The MMA Mashup: UFC Columbus Preview

The MMA Mashup: UFC Columbus Preview

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

Several closely-lined fights are on tap for UFC Columbus, which means the difference between making money and coming up empty can hinge on small details. We'll cover every bout on the slate across five platforms, including a longtime veteran known for his tight squeeze, and a proven flyweight who has been marked as an underdog. All lines are taken from the William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article. 

Without further ado, let's get to it.

 Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Curtis Blaydes ($9,200)

This fight feels a bit like the great unknown, as we have yet to see Chris Daukaus deal with a committed wrestler in the UFC. His regional career doesn't offer many clues either, outside of a submission loss to grappler Shawn Teed in 2015. What we can say for sure is that no one has been able to stand up to Blaydes' pressure and takedown game over 25 minutes. That makes this price pretty tempting, as "Razor" has exceeded 120 DraftKings points multiple times. The danger is that Blaydes has been hit before, and Daukaus has hand speed and power in spades. These moments have been few and far between for most fighters, however, and I can't trust Daukaus to correctly gameplan for a type of opponent he has almost certainly never seen before.

Neil Magny ($8,800)

Magny and Max Griffin both rely heavily on footwork, with Magny's being far more consistent. This, combined with four-inch advantages in height and reach, should allow Magny to control range effectively. Griffin hasn't been taken down multiple times in a bout since his loss to Colby Covington in 2016, but those who have attempted to wrestle "Pain" have had success, including opponents who aren't known for scoring takedowns like Curtis Millender and Mike Perry. Magny should have the strength advantage here, which means he can control the fight in the clinch, as well as at distance.

Aliaskhab Khizriev ($TBD)

An undefeated Russian grappler is inevitably going to draw comparisons to Khabib Nurmagamedov, and while Khizriev isn't quite as fluid with his striking or movement in a heavier division, his strength and power will make him a formidable test at middleweight. This style matchup would likely have been a problem for Denis Tiuliulin without the short notice, as he has had issues with submission grapplers in the past. The 33-year-old likes to pressure and throw big strikes, but a lack of defense and slow hands make him vulnerable to big counter shots, while his wide swinging leaves him open for reactive takedown attempts. Unless his opponent is able to land the perfect shot, I expect Khizriev to make a statement in his UFC debut.

Askar Askarov ($9,100)

An 80 percent takedown defense rate for Kai Kara-France may make some hesitant to play Askarov at this price, but it's notable that the only strong wrestler that tried to take "Don't Blink" down (Rogerio Bontorin) succeeded on his only attempt and achieved 3:17 of control time. This bodes well for Askarov, who has scored 11 takedowns in his four UFC fights. While he has shown unexpected power at times, Kara-France still looks uncomfortable when fighters pressure him, and Askarov loves to take the center of the Octagon and push his opponents backward. Kara-France should be able to keep pace with "Bullet" initially, but his lack of striking defense will likely lead to him eating big shots at range.

Karol Rosa ($8,900)

A wrestler who is vulnerable to submissions, Sara McMann's place in contemporary MMA remains in question. While Rosa has only two submission wins in her career, they both came off of her back, which may make "Mama Bear" hesitant to play around in guard. On the feet Rosa should be able to do whatever she likes as the crisper, more impactful striker. We have also seen McMann struggle in bottom position, so don't be surprised to see the 27-year-old work her own offensive wrestling to take away any threat from her opponent.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Aleksei Oleinik – 2.2 x Multiplier

There is a point to be made that Ilir Latifi has never been taken down in his 16-fight UFC career, but even if  Oleinik can't ground "The Sledgehammer" initially, he will push a tremendous pace while throwing continuous offense. We have seen Latifi get tired to the point of exhaustion in previous fights, and we know "The Boa Constrictor" will continue to press forward even if it looks like he is struggling to breathe. Latifi may be built like a fire hydrant, but the 38-year-old has just one stoppage victory since 2016, and all but the biggest punchers in the division have had a hard time putting  Oleinik away.

Matheus Nicolau – 2.1 x Multiplier

I feel as though Nicalou is miscast as the underdog here, as the Brazilian fighter is a solid combination puncher who can mix his targets and employ a solid wrestling game. David Dvorak is coming off his first finish in the Octagon, but his two prior fights saw him constantly yielding space to his opponents looking to counterpunch. Nicolau will need to be wary of the power of Dvorak, but I will happily take the more well-rounded fighter with a large multiplier.

Chris Gutierrez – 2.1 X Multiplier

Danaa Batgerel has knockouts in each of his last three fights, but none of those opponents could be described as defensively responsible, all having left their heads on the centerline for the hard-throwing fighter from Mongolia. By contrast, Gutierrez has an excellent command of range, a solid jab, and can mix in takedowns along with his kickboxing. "El Guapo" has absorbed just 2.50 significant strikes per minute in his seven UFC fights. I expect him to frustrate Batgerel while picking him off at range en route to a solid decision victory.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

Luis Saldana UNDER 73.5 Significant Strikes and Manon Fiorot OVER 85.5 Significant Strikes

Saldana has hit this mark in two of his three UFC fights, but those bouts pitted the 31-year-old against a pressure fighter to accommodate his counter-punching style. Bruno Souza is a karate stylist in the mold of Lyoto Machida, meaning he likes to skirt along the side of the Octagon and wait for his opponents to make a mistake. While somebody will have to lead at some point, we could be in for a lot of staring in the mirror as both fighters attempt to find the perfect shot.

There is a concern that Fiorot will opt to mix in her wrestling, but she will have so many advantages over Jennifer Maia on the feet that it's difficult to see why she would want to take the fight to the ground. As the faster fighter with better footwork, Fiorot should be able to strike quickly and avoid most counter shots. "The Beast" is comfortable throwing three-punch combinations, so getting to the total shouldn't be a problem as long as the fight stays standing. This is particularly true since Maia is notoriously difficult to finish, with her last loss by stoppage coming more than a decade ago.

Bets to Consider

Matt Brown wins via KO/TKO/Submission or DQ: (+180)

Brown has exemplified the "kill or be killed" mentality of action fighters throughout his career, with eight of his last nine bouts ending inside the distance. Bryan Barberena likes to come forward, but he tends to hang his chin out to be hit, which has resulted in "Bam Bam" absorbing a stunning 5.44 significant strikes per minute. It's hard to imagine that someone who gets hit that much can survive against Brown, an accurate, clever boxer who will set traps for his opponents and can end any fight with one strike.

Slava Borshchev wins by KO/TKO Submission or DQ: (+110)

Borshchev showed just how dangerous he can be in his organizational debut against Dakota Bush, landing a pinpoint shot to the body that crumpled his opponent and ended the fight. The 30-year-old will face a stiff test from Marc Diakiese, but he showed solid wrestling defense in the bout with Bush, constantly digging underhooks and not waiting to scramble back to his feet when taken down. "The Crusher" is no slouch on the feet but leaves too many openings for a powerful technician like Slava to exploit.

Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight

Alexa Grasso OVER 103.5 Strikes and Joanne Wood OVER 98.5 Strikes

This one is set to be action-packed, as Wood likes to take the center of the Octagon and throw power strikes at her opponents, while Grasso is a boxer who will throw in combination and is comfortable leading or countering. Both women land at least 5.00 strikes per minute and have been finished just five times in a combined 28 professional fights, which should ensure that they trade strikes for the better part of 15 minutes.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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