This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
We are back to covering five platforms for Saturday's 12-fight card, which features a number of fights slated to end quickly. We will cover each bout from betting and DFS perspectives, including a grappler who has fallen on hard times and a boxer who is learning how to throw her weight around against opponents. 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
Tatsuro Taira ($9,100)
The pressure and pace of C.J. Vergara make him a tougher out than his price would suggest, but the undefeated fighter will have clear advantages in speed and athleticism, which should help him land crisp straight punches. He is also a persistent wrestler and submission grappler who will sternly test his opponent's 80 percent takedown defense rate. We haven't seen anyone dominate Vergara to this point in his UFC career, but the Japanese fighter has a complete skill set that the 31-year-old will have a tough time matching.
Askar Askarov ($9,200)
It may feel hard to trust Askarov at this price, as he has scored 90 points just once in his three UFC wins, but Brandon Royval works so quickly that he will likely force the fight out of "Bullet," making him a sneaky favorite to pay for on a limited slate. Askarov kept his composure when Alexandre Pantoja attempted to push the pace against him, and Royval leaves enough openings in his grappling and stand-up that the Russian fighter should be able to capitalize on mistakes as the far more technical fighter.
Nick Maximov ($8,300)
It seems Maximov was unprepared for the submission ability of Andre Petroski in his first professional loss, but I think the matchup against Jacob Malkoun is perfect for him, as "Mamba" will likely try to keep up with him in scrambles and hasn't had a win via tapout in eight professional fights. I expect Maximov to pile up the takedowns and control time in this one, which will bring him back to the healthy scores he put up against Cody Brundage and Punahele Soriano.
Misha Cirkunov ($7,300)
This prediction comes down to which fighter I trust less, as both Cirkunov and Alonzo Menifield have put up uninspired performances in the Octagon. While "Atomic" has won three out of his last four, it's important to note that two of those fighters (Fabio Cherant and Askar Mozharov) never belonged in the organization. Cirkunov has shown himself to be hittable, but Menifield throws so wildly that it's no wonder that all of his knockouts in the UFC have come via ground-and-pound. He was also controlled on the ground quite easily by William Knight, which gives me confidence that the Latvian fighter will able to smother his opponent on the mat as long as he can fade the big shot.
Sam Hughes ($7,600)
Hughes finally put her size and strength to use in her bout with Elise Reed, securing four takedowns and a whopping 13:00 of control time en route to putting up 121 points. Piera Rodriguez found herself on the mat twice against the comparatively undersized Kay Hansen, and "La Fiera" shouldn't be able to default to her own wrestling against an opponent so big for the weight class. Rodriguez will have the quicker hands, but I can't trust her to successfully get on the inside without falling into a grappling position.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Mana Martinez – 1.9 X Multiplier
I consider Martinez a value play at this multiplier as someone who pours on the pressure, has shown solid defense, and works the body nicely. Brandon Davis has lost four of his last five fights, and while the KO loss to Danaa Batgerel was the first of his career, I see another opportunity for a fighter who throws hard and won't allow Davis space to breathe. "Killer B" hits hard in his own right, but he could find himself in trouble early if his head once again stays on the center line.
Joanderson Brito -2.45 X Multiplier
A late replacement opponent has Brito sitting at an inflated multiplier as a sizable favorite, which makes him something of a free square in lineups. Newcomer Lucas Alexander has length and can throw straight shots, but I've seen nothing to suggest that he will be able to deal with the pressure, pace, and all-around skill set of Brito. Even if he were able to land a crisp shot or two, Alexander hasn't shown enough consistent offense to put the Brazilian fighter in real trouble.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Pete Rodriguez UNDER Four Minutes of Fight Time And Dusko Todorovic UNDER 4.5 Minutes of Fight Time.
These totals are so low that we will be left with egg on our face if either fight breezes into Round 2, but we are dealing with competitors who swing hard with reckless abandon. Pete Rodriguez is a slick boxer with tremendous power who works the body well, but could not stop running into the straight punches of Jack Della Maddalena in his UFC debut. Mike Jackson stands with his chin straight up in the air while trying to counterpunch. Jackson has more combat sports experience than his MMA record might suggest, so I don't put it past either fighter to get the quick KO here.
Our second fight is a bit tougher to gauge, as it features two far more experienced fighters who are no less willing to throw big shots and let the chips fall. Wright's open karate stance makes him vulnerable to damage, but his quick, powerful strikes have put fighters like Bruno Silva in serious trouble. Todorovic leaned on his wrestling a bit more in his last fight, but I expect he will pressure the opponent in an attempt to take away space. This should lead to big swings in the pocket from the opening bell.
Bets to Consider
Victor Henry wins via KO/TKO (+185)
There was a time when Raphael Assuncao was impossible to beat, let alone finish, before the final bell. It seems the miles have caught up to the Brazilian fighter, as he has been knocked out in his last two fights, most alarmingly by a wrestler in Ricky Simon. Henry showed excellent defense against Raoni Barcelos and will swarm Assuncao with pressure and pace until he is noticeably exhausted. Henry has never been knocked out in his career, which makes it highly unlikely he will get caught with the perfect countershot. Instead, It is much more probable that "La Mangosta" will overwhelm Assuncao until the stoppage comes.
Jonathan Martinez wins via decision (+155)
Despite a knockout loss at the hands of Davey Grant, Martinez is generally quite defensively responsible and will come into the bout against Cub Swanson sporting a strike defense rate of 60 percent. Swanson is light on his feet and can explode into the pocket with big strikes, but Martinez is excellent at sliding just out of range and stinging his opponent with countershots. Swanson has been fairly durable late in his career, and Martinez has only notched finishes in two of his seven UFC victories, which makes me think Cub will be around for the final bell.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Alexa Grasso OVER 110.5 Strikes and Viviane Araujo OVER 84.5 Strikes
Both of these women can strike at distance, but Grasso showed in her bout with Maycee Barber that she can hold her own in clinch situations against strong opponents. Araujo has gone to her wrestling quite a bit in her UFC career, which likely means we will see quite a few 50/50 positions and grappling exchanges. This will lead to short shots in the clinch from both fighters, helping to pad those strike totals over five rounds.