This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
Multiple canceled fights for the second consecutive week haven't taken the intrigue away from this slate, which contains 13 bouts for us to analyze. We look at everything in this edition of The MMA Mashup, including a late replacement fighter who may give a free square more than he bargained for. All lines are taken from the William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Nicco Montano ($9,100)
Montano may be seen as an afterthought due to how long she has been away from the Octagon, but a look at her losing effort against Julianna Pena reveals a lot to like. The first thing to note is how strong she was in that matchup, pinning Pena – who is a physically strong fighter in her own right – up against the cage with ease when she would initiate a clinch. Montano also seemed to be a step ahead in a lot of the early exchanges on the mat. Both of these aspects will be important against Wu Yanan, who was taken down five times against the only other strong wrestler she has faced in Gina Mazany.
Rafa Garcia ($9,500)
DraftKings would have priced me out of Garcia in most instances, but Chris Gruetzemacher is a dream opponent for Daily Fantasy Sports, as he gets hit with a whopping 5.50 significant strikes per minute, was taken down five times in his loss to Davi Ramos and has been finished in all four of his MMA losses (three in the UFC). Rafa Garcia gave a fine account of himself in his UFC debut against a tough customer in Nasrat Haqparast, and he has the power, wrestling and submission skills to make this a very uncomfortable night for the 35-year-old.
Ronnie Lawrence ($8,700)
Lawrence will almost certainly be a popular play after eight takedowns and nearly nine minutes of control time contributed to a robust 135 DraftKings points in his organizational debut. While he may not be the most technical standup fighter, he uses movement to disguise his attacks and shots, allowing him to surprise his opponent. Trevin Giles has shown big power in his two UFC bouts, but we should remember that he was losing both of those fights before finding finishing strikes, and "The Heat" has never been stopped in eight professional fights.
Uriah Hall ($6,900)
I generally like to target DraftKings plays in accordance with the scoring criteria, but I can't remember getting a fighter as skilled as Hall at such a low salary. It's no secret that Hall's slow starts have been his undoing throughout his UFC career, but "Primetime's" speed and agility should really make the difference here. Sean Strickland is an excellent boxer who is hard to hurt but mentioned after his decision win over Krzysztof Jotko that he had to be cautious not to overextend in order to avoid counter shots. One-punch knockouts over Jotko and Bevon Lewis should be more than enough for us to anoint Hall as one of the most lethal counter punchers in this division, which should work to stifle Strickland's offense while allowing Uriah to land more of his own.
Danny Chavez ($8,000)
Chavez strikes with a power and quickness that makes one wonder how he only has three KO/TKOs among his 14 wins. He is also an efficient wrestler, as evidenced by the fact that he has never missed on a takedown attempt (5-for-5) in his two UFC fights. Kai Kamaka mixes his targets well, but was made to miss an awful lot in his fight with Jonathan Pearce and holds just a 40 percent takedown defense rate in his three UFC fights. I expect Chavez to crack Kamaka with some sharp counters and use his wrestling to alleviate pressure when the Hawaiian starts bearing down.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Bryan Barberena UNDER 11 minutes of Fight Time and Orion Cosce OVER 10 Minutes of Fight Time
If Jason Witt sees a third round against Barbarena, it will be his first in four UFC fights. Witt is a strong wrestler and submission grappler but isn't defensively responsible enough to fade the heavy hands of Barbarena for long. It should be noted that this is essentially a bet on "Bam Bam" to win the fight, as he has proven to be nearly impossible to finish.
Cosce has a 100 percent finish rate in his seven professional MMA bouts but needed nearly the entire 15 minutes before stopping his opponent on the Contender Series. While he does hit hard, "The Galaxy" is generally content to throw one strike at a time, which likely won't be enough to get many quick finishes at this level. Philip Rowe may make this particularly challenging, as he is an agile fighter who will enter the contest with a nine-inch reach advantage.
Plays to consider on FanDuel
Gloria de Paula ($11)
It surprises me to see De Paula's price this low, as she has shown herself to be a sharp Muay Thai practitioner who does devastating work in the clinch. The issue here is that strong wrestlers have been able to take her down from close quarters in the past. While Jinh Yu Frey was able to hold her in place for nearly ten minutes, I don't expect Cheyanne Buys to have the same level of success. The 26-year-old failed in her two attempts to get Hillarie Rose to the mat on the Contender Series, and de Paula stuffed nine of 11 shot attempts from her Contender Series Opponent in November.
Kyung Ho Kang ($16)
Rani Yahya's wrestling has always been employed more out of necessity than as part of an integrated strategy, as the veteran needs to get the fight to the floor in order to work his jiu-jitsu game. This generally means that the Brazilian will opt for a quantity over quality approach, as we can ascertain from the 33 percent accuracy rate he holds through 25 UFC fights. Kang is also a grappler by trade but should be the far stronger of the two men here. It was only two years ago when Yahya went 0-for-9 on attempts against Ricky Simon, and Kang will enter the contest sporting a 71 percent takedown defense rate.
Jared Gooden ($11)
I was among many who were duped into believing that Gooden would best Abubakar Nurmagomedov if he could keep the fight standing, only to watch as the Dagestani fighter cracked him with combinations for the better part of 15 minutes. Why go back to him here on less than a week's notice? It seems to me that the main issue for Gooden against Nurmagomedov was the in-and-out movement, which prevented "Nite Train" from landing many clean shots. Niklas Stolze is more than happy to stand in the pocket and swing with his opponents while letting them control the center of the cage. We will likely see much more wrestling from Stolze than he was able to show against Ramazan Emeev, but Gooden has stopped five of six shots in his two UFC bouts and should have a significant power advantage in his hands. Since FanDuel waited to release its pricing, there is no discount on Stolze as the sizeable favorite. He was already listed as the underdog on DraftKings before getting a new opponent, so players there will likely take full advantage of the low salary on the platform.
Bets to Consider
Ryan Benoit defeats Zarrukh Adashev BY DECISION: (+163)
The commentary booth usually sees fit to tell us about Adashev's Glory Kickboxing experience, but thus far all he's done in the Octagon is occasionally blitz into the pocket throwing big strikes. Unsurprisingly, this has not produced favorable results. Benoit is actually a decent kickboxer with a nice jab, but he works so slowly that it's difficult to trust him to get his opponent out of a fight. It's tempting to look at Benoit's impressive finish rate and conclude that he is some kind of knockout artist, but it should be noted that the overwhelming majority of those stoppages came on the regional circuit.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Ashley Yoder UNDER 86.5 Significant Strikes and Jinh Yu Frey UNDER 61.5 Significant Strikes
If these totals make sense to any of you out there, please explain them to me. Yoder has never broken 80 significant strikes in her 10 UFC fights (she has only breached 70 once), and Frey hasn't landed more than 26 significant strikes in any of her three bouts. I fail to see why this will be any different, as Yoder will likely follow her usual game plan of clinching the opponent in order to score head-and-arm-throw takedowns. Frey is the more boxing-heavy of the two, but works slowly and is a strong enough wrestler that it wouldn't surprise me if she looked for her own takedowns here.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Collin Anglin - 2.05X Multiplier
Melsik Baghdasaryan has quick, powerful kicks as a former K-1 kickboxer, but "The Gun" has only had one fight in his professional MMA career that lasted longer than 1:20. To his credit, Baghdasaryan caught a second wind late in his bout on the Contender Series to grab a victory but was noticeably tired down the stretch. Anglin fought a Takekwando practitioner in his Contender Series contest and was able to use relentless pressure and grappling to take the steam out of the attacks. If he can weather the early storm, it seems as though Anglin should feel right at home against this style of opponent.