The UFC’s final pay-per-view of 2020 takes place on Saturday, December 12 from Las Vegas, Nevada. In the UFC 256 main event, reigning flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, who just headlined UFC 255 less than a month ago, gets a short notice title defense against Mexico’s Brandon Moreno, who also won on that same card. In the co-main event, former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson squares off with Charles Oliveira in what could be a late entrant into Fight of the Year discussion.
This card has been heavily revamped due to positive COVID-19 tests, injuries, and other issues, and may yet still experience changes up until fight day itself. Before we get to fight time for UFC 256, let’s look at some of the fighters on this card who can end this most difficult year on a high note with high scores for your DraftKings teams.
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Jacare Souza ($8,000) vs. Kevin Holland ($8,200) - Middleweights
It seems like Kevin Holland is fighting every month these days. This will be his fifth appearance of 2020, and it’s by far his toughest test of the bunch. Holland has recorded finishes in three of his last four wins, including a TKO of Joaquin Buckley, who might have KO of the Year sewn up himself after what he did to Impa Kasanganay. As for Jacare, this is really the Brazilian’s last stand as a contender. The 41-year-old is 1-3 in his last four, although two of them were split decisions to Kelvin Gastelum and current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. His lone win during this stretch came by KO against Chris Weidman in 2018.
The outcome of this fight really hinges on how much Jacare has left in the tank given his age and recent troubling performances. If he commits to his wrestling instead of trying to lunge for powerful hooks against someone with a massive reach advantage and superior athleticism and striking, the fight should be in his favor. Holland’s takedown defense has been a liability for him before and if nothing else, Souza is still a terrific grappler and I think he’ll snap Holland’s impressive run of form.
Number of note: 54. Holland’s career takedown defense in the UFC (plus his one appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series) is just 20/37, or approximately 54%.
Ciryl Gane ($9,200) vs. Junior Dos Santos ($7,000) - Heavyweights
Gane is one of the top prospects in the heavyweight division. The French Muay Thai specialist has few MMA fights, but he’s garnered a lot of hype after six bouts. His UFC record is 3-0, with two submissions followed by a decision over Tanner Boser. If he can win on Saturday, we have a new contender. On the flip side, it’s been tough times for the former UFC heavyweight champion. After losing his rematch to reigning champ Stipe Miocic, JDS experienced a career resurgence with three wins over Blagoy Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa, and Derrick Lewis. Since then, he’s been knocked out by Francis Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
This could be a passing of the torch moment. The main issue for Dos Santos is less his offense, which is based on his powerful boxing and leg kicks, but rather his fading durability and horrible habit of getting caught with his back towards the fence and vulnerable to a big shot. Gane hasn’t yet shown his big power in the UFC, but he’s such a smooth, fast, and technical striker that accumulation may be enough to put JDS down and out. I think Gane notches the biggest win of his career.
Number of note: 6. Not only is it the total number of pro fights for Gane, but it’s the number of times Dos Santos has lost by KO/TKO out of eight overall defeats. All six have occurred in the UFC.
Mackenzie Dern ($8,700) vs. Virna Jandiroba ($7,500) - Strawweights
They don’t get much better than Dern as far as jiu-jitsu credentials. The multi-time world champion and 2015 ADCC gold medalist is 9-1 in MMA, with that one blemish coming against rising star Amanda Ribas. As you might expect, her submission grappling skills are on full display in most of her fights. Opposite her on this card is Virna Jandiroba, a former Invicta FC champion who’s also an outstanding grappler. After dropping her UFC debut to Carla Esparza, Janiroba has recorded back to back submissions of Mallory Martin and Felice Herrig.
This is not an easy fight to pick. Dern’s striking remains very sloppy, but Jandiroba is absolutely not the fighter to exploit that with her own striking. Jandiroba is eager to get fights to the ground, so I think we’ll see some fascinating grappling exchanges almost by default. Where I believe Dern has the edge is her athleticism and strength. That may lead to key reversals, sweeps, and the spots she needs to submit Jandiroba, and that’s how I believe Dern will win.
Number of note: 22. Dern (6 of 9) and Jandiroba (13 of 16) have combined for 22 submissions out of 28 career wins. They’ve each won by decision three times.
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