Justin’s Pick: Montana De La Rosa
The odds on this fight are extremely surprising in my opinion. Montana De La Rosa is a high level submission grappler, who will be taking on Nadia Kassem, who is a powerful striker. De La Rosa has two losses since 2015, and those fights were to Mackenzie Dern and Cynthia Calvillo. De La Rosa also owns a 2-0 UFC record, winning each fight via submission. Kassem owns a 5-0 record with her only notable win being Alex Chambers, which is far from an elite win. The quickest way to a first-round finish in WMMA is via submission (statistically), and Kassem doesn’t have the defensive submission grappling to stop De La Rosa. This fight simply comes down to whether or not De La Rosa can get this fight to the ground. I believe she can, and I feel this fight could very possibly end in the first round. You’ll see more reasoning behind that in our MMA betting article, but De La Rosa comes with grappling and first-round finishing upside for a reasonable price tag.
Jason’s Reaction: I like De La Rosa this weekend due to her upside, but also because her price is right where fantasy owners need it to be. Avoiding the elite-priced options, despite my Vannata recommendation, may be the way to go on this card.
Jason’s Pick: Lando Vannata
Lando Vannata has had a rough go of things in the UFC up to this point in his career, but this Saturday, the UFC is basically guaranteeing him a victory. After two losses and two draws in his last four fights, Vannata needs to win this fight to remain with the promotion, and it would be sad to see someone with the finishing potential of Vannata to exit stage left. Luckily, he is fighting a up-and-coming Brazilian training at Killer Bees under Rodrigo Vidal. Vannata, on the other hand, trains at Jackson’s MMA, which immediately gives him an advantage. While Vannata has struggled in the world’s biggest promotion, Marcos Rosa Mariano has failed to consistently win on the regional scene. As far as fantasy is concerned, the most impressive statistic is Vegas’ finishing odds for this fight. Vannata is uptempo, and he has -210 odds to keep the judges from doing their job, as well as +150 odds to finish in the first round. He has multiple paths to victory with +128 odds to win by TKO/KO and +250 odds to win by submission. Vannata is a better option this Saturday than Israel Adesanya because he has the same upside for a discount.
Justin’s Reaction: At this point, I absolutely hate taking Lando Vannata. With that being said, he’s in an elite spot tonight. It pains me, but he is one of the best plays on the card if you can fit him.
Justin’s Pick: Jimmy Crute
Sam Alvey is a very one-dimensional fighter, while the same can’t be said for Jimmy Crute. We know Crute owns solid power, while his grappling was on full display in an impressive submission victory over Paul Craig in his UFC debut. Alvey is coming off of a knockout loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but won two of his three fights prior to that. Alvey generally fights off of his back foot, looking solely for one knockout punch. That’s a quick way to lose a decision, specifically against an active fighter like Crute. The latter has more ways to win this fight, specifically with his grappling. Cardio could be a bit of an issue for Crute, but I don’t expect that to matter much with the output of Alvey. Crute has a significantly higher ceiling, and his price tag simply doesn’t represent that.
Jason’s Reaction: I’ll preface this reaction by saying that I do not like the recommendation to bet on Crute on MyBookie (see betting article). However, I do like Crute on DraftKings. He has much better upside than Alvey, and his price tag is very respectable. Alvey is an annoying fighter for opponents, and he could frustrate Crute. If Crute gets too aggressive, he could find himself knocked out. This fight should be closer to a pick ‘em, but Crute has the better upside for fantasy.
Jason’s Pick: Rani Yahya
This recommendation is for tournaments only, but Rani Yahya offers some very impressive upside for his price tag. There will be no surprises in this fight. Ricky Simon is going to beat up Yahya on the feet, and Yahya is going to attempt to find a quick submission. Honestly, this fight is a toss up, but the potential ways in which it will play out favor Yahya on DraftKings in tournaments. Yahya has incredible odds to finish this fight at +165, while Simon is only at +480. Granted, if this fight goes to decision, there is almost no way in which Yahya sways the judges in his favor, unless, of course, this fight was in Brazil. Most importantly for upside, Simon has +1000 odds to win in the first round, while Yahya maintains an impressive +350. That means the most likely scenario for Yahya this weekend, assuming he does pick up a victory, is a first-round submission. At his price tag, that would immediately skyrocket teams into the top of tournaments. Simon could easily pick apart Yahya on the feet for three rounds, whilst evading submission attempts, but take the upside on a card that has very little low-, or even mid-, priced options that should win.
Justin’s Reaction: I was surprised by these odds. I thought Rani Yahya was going to be the favorite, and I stand by that. If he can get this fight to the ground, his submission grappling should be too much for Ricky Simon to handle. Simon certainly has the ability to keep this fight standing, but without finishing power of his own, I don’t believe Yahya will be too worried about his striking disadvantage. That could lead to easier takedowns, which is when the submission will come.
Justin’s Pick: Kelvin Gastelum
I don’t think we truly appreciate what Robert Whittaker has been doing as the Middleweight champion. His last three wins have come against Yoel Romero (2) and Jacare Souza, who have generally only lost to each other. Whittaker has elite takedown defense, and his grappling is significantly better than most give him credit for because they simply haven’t seen it. With that being said, Kelvin Gastelum is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, although I’m not overly convinced Gastelum can get the fight to the ground. Still, he has been performing at a high level recently, losing only to Chris Weidman after nearly knocking him out earlier in that fight. While I do believe Whittaker should be the favorite in this fight, I’m not entirely sure it should be this wide. I believe there is some odds value and price value in Gastelum. I also may be slightly biased because of my love for Gastelum, so take that however you want.
Jason’s Reaction: I disagree here. I don’t mind rostering Gastelum on a DraftKings’ tournament lineup for the low price tag and five-round fight, but I do not see a way in which Gastelum wins this fight. Whittaker has too great of takedown defense, and his striking is obviously better. He isn’t a super-high output fighter either, so this fight may be slower than most are expecting. I might avoid it entirely in tournaments.
Jason’s Pick: Wuliji Buren
Wuliji Buren is another recommendation that takes advantage of Vegas odds in order to find the best possible low-priced fighter with the best ability to win, if the fight plays out in his or her favor. So, what does Vegas think happens here? Well, the fight is set at -195 to go the distance, which favors Buren, as it will allow him to pick up fantasy points for three rounds. Unfortunately, if this fight ends early, it will likely be Jonathan Martinez on the winning side, considering his +282 odds to win inside of distance. However, if Buren does not get finished, both fighters have similar odds in the hands of the judges. Buren is set at +207 to win via decision, while Martinez is set at +159. Neither fighter has picked up a victory in the UFC thus far in their careers, but at least Buren lost to Marlon Vera, who has found success (he also lost to Rolando Dy, who has not found success). Martinez, on the other hand, lost to a mediocre Andre Soukhamthath. This fight is basically a toss up, again, but the finishing potential sides with Martinez, as it should for his price tag. Buren, given that he has a realistic chance to win this fight via decision, can provide some much needed salary relief, if fantasy owners are not looking to take the risk on someone like Kelvin Gastelum.
Justin’s Reaction: I actually think Andre Soukhamthath is a solid fight with atrocious fight IQ. With that being said, Wuliji Buren is a really solid salary relief option. For what it’s worth, I believe Jonathan Martinez should be a solid favorite, but Jason convinced me on this.