UFC Vegas 76
Sean Strickland vs Abus Magomedov
Feels strange the UFC is lunging Abus into such a big fight in just his 2nd UFC fight. He scored an impressive 19 second KO over Stoltzfus in his debut, and with 30 total professional bouts under his belt, he has experience. But how far has he really come? Just a few fights ago he was KO’ed by a shot that looked like it grazed him as opposed to landing flush. A lot can change over a few years time, but Strickland will push a consistent pace for 25mins. Abus certainly has the physical attributes, and he’s a solid kickboxer with power, but the real trouble could be his cardio should this see RD 3 & beyond. Abus will certainly utilize his length/kickboxing and throw leg kicks up the middle, which I’d like to think Strickland will be looking for early, but I worry if Abus doesn’t hurt Strickland early, he’s in a ton of trouble. Strickland lands 5.7 SS/m (absorbs 4.2 SS/m). He thrives off of being in brawls, and for the most part, is pretty durable. The only one to KO him recently was Pereira, former MW champ. Abus could turn out to really be ready for the jump up the ladder in this division, but I’m treading lightly until otherwise. There’s a chance Strickland could pour it on late and find a finish, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic and say he’ll win a decision.
PICK: Sean Strickland $19 FD ($8500 DK)
Abus Magomedov $18 FD ($7700 DK)
Co Main Event
Damir Ismagulov vs Grant Dawson
This is one of the more intriguing fights on this card, and one I’m looking forward to. Damir had a weird period after his fight with Tsarukyan where he retired briefly, then decided to come back. Stated it was medical reasons, apparently he’s fully healthy this time around & wants to show the division his 24-2 record isn’t a mistake. Tsarukyan’s approach was a bit too much for Damir to handle, and he couldn’t really get his striking going on the feet, instead, he defended 14 of 21 TD attempts. He’s got pretty solid TDEF overall as well (75%). Dawson’s bread and butter is his wrestling as well, he averages nearly 4 TDs per 15mins (3.8), and pushes a steady pace. However, he does tend to slow down as the fights go long, & with the inevitable of Damir defending at least a few TD attempts, that won’t help his case. Dawson has great top pressure though, and his back takes could be crucial in this matchup when Damir tries to get back to his feet. Damir will have a clear edge in terms of technical striking, but his power lacks. Whereas Dawson is decent in striking, but does have a little more power. Damir is durable though, so that won’t really be of concern. Damir’s own offensive wrestling can’t be overlooked here either, especially late if Dawson wears hisself out. This fight has split decision written all over it. I could see RD’s 1 & 2 being split and this coming down to the 3rd, and with the unreliable judging we’ve seen, who knows. I do think Damir deserves to have the edge, mainly because he’s just a bit better all around, but could see a scenario where Dawson is able to bully his way to a ground affair he’s looking for for the better part of the first 8mins. I just don’t see a scenario where Dawson pushes the pace Tsarukyan did to have anywhere near 20+ TD attempts. This is close, and not necessarily a necessity for DFS in my opinion.
PICK: Damir Ismagulov $15 FD ($8200 DK)
Grant Dawson $15 FD ($8000 DK)
Michael Morales vs Max Griffin
This could be a true litmus test for Morales. Griffin has proven pretty durable throughout his career. He’s 4-1 in his last 5, but understand the wins came over Tim Means, Carlos Condit, Song Kenan, & Brahimaj, not particularly a stout group. Nonetheless, wins are wins. Griffin is really well rounded, he lands 4.2 SS/m (absorbs 3.8 SS/m), while also averaging nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.6). He moves really well in the pocket, and likely looks to be a counter striker in this matchup. Morales comes in undefeated in his professional career, at 14-0, he’s looking to remain perfect. He’s an extremely gifted prospect with a wide variety of skills. His kickboxing is solid, and he has power in his hands. He can also mix it up well on the mat too, he averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins as well (1.9). He has much better TDEF than Griffin though (86% vs 71%). Morales lands 5.3 SS/m (absorbs 4.1), and is pretty technical with his striking, I think he’ll be better than Griffin pretty much everywhere. I’ve seen a lot of people clamoring to pick dogs on this card, and Griffin’s name has shown up a ton. I’m not at all interested in a chalky Griffin. He’ll be smaller in the matchup too, which won’t do him any favors. I’m not confident Morales finds the finish here, but a clear 30-27 seems viable, I really like this kid.
PICK: Michael Morales $20 FD ($9000 DK)
Max Griffin $11 FD ($7200 DK)
Melissa Gatto vs Ariane Lipski
Gatto’s last outing vs Cortez was a CLOSE one, and it felt like Cortez got a bit of hometown favoritism, nonetheless we move on. Lipski seemed like she got a bit better in her last outing with JJ Aldrich. Aldrich couldn’t get her wrestling going, and wasn’t assertive enough looking for TDs when they weren’t successful early. From there, Lipski picked her apart on the feet. Lipski’s striking has definitely taken a step forward. Now, she gets a much stiffer test with Gatto. Gatto is really well rounded, and she’ll have a clear edge should this hit the canvas. Lipski has trouble off of her back, and Gatto’s brown belt in BJJ will cause issues. Gatto also has more power in her striking, and we’ve seen Lipski get KO’ed before. She’ll need to be weary and not get too overzealous, otherwise she’ll get caught again. I think Gatto finds success with her wrestling/grappling though, and at some point in the 2nd/3rd RD, she’ll find a submission win. Gatto is one of my fav plays on the slate. She’ll be under-owned relative to Lipski in this spot. Making for solid leverage on this slate.
PICK: Melissa Gatto $17 FD ($8700 DK)
Ariane Lipski $13 FD ($7500 DK)
Ismael Bonfim vs Benoit Saint-Denis
I’m excited for this one. Bonfim & his brother both had amazing debuts at UFC 283 at the beginning of the year. Ismael won via KO over Terrance McKinney via flying knee. He’s very well rounded, has solid kickboxing and his striking is technical/powerful. He has good movement in the pocket, and keeps a high guard. He’s pretty durable too, which was important in a debut vs a guy like McKinney. He avoided most of the big shots with solid striking defense. BSD is another solid prospect, he’s 10-1 overall. He came into the UFC undefeated, his bout with Zaleski dos Santos showed how tough he is. He took a lot of damage on the feet. He followed that with back to back finishes, one via KO & 1 via submission. He’s really well rounded. He’s got solid striking/power on the feet, and his best path to victory comes through his wrestling/grappling. He’s extremely active when in top control with ground strikes etc. I just believe it’ll be difficult for him to have success there vs a guy with Bonfim’s BJJ experience. They both have great TDEF, so this could play out mostly on the feet, and if that’s the case, Bonfim will be able to deal more damage overall worst case scenario. There’s several fighters up top this card who should have solid scores, so it’s about picking the right one, I think Bonfim is one to target. He’ll find success everywhere in this matchup. If doing ME, it’s obviously a nice pivot to play some BSD, but wouldn’t go crazy.
PICK: Ismael Bonfim $21 FD ($9200 DK)
Benoit Saint Denis $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Bruno Ferreira vs Nursulton Ruziboev
Ferreira had a solid debut, with a KO win over Gregory Rodrigues. I felt that was a tough matchup for him due to Rodrigues durability never really being a concern, but he landed flush and it put Rodrigues out. Rodrigues lack of head movement made it easy though, if we’re being honest. Ferreira is a product of DWCS. He’s 10-0, with 100% finish rate, 7 KO/TKO and 3 submissions. So he’s well rounded, he’ll continue to likely be undersized for this division though. Ruziboev is making his debut here, and has 34 wins, 8 losses. 32 of 34 wins have come via finish. He’s got 20 submission wins, 12 KO/TKO. He does have 1 KO loss and 1 submission loss as well, but has mostly been durable. Ferreira will need to utilize his leg kicks early to stop the pressure of Ruziboev though, he’ll be at a 6” height disadvantage in this one, and you can’t let a guy with that size advantage over you fight at range where he’s comfortable. This one feels imperative to have for DFS LUs, it’s very likely going to finish. Ruziboev’s BJJ is excellent, and I feel like his best path to victory would be getting it there. It’s easier to say durability shouldn’t be of real concern until someone lands flush like Ferreira did with Rodrigues, but I’m taking Ruziboev in the upset here, size difference being the biggest factor. Think he uses that to his advantage to get it grounded and find a submission.
PICK: Nursulton Ruziboev $13 FD ($7800 DK)
Bruno Ferreira $17 FD ($8400 DK)
Rinat Fakhretdinov vs Kevin Lee
It’s been nearly 2yrs since we’ve seen Kevin Lee inside the octagon. And he’s currently won only 1 of his last 5 fights, so this return feels, odd. His best is behind him. Him not being able to keep Daniel Rodriguez grounded for more time than he did kind of showed that before the hiatus. Surprisingly, he’s only 30yrs old, so maybe he can get back to his earlier 2010s version of himself. At his best he’s really well rounded. He’s got solid striking tools and his wrestling is his usual path to success. He averages over 3 TDs per 15mins (3.1). On the feet, he lands 3.8 SS/m (absorbs 3.5 SS/m). For Rinat, he’s making his 3rd UFC appearance, & his last win over Battle is proving to be a solid one. He’s a dominant wrestler, and wants to get it there and wear his opponent’s down. He’s got decent kickboxing/striking on the feet, but everything is a means to close distance and look for TDs. He averages 6 TDs per 15mins. And when he’s in top control he’s extremely active with ground strikes etc. He’s more position over submission when he gets it there. He’ll have about a 3” height advantage in this one. I can see a scenario where Lee tries to push the pace early to negate that, but it may not prove effective. I feel like this is a horrible return matchup for Lee. Rinat should be able to dictate how this one plays out. There should be several TDs and control time again, making him an excellent option for DK. His FD score could weigh on actually how many TDs he gets. He’s still solid there though because he should be able to get around 50 SS.
PICK: Rinat Fakhretdinov $16 FD ($8800 DK)
Kevin Lee $14 FD ($7400 DK)
Joanderson Brito vs Westin Wilson
Not much to this one if we’re being honest. Wilson is a late replacement for Brito after Khusein Askhabov had to back out, that would’ve been a really solid fight. Wilson has a solid frame for this division, and he’s got solid striking with slick submissions on the ground, but this is a massive step up in competition for him. Brito is a solid prospect to keep your eye on in this division as he continues to move forward. He’s extremely well rounded, and has excellent power in his hands. He’ll have much quicker hands too in the pocket. So long as he doesn’t rush this, he’ll have no issues here. At some point, he’ll either find a KO, or get a TD and work his way to a submission. You’d want to see a 60 second bonus to really pay off his price tag, but a 100pts feels like the floor for him. He’s a fav play of mine today on both sites.
PICK: Joanderson Brito $23 FD ($9600 DK)
Westin Wilson $8 FD ($6600 DK)
Karol Rosa vs Yana Santos
Rosa being a near 2 to 1 fav here feels odd. She hasn’t had a dominant win over anyone, and her last outing vs Dumont left a lot to be desired. She’s got solid tools everywhere, mainly her wrestling, but when matched with someone with a similar skill set, she can be underwhelming. She’s strong in the clinch and wants it there to work TDs. She averages close to 2 TDs per 15mins (1.5). She’s also got good striking, not a lot of power though, she’s landing 5.5 SS/m (absorbs 3.8 SS/m), she does a good job of mitigating damage due to her clinch work. She’s very active even in the clinch/ground when throwing strikes, so her total striking numbers will always be higher than her SS in all likelihood. Santos is coming in off of back to back losses, by way of Holm & Aldana, and I think both those women are better than Rosa. Santos is well rounded, she likes to try and get fights grounded herself, so I could see this one playing out in the clinch for at least 5-7mins, just a matter of who has cage control. Santos averages a little over 1 TD per 15mins (1.2). But she’s a bit more active with looking for submissions. She’s been away for over a year, which has mixed results when fighters come back, but I’m sure the training has been a key factor. I don’t see this fight being $1,000 difference in salary on DK, and I like enough of what Santos brings to make this one interesting. Could be split, but I think she takes a decision, she’ll do more with her ground work to make the difference.
PICK: Yana Santos $14 FD ($7600 DK)
Karol Rosa $16 FD ($8600 DK)
Guram Kutateladze vs Elves Brenner
Brenner was originally slated to fight Jordan Leavitt, who then had to back out, in steps Guram. Guram has had a couple fights cancelled since we last saw him vs Damir last year. That was an extremely competitive fight, but Damir edged it out. Guram is an extremely talented fighter, he does a lot of things well, just needs to find the killer instinct to start putting guys away more consistently. He prefers a stand up fight, and has some nice power in his shots. His win over Gamrot sticks out, although that could’ve gone either way. He’s a solid wrestler, and won’t mind going there should it eventually get there. Brenner is a decent prospect, I don’t think he won his debut, he was gifted that decision, but he’ll look to follow it up. He can keep a solid pace on the feet, with solid kickboxing skills. But he’s best served utilizing his BJJ, he wants to get fights grounded and look for submissions. Of his 14 wins, 11 have come by way of submission, 1 KO, 2 decisions. Arm bar & RNC are his go to submissions. I just find it tough for him to be able to establish positions long enough to get it. Guram will be the more physically gifted/athletic fighter in this one. I’m not confident Guram finds a finish, but I do think he’ll coast to a clear decision on the cards. His overall output is a mystery, but generally don’t see gaudy numbers from him. Think I’ll stay away from this one for DFS purposes.
PICK: Guram Kutateladze $22 FD ($9400 DK)
Elves Brenner $9 FD ($6800 DK)
Ivana Petrovic vs Luana Carolina
Carolina is 3-3 in her UFC career so far, coming off a loss to Joanne Wood. She’s lost 2 in a row, but 3-2 overall in her last 5. She wants to stand and strike with you. She’s landing nearly 5 SS/m (absorbs 4.4 SS/m). Her fight IQ is just not great, and neither is her striking defense. She allows fighters with good forward pressure to constantly have her moving backwards, forcing her to be a counter striker, where she’s less effective. She gets newcomer Petrovic here, who’s extremely green, but perfect at 6-0 so far. She’s got 3 wins by TKO/KO, 2 by submission. And if you ask her, her bread and butter is when she can wrestle and look for those submissions. She’s very active on the feet, and will have fast hands here. Carolina struggles off of her back, and I think Petrovic will be quick to see that once she gets this fight grounded. I don’t rate Carolina too highly at all, but also the question marks surrounding Petrovic make this a hard fight to desire for DFS, but I like Petrovic here, via decision, although anything could happen and she could find a finish.
PICK: Ivana Petrovic $18 FD ($8900 DK)
Luana Carolina $12 FD ($7300 DK)
Alexandr Romanov vs Blagoy Ivanov
The lone big boy fight on the card gets us started. Such a fall from grace for Romanov. A once highly touted prospect for the division, relegated to opening up FN cards. He’s on a 2 fight skid, and looked absolutely awful vs Volkov last time out, he couldn’t get a TD and just gave up. Prior to that, had a really close affair with Tybura, but lost steam and started to fade late, which resulted in him not being able to get TDs. Now he gets Blagoy, who’s been a tough opponent for most, he’s extremely durable, and with a sambo background, has surprisingly fast hands, he just doesn’t do much else aside from that. He’s got a solid wrestling base, but doesn’t often look for it. He could in this one, especially late if Romanov blows a lid again. Romanov hasn’t looked good at weigh ins these last 3 fights, he’s bulked up a bit, and didn’t cut the weight like in his debut. One things for sure, 1st RD generally belongs to Romanov, but will be interesting to see if he can’t get a TD early. You’d hope he’s been working on his conditioning, but that’s yet to be seen. Romanov’s striking isn’t a world beater by any means, but he does throw hard strikes in the pocket, and he’ll utilize low leg kicks to try and set up his TDs. This comes down to the first 8mins for Romanov, if he can win that period, I think he wins the fight. It’s ugly, but without a finish. This one may not be fantasy relevant.
PICK: Alexandr Romanov $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Blagoy Ivanov $15 FD ($7900 DK)
By: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)
Brunno Ferreira LESS 104.5 FS
Romanov OVER 2 Takedowns
Gatto LESS 14.75 Fight Time