On Saturday, August 8, the UFC will host another great event from their APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are some real treats on this card—Beneil Dariush vs. Scott Holtzman, Laureano Staropoli vs. Tim Means, Darren Stewart vs. Maki Pitolo and of course, the main event featuring Derrick Lewis vs. Aleksei Oleinik. The trouble with compelling, well-matched fights is they’re notoriously tough to pick, so I’ve got another cheat sheet ready with some key factors that might give you a bit more insight when choosing your DraftKings lineups.
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Maki Pitolo ($7,600)
Maki Pitolo is an aggressive volume striker who gets right in the pocket and throws heat. He’s a technically proficient boxer who sets up crisp combinations with a stinging jab and he has very effective countering, in stark contrast to his opponent Darren Stewart ($8,600), who has a raw, less polished striking game. Maki averages 5.22 strikes per minute with 45% accuracy and absorbs just under 3.0 strikes per minute. He has knockout power, as demonstrated against Charles Byrd, but his volume and technique will likely see him racking up points in this contest.
Yana Kunitskaya ($8,800)
Yana Kunitskaya is an orthodox volume striker with very good kickboxing and a willingness to stand and trade. She lands 5.05 strikes per minute at a 52% accuracy rate. As is the case with many of the candidates on this list, defense is often times sacrificed to land at such a high rate, and with Yana, she absorbs 4.12 strikes per minute. Her significant other is Thiago Santos, and they train together, so you can count on her kicking game to be better with every outing. Two things to note about her opponent, Julija Stoliarenko ($7,400):
1. She took the fight on two-week’s notice.
2. When she faced tougher, UFC-caliber competition (Leah Letson, Lucie Pudilova), she lost both times.
Scott Holtzman ($7,100)
Scott Holtzman is a workhorse with a well-rounded skillset that includes excellent striking with high output. He averages 4.52 strikes per minute, landing at a 49% accuracy rate. He possesses power and manages to keep his defense at a respectable 55%, absorbing around 3.33 shots per minute. Holtzman is coming off back-to-back wins, one via TKO and another via unanimous decision, and has lost just once in his last six outings. When he keeps the fight standing, he almost always manages to outstrike his opponents by a significant margin. Conversely, when he is over eager to wrestle, we see that output decline, so if “Hot Sauce” keeps this contest upright, one can expect to see plenty of trading in the clinch, as Beneil Dariush ($9,100) is also quite willing to stand and bang.
Tim Means ($7,900; also a Knockout King)
The “Dirty Bird” is a fantastic volume striker with the ability to separate his opponents from consciousness with punches, knees, elbows or kicks. He’s basically a hyper violent smorgasbord of strikes, and any of them can be fight-enders. Means has had durability issues of late, but he still manages to stay dangerous and busy. He averages 4.87 strikes per minute, landing at a 45% accuracy rate and manages to keep his defensive shield up at around 62%, absorbing 3.44 shots per minute. Laureano Staropoli ($8,300) is also very active, and could certainly snag the victory, but you can count on Means to start fast and land frequently for as long as he is upright.
Nasrat Haqparast ($9,000)
Nasrat Haqparast is an aggressive southpaw volume striker with plenty of power to keep invaders of his phonebooth wary of tasting the canvas. He has nine knockouts on his resume and is a well-rounded boxer with smooth combinations and good counters. Nasrat is a pressure fighter and prefers to dictate the pace and range with lots of output, to the tune of 5.25 strikes per minute with a 47% accuracy rate. His defense is very sound at 74%, absorbing around 3.38 shots per minute. I know his last fight was a brutal KO loss, but Haqparast is still young and capable of rebounding, especially with a win over a very fresh, regional-level prospect in Alexander Munoz ($7,200).
Andrew Sanchez ($7,700; also a Gas Guzzler)
Andrew Sanchez is a super talented grappler who also happens to be a great volume striker. He has some issues that need to be addressed, but there’s no denying that his output is significant. He averages 4.49 strikes per minute at an accuracy rate of 43%, but his defense suffers mightily, where he absorbs 4.92 shots per minute, making his defense rate just 50%. The problem is his cardio, which often finds him huffing and puffing by the third round, moving much slower and absorbing way more punishment than he should. Those first two rounds will see gangbusters numbers, but if he hasn’t shored up the hole in his gas tank, they’ll likely wane in the final round. It should be noted that his opponent, Wellington Turman ($8,500), is in excellent condition and will certainly put Sanchez through his paces, win or lose.
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Derrick Lewis ($8,700; also a Gas Guzzler)
Derrick Lewis has soul-crushing, one-punch knockout power in that right hand. Full stop. His power is also not limited to the first round or two, or even if he’s gassed out. He can stop you in the fourth round just as easily as he can in the first. He’s a pressure fighter with 18 knockouts, while his opponent, Aleksei Oleinik ($7,500), has a chin with a magnet for heavy hands or high kicks—an underrated weapon that Derrick uses more frequently now. Even though Lewis has trimmed down a good bit over the last year or two, he still has cardio issues, which could present a serious hazard against a submission artist like Oleinik. That said, his power cannot be ignored, even if his last two wins have come via decision.
Kevin Holland ($9,400; also a Submission Threat)
Kevin Holland finishes fights. He’s aggressive and has eight knockouts on his record, and more importantly, he has technically sound boxing. His fight IQ might not be the best, but he’s still young enough to learn from his mistakes. Holland is also a very gritty, durable athlete who can withstand plenty of punishment without being the worse for wear. Against the much smaller, less seasoned Joaquin Buckley ($6,800), he’ll carry both the athletic and technical advantages into this contest. Also noteworthy is his excellent grappling which has netted him six submission wins.
Justin Jaynes ($7,800)
Justin Jaynes wowed MMA fans when he scored a quick TKO win over the favored Frank Camacho back in June. Since he was making his promotional debut from the regional scene, there weren’t many predicting a win for him, much less a knockout, but a look at his record shows eight knockout victories over recognizable names. He’s currently on a five-fight win streak with four of them being first round finishes. Pundits question whether he’ll hold up to Gavin Tucker’s ($8,400) wrestling, but he’s quite adept on the ground, with five submissions on his resume. This contest will be a measuring stick for both, but the power edge definitely favors Jaynes.
Tim Means ($7,900; see above)
Aleksei Oleinik ($7,500; also a Gas Guzzler)
Fifty-nine wins would normally be presented on a retired legend’s resume, but in the case of Aleksei Oleinik, we’re looking at a fighter presently taking on top-tier athletes inside the biggest MMA promotion in the world. When you put into consideration that a whopping 46 of those wins are by submission, you arguably have the greatest submission artist in the world currently. Did I mention that 14 of those submissions were via Ezekiel choke? Aleksei’s buttery, fresh-baked bread will always be his lethal submission game, and even if Derrick Lewis ($8,700) manages to stand up from whatever happens to be clamped onto him, whether it be a limb or his neck, you can count on Oleinik to keep after it with smooth transitions and a dangerous top game. Noteworthy: Aleksei, much like Lewis, has cardio issues, despite a newly slim and trim figure. His age (43) might have a little to do with that.
Beneil Dariush ($9,100; also a Gas Guzzler)
Beneil Dariush is an incredibly talented grappler with the ability to snag submissions from anywhere. His scrambling ability is otherworldly, and he capitalizes on mistakes in the blink of an eye with the reflexes of a cat. He owns eight submissions ranging from arm triangles to rear-naked chokes. Beneil also happens to have the hot hand, with three full-on knockouts to his credit, most recently stopping Drakkar Klose this past March. Scott Holtzman ($7,100) has great wrestling, but if this fight hits the ground, it’s Dariush’s world and will be his fight to lose. Side note: Dariush has durability issues and tends to fade at around the mid-point of his fights.
Wellington Turman ($8,500)
Wellington Turman is a gifted grappler hailing from Curitiba, Brazil. With seven submissions on his resume, Turman’s aggressive jiu-jitsu and excellent scrambles present a real threat to Andrew Sanchez ($7,700), who has yet to really make it past the middle echelon of the middleweight pack. He is a well-conditioned fighting machine who stays fresh throughout his contests, a feat that Sanchez is having some issues with. Wellington is big on takedowns, and sometimes doesn’t know when to stop fruitless pursuits, but he does have a very respectable completion rate of three takedowns per fifteen-minute fight, and he has 100% takedown defense, as does Sanchez. When these two end up on the ground, and they almost certainly will, the advantage will be with Turman, and Sanchez will really find himself in troubled waters with no bridge in sight.
Kevin Holland ($9,400; see above)
Derrick Lewis ($8,700; see above)
Aleksei Oleinik ($7,500; see above)
Andrew Sanchez ($7,700; see above)
Beneil Dariush ($9,100; see above)
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