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UFC Fight Night Predictions: DraftKings Fantasy MMA Fights to Target, Betting Odds, Picks

Greg Ehrenberg takes a look at the fights where he thinks the winner has a chance to score big DraftKings fantasy points and break the UFC slate, which gets underway at 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 18.

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez is taking place at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 18, and in this article, I am looking at the fights where I think the winner has a chance to score big DraftKings fantasy points and break the MMA slate.

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Deiveson Figueiredo ($9,000; -225) vs. Joseph Benavidez ($7,200; +180)

I was pleasantly surprised to see Figueiredo make weight on Friday morning. Cutting to 125 pounds has always been a struggle for Figueiredo and my gut feeling was that he wasn’t going to be able to make championship weight after making the long trek to Abu Dhabi. The first fight between Figueiredo and Benavidez was supposed to be a title bout, but Figueiredo missed weight for that fight and was ineligible to win the title even though he knocked out Benavidez in the second round.

The missed weight wasn’t the only controversy from the first fight between these two. There was also a headbutt that, in my opinion, led to Benavidez getting knocked out. Other than Figueiredo’s weight, the headbutt has been the other narrative surrounding this fight. Shortly before getting knocked out, Benavidez was headbutted and it led to a pretty nasty cut opening up over his eye. While Benavidez was wiping blood out of his eye, Figueiredo caught him with a straight right that put Benavidez out. If not for the headbutt, I think that fight would have gone differently.

While the headbutt is the lasting story of what happened in the octagon during the first fight between these two, I think it’s important to point on the striking differential from the first round. The knockout occurred in the second round and I thought Benavidez clearly won the first round. He landed 31 significant strikes compared to 15 for Figueiredo. Even in the second round, Benavidez out-landed Figueiredo by a count of 15 to 10 prior to the finish. We also have to consider that Figueiredo has had cardio issues in the past. If not for what could be considered a fluke finish in the second round, Benavidez almost certainly would have had a bigger advantage in the later rounds. An early finish for Figueiredo is a possibility here, but I think the more likely outcome is Benavidez avoiding the kill shot and winning via decision.

Prediction: Joseph Benavidez by unanimious decision

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Serghei Spivac ($8,400; -177) vs. Carlos Felipe ($7,800; +140)

If you are looking to find footage on Felipe, good luck. There isn’t any clear tape on him that can be found on the internet. In fact, even Felipe’s record doesn’t state the method of victory for most of his fights. Felipe is a 7-0 Brazilian and of his wins, one is by decision, two are by KO/TKO and the other four wins on his record just say “Win.” Even so, it seems fair to assume that this is a low-level heavyweight fight and, more often than not, these kinds of matchups tend to produce a good fantasy score.

From what we know, Felipe is a standup fighter and he even has one professional win in boxing. There isn’t any information on his ground game, which I am going to assume to be mediocre to below-average. If this is the case, Spivac has a chance to impose his will in the wrestling department. He averages 3.74 takedowns per 15 minutes and landed six takedowns in his lone UFC win over Tai Tuivasa. He scored 129.5 DKFP in that fight and I think something similar could happen in this matchup. If Felipe is able to keep this fight standing, I think he’s live for a knockout and we have seen Spivac stopped early in the past. Due to the wrestling of Spivac I favor him to win, although both sides of this fight warrant ownership in GPP. I expect the winner to put up a lofty fantasy score.

Prediction: Serghei Spivac by unanimous decision

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Kelvin Gastelum ($8,200; -112) vs. Jack Hermansson ($8,000; -112)

Had this fight taken place a year ago, the line would have been dramatically different. After a first-round knockout over former champion Michael Bisping and then a decision win over Jacare Souza, Gastelum got a shot at an interim title against Israel Adesanya. Even though Adesanya took over the fight in the fifth round, the bout was a classic and Gastelum gave a great showing of himself. Despite the loss, Gastelum’s stock appeared to be on the rise after coming up short in his first title shot. He followed up that fight with a very odd loss to Darren Till. Gastelum only landed 40 significant strikes and struggled to get in a rhythm. This is how he finds himself in a pick’em fight against Hermansson.

Ultimately, this fight is going to come down to whether Hermansson can land takedowns. While he has a smothering top game and we have seen him dominate and rack up big fantasy scores when landing takedowns, Hermansson struggles when he’s forced to strike. He has a good game when able to mix up all his tools, but he isn’t polished enough as a striker to stand and trade with the biggest hitters in the division. We saw this in his last fight. After landing just one of six takedowns against Jared Cannonier, Hermansson was knocked out in the second round. In his loss before that, he went 0-2 on takedowns against Thiago Santos and was knocked out toward the end of the first round. I think Gastelum has good enough defensive wrestling to keep this fight standing and put Hermansson away.

Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum by second-round KO/TKO

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