This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.
Mana Martinez (8-2-0) v. Guido Cannetti (8-5-0)
- Martinez is a fast-handed striker with great movement. As soon as the bell rings, he is moving constantly. He will chop at the legs with nice low kicks and keeps his hands high for solid defense. His striking is crisp and technical. He is a finisher with all eight wins coming by the way of knockout. He looks to need a little work with wrestling/grappling, as he was submitted in his last loss.
- Cannetti is a decent striker with a better game plan on the mat. On the feet, he will use strong low kicks to legs and round kicks to the head. After a kick, he will throw looping shots with power. He fights with his hands low, inviting shots to the head in order to bait them and counter with a strong hook. He is good at changing levels and getting the fight to the mat. He does not look for submissions often, rather controlling his opponent in a dominant position.
DFS Perspective: This could be Cannetti's last fight in the UFC during his tenure. I do not like him much at all in this fight. Getting the fight to the mat is realistically his only way to win here. Martinez is knockout machine, and with how low Cannetti keeps his hands, he is only looking to eat a big one. Look for some good DFS numbers from Martinez.
My Pick: Martinez
Jamall Emmers (18-5-0) v. Pat Sabatini (14-3-0)
- Emmers is volume striker with great power. He stands tall and throws heavy one-twos pressuring forward. In the pocket, he will grab and pull his opponent into deadly knees. He will throw round kicks to the head followed by a quick jab. He is also a competent wrestler and grappler. He has good takedowns and strength on the mat. He will look to take the back for a choke or get in top control and lay down some heavy ground and pound.
- Sabatini is a well-rounded fighter with an aptitude for finishes. He has decent striking and nice low kick. He will use fast hands and quick combinations to pressure his opponent back. He excels at takedowns and getting the fight on the mat. In his debut, he controlled his opponent for nearly two full rounds. He can change positions with ease and control where the fight goes. His submission game is great, and he is always a threat to end it early.
DFS Perspective: I think Emmers will control where this fight takes place. Sabatini will want to get it to the mat, but Emmers is well-versed there, and I do not think Sabatini will be able to do what he wants. Emmers will throw more volume and be able to mix in his own takedowns. A finish here would be nice for both guys at their price points. Emmers would also score well in a decision.
My Pick: Emmers
JJ Aldrich (9-4-0) v. Vanessa Demopoulos (6-3-0)
- Aldrich made a nice return to the ring with a big win last time out. She is a technical striker with good volume. She works well from a distance and excels at keeping it there. She will use forward pressure mixed with powerful combinations to back her opponent up. She will use feints, looking to bait and counter. Her defense can be lacking when pressured herself, and she ends up taking a lot of big shots. Her ground game looked much improved in her last fight. She has always had a strong clinch but showed off takedowns and control last time out as well.
- Demopoulos is making her debut and looks to add some more power to the division. She throws powerful low kicks and has great footwork. Her striking is quick, and she uses a jab hook combination off those kicks. She will grab her opponent in pocket, or in the clinch, and throw heavy knees. She does not shoot for takedowns as often as she should as she has great wrestling. She can find submissions off her back or from a dominant position. Her inverted triangle choke against Sam Hughes was super impressive.
DFS Perspective: Demopoulos is moving up a division and making her debut. She has power and an excellent submission game. Aldrich has more experience and will need it here to keep the fight at range and upright. If Aldrich starts getting impatient and pressures forward wildly, she could find herself in trouble. Without a finish, I do not see a high score here. Aldrich would need a first-round finish to get close to value. Aldrich is the sage cash play here, but do not be surprised if Demopoulos comes up with a huge upset finish.
My Pick: Aldrich
Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) v. Darren Stewart (12-7-0, 2NC)
- Jacoby is making the most of his second UFC stint with two wins and a debatable draw last time out. He has excellent footwork with heavy low kicks to the legs and brutal round kicks to the head and body. He has a great understanding of distance control and keeps the right just in range of his strikes. He works well sliding in and out throwing quick jabs and baiting counters. He prefers to keep the fight upright and has good takedown defense to keep it there. He will punish a failed takedown with huge hooks or move them into the clinch and throw killer knees and elbows.
- Stewart is a good striker, and he packs a punch. He has a quick combo and a nice counter to go with it. His movement can be slow without much range, which gets him into trouble against fighters that pressure. He tends to keep the fight at range and looks for an opening to land that kill shot. He has a decent ground game and shoots for takedowns when he sees the opening. In the clinch, he likes to throw some nasty elbows and can lay down heavy ground and pound in top control.
DFS Perspective: I think Jacoby's takedown defense is really what wins this fight for him. He has the advantage on the feet and will throw more volume. So long as he avoids laying on the mat too much, he should win and score decently at his price. He could also end up with a knockout with his power. Stewart has the power for a knockout, but his path to victory will come from getting the right to the mat.
My Pick: Jacoby
Sam Alvey (33-15-1, 1NC) v. Wellington Turman (16-5-0)
- Alvey does not have a win in his last six fights and is certainly on the chopping block. He uses movement and feints to bait in fighters and then throw powerful counters. His hooks are deadly, and he uses a nice low kick to chop at the legs. He does not mind standing in the pocket to brawl, giving out as much or more as he takes. He has good takedown defense and is a defensive grappler. He can be difficult to control on the mat and finds his way back up with relative ease.
- Turman was knocked out for the second fight in a row and needs to get back in the win column. He is not the greatest striker and can be sloppy at times. His striking defense is lackadaisical, which gets him touched up early and often. He has decent movement and shoots for takedowns. Turman has good wrestling and prefers to keep the fight on the ground. He is a black belt in BJJ and uses his dominant positions to get submissions.
DFS Perspective: Both guys need a win here. Alvey will have an advantage on the feet and with power. Turman will have the advantage on the mat. I like Turman to show up and get this fight where he needs it to go and get a big win. If Turman can chain takedowns and accrue control time, he could score well in a decision.
My Pick: Turman
Alessio Di Chirico (13-5-0) v. Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-4-0)
- Di Chirico was coming up short in decision losses but delivered a beautiful knockout head kick last time out. He uses great movement to slip in and out, baiting in fighters to throw nasty counter shots. His hands are quick, and he throws a nice jab and powerful hook. His volume can be lacking at times, and he relies too much on power. His grappling has improved greatly. His clinch work is strong, and he will mix in powerful elbows and knees when throwing in it. He is competent on the mat and has some submission victories to his name but struggles to control at times.
- Alhassan made the move to middleweight last time out and added on to the then two-fight losing streak. He is an explosive fighter, but that explosion only lasts one round. He pressures forward looking to get into the pocket and unleash fury. He has a good jab and solid hook. He works well moving inside and out and closes distance very well. His grappling is good, but his wrestling could use some work. He has good body locks but rarely goes for takedowns. His takedown defense is decent, and when taken down, he has great scrambling to get back up.
DFS Perspective: Alhassan is on the chopping block and running out of time. He has been largely unimpressive three fights in a row. He has the power to end the fight with a single blow, and it could happen here. If it does, he scores great for his price point. Di Chirico has not done much better but has the advantage. A finish is likely here. Alhassan may end it early with a flurry of combos, or he could tire out and Di Chirico could end his night early.
My Pick: Alhassan
Makhmud Muradov (25-6-0) v. Gerald Meerschaert (32-14-0)
- Meerschaert found himself back in the win column with an early submission victory last time out. He is not the greatest striker there has ever been, but he does carry power in both hands. He has good jabs and a strong hook. He will mix in low and round kicks to all parts of the body, and his movement is decent. His strength is on the ground using his black belt in jiu-jitsu. He has crafty takedowns and has no issue fighting from his back. He can reverse and find himself in the dominant position and then hunt for the sub. Of his 32 wins, 24 of them are by the way of submission.
- Muradov comes in with a 14-fight win streak and has been very impressive in his UFC stint. He is an all-around excellent fighter with no major weakness. He has fast hands and throws with power. He will attack with strong hooks to the head and body. He has quick, powerful kicks. He does tend to fight with his hands low to bait in throws for counters, but it does leave his head open to some bit shots. He excels on the mat and has fantastic takedowns. He can control well and can rain down nasty ground and pound from top position.
DFS Perspective: I feel like Meershaert surprises at random times, and this could be one. If he finds one of his power punches early, or can take the back on the mat, he could find a way to a big upset. Muradov will be better everywhere this goes, but without a ton of volume or early finish, hitting value will be difficult.
My Pick: Muradov
Andre Petroski (0-0-0) v. Michael Gillmore (0-0-0)
- Petroski is an explosive pressure fighter looking to push a fast-paced and punishing fight. He has powerful hands and excellent movement. He lunges with a nice jab-hook combo, pushing his opponent back into the cage. He will clinch up and throw elbows. He has terrific takedowns and great wrestling. He has great control of fighters on the mat and is constantly working towards a submission or ground and pound.
- Gillmore is a decent striker looking to keep the fight at range until he can close in quickly. He has some power in his hands and throws a quick one-two. He throws checked low kicks to the legs and round kicks to the head and body. He struggles when being pressured but has shown good movement around the cage. He has decent takedowns but has issues controlling on the mat.
DFS Perspective: From the tape I have watched on these two, I do not see how Gillmore wins this fight. Petroski is going to be better everywhere and pushing a pace Gillmore cannot keep up with. Petroski is live for an early finish and is one of my favorite picks on that card.
My Pick: Petroski
Kevin Lee (18-6-0) v. Daniel Rodriguez (15-2-0)
- Lee returns to the ring after another year off from his last fight. He is a well-rounded fighter and competent in all areas. He has crisp striking and great movement. He fights with a low stance to improve takedown defense. He attacks with quick jabs, a powerful hook and nasty leg kicks. He has fantastic takedowns, as well as the strength to control his opponent on the mat. He can lay ground and pound or hunt for a submission. He is excellent at taking the back and does not let go once he does.
- Rodriguez continues to impress and looks to power his way to another big win. He is a technical striker with high volume and good power. He works the head and body with quick jabs and big power strikes. He will also level change using low kicks to attack the calves and body. He loves to stand in the pocket and brawl to give out punishment while eating whatever is thrown at him. His ground game is decent from what we have seen in the past, but he rarely uses it.
DFS Perspective: This is an exciting fight. This fight is closer to 50-50 to me. Lee will have the advantage on the mat, and Rodriguez on the feet. I think Rodriguez can stuff enough takedowns to emerge victorious here, either by knockout or decision. As the dog, he would crush value.
My Pick: Rodriguez
Ricky Turcios (8-0-0) v. Brady Hiestand (0-0-0)
- Turcios is a technical striker with a flair for showmanship. He throws hard shots from a distance. He has a great jab and will couple it with a cross. He has excellent patience and waits for his best opportunity to close in and throw a flurry of combos. He will throw wide looping hooks to body and has good head movement to avoid big shots. He seldom shoots for takedowns and prefers to keep the fight on the feet. His wrestling and grappling are good, and he showed excellent scrambling ability.
- Hiestand is an impressive up-and-comer with a great all-around game. He pushes the pace as soon as it starts pressuring forward with good striking. He has a great jab combination and rushes forward looking to takedown or move into the clinch. His clinch work is terrific, and he controls his opponent well. His takedowns are good, and he holds dominant positions for long periods of time. He is excellent at taking the back and always a threat to end it early.
DFS Perspective: I am really torn on this fight. I think it likely goes to decision with a decent score. Turcios holds an advantage in striking, and Hiestand holds the advantage on the mat. After watching tape on both guys, I lean towards Hiestand. I think he will be able to control where the fight goes and ends up with a close decision win.
My Pick: Hiestand
Bryan Battle (0-0-0) v. Gilbert Urbina (0-0-0)
- Battle is a well-rounded fighter with good volume. Prior to his current run on The Ultimate Fighter, he started his fights off quickly with a plethora of strikes. He does not carry a lot of power, but the volume is good. He throws a great jab-cross combo and will mix in kicks to all parts of the body. He has excellent takedowns and amazing control on the mat. He can lay down ground and pound or hunt for a submission.
- Urbina is another up-and-comer with a lot of potential. He has a great all-around game. He has fantastic head and foot movement. He throws crisp jabs and follows them with hooks. He pressures his opponent back and works his way into the pocket to combo or attempt a takedown. When he pressures forward, he tends to keep his hands low which can cause him to take big shots. His takedowns and jiu-jitsu are already above average. His wrestling could use a little work, but his jiu-jitsu and submission game are amazing.
DFS Perspective: I love this fight. Two high level guys who have impressed in big ways. Urbina is a short notice replacement, but I do not think it will matter here. Battle has the advantage on the feet, and Urbina on the mat. I think the pressure Urbina puts out will eventually cause Battle to make a mistake and get him in trouble.
My Pick: Urbina
Edson Barboza (22-9-0) v. Giga Chikadze (13-2-0)
- Barboza comes in with a two-fight win streak and is one the best strikers in the UFC. He looks to keep the fight at range where he can take out the legs or rip straights up the middle and bait in counters. He has big power in his hands and moves from a combination to a huge hook. His kicks are deadly. He will throw low kicks, round kicks, spinning kicks and flying knees with deadly force. He has excellent takedown defense and generally prefers the fight to stay on the feet.
- Chikadze is a perfect 6-0 since moving to the UFC and is coming off two stellar Round 1 knockouts. He uses elite footwork and speed to switch stances and throw some of the nastiest kicks you will see in the UFC. He will throw single jabs and look to bait fighters in so he can cut them down with his kickboxing. He will also pull them in and hit them with deadly knees. His weakness is definitely on the ground. He can be taken down and then has problems getting back up.
DFS Perspective: This is a clash of kickboxers. Both these guys will look to chop the others' legs out and end this fight early with something to the head. This fight really could go either way. I see either an early finish, or a boring turtle match where we watch them hesitate to throw. Given that the fight is five rounds, a decision would still likely give us a good score for DFS purposes. Chikadze would smash value with a win.
My Pick: Chikadze