This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The stage is set for a new challenger to Alexander Volkanovski's UFC Featherweight Championship to emerge Saturday on Fight Island.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests, including a $350k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Featherweight
This fight was scheduled to go down last December before Ortega was forced to bail due to a knee injury. It's great matchmaking by the UFC, and I'm thrilled they were able to rebook it here.
Ortega has been on the sidelines for nearly two years. When we last saw "T-City" in December 2018, he was falling to then-champion Max Holloway via TKO (doctor's stoppage) at the end of the fourth round in a featherweight title fight. It seemed like a bad matchup for Ortega from the get-go. Holloway excels on the feet, while Ortega generates virtually all of his offense on the mat. Ortega is tough as nails, but an extended kickboxing match generally favors his opposition. On the other hand, Ortega is one of the most gifted submission specialists in the world today.
The Zombie (that's Jung) spent nearly four years on the sidelines from August 2013 to February 2017, completing his mandatory military service for his native South Korea. He's gone 3-1 since returning, with knockout wins over Frankie Edgar, Renato Moicano and Dennis Bermudez, as well as a knockout loss to Yair Rodriguez in a fight in which he got clipped with a wild elbow with one second left on the clock. Jung would have won that fight via decision if that elbow didn't land. Jung rarely gets talked about as a top featherweight, but he's an elite all-around mixed martial artist. He's in great shape and can win a fight in a variety of ways. And although he's been around for seemingly ever, Jung is just 33 years old. I remain highly optimistic his best days are ahead of him.
The one great unknown here is Ortega's mental state. Few fighters in the sport today appear as calm and composed as Ortega, but the Holloway loss was the first setback of his professional career and it came in the biggest possible spot. All fighters react to that type of stuff differently. My gut says it will have on impact on Ortega whatsoever, but we don't know that for sure.
Ortega is very clearly underpriced here, but I can't pick him outright. He has little power and gets hit too much on the feet. On top of that, it's always difficult to predict a submission of any sort, as so many things have to go right. Ortega is a talented guy, but I love the Zombie and think there's a minor, albeit clear, gap in the all-around skill set of each man.
THE PICK: Jung
A former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion, Andrade will be moving up to flyweight for this fight. It will be the first time in nearly four and a half years that the Brazilian has fought anywhere other than 115 pounds, and I'm interested in seeing how she looks at the higher weight class. Andrade carries a ton of muscle on her small frame, and even though she has made the strawweight limit without issue, I imagine not having to have to go through that weight cut will only help her on fight night. This is a key fight for Andrade considering she enters on a two-fight losing streak. Yes, those two defeats came against arguably the two best strawweights in the world in Weili Zhang and Rose Namajunas, but it's difficult to label yourself a title contender if you're in the midst of three straight setbacks.
With the UFC completely out of options, the company forced Chookagian into a UFC Women's Flyweight Championship fight against Valentina Shevchenko this past February. Chookagian was run out of the Toyota Center (as expected) but rebounded to take a unanimous decision from Valentina's sister, Antonina, this past May. Although Chookagian's record with the UFC is impressive (7-3), a deeper dive into the numbers reveals a major concern. All seven of Katlyn's wins have come via decision. In fact, she has just three stoppage wins in her career.
Chookagian is very tall (5-foot-9) and will enter with a whopping eight-inch height and six-inch reach edge on Andrade, but I think Andrade is clearly the better mixed martial artist. The question at that point is whether or not Chookagian's size will limit Andrade's ability to generate offense. Jessica is almost always the smaller fighter when she competes, but it's rare to face a woman as tall as Chookagian.
I'm worried about the size difference between the two from Andrade's perspective, but I also think she's a much better mixed martial artist. Chookagian's offensive arsenal is extremely basic, and it's difficult to see her winning anything other than a decision here. I don't think Chookagian is the worst play in the world at her price tag, but I don't think she wins outright.
THE PICK: Andrade
A member of Season 26 of the Ultimate Fighter, Robertson has shown more good than bad with the company. She's 5-2 in the UFC and is coming off an impressive victory over Cortney Casey in June. The way I see it, Robertson has two things going for her. The first is her ground game. Six of Robertson's eight career victories have come via submission, including five of six with the UFC. The second is the fact Robertson won't turn 26 years old until next May. Her striking has definitely improved the past couple years, but Robertson is essentially a pure mat specialist at this point. I'm optimistic that might change a bit over time given her youth, but it's difficult to expect the Canadian to compete in an extended kickboxing match against a talented striker at this point.
Unlike Robertson, Botelho is a pure striker. She has legitimate power (six career wins via knockout) and no ground game to speak of. I've long been impressed with Botelho's frame. She stands 5-foot-8, and that was a major advantage when she competed at strawweight, but I imagine it will have less of an impact at 125 pounds. Regardless, she's clearly the more accomplished striker of the two and would be well served to not go rolling around on the mat with the crafty Robertson.
There's a gap here in terms of competition faced. Robertson has faced multiple well known fighters (Casey, Maycee Barber, Mayra Silva, Molly McCann, Emily Whitmire, Cynthia Calvillo, Hannah Cifers), while Botelho has fought Calvillo, Pearl Gonzalez and not much else.
Ultimately, I need to see Botelho beat someone halfway decent before I can pick her. I think Robertson's experience level against better competition could very well matter in a fight in which neither woman possesses a single elite trait. Botelho supporters would argue her significant edge in the stand up, which is also true.
THE PICK: Robertson
This was scheduled to be Silva v. Muslim Salikhov but Salikhov was forced to withdraw earlier this month and Krause – who never turns down a fight – quickly stepped in.
Simply put, Silva has established a reputation as one of the most underrated welterweights in the sport in the rare instance in which he is able to step into the Octagon. Silva have been with the company since March 2014 and has fought just five times during that span. He spent the better portion of four years on the sidelines, from November 2014 to May 2018. Silva's calling card is his ground game. He's an elite submission specialist and BJJ wizard. I really would have loved to see him compete more in his athletic prime, as Silva is now 38 years old and it's possible he has lost just a tad from an athleticism standpoint. Obviously, he remains a real threat regardless.
Speaking of underrated, Krause had won six fights in a row prior to a controversial split decision loss to Trevin Giles in his most recent bout in February. Krause took the Giles fight at middleweight despite having never fought at 185 pounds before. He will drop back down to welterweight for this. Krause is the consummate professional. He coaches and teaches countless fighters in his adopted hometown of Lee's Summit, Missouri and has always possessed a remarkably well-rounded game. Krause is 34 years old now but he's big (6-foot-2) for the welterweight division and fights physically.
Krause is a BJJ black belt and has 14 career wins via submission, but rolling around with Silva on the mat is a recipe for potential disaster. Krause – who has been knocked out just one in his long pro career – would be wise to try to turn this into an ugly, slugfest.
I'm worried about Silva's age and the fact he's rarely fought, but there are very few underdogs on this card I like, and this seems like a good place to make a stand. This essentially lines up as a pick 'em for me, and the salary discount Silva provides makes him a worthy risk.
THE PICK: Silva
Mateusz Gamrot (17-0-0, 1NC) v. Guram Kutateladze (11-2-0)
DK Salaries: Gamrot ($8,900), Kutateladze ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Gamrot (-290), Kutateladze (+245)
Odds to Finish: +145
THE PICK: Gamrot
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7-0) v. Maxim Grishin (30-8-2)
DK Salaries: Antigulov ($7,100), Grishin ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Antigulov (+305), Grishin (-365)
Odds to Finish: -315
THE PICK: Grishin
Said Nurmagomedov (13-2-0) v. Mark Striegl (18-2-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Nurmagomedov ($9,200), Striegl ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Nurmagomedov (-425), Striegl (+340)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Nurmagomedov