This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC is about to take a week-long break, but not before presenting us with one more 11-fight card full of opportunities for DFS players and bettors. We'll break down every bout across five platforms, including a slick wrestle-boxer and a Bellator alumnus looking to take the organization by storm. Our betting line was taken from William Hill online sportsbook and is accurate as of the post date of this article.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to consider on DraftKings
Jailton Almeida ($9,400)
Almeida is a force of nature in the Octagon, using his strength, size and speed to blast double-leg takedowns. Once his opponent is on the ground, the Brazilian fighter is patient and moves meticulously from one position to the next, waiting for the opportunity to either lock in a submission or rain down ground-and-pound. Parker Porter has shown himself to be a decent boxer, with an ability to wrestle in his own right, but the athleticism advantage alone would be enough to pick Almeida here, as I don't see him withstanding the initial storm.
Sam Hughes ($7,700)
I didn't trust that Hughes would lean on a wrestling approach against Istela Nunes, but "Sampage" showed that she can fight to a game plan, notching her first two UFC takedowns en route to a decision victory. Elise Reed was controlled on the ground for the majority of her debut against Sijara Eubanks, and while that was at flyweight, Hughes has enough psychically that she should be able to make life difficult for Reed in grappling exchanges.
Felipe Colares ($8,600)
Colares' fights can be quite uneventful if he cannot take his opponent down, as his primary mode of attack is to use a range kicking game to close the distance and attempt to wrestle against the fence. He shouldn't have much difficulty getting to the ground with Chase Hooper, who is a tricky jiu-jitsu player with a takedown defense rate of just 50 percent. This bout will undoubtedly give us some fun scrambles, but at just 22 years old, Hooper is frequently on the wrong side of the strength advantage. I expect a similar situation to unfold here, which will allow Colares to press a heavy top game once he brings the fight to the mat.
Tabatha Ricci ($8,300)
Ricci works a pressure-striking style seamlessly with her wrestling game, which resulted in a cool 100 DraftKings points in her first UFC win over Maria Oliveira. Polyana Viana features strong BJJ and hard kicks, but her upright posture and willingness to hunt for submissions off of her back have me confident that Ricci will be able to ground her and keep her on the mat while she racks up points. It's worth noting that "Baby Shark" is a Judo black belt and regular sparring partner of jiu-jitsu wizard Mackenzie Dern, so it's a safe bet that she will be able to handle Viana's active guard.
Jun Yong Park ($9,000)
Park isn't just an active wrestler, he's the likely catalyst for the scoring changes DraftKings implemented with regard to MMA, which occurred shortly after he landed 270 strikes (10 significant) in a one-sided beating of John Phillips. Park will likely look for takedown opportunities against Eryk Anders, who is a powerful striker, but will yield to pressure if his opponent looks to take the center of the Octagon. While it may be the source of his considerable power, all of the muscle he carries has forced Anders to slow down in fights before, and this process should kick in a bit faster if "The Iron Turtle" is able to consistently impose his grappling game.
Plays to Consider on Super Draft
Michel Pereira – 2.05 X Multiplier
Santiago Ponzinibbio is almost certainly a better technical boxer than Pereira, but speed, agility and powerful kicks have me siding with "Demolidor" here. While Ponzinibbio's pressure could work to shut down Pereira's long-range attacks, Ponznibbio's inability to move his head off the centerline could see him hit very hard in exchanges. Pereira has taken a more cautious approach in fights of late, but these two will be swinging hard in the pocket, making it more likely that a finish materializes.
Vince Morales – 2.25 X Multiplier
It was nice to see a more aggressive Morales in his knockout win over Louis Smolka, as "Vendetta" had been known to start slow in the past. When his game is firing on all cylinders, Morales is a slick, technical boxer who can mix targets and surprise opponents with a wrestling attack. There is a chance he struggles with the kicking game of Jonathan Martinez, but the activity and forward pressure should work to smother "Dragon's" offense.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Joseph Holmes OVER 1.5 Takedowns and Omar Morales UNDER 1.0 Takedowns
Holmes' fluidity and straight punches led to some success against Jamie Pickett, but it was clear he was made uncomfortable by the constant pressure of "The Night Wolf." Alen Amedovski will throw himself into the pocket with little regard for defense, and we have seen Holmes opportunistically look for takedowns from a body lock to slow down aggressive opponents. We should also note that the Macedonian has never defended a takedown in the Octagon, having been grounded four times in his fight with Krzysztof Jotko.
Morales logged his first two-takedown performance in the UFC in his fight with Shane Young, but those came after a recognition that he was the stronger man when his opponent initiated the clinch. He is unlikely to get such joy from Uros Medic, who will enter this contest with a three-inch height advantage and has yet to attempt a takedown in three UFC (and UFC adjacent) appearances. This should result in a high-paced kickboxing match for as long as this fight lasts.
Bets to Consider
Chidi Njokuani wins via KO/TKO/DQ (+120)
Njokuani showed how dangerous he can be in every phase of striking when he knocked out Marc-Andre Barriault in less than a minute, and Dusko Todorovic has a nasty habit of pulling his head straight back to try and avoid strikes. The obvious game plan for the opposition would be to take Njokuani to the ground, but "Bang Bang" showed excellent balance defending takedowns in his bout on the Contender Series, and Todorovic will enter the cage sporting a nine percent takedown accuracy rate.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Holly Holm UNDER 152.5 Strikes and Ketlen Vieira UNDER 112.5 Strikes
Holm showed uncharacteristic aggression against a boxer in Irene Aldana, but Vieira represents a different kind of challenge as a grappler who will look to pour on the pressure. I think Holm will break out the bicycle for this performance, using her speed and footwork to score points from the outside. Meanwhile, Vieira will likely stall out when she is able to tie up with Holm, who has registered a takedown defense rate of 76 percent.