This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
This week's MMA Mashup takes a bit of a turn as we feature the first instance of plays from Prize Picks. We also take a look at two prop bets that will bring back heavy ROIs if they come in. 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
Montana De La Rosa ($9,300)
This is a play most will likely shy away from due to the low scores De La Rosa has put up in the past, but Ariane Lipski will carry just a 45 percent takedown defense rate into this bout, and the Team Elevation product has scored at least two takedowns in three of her last five fights. Couple this with the fact that De La Rosa has logged five or more minutes of control time in each of those bouts, and what emerges is a cash play that may have slight upside if she can get her game going early.
Roman Dolidze ($8,400)
Dolidze was a step behind the slick boxing of Trevin Giles, but he will face an opponent in Laureano Staropoli who doesn't have anywhere near the striking acumen or punching power. It should also be noted that Staropoli shouldn't be able to defend himself on the ground quite as well as Giles, who is a BJJ brown belt. This should result in far more ground control time for the 32-year-old.
Youssef Zalal ($7,400)
Don't let the 77 percent takedown defense rate of Sean Woodson fool you, as most of that is a product of his UFC debut against Kyle Bochniak, in which Bochniak went 1-for-15 on his attempts to get Woodson to the mat. Zalal's athleticism and speed should find him one step ahead of Woodson whenever this fight goes, despite the six-inch reach disadvantage.
Antonio Arroyo ($7,000)
Arroyo's kicking game would be enough for me to pick him over a pure boxer like Tom Breese, but the 31-year-old is not afraid to wrestle when the situation calls for it, having shot 11 takedowns against Diego Henrique da Silva during his Contender Series Brazil bout in 2018. Breese has struggled against good submission grapplers, having been submitted in his last bout against Omari Akhmedov.
Kamuela Kirk ($6,800)
Unlike my other plays for DraftKings, the selection of Kirk doesn't have much to do with how many takedowns he will get (though he can wrestle and grapple). Instead, it centers on the line value we have here, as Kirk is listed as just a (+175) underdog on William Hill while the more expensive Ariane Lipski ($6,900) features a come back of (+210). This tells me that the salary for the late-replacement fighter is a bit off. Kirk has come a long way since his fight with Billy Quarantillo on the Contender series in 2018 and now seems ready to pressure opponents and throw big strikes. Meanwhile, Makwan Amirkhani has been known to fade late in fights and has never had a comfortable victory against someone he could not submit.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Mason Jones ($23)
Jones is the most expensive fighter on the slate, but I have to think that the 38 percent takedown accuracy of Alan Patrick has been baked into that salary. Patrick doesn't wait very long before trying to get his opponent to the ground. These shots are always incredibly sloppy, but relentlessness has seen Patrick win more than he has lost in his UFC career. This has slowed with age, however, and Patrick tends to take many more shots out of desperation. It is in this phase that Jones should have his success, keeping his feet and landing big shots on the veteran.
Tanner Boser ($20)
Ilir Latifi has built a style around being the faster man in the cage, but what happens when he can't surprise his opponent with speed and land big shots? Boser is one of the few heavyweights that should be able to match -- if not outpace -- Latifi in terms of quickness, which has historically led to "The Sledgehammer" resorting to his wrestling. This is unlikely to be an issue for Boser, who has never been taken down in the Octagon through five fights.
Dusko Todorovic ($17)
Todorovic got exposed by the hands of Puna Soriano in his last bout, but we can use the discount provided to us to roster the Serbian fighter against the upright, mechanical striking of Gregory Rodrigues. Rodrigues will likely go for takedowns to try and stop the pressure of Todorovoic, but every attempt we have seen from him so far has been telegraphed and not very technical, which should allow Todorvic to pick up a few extra points by denying these shots.
Claudio Puelles ($10)
Puelles and Jordan Leavitt are very stylistically similar, which makes me wonder why the price difference here is so large. Both men want to get the fight to the floor at all costs and both are very comfortable hunting for submissions in scrambles. This should result in some stuffed shots for both parties, as well as submission attempts for Puelles, who has tried to finish via tapout three times in his last two appearances.
Bets to Consider
Augusto Sakai by Decision: +350
No one will ever confuse the Brazilian for Ciryl Gane, but he is quick for a heavyweight and should be able to use his clinch game to wear on his opponent through five rounds. Jair Rozenstruik will spend the whole fight looking for the one big counter shot, but the aforementioned quickness should keep Sakai relatively safe as he picks off the credentialed kickboxer. The power of Rozenstruick means this fight can end at any time, but these men have only been finished twice in a combined 30 MMA fights, which gives me confidence that we will see a final bell.
Santiago Ponzinibbio by KO/TKO/DQ: +300.
Ponzinibbio had trouble dealing with the constant movement of Li Jingliang, but he should have no such difficulty against Miguel Baeza, who stands up tall in the pocket, doesn't move his head and tends to wing big shots. It may seem ambitious to recommend this play against an undefeated fighter, but remember that Baeza got dropped and almost finished by a far more wooden striker in Matt Brown, and Ponzinibbio's dynamic striking and pressure game can pay big dividends here.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
It's not often Prize Picks gets its slate out early enough to be included in this writeup, but they offer a variety of interesting Over/Under games to break up the DFS monotony. Prize Picks requires that we pick at least two plays -- and no more than five plays -- from a specific grouping. The more picks we bundle together, the bigger the payout when we win.
Marcin Tybura UNDER 1.5 Takedowns and Muslim Salikhov Over 0.5 Takedowns
We are simply playing the numbers in our first selection, as Walt Harris has never been taken down more than once in a bout during his 15-fight UFC career. Tybura is unlikely to want to stand with someone as powerful as Harris, but "The Big Ticket" has always been good about staying upright in the cage, as evidenced by his 72 percent defense rate.
Our second pick is a bit trickier, as entire fights have passed in which Salikhov does almost nothing. Francisco Trinaldo is someone who will look to push a pace early, and it would hardly be surprising to see Salikov secure at least one takedown, if only as an attempt to stem the tide of pressure.