This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
Often, content found in this space will stay in one lane. It's either DFS or betting. DraftKings or FanDuel. If you're anything like me, though, your interests extend beyond one particular platform. You like to look in multiple areas to find the biggest edge. It's with this in mind that we debut a new article series: The MMA mashup. Every week I will look at plays from across multiple platforms to bring players successful strategies from where they play. The bulk of the content will include the most popular haunts, but we will also look at sites like Monkey Knife Fight, Prize Picks, and Super Draft. This week, we find the sweet spots on a 13-fight card beset with late replacements, including a (+200) underdog squaring off against a two-fight UFC veteran who looks to be gathering momentum. One final note before we begin: as with my "Handicapping the Octagon" article series, all betting lines are taken from William Hill.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Bets to Consider:
Joselyne Edwards: (+200)
The betting public hammered down a (+205) opening line on Joselyne Edwards prior to her UFC debut with Wu Yanan until she was actually a small favorite in some places. I feel something similar will happen before her sophomore effort against Karoline Rosa, whose two UFC wins include a debuting fighter and a woman who is currently 1-3 in the organization. That's not to say she doesn't have skills, but Rosa's style of leaving her chin up while in the pocket has resulted in the Brazilian fighter absorbing 7.00(!) significant strikes per minute, and neither of her previous opponents had the power of Edwards, who has finished half of her wins by KO/TKO. Edwards also has a knack for using her length to keep women on the end of her punches and will come into this fight with a three-inch reach advantage. Things may get interesting if Rosa decides to wrestle, but I trust Edwards' active guard to keep her safe, as it did in the Yanan fight.
Youssef Zalal by decision: (+150)
I like a lot of what Seungwoo Choi does inside the cage as a physically strong pressure fighter who throws in combinations. The problem for him here is that Youssef Zalal will be the faster, cleaner striker with better wrestling. What has me eyeing this play so closely is Zalal has yet to get a finish in his three UFC fights, and Choi has shown himself to be incredibly tough. While it's true he got submitted in his last fight by Gavin Tucker, I would argue that was the result of being caught in one bad position rather than something that should be a lingering concern. I always say that the magic of props is turning juice plays into plus money, and while the submission remains something of a concern, I've seen enough to question whether Zalal can be a finisher at this level.
Devonte Smith/Justin Jaynes under 1.5 Rounds: (-162)
There's no denying that both Devonte Smith and Justin Jaynes like to get their work done quickly. How quickly? 13 of their last 14 combined fights have finished inside the first round. The only fight that went over during that stretch, Jaynes' bout with Gavin Tucker, required Tucker to literally drop his shorts to survive after getting knocked down and stuck in a mounted guillotine. I expect these two to open up firing and leave us plenty of time to spare to call this one a winner.
Cody Stamann/Timur Valiev parlay: ( -172)
What to do with a pair of huge favorites facing inferior opponents who are taking fights on impossibly short notice? Parlay them, of course. Askar Askar seems like an unrelenting pressure fighter with power, but it's notable that he doesn't seem to know how to cut off the cage. Following a wrestler with Stamann's skill around in a circle is a good way to get put on the ground with reactive double-leg takedowns, and I expect him to be the stronger fighter here. Next, we have Martin Day taking on Timur Valiev. Valiev may have gotten caught and stopped by Trevin Jones in what is now a no-contest due to a failed drug test, but Valiev was putting on a show before that fateful strike, mixing his targets and throwing with power. Day can do a bit of everything inside the cage but is far too hittable on the counter and will be asked to keep up with the much more athletic fighter in Valiev.
DraftKings Plays to Consider:
Clay Guida ($7,400)
The nice thing about the tweaks to the DraftKings scoring system is that many of the categories work in concert with each other. A committed wrestler can hit their takedown (+5 points), establish top control (0.03 points/second), and land "regular strikes" (+0.2 points) as well as significant strikes. This should work out well for Clay Guida, who has had a lot of quick fights of late but was at his smothering best against B.J. Penn in 2019 (I know, I know) when he notched a takedown, over four minutes of control time, and 113 total strikes. Unless you count Andre Fili (who didn't start going for takedowns until Round 2), you have to go back to Gleison Tibau in 2014 to find a Michael Johnson victory over a committed wrestler. Add in the fact that Johnson hasn't had a knockout win since 2016, and the path begins to look good for Guida, as I just don't see Johnson fading his wrestling for the better part of 15 minutes.
Alexandre Pantoja ($8,300)
Manel Kape looks like an active striker who has power and sets a furious pace. Still, It's hard to pick him in a matchup with Alexandre Pantoja after seeing the way he was absolutely big-bothered on the mat by Kyoji Horiguchi in 2017 before being submitted. Pantoja is relentless when it comes to hunting for grappling exchanges (particularly early in fights), and Kape can lose some of his steam when someone else is doing the pressuring. While I expect him to get this done inside the distance, Pantoja's price here is low enough that he can put up a nice score if forced to sit in dominant position.
Alistair Overeem ($7,600)
Alexander Volkov wants to stand on a napkin and have a kickboxing match in the center of the Octagon. One thing we have seen from late-career Alistair Overeem is movement and agility in the cage. He has also gone to his wrestling quite a bit more, as seen in fights with Jair Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai. Volkov's takedown defense has improved, but anyone who has wanted to has still been able to take him to the mat. This should act as a nice escape hatch if Overeem gets in trouble on the feet with the Russian fighter.
Fanduel Plays to Consider:
Mike Rodriguez ($20)
When speaking of novel scoring categories, it might be fair to say that none have had a bigger impact than "takedowns defended." We saw this most recently with Austin Lingo, who broke the slate in a major way when he paired his 95 significant strikes, knockdown, and takedown with 18 (!) takedowns defended against Jacob Kilburn. Mike Rodriguez may be able to pull off a similar feat against Danilo Marques, who landed just five of 16 takedowns against Khadis Ibragimov in his UFC debut. Rodriguez is the odds-on favorite to get a knockout as the rangy, powerful kickboxer with experience, and he could put up a huge score if he thwarts a few attempts along the way.
Cory Sandhagen ($23)
The same is true for Cory Sandhagen, except he has five rounds to accumulate points against Frankie Edgar, who is a whopping 3-for-33 in landed takedowns over his last five fights. To be sure, Sandhagen's takedown defense (30 percent) leaves something to be desired, but even if Frankie lands a few, Sandhagen has been a wizard when it comes to popping back up to his feet, which will leave the former champion to contend with an incredibly crafty striker who has a five-inch height advantage.
Ode Osbourne ($TBD)
Ode Osbourne was taught a quick lesson in leaving your neck out in his UFC debut against Brian Kelleher and will have to worry about submissions yet again when he faces late replacement, Jerome Rivera. The important thing to note here is that Rivera, who missed on all five of his takedown attempts in his last fight against Francisco Figueiredo, stands straight up in the pocket and has already been knocked out once in the UFC. If he can't get his wrestling going, he will have a hard time dealing with Osbourne, who throws clean, straight punches and kicks.
Monkey Knife Fight Plays to Consider:
Molly McCann u/106.5 sig. strikes + Lara Procopio U 110.5 sig. strikes
Her UFC debut against Karoline Rosa may suggest otherwise, but tape of Lara Procopio on the Brazilian regional scene shows a much more grapple-centric approach than the one we saw in August of 2019. She should also feel more comfortable taking this approach against a boxer like McCann. This sort of game plan would affect McCann as well, as every second she is up against the cage defending a takedown is a second she is not striking at range. We saw this in her most recent fight with Taila Santos when "Meatball" landed just 48 significant strikes, due in no small part to Santos' seven takedown attempts.
Beneil Dariush under 54.5 sig. strikes + Diego Ferreira under 75.5 sig. strikes
I reject the assumption that Beneil Dariush will go out and try to throw hands with Diego Ferreira. I think it much more likely that, as I mentioned above, the forcing of a grappling game will work to depress output from both fighters. In their first fight, we saw that both men are perfectly willing to work their respective jujitsu games, and while it's beyond fair to point out that that bout took place in 2014, we have also seen Ferreira employ grapple-heavy strategies in the recent past. Another thing to note about playing these unders is that we are more likely to win if the fight results in an early stoppage, and these two have combined to finish seven of their last nine bouts before the third round.