UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Jung is a card any fight fan can appreciate. It’s got a massively important featherweight contender’s clash that will set up the next challenger for Alexander Volkanovski’s belt, the return of James Krause as the last-minute replacement, and Jessica Andrade making her flyweight debut. There are also some very talented athletes making their promotional debuts, with Mateusz Gamrot topping my list of “must-see” newcomers. Even with the loss of rising French star Ciryl Gane from the event, the card is rich enough to be able to afford the loss without becoming less compelling or less intriguing.
Let’s take a look at the standouts that are worth their hefty DraftKings price tags and the ones that are the best value plays for Saturday’s fantasy MMA slate.
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Jessica Andrade, $8,400
Jessica Andrade and Katlyn Chookagian are going to put on a great fight, and honestly, this is the most perfect pricing for both women. Not a huge gulf, because these two pair off so well with each other, and not so close as to make it uninteresting. Andrade is an aggressive power bomb who is in constant forward motion. She’s adept on the ground and on the feet and she hits crazy hard. Chookagian is a methodical, technical kickboxer who fights at range, but has difficulty with strong women willing to take the fight to her, as Jessica Eye and Liz Carmouche did. I won’t bother with what Valentina Shevchenko did, because, well, it’s Valentina Shevchenko. Andrade made it all the way to the top at strawweight, but couldn’t keep her mantle, so now she tries her luck at flyweight, where she will likely be a great fit—easier weight cuts and more power. We’ll have to wait and see if she’s still as quick as she’s been at strawweight, but I’d be willing to bet she can still reel off those heaters pretty dang quick. This is a pick ‘em fight, and I’m picking Jessica Andrade to send Chookagian home without her win bonus.
Maxim Grishin, $9,100
Grishin is a beast with all the physical upside in this pairing with Gadzhimurad Antigulov ($7,100). They say confidence is king, and when you’re riding a three-fight losing skid, it’s got to be pretty hard to maintain confidence. This is the boat Antigulov finds himself in here, a go big or go home scenario, as a loss could mean the end of his run with the UFC. Grishin throws bombs and 15 of them have landed with knockout effect. He also has six submissions to his credit, making him a danger on the ground, too. Antigulov is a pretty fast starter and starts shooting early, so if Grishin is smart, he’ll use those four inches of height and eight inches of reach he has to keep Gadz from getting him to the canvas. Fortunately, Maxim has great takedown defense and solid wrestling, so he should be able to withstand Antigulov’s attacks to get the victory.
Junyong Park, $8,800
Junyong Park is a worker bee. He packs a solid haymaker and he’s busy—to the tune of 6.41 strikes per minute. He also stays on the grind, averaging 3.04 takedowns per 15 minutes. The South Korean has a lot less wear-and-tear than the Welshman and a much less battle-worn chin. John Phillips ($7,400) is a heavy-handed slugger, but his wrestling is the biggest problem with his skill set, and against an opportunist like Park, that may end up costing him the fight and his spot on the roster.
Jonathan Martinez, $8,000
Jonathan Martinez is a low-end Southpaw volume striker with wins over solid competition and a constantly evolving skill set. At 26 years of age, Martinez dominated Frankie Saenz before knocking him out in the third round this past August. It was one of his best performances to date and showed how complete his game has become. Thomas Almeida ($8,200) has legitimate power, but he’s got serious problems defensively, taking almost as much punishment as he doles out. Almeida’s chin has become a bit touchy over the years, as attested to by the knockouts he sustained at the hands of Cody Garbrandt and Rob Font. When you pair that with a nearly three-year layoff, the upside to Martinez just keeps growing. Jonathan is a great wrestler, and as mentioned already, has been improving his striking from fight to fight. He’s not exactly a rocket launcher, but he kicks like a mule and has a stinger of a jab. When you stack up the pros and cons, the far greater upside lies with Martinez. It should end up being a great fight, regardless of the outcome.
Claudio Silva, $7,700
Claudio Silva is a lethal submission artist that’s made quite a splash on the rare occasions we get to see him fight. His octagon appearances are sparse, but when he shows up—whether it’s four years or six months out from his last contest—he shows up in prime form. As a matter of fact, Claudio has only tasted defeat one time, and it was so long ago (2007, his pro debut), that most forgot about it. He’ll have his hands full with the crafty veteran that is James Krause ($8,500). Krause is talented on the feet and the ground—he actually has more submissions than Silva—and has very good instincts and fight IQ. Since moving to welterweight, James has demonstrated power and has put on some outstanding performances. Even in his loss against the much bigger Trevin Giles, Krause looked great and managed to take Giles to a split-decision. All that said, Claudio Silva is a specialist, and his specialty is getting you to the ground and taking a limb or a neck. I’m certainly not saying this is a lock—it is anything but a lock—but I am saying there is a better than average chance that Silva shows why we should never forget his name, even if it’s been years since we last saw him.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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