This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
Saturday's 11-fight card may not do much for the casual fan, but there are plenty of intriguing bouts for us to sink our collective teeth into leading up to the main event between Bobby Green and Islam Makhachev. We'll cover everything across five platforms, including a brawler in an unlikely division, and an underdog who will need to withstand a war. All lines are taken from the William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Ramiz Brahimaj ($9,300)
We were shown the limits of Brahimaj's style when he ran into a strong, tireless wrestler in Court McGee, but Micheal Gillmore was taken down four times in his UFC debut against Andre Petroski, while also being rocked by a flush shot early in the bout. Gilmore has nothing that approaches the clean boxing or unyielding gas tank of someone like McGee, which means Brahimaj should be able to dictate pace while controlling the center of the Octagon.
Gregory Rodrigues ($8,500)
Rodrigues' lack of head movement and mechanical striking will always be a liability, despite obvious power and toughness. He has a clear path to victory against former professional kickboxer Armen Petrosyan, though, who has never faced a fighter with the grappling chops of "Robocop" in his seven-fight career. While he is a predictably dangerous striker, he will also give ground to his opponents in the cage, which should help to facilitate takedown attempts. It's also worth noting that a knockout during a chaotic exchange accounts for the 31-year-old's lone loss in 2021.
Misha Cirkunov ($8,300)
Cirkunov will be overjoyed to step into the Octagon with someone who doesn't have big power, as the matchup against Wellington Turman seems geared to get him back into the win column. Turman is a decent boxer and top-control grappler but was knocked out by a lifelong wrestler in Andrew Sanchez, and was reversed on the ground three times by a kickboxer in Karl Roberson. Cirkunov's lack of athleticism has been an issue in the past, but Turman doesn't appear to be a significant threat in any phase of the fight, which will allow the polish fighter to do what he does best.
Arman Tsarukyan ($9,100)
Tsarukyan has mainly showed off his slick striking in the Octagon, but switched gears in his bout with Matt Frevola, taking him down 10 times on 12 attempts. At 6-foot-2, Joel Alvarez is an enormous lightweight with ever-improving striking who delights in submitting opponents from guard when they try and take him down. While this may make wrestling seem like a recipe for disaster, Tsarukyan has never been submitted in his career (which includes a bout against Islam Makhachev) and has shown fantastic scrambling and defense on the ground. He may have to fade a scary moment or two, but Alvarez's lack of takedown defense should equate to a big score for "Ahalkalakets" as long as he can keep himself safe.
Bets to Consider
Priscila Cachoeira wins via KO/TKO/DQ (+400)
Cachoeira only has one discernible skill, but possessing as much power as she does in the flyweight division can be a real asset in the right matchup. Enter Ji Yeon Kim, who is a volume striker but frequently puts her back against the cage, only has two KO/TKOs among her nine wins, and has never completed a takedown in the Octagon. It won't necessarily look pretty, but there will only be so much dancing around the outside Kim can do before having to engage."Zombie Girl" has won six of her last seven fights by knockout, which makes this decision fairly easy if we think she is going to get her hand raised.
Terrance McKinney wins by KO/TKO/DQ or submission (+190)
McKinney is another "finish or bust" fighter, with all of his 11 wins coming via KO or submission. Fares Ziam has done well to shut down his opponents' offense by playing a slow-paced range kickboxing game, but "Smile Killer" doesn't always move his head during exchanges, which will be a problem when the high-octane McKinney comes bursting into the pocket with four-punch combinations. We should also note that two of Ziam's three losses have come by submission, and "T-Wrecks" counts five subs among those 11 victories.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Zhu Rong -2.35X Multiplier
Ignacio Bahamondes gets hit too frequently to be reliable as a significant favorite, having absorbed a stunning 5.32 significant strikes per minute in his first two UFC fights. Neither of those opponents throw as hard as Rong, who has finished 12 of his 18 wins by KO/TKO. Zhu will also be the most physical wrestler Bahamondes has faced, which should put that 100 percent takedown defense rate to the test.
Carlos Hernandez – 1.95X Multiplier
Hernandez will have a clear hand speed and footwork advantage over Victor Altamirano, who has done his best work on the ground over the course of his MMA career. While Hernandez was taken down five times in his Contender Series victory, he should be able to lean on the aforementioned footwork to keep himself safe. It is also notable that he has yet to be submitted in his career, and was able to defend against multiple submission attempts in that fight with Daniel Baez.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Islam Makhachev OVER 11.5 Minutes of Fight Time and Josiane Nunes UNDER Nine Minutes of Fight Time
The outlandish (-800) betting line aside, Makhachev is the rightful favorite here, having steamrolled the overwhelming majority of competitors with his wrestling, submission skills, and underrated clinch work. We spoke last week about Green's slick countering ability and capable grappling, but his reliance on out-scrambling opponents is liable to get him into trouble against such a physically strong and talented opponent. It goes without saying that Green will have plenty of advantages for as long as this fight is on the feet, but he has never had the one-shot power of someone like Adriano Martins, which likely means he will need to fight flawlessly over five rounds in order to get this done. While he has gotten his share of quick finishes of late, Makhachev has had trouble putting away strong grapplers in the past, and Green has notched just one finish since 2011.
Nunes had to deal with a seven-inch reach disadvantage in her UFC debut against Bea Malecki, but it didn't deter "Josi" from charging forward relentlessly and throwing big shots, which resulted in her seventh KO/TKO victory in eight professional wins. Likewise, Ramona Pascual has finished five of her six victories, with each of the last three coming in the first round. No matter what happens, it's clear that neither of these women will take a backward step as they trade on a napkin, which should result in an early night for both women.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Jonathan Martinez UNDER 88.5 Strikes and Alejandro Perez UNDER 54.5 Strikes
There may be some recency bias on this line for Martinez, as his last performance against Zviad Lazishvili was the only time "Dragon" had gone over that mark in eight UFC fights. The issue here is that neither man can be relied upon for non-significant strikes, and while Perez has been the more active wrestler of late, he has only secured five takedowns in his 12-year run with the company. Perez tends to fight at a slow pace, as well, having landed less than three and a half strikes per minute over that span.