This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
With just 10 fights to consider, Saturday's slate is the lightest we have seen in some time, but we were still able to cover five different platforms in this edition of The MMA Mashup. This includes a miscast underdog and a favorite that could probably stand to be a bit larger. All lines are taken from the William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Without any further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Jack Shore ($9,100)
If someone wanted to build the optimal fighter to play on DraftKings, they'd probably come pretty close to creating Shore. The undefeated fighter from Wales has notched 13 takedowns in his first three fights with the organization, finishing by submission in two of those bouts. Newcomer Liudvik Sholinian might be someone to take a look at in the future as a decorated Ukrainian wrestler, but I don't see much evidence that he will be able to keep up with Shore in scrambles on the ground. It's also worth noting that he was visibly tired in the third round of his fight in The Ultimate Fighter house, which may as well be a death sentence against someone with Shore's cardio.
Paddy Pimblett ($8,300)
After months of anticipation, The Baddy" will finally make his UFC debut on Saturday. Pimblett has an ever-improving striking game, but his bread is buttered on the mat, where lightning-fast transitions and excellent control have contributed to seven submissions among his 16 wins. Luigi Vendramini's status as a BJJ black belt could make things interesting for a while, but Pimblett should be able to put a pace on the Italian that he will be unable to match. While Pimblett has allowed himself to be backed against the cage a bit too often, Vendramini doesn't apply the kind of consistent pressure that would make this a concern.
Modestas Bukauskas ($8,500)
Bukauskas looked surprised at the speed of Jimmy Crute in his second UFC bout, but did a far better job dealing with a speedy opponent in a razor-close loss to Michal Oleksiejczuk, stemming the tide of pressure with takedown attempts and showcasing a nice counter punching attack. While he is an agile fighter in his own right, it's doubtful that Baukauskus will want to tangle on the feet with the speedy and powerful Khalil Rountree for long. He should have an open invitation to take the path of least resistance, as Rountree will enter the contest with just a 50 percent takedown defense rate.
Derek Brunson ($7,400)
Brunson has always been able to rely on his wrestling, but under the tutelage of Henry Hooft, the veteran looks more comfortable striking than he has at any other point in his career. That's not to say he should look to stand up with someone like Darren Till, but we should get fewer lunging strikes for the powerful kickboxer to pick off with counter shots. While his takedown defense rate currently stands at 82 percent, Brunson will be one of the strongest wrestlers he has faced in the Octagon, and his inactivity will ensure that the former title challenger will have space to work.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Tom Aspinall ($22)
Aspinall has done his work so quickly in his MMA career that few have had the opportunity to attempt a takedown, but the 28-year-old should be far stronger than Sergey Spivac, allowing him to shuck off the Moldovin's attempts. Aspinall will also be on the right side of the hand speed and power advantage, giving him the opportunity to stuff a few sloppy shots before a knockout comes.
Ji Yeon Kim ($16)
"Fire Fist" didn't get her nickname by accident, as the Korean fighter loves to crowd her opponents and unleash a high volume of strikes. Molly McCann came into the UFC as a boxer but has leaned on her wrestling quite a bit, having logged double-digit takedown attempts twice in her last five fights. The good news for us is that she has completed those takedowns at just a 24 percent rate, which should allow Kim to rack up points en route to a decision win.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Dalcha Lungiambula – 2.01 x Multiplier
Lungiambula's status as an underdog is a bit puzzling to me, as he will be the infinitely faster fighter in the cage against Marc-Andre Barriault, who has amassed a 1-3-record (with one no-contest due to a positive drug test) in the UFC. Barriault likes to grind his opponents up against the fence, which could wear on the muscle-bound "Champion," but his power in the clinch could work to disincentivize the 31-year-old from getting in close quarters.
Marcelo Rojo – 2.1 x Multiplier
Rojo may have lost his UFC debut to Charles Jourdain, but he gave a solid account of himself, using his physicality in the clinch and combination striking to put Jourdain to the test. Impressive finishes of Pingyuan Liu and Frankie Saenz aside, I don't see much that blows me away about Jonathan Martinez, as he appears to be a decent kickboxer who can scramble a bit on the ground. I think Rojo's pressure and ability to push the pace should pay dividends here, contributing to his first win in the organization.
Bets to Consider
Charles Jourdain wins via KO/TKO +110
Wins over Sean Woodson and Nate Landwehr made some take notice of Julian Erosa, but in his knockout loss to Seungwoo Choi, he showed us that he is the same fighter who wades into the pocket with his chin exposed. Jourdain can do a bit of everything in the cage, including throw hard kicks and put together slick boxing combinations. Four of Erosa's five KO losses have come in the UFC, and I expect the power and accuracy of Jourdain to add another tally to the ledger.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Alex Morono UNDER 84.5 Significant Strikes and David Zawada UNDER 59.5 Significant Strikes
Zawada is a kickboxer by trade, but we saw in his fight with Danny Roberts that he has no problem utilizing his wrestling if he is uncomfortable with what's happening on the feet. Alex Morono is all pace and pressure as he throws heavy shots, which leads me to believe Zawada will be very willing to take the fight to the ground.