This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
In this week's edition of The MMA Mashup, we take a look at plays across five different platforms, including two plus-money bets and one DFS site where it may actually pay to pick against wrestling powerhouse Merab Dvalishvili. (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
Felipe Colares ($7,500)
Colares' game is nothing if not efficient, as he will spend most fights trying to control the range with big body kicks before working his grappling along the fence. Luke Sanders is a powerful boxer but has been submitted three times in the Octagon and looked to be slowing down after having to scramble back to his feet against Nathan Maness. He will need to be wary of the power, but Colares should be able to rack up points via control time and takedowns, with a submission finish always looming as a possible outcome.
Luana Pinheiro ($8,500)
She got the job done with her hands on the Contender Series, but Pinheiro generally likes to use her Judo and look for submissions on the ground. While it may be difficult to tap a veteran like Randa Markos, it's not exactly clear where her advantage lies in a fight like this. We have seen her lose slow-paced kickboxing fights to people like Nina Nunes and she was taken down four times in her most recent loss to Kanako Murata in November. I think we are likely to see the same kind of fight play out here, which should set Pinheiro up to be a strong cash play with some upside.
T.J. Brown ($7,800)
Brown's UFC career began with a seven-takedown performance against Jordan Griffin in February of 2020. While a careless entry resulted in the 30-year-old losing via choke, he still displayed a solid technical wrestling game to go along with great cardio. Both of these attributes will be useful in the coming matchup against Kai Kamaka, a slick boxer who was taken down five times by Jonathan Pearce en route to a TKO loss. Though he is talented, Kamaka has just one finish (a submission) in his eight professional fights, which should allow Brown to get away with a few more mistakes than he did against Griffin. It should also be noted that Kamaka seemed to slow down significantly in the fight with Pearce, which means Brown may be able to weaponize pace and pressure.
Plays to Consider on Fanduel
Sean Strickland ($22)
Strickland has always been a slick, agile boxer but built a reputation as a decision fighter due to his lack of aggression. This has begun to change in recent years as a new, seemingly more focused Strickland has gotten KO/TKOs in two of his last three fights and did all he could to try and put away a very tough Jack Marshman. Krzysztof Jotko is a decent boxer in his own right but will likely try to grapple in this bout, as Strickland will almost certainly be too much for the Polish fighter to handle on the feet. This should play right into our hands from a FanDuel perspective, as Jotko has secured just one of his last 10 takedown attempts, and has logged a 35 percent accuracy rate in 13 UFC fights.
Cody Stamann ($11)
I don't actually expect Stamann to win his fight against Merab Dvalishvili. but it may be the perfect matchup when it comes to taking advantage of scoring differences on FanDuel. Dvalishvili shot for a whopping 20 takedowns in his bout with John Dodson, completing only two of them. This means that Dodson received 54 (!) points just for keeping his feet. Stamann and Dodson share the same takedown defense rate (80 percent) which could provide him with an incredibly high floor. It would hardly be surprising if Merab was able to bulldoze "The Spartan" as he has done to so many other opponents, but if his defense can hold up, Stamann has real potential to break the slate.
Gabriel Benitez ($20)
It's been quite a while since anyone attempted to take down Benitez in the Octagon. The last fighter to try was Jason Knight, who found joy with just one of those nine shots. Jonathan Pearce has been fairly successful with his wrestling in the UFC but should have his hands full dealing with the body kicks and forward pressure of "Moogly," which could result in a few more sloppy shots as Pearce attempts to stem the tide of offense.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Loma Lookboonmee OVER 58.5 Significant Strikes and Sam Hughes OVER 40.5 Significant Strikes
It may not pass for sophisticated analysis, but the Fightmetric numbers tell us quite a bit about this one, as Lookboonmee has logged at least 80 significant strikes in two of her three UFC fights and Sam Hughes logged 20 significant strikes in Round 1 of her fight with Tecia Torres before a doctor stoppage. The one worry here is that Hughes could potentially use her size and physicality to tie Loma up for significant portions of the fight, but we already saw the 25-year-old deal with an imposing fighter in Jinh Yu Frey, which should allay fears that she can be easily controlled.
Luana Carolina OVER 48.5 Significant Strikes and Poliana Botelho OVER 46.5 Significant Strikes
A cursory glance at Botelho's strike stats reveals some fairly low totals, but two of the five fights below our mark ended in a first-round finish, while the other came against a committed wrestler in Gillian Robertson. Botelho could take the role of wrestler in this matchup, but Carolina will enter the bout with a 100 percent takedown defense rate, which should ensure that both ladies stay on their feet for the better part of 15 minutes.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Jiri Prochazka – 1.9x Multiplier
It's not often that you get the favorite in the main event at this high of a multiplier, but there is no question that Prochazka has his warts. The polish prospect gets hit too much and can be taken down, but his size, power and quickness still make him someone worthy of a selection against Dominick Reyes. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Reyes would use his counter striking against Jan Blachowicz, but instead, "The Devastator" simply covered up and retreated, perhaps wary of the power Blachowicz possesses. They don't come much more powerful than Prochazka, who has finished 24 of his 27 victories. Unless he is prepared to wrestle, I see Reyes being made hesitant once again, leading to his second consecutive stoppage loss.
K.B. Bhullar – 2.25x Multiplier
Bhullar succumbed to the heavy hands of Tom Breese in his UFC debut but was able to land several hard leg kicks before the finishing blow. That may sound like less than a ringing endorsement, but the 29-year-old will be quite a bit faster than the flat-footed Andreas Michailidis and should be able to use those kicks to do some damage. There's a nagging thought in my mind that Breese found his chin a bit too easily, but it's hard to pass on Bhullar as the fighter with the second-highest multiplier on the slate.
Bets to consider
Giga Chikadze by KO/TKO/DQ: +260
Cub Swanson turned back the clock with a second-round knockout of Daniel Pineda in his last outing, but even in a fight where he largely dominated, Swanson ate leg kicks and a few big punches. Chikadze has some of the quickest kicks in the division and specializes in picking his opponents off as they come forward. This should pay dividends against the veteran, who likes to dart in and out of range with his hands down. Swanson could opt to lean on his wrestling, but Chikadze has shown himself to be no slouch on the ground, which makes me think he will be able to keep himself safe in those exchanges.
Ion Cutelaba by KO/TKO/DQ +163
Two consecutive first-round losses to Magomed Ankalaev should do little to lessen Cutelaba in the eyes of prospective bettors, as Ankalaev looks to be one of the brightest prospects in the light heavyweight division. Dustin Jacoby looked fantastic in the inaugural bout of his second UFC run against Justin Ledet but was constantly pressed into the fence and rocked by the bigger man in Maxim Grishin, despite a unanimous decision victory. I expect Cutelaba to put the pressure on Jacoby early to smother his kicks before overwhelming him for the finish.