This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.
Luis Saldana (15-7-0) v. Bruno Souza (10-2-0)
Fight Analysis: Saldana evened up his UFC record at 1-1 after a tough decision loss last time out. He is a patient boxer with a strong jab, decent volume, and solid striking defense. Souza took a loss in his UFC debut, falling via unanimous decision after 15 minutes. He is a karate-style striker with fast hands, excellent movement, and a black belt in jiu-jitsu.
DFS Perspective: I expect this to be a close, boring decision. However, Saldana has the tools to end this early and will have plenty of time to do it.
My Pick: Saldana
Matheus Nicolau (17-3-1) v. David Dvorak (20-3-0)
Fight Analysis: Nicolau moved his winning streak to two after winning another decision in his previous fight. He is a jiu-jitsu black belt with excellent grappling, decent striking, and quick hands. Dvorak has impressed so far in the UFC, winning all three of his fights, with the most recent by rear-naked choke. He is a well-rounded fighter with powerful striking, hard leg kicks, and solid grappling.
DFS Perspective: Nicolau's best bet is to get this to the mat and try to lock up a sub or keep control. Dvorak will have a massive advantage on the feet and should be able to avoid being controlled on the mat.
My Pick: Dvorak
Jennifer Maia (19-8-1) v. Manon Fiorot (8-1-0)
Fight Analysis: Maia was on the receiving end of a unanimous decision loss in her last fight, moving her UFC record to 4-4. She is an active striker with moderate volume, fast hands, and good movement. Fiorot has been dominant in three UFC fights, winning two by knockout and the most recent unanimously after 15 minutes. She is a high-volume striker with lightning-fast hands, excellent footwork, and solid striking and takedown defense.
DFS Perspective: Nobody has been able to slow Fiorot's explosiveness, and I do not see that changing here. Maia will need to get this fight to the mat early and often to keep Fiorot from lighting her up. Fiorot will be pressuring and constantly throwing on the feet and should earn another win.
My Pick: Fiorot
Aliaskhab Khizriev (13-0-0) v. Denis Tiuliulin (10-5-0)
Fight Analysis: Khizriev will be making his UFC debut after a dominant win on the Contender Series. He is a solid all-around fighter with considerable power, excellent grappling, and solid defense. Tiuliulin is a short-notice replacement making his debut after multiple first-round knockouts on other promotions. He is a knockout artist with massive power, fast hands, and solid movement.
DFS Perspective: Short-notice fighters are always tough to gauge, especially when debuting. Tiuliulin has some dangerous hands and could end the fight on the feet at any time. However, he has suspect takedown defense and could fall right into a submission from Khizriev if he takes it there.
My Pick: Khizriev
Chris Gutierrez (17-3-2) v. Batgerel Danaa (10-2-0)
Fight Analysis: Gutierrez is now on a two-fight win streak after earning a split decision in his most recent bout. He is a technical striker with decent volume, strong leg kicks, and solid stand-up defense. After dropping his UFC debut, Danaa has rattled off three consecutive first-round knockouts improving his record to 3-1. He is an excellent striker with immense power, excellent forward pressure, and high volume.
DFS Perspective: Danaa will be looking for that first-round knockout and has the volume to win a decision. Gutierrez will be looking to chop at the legs and slow Danaa down, but I do not think it will be enough.
My Pick: Danaa
Sara McMann (12-6-0) v. Karol Rosa (15-3-0)
Fight Analysis: McMann continued her downward spiral in the UFC, losing for the third time in four fights last time out. She is a low-volume striker who prefers to shoot takedowns and keep top control. Rosa has popped off since entering the UFC, going 4-0 all by decision. She is a high-volume striker with phenomenal pressure, defense, and grappling.
DFS Perspective: McMann is on the decline while Rosa is on the rise. I expect Rosa to come out fast and light McMann up with volume for another decision win.
My Pick: Rosa
Neil Magny (25-9-0) v. Max Griffin (18-8-0)
Fight Analysis: Magny is back for another UFC fight, having won his most recent to move to 4-1 in his last five fights. He is a well-rounded fighter with solid striking from range, excellent takedowns and grappling, and good forward pressure. Griffin is now riding a three-fight winning streak after scoring back-to-back knockouts followed by a unanimous decision. He is a high-volume striker with significant power, unrelenting pressure, and a complimenting ground game.
DFS Perspective: Magny is a veteran with 25 fights under his belt. He will need to keep this fight at range and avoid Griffin getting into the pocket for a brawl. I do not think Magny's power will be enough to keep Griffin from moving inside, so he will need to beat him with volume and takedowns.
My Pick: Griffin
Marc Diakiese (14-5-0) v. Viacheslav Borshchev (6-1-0)
Fight Analysis: Diakiese struggled last time out, getting submitted in the first round to bring his losing streak to two. He is a well-rounded fighter with great cardio, strong technical striking, and solid grappling. Borshchev impressed in his UFC debut, earning a first-round knockout nearly four minutes in. He is a dangerous striker with excellent hooks and jabs to the head and body, as well as tremendous forward pressure.
DFS Perspective: Diakiese would be wise to avoid a striking match and take this to the mat. Borshchev showed he can be taken down, and if Diakiese can find top control, it will make his life much easier. Borshchev will be looking for the kill on the feet and could find it fast if this stays upright.
My Pick: Borshchev
Iler Latifi (16-8-0, 1NC) v. Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1)
Fight Analysis: Latifi ended his three-fight losing streak with a close split decision last time out. He is a low-volume striker with powerful hands and solid takedowns/control time. Oleinik has struggled to three consecutive losses, the most recent by unanimous decision over 15 minutes. He is a decent striker who prefers to get the fight to the mat and hunt for a submission.
DFS Perspective: Latifi has never been submitted, and that is Oleinik's only real path to victory nowadays. I do not like it, but Latifi for the win.
My Pick: Latifi
Askar Askarov (14-0-1) v. Kai Kara-France (23-9-0, 1NC)
Fight Analysis: Askarov had a draw in his UFC debut but has since gone on to win three straight, all by dominant unanimous decisions. He is an excellent all-around fighter with good power and volume, solid takedowns, and elite grappling. Kara-France has scored two consecutive first-round knockouts and is now 6-2 in his UFC tenure. He is a dangerous striker with significant power, high volume, and elite defense.
DFS Perspective: I love this matchup, and it could end in Fight of the Night. Both guys are relentless and as tough as nails. Kara-France will have an advantage in power on the feet, and Askarov will have an advantage on the mat. Askarov is the better overall fighter but do not count Kara-France out as a dog.
My Pick: Askarov
Matt Brown (25-18-0) v. Bryan Barberena (16-8-0)
Fight Analysis: The veteran Brown got back into the win column in his last fight, scoring a knockout three minutes into the second round. He is a well-rounded fighter with a slick jab, solid takedowns, and great pressure. Barberena won unanimously last time out, bringing his record over the previous six to 3-3. He is a high-volume striker with solid power, fast hands, and decent takedown defense.
DFS Perspective: Brown is now 41 and has taken a ton of damage, so you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. I think his best path to victory is locking up a submission, but I do not believe he will take it to the mat often. Barberena should have the advantage on the feet with volume, and as long as he avoids the takedown, I think he wins.
My Pick: Barberena
Joanne Wood (15-7-0) v. Alexa Grasso (13-3-0)
Fight Analysis: Wood dropped a second fight in a row last November, getting dominated until she was submitted late in the first round. She is a well-rounded fighter with a nasty straight jab, high-volume, and solid grappling. Grasso last fought just over a year ago, earning a second win in a row by unanimous decision. She is a high-volume striker with excellent forward pressure and solid defense.
DFS Perspective: I expect this to primarily play out on the feet where Grasso should land the more meaningful strikes. Wood could slow Grasso down with kicks, but they are generally love taps that are not too concerning.
My Pick: Grasso
Curtis Blaydes (15-3-0, 1NC) v. Chris Daukaus (12-4-0)
Fight Analysis: Blaydes gets back into action after earning a strong unanimous decision last time out to bring his record over the previous six to 5-1. He is currently the best wrestler in the heavyweight division with excellent takedowns and deadly elbows from top control. Daukaus suffered his first UFC defeat in his last fight in December, getting overwhelmed and eventually knocked out late in the first round. He is a bull-rushing striker with tremendous forward pressure, high-volume power striking, and solid defense.
DFS Perspective: This makes for an entertaining fight. Blaydes will be looking for the takedown and control right away. Daukaus will be looking to crash the pocket and light Blaydes up with volume and power. This fight comes down to whether Blaydes can get this to the mat or not.
My Pick: Daukaus
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