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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 52 in Las Vegas. This is another card that is lacking from a talent perspective, but we still have a fun slate on DraftKings with $100,000 to first place in the main contest.

As always, I give my analysis and DraftKings strategy based on how I see each fight matchup playing out. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter  with any questions that you have leading up until fight night Saturday.

Dean Barry vs Mike Jackson
Barry, -1125; Jackson, +700

The term “low-level” gets thrown around a lot these days but this might honestly be the lowest level fight the UFC has put together. Dean Barry is just a 4-1 prospect with all four wins coming by first-round knockout. He has a karate base striking style and fights with his hands down which is a concern if he faces any legitimate counter strikers. But he does have some power and should have the striking advantage in this matchup. His opponent, Mike Jackson is coming off nearly a three-year layoff after a no contest against CM Punk in 2018. He is now 37 years old and coming off a long layoff which are causes for concern. Additionally, it’s not like he was anything special prior to the layoff as his professional MMA record is 0-1-1 which is embarrassing that this is even a UFC fight. Neither fighter will last long in the UFC, but I favor the power of Barry as Jackson has seemingly been hurt in all of his fights and likely gets put to sleep here. Barry by knockout is the official pick.

Preston Parsons vs Evan Elder
Parsons, -130; Elder, +110

Preston Parsons was originally supposed to face Louis Cosce who pulled out of the fight and is replaced by UFC newcomer, Evan Elder. This could potentially be a sneaky point of focus for the DraftKings slate as both fighters are priced at $8100. So if you factor in the line value then that could get some people on the Parsons side but I actually favor Elder in this matchup. Parsons is going to have a size advantage, but he is not a very good wrestler and basically submission or bust as he has never reached the third round. Elder seems to be the better minute winner in this fight as he will have a striking advantage and should have the ability to land takedowns as well. Both guys are historically finishers which makes me want to have exposure to this fight as I could see it being sloppy and ending early which is great for their price on DraftKings. I will have shares of both fighters, but the official pick is Elder by TKO.

Marcin Prachnio vs Philipe Lins
Prachnio, -130; Lins, +110

Marcin Prachnio is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Ike Villanueva last June. He is currently on a two-fight win streak after starting his UFC run 0-3 with all three knockout losses. Prachnio’s durability is always a concern, but he is a high-volume striker and that could be enough in some of these lower-level matchups. His opponent, Philip Lins is coming off a first-round knockout against Tanner Boser in June of 2020. His transition to the UFC has not been a smooth one since winning the PFL tournament in 2018. My biggest issue with Lins is he is very low-volume and for someone that is not going to proactively grapple, that is a problem in terms of minute winning ability. I expect Prachnio to win the majority of striking exchanges on the basis of being the more active fighter. Overall, this is a fight that I do not have much interest in for DraftKings or betting but Prachnio by decision is the official pick.

Aori Qileng vs Cameron Else
Qileng, -235; Else, +190

Aori Qileng is coming off a decision loss to Cody Durden in November. He is 0-2 in the UFC and on a two-fight losing streak after winning six straight before his UFC debut. Qileng is big for the division and will look to move forward and trade punches. However, he does not move his head off the center line and notoriously slows down as the fight goes on. His opponent, Cameron Else is coming off a year and a half layoff after losing by knockout to Kyler Phillips in October of 2020. I do not rate Else skills very highly but he is an aggressive style fighter that has a ton of finishes on his record and will bring variance into most of his fights. He should have a grappling edge over Qileng but I expect him to be at a strength disadvantage so I am not confident he can get the fight where he needs to. On the feet, I expect both fighters to have success but the forward pressure of Qileng along with the durability edge has me favoring him in this matchup. Qileng by knockout is the official pick.

Tyson Pedro vs Ike Villanueva
Pedro, -525; Villanueva, +385

Coming off a sizable layoff due to multiple injuries, Tyson Pedro will look to get back in the win column as we last saw him lose to Mauricio Rua in December of 2018. Losing three of his last four fights and the long layoff are major concerns when you’re being booked as a big favorite. However, he should have a clear grappling edge over Ike Villanueva who has been submitted five times in his career. Villanueva is coming off a first-round knockout to Nicolae Negumereanu in October. He has lost four of his five fights in the UFC and was knocked out in all four of those losses. Both fighters have power on the feet, but Villanueva’s durability is a major concern, and the submission grappling edge is enormous in this fight. Pedro by club and sub is the official pick and he is a high upside play on DraftKings this week even with the aforementioned concerns.

Sergey Khandozhko vs Dwight Grant
Khandozhko, -120; Grant, +100

This must be the card of all the long layoffs as we have yet another fighter coming off a two-and-a-half-year layoff in Sergey Khandozhko. He was held out by injury and then a COVID-19 diagnosis but will look to get back in the win column as we last saw him drop a decision to Rustam Khabilov in November of 2019. Khandozhko is the prototypical fighter that I never like betting on as he is historically very low volume and relies on big moments or finishes. This is fine when you are a dangerous finisher, but all of his finishes came against lower-level competition before the UFC. His opponent, Dwight Grant is coming off a split-decision loss to Francisco Trinaldo in October. Like Khandozhko, Grant is also not a high-output type fighter. But he should be the more active striker in this matchup. I expect him to be putting more volume out there and landing the impactful shots where Khandozhko will get sloppy with his spinning techniques. Additionally, Grant should have a grappling edge although I doubt this fight hits the ground much. Either way, this is an ugly low-paced fight that I do not have much interest in for DraftKings. Grant by decision is the official pick and he is a live underdog, but the upside is limited.

Marc-Andre Barriault vs Jordan Wright
Barriault, -160; Wright, +140

Marc-Andre Barriault is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Chidi Njokuani in February. That loss snapped a two-fight win streak for him and he will look to rebound against the Beverly Hills Ninja, Jordan Wright. Barriault is a powerful striker that will throw in volume and nine of his 13 wins have come by knockout. Up until his last fight, his durability was very solid but this is a quick turnaround after just two months off so that could be something to note. Wright is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Bruno Silva in December. He has never been in a boring fight, and we know that he is coming in there looking to get an early finish or die trying. That style brings a ton of variance into play, but the upside is clear as we can expect the winner of this fight to score well on DraftKings as I am not expecting this fight to hit the judges’ scorecards. As much as I love me some Beverly Hills Ninja, unless he is able to hurt and swarm Barriault early, I expect him to get outclassed as the fight goes on and eventually knocked out. Barriault by knockout is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings with a lean towards Barriault.

Charles Jourdain vs Lando Vannata
Jourdain, -140; Vannata, +120

Charles Jourdain is coming off a dominant decision victory over Andre Ewell his last time out in December. He is a technical kickboxer that will throw in volume and averages just under six significant strikes per minute. The biggest issue with Jourdain is that he will give up takedowns in bulk and his cardio has been suspect at times. His opponent, Lando Vannata is coming off a split-decision victory over Mike Grundy last May. Vannata is a willing participant in what should be a firefight on the feet. Vannata should be able to land takedowns at will here if he wants to as his wrestling is not bad and Jourdain defends at just at under 50% in the UFC. However, I do expect this fight to play out primarily on the feet and I favor the speed and power of Jourdain who should be landing more often as well. Jourdain by decision is the official pick.

Alexander Romanov vs Chase Sherman
Romanov, -1500; Sherman, +850

Alexander Romanov was originally supposed to face Tanner Boser who pulled out of the fight, so Chase Sherman is stepping up on short notice. I do not have to spend much time on this fight as the betting odds suggest that this fight will not be competitive and all of us would agree. Sherman was actually cut by the UFC after getting submitted by Jake Collier in January inside the first round. He is doing the UFC a favor by taking this fight, but he is more than likely getting finished early in this one. Romanov is going to take him down and mix in some ground and pound while fishing for a submission. It is not a matter of ‘if he wins’ but when. Romanov by first-round TKO is the official pick and he is my favorite spend up on DraftKings this week.

Manel Kape vs Su Mudaerji
Kape, -170; Mudaerji, +150

UPDATE: This fight was cancelled as Kape tested positive for steroids.
Manel Kape is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Zhalgas Zhumagulov in December. After starting his UFC career 0-2, he has now bounced back with two knockout victories. Kape is a legitimate prospect with no glaring weaknesses. He is a technical striker with fast hands and 11 of his 17 wins have come by knockout. But it is grappling that makes me favor him in this matchup as he holds a black belt in BJJ and will have a clear advantage on the mat. His opponent, Su Mudaerji is coming off a decision victory over Zarrukh Adashev in January of last year. Mudaerji is an easy fighter to break down as he is big for the division and has some serious knockout power. But as we saw in his last fight, when the early knockout does not materialize then we start to see some gaping holes. The biggest of which is his defensive grappling as he has been submitted in all four of his professional losses. I expect the striking to be competitive although I slightly favor Kape on the feet. But I am expecting him to look for takedowns and take the path of least resistance where he could dominate Mudaerji on the ground. Kape by submission is the official pick and he is a strong play on DraftKings.

Maycee Barber vs Montana De La Rosa
Barber, -190; De La Rosa, +160

We last saw Maycee Barber last July when she won a split-decision over Miranda Maverick. That decision was highly debated but regardless she snapped a two-fight losing streak with that win. She is a powerful boxer and will have a physicality and strength advantage over most fighters in the division. I still have some concerns with her defensive grappling which could come to light in this matchup. Her opponent, Montana De La Rosa is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Ariane Lipski last June. Her striking is not great, and I expect her to get pieced up on the feet while the fight plays out at range. However, she is an aggressive grappler that knows she needs to get the fight to the ground and averages 2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes. Additionally, eight of her 11 career victories have come by submission, and she is capable of finding a finish if she can get Barber to the mat. The most likely outcome is that Barber keeps the fight on the feet long enough to win minutes or potentially knockout De La Rosa. But the grappling edge has me treating De La Rosa as a live underdog and is enough for me not to be betting on Barber outside of a knockout prop. This is a sneaky good fight to target on DraftKings, but the official pick is Barber by knockout.

Clay Guida vs Claudio Puelles
Guida, -110; Puelles, -110

Clay Guida is an absolute legend of the sport. The 40-year-old has logged 32 fights under the UFC banner alone and to his credit, seems to not be as washed up as some of his peers. We last saw him in December when he won by second-round submission over Leonardo Santos. At this point, we know what to expect from Guida as he is going to throw a few heavy overhands on the feet while ultimately relying on his wrestling as he averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes. His opponent, Claudio Puelles is coming off a third-round submission victory over Chris Gruetzemacher in December. Puelles is currently on a four-fight win streak despite looking uninspiring in all of those fights. He is more of a grappler but historically not a high-output fighter. And while he does have some submission victories on his record, his grappling is not all that impressive or dangerous to me. I expect Guida to be the one landing more often on the feet and mixing in the takedowns as Puelles only defends at 55%. It is never fun backing the old man in the matchup, but he is the more skilled fighter in this matchup and has the tools to get the job done here. Guida by decision is the official pick.

Jessica Andrade vs Amanda Lemos
Andrade, -180; Lemos, +155

Jessica Andrade is coming off a first-round knockout over Cynthia Calvillo in September. She is an absolute powerhouse, and it is rare that we see her face someone that can match her in power. But aside from just the obvious power, Andrade has the wrestling as well as she averages just under three takedowns per 15 minutes. Her pace is tough to match for anyone and especially someone with gas tank issues like Amanda Lemos. You cannot ever write Lemos completely off though as she has big power for this division as well. Seven of her 11 career victories have come by knockout, and she will likely need to hurt Andrade early in this fight which we have seen Weili Zhang do just that so it is not impossible. However, I have a difficult time seeing Lemos match the pace of Andrade and she has repeatedly gassed out when pushed outside of the first round which is a major concern. Andrade by knockout is the official pick and I am strongly expecting a finish one way or the other.