Justin’s Pick: Tyson Pedro
It’s impossible to trust Pedro in the octagon after the fight IQ he displayed in his last loss against Ovince Saint Preux. He was well on his way to a knockout win before losing via submission after transitioning from his dominant striking to grappling. He now gets a “gimme” matchup against Mauricio Rua. Rua seemingly regained form, winning three consecutive fights before being viciously knocked out by Anthony Smith in July. He was also knocked out in two consecutive fights prior to his three fight win streak. Pedro has won each of his fights inside of distance, and was on his way to another fight round knockout in his last fight before losing via submission. Pedro currently owns an inside the distance prop of -245, and it would be surprising to see this fight last longer than a round. Pedro makes an elite option as one of the biggest favorites on the slate.
Jason’s Reaction: Pedro needs to be a focal point this Saturday. I completely agree on this one.
Jason’s Pick: Kai Kara-France
Kai Kara-France impressed the UFC world back in 2016 on The Ultimate Fighter, but a contract offer never came. This Saturday, he will finally realize his dream. Elias Garcia, the man standing in Kara-France’s way, fought once in the UFC already. He lost via a rear-naked choke in the second round against Mark De La Rosa. Vegas sees this fight as an easy victory for Kara-France, and he also has good odds to finish (-112). Kara-France opened as a huge favorite, and he has maintained that separation. While he has not always lived up to his “Don’t Blink” moniker, he definitely has the opportunity to do so tonight. The muay thai specialist is a young up-and-comer that Tiger Muay Thai will be pushing and New Zealand will be rooting for. This is a pretty safe option in tournaments and cash games.
Justin’s Reaction: I really like Kara-France. My only issue is his price tag. There are a few great plays around him, but I have no issues with anyone playing him.
Justin’s Pick: Junior Dos Santos
This is an interesting fight, as Tai Tuivasa will see a major step up in competition against Junior Dos Santos, while JDS will be taking on a young up-and-coming prospect. Tuivasa features a 3-0 record in the UFC, although two of his wins are against replacement-level talents in Rashad Coulter and Cyril Asker. His third win is a bit more impressive, as he knocked off Andrei Arlovski, but that was somewhat of an unimpressive decision. Dos Santos is coming off of an impressive five round decision win against Blagoy Ivanov. He’s a technical striker, who could frustrate Tuivasa on the feet. Dos Santos also comes with the significantly better cardio, as he has utilized all five rounds in multiple fights throughout his career, while Tuivasa looked gassed in only three rounds in his last fight. Keep in mind, Tuivasa has fight ending potential, but I side slightly with Dos Santos’ gas tank and technical striking. He could also find a finish later in the fight if Tuivasa comes in struggling with his cardio again.
Jason’s Reaction: In tournaments, I side with Tuivasa. He has insane power, and he will pressure Dos Santos early. For his price tag, I find it hard to ignore him.
Jason’s Pick: Mark Hunt
It is a nod of respect to Mark Hunt that he continues to get opportunities in the UFC after losing big fight after big fight, especially considering his relationship with Dana White and the organization as a whole. Luckily for Hunt, the 44-year-old gets a much more defeatable opponent this Saturday. Justin Willis is no slouch, but he has also never fought someone as experienced as Hunt. After a loss to Henry Solis in ROF, Willis never lost again in his professional career. Meanwhile, Hunt has as many losses as wins. However, Hunt’s loses come to opponents like Alexey Oleynik, Curtis Blaydes, Alistair Overeem, Stipe Miocic, and Fabricio Werdum. He is consistently fighting elite-level competition. Hunt does not need his knockout power to out-point Willis in this fight. His gas tank is good enough to go three rounds. While Hunt is the underdog via Vegas, he is also more likely to finish this fight via knockout than Willis, and the fight is set at 1.5 rounds.
Justin’s Reaction: I’m fine with Hunt in tournaments, but I lean slightly towards Willis. It’s a fight you’ll want a piece of in GPPs, regardless of your side.
Justin’s Pick: Mizuto Hirota
Hirota has struggled in his time in the UFC, posting a 1-4-1 record through six fights. He has displayed tremendous durability, though, as he has only been finished once in his career, but which was a submission. His opponent, Christos Giagos, has also struggled in the UFC, recording a 1-3 record in the promotion. He has been finished multiple times, and Hirota does come with some power. While I don’t necessarily feel Hirota should be the favorite in this fight, I do believe these odds should be closer. Hirota has proven that he has the potential to score well in a decision, scoring 107 DK points in a win against Cole Miller, while scoring 51 DK points in a decision loss to Rodrigo Damm (2013).
Jason’s Reaction: This fight is almost definitely going to go the distance, which provides ample opportunity for Hirota to rack up the fantasy points at a very low price tag on DraftKings.
Jason’s Pick: Wilson Reis
Wilson Reis is also recommended over on our betting odds article, but he is worth a mention twice. The line in this fight does makes little sense. Reis is more likely to win inside of distance, and both fighters have the same finishing odds in their respective categories. Reis is +375 to win via submission, while Ben Nguyen is +375 to win via knockout. Reis has been finished via (technical) knockout three times in his career. Nguyen has been finished via submission twice in his career. This should be a close fight, but ultimately, Reis is better at BJJ than Nguyen is at striking. In a weight class that rarely produces knockouts, I will side with the submission artist that has fought elite-level competition over the knockout artist that has yet to find his way into the top five.
Justin’s Reaction: Reis is one of my favorite underdogs on the slate. I actually think he wins this fight, and could potentially finish Nguyen.