UFC Vegas 85
Nassourdine Imavov vs Roman Dolidze
Let’s hope this card holds firm with 13 fights. It of course increases variability and chance of solo in large field contest. Top to bottom I think this is a decent card. Imavov comes into the ME having won 3 of his last 5, with his most recent being a NC when he fought Chris Curtis, but I’ll say, he had Curtis covered everywhere and looked to be on his way to a finish. His striking is sharp, he never really over swings, and has solid volume. He lands 4.5 SS/m (absorbs 3.7 SS/m). His wrestling/grappling hasn’t truly been tested to this point in his UFC tenure, but he’s pretty solid there too, he averages just over 1 TD per 15mins. Dolidze was on a heater for the better part of 2021/2022, having won 4 in a row prior to his bout with Vettori, which I personally think he won in what was a CLOSE bout, he could never navigate range properly enough to have success with TD entries etc, so Vettori was able to maintain his distance and have the striking match he desired. Dolidze’s striking is underrated IMO, he had his moments in that one. He’ll certainly have the power edge in this one. His striking is more calculated, and more so focuses on success with his kicking gm that leads to the hands. He lands just 3 SS/m (absorbs 3 SS/m). He’s much more active in terms of wrestling, as he averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.7), and though Imavov’s TDEF is decent (72%), that could start to suffer as this fight gets long if it should. Cardio for both of these guys is suspect, especially Dolidze’s in this spot, considering we haven’t seen him in a 5 RD’er yet. Imavov feels to be the minute winner early, with Dolidze always capable of having the big moment. But eventually, I think Dolidze gets this fight to the mat, where we’ll see what Imavov has to offer. Dolidze’s BJJ is excellent, has beautiful transitions and hardly puts himself in a bad spot there. This’ll be interesting nonetheless, but I’m siding with the dog here, think we get a 3rd RD submission. Not really interested in Imavov from a DFS perspective just because I think Dolidze’s approach limits output later in this one regardless of if he pulls it out.
PICK: Roman Dolidze $17 FD ($7600 DK)
Nassourdine Imavov $20 FD ($8600 DK)
Co Main Event
Renato Moicano vs Drew Dober
Man I love this matchup, should be a banger for as long as it last. Moicano has tried to gain some momentum over the last couple years, he’s 3-2 over his last 5, most recently vs Riddell at the tail end of 2022. His scheduled fight last year was cancelled, so he’s been away from the octagon for over a year. He’s a really well rounded fighter, with his best attribute being his BJJ; when on the canvas, he’s always looking for opportunities to lock up a submission. Dober is well versed enough there, that he should keep himself out of danger. Dober’s TDEF is suspect (56%), so it more than likely will find its way to the mat at some point. Moicano has solid kickboxing, he’s just a bit reckless sometimes in the pocket and gets countered quite a bit. He showed nothing but toughness against RDA on short notice, but the defensive lapse was on full display. He can’t do that here and expect a good result. Dober has won 4 of his last 5, with the loss being to Frevola. Say what you want, that stoppage was early, he went out for a second but looked to recover, and had he been given 10-15 more seconds, think he could’ve staged a big comeback, he started to defend while he was on his back. Dude has one of the most reliable chins in the sport. He’s a pressure fighter, and looks to crash the pocket almost immediately searching for the KO. He’ll certainly have the edge in power here. Volume output is nearly the same in terms of numbers; Moicano lands 4.7 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), while Dober lands 4.58 SS/m (absorbs 4.4 SS/m). So both guys essentially take one to give one. Moicano hasn’t been shy about striking battles, here, I think he’d be wise to change that approach. A week ago, I was all over Moicano in this one, then I started to notice the general public seemingly saying he’s got Dober covered everywhere, and that made me worry. Then I realized how many times Moicano has been starched by fighters willing to trade with him that had power, Fiziev, Aldo, TKZ, to name a few. And I feel like Dober is of course in that same tier, if not a notch higher, in regard to his power. That led me to think Dober will at some point find the fight changing shot that gets the job done. Think he does it RD 2. Either way, I feel this fight will be optimal, so I’ll be playing both sides, probably 60-40 split in favor of Dober.
PICK: Drew Dober $13 FD ($7800 DK)
Renato Moicano $18 FD ($8400 DK)
Randy Brown vs Muslim Salikhov
This fight was originally scheduled for this past December and was cancelled, so here we are now. Salikhov will turn 40yrs old this summer, not sure how many more times we see him beyond this, but amazing he’s still here. He’s alternated wins and losses over his last 4. And his 3-2 over his last 5, most recent being the loss to Dalby. Salikhov is a workhorse, he just goes in and tries to grind you out in the boxing. He’s not heavy volume by any means, and has certainly lost a step. Feels like he’s more of a counter striker than anything. He’s not dangerous in any one area, he’s just a solid overall MMA fighter. At some point we’ll see him try the spinning attacks on the feet hoping he lands one that changes the fight. Brown has been solid since joining the UFC. He’s been more frustrating than anything, because he always makes fights harder than they have to be. In this matchup, he’s nearly 7yrs younger, and holds every advantage from a physical standpoint. He’ll have an EIGHT inch reach advantage. Brown should be able to stay on the outside and win the minutes in this one; his striking will be more technical and should have the quicker hands. Salikhov probably tries to get this grounded a couple times at least to slow the pace, but if not early, don’t see it happening later in the fight with cardio being an issue. Neither one of these guys are known for their finishing ability, so the likelihood is that this goes to the scorecards, and I think Brown wins it clearly on all cards. Not a fan of this one for DFS. Would be dog or pass, and I like other dogs much more.
PICK: Randy Brown $21 FD ($9100 DK)
Muslim Salikhov $10 FD ($7100 DK)
Natalia Silva vs Viviane Araujo
This will certainly be Silva’s toughest test to date, but the Brazilian has come on strong to start her UFC tenure (4-0). Araujo just turned 37 a few months ago, she’s at the back stage of her career, but still very capable as a fighter. She’s got solid tools, but best served as a grappler/wrestler looking for submissions. She’s got solid output on the feet, but gets hit way too much, especially nowadays. She lands 4.3 SS/m (absorbs 5.1 SS/m), while Silva lands 5.2 SS/m (absorbs just 2.2 SS/m). Silva moves her feet extremely well in the pocket and her hands are FAST, especially in combination. So as far as the striking goes, Araujo will have some ground to cover. Araujo averages nearly 2 TDs per 15mins (1.8), but I don’t see her having much success there, Silva has excellent TDEF (92%), so odds are she’ll be able to keep this one standing. The trick in this one is Silva’s price, she needs to have a flawless performance and score north of 120pts to pay off her price tag, and I’m not confident she does that, so she’d be a contrarian play that could pay off in the end. She’ll still have about 30% ownership I’d imagine, but if she smashes, that’ll be too low. As time goes in this one, I think her striking will be too much for Araujo, and I think she gets 2nd RD TKO.
PICK: Natalia Silva $23 FD ($9500 DK)
Viviane Araujo $8 FD ($6700 DK)
Ali Khizriev vs Makhmud Muradov
This is one of the more interesting matchups I’m ready to see. Khizriev is another solid Russian prospect that’s looking to make waves, he’s undefeated at 14-0. His base is of course through chain wrestling, and stringing together TDs looking to control his opponents. He’s averaging 6 TDs per 15mins, at a 60% clip, that’s pretty good. Muradov has solid TDEF though (77%), so we’ll see what gives first. Muradov is no pushover in terms of his defensive wrestling, so Khizriev will have to work for it. On the feet, Khizriev is showing good output, he’s landing 6 SS/m (absorbs 4.3 SS/m), while Muradov lands 4.2 SS/m (absorbs 2.5 SS/m). Muradov is the more powerful striker here, just a matter of timing, because Khizriev will certainly look to change levels if he’s over swinging. Muradov will likely utilize his low leg kicks to halt the pressure from Khizriev, if he can find success there, he very well could look to shoot for his own TDs, he’s averaging just over 3 TDs per 15mins. I don’t think he’ll be much of a submission threat, but that will do wonders in zapping the cardio of Khizriev. He didn’t look all that good in his bout with Tiuliulin, even though he got the finish, his cardio seemed to fall off a cliff after RD 1. Now what I will say, is he looks much better in terms of preparation. He looked much different at weigh ins this go round vs his last. The cardio issue concerns me most still, and I don’t think he’ll have the power to hurt Muradov on the feet, so I think Muradov starts to pull away in RD 2, with the possibility of a late 3rd TKO. I like him to win the decision. This fight should be another to target for DFS, either winner should score well. Give me the discount on Muradov.
PICK: Makhmud Muradov $14 FD ($7400 DK)
Ali Khizriev $16 FD ($8800 DK)
Gilbert Urbina vs Charles Radtke
Two prospects looking to continue their rise face off here. Radtke is coming off a rather underwhelming debut vs Blood Diamond. Most felt he should’ve dominated the matchup and he didn’t, it was a grinding match that Diamond had a chance to steal. His output on the feet wasn’t great, and really one dimensional overall. He attempted to get his wrestling going, but only managed 1 TD out of 6 attempts. That’s awful vs a guy known to struggle defending TDs. Now, Urbina isn’t some mythical fighter by any means, but he should have most tools here to beat Radtke everywhere. He’ll have about a 5” height edge and 3” in reach, not to mention Urbina being huge for the weight class already. Urbina has active hands, and he’ll pressure forward dictating the action. I actually think he’ll be the one to initiate the wrestling at a pretty high clip. He averages nearly 4 TDs per 15mins (3.9). On the feet is where Radtke could find himself in trouble though, Urbina lands 6.3 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), while Radtke lands just 2.3 SS/m (absorbs 2.9 SS/m). Radtke seemed to slow down after about 7.5mins, and his output suffered as a result in that Diamond fight. I don’t see him being able to keep up the pace with Urbina. Urbina will get after it from the start. Tempted to pull the trigger on a late 3rd RD TKO for Urbina after Radtke is drained. He’s one of my fav DFS plays.
PICK: Gilbert Urbina $18 FD ($9000 DK)
Charles Radtke $12 FD ($7200 DK)
Molly McCann vs Diana Belbita
These two previously fought in 2019, and it was a fun scrap with McCann coming out on top. Nearly 5yrs later, here we are again. McCann is 3-2 over her last 5, while Belbita is 2-3. McCann was fed horrible matchups in her most recent two bouts, part of the reason she dropped back down to SW for this bout, and likely moving forward. I love this matchup though, because these two ladies are going to try and take each other’s heads off. The volume will be there again and it should be a fruitful DFS showing for the winner. McCann lands 5.6 SS/m (absorbs 4.9 SS/m), while Belbita lands 6.5 SS/m (absorbs 6.4 SS/m). Belbita doesn’t move her head off the center line when she’s exchanging in the pocket, which has lead to a few of her losses that were close. McCann will take advantage of that again. But if she’s smart, she’ll go back to the well and try to chain TDs together. I don’t think Belbita has improved much from their first meeting, and she struggles mightily off her back, McCann just has to do a better job of control while she’s in dominant positions. She gets excited and her opponents take advantage to survive certain situations. McCann seems motivated to make a statement though, and I think she will. I know it’s tough to beat the same opponent twice, but this one is too favorable a matchup. She can find a finish this time around if she takes her time. Either way, her stats should be good enough to score 100+ when it’s all said and done. Belbita, theoretically could do the same thing in a win, cause it likely means she has a ton of volume on the feet. McCann a really solid play today.
PICK: Molly McCann $22 FD ($9300 DK)
Diana Belbita $9 FD ($6900 DK)
Azat Maksum vs Charles Johnson
Legit interested to see this one play out. I had hopes for Johnson when he got signed, but he’s been largely underwhelming, not good at any one thing, no real power, and his fight IQ always leads him down wrong path, even in what should be favorable matchups. If not for being gifted the Zhumagulov decision, he’d be 1-4 over his last 5 with the lone win being Jimmy Flick, who isn’t good at all. Now he gets Azat, who is extremely talented, and reminds me of Rakhmonov a tad. His debut was concerning, but Nam was a tough first test against experienced vet with power and solid TDEF. You could argue he lost that fight, I thought it could’ve gone either way. He showed enough patience in his striking and was precise enough that he got it done. Doesn’t have insane power either, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against more opponents akin to Nam. He’s got a really good wrestling base though, and Johnson is food when it comes to his TDEF, so his fight IQ will be on display here, I’ll be hoping he attacks that immediately. Johnson has good scrambling abilities, so imagine he’ll get up several times at the least. Azat is a question mark from DFS outlook, cause this matchup is perfect for TDs and control, just not sure he goes there for full 15mins. Clear decision win at the least.
PICK: Azat Maksum $19 FD ($8900 DK)
Charles Johnson $11 FD ($7300 DK)
Themba Gorimbo vs Pete Rodriguez
Interesting matchup here, definitely grappler vs striker dynamic. Gorimbo is a question mark to me, he very clearly wants to get better and make this a long career, but sometimes talent is just capped, I’m not limiting him by any means, but I think he clearly has a ceiling. He’s better as a wrestler by far with good top control. Striking leaves much to be desired, but the basics are there. He’d landing less than 2 SS/m (1.8), (absorbs 1.7 SS/m). He’s a patient, technical striker on the feet. Rodriguez is a striker, and has good power for the division. He’s got a smaller frame, which actually helps his power translate. The issue he’ll have is distance management, he’ll have to crash the pocket to have success. Which could happen, but I think Gorimbo will do a good job at avoiding taking the big shots. Rodriguez is on short notice here, so cardio definitely becomes a concern for him. Gorimbo may have an opportunity for a submission after the first 5mins when Rodriguez’s cardio dumps. Rodriguez is KO or bust, so if doing mass entry, he’s worth about 10-15% of LUs, but I’ll be heavy on Gorimbo. His control time, overall strike numbers should be nice.
PICK: Themba Gorimbo $21 FD ($9200 DK)
Pete Rodriguez $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Jeongyeong Lee vs Blake Bilder
Man, not really a fan of this fight. Neither jumps off the screen in talent level, so could be a very anticlimactic fight. Lee has more power, he’s a technical striker, but rather low/moderate volume. So you’re dependent that he finds the chin. Lands 2.4 SS/m (absorbs 1.8 SS/m). Bilder is much more set up to win minutes here, but IQ not particularly great, so hard to know what approach he’ll take. Doesn’t have much stopping power, but has volume. Lands nearly 5 SS/m (4.96), (absorbs 4.5 SS/m). Both have solid TDEF, so should mostly see this as a kickboxing affair. Lee is KO or bust, won’t have a ton of him, but will have some. Bilder is better suited for DFS purposes, so that’s the way I’ll go in LUs. If Lee’s power doesn’t detour him too much, he’ll win the minutes. This has split decision written all over it. Bilder’s price is the only reason he’s somewhat interesting to me.
PICK: Blake Bilder $14 FD ($7900 DK)
Jeongyeong Lee $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Julija Stoliarenko vs Luana Carolina
WMMA is always a toss up for the most part. So tough to ever go into a match loving either side. Carolina missed weight by 3lbs, so there was some obvious issues going there, and she visually didn’t look great at weigh ins, but that doesn’t ALWAYS tell the story. Carolina IMO could be the minute winner in this one. She nearly doubles in terms of output based on numbers. She lands 4.6 SS/m (absorbs 4 SS/m), while Stoliarenko lands just 2.8 SS/m (absorbs 4.5 SS/m), her defense has struggled in the past. Her bread and butter is clinch work trying to get the fight to the mat looking for submissions. She doesn’t have good TDs, more so looks for trips and basically hoping to fall on top of her opponent. Carolina is awful on bottom, so if it gets there, she’ll struggle. If this ends up a prolonged striking battle, it has split written all over it. But, I do think Stoliarenko will have her moment on the canvas where she locks in the arm bar, 2nd RD. Don’t feel great about it, but here we are. I’ll be much more weighted to Stoliarenko in terms of ownership, probably 70-30 at worst.
PICK: Julija Stoliarenko $15 FD ($8200 DK)
Luana Carolina $15 FD ($8000 DK)
Marquel Mederos vs Landon Quinones
This should be a banger, one of my fav fights on the card. Mederos is a DWCS alum. Had a great showing, showed off his skillset. He’s well rounded, and can put powerful combinations together. He’s patient, won’t over swing, and does a really good job with forward pressure. I doubt either guy shoots for a TD, but in the event it happens, both are really solid with their TDEF. Quinones had a valiant showing in his debut vs Haqparast, but he showed a glaring hole in his defensive striking, he lands 9.8 SS/m (but absorbs 11.4 SS/m), that’s insane. Had Haqparast had more killer instinct, he could’ve very easily ended that bout early. Quinones relies heavily on his kicking game to set up his hands, and I’m sure that’ll be on full display here. Mederos is much more calculated on the feet and defensively sound, he lands 5.7 SS/m (absorbs just 1.9 SS/m). Either way this fight should be optimal. The volume of Quinones will be there if given 15mins, and the power will give Mederos a chance to end it early. I favor Mederos slightly, think his defensive mindfulness will be key. 2nd RD TKO. I’ll be playing both sides of this at a pretty high clip.
PICK: Marquel Mederos $16 FD ($8500 DK)
Landon Quinones $15 FD ($7700 DK)
Thomas Peterson vs Jamal Pogues
The lone big boy fight of the card opens things up. Pogues is 3-1 to start his UFC run, his last bout was the loss vs Mick Parkin, he was extremely timid and allowed himself to be pushed on the back foot that entire fight. Pogues has serviceable attributes, but nothing that says he’ll be better than anything than a mid tier fighter. Has solid striking, decent wrestling, but it’s HW so cardio becomes a thing. Pogues may try to shoot TDs and have success with Peterson being a bit smaller. Peterson’s TDEF is pretty good. Peterson, feels to be better just about everywhere though, cardio, power, technical striking and his wrestling/grappling is probably better. Lower level HW fights are always a crapshoot. I won’t have a ton of this fight in general, but I may end up about even on ownership. Peterson has the power to have some meme level KO/TKO, but volume could be good too.
PICK: Thomas Peterson $17 FD ($8700 DK)
Jamal Pogues $13 FD ($7500 DK)
By: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)