This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
The last card before UFC 264 features a 13-fight slate, culminating with the return of undefeated prospect Ciryl Gane. We cover each fight across five different platforms in this edition of the MMA Mashup.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Danilo Marques ($8,000)
No one expected much from Marquez prior to his UFC debut, but the Brazilian has used his wrestling and jiu-jitsu to pull off back-to-back wins in impressive fashion. Kennedy Nzechukwu was able to notch his first stoppage victory in the organization with a knockout of Carlos Ulberg, but his lack of pace makes me wonder if he can be a consistent finisher at this level. Nzechukwu was eventually tapped by Paul Craig as a result of letting him hang around, and it seems like Marques should be able to follow the same persistent path here.
Andre Fili ($8,900)
Fili is a slick enough kickboxer to compete with anyone in the division, but the Alpha Male product has really leaned on his wrestling of late, having secured eight takedowns in his last three fights. Daniel Pineda kicked off his second tour with the UFC in fine style with a win over Herbert Burns, but the veteran was taken to the mat three times in that bout and holds just a 44 percent takedown defense rate in nine fights dating back to 2012.
Timur Valiev ($7,400)
Both Valiev and Raoni Barcelos will likely go for takedowns, but I think Valiev's speed and technical wrestling acumen will win the day here. Some may be concerned with Barcelos' status as a BJJ champion at the purple-belt level, but it's worth noting that the 34-year-old has only notched two submission wins in his career, with one of those coming off of his back. This should inspire confidence that Valiev won't get caught while in top position, and should allow him to rack up valuable points for control time.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Julia Avila ($23)
Avila's status as a large favorite makes her tough to play in most formats, but she will face an opponent in Julija Stoliarenko who has yet to secure a takedown in the Octagon in five attempts (two fights). Stoliarenko is a submission grappler by trade but doesn't have the physicality or technical skill to get fights to the ground in a traditional manner. This means that Avila will be able to supplement her score as her opponent attempts desperation shots due to losing the fight on the feet.
Shavkat Rakhmonov ($22)
Rakhmonov showed off his combat sambo background and balance before finishing Charles Oliveira in his UFC debut, stuffing two takedowns that looked close to being finished. Michel Prazeres is singularly minded in the cage, having shot for at least six takedowns in three of his last four fights. The Brazilian fighter has notched just a 36 percent takedown accuracy rate in his 13 UFC appearances, giving us the potential for serious points. If Rakhmonov is able to keep the fight standing, it will be bad news for "Trator" who will find himself at a whopping 10-inch reach disadvantage in this contest.
Nicolas Dalby ($14)
Tim Means is known as something of a pocket brawler but has shot 11 times in his last two fights. He completed just two of those takedowns. This allows us to take a strong look at Dalby, who sports a solid 63 percent takedown defense rate in eight UFC bouts. The Danish fighter could also rely on his movement and agility against the flat-footed Means in order to control the bout and land hard shots.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Jeremiah Wells – 2.25x
Similar to Terrance McKinney last week, Wells is a late-replacement fighter who looks to drown his opponent with pace and aggression. Warlley Alves is a tough veteran coming off a stoppage win against prospect Mounir Lazzez but is still prone to getting tired. Unlike McKinney, Wells has no problem going deep in fights, having gone five rounds twice in his last four outings. Normally in situations like this, I would say that Wells simply has to fade the early storm, but it's the 34-year-old that will be bringing the storm in this case. While it's natural to question how his cardio will hold up due to taking the fight on less than a week's notice, Wells is enough of a veteran for me to trust that he will be able to manage his energy.
Jai Herbert – 2.25x
The positioning of Herbert as a large underdog here doesn't make much sense to me. He may have lost his UFC debut by knockout, but he was using his speed and sharp combinations to lay into Francisco Trinaldo before the kill shot struck the top of his head in round three. Renato Moicano's leg kicks, straight punches and jiu-jitsu are always a threat, but he has been knocked out in three of his last four fights, and Herbert has never been submitted in his 12-fight career.
Ovince Saint Preux -2.21x
Tanner Boser is quick for a heavyweight, but "OSP" should still have the athleticism advantage here, as he once again moves up from the light heavyweight division. It's tough to trust him these days, as he is no stranger to letting fights slip due to inactivity, but "OSP" should be the much stronger fighter, and Boser is decidedly non-lethal in his attack. This gives me enough confidence that he will be able to put all of the aforementioned advantages to use.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Damir Hadzovic OVER 0.5 Takedowns and Charles Rosa UNDER 2.0 Takedowns
Hadzovic may not be a wrestler by trade, but we have seen him shoot takedowns as part of a game plan against an aggressive, powerful striker in Polo Reyes. Yancy Medeiros is nothing if not pace and pressure, which should result in Hadzovic attempting to bring the fight to the ground in order to stem the tide.
Bets to Consider
Marcin Prachnio and Ike Villanueva UNDER 1.5 Rounds - (+125)
Prachnio may have gone to decision in his last bout with Khalil Rountree, but his previous five fights ended in the first round. We should also note that Villanueva hasn't had a fight go over 1.5 rounds since 2017. Not only is this a far better price than the one we would get if we bet the fight to end inside the distance, but both of these fighters are prone to gassing late, which would make a finish less likely past a certain point.
Ciryl Gane wins by decision - (+175)
I think the athleticism and well-roundedness of Gane are going to be too much for Alexander Volkov, but how do we play it? Volkov is legendarily tough, having only been finished four times in his 41-fight career. This being the case, I like using the power of the prop to turn a favorite into an underdog. Especially since we have seen Gane be a bit cautious and simply rely on his movement in the past.