This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
A 10-fight card represents the thinnest slate we've had in a while, but there's still plenty for us to discuss in this edition of The MMA Mashup. Recommended plays across our five platforms include a temporarily-fallen prospect and a Muay Thai practitioner who will try to best a jiujitsu wizard. 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
Alexandr Romanov ($9,200)
Romanov was noticeably flagging before an illegal knee brought his fight with Juan Espino to the scorecards in Round 3, but The Ultimate Fighter winner was able to use his wrestling and clinch game to tire "King Kong" out down the stretch. There should be little worry of that from Jared Vanderaa, who spent nearly the entire fight underneath Sergey Spivac before that bout was (mercifully) stopped in the second round. Vanderaa has fast hands for a big man, but it's unlikely that Romanov will wait too long before getting the fight to the floor.
Felipe Colares ($7,300)
Colares is the prototypical jiujitsu fighter who looks to take his opponents to the ground as quickly as possible. Generally, this means backing them up with thudding body kicks until he can get a hold of them up against the fence. While he isn't the most efficient with his takedowns, Chris Gutierrez seems content to yield the center of the cage to his opponents, which should result in plenty of opportunities for control time and regular strikes. Gutierrez is a powerful kicker in his own right, but Colares will likely be able to collapse the range quickly and stay out of danger.
Damon Jackson ($8,400)
Jackson has just three takedowns in his five-fight UFC career, but they don't call him "The Leech" for nothing, as he has logged 14 of his 18 victories in professional MMA by submission. He should be able to ply his trade faithfully against Charles Rosa, who spent two of his last four bouts almost entirely on his back as strong grapplers like Bryce Mitchell and Darrick Minner controlled position and looked for subs. Jackson will be similarly relentless when he looks to take the fight to the ground, which could mean a tremendous amount of points if Rosa is again stuck on the bottom.
Steve Garcia ($9,100)
Charlie Ontiveros is a slick taekwondo fighter who can be a handful for anyone on the feet, but it's hard to ignore the effortless way in which Kevin Holland slammed "The American Bad Boy" around the cage until a neck injury awarded him the bout in Round 2. Garcia is a wrestle-boxer who may have been a bit outgunned in his debut against Luis Pena, but he should have no problem getting on Ontiveros' hips and taking him down.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Matheus Nicolau ($17)
It's easy to favor Nicolau in the flyweight division, as he has so many elements in his style that make fighters successful. He's lightning-quick, has power, throws in combination, and was able to keep up in the scrambles against an excellent jiujitsu player in Louis Smolka when the two competed in 2017. Tim Elliott looks to have vastly improved his cardio since changing gyms, but he's the same fighter who is in danger of getting hit extremely hard whenever he is on his feet. Elliott will look to shoot on his opponents whenever possible, as evidenced by the fact that he has attempted at least seven takedowns in each of his last five fights. Nicolau has yet to be taken down in the Octagon on four attempts and should be able to keep his feet long enough to rack up points before hitting Elliott hard enough to change the course of the fight.
Marina Rodriguez ($18)
Mackenzie Dern has been making me look awfully foolish of late. That's because I have picked against her in each of her last three fights. It's not that I dislike Dern, it's just hard for me to trust a jiu-jitsu prodigy to get the fight where she needs it when she carries a takedown accuracy rate of 10 percent. While she's made it work more often than not, I think she will meet her match in Rodriguez, who is incredibly fast and should be able to keep Dern at range with two-inch advantages in height and reach. Five rounds should offer quite a few opportunities to collect points for takedowns defended, but it's also worth noting that Rodriguez has never been submitted in 15 professional MMA fights.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Mariya Agapova – 2.1 x Multiplier
Agapova was a force to be reckoned with in her UFC debut against Hannah Cifers, putting a tremendous pace on her opponent and attacking with a variety of powerful strikes. It looked to be more of the same in her second bout versus Shana Dobson until she gassed out chasing the finish in Round 2, which ultimately led to a TKO loss. While that loss is concerning, I think it would be a mistake to write Agapova off here, as she remains incredibly dangerous and can mix in the wrestling and grappling that troubled Sabina Mazo in her fight with Alexis Davis. There is always a chance that she makes the same mistake, but I think it's worth giving the bright prospect a second chance, particularly since prospective owners may stay away from her after her last fight.
Bets to Consider
Phil Hawes Defeats Deron Winn via KO/TKO/Submission/DQ (+120)
Winn will always be at a disadvantage as a 5-foot-6 fighter in the middleweight division, but the matchup against Hawes seems particularly difficult. The Sanford MMA product will be the quickest and hardest hitter Winn has ever faced in his UFC career, and his strength advantage should give Winn issues as he attempts takedowns. In the past, I might be concerned that a grinding wrestler like Winn could simply get Hawes tired, but "Megatron" showed that he was ready to keep pace with a pressuring Kyle Daukaus for fifteen minutes, which makes me think that his cardio will carry deep into this fight as well. Winn has had trouble controlling fighters on the ground at middleweight, which means Hawes will have plenty of chances to land his kill shot.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Lupita Godinez UNDER 3.0 Takedowns and Randy Brown UNDER 1.0 Takedowns
I have a suspicion that this line is an overreaction to Godinez's UFC debut, in which she scored three takedowns on nine attempts against Jessica Penne. That may seem like the calling card of a committed wrestler, but Penne was repeatedly dragging the pair into clinch situations, which facilitated some of those opportunities. Against a stationary target like Silvana Gomez Juarez, Godinez should be more than happy to use her agility and pick apart the short-notice replacement over three rounds.
While it's not unheard of for Randy Brown to go for takedowns, "Rude Boy" is most comfortable when he is at range and throwing crisp shots. The good news for us is that Brown won't have things easy if he changes his mind, as Jared Gooden holds an 83 percent takedown defense rate through three UFC bouts. There may not be much margin for error, but the odds say we are in for a high-paced kickboxing match for as long as this fight lasts.