This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Saturday's 13-fight card is intriguing from a betting/DFS perspective, even if the stakes may not be high for many of the competitors. We will take a look at everything across four platforms, including two juicy bets and a face on the Mount Rushmore of MMA grappling that never seems to get respect. Our betting lines this week come from the Rotowire MMA odds page and are accurate as to the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Tabatha Ricci ($8,900)
Ricci has dominated her last two opponents in the grappling department, securing 10 takedowns and over 18 minutes of control time in those victories. Jessica Penne is a physically strong BJJ player, but that willingness to engage in tie-ups and scrambles should all but ensure that "Baby Shark" is a viable cash-game play with upside in tournament settings.
Aleksei Oleinik ($7,500)
My rabid fandom for the man aside, Oleinik is someone who always deserves a look at underdog odds, having scored at least 91 points in each of his nine UFC victories. Ilir Latifi has never been taken down in the Octagon, but it's important to point out that he is heading into just his third fight at heavyweight. " The Boa Constrictor" will be relentless in his attempts to take this fight to the ground, and I trust him to keep fighting when exhausted, whereas Latifi has been known to shut down late in fights.
Raoni Barcelos ($9,100)
Barcelos has forged a reputation as someone who can do it all In the Octagon, combining slick boxing and speed with wrestling and top-level jiu-jitsu. Trevin Jones is a slick striker in his own right but was taken down twice and constantly found himself in the teeth of submission attempts until he was finally forced to tap against Saidyokub Kakhramonov. Barcelos should be able to compete wherever the fight goes while having a massive advantage if things hit the floor. This may make him worth a look as a sneaky pay-up option.
Joaquim Silva ($8,400)
This is a bit of a speculative play, as "Neto BJJ" rarely uses his wrestling, but Jesse Ronson was grounded and controlled so effortlessly in his last fight with Rafa Garcia that one would expect Silva to take the path of least resistance here. This is particularly true since the Brazilian fighter has been knocked out in his last two fights. It's not often that I project fighters to deviate from their general game plans, but Ronson is a slick and talented striker, and Silva may be facing a pink slip if he takes a loss here.
Mike Davis ($8,600)
Davis can stand and bang with the best of them but isn't afraid to use his wrestling when needed, as we can see from the five combined takedowns he landed in his last two fights. Slava Borshchev's devastating striking was halted by a dominating wrestling performance by Marc Diakiese in March, meaning that the book has been written when it comes to dealing with "Slava Claus." I expect Davis to engage in his fair share of striking as well, which could result in another 100-point performance for "Beast Boy."
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Maxim Grishin UNDER 60.5 Significant Strikes, Julija Stoliarenko UNDER 45.5 Significant Strikes, and Krzysztof Jotko OVER 45.5 Significant Strikes.
Grishin versus Philipe Lins is a fight between two of the slowest workers in the division, as both land exactly 3.40 significant strikes per minute. If previous fights are any indication, this bout should turn into a staring match in short order, punctuated by 50/50 grappling positions along the fence. It's hard to recommend touching this fight in standard DFS contests, as it seems built to frustrate fans for 15 minutes.
As an arm bar specialist, it's difficult to imagine that Stoliarenko would want anything to do with Chelsea Chandler when it comes to striking. The debutante has surprising power for the division and can mix her targets well. Instead, I expect Stoliarenko to try and ground this fight early and often, leading to quite a few stall positions along the fence line. However it ends, I don't expect the Lithuanian fighter to be at range long enough to get anywhere near this total.
Brendan Allen will go to his wrestling when he needs to, but Jotko has been notoriously difficult to take down in his UFC career, keeping a defense rate of 83 percent. Moreover, Allen isn't exactly an efficient wrestler, succeeding on just 41 percent of his attempts so far. This should lead to a range kickboxing bout in which Jotko can use his speed and footwork to continually pick off the opponent.
Bets to Consider
Randy Costa finishes his opponent within the first minute (+550)
The odds are such that it's tough to find any bets to make here, but as Guido Cannetti gets older, he seems to become more fragile, as seen in his first-round stoppage loss to Kris Moutinho. Costa already has one finish in under a minute in the UFC, and Cannetti's all-action style will almost certainly lead to early clashes with a powerful, accurate kickboxer known for making quick work of opponents.
Randy Brown wins via decision (+165)
Brown will have every conceivable advantage on the feet against Francisco Trinaldo, and the Brazilian Fighter doesn't use his wrestling consistently enough for me to seriously consider his BJJ as a threat. The old veteran is incredibly tough, however, so it seems the most likely outcome for this one is "Rude Boy" firing off at range and landing solid shots until the scorecards are read.
Mackenzie Dern wins via submission (-109)
As a BJJ expert with no real takedown game, It's generally hard for me to pick Dern confidently to win fights. Her opponent here will give her all the opportunities she needs to initiate a clinch, however, as Yan Xiaonan is a fighter who can't help but recklessly pressure opponents. Xiaonan may only have been submitted once in her 18-fight career, but Dern hasn't met many MMA fighters she couldn't embarrass on the ground.
John Castaneda Wins via KO/TKO (+380)
As someone who snagged the KO prop (+550) on Castenada in his fight against Eddie Wineland, I feel confident in saying that the power of "Sexy Mexi," is once again being underplayed here. Castenada will always march opponents down and throw big shots, and Pineda keeps his head on the center line while exchanging in the pocket. This is a recipe for disaster against Castenada, who has shown himself to be an accurate counter puncher.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Sodiq Yusuff OVER 64.5 Strikes and Don Shainis OVER 51.5 Strikes
With Yusuff being as heavy as a (-900) favorite in some places, it seems the only way to play this fight is to predict an over/under. While the deck may be stacked against him, I didn't hate what I saw from Don Shainis on the regional scene, as he is an agile fighter who will seamlessly mix his wrestling and striking games together. I expect quite a few exchanges from these two in the center of the cage, which should help us reach our totals.