Justin’s Pick: Ryan Spann
Spann will be making his UFC debut this weekend, although he has fought twice on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He owns a 1-1 record on DWTNCS, losing to Karl Roberson, who has already shown flashes in the UFC. Spann is fairly young, but comes with tremendous upside. His opponent, Luis Henrique, is also young, but has done very little to convince viewers that he’s a UFC-caliber fighter. He has two wins in the UFC, but neither are against impressive opponents. This fight is at light-heavyweight with two fighters who are known finishers, suggesting anything could happen. Spann is a fighter that seemingly has a very bright future in the UFC, though, and this should be his fight to lose, specifically with his Guillotine Choke against a wrestler.
Jason’s Reaction: Ryan Spann is a solid option for his price tag on DraftKings this weekend. He should be able to pick up the win, and if he does that via finish, he should definitely hit value. Avoiding the top names might be the path to victory.
Jason’s Pick: Thiago Santos
The main event of Saturday’s upcoming card is so far from the original that UFC fans may be questioning whether or not this is still the same event. That said, Thiago Santos will take on Eryk Anders on short notice. Anders recently lost a very boring decision to Lyoto Machida, but Santos is not going to allow him to sit and set up his strikes. Machida is obviously a counter-striker, but Santos is much more aggressive. When Santos win, he does so via a finish. Anders is still very new to the UFC, so his inexperience is going to be something that he struggles to overcome against veteran that has won five of his last six fights. Santos has a good enough ground game to warrant a worry from Anders, if he did decide to shoot for a takedown, and on the feet, this fight should not be that much of a contest. Santos is simply better. Anders could eventually end up being better, but at this point in both of their careers, look for Santos to find that knockout.
Justin’s Reaction: Santos is likely my favorite play on the slate. If you didn’t recommend him here, I would have. Get him in your lineups!
Justin’s Pick: Gillian Robertson
This is an interesting matchup. Robertson has looked good in her two UFC fights, but she has yet to face any great competition. While Mayra Bueno Silva is undefeated (4-0), I don’t believe she’s a major step up in competition for Robertson. Generally, when young fighters take months off, they come back significantly better because of their ability to absorb information. Robertson is only 23 years old with seven career fights, and she hasn’t fought since May 27th. Both fighters rely heavily on their submissions, and Robertson gets the edge for me. She’s extremely active, as well, scoring 107 and 102 DK points in her first two UFC fights. Robertson is fairly priced, making her one of the best DraftKings plays on the slate.
Jason’s Reaction: For Robertson to hit value, fantasy owners must rely on a submission victory. That is a little bit worrisome, but to be able to get 100+ potential fantasy points from someone mid-ranged like Robertson is definitely worth the worry in tournaments.
Jason’s Pick: Hector Lombard
Hector Lombard was already recommended on our betting article, so I will not spend too much time discussing his possible paths to victory, but his DraftKings’ upside is worth noting. Lombard has lost five fights in a row, but he finally gets a great matchup, and when he wins, he does so in a big fashion. In two of his last four victories, Lombard posted over 100 fantasy points. With that kind of upside, in a fight that he is expected to win, his price tag seems to be a little depleted, and rightfully so. Lombard is nearing the end of his career, so he is never a sure bet, but if he does pick up the win, he has a serious chance at an early-round knockout. He makes for a great tournament option.
Justin’s Reaction: This is basically the striker-grappler matchup, and I agree that Lombard’s takedown defense should be good enough to keep this standing. My only true concern is his chin, but I’m not overly worried about Leites’ power. Lombard is a great option.
Justin’s Pick: Evan Dunham
This has been announced as Dunham’s retirement fight, so it was a bit odd that he’s fighting in Brazil. He’s a decision fighter, and generally decisions go to Brazilian fighters in Brazil. Dunham is absurdly active, though, as he’s averaging 104 DK points per fight in his last four decision wins. If this fight stays standing, Dunham will have the advantage, although I’m not overly confident he’ll be able to get Francisco Trinaldo to the ground. In turn, I’m also not entirely sure Trinaldo will be able to get Dunham to the ground. This fight has -155 odds to go the distance, meaning it should essentially be a pick ‘em. Dunham has a real chance to win a decision with his activity, even in Brazil.
Jason’s Reaction: Being in Brazil is definitely a concern. In the United States, this fight is likely to take a slight lean toward Dunham, which is why I like him so much as an underdog. The judges might respect his retirement fight and judge fairly, who knows?
Jason’s Pick: Carlo Pedersoli
This recommendation is strictly for tournaments. Alex Oliveira is very likely to pick up the win against the UFC newcomer Carlo Pedersoli. However, Pedersoli is a very well-rounded fighter with solid takedown defense and great striking. His striking defense is enough to frustrate Oliveira, and if he can weather an early storm, he may be able to gas “Cowboy” into submission. Pedersoli is very patient, and Oliveira is going to struggle to convince him to let his hands go. Again, it is very unlikely that Pedersoli does pick up the victory, but on a slate that makes sense to spend up on the more expensive fighters, finding an active underdog at a very low cost is super beneficial. Pedersoli is an active underdog. Use him in deeper tournaments for major upside.
Justin’s Reaction: I don’t particularly like Pedersoli very much. I guess if you’re hoping Oliveira wastes his gas tank early and Pedersoli wins late, that’s fine. This is far from my favorite play, though.