UFC returns to Las Vegas and the UFC Apex for a main event that will make the octagon feel a little smaller than usual. Surging Sergei Pavlovich takes on Curtis “Razor” Blaydes this Saturday in a fight that will have massive title implications.
Let’s take a look down the card to pick some studs for our Reignmakers lineups.
The Studs: As always, our Reignmakers plays will be highlighted by the highest floor/ceiling combo fighters on the slate.
Montell Jackson, RARE Floor: $21
Talk about a guy who checks boxes! Montell Jackson fits all my criteria for a DK Reignmakers play and his price tag reflects that. Jackson is on a three-fight win streak, has paths to a high upside finish victory and is taking on an opponent in Rani Yahya who is eight years older and coming off a full-year absence from competition. While he is $21 in rare and $8 more expensive than any other card on this slate, he’s worth the play given the relative safety of his victory on Saturday.
Iasmin Lucindo, RARE Floor: $13
Another very safe fighter, I’m anticipating that Ismin Lucindo rolls through Brogan Walker this weekend. At $13, she can definitely be in your lineup, but may not get the finish that we need for her to be optimal. Lucindo is a young, durable, 21-year-old who takes a lot of strikes, but deals them out and has some strong wrestling to boot. Her opponent, Walker, is 2-3 in her last five and doesn’t profile as anything to worry about as a 34-year-old searching for her first UFC victory. Lucindo is a safe, but potentially lower ceiling recommendation this weekend.
Bobby Green, RARE Floor: $11
A good wrestler who was dealt a bad hand against Paddy Pimblett in his last matchup, there’s a lot to like about Jared Gordon with his +2.15 striking differential and two takedowns per round. However, a guy who kept it close with “The Baddy” doesn’t strike me as a tough opponent for Bobby Green, whose last losses have come to Drew Dober, Islam Makhachev, and Rafael Fiziev. Bobby should roll against Gordon and potentially put him out to lead us right into our main event.
Main Event: Sergei Pavlovich ($5) vs Curtis Blaydes ($12)
The Heavyweight division is in a weird place. If Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic had already fought and retired like I expect them to in November, this would be a No. 1 vs No. 2 Heavyweight Title fight. Instead, these two beasts will duke it out on Saturday for the chance to become the future No. 1 contender.
Pavlovich is the A-side of this card, but enters as an underdog for the first time in his UFC career. With a record of 14-1 as a pro, his only loss came by first round TKO to Allistair Overeem, on the very same night that Blaydes was TKO’d by Francis Ngannou in the first round. Pavlovich has made short work of everyone he’s faced, having only been in the octagon for 13.5 Minutes across six fights. His prolific power is his calling card, and while he has been dominant, he also has not been challenged within the UFC. We’ve only seen him box within the UFC, and he may need to pull out other skills against his newest opponent.
Blaydes is a rare dominant wrestler at heavyweight, and averages nearly six takedowns per fight. While he doesn’t look for submissions, he does use his body control to finish fights and is dangerous in both clinch and ground and pound scenarios. Blaydes enters this matchup with a wealth of experience, having been in 16 total UFC fights compared to just 13.5 minutes in the octagon for his opponent.
I could see this fight going a few ways, and while my pick is Pavlovich, I admit that Blaydes is the far more likely winner in this matchup given his experience and paths to victory. Blaydes should be able to use the full 25 minutes of action in this one to set up takedowns and strike at range with Pavlovich. However, the path to taking down Pavlovich goes through the center of his body, and if Blaydes mistimes a takedown he will have his lights put out.
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