It’s not often we get a replacement fight that ends up being better and more competitive than the original, but that’s what’s happened this week with UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori. When Kevin Holland had to withdraw from his main event showdown with Jack Hermansson, the UFC quickly sprang into action, grabbing Marvin Vettori from his previously scheduled UFC 256 fight with Jacare Souza and pitting him against Hermansson. It’s a much more important matchup than the originally slated main event and will likely see the winner move on up that contender’s ladder. The headliner is flanked by several exciting prospect matches, excellent fodder in the leadup to the last two cards of the year.
We’ve put together a list of fighters from the card that illustrate one of two things: Why they are worth their hefty DraftKings fantasy price tags, or why they’re the best value. Let’s take a look at how our chosen athletes stack up.
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MMA NEWS ALERT: The Montana De La Rosa-Talia Santos, Movsar Evloev-Nate Landwehr and Jimmy Flick-Cody Durden fights for tonight's UFC Fight Night card have been canceled. pic.twitter.com/K4NvuWKDkv— DK Nation (@dklive) December 5, 2020
Movsar Evloev, $9,300 Movsar Evloev is probably the most talented prospect on this card. His wrestling, excellent instincts, and evolving striking are worthy of the praise they’re getting and have seen him unbeaten in 13 fights. His opponent, Nate Landwehr ($6,900), is a tough volume striker with a defensive skill set so porous that it resembles Swiss cheese. Both men have good cardio, although I’d be inclined to give that edge to Nate, who routinely drags his opponents into deep water with the intention of wearing them down. Evloev has a serious blast double and a crushing top game, which is suited to Landwehr’s lack of solid takedown defense. Lanwehr will be the toughest opponent yet for Evloev, but this fight definitely favors the Russian.
Ilia Topuria, $9,000
Ilia Topuria is another great prospect hailing from Georgia (the country). The 23-year-old is primarily a grappler, but a little over a year ago, he added a crushing knockout to his record, then secured a unanimous decision over the highly touted Youssef Zalal just two months ago. At 5’7”, Ilia is a squat fireplug, powerful with takedowns which are set up exceptionally well with crispy straights down the middle. Topuria is an aggressive submission hunter, something he’ll definitely find use for against Damon Jackson ($7,200), who is also a submission specialist, although much less athletically gifted. “The Leech” was losing the fight with Mirsad Bektic up until he was able to capitalize on a takedown attempt to pull off the miracle guillotine upset. He may have won that bout, but in the process, he showed an extremely porous defensive strategy, if you could even call it that. Topuria might be at a height and reach disadvantage, but speed, power and technique all favor him here.
Jimmy Flick, $8,500 Jimmy Flick comes into his UFC debut with a lot of hype, largely due to his ground game. He’s a seasoned grappler with tons of aggression and a dedication to his specialty, a refreshing change from those grapplers that end up falling in love with their hands. Nope, Jimmy Flick has remained faithful to the one that brought him to the dance. “The Brick” wastes no time getting the fight to the ground, averaging 2.26 takedowns per fight and attempting around eight submissions. He’s a great scrambler and is seamless and fluid with his transitions. He’s been on the regional scene for his entire career, though, so it’s up in the air how he’ll do at the UFC level. His opponent, Cody Durden ($7,700), is an explosive wrestler who will be looking to give him the lead blanket treatment from the top position. It’s not a foregone conclusion by any means, but there is slightly more upside with Flick’s submission game, hence the pick here.
Jack Hermansson, $8,000
Jack Hermansson went from having a fairly winnable fight to ending up the slight underdog in the space of nine days. Kevin Holland was a much more raw, untested-at-the-higher-level opponent than Marvin Vettori ($8,200) will end up being. Vettori is a strong grappler (he almost never gets out-grappled) with endless reserves of stamina. He’s not a knockout artist or a volume striker, but he’s aggressive and stalwart. Hermansson is a crafty, underrated submission artist, too, but he’s benefited more by his polished striking, which has seen him to 11 knockout victories. He’s slick on the ground, has good footwork, excellent positional awareness and also has a decent gas tank. This is a razor close fight, but I’m gonna go with the crafty vet to edge out the decision.
Ovince Saint Preux, $7,800
The disrespect! OSP being the underdog in this fight based off Jamahal Hill’s ($8,400) finish of Klidson Abreu and decision over Darko Stosic is absolutely bonkers. Yes, Hill is insanely athletically gifted. Yes, he packs a heater, but Ovince Saint Preux is also blessed with power, speed and a bonus grappling game that has seen him through to eight submission victories as well as 12 knockout victories—and Saint Preux has legitimate, one-punch power which he just demonstrated in his last fight. At 37, Ovince is still finishing guys on a skill level that Hill has yet to face. That’s really the long and short of it. Experience in high level fights and a wild, daring submission game should see the Knoxville native to victory.
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