On Saturday, the UFC will host their last event of the month with UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt, live from the APEX Center in Las Vegas. The main event pits No. 4 ranked Cody Garbrandt against No. 3 ranked Rob Font in what seems like it will be setting up future contendership. Ditto the high-profile co-main event bout between Yan Xiaonan and Carla Esparza—No. 3 and 4, respectively. Aside from those two fights, the rest of the card is quite modest with the only other contest bearing the heft of name value being Edmen Shahbazyan’s scheduled middleweight scrap with Jack Hermansson—No. 10 and 7, respectively.
There are some fun fights on this card, don’t get me wrong, it’s just they’re not all going to be names you have on the radar for immediate movement within the Top 15. The sleeper hit on the card is going to be Bill Algeo and Ricardo Ramos, two guys that don’t know how to be boring. And finally, the real gift of the whole event—Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett is finally debuting in the UFC. If you don’t know about Barnett, look him up, he’s quite the character. He got the call to face Ben Rothwell, and honestly, this might be the most I’ve looked forward to a debut in a long time.
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!
Yan Xiaonan, $8,600
Yan Xiaonan is a pressure fighter who uses the orthodox stance to launch her smothering volume attack. Averaging 6.42 strikes landed per minute whilst only absorbing 3.63 in that same time frame is quite impressive, considering some of the ladies she’s faced—I’m looking at you Claudia Gadelha! Her opponent, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza, is much less active with her striking (2.29 landed strikes per minute while absorbing even more, 2.85 in that same 60-second span). That said, she’s come a long way and while she’s not the beacon of defense, she’s definitely a much-improved fighter who uses her striking to set up her exceptional takedowns. Xiaonan will have a 4-inch height advantage over Esparza but the two are equal in reach at 63 inches. Yan’s volume has proven to be a difficult task for every woman that’s faced her in the octagon. She’s tough, durable and overwhelming. Esparza will not be an easy task, but if Yan can topple the former champion, one would think she’s got a clear cut path to contention.
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Ben Rothwell, $9,200
Ben Rothwell has been kicking butt and taking names for more than two decades, racking up 38 wins along the way, with 28 of them coming by way of knockout. He’s coming off the heels of a loss to Marcin Tybura, but before that, he was on a pair of wins (Ovince St. Preux and Stefan Struve respectively), one being a knockout. At 39 years of age, Rothwell is still putting up wins over middling or aging competition. Yes, he’s definitely shopworn, but he still has a sturdy chin that hasn’t been tested since 2009, he’s still able to maintain a steady work rate for the entire fight, and he’s still aggressive enough to push a pace. All that said, this is likely going to be a rough watch, as Rothwell has slowed down considerably, and Barnett is largely unsuccessful when he fights anyone of substance. Losses to Alex Nicholson, Eric Prindle and Kirill Sidelnikov are indicative of his struggles taking that next step in the evolution of his career and facing a seasoned veteran like Rothwell could find him breaking the six-fight win streak he’s currently riding. It bears mentioning that Rothwell will have a massive 7-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage over Barnett. That said, “Beast Boy” does possess one-punch knockout power, so never count him out.
Claudio Silva, $8,200
Claudio Silva has had a very long career, going back nearly 14 years, but it’s been a sporadic one with periods of inactivity that have stretched anywhere from two years to four years. His last fight came against James Krause in October of 2020, a unanimous decision loss after a 14-month layoff. At 38 years of age, he’s no spring chicken, either, but he’s got the benefit of having very few full-on wars. His notable wins are Nordine Taleb, Danny Roberts and he even holds a split-decision victory over Leon Edwards. He’s a grappling ace with nine submission wins, all of them either armbar or rear-naked choke. Before Krause, he’d submitted his last three foes. He’ll face Court McGee, another aging veteran with a lot more mileage on him and only one win in his last six fights. If ever there were a better matched fight, I just wouldn’t believe it. Claudio has the tools to win, but Court is a tough out who’s never been submitted. It’s all in the hands of the fight gods.
Jared Vanderaa, $7,200
Jared Vanderaa is not what I’d deem “must see” TV. He’s big and lumbering, and packs a wallop—as all heavyweights do—but he’s easy to pressure, easy to take down, and easy to overwhelm. He tires pretty easily too, just check out his fight with Sergey Spivak for a very clear cut picture of a man with a suspect gas tank. When you combine his flagging stamina with abysmal takedown defense and a propensity to stop punches with his face, there’s very little to place one’s faith in. He has had some five-rounders—three of them to be exact—but he only managed to win one of them. Fortunately, he’ll be facing an opponent with an experience and talent level near his own, so it’s anyone’s guess who will take the win, but one thing is certain, it will probably not be the most technical fight you’ll see on the card, not by a long shot.
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