UFC travels to the home of Pitbull and Jorge Masvidal to host UFC 287 this Saturday in Miami. There are 11 ranked contenders including Gilbert Burns, Rob Font, Chris Curtis and Kevin Gastelum on Saturday’s card. Also on the card, is the 19-year-old phenom, Raul Rosas Jr, who enters as a -225 favorite over Christian Rodriguez.
I typically list out my top plays for these articles. Instead today, I’m ranking my Reignmakers picks for UFC 287 in tiers, giving a full view of each fighter on the slate and my confidence level in them for this fantasy format.
Do Not Play
In my opinion, these plays are tough to stomach. With a low chance of winning combined with the potential to be finished, I would avoid these fighters in your Reignmakers lineup as much as possible.
Trey Ogden RARE Floor: $3
Trey is a late replacement fighter who’s making his second weight cut in as many weeks. He faces one of my high-confidence picks this week and gives up significant edges in height and reach, while also possessing a negative striking differential. It’s a full on fade for Trey this week.
Christian Rodriguez, RARE Floor: $2
Christian Rodriguez was the only fighter to miss weight this Friday. He’s the chosen opponent for Raul Rosas Jr, and potentially being sent to the slaughterhouse against UFC’s youngest star. While talented in his own right, Rosas is a special talent and is being groomed by the UFC to take over as the youngest champion in company history. Even if Rodriguez forces a decision, he’ll be against a pro-Rosas crowd and likely judges panel.
Sam Hughes, RARE Floor: $2
Sam Hughes is certainly better than her 7-5 record suggests. However, she struggles against wrestlers, which is exactly the matchup she faces on Saturday. Combine that with a negative striking differential, I don’t see Hughes as a viable option in fantasy.
I’ll make a pick on each of these fights, but don’t have strong confidence in any of these fighters becoming an optimal option in Reignmakers. Play these ones at your own risk.
Karl Williams ($31) vs Chase Sherman ($1)
Williams is a late replacement UFC newbie replacing Chris Barnett against Chase Sherman. While Williams is certainly a talented wrestler with striking props, earning a lofty 130 fantasy points in his debut decision win three weeks ago against Lukasz Brzeski. However, there are significant gas tank and finishing concerns with Williams, and if you pay the $31 price tag, you’ll need him to finish the fight early. The Vanilla Gorilla has earned the Zombie title from me after his war with Waldo Cortes-Acosta, just enough to give me pause on him being finished. The pick is Williams and there is upside to his scoring, but he’s no lock to be in the optimal fantasy lineup this weekend.
Steve Garcia ($4) vs Shayilan Nuerdanbieke ($14)
Coming off of his controversial TKO win over Derrick Minner, Shayilan Nuerdanbieke is the favorite in his upcoming match against Steve Garcia. He fights at tremendous pace, which is fitting since he’s already rushed into the octagon 49 times and is only 28-years-old. Steve Garcia is also coming off a win, where he upset heavy favorite Chase Hooper in the very first round. When I first evaluated Garcia, I wasn’t all that impressed. He showed a level of grit and finishing ability in his fight against Hooper that has changed my stance on him. Garcia is the pick and I see him potentially paying off for DFS/Reignmakers contests. Don’t build your Reignmakers lineups around him, but if you’re looking for a last man in, you could do worse than Steve Garcia.
Adrian Yanez ($11) vs Rob Font ($4)
As a -180 favorite, Yanez may seem safe to play in DFS/Reignmakers, but I’m hesitant to lock him into my lineups. He’s a very slick boxer, but Font has a +1 striking differential over Yanez showing that Font simply takes fewer hits during his fights. I believe in the talent and am excited to see where Yanez ranks after this fight, but he’s simply risky at $11 to include in your Reignmakers lineup.
These are my strongest recommendations for Reignmakers this week. Some will come with a price tag, but I’d consider all of them worth it for this PPV Card.
Ignacio Bahamondes ($20) vs Trey Ogden ($3)
First up for the studs, rising star Ignacio Bahamondes should handily beat Trey Odgen inside the distance this Saturday. At 6-foot-3, Bahamondes is massive for a lightweight, comparable to Jalin Turner in the division. He lands 8.33 strikes per minute, which is impressive especially when combined with a +3 striking differential in the cage. I anticipate Ogden, who has a negative striking differential and is coming off two consecutive weight cuts, to simply be overwhelmed in this fight and succumb to Ignacio’s pressure. I’m firing up Bahamondes at $20 in Rare, and getting ready for some fireworks early tomorrow.
Raul Rosas Jr. ($22) vs Christian Rodriguez ($2)
At this point, everyone knows about Raul Rosas Jr. The 19-year-old has burst onto the MMA and UFC scene with seven consecutive victories and five finishes in the mix. While he hasn’t struck much since his DWCS fight, Rosas has made his money on the ground earning two full minutes of control time on his way to a first round stoppage against Jay Perrin last December. Christian Rodriguez is no slouch, but like I mentioned earlier he simply isn’t up to Rosas’ level. This one could end quickly, as Rodriguez’s 56% TD Defense won’t hold up to Rosas’ pressure. The $22 price tag seems too cheap for a guy with Rosas’ upside, and I’m playing him in Reignmakers as well.
The Main Event
Israel Adesanya ($11) vs Alex Pereira ($9)
It’s fitting that this fight is in Miami, because Pereira clearly owns prime beachfront real estate in the head of Israel Adesanya. Pereira has hunted Izzy across sports, promotions, and continents, racking up three consecutive wins against the former UFC Middleweight champion. Before breaking down the fight, stats, and picks for this championship rematch, I believe it’s worth noting the difference in mentality and composure of these two gentlemen. Entering the fifth round of their last fight, the UFC production team caught Izzy saying, “I’m ready to die.” In the other corner, Pereira said, “Pronto para matar,” or “I’m ready to kill.” To me, that signified that Izzy was ready to give up, and all Alex had to do was finish him. Now, while Pereira seems locked in as usual, Izzy is wearing a dog collar at the press conference saying, “I’ve got that dawg in me,” despite losing three straight times to Alex.
When Jon Anik says “DATELINE MIAMI” we’ll be ready to observe in the fourth matchup between these two.
Based on my breakdown above, I’m obviously picking Pereira in this matchup. He has the composure and takedown defense to keep this fight on the ground, and all he has to do is walk Adesanya to a corner where he can put him away with a left hook. Izzy has looked almost defeated in this matchup, and I struggle to see a narrative where he’s a strong enough wrestler or powerful enough striker to keep Pereira vat bay for more than three rounds. Alex is a steal at $9 and should be in as many lineups as possible, even as an underdog in this matchup.
Let me know what you think! I’ll be watching live on Saturday, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with questions/comments/reactions — @JeffGailius.
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