The MMA Mashup: UFC Vegas 21 Preview

The MMA Mashup: UFC Vegas 21 Preview

This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.

This week's installment of the MMA Mashup is a bit lighter on bets, which allowed us to really explore DFS play on all our favorite sites. This includes one of the biggest underdogs across all slates, as well as a long-time veteran in an unfamiliar role as a huge favorite. (One final note before we begin: all betting lines were taken from the various sportsbooks offered on the RotoWire Sports Betting section).

Without further ado, let's get to it.

Plays to consider on DraftKings:

Rani Yahya ($9,200)

It may seem odd to pay a premium for a fighter like Yahya, but the veteran's wrestling/grappling style hasn't seen him win with less than 88 points under the new scoring rubric since 2015, making him at least a cash play in this spot. Ray Rodriguez was taken down with relative ease before being stopped with strikes in his Contender Series bout and has taken three of his seven career losses via submission.

Gavin Tucker ($7,600)

Despite coming in as the underdog, Tucker seems like DraftKings gold in a fight against Dan Ige, having scored five or more takedowns in two of his last three fights with at least 5:00 of control time in each of those bouts. Ige is an extremely talented striker and wrestler in his own right but tends to get backed up to the cage far too easily, which should allow Tucker to control large portions of the contest.

Matheus Nicolau ($7,500)

Nicolau was cut by the UFC after his loss to Dustin Ortiz in 2017 but was looking like one to watch in the division prior to that bout, having won his first three fights with fast hands and a solid wrestling game. It didn't come into play in his UFC debut loss to Alexandre Pantoja, but I'm still worried about Manel Kape's tendency to get taken down and stuck on bottom, as happened to him in his 2017 fight with Kyoji Horiguchi in Rizin.

Plays to Consider on FanDuel:

Matthew Semelsberger ($16)

Semelsberger looked fantastic in his UFC debut against Carlton Minus, mixing his targets while pressuring forward and applying some wrestling for good measure. Jason Witt is a power wrestler who likes to wing big shots, but there doesn't appear to be much craft to his takedown game, which should allow Semelssberger to gather points by stuffing shots and applying his own offense.

Gloria de Paula ($19)

De Paula's Thai kickboxing was far too much for Pauline Macias on the Contender series, as the hard shots she landed would repeatedly force her opponent into bad takedown attempts. Jinh Yu Frey is big for the weight class and can wrestle when she needs to but landed just one of her four attempts in a loss to Loma Lookboonmee, and de Paula was able to thwart a whopping nine shots while punching her ticket to the UFC.

Misha Cirkunov ($17)

I hate to use non-measurables like "lack of confidence" when analyzing a fight, but I don't know how else to describe what I think is wrong with Ryan Spann. Though he is a big, physical presence who can grapple, Spann is so hesitant that I expect him to simply wait for Cirkunov to take control of the fight by putting "Superman" on his back. Once there he should be able to score points by employing submission attempts, which he has done an average of 2.4 times per 15 minutes inside the Octagon during his career.

Nasrat Haqparast ($21)

Haqparast vs. short-notice replacement Rafa Garcia is a fascinating fight in the sense that both men are athletic and are always looking to swing for the bleachers. Garcia is also a submission specialist who aims to close distance with his haymakers, but his takedown attempts are very upper-body heavy in open space, and Haqparast will come into the bout with a robust 80 percent takedown defense rate. This should allow him to garner big points while also slipping and countering Garcia's punches from the center of the earth.

 Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight:

Darren Stewart OVER 51.5 significant strikes and Eryk Anders OVER 42.5 significant strikes.

This fight is lined so low likely due to the fact that both men can be somewhat deliberate in the cage, but I don't expect much wrestling from either fighter here and both have been historically tough to finish, having amassed just two combined stoppage losses in 36 career fights. The pace of the action is a bit of a worry, but I can't pass on totals this low for a fight I think goes the distance.

Leon Edwards OVER 84.5 significant strikes and Belal Muhammad OVER 74.5 significant strikes.

The pace of Muhammad here will give Edwards no choice but to have a fast-paced striking match with him. This is even more likely to be the case when we consider both men possess strong takedown defense rates (84 percent and 70 percent, respectively). Finally, we know that neither man is much of a finisher, as these two have seen the final bell in all but six of their 24 combined UFC fights. Add that all together and it should mean (mostly) 25 minutes of good, competitive distance striking.

Angela Hill OVER 69.5 significant strikes and Ashley Yoder OVER 46.5 significant strikes.

This is another fight in which the pace of one of the competitors (in this case, Hill) should make for a bout with a lot of strikes thrown. Much is made about Hill's lack of takedown defense, but it seems what people are actually reacting to is her lack of acuity once she is on the ground, as she currently holds a defense rate of 77 percent. This, combined with Yoder's 38 percent takedown accuracy rate, should ensure that most of what happens here is done at kickboxing range.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft:

Davey Grant – 2.35x multiplier

It may be the inactivity, but I can't help but feel Grant is going a bit overlooked against Jonathan Martinez here. To be sure, he will have to be careful of leaving his chin open in exchanges, but Grant will be the combination puncher here, as well as the wrestler/grappler. Martinez was taken down three times apiece by Andre Soukhamthath and Wuliji Buren, which makes Grant an interesting play as the second-highest multiplier on the slate.

Cortney Casey – 2.1x multiplier

It's not often that Casey is considered a DFS play, but I think her size advantage and janky striking will play well against JJ Aldrich, who carries a fairly high absorbed strike rate, to begin with (4.68). She can also control the clinch exchanges and look for takedowns when necessary in order to exercise a slick jiujitsu game.

Bet to Consider:

Charles Jourdain Defeats Marcelo Rojo by Knockout (+143)

Both of these men are finishers, but the Combate Americas alumnus is far too susceptible to being backed up and hit cleanly. Rojo is a burst kickboxer who throws hard, but I worry that his lack of defensive responsibility will hurt him against such a precise, heavy striker as Jourdain.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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