This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.
Gillian Robertson (9-6-0) v. Priscila Cachoeira (10-3-0)
- Classic striker vs. grappler match. Cachoeira has significant power and is one of the most physical fighters in the women's flyweight division. She will look to back Robertson against the cage early and unload vicious hooks and overhands. Robertson will not want to play with that fire. Instead, she should be looking to take the fight to the mat as quickly as she can, where she likely dominates. Cachoeira will not have the jiu-jitsu or wrestling to keep herself out of harm's way if she gets taken down, and Robertson will not have the striking defense or volume to keep up on the feet.
DFS Perspective: Both ladies have a shot at a high score with an early finish, and they both have routes to one. Cachoeira flashed her power with two consecutive knockouts, including her last fight when she got dominated on the mat and was able to sting and finish her opponent in the second round. Robertson is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with six submission wins to her name, and is always a threat on the mat.
My Pick: Robertson
Randy Costa (6-2-0) v. Tony Kelley (7-2-0)
- I expect this fight to be a striking affair for as long as it lasts. Both guys come out swinging with ample power and non-stop motors. Costa sets up heavy head kicks behind slick jabs and will bait fighters in throwing a massive counter when they reach out. He will have a three-inch reach advantage over Kelley and will surely take advantage of that early. Kelley sits behind a solid one-two and throws nasty low kicks hoping to slow the movement of fighters. He would also be a potential submission threat if the fight were to go to the mat. However, Costa has an elite takedown defense.
DFS Perspective: I love Costa in this spot and believe an early knockout is coming his way. Kelley will likely jump into the pocket or potentially look for a takedown one too many times and end up eating something nasty. If Kelley does manage to get this fight to the mat, an early submission at his price point would be slate-breaking.
My Pick: Costa
Ryan Hall (8-2-0) v. Darrick Minner (26-12-0)
- A fight that should primarily play out on the mat with the ending likely by submission. Both men feature little volume on the feet and prefer to get right into grappling. Hall is an experienced heel hook specialist who has seen three of his five UFC fights go to the scorecards. He has not been the most successful at takedowns but has managed to reverse control or avoid danger while being controlled and has found some success striking at range. Minner lives and dies by the submission, having 22 of them in 26 total wins and 8 in 12 total losses. He is relentless shooting for takedowns and will frequently give up control to attempt a sub. Against Hall, giving up that control could be an issue, so he should gain and hold control before hunting.
DFS Perspective: I like the dog here. I think Minner will be the more aggressive of the two, grab early takedowns, and lock onto Hall early. However, being aggressive could cause him to lose control and get stuck in dangerous positions. I do not think Hall is worth his price point and believe all the value lies with the underdog here.
My Pick: Minner
Alex Perez (24-6-0) v. Matt Schnell (15-6-0)
- Here we have a fight between two well-rounded UFC flyweight staples. Both fighters can stand and strike for 15 or mix in takedowns and wrestle for a round. However, Perez is the more experienced fighter and should have an advantage anywhere the fight goes, particularly with power and volume on the feet. He will set up takedowns with one-twos and kicks and immediately look to move into a top mount for ground and pound or hunt for a choke. Schnell will not have the takedown defense to stop Perez repeatedly and should look to reverse in search of his own choke. He could keep volume close on the feet but does not have the power to keep scores close from the judges, so his play is on the mat.
DFS Perspective: This could be one of those fights where a finish is an expected outcome, but then we get a dull decision. I do not think Schnell will pull off the upset without trapping Perez in an armbar or triangle choke. Perez is the stronger fighter and should control the fight, ultimately snaring an early finish or decision victory. Look for Perez to push an aggressive early pace and cruise to a win here.
My Pick: Perez
Miranda Maverick (11-3-0) v. Erin Blanchfield (7-1-0)
- Two up-and-coming ladies with excellent pedigrees square off. Although her last fight was a split-decision loss, Maverick has made a name for herself with an impressive UFC start. She is powerful, hits hard with a nasty jab and mixes takedowns for control or ground-and-pound. In addition, she features solid takedown defense and a fantastic submission game, with five in her nine wins earned that way. In September, Blanchfield made her UFC debut, dismantling her opponent in a dominant decision. She has a much tougher draw in Maverick and will not be able to just ragdoll her. She displayed good volume and was able to time takedowns off her striking but will likely need to get this to the mat and control to beat Maverick.
DFS Perspective: Blanchfield is a live dog if she comes out like she did in her debut and rolls through Maverick. I do not see that happening. Maverick will be the aggressor, is the stronger fighter, and should control where the fight goes. Blanchfield also tends to walk forward with little head movement making her hittable. I expect Maverick to win an easy decision if she does not find a finish.
My Pick: Maverick
Andre Muniz (21-4-0) v. Eryk Anders (14-5-0, 1NC)
- Solid striker vs. grappler match between two experienced middleweight fighters. Muniz is a magician on the mat, having earned 14 submission victories, 12 of them in the first round. He is quick and has excellent timing on single and double leg takedowns, and then quickly grabs control and passes into an armbar or rear-naked choke. In addition, he does have four losses, all of them by knockout. Anders is a patient striker with a massive hook and overhand right and mixes in takedowns to position in a top-mount and rain down ground and pound. He has eight knockout wins in 14 total fights and has above average takedown defense. Going for takedowns in this fight would only spell trouble for him, so he likely will look to keep it on his feet and make it a striking bout.
DFS Perspective: Anders has a shot at an upset knockout or could grind out a decision as he has never faced submission before. However, he has not faced an elite grappler like Muniz, and I think he faces that first submission here. I expect Muniz to come out fast, snare a takedown, and immediately put Anders in an uncomfortable position ending with a submission.
My Pick: Muniz
Jordan Wright (12-1-0, 1NC) v. Bruno Silva (20-6-0)
- Two killers looking for an instant knockout from the gate. Wright has 12 wins and 12 finishes, all coming before six minutes. He is a kill or be killed fighter, dangerous anywhere the fight goes. His UFC fights have ended by knockout, but he had five chokes before joining the promotion. He has shown a solid one-two, deadly hook, and lethal knees and elbows. Also, he has above average takedown defense but leaves himself open to being hit with big shots in the pocket. Since joining the UFC, Silva has had back-to-back knockout wins, including the most recent fight where he earned the knockout after being down two rounds. He has deceiving power in his jabs and hooks, earning 18 knockouts in 21 wins. However, he does have five submission losses, and if Wright chooses to take it there, he could struggle to get off his back.
DFS Perspective: This fight should provide fireworks and is almost guaranteed to end with a finish. To me, there is not much that sets the two fighters apart. Silva has never been knocked out but has struggled when put on his back. Wright has only been knocked out once but tends to leave himself open to big shots. I expect this to stay on the feet for as long as it lasts, and it could be either guy that gets the kill shot. Both would score well, with the dog breaking the slate.
My Pick: Wright
Augusto Sakai (15-3-1) v. Tai Tuivasa (13-3-0)
- A striking heavyweight match with two fighters in different places. Sakai comes in on a two-fight knockout slide while Tuivasa enters on a three-fight knockout win streak. The two fighters share 22 knockouts combined, so fireworks are expected in this fight. Sakai looks to pressure forward early, fight against the cage, and let hands fly in the pocket. He has nice hooks and will bait fighters into the pocket and throw a counter to press them out. Tuivasa thrives by sending heavy kicks to the legs and calves to slow fighters and throwing nasty shots off his back foot when pressured. In addition, he will look to land multiple hooks and jabs to the body, looking to open up strikes to the head. Neither fighter is a grappler or wrestler, and the fight should remain on the feet.
DFS Perspective: This fight could go one of two ways; a fast-paced striking war ending with a knockout or a dull low volume striking exchange ending with a decision. I think this fight is as close to a 50-50 as you can get, but I like the guy riding the win streak rather than the one on a slide. Look for Tuivasa to catch Sakai as he is rushing forward to stun and finish early.
My Pick: Tuivasa
Pedro Munhoz (19-6-0, 1NC) v. Dominick Cruz (23-3-0)
- A fight between two well-rounded veterans looking to climb back into the top five. Munhoz has some of the best kicks in the UFC and is considered a credentialed grappler. He has decent power, throws good volume with kicks and one-twos, and has a high fight IQ. In addition, he also has excellent takedown and striking defense and is as tough as they come. Cruz, a former champion, has not been as active, having fought only twice in five years but looked revamped in his most recent fight in March, winning by split-decision. He has quick hands, a slick jab, and solid takedowns. However, this fight likely takes place on the feet for a 15 minutes striking exchange between the two storied fighters. Munhoz has never been finished in 25 fights, and Cruz only twice in 26 fights, so a high-paced decision is likely.
DFS Perspective: This should be a fun striking match between two solid competitors. I expect Munhoz to put out the higher volume and slow Cruz down with kicks. I do not expect takedowns, or a big finish, so a high score is not likely out of this fight without a finish.
My Pick: Munhoz
Josh Emmett (16-2-0) v. Dan Ige (15-4-0)
- Two heavy-hitting featherweights clash for a chance at a top-5 fight. Emmett is considered one of the hardest-hitting featherweights and threatens to knock fighters down early and often. He features a solid one-two, nasty hook and overhand and will attack the body to open up shots to the head. Additionally, he has a wrestling background but generally sticks to striking for that knockout. Ige was very successful in the early running but has stalled, losing two of his last three by decision. He is an intelligent fighter, patient and technical, and looks to attack the body and legs as much as he does the head. He looks to slow fighters down with body shots and then work quick one-twos up top. He will look for trips and body lock takedowns from the clinch to work ground and pound on the mat. Both fighters have decent takedown defense, and it should primarily play out on the feet where power and volume will be critical.
DFS Perspective: Emmett can end any fight in a hurry with his power, and Ige will need to avoid taking that big shot. If he avoids that kill shot, he wins by decision or a knockout of his own. He should have the volume edge, slow Emmett down with body shots, and take over after round one.
My Pick: Ige
Raulian Paiva (21-3-0) v. Sean O'Malley (14-1-0)
- A fight between young up-and-comers likely to put on a show. Paiva sets out to put the Sugar Sean show to a screeching halt. He looks to pressure forward with a slick jab and looping hook, hoping to brawl inside or against the cage with flurries of heavy combinations. He has solid takedown defense and occasionally will look to shoot himself but is not great at controlling on the mat. O'Malley is a rangy fighter with scary striking stats. He lands, on average, an insane 8.37 per minute with a differential of 4.94. His jab is crisp, and he will fire multiple at a time and then mix in a quick hook, overhand, or a low kick to change it up. He is excellent at keeping fighters at range and then just picking them apart as they try to move inside. Neither fighter is likely to attempt a takedown as both have good defense and scrambling.
DFS Perspective: Paiva will likely try and work inside with pressure but remain unsuccessful throughout the fight. He is also hittable when he moves forward, spelling disaster for him. O'Malley has excellent ring and distance control and will keep Paiva where he wants him at all times. Look for Sugar to continue his UFC push to the top-15 with another high-scoring decision or early finish.
My Pick: O'Malley
Kai Kara-France (22-9-0, 1NC) v. Cody Garbrandt (12-4-0)
- Garbrandt drops a weight class to fight sixth-ranked Kara-France in a classic flyweight bout. Garbrandt has dropped four of his last five bantamweight fights and is now moving to flyweight to see if he can get back on track. He has excellent boxing, quick hand speed, and huge knockout power. In addition, he will mix in nice one-twos, heavy overhand rights, and will slip and rip with massive hooks. Additionally, he has elite takedown defense and will mix in takedowns for ground and pound from time to time. Kara-France is fresh off a first-round knockout and a great boxer with tremendous power and speed. He has a solid jab that he will touch up the body with and is phenomenal at feinting with straights and counters. His grappling is effective when he employs it but usually only shoots for takedowns when feeling overwhelmed with pressure.
DFS Perspective: Garbrandt dropped a weight class, and from what I saw, it did not look like a healthy move for him. Time will tell, but I am all Kara-France in this fight. If the cut was challenging and Garbrandt struggled, Kara-France would walk all over him to a finish.
My Pick: Kara-France
Geoff Neal (13-4-0) v. Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-4-0)
- A clash between technical strikers trying to work into the top-10 and upwards. Neal has exceptionally clean striking with a slick one-two and nasty jab he will throw multiple times. He has excellent distance control and mixes in solid low kicks to slow fighters. In addition, he has improved his takedown defense and thrives in the clinch with nasty elbows and knees. Ponzinibbio is an elite striker with unprecedented distance control and footwork. He pushes an aggressive pace with forward pressure throwing heavy low kicks, nasty jabs, and powerfully long combinations with hooks and high kicks. He is also an incredible counter striker and will walk fighters into his shots but will fight with his hands low, counting on his athleticism to move quickly out of the way. Furthermore, Ponzinibbio is a strong grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is successful with single and double legs when he wants to shoot. He has 21 finishes in 28 wins, 15 by knockout, and six by submission.
DFS Perspective: I am still not sold on Neal and think Ponzinibbio is the better all-around fighter. Neal has that one-shot power and that, to me, is his only path to victory. I expect Ponzinibbio to dominate in volume, and if it were to go to the mat. He also has power himself and could end the fight early.
My Pick: Ponzinibbio
Amanda Nunes (21-4-0) v. Julianna Pena (11-4-0)
- Title fight number one, and the co-main event, has the Lioness looking to defend her belt for the ninth consecutive contest. Pena is a decent striker, throwing a lot of one-twos and head kicks to move inside to let her hands fly with jabs and hooks. Her pressure overwhelms fighters early and allows her to keep the gas held down with forward pressure. She is also an excellent grappler, mauling fighters in the clinch with knees and elbows or snagging clinch takedowns and dropping the fight to the mat. Pena is solid everywhere on the mat. She is a solid scrambler, strong in top control with nasty ground and pound, and will hunt for submissions from the side or if she takes the back. Nunes is the current champ and GOAT of WMMA. She is a phenomenal striker and uses excellent feints and footwork to force fighters back and cut the cage off. She throws a stiff jab and a deadly right hook and overhand and mixes in deadly head and low kicks. Nunes is an elite grappler with a great Muay Thai plum clinch with stiff knees to the head and body. She does not attempt takedowns often, but she has a terrific ground game. She has some of the best ground-and-pound from top control and will also look to take the back for a rear-naked choke.
DFS Perspective: In my opinion, Pena does not deserve this title shot, but Nunes is running out of people to fight. Pena has a chance if she can manage to put Nunes in a difficult place on the mat and submit her. Is it likely? Absolutely not. Nunes should easily defend her belt. AND STILLLLLLLLLLL!
My Pick: Nunes
Charles Oliveira (31-8-0, 1NC) v. Dustin Poirier (28-6-0, 1NC)
- Title fight number two, and the main event, features an absolute banger between warriors. Oliveira has been on a sensational run, winning nine in a row and becoming the current UFC lightweight champion. He has seen his striking improve drastically during this win streak and has started working well behind front kicks and a nice one-two to overhand right and hook. He will lead with nasty elbows and throw huge knees to the head and body. Additionally, he is elite on the mat and considered the most dangerous submission artist in UFC history with 14 career submissions. Poirier is looking to get the belt back and will use his elite striking to do it. He features an excellent jab to the head and body followed by a one-two or powerful left hook. His counter strikes are some of the best in the UFC, and he will catch fighters coming in and going out of the pocket and countering off his backfoot when pressure back. Poirier is strong in the clinch with fast combinations and clinch takedowns. He will rain heavy ground-and-pound on the mat and look to control and throw shots at his opponent's guard. Moreover, he has top takedown defense, will look to attack attempts with chokes, and has excellent scrambling if he is taken down.
DFS Perspective: This fight has FOTN written all over it. Both guys are warriors who deserve the belt, and it will come down to who wants it more. Poirier has an edge on the feet, while Oliveira has an advantage on the mat. I do not think Oliveira will be able to find a sub, and he certainly does not have the striking game to keep pace with Poirier. Look for Poirier to outpoint and outlast Oliviera to a knockout or decision victory. AND NEWWWWWWWW!
My Pick: Poirier
Significant Strikes = 0.6pts
Takedown = 6pts
Takedown Defense = 3pts
Knockdown = 12pts
Submission Attempt = 5pts
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win = 100pts
2nd Round Win = 75pts
3rd Round Win = 50pts
4th Round Win = 35 pts
5th Round Win = 25pts
Decision Win = 20pts
- Significant Strikes are "Distance Strike" or "Clinch/Ground Strikes" that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider a substantial amount of time.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.