On Saturday, UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs. Muhammad kicks off at the APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will mark the 21st card in the “Vegas” series, and has a pretty decent offering of intriguing matchups, if a little light on name value. Sitting in the headlining position is Leon Edwards returning from a nearly two-year hiatus to meet the surging Belal Muhammad, tapped on just a few weeks’ notice. Injuries, a bout with COVID-19 and travel restrictions were the culprits responsible for Edwards’ long absence from the octagon, but he’s finally back, and against a better ranked opponent than Khamzat Chimaev would have been. It’s a great matchup, and one with title implications, as Dana White stated this week that if Edwards won, he would get a crack at the belt.
The rest of the card is your standard fight night fare, with a smattering of mid and entry level talent filling out the bout sheet. The most important fight on the card in terms of ranking relevance outside the main event is number three ranked Dan Ige facing off against a super tough Gavin Tucker. The co-main event of Misha Cirkunov against Ryan Spann should demand your attention if for no other reason than it’s a thriller waiting for a place to happen. This is exactly the kind of understated event that has historically delivered big action. I have no reason to see this one not following suit.
We’ve selected four fighters from the event that will illustrate why they are worthy of their lofty or budget-conscious price tags in an effort to help you select your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Let’s get started.
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Dan Ige, $8,600
This pricing is just about perfect. Dan Ige is the rightful favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, but not by a massively wide margin, and for good reason. Gavin Tucker is insanely tough and is riding a three-fight win streak that includes a very important victory over Billy Quarantillo. At the time Tucker defeated him, Billy was on an eight-fight run and was looking unstoppable. Tucker looked sensational in the fight, taking a lopsided 30-27 victory across all the score cards. So, with all that high praise for Tucker, why am I picking Ige to win? First and foremost, Ige has a very aggressive clinch game and he’s a lethal counterstriker. Dan also seems to be a darling with the judges, as that win over Edson Barboza is highly questionable, to say the least. I know he took a loss to Calvin Kattar recently, but there’s no shame in that loss. All in all, it should be a fun fight with plenty of action, but I’m thinking Ige’s going to out-finesse him, and likely take a decision,
Jonathan Martinez, $9,300
Jonathan Martinez is a talented, athletically gifted striker, who’s remarkably composed for his age and experience level. He’s got finishing ability with seven knockouts on his resume, and he’s capable on the ground, with a pair of submissions to illustrate that fact. Perhaps the most notable thing about him is how insanely durable he is. He has taken shots that would have put most men on their butt, but he’s trudged through, none the worse for wear, and with not a single person getting a finish over him. Davey Grant is certainly a dangerous opponent, and his knockout of Martin Day was outstanding, but I feel like Martinez is just the better guy in this contest. The pricing should be closer considering the threat Grant presents, but there’s no question, at least in my mind, that Martinez should be the rightful favorite here.
Belal Muhammad, $7,200
Remember the name! If you haven’t already, you will Saturday night and every night after that. Let’s take a look at Muhammad’s streak to start: In nine fights, he has one loss, to Geoff Neal, more than two years ago. Were the rematch to happen tomorrow, I’d probably take Muhammad, as his evolution is noticeable from fight to fight. Always a marvelous wrestler, now he’s added a much-improved striking game to complement it. Edwards has outstanding wrestling too, but I think Muhammad’s excellent gas tank (not that Leon’s is bad), durability and fairly high output will be the undoing of “Rocky.” Edwards is certainly the rightful favorite, as his position in the rankings and his current hot streak more than account for, but the gap in pricing here is way off the mark, in my opinion. Belal is a much bigger threat than people realize, and if he pulls off the upset, I’ll be first in line to say, “I told you so.”
Cortney Casey, $7,700
“Cast Iron” Cortney Casey is an athletically gifted powerhouse. She’s got a good striking game, has shown flashes of power, and she’s a really good grappler. Her opponent, JJ Aldrich, is the rightful favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, but I think this fight is going to a be a much closer contest than the pricing suggests. Aldrich has a very technical striking base and fast hands to go along with that technical prowess. Casey is an aggressive striker and doesn’t mind standing and banging, although sometimes, that is to her detriment. Casey has poor takedown defense, but Aldrich isn’t exactly a takedown machine, so even there, a defensive gap is present that might not even get exploited. When the fat lady has belted out her tune, and the final horn has sounded, I think Casey’s aggressive style will be too much for JJ Aldrich.
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