This article is part of our FanDuel MMA series.
After two straight cards of not finding very many dogs, we are back with five potential low-dollar selections for Saturday's slate at the UFC Apex. These include one of the least expensive fighters on the card, as well as a solid favorite who has inexplicably been priced lower than her opponent. We also see a violent shift at the top of the card, as the Derrick Lewis vs. Curtis Blaydes main event has been canceled following Blaydes testing positive for COVID-19. This means that Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark is now the card's five-round headliner. How does this change the fighter grouping? Read below to find out.
Since we are back at the Apex, I will once again point out that research suggests more finishes occur in smaller cages like the one the fighters will occupy on November 6, which should encourage players to look at fights that may not otherwise be thought of as good targets for finishes.
Moves Scoring (MVP 1.5X)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.9 PTS
Takedown (TD): +9 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): +4.5 PTS
Submission Attempt (SA): +7.5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +18 PTS
Moves Scoring (Standard)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.6 PTS
Takedown (TD): +6 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): 3
Submission Attempt (SA): 5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +12 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (MVP 1.5X)
1st Round Win (1stW): +150 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +112.5 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +75 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +52.5 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +37.5 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +30 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (Standard)
1st Round Win (1stW): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +75 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +35 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +25 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +20 PTS
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Oh Captain, My Captain:
Our top play here should come as a surprise to no one. As much as I like to think outside the box, there is no way around the fact that Curtis Blaydes is an absolute monster in the land of DFS, averaging nearly seven takedowns per 15 minutes of cage time. Derrick Lewis is marked by his toughness and ability to carry his power late into fights, but we have seen Blaydes stand up to punishment from everyone in the division besides Francis Ngannou , which gives me confidence that Lewis won't be able to end the fight with one good shot. The most important point to note here is that everyone who has tried to take down Lewis has been able to do so. "The Black Beast" has an uncanny ability to power his way back to the feet, but Blaydes is so physically strong and features such good technique that I would be shocked if he could pull off the same feat here.
Kai Kamaka made a name for himself with an incredibly entertaining fight against Tony Kelley in his Octagon debut in August. While Kelley was able to make inroads late in the bout, there was no denying the skill of Kamaka, who pressured relentlessly, worked the body, and threw in combination whether going first or countering. I acknowledged that Jonathan Pearce got hit too much ahead of his debut against Joe Lauzon last year, but stopped short of picking against him, reasoning that Lauzon was simply too shopworn to fight through any kind of damage. The veteran didn't have to worry about that, as it turned out, hurting Pearce with one of the first shots he threw and finishing him soon after. Kamaka will likely take the pressure game away from Pearce in this matchup and he is far too sharp technically to miss the open targets that the 28-year-old will undoubtedly present to him.
Josh Parisian has been an absolute wrecking ball thus far in his professional MMA career, finishing the majority of his 13 wins inside the first round. While it can be dangerous to trust a regional fighter who gets the job done too quickly, Parisian has been extended in his career as well, having gone to decision twice and seen a second round multiple times. Parisian looks to get the job done without hesitation in the cage, marching forward and throwing big shots while mixing in smooth wrestling and BJJ transitions on the ground. Meanwhile, Parker Porter remains a plodding heavyweight who takes entirely too much damage. I like Parisian to be the more agile fighter in the cage, which should allow him to pour on the pressure and get his opponent out of the fight.
Certain fights stand out in the careers of fighters as statement performances, in which they put to rest some lingering fear or doubt we may have had about them. For me, this happened when Devin Clark fought Alonzo Menifield. Cark, who had been known as someone to fold under adversity inside the cage, took a huge shot from Menifield that bloodied his eye and almost knocked him out early, but he was able to push through and get the decision victory. That was important for me to see ahead of the contest against Anthony Smith, who has some power in his Muay Thai striking but has never been able to stop a takedown with regularity (51 percent defense rate) and works a bit too slowly to dictate where the fight takes place. He may have to eat a few shots beforehand, but I fully expect Clark to get his takedowns and control Smith enough to take two rounds here, with some extra upside based on how aggressively he worked on the ground in the bout with Menifield. The interesting thing to note here is that both fighters asked for the five-round bill after the cancelation, despite only training for a fifteen-minute fight. This plays to Clark's advantage, as we have seen Smith slow down massively over 25 minutes in the past and Clark has been known to keep his output up even when fatigued.
Best Option: Spike Carlyle ($19)
I thought about putting Spike Carlyle in the captain section due to how active he can be with wrestling and transitions, but I worry that he may not have the gas tank to carry that output through all three rounds, as we saw in his matchup with Billy Quarantillo. Even if that does happen here, however, I don't expect that Bill Algeo is as sharp on the ground as someone like Quarantillo, which should allow Carlyle to hang on even if his cardio abandons him. We know that Carlyle will begin the fight at a furious pace and I don't think Algeo will have the ability to keep Carlyle off of him. I also think Carlyle will be a fair bit quicker in the cage, which should allow him to find entries for his takedowns. Algeo is a former wrestler himself, so he may have some success playing defense, but I have to take Carlyle to outpace his opponent for long enough to take home the victory.
Miguel Baeza's power and quickness were on full display in his debut bout against Matt Brown, as was his toughness and ability to take a shot. Baeza brings a full striking arsenal into the cage, including bodywork and devastating leg kicks, but his defense is a bit of an issue, as he tends to stand up tall in the pocket. Takashi Sato is quick and powerful in his own right, but just doesn't have the technical depth of someone like Baeza, opting to mainly hide quick and powerful straight punches behind jabs until his opponent hits the canvas. Both of these men have been finishers in their careers and this fight has every chance to end inside the distance, but Sato tends to work slowly and have otherworldly toughness, which could work to extend this bout into the later rounds.
Su Mudaerji was taken down multiple times before being submitted by Louis Smolka in his UFC debut, but it appears he went back and fixed some things prior to his bout with Andre Soukhamthath, as Mudaerji was able to stuff all three of his opponent's attempts to bring him to the mat. This should come in handy for his matchup with Malcolm Gordon, who is a slick jujitsu player on the mat but features rudimentary striking. Mudaerji is fast, showcases crisp kicks, and appears to have some power, but whether he will be the finisher he showed himself to be on the Chinese regional scene remains an open question. I like Mudaerji to pick off Gordon, and maybe even put him in some bad spots, but I can't go so far as to recommend him as a captain at this price.
Best Option: Anderson dos Santos ($9)
Anderson dos Santos has had a rough run in his UFC career, losing each of his first two fights, but he is a pressure-striker with decent wrestling and excellent jiujitsu. I think each of these characteristics poses challenges for Martin Day, a slick striker who takes far too much damage and looks to be at a disadvantage on the ground. One of the things I like about Anderson in this matchup is how tough he has shown himself to be, as he will likely need to walk through some shots before getting this fight where he wants it. Dos Santos has let fights slip away by not using his wrestling in the past, but I think we will see the full complement of his skill set on display Saturday, as he really got his ground game going late in the fight with Andre Ewell.
I've been thinking about this a lot, but I can't quite come up with a reason for Rachael Ostovich to be this heavy of a dog against Gina Mazany. Sure, she hasn't exactly proven herself in The Octagon, having lost two of her first three bouts, but we have seen nice technical wrestling and an ever-improving boxing game on the feet. Mazany may be an all-action fighter who looks to pressure her opponents into grappling exchanges, but she hasn't shown herself to be much of a submission threat and Ostovich should be strong enough to overpower her in clinch situations. It may not feel comfortable to place so much faith in an MMA fighter with a losing record, but I see a lot of advantages for Ostovich here, which should lead to the biggest win of her career.
The relentless takedown attempts and clinch work of Johnny Munoz prevented Nathan Maness from really showing what he can do in the cage, but when he is able to work what we often see from Maness is a slick boxing game with the ability to throw in combination and counter effectively. Luke Sanders is an athletic striker with heavy hands, but was finished by Soukhamthath with a big counter shot and had his eye swelled in a fight he won against Patrick Williams by a big counter hook. These defensive lapses should play right into the hands of Maness and help him pick up his first UFC win.
The price for Ashlee Evans-Smith here is downright puzzling, as she remains the dog despite being a fairly solid favorite (-140) on most sports betting sites. I can see why, as Norma Dumont has had five professional fights, one of which was the drubbing she took from Megan Anderson in her UFC debut. Maybe the length and frame of Anderson make it an unusually tough matchup, but it's still the case that Dumont is a BJJ specialist without much of a wrestling game. That always worries me, particularly so against a fighter like Smith, who can keep her distance and put a striking pace on an opponent for three rounds. Smith tends to be physical and work her own takedown game, which could give Dumont a chance, but failing that, I don't think the rote 1-2-kick combinations that the debutante likes to throw will be much of an issue for Evans-Smith.