Justin’s Pick: Takashi Sato
Takashi Sato may never be an elite fighter in the UFC, but he doesn’t have to be in order to beat Ben Saunders at this point in his career. Saunders has virtually no chin left, and he has been finished in five of his last seven fights, including three fights in 2018. Sato has the striking to finish Saunders on the feet, and the only real danger for him would be if he decides to play in Saunders’s guard. With that being said, Sato possesses vicious ground-and-pound, and should be able to work past Saunders’s guard if he finds himself in that position. Ultimately, Sato could earn a (T)KO on the feet, or he could win via ground-and-pound. Regardless, it should happen in the first or second round, making him one of the best fighters on this card.
Jason’s Reaction: I understand the recommendation, but Sato is not at the top of recommendation list. There are better high-priced options.
Jason’s Pick: Gilbert Burns
Gilbert Burns has massive upside this weekend against Mike Davis. As Justin outlined in the betting article, Mike Davis has not fought the level of competition that he is required to in order to stand a chance against an opponent like Burns. Burns has a 56% chance to finish this fight inside distance, and if he doesn’t, he should score quite a few takedowns on his way to a dominant decision victory. He is a second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Davis is going to be clueless, if he winds up on his back, which he will, as Burns has 2.34 takedowns landed per 15 minutes in his UFC career. The 32-year-old Brazilian will likely be the first fighter in almost every one of my lineups on Saturday.
Justin’s Reaction: Burns was my original pick, but then I opted for Sato. So obviously I like this pick quite a bit.
Justin’s Pick: Augusto Sakai
This is an odd fight. Augusto Sakai will fight Andrei Arlovski in a heavyweight bout, but this fight has -165 odds to go decision. That is more or less because of Arlovski, who has gone to decision in six consecutive fights. That hasn’t been the M.O. of Sakai, though, as he has finished 10 of his 12 wins via (T)KO. He also knocked out Chase Sherman in his UFC debut, landing 111 significant strikes before recording the win. Avlovski recently looked to have a “come back” in him, winning decisions against Junior Albini and Stefan Struve. He has lost 8 of his last 10 fights, though, and he has been knocked out 10 times throughout his career. Furthermore, Arlovski is coming off of a loss to Walt Harris, but that fight was overturned. Sakai should be active enough to pick up a decision win if it goes to the judge’s scorecard. He’s the fighter that comes with finishing potential, as well, and even with his recent string of decisions, I don’t believe Arlovski is knockout proof (in some odd Benjamin Button type of way with his chin). Sakai is relatively cheap because this line is somewhat close, but I believe that’s only because Arlovski continues to make fights dirty and difficult to judge. Sakai is the safer fighter, who comes with significantly more upside.
Jason’s Reaction: I absolutely love Sakai on DraftKings for his price tag. He is one of the higher upside options, and value plays are difficult to come by this Saturday.
Jason’s Pick: Ion Cutelaba
Ion Cutelaba has similar upside to Augusto Sakai, but he is a lot riskier. Glover Teixeira is actually a slight favorite to win this fight at 55% to Cutelaba’s 48% (based on Vegas odds, which has overlap). However, Cutelaba has a 38% chance of knocking Teixeira out, compared to Teixeira’s 12% chance of knocking Cutelaba out. The 25-year-old Moldovan is proficient in Sambo, Judo, kickboxing, and Greco-Roman wrestling, so the skill set is there. Teixeira is still an elite-level fighter, despite his age, but after impressive wins against both Henrique da Silva and Gadzhimurad Antigulov, Cutelaba deserves this chance to prove himself. Teixeira is 3-3 in his last six fights, and his career is slowly coming to an end. Cutelaba will have to avoid allowing him to use his second-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Luigi Mondelli, or his fifth-degree black belt in Kajukenbo under John Hackleman, but that shouldn’t be too challenging. If Cutelaba wins this fight, his DraftKings’ score could be massive, which makes him a great tournament option.
Justin’s Reaction: I completely agree this is a great tournament fight. I side with Cutelaba, but if Teixeira wins, he should record plenty of takedowns. So I don’t mind either side of this fight.
Justin’s Pick: Cory Sandhagen
John Lineker has spent quite some time in the UFC taking out young up-and-coming fighters. I believe this is where that stops. Cory Sandhagen is a fighter young in his career, compared to someone like Lineker, who is only one year old than Sandhagen, but has been training MMA for seven more years. Still, Sandhagen is the more complete fighter, while Lineker relies heavily on walking through punches and throwing powerful strikes while looking for the knockout. Most importantly, T.J. Dillashaw outlined the strategy to beat Lineker, and Sandhagen has the tools to use it. He’s eight inches taller with a three inch reach advantage. If he fights smart, this is Sandhagen’s fight to lose. The only concern is that he’s a fighter that loves to put on a show, and he’ll get led into a fire fight, which gives Lineker the advantage. Still, I believe that in such an important fight, Sandhagen’s corner will make sure he fights smart to pick up the win.
Jason’s Reaction: Justin decided to steal all the good recommendations this weekend. Sandhagen is an elite value option, and almost a lock in tournaments.
Jason’s Pick: Jack Hermansson
Jack Hermansson will likely lose this weekend to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a solid option in tournaments on DraftKings. This is a five-round fight, and both fighters will have an adequate chance to show off their skill sets. Unfortunately for Hermansson, Souza will likely be the next title challenger in this division, after Robert Whittaker takes his belt back from Israel Adesanya. However, if Hermansson can avoid allowing Souza to utilize his sixth-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Henrique Machado, he has a chance. Souza has struggled specifically against wrestlers, and Hermansson has that background. He is also extremely aggressive, which could overwhelm Souza and work in his favor, especially considering Souza’s advanced age. This will be the hardest fight of his career to date, and it is worth stacking this fight in cash games. In tournaments, roster Hermansson is about 20% of leagues and Souza in the other 80%.
Justin’s Reaction: This is an odd fight for me. Souza has only allowed one pass in his UFC career (I believe I read this), which virtually stops Hermansson from getting into strong ground-and-pound position. I do think he’ll have an edge if he can keep it standing, though. I’m 50/50 on this fight, and because of that, I’m okay with Hermansson for his price tag.