This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
We have wrestlers aplenty to take a look at as part of this week's MMA Mashup, which should lead to big scores on at least one platform. We also recommend several betting plays with long odds, including a (+600) shot that requires a newly-minted striker to get his first professional MMA knockout. One final note before we begin: all betting lines were taken from the William Hill online sportsbook.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Marvin Vettori ($9,600)
The upright, stiff posture of Derek Brunson brought Kevin Holland within inches of securing a knockout in Round 2 of their bout in March, but he is unlikely to see such chances against Vettori, who will enter this contest with a 66 percent strike defense rate. This should mean that the Italian fighter gets all of Brunson's takedown opportunities as a far superior submission grappler. Holland's slick ability on the feet could lead to a nice shot or two, but the 28-year-old's tendency to overextend on his punches is a recipe for being brought to the ground.
Mateusz Gamrot ($9,200)
The tricky guard of Guram Kutateladze made Gamrot work much harder than expected after he had gotten the fight to the floor, but he should face no such issue against Scott Holtzman, who has never shown that kind of prowess off of his back. Holtzman's game generally involves tying up his opponents and grinding them down, which makes me wonder how he intends to navigate this matchup. Ultimately, he will only be able to throw so many big overhand rights before Gamrot has him where he wants him, racking up the points in top position.
William Knight ($7,800)
I think most people have the wrong idea about Knight. It's very easy to look at "Knightmare's" body-builder physique, pair it with the knockouts on his resume, and conclude that he must be some kind of incredible striker. In reality, Knight is a tricky Judoka who likes to clinch up and torture his opponents on the ground. Da Un Jung hasn't faced many fighters in the UFC who have looked to take him down, but it's difficult to see him get thrown around the Octagon by an incredibly tired Khadis Ibragimov and conclude that Knight won't be able to have his way in the clinch. It's simply a matter of getting past the heavy hands and six-inch height disadvantage.
Joe Solecki ($9,100)
Jim Miller looked pretty good in the first round of his fight with Vinc Pichel, pushing the pace and landing takedowns for the better part of five minutes. This was until Pichel realized how easily he could get his own takedowns. From there, it was simply a matter of avoiding Miller's submission attempts and doing damage. Solecki is a crafty BJJ blackbelt and committed wrestler, meaning he shouldn't have a problem keeping himself safe and gaining the upper hand in grappling exchanges.
Erin Blanchfield ($6,900)
Blanchfield is an aggressive striker who will constantly look to push a pace en route to getting takedowns. A BJJ purple belt who is also a former EBI flyweight tournament winner, Blanchfield has incredible top pressure on the ground and can transition effortlessly from position to position. The problem here is she will be taking this fight at bantamweight for the first time in her career, meaning Norma Dumont (who has fought as heavy as 145 lbs) will have a considerable strength advantage. Be that as it may, Blanchfield's fighting style plays well for this format, making her hard to pass on a slate where underdogs are hard to come by.
Jack Shore ($8,700)
Shore and Hunter Azure are both strong wrestlers, but that's where the meaningful comparisons end. It may be the case that Azure has more power, but his game on the feet consists of little more than winging big shots, which should present openings for Shore's reactive takedown attempts. The key difference here is what happens when Shore gets his opponents to the ground. Whereas Azure had trouble controlling the likes of Cole Smith on the mat, Shore seamlessly drifts between controlling and attacking his opponent, hammering them until a submission presents itself. Add in the fact that Smith was able to take Azure's back after he gassed out in Round 3 of their bout, and you should have everything needed to make the call here.
Plays to consider on FanDuel
Nina Ansaroff ($16)
One half of the most fearsome power couple in MMA alongside wife Amanda Nunes, Ansaroff will step into the cage for the first time since 2019 after giving birth to a baby girl in September. While it's always worth wondering what effects a long layoff may have on a fighter, Ansaroff has always been fundamentally sound in the cage, featuring a stiff jab, hard leg kicks and solid defense. Until she improves an area of her game that's not related to jiu-jitsu, it will be hard for me to pick Mackenzie Dern in a fight with such a seasoned striker. Even in her last fight, the BJJ prodigy was throwing herself into most of her punches, overextending and hoping for the best. I think Dern will be forced to shoot once she starts tasting the crisp shots of Ansaroff. This could allow us to pile up the points for takedowns defended, as Dern has been successful bringing a fight to the mat in just five percent of her attempts.
Julian Marquez ($16)
If Marquez is your pick to win a fight, make sure to play him on FanDuel, as he has averaged a staggering 3.4 submission attempts per 15 minutes in four UFC contests. The key to this is that "The Cuban Missle Crisis" doesn't need a takedown to attempt a choke, as he likes to snap his opponent's head down when the two are engaged in a clinch. There should be plenty of opportunities for that in his fight with Sam Alvey, as Alvey tends to back himself into the cage and tie up opponents when he comes under fire. "Smilin'" Sam likes to blitz forward and varies his strikes more often than he sometimes gets credit, but Marquez is too aggressive and hits too hard to try and fight him up against the fence.
Bets to Consider
Yorgan de Castro vs. Jarjis Danho Goes to Decision: (+250)
Aside from the fact that this fight is taking place at heavyweight, I don't see why the line should be this wide. Sure, the overwhelming majority of bouts these fighters have been in have ended inside the distance, but we also need to remember that those records come mostly from lesser organizations. In the UFC, by contrast, these two men have gone to decision in five of six combined fights. From a technical perspective, it must be noted just how slowly they work inside the cage, with Danho opting to wear on his opponents in the clinch, and De Castro averaging just 2.61 significant strikes per 15 minutes of cage time. Both of these men hit hard, so one shot could make this entire writeup look silly, but I want to seize on this price, which is taking something for granted that has yet to be proven at this level.
Impa Kasanganay Wins via KO/TKO/DQ: (+600)
If you only watched Impa Kasanganay's last two fights, then it might surprise you to learn that he doesn't have a single KO/TKO among his eight professional MMA wins. This is because he only recently (seemingly) abandoned the wrestling style that got him noticed on the Contender Series, instead using his athleticism to land crisp, short shots in the pocket. Sasha Palatnikov has a decent kicking game and likes to employ his own wrestling, but the 32-year-old has been stopped by strikes in two of his eight MMA fights and was almost knocked out twice in his UFC debut by Louis Cosce before he gassed out. I suspect Palatnikov will once again hang his chin in the air during an exchange, giving Kasanganay the opportunity to join an exclusive club.
Ignacio Bahamondes Wins via KO/TKO/DQ: (+225)
We can't always say this with respect to fighters who come off the Contender Series, but Bahamondes looks like the real deal. Not only does he have a monstrous frame for this division at 6'3, but the Chilean fighter moves quite well for a big man, cutting angles to find shots and being agile in the cage, generally. John Makdessi will need to negotiate an eight-inch reach disadvantage here and has yet to complete a takedown in his 17-fight UFC career. We saw Bahamondes have a little trouble when his Contender opponent blitzed him with strikes, but Makdessi's game has always been to move and work off the counter, which should make things interesting as he tries to work his way inside. All of this is to say that I'm not exactly sure what "The Bull" will try to do here. Ultimately, though, I think he will be on the end of a hard combination that will stop the fight.
Jordan Griffin: (+120)
Luis Saldana may have had his way with Vince Murdock on the Contender Series, but it seems much of that had to do with a tremendous height and reach advantage which simply made Murdock unable to reach Saldana as he stood straight up with his hands low in the pocket. Griffin will only be giving up one inch of height to Saldana in this contest and should be able to use his comparable frame to gain leverage in grappling exchanges.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Mike Perry OVER 62.5 Significant Strikes and Daniel Rodriguez OVER 65.5 Significant Strikes
What do you get when you have two incredibly durable fighters who like to have fast-paced kickboxing fights in a small cage? You get the makings of a pretty solid "over" wager. The toughness of these men is beyond question at this point, as they have only been finished twice in a combined 36 fights. While both men can wrestle, I doubt we see takedown attempts as much more than something to change the pace of the bout momentarily. This should mean close to 15 minutes of two men having a high-volume scrap on the feet.
Sodiq Yusuff UNDER 68.5 Significant Strikes and Arnold Allen UNDER 53.5 Significant Strikes
This pick is a bit of speculation on my part, as I feel that Allen will not try to strike with Yusuff, and instead revert back to his early UFC career, which was mostly dominated by wrestling. This led to Allen's first three bouts in the Octagon all containing less than 60 total significant strikes over 15 minutes. Yusuff will almost certainly try to push the pace and walk Allen down, but "Almighty" showed good evasive movement against Nik Lentz, and should be able to avoid a firefight while looking to put together his own offense.