This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.
Yancy Medeiros (15-7-0, 1NC) v. Damir Hadzovic (13-6-0)
- Medeiros was supposed to fight back in May, but the fight was scrapped due to a medical issue with his opponent. He is a brawler who shows up ready to go every fight. He throws quick strikes and uses good footwork to combo his opponent. He uses powerful body kicks and sneaky counters to apply pressure inside. He will stand in there taking punishment to give it right back. Medeiros has decent grappling and works well in the clinch with knees and elbows. After a takedown, he applies good control to keep the fight on the mat and is always live for a submission.
- Hadzovic appears ready to go after he pulled out due to a medical issue back in May. He is a pressure fighter with great movement and feints. He looks to back his opponents up to work inside. His striking is decent with quick counters and an excellent counter hook. He is another guy who will stand and brawl to give damage while taking it at the same time. He has powerful kicks and uses level changes to throw uppercuts. Hadzovic does not have great grappling or wrestling. He has been easy to take down and does not do well off his back.
- I expect this to play out primarily on the feet where I think Medeiros has the advantage. He will likely throw more volume and has the power to end the fight early. He does have a questionable chin however and Hadzovic could put him away with his power if he is not careful.
My Pick: Medeiros
- Medeiros is a dog and could hit big value with volume or a finish.
Charles Rosa (13-5-0) v. Justin Jaynes (16-7-0)
- Rosa continued alternating wins and losses getting dominated by Darrick Minner in February. He strikes at distance, mixing in combos with a multitude of kicks to every part of the body. He has good foot movement and changes stances to keep his opponent off balance. He can get sloppy at times, leaving himself susceptible to damage but has an iron chin and is plenty durable. Rosa has shown that he does not have the best grappling or wrestling, and is taken down rather easily. He does have a good ability to get back up and is able to shoot for takedowns himself.
- After an amazing debut, Jaynes finds himself on a three-fight losing streak in which he was finished in all three (two knockouts, one submission). He is a good striker who walks his opponents down and stays right in their faces. He has good movement with quick counters and heavy punches. He attacks the body hard and throws powerful leg kicks to the calves. He throws a lower volume but packs a lot of power in what he does throw. Jaynes is a great grappler and has solid takedown defense. He can level change and move to find openings for his own takedowns. In top control, he will pour on destructive ground and pound or find an opening for a submission.
- Jaynes just has not looked good since his debut. He shows up too wild and inconsistent. He has the power to end it at any time, but I expect Rosa to work from range and get to the mat when able.
My Pick: Rosa
- A quick KO from Jaynes would break the slate and should not be ruled out for GPP's. A decision victory for either guy would likely be relatively low scoring.
Julia Avila (8-2-0) v. Julija Stoliarenko (9-5-1)
- Avila suffered a unanimous decision loss to Sijara Eubanks and looks to get back on track. She is a first-round finisher with great striking. She does not throw the most volume but makes each strike count. She has good power and throws quick combos with hard leg kicks. Avila has an excellent ground game all around. She can level change and take down her opponents and then control them or lay siege with powerful strikes. She also works well in the clinch and controlling her opponent against the cage.
- Stoliarenko is looking to get into the win column after a disappointing loss in August to Yana Kunitskaya. She does not display the greatest striking but throws hard. She is aggressive and will pressure, throwing nasty elbows while mixing in kicks to keep her opponent guessing. Stoliarenko is an armbar specialist with eight of them on her record. She thrives on the mat looking for control to find that armbar opening and does not stop until she finds it. It can leave her open to get hit or controlled if she is unable to get herself in that spot.
- Avila will be the better fighter anywhere this fight goes. As long as she avoids the armbar, it should be hers for the taking.
My Pick: Avila
- I imagine a knockout would be about the only way Avila will hit value at her price. A decision yields a lower score. Stoliarenko could light up value with another armbar victory.
Marcin Prachnio (14-5-0) v. Ike Villanueva (18-11-0)
- Prachnio was able to get into the win column against Khalil Rountree after three consecutive first-round knockout losses. He is an aggressive volume striker and likes to walk his opponents back. He wildly strikes with destructive power, attacking any part of the body with strong punches and kicks. He has terrible defense all around and has not shown much of a chin. Prachnio does not have much of a ground game at all and gets taken down at will against guys who do.
- Villanueva got his first UFC win by knockout against Vinicius Moreira in January. He comes out hard and fast, trying to jump his opponent with commendable power and put them away early. He pressures his opponents into the cage, where he can unleash combinations to all parts of the body. He is more of a first-round fighter with bad cardio and a good chin. Villanueva does not offer much of anything on the mat but works well in the clinch. He will attempt body lock takedowns and go for a ground and pound finish but does not control well. He gets taken down with ease and has been submitted multiple times.
- Prachnio looked better last time out, but I still do not trust him. Villanueva does not hesitate and will walk him down with big power, and I think he puts this fight away early.
My Pick: Villanueva
- Villanueva as a big dog would break value with an early knockout victory. A decision likely brings a low score for either guy.
Warlley Alves (15-4-0) v. Jeremiah Wells (8-2-1)
- Alves enters the night after a huge upset knockout win against Mounir Lazzez. This after proclaiming he took over a year rededicating himself. He is more of a technical striker with a great jab and heavy leg kicks. He throws with power combos and explosiveness to walk his opponents back to the cage. His defense can be lacking, and his cardio starts to decline after round one. Alves looks to get his opponents in the clinch so he can attack with knees to the legs and body. He has fantastic takedown defense and works a strong guillotine when they are attempted.
- Wells is making his UFC debut and looks to be a well-rounded fighter. He has quick, tight strikes and kicks. He uses a great counter and combos to level change and has fantastic cardio. Wells is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and commands the mat well. He has great takedowns and is always looking for a way to move into a rear-naked choke. His opponents have difficulties getting back up and often give up their backs when they try.
- Wells is making his debut against a revamped Alves. Alves will likely have the advantage standing up, and his takedown defense should be enough to keep Wells from getting him on the mat. This is definitely the best competition Wells has faced.
My Pick: Alves
- Alves makes for a great cash/GPP play.
Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0-0) v. Michel Prazeres (26-3-0)
- Rakhmonov made quick work of Alex Oliveira in his UFC debut with a first-round submission. He is a powerful and quick striker with good footwork. He attacks technically with timed shots and great combos. He has a sneaky quick counter and hits the calves and body with low kicks. Rakhmonov shines on the mat with impressive takedowns and dominant control. He has great movement that allows him to set himself up for submissions or ground and pound. Of his thirteen wins, he has seven knockouts and six submissions. The guy is a finisher.
- Prazeres returns to the ring after over two years and looks to be massively undersized heading into this fight. He throws decent volume with quick, straight throws and rapid movement but has little power. He has an iron chin and looks to have great cardio, as most of his fights go to the cards. Prazeres is a second-degree black belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist and loves to keep his opponents on the mat. He has good takedowns and sneaky submissions. He controls and keeps himself in dominant positions working in strikes and elbows.
- Prazeres returns to the ring with a massive size disadvantage. He is now 39 and likely past his prime. He has yet to be finished in his professional career, but Rakhmonov likely makes quick work of this fight with a finish to extend his winning streak to fourteen.
My Pick: Rakhmonov
- Rakhmonov is my favorite play on the card for cash and GPP.
Kennedy Nzechukwu (8-1-0) v. Danilo Marques (11-2-0)
- Nzechukwu returned after over a year and a half with a big knockout against Carlos Ulberg back in March. He returned with quick hands and a high-volume approach with power. He has great combos and mixes in front kicks to the body to slow his opponent. He showed a new approach with good movement and good defense to go with his already great chin. Nzechukwu is good in the clinch with knees and nasty elbows, but his grappling and wrestling is not great. His takedown defense is questionable, and he gives up his back too much when trying to get up.
- Marques returns after a huge upset submission victory against Mike Rodriguez. His striking is weak, and he attempts to touch up fighters from range. He does not offer much power and has slow movement. He attacks the body and looks to level change so he can shoot for takedowns. Marques on the mat is where he usually holds the advantage. He is a jiu-jitsu black belt and has good takedowns. On the mat, he looks to stay in dominant positions to control his opponent and find some ground-and-pound. He does sometimes struggle to keep his opponents on the mat but continues to tire them out putting them back down.
- For Marques to win, he needs to get this to the mat and control or find a submission. Nzechukwu looked very improved last time out. If he does not find a knockout early, I think he stuffs enough takedowns and pours on volume for a decision.
My Pick: Nzechukwu
- Marques would score well with another early submission victory. Nzechukwu scores well with a knockout or high volume win.
Renato Moicano (14-4-1) v. Jai Herbert (10-2-0)
- Moicano steps back in after having lost the last three of four by knockout with the most recent having been Rafael Fiziev. He is a distance striker with good footwork and movement. He does not have stopping power but puts out a good volume. He uses leg kicks to create distance and level changes to work in his takedowns. His chin is questionable at this point having been knocked out so often in recent memory. Moicano is a mat first fighter with black belts in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. His grappling is elite, and he uses strong takedowns to get the fight down. On the mat he has good control and is always hunting for a submission.
- Herbert is making his second fight in the UFC after a tough knockout loss to Francisco Trinaldo in his debut. He is an aggressive pressure striker with decent power and throws good volume. Eight of his ten wins have been knockouts as he used that pressure to combo and counter his opponents into the cage. Herbert has underrated grappling and wrestling that we have not really gotten to see. He did not attempt a takedown in his debut but showed good scrambling and wrestling to get back to his feet when he was taken down. He appears to have good cardio and a decent chin.
- Herbert to me is still to green for this fight. He does have stopping power, and Moicano's chin is questionable, but I see Moicano controlling where this fight goes and getting a decision in his favor.
My Pick: Moicano
- Herbert being the biggest dog on the slate would break it with a knockout win. Moicano will need something big or a massive amount of control time and takedowns to hit value.
Tim Means (31-12-1, 1NC) v. Nicolas Dalby (19-3-1, 2NC)
- Means comes in with a two-fight win streak after a big win against Mike Perry last time out. He is a scrappy fighter who likes to leave it all out there. He will walk you down and keep the fight in your face. He does not pack a ton of power but puts out good volume. He uses combos and counters to attack the head and body and is always a threat to take his opponent down. Means is a great grappler offensively and defensively. When taken down he is good at reversing or scrambling to get back up. When he shoots for the takedown, he quickly gets into a dominant position and hunts for a submission. His cardio is excellent, and he has shown that he is quite durable as well.
- Dalby gets back in the cage after a huge upset decision win against Daniel Rodriguez in November. He is a technical striker with some power. He throws from distance with well-timed combos and counters to slowly wear his opponent down. He uses good movement and forward pressure to push the fight where he wants it throwing hard kicks to the legs and body. Dalby has good grappling and wrestling and does not miss an opportunity to attempt a takedown when given the chance. He has decent control of his opponent on the mat and finds ways to get himself in position for submissions. His takedown defense is solid, and he has the cardio to go three rounds without issue.
- This fight is closer to a 50-50 for me. Means is wild and likes to brawl, and he knows how to mix in his ground game to control a round. Dalby is technical, keeping his strikes at at distance and using good movement to back his opponent off. Both guys kind of cancel each other out on the mat and I expect this to play out standing up. Means edges Dalby just a big for me with volume and power.
My Pick: Means
- Means scores well in wins by decision making him a safer play, and he always has the chance for a finish.
Andre Fili (21-8-0) v. Daniel Pineda (27-14-0, 2NC)
- Fili enters on the heels of a decision loss to Bryce Mitchell last October. He is a volume striker with fast hands. He uses combos and counters to attack the head, mixing in body shots and kicks here and there. He has great footwork and movement creating level changes to shoot for takedowns. Fili has decent grappling and wrestling. He can control in dominant positions after a takedown but that is about it. His takedown defense has been good up until the fight with Mitchell when he was brought down seven times. He showed great scrambling to reverse or get back up.
- Pineda is on a downward spiral, having lost five of his last seven including the last time out against Cub Swanson. He has decent striking with pop in his hands. He is selective with his throws and waits for the best opening while also defending strikes thrown at him very well. Pineda has a terrific ground game and uses his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his advantage. He finds an opening, shoots and then hunts for a submission in various ways. In top control, he can rain down heavy ground-and-pound and is great at keeping his opponents from getting back up.
- Fili is the better striker and grappler here, and as long as he avoids Pineda's dangerous submission game, he should win. Pineda has gassed out pretty quickly the last few fights giving Fili a bigger advantage.
My Pick: Fili
- Fili throws good volume and mixes in takedowns and could score well with a finish or a decision. Pineda could break value with an early submission win.
Raoni Barcelos (16-1-0) v. Timur Valiev (17-2-0, 1NC)
- Barcelos continues to show up big in the UFC and did so again with another big decision win against Khalid Taha in November. He is a high-paced, high-volume and aggressive striker. He pressures his opponent into the cage and unleashes powerful combos until he has them down. Barcelos also has an impressive ground game backed by his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His takedown defense is elite, and his takedown offense is great. Once on the mat, he shows great control of his opponent and is always a threat to submit them. He has the cardio to keep his pace up for three rounds and an excellent chin to go with it.
- Valiev comes out after a dominating three round decision victory over Martin Day. He is a good striker with excellent blitz attacks. He throws a lot of fast combos with excellent counters and good movement. He has great kicks to all parts of the body and uses flying knees often. He does generally fight with his hands down making him hittable. Valiev is an incredible wrestler and uses level changes to set up quick takedowns. He has great control on the mat and tires out his opponent quickly. He can be taken down but has elite scrambling to get back up. Cardio will not be an issue with him.
- Valiev looked great in his last fight and spent a lot of time controlling where it went. Doing that against Barcelos will not be as easy. Barcelos pushes a blistering pace and will most certainly hurt Valiev early with power and volume, and potentially end this quickly.
My Pick: Barcelos
- I like Barcelos's chances of being in the optimal given how quick and powerful he fights. I like him in both cash and GPP.
Ovince Saint Preux (25-15-0) v. Tanner Boser (19-8-1)
- Boser is now on a two-fight losing streak after losing to Ilir Latifi just a few weeks ago. He is a decent striker with quick combos to the head and body. He throws counter hooks when forced backwards and uses good movement to cut off the cage. He has deadly kicks that he sends to all parts of the body to slow or hurt his opponent. Boser has not yet attempted a takedown in the UFC and was taken down twice by Latifi. He shows a lack of aggression when trying to get back up or trying to get his back off the cage. He does have elite cardio for a heavyweight and is about as durable as they come.
- Saint Preux is coming off a bad loss to Jamahal Hill and is moving back up to heavyweight for this fight. He is a a solid striker with good movement. He does not throw a lot of volume and instead uses jabs and kicks to attack the body to weaken the core. He carries power in his hands and knocks his opponent off balance with quick strikes. Saint Preux has a great overall ground game. He can take down opponents in the open or in the clinch. On the mat, he has solid control over his opponent, and his submission game is fantastic. His takedown defense is good, and he has great scrambling when down.
- Saint Preux is moving up to heavyweight again for this fight. Last time he did so was against Ben Rothwell, and he had issues with the size of him. Boser is not as big as Ben, but is much quicker and his kicks hurt. If Saint Preux can get this fight to the mat, he will have a chance to keep Boser there, but I do not see it happening.
My Pick: Boser
- Unless there is a finish, I do not see this being a high-scoring fight.
Ciryl Gane (8-0-0) v. Alexander Volkov (33-8-0)
- Gane continues to impress in the UFC, collecting another win against Jair Rozenstruik last time out. He is a unique heavyweight with incredible movement. He has great striking and switches stances to mix up combos, keeping his opponent guessing. He is quick on the feet, making him difficult to hit. He can pressure forward to back his opponent and counter anything they throw before assaulting them with knees or spinning backfists. Gane is strong in the clinch and has shown the ability to go for takedowns. He will catch kicks, take them down and then gain top control for ground-and-pound, or look for a sub. He has exhibited great cardio and durability in all his fights.
- Volkov enters the cage after a destructive knockout victory against Alistair Overeem in his last bout. He is a solid striker with a lot of power. He walks his opponents down, keeping them right in range of his strikes. He throws great combos which lead to his deadly kicks. He uses powerful inside kicks to the legs and body. He does have issues with being hittable but has displayed a good chin. Volkov is not a fan of the mat. He struggles with guys who use heavy grappling and wrestling approaches. He can be taken down and then struggles to get himself back up. For a heavyweight. he does have good cardio and is hard to finish.
- Volkov wins one way in this fight – a knockout. The problem he faces is that Gane is hard to hit. Gane continues to impress in a multitude of ways. His movement and footwork, power and ground game are all phenomenal. He simply ways to win this fight. I think we see him eventually get this to the mat and potentially lock in a sub. A knockout in the later rounds after Volkov gasses a bit is possible as well.
My Pick: Gane
- Personally, Gane will be a part of all my cash and GPP lines, and that will likely be where I make my stand against the field. That being said, for mass entry, Volkov should not be excluded completely due to his ability to get knockouts.