UFC 272 has had a significant change to the main card during fight week. The co-main event was supposed to be a lightweight bout between Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, but Fiziev had to pull out from UFC 272 due to a bout with COVID-19. Instead, Renato Moicano will face Dos Anjos in a five-round fight at a catchweight of 160 pounds.
The card is headlined by a non-title fight between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal. Covington and Masvidal are former training partners at American Top Team and are on bad terms. Despite the main event being a non-title fight, the card is still generating a lot of buzz due to the storyline.
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Value Play: Rafael Dos Anjos ($7,300)
Dos Anjos’ $7,300 price tag was set when he was scheduled to face Rafael Fiziev. Dos Anjos was about a +200 underdog for that fight, but a late opponent switch has created value at his price tag. Dos Anjos will now face Renato Moicano, who has taken the fight on very short notice. Fighters who take fights on short notice are usually at a substantial disadvantage due to a lack of preparation time. In Moicano’s case, he flew to Brazil to visit his family earlier this week, and now he has to get ready to face RDA on less than five days’ notice. Dos Anjos’ odds have now flipped, opening just shy of -200 against Moicano and currently sitting at -165. This makes Dos Anjos a strong value at $7,300, the sixth cheapest fighter on the slate.
Dos Anjos is only 5-6 in his last 11 fights, but his quality of competition has been elite. Dos Anjos’ last seven losses have been against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Eddie Alvarez, Tony Ferguson, Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards and Michael Chiesa, which is a brutal schedule.
This is also a five-round fight, which potentially creates 10 extra minutes for Dos Anjos to record fantasy points. Dos Anjos’ control-heavy style is aided by the extra rounds, and he is coming off a five-round decision win over Paul Felder where he generated 14 minutes of control time and scored 135 DKFP.
BOOOOOM!!!— danawhite (@danawhite) March 4, 2022
Here is the cold open for #UFC272 @ColbyCovMMA vs @GamebredFighter LIVE SATURDAY pic.twitter.com/bMCFiyZ4pI
Stud to Pay Up For: Colby Covington ($9,400)
Covington has strong cardio and can work a relentless pace, which allows him to constantly attack his opponents by blending his wrestling with distance and clinch strikes. Covington is an excellent wrestler who was an All-American in college, and his wrestling combined with his gas tank allows him to generate a lot of control time. Covington ranks second among active welterweights in control time and has generated the sixth most control time among all active fighters on the UFC roster. Covington’s wrestling also fuels heavy takedown volume, averaging over four takedowns per 15 minutes and recording 61 total takedowns, the fifth most among all active UFC fighters.
Covington’s big pace also results in plus striking volume. Covington is landing about five significant strikes per minute over his last five fights and has landed about 600 total significant strikes during that five-fight stretch.
These factors have made Covington a huge fantasy scorer. Covington is averaging a heavy 104 DKFP per fight and has scored over 130 DKFP in each of his last three wins, peaking at 172 DKFP.
Jorge Masvidal ($6,800) is a tough opponent and has a legitimate puncher’s chance. He has caught wrestlers coming in on strikes before, most notably in his fight against wrestler Ben Askren, where Masvidal had an epic five-second flying knee knockout off an Askren takedown attempt.
Super necessary— UFC (@ufc) February 28, 2022
[ @GamebredFighter | #UFC272 | March 5 | Live on @ESPNPlus PPV: https://t.co/K6X32sXlXb ] pic.twitter.com/OV6RF9zFyV
However, Covington is good at hiding takedown attempts and timing his takedown attempts when his opponent is off-balance, which helps him get inside without getting hit clean.
Masvidal having to worry about Covington’s takedowns could help Covington on the feet because Masvidal can’t overcommit to strikes without risking being taken down. Masvidal also can’t fully commit to kicks without risking being taken down—this happened quickly in Masvidal’s first fight vs. Kamaru Usman, where Usman caught a low kick for an easy takedown early in Round 1.
This fight could end up looking very similar to Masvidal’s first fight against Usman. In that fight, Usman attempted a heavy 16 takedowns over 25 minutes and logged nearly 17 minutes of control time as he fought Masvidal inside in a close-distance fight. Masvidal got trapped against the fence for large portions of the fight and Usman cruised to a decision win. That could be the case against Covington, where Covington’s offensive wrestling and Masvidal’s defensive grappling causes the fight to primarily take place in the clinch near the fence as Covington chases takedowns and Masvidal fights them off.
Covington’s cardio, pace, wrestling and striking volume put him in a good position to score points and win a decision (-115), especially considering Masvidal has been very tough to finish and has been finished only once in 20 UFC fights. Covington is also not a big finisher, as his control-heavy style combined with a lack of one-punch power generally makes him prone to going the distance. Covington has won five of his last six fights by decision and has only one finish since 2016.
Because this fight is five rounds, it potentially creates 10 extra minutes to generate fantasy scoring. Covington is primed to generate a lot of control time and volume in this fight and carries some of the highest fantasy scoring upside on the slate.
New Weight Class: Kevin Holland ($9,100)
Kevin Holland is dropping down to welterweight after a stretch of poor performance at middleweight. Holland badly struggled with takedown defense, getting constantly and helplessly taken down in bouts against Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori. Holland was undersized at middleweight in terms of thickness, and his drop to 170 should help mitigate some of his takedown defense issues, as opponents won’t have the same force behind takedown attempts at 170.
Holland’s length is going to really stand out at welterweight. Holland is massively long by the standards of the division, registering an 81-inch reach and standing 6’3”. Holland’s length has contributed to solid striking metrics from distance, as opponents can struggle with his distance strikes due to his size. Holland also has an unorthodox striking style, which further helps his effectiveness on the feet. Holland has a good strikes landed to absorbed ratio, especially from distance, where it sits at roughly 2:1. Holland will have a large five-inch reach advantage over Alex Oliveira ($7,100) on the feet.
Despite being a huge -320 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, Holland does carry some concerns into this fight. Holland’s takedown defense was a major problem at middleweight, as was his general fight strategy. Holland lacked a sense of urgency from bottom after being taken down, as he seemed more interested in verbally talking to his opponents on his back rather than trying to scramble to his feet and use his length advantage from distance. However, Holland appears to have worked hard to plug up these holes in his game and has been reportedly working extensively on his wrestling. Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori are also much bigger and better at wrestling than Alex Oliveira is, which creates a softer matchup for takedown defense.
Holland cutting down to a more natural weight class along with potential improvements in defensive wrestling put him in a good position to win this fight with distance striking using his length.
They call him Big Mouth for a reason— UFC (@ufc) February 28, 2022
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