This Saturday, the UFC will close out the month of February with yet another heavyweight banger. Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane is the Top 10 clash of the 265-pound titans that will take the shortest month of the year out on what will certainly be a high note. Once upon a time, I would have cringed at the idea of back-to-back heavyweight headlined events, but the division has slowly but surely been making a turnaround for the better and with the infusion of younger, fresher talent, heavyweight is looking better than ever.
The rest of the card is dotted with high-level talent, ranging from the rematch between Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz to a sneaky good bantamweight match between Vince Cachero and Ronnie Lawrence that’s flying so far under the radar, one has to wonder if it’s been written onto the bout sheet in invisible ink. And last, but certainly not least, the certified fresh pairing of Magomed Ankalaev and Nikita Krylov might be the most violentastic matchup on the entire card.
We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Each category will feature the standout fighter for his/her achievements in said category. Let’s get started!
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC Fight Night fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $400K in guaranteed prizes, including $100,000 to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $400K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].
Sabina Mazo, $8,900
Sabina Mazo might only be 23 years old, but she’s making quite a resume for herself with wins over solid opposition. With a long, lanky frame, she’ll be making the move up to 135 pounds to meet longtime veteran Alexis Davis. Of all the fighters on the card, Sabina had the second highest striking stats. So, why did I pick her? The top striking stat belongs to newcomer Ramazan Kuramagomedov, but we don’t have an accurate account of his stats, so we’ve chosen to run with Sabina.
Mazo averages 7.14 strikes per minute, an incredible number that is backed up by an average fight time of 14.44 minutes, making her a standout volume striker. She absorbs 4.07 strikes per minute, a number she’ll hopefully manage better with more experience. Davis averages a respectable 4.27 strikes per minute but absorbs almost as much at a rate of 4.18 per minute.
The X-Factor in this bout, in my humble opinion, comes down to wear-and-tear and Davis has quite a bit of mileage, not to mention her confidence may be in a state of crisis as she’s riding a three-fight losing skid.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik, $7,200
Here again, I’ve gone with a fighter that doesn’t register the highest number in their assigned category, but one must evaluate all the factors at play, and any way you slice it, what Jarizinho Rozenstruik excels at is knocking people out. It is his forte. Rozenstruik can be a fairly active fighter in one fight, and darned near stationary in others. He’s entirely too willing to sit back and not throw while waiting for an opening to land the ultimate destroyer.
“Bigi Boy” averages 4.04 strikes per minute, but that average is deceiving, as it’s based on just 6.46 minutes of fight time, so a very small sampling as of this post. He absorbs 3.10 strikes per minute, which, considering his propensity for inactivity, stands to reason. In the Overeem fight, Jairzinho was soundly outlanded (Overeem landed 70% of his significant strikes to Rozenstruik’s 42%) and was down on all the scorecards before surging with that barrage of punches that left Overeem looking like he’d just stepped off the set of the latest Predator movie.
That ability to turn a fight around is what I like to call the great equalizer. I think Gane is technically and physically more likely to take a five-round decision, but he’ll have to be very, very careful, because with Rozenstruik, it just takes one. Just ask the 10 men that have already found this out the hard way.
Nikita Krylov, $6,900
Nikita Krylov is a diverse, well-rounded fighter. He’s shown power and has 11 knockouts on his record to back that claim up. Where he really shines, though, is on the ground. Krylov is an excellent grappler with the submission chops to have put 15 men into some form of submission, most recently, Ovince St. Preux back in 2019. Nikita averages 1.40 takedowns per 15-minute fight and makes at least 1.6 submission attempts.
That said, “The Miner” is also quite susceptible to submissions himself, having tasted defeat five times via some form of choke. His arms seem particularly vulnerable, as four of the five times were some form of arm-in choke (three arm triangles and a shoulder choke). Now that I’ve gotten that glaring weakness out of the way, let’s discuss why he has a valid chance to upset Ankalaev. It’s because he’s relentless. He might not be the maestro in any given area, but he’s insanely athletic and hyper aggressive. He’s also very durable, and has a pretty tough chin, having only been stopped via (T)KO once in his career.
There’s a reason Ankalaev is favored to win this fight. He’s got good speed and power, massive head kicks and capable grappling. He’s just better everywhere because he’s been elite since he arrived in the UFC. Is he infallible or unstoppable? No, he’s not, and Paul Craig can tell you all about being beat from post to pillar for almost the entirety of their fight, then snagging a Hail Mary triangle choke over the Russian. That very same thing can happen with Krylov.
*Note: None of the three fighters in the list are chronic gas guzzlers (maybe Oliveira). Rather, they’ve all exhibited stamina issues in at least one of their fights.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik, $7,200
“Bigi Boy” had his gas tank tested in the Overeem fight. When Overeem kept up a fairly busy pace, took him down a couple times and basically outworked him for the entire fight before the last 5-10 seconds, he was clearly winded and had visibly slowed. Against a specimen like Gane, who has already proven his excellent conditioning, Rozenstruik will definitely need to make sure his gas tank is full when he steps into the octagon.
Alex Oliveira, $7,900
“Cowboy” has proven to be a mixed bag in more than one regard. One fight, he’s firing on all cylinders and looking sensational. The next fight, he’s getting pieced up, taken down or just outworked. One fight he’s coming in on weight, looking fresh as a daisy. The next he’s wildly over the weight limit and gassed by round two. It’s been four months since his last fight, and Bizarro Alex was the one that showed up that night. Who knows which one will show up Saturday.
Dustin Jacoby, $8,500
While Dustin Jacoby is favored on DraftKings Sportsbook to beat Maxim Grishin, one must first look to his Contender Series appearance to understand that the breakneck pace he tries to set out of the gate is not always sustainable throughout the entire fight. In that contest (opponent was Ty Flores), he struggled in the last round because he winded himself trying to keep that pace. He won, but that’s definitely something to keep in mind going into this one.
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