This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
UFC 270's undercard has the feel of a standard Fight Night due to all the debuting fighters, but the lack of easily searchable tape can mean a big edge for those who are willing to track down footage. We'll cover every fight on the 13-bout slate, including a newcomer squaring off against everyone's favorite high-flyer, and a surprising underdog at the top of the card.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Brandon Moreno ($8,500)
Deiveson Figueiredo may not have looked like himself when he dropped the flyweight title in June, but Moreno still put it on the former champion, establishing control of the center of the Octagon and letting his fast hands do the rest. It's hard to overstate how much Moreno's grappling defense contributed to the victory, as Figueiredo was unable to control "The Assassin Baby " as the bigger and stronger fighter. Figueiredo counts on his power to scare opponents out of the pocket, but as long as Moreno is committed to staying in his face, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to take the fight to "Deus da Guerra" once again.
Raoni Barcelos ($9,300)
It's going to take a lot more than the pressure and volume of Victor Henry to beat a fighter like Barcelos, who combines sharp boxing with solid wrestling and a fantastic jiu-jitsu game. It should be mentioned that Henry's lack of defense gets him hit hard even in fights he wins, and Barcelos is far too sharp on the counter for "La Mangosta" to wade into the pocket unprotected. It should also be noted that Henry was taken down and put in compromising positions in his fight with Kyler Phillips in 2018, And Barcelos should be able to replicate that performance if necessary.
Tony Gravely ($8,900)
Gravely got a bit too confident standing in front of Nate Maness after nearly knocking him out in Round 1 of their fight in September, but the 30-year-old remains one of the most committed wrestlers in this weight class, having notched at least four takedowns in three of his four fights in the organization. Tap-outs have accounted for five of Gravely's seven losses in professional MMA, which makes a jiu-jitsu specialist like Saimon Oliveira an interesting value play. We have seen the Brazilian fighter controlled on the ground for long stretches of time in his regional career, however, and Gravely will have a sizeable advantage for as long as this fight stays on the feet.
Genaro Valdez ($7,500)
Valdez may not be the cleanest technician inside the cage, but he will swing hammers from the opening bell in an attempt to close the distance and get his opponent to the ground. This is bad news for Matt Frevola, who doesn't move his head in the pocket, and has struggled with committed offensive wrestlers at times. Valdez's recklessness ensures that he will never be a comfortable pick, but I expect him to keep Frevola on the back-foot and control "Steamrolla" when the bout hits the mat.
Kay Hansen ($8,800)
Poor judging handed Hansen her first UFC loss in November, but there's no reason to be down on the 22-year-old, who has shown crisp boxing in the pocket to compliment her wrestling and BJJ skills. While her record looks impressive, Jasmine Jasudavicius has benefitted from being stronger than her regional opponents, as she frequently looks to muscle them to the ground along the fence. Hansen should have no issues outwrestling her opponent here, exposing Jasudavicius in what will be the toughest test of her career by a wide margin.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Rodolfo Vieira OVER 1.5 Takedowns and Vanessa Demopoulos OVER 2.5 Takedowns
Being one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners to ever grace an MMA cage didn't stop Vieira from gassing out and getting choked by Anthony Hernandez in February. This led to "The Black Belt Hunter" fighting behind his jab far more often in his next bout against Dustin Stoltzfus in an attempt to manage energy. While we will likely get more of the same in this bout, it's hard to ignore that Vieira has landed at least two takedowns in each of his four UFC appearances. Wellington Turman has yet to face a committed wrestler in the organization, and while he may remain cautious, there is no reason to believe that Vieira won't go back to his wrestling to try and secure a finish.
Editor's Note: Vieira was forced to withdraw Friday morning due to an undisclosed medical issue.
Demopoulus' total may seem a bit scary at first, but Silvana Gomez Juarez has a bad habit of backing herself to the fence, which should leave Demopoulos with more than a few opportunities to take her down behind the black lines. There may be some concern that Demopolis finds a submission before she can hit her mark, but Gomez Juarez has only been tapped out once in 13 professional fights.
Plays to Consider on Super Draft
Trevin Giles – 2.1 X Multiplier
Giles deserves a strong look in this bout as a slight underdog, as we've seen how slick his boxing can be when he lets his hands go. Michael Morales has tremendous power but is too willing to cede the center of the ring to his opponents, which should allow Giles to control the pace of the fight despite having to deal with a significant reach disadvantage. If Morales chooses to go to his wrestling, we can rely on the fact that Giles is a tricky and underrated grappler who gave Gerald Meerschaert all he could handle on the mat before succumbing to exhaustion. Morales is another newcomer with a flashy-looking record, but I am in favor of making him prove that he belongs at this level, as he didn't look especially sharp in his bout on the Contender Series.
Andre Fialho – 2.35 X Multiplier
I've criticized other fighters on this slate for being little more than pace-and-pressure brawlers, but that might be enough against Michel Pereira, who wilted in the later rounds against Tristan Connelly and suffered the only knockout loss of his career to Dusko Todorovic after being pushed against the fence. Fialho is similarly heavy-handed, and Pereira hasn't been a serious knockout threat in his career, having only finished 10 of his 26 wins via strikes. To be clear, I don't expect this version of Fialho to stick around in the UFC, but he is more than capable of cornering his acrobatic opponent and unleashing hands on him.
Francis Ngannou – 2.1 X Multiplier
Count me among the folks who never imagined that a champion as powerful and threatening as Ngannou would be an underdog in a title defense. "The Predator" becomes even scarier when one considers the improvements he made in his title rematch against Stipe Miocic, including bodywork, leg kicks, and wrestling defense. If anyone was going to come in as a favorite against Ngannou, it would have to be Ciryl Gane, who has been rightly lauded for his speed and agility as a heavyweight. So why do I think the champion retains his title? For all his skills, Gane has never been much of a knockout artist and has only landed takedowns in two of his seven fights in the Octagon. Every second Ngannou remains in a fight is one where he can potentially land a kill shot, and I think this new version of the Cameroonian fighter will be able to take advantage of the fact that Gane stands so heavy on his lead leg. It seems to me that Gane has to outclass Ngannou for five rounds in order to win. This seems like too tall of a task while avoiding the power and whatever adjustments he has up his sleeve.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Said Nurmagomedov UNDER 78.5 Strikes and Cody Stamann UNDER 55.5 Strikes
This matchup is something of a rarity in the UFC, as it features two wrestlers who both have outstanding takedown defense. This will likely lead to a lot of stalling out along the fence as the fighters jockey for position. Numagomedov is a slick striker but often opts for single strikes and spinning attacks, which should keep his total depressed. This goes double for Stammann, who likes to throw a big right hand and won't be able to keep up with Said when it comes to speed or agility.
Jack Della Maddalena UNDER 68.5 Strikes and Pete Rodriguez UNDER 24.5 Strikes
If you can't already tell, the platform expects this fight to be incredibly one-sided. I tend to agree, but I'm not sure why Maddalena's total is so high against a veteran of four fights who has never been outside the first round. Rodriguez has some basic footwork and head movement, but once he starts swinging, all that form goes out the window. By contrast, Maddalena is a good body puncher who throws short, crisp shots and uses in-and-out movement. Maddalena is the rightful heavy favorite, but this one will likely be quick regardless of who comes out on top.