities for both. Jackson will have the clear size advantage, and will have 4” in height over Ige. That may not matter a ton in the grand scheme, because both have the same reach, will just be about closing the distance for Ige, which he’ll do. For Jackson, it’s clear what his game plan should be, and that’s through aggressive offensive wrestling. He averages nearly 3 TDs per 15mins (2.62), and nearly as many sub attempts (2.1). He has decent striking on the feet, but no threatening power, and even though Ige absorbs a lot of damage, Jackson won’t throw with enough consistent volume for it to matter. He lands just 2.65 SS/m (absorbs 2.83 SS/m). This could very well play out like the Ilia Topuria bout, where Jackson was clearly outmatched on the feet, and as a result gets KO’ed, or he could surprise like he has his last 4 outings. I have to side with Ige, his level of experience and comp he’s faced will prove to be too much I believe. Jackson will slow him down a bit with his wrestling, but Ige will do enough to win at least 2 RDs. Could possibly see a late finish if Ige can break Jackson a bit.
PICK: Dan Ige $16 FD ($8400 DK)
Damon Jackson $14 FD ($7800 DK)
Punahele Soriano vs Roman Kopylov
This should be a banger. Kopylov picked up his first UFC win his last outing vs Di Chirico with a late finish. But his hands looked good, he stayed composed for the most part and let his hands fly when he needed to. He’ll have to steer clear of danger here though. Soriano will definitely go into this one with more power in his hands, and he’s the most dangerous earlier in fights obviously. One thing that always tends to plague Soriano is his cardio, the later the fight goes, the more he slows, and loses a bit of power too, making it easier for his opponents to stay in it. He lands just 3.95 SS/m (absorbs 3.4 SS/m), while Kopylov lands just 3.44 SS/m (absorbing 3.81 SS/m). While the numbers favor Soriano, I think Kopylov has faster, cleaner hands, and that’ll pay dividends down the stretch. Kopylov will also have a slight size edge in this one, 2” in height and 3” in reach. That’ll help him maintain his kickboxing range. There were moments in the Di Chirico bout where he got wild on the feet and got stuck a couple of times as a result. He has to clean that up in bouts like this, guys with much better power will turn the lights out if he’s not careful. I favor Kopylov to get this done, just think his technical striking is a bit better and that’ll matter down the stretch. Will be a close one, volume doesn’t really favor either, so a decision win will see a relatively minimum ceiling for both (70ish point range). May not be worth rostering.
PICK: Roman Kopylov $13 FD ($7700 DK)
Punahele Soriano $17 FD ($8500 DK)
Ketlen Vieira vs Raquel Pennington
Vieira is coming in off the biggest win of her career over Holly Holm via decision. I personally had that bout going the other way, it was hard to find a 3rd RD that Vieira clearly won IMO, but she still had a solid showing. Vieira features solid kickboxing and is great out countering. In her bout with Meisha Tate, she feasted off of solid counters and never looked back. Pennington will offer a similar approach, so that opportunity will arise again. Pennington has reeled off 4 straight wins, while Vieira has won 3 of 4. This is a big fight in terms of title trajectory for both, that’s just how weak this division is from top to bottom. Pulling off 5 straight possibly seals the deal for Pennington to be next up. Vieira would be wise to implement her wrestling in this one. On the feet, both are similar in terms of numbers. Pennington lands 3.93 SS/m (absorbing 3.2 SS/m), while Vieira lands 3.1 SS/m (absorbing 4 SS/m). Whereas in the wrestling, she has more success with TDs (40% vs 28%), and her TDEF is miles better than Pennington’s (93% vs just 63%). She’s also averaging nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.51), vs just 1 TD per 15mins for Pennington. Vieira has good top control, and can gain some control time if she finds success there. Pennington likely tries to clinch against the cage, but Vieira’s trips will come into play, so she’ll need to be mindful of that. This’ll be another tightly contested bout, and I give the nod to Vieira. She’ll have more tools to work with overall, and her countering should be effective enough to get a decision win here. Don’t mind taking shots on Pennington on such a small card though.
PICK: Ketlen Vieira $17 FD ($8200 DK)
Raquel Pennington $14 FD ($8000 DK)
Umar Nurmagomedov vs Raoni Barcelos
This is one of the more intriguing bouts on the card. Nurmagomedov is an insane favorite against a skilled Barcelos. Nurmagomedov’s namesake will always carry more weight in his bouts, as he’s the cousin of Khabib. He definitely has the skills to back it up though. This fight may present new challenges for him though. And the biggest one will be seeing if he can manage Barcelos’ 93% TDEF. If he does, he’ll likely once again grind his way to a decision or potentially find a finish. On the feet, I favor Barcelos’ striking from a technical standpoint, but Nurmagomedov’s kickboxing I feel goes under the radar. He has excellent kicks, especially up the middle. He’ll eventually land a front kick KO on someone with how quickly he gets it up. He has solid hands too. Just not as clean as Barcelos. Barcelos lands 5.8 SS/m (absorbs 4.9 SS/m), and for the most part has shown to be pretty durable. Nurmagomedov lands 4.3 SS/m (and absorbs just 0.37 SS/m, yes, you read that right), and that’s just due to the insane amount of success he has when he starts his wrestling, that he generally doesn’t take much damage from his opponents. He’s averaging an insane 5 TDs per 15mins, while Barcelos average nearly 2 (1.71). His submission defense will be put to the test in a big way when it gets there too, Nurmagomedov’s pressure is outstanding in top control, and he finds ways to try and lock up submissions. This’ll likely be Nurmagomedov’s toughest test to date, but won’t look like he’s a near -1000 fav in the process. He once again comes with risk playing him at his cost, because paying off his price tag requires a dominant performance. And I’m not sure he does that this weekend. So he’ll be a fade in comparison to others at the top.
PICK: Umar Nurmagomedov $23 FD ($9300 DK)
Raoni Barcelos $8 FD ($6900 DK)
Javid Basharat vs Mateus Mendonca
Someone’s ‘0’ is going. Basharat is 13-0 professionally, while Mendonca makes his debut sitting at 10-0. These are ultimately 2 young, skilled prospects trying to make a name for themselves. We’ve seen Basharat a few times in the UFC so far though, and the kid is smooth. He’s got crisp technical striking, and understands distance really well. He can also mix in his TDs if needed. He’s averaging nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.7), and usually finds success getting them, as evidence by his 55% success rate. He’s got really solid TDEF too (85%). Mendonca is making his debut, and his highly regarded for his finishing ability. He’s got solid power, and can turn the lights out. However, his shots aren’t very technical, and can be detected when he’s throwing big looping shots. He will pressure forward in spite of, and remain active on the feet. That being where I see his demise. His eagerness will get him caught. Basharat is way to calm and collected to engage in an all out brawl, he’ll let the fight come to him a capitalize. I think he can get a 2nd RD KO/TKO in this one. Making him a solid addition to LUs this week.
PICK: Javid Basharat $18 FD ($9200 DK)
Mateus Mendonca $12 FD ($7000 DK)
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Claudio Ribeiro
This is literally a bout of who can knock the other out first. Alhassan is all but fighting for his job on Saturday night. He’s lost 4 of his last 5. But at least had a better showing in his bout with Buckley. He showcased all around solid tools in his striking and wrestling. As he was able to get a couple TDs along the way. But at his core, he’s still a KO artist, and in trouble here against a lengthier opponent. Ribeiro will have a 3” height and 4” reach advantage in this one. Ribeiro marches forward throwing bombs himself, and if he connects cleanly, it’s usually trouble. The issue for him could come in the ‘what if’ his KO plan fails in the 1st RD, how will he look against a more seasoned fighter in the latter parts of the fight? Regardless, this is a fight to own on Saturday. I personally don’t think it gets out of RD 1 either way. I’m siding with the younger, fresher Ribeiro who’s looking to make a splash in his debut with a 1st RD KO. But will most certainly have both sides of it.
PICK: Claudio Ribeiro $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Abdul R. Alhassan $15 FD ($8300 DK)
Mateusz Rebecki vs Nick Fiore
Two ufc newcomers here looking to make a statement. Rebecki has been a professional since 2014 with other orgs, and finally making his UFC debut. He’s extremely well rounded, he has some solid striking tools on the feet and can hunt for the KO, but primarily looks to utilize wrestling and just wear down on his opponents. He’s stalky, but smaller for the division for the most part, so wrestling suits him well. The competition he’s faced to this point has been much better than Fiore’s to say the least. And the fact Fiore has only been a professional for about 4yrs. Fiore is 6-0 so far, Rebecki is 16-1. With the unknown about how well he can actually perform, there’s a bit of pause in wanting to use him as an automatic in LUs being most expensive, but he’s worth a shot and hopefully he comes in lower owned than others. I think he’ll eventually get a finish, but not sure it’ll be RD 1. Think he’ll have to grind it out for a bit. Rebecki just in a better spot, and given the fact Fiore is also a late replacement, he’s a solid play.
PICK: Mateusz Rebecki $22 FD ($9400 DK)
Nick Fiore $8 FD ($6800 DK)
Allan Nascimento vs Carlos Hernandez
Nascimento picked up his first UFC win his last time out over Jake Hadley. He implemented his game plan, which is utilizing his kickboxing early, closing distance and shooting for TDs. He normally has the fortune of being the bigger guy in the octagon for Flyweights, not this time. But I figure he’ll still be the stronger guy physically and his grappling will be much better than Hernandez’s. Hernandez doesn’t do any one thing better than the other, he’s made himself extremely well rounded, which’ll serve him well moving on. I think he’s got better striking and faster hands, but Nascimento maintains distance well. They each average 1 TD per 15mins. Hernandez lands 5.3 SS/m (absorbs 4.3 SS/m), while Nascimento lands just 3.31 SS/m (absorbing 2.3 SS/m). Nasicmento’s TDEF is actually pretty awful (16%), but Hernandez would be wise to try and keep this one standing. Nasicmento doesn’t mind defending off of his back, and his scrambles can get him out of trouble and into opportunistic situations. Nasicmento is one of my fav plays for DK today. Should be able to rack up control time pretty easily, and that gives more time to look for submissions. The only danger here is the volume of strikes when he’s on the mat could be low again, which could limit his overall upside. I like Nascimento via decision.
PICK: Allan Nascimento $20 FD ($9100 DK)
Carlos Hernandez $11 FD ($7100 DK)
Dan Argueta vs Nick Aguirre
Argueta could go overlooked here. Argueta, despite the loss, had a SOLID showing against Damon Jackson in his debut. And showed everything in his game that’ll matter most, and that’s his cardio and overall willingness to mix it up anywhere. His striking is solid but not a ton of power. He’ll pressure forward from the start. Aguirre is another late replacement to the card, he’s undefeated at 7-0 in his career, but to really low level comp. His game is based around is grappling, and he does have some slick submission skills to make this interesting, but seems like this is too quick of a jump for him. On such a small card, it’s not a bad idea to take small fliers on guys like this because you never know. But the late notice, and understanding how much Argueta is going to push the pace means he’s much lower on taking that risk. Not sure he finds a finish, but his overall peripheral stats means he has a chance to put up a solid score in a clear win.
PICK: Dan Argueta $21 FD ($8600 DK)
Nick Aguirre $9 FD ($7300 DK)
Charles Johnson vs Jimmy Flick
Flick makes his return after retiring a couple years ago after he beat Cody Durden. It seems that it was a premature thing and more so a break than anything else. Flick’s gm is best around his slick and entertaining grappling. He can lock up submissions from seemingly anywhere. His striking or lack thereof is really used to close distance. He takes a ton of damage in the mean time, that approach will only work against certain opponents. Johnson picked up his first win his last time out against Zhumagulov, and most people who watched that, know he should’ve taken the L. I figured the matchup was tough, the judges did him a favor. But it was clear Johnson had solid tools coming into the UFC, but if he is to contend at the highest level of the sport, he needs to improve. He has solid striking/power, and enough of a wrestling/grappling approach that he’ll stay safe in all likelihood. The fact he was able to stay safe I terms of being submitted from Mokaev is impressive. And I don’t think Flick is at all on the level of Mokaev in that regard, from overall strength, to scrambling at an insane pace and getting TDs consistently. Johnson should be able to deploy his gm on the feet in striking to get ahead. And should have no problems getting it back to the feet if it gets grounded. However, this is MMA and anything can happen, one wrong thing could find Johnson in a bad spot, so taking jabs at Flick isn’t a bad idea, but otherwise like Johnson to get it done via decision.
PICK: Charles Johnson $21 FD ($9000 DK)
Jimmy Flick $10 FD ($7200 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)