And we’re back! After a month away, the UFC returns with a stellar card, a card fit for a king, or even a major primetime network (Looking at you ABC). Yes, I know the UFC has been on primetime before — several times on FOX — but ABC is one of the original Big Three networks, so this event is quite special, indeed. From the top of the card down to the bottom, there are several compelling fights. The first three on the main card are standouts in particular, starting with Li Jingliang ($6,900) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio ($9,300), moving straight to the long-awaited fight between Carlos Condit ($8,700) and Matt Brown ($7,500), and finishing off with the absolute banger that is Max Holloway ($8,900) vs. Calvin Kattar ($7,300). If you aren’t excited for this show, I’d suggest reevaluating your fandom of the sport.
We’ve selected four fighters from the event that will illustrate why they deserve their lofty or budget-conscious price tags to help you select your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Let’s get started.
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Max Holloway, $8,900
Max Holloway’s price tag may seem high considering Kattar’s sort of low-key run inside the octagon, but I’m of the opinion that Max hasn’t lost enough of the shine off his game that Calvin Kattar can take a win from him. That’s no disrespect to Kattar, by any means, just that Max is better and more experienced. Yes, he’s had a rough go over the last four fights, dropping three of them, but one must take a closer look at those fights.
Fight 1: Dustin Poirier
Max and Poirier fought for the interim lightweight belt. Dustin took the fight via unanimous decision.
Fight 2: Frankie Edgar
Holloway won a clear-cut unanimous decision.
Fight 3: Alexander Volkanovski I
Holloway lost via unanimous decision.
Fight 4: Alexander Volkanovski II
Holloway lost via split-decision
That final fight with Volkanovski could just as easily have been a win for Holloway, but fortune did not favor him that night. He looked infinitely better than in the first one, making better in-fight adjustments and getting his rhythm much earlier on. Typically, “Blessed” takes a round, sometimes two, to get going. He saw that didn’t work in the first fight, so he corrected his course. He also added a very good kicking game to his crowded skillset, making him an even bigger threat now.
Kattar has excellent technical striking, but he lacks the experience, volume and overall completeness that Holloway possesses. Is Kattar dangerous? Absolutely. But all opponents at this elite level are dangerous. It’s the ability to gather up all the dangerous tools and pick the right one for the situation at hand. I think Max does that better than Calvin, which is why I like him at this price.
Sarah Moras, $9,100
This is a line that should be much closer. I do have Sarah Moras beating Vanessa Melo ($7,100), but this isn’t a “bet your house on it” price. I wouldn’t bet my gently used pair of Air Force 1s on the outcome here. They both have a lot of issues that hold them back from the rankings, and they both have some bright spots that are likely the reason they still get fights inside the hallowed grounds of the UFC octagon.
Sarah is an aggressive striker and capable grappler, but her wrestling defense is not good. Ditto for her striking defense. So why am I picking her? That would be because Melo is even less skilled, and she has issues with her weight and cardio. She lacks power and doesn’t have the grappling chops that Moras has. Additionally, she gets taken down frequently. She is a competent counter-striker, but “Cheesecake’s” aggression and punching power — despite an obvious lack of athleticism — is what will be the difference-maker.
All of these factors set the stage for an ugly battle that will likely see Sarah Moras take the victory.
Punahele Soriano, $7,700
The fight between Punahele Soriano and Dusko Todorovic ($8,500) features two undefeated middleweight prospects with lots of potential. Soriano is criminally undervalued here, especially considering the heater he wields with absolute impunity. He’s also got very competent grappling that has seen him through to a pair of submission victories. He’s from a decent fight camp that has gone through many transitions coaching-wise in Xtreme Couture.
Todorovic is also a big finisher with six KO wins and three submissions. His path to knockouts have more been the result of punch accumulation, with the addition of one arm injury retirement/TKO. Soriano’s are more from absolute bomb drops. This is a ridiculously competitive matchup that shouldn’t feature lines as wide as these, but that may end up being a boon to those interested in adding some value picks to their DraftKings fantasy teams. Either way, this is a certified banger.
Matt Brown, $7,500
Matt Brown and Carlos Condit’s fight should have happened six or seven years ago, and we justify our everlasting interest by saying to ourselves, “better late than never.” These prices seem about right considering that Condit won his last fight and Brown lost his. That said, this fight has all the potential to end in a victory for “The Immortal.” While both men have definitely been in a period of decline after long and illustrious careers, Brown has retained more of what made him a successful fighter than Condit has. Condit was once an absolute terror on the mat, but despite 13 submission victories to his credit, we’ve not seen one of those unicorns since 2008.
Both men prefer a standup battle, but Matt has actually started incorporating more wrestling to his game, and we all know that wrestling is Condit’s kryptonite. That and an aggressive fighter willing to back him up and keep him pinned against the fence — something that Brown is more than capable of. It’s hard to know how these two will stack up with each other, but if I had to lean in a particular direction, I find it’s more with Brown. That may change by the time it’s their turn to take center stage in the octagon, but as of this writing, I’m inclined to choose Brown for the upset.
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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.
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