On Saturday night, UFC 265 will kick off live from Houston, Texas in front of a sold out crowd. Hometown favorite Derrick Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane in a heavyweight bout that will see the winner crowned the interim champion. The original co-main event, a women’s bantamweight title bout between reigning champion Amanda Nunes and Julianna Peña, had to be postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, but the card is so stacked, it still carries a lot of weight, specifically with impactful matches within the Top 15 rankings.
Fight fans will be treated to a slew of entertaining bouts that could find the winners fast-tracked into the rankings—I’m looking at you Casey Kenney and Song Yadong! Other fun fights to look forward to include Miles Johns taking on Anderson Dos Santos in a classic wrestling vs. submission grappling matchup and Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne in what can only be deemed a firefight in the making. And last, but certainly not least, Rafael Fiziev taking on the super tough veteran Bobby Green.
When we get into the meat and potatoes of the show, we find the bouts that matter to the contender’s ladder. Angela Hill will face Tecia Torres in a rematch that’s been six years in the making. Former featherweight king Jose Aldo will take on Pedro Munhoz in an incredibly dangerous contest (for both men). And finally, the welterweight showdown between Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa—a bout that has the hallmarks of setting up a future title contender for the winner of Usman-Covington 2. All in all, you can’t miss with this event.
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 MMA lineups. Let’s get started.
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Vicente Luque, $8,500
Vicente Luque is a gifted fighter whose greatest attribute is how well-rounded his overall game is. Yes, he’s a fantastic striker with the power to put just about anyone at welterweight to sleep. Yes, he’s got excellent submission grappling that has seen him through to several early finishes. But, when you combine those talents with good fight IQ, aggression, solid footwork and a near indestructible chin, you have yourself the recipe for a terminator. He is willing to take some to give some, and someday, that’s going to spell disaster, but right now, at 29 years of age, he is holding it down pretty, pretty, pretty good. He has a tough challenge ahead of him with Michael Chiesa, a phenomenal submission grappler who’s improved exponentially over the last few years and thankfully made the move up to 170—where he’s gone undefeated in four fights. Chiesa is a dangerous out for anyone, but Luque’s striking and aggressive forward movement will likely be the undoing of the Washington native, as it’s a well-known fact that the stand-up isn’t exactly “Maverick’s” bread and butter. He’s also very willing to take big risks and has paid for them with three submission losses. It’s a highly competitive pairing and my favorite bout on the card.
Rafael Fiziev, $9,300
Rafael Fiziev is a powerful dynamic striker who throws everything with vicious intent. There is no easing in or feeling out mode with him. Right from Jump Street, you can count on him to launch a hard jab, hard low and high kicks, and once the fight gets into the phone booth, you will find slicing elbows and nasty knees coming 13 ways from Sunday. His octagon foe is Bobby Green, a seasoned veteran who has craft and wit and an excellent work rate. He’s more defensively sound than Fiziev, but not nearly as powerful. To put it into perspective, Green hasn’t had a finish since 2013—not to say he can’t do it, just noting facts. Fiziev has been finished once via TKO by Magomed Mustafaev a little over two years ago, so that is something to keep in mind. I really like Green’s career arc, but his wins of late haven’t been over the top or even mid-tier of the division, whereas Fiziev’s opponents have progressively gotten tougher, and he’s been rising to the challenge. This is a great fight, one that could see Fiziev’s name value go up with a win over a tough veteran like Green. If Bobby wins, we may finally see him get some ranked competition.
Pedro Munhoz, $7,600
Pedro Munhoz is as tough as nails and hits like a Mack truck. He’s a busy worker, logging 5.60 SLPM (strikes landed per minute), but he does absorb quite a bit, but that’s largely due to his durability and confidence in his chin. That said, Jose Aldo is a very tough out for someone that defensively porous. What will be a great boon to him in this fight is that Jose Aldo has seen his best days already. At 34, he’s been in the fight game for 17-plus years and 36 fights. That’s a lot of wear-and-tear, and we must remember that he’s also had some injuries along the way. Jose still cracks hard but again, we must go back to Munhoz’s iron chin, and to be honest, I just don’t see Jose finishing him. Perhaps he can take a decision, but Munhoz has looked pretty sharp, and I firmly hold the notion that he should have gotten the nod over Frankie Edgar. He looked sensational against Jimmie Rivera and with as sensitive as Aldo’s chin has been recently, I could absolutely envision Pedro putting him away in much the same fashion as Petr Yan did a little over a year ago.
Pricing: Best value on the card
Song Yadong, $8,000
Song Yadong vs. Casey Kenney is about as evenly matched a fight as could be made. Kenney is a great wrestler and submission grappler and Yadong has power and the better striking of the two. Kenney recently dropped a decision to Dominick Cruz and Yadong dropped his last fight to Kyler Phillips via unanimous decision. Yadong comes from Team Alpha Male, so his wrestling is up to snuff and to add another layer, he’s got a very durable chin, having only been finished once in his career (KO loss in 2016). It’s probably a safe bet that Casey won’t get a finish in this contest. Song has solid wins over Marlon Vera and Alejandro Perez and took Cody Stamann to a majority draw. Kenney’s biggest wins are over Louis Smolka, Manny Bermudez and Ray Borg. Merab Dvalishvili ran right through him—ate him up with a pace he couldn’t keep. Yadong isn’t that level of juggernaut, but he stays busy and is more defensively responsible than Kenney. This is a coin-toss fight if ever there was one, but I’m leaning Yadong for the slight upset.
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