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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona. We have a fun 15-fight slate on DraftKings and a card jam packed with talent and exciting matchups It also helps that on DraftKings we have $200,000 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.

Andre Fialho vs Cameron VanCamp
Fialho, -310; VanCamp, +240

We just witnessed Andre Fialho knock out Miguel Baeza in the first round just three weeks ago. His power is undeniable as 12 of his 15 wins have come by knockout. I still have concerns with him defensively, but his power is able to make up for his weaknesses at times. His defensively grappling has improved since the regional scene, and he was able to defend Michel Pereira on three of his four attempts.

His opponent, Cameron VanCamp is currently on a four-fight win streak on the regional scene and will be making his UFC debut. He was scheduled to make his debut last September against Nikolas Motta, but the fight was cancelled due to injury. VanCamp’s nine of his 15 career wins have come by submission.

He has some finishing ability on the mat but overall, I am not sure he belongs in the UFC. His striking defense needs work and if Fialho connects with a power shot then he is going to sleep. I won’t fade him completely as he does have some meme finishing ability, but the official pick is Fialho by knockout.

Fernie Garcia vs Journey Newson
Garcia, -155; Newson, +135

Fernie Garcia is coming off a first-round knockout victory on Dana White’s Contender Series in October. He is currently on a five-fight win streak with four of those coming by way of decision. He is a technical boxer and training out of Fortis MMA in Texas.

He does have a bit of wrestling ability as well and could look to mix in some takedowns. Despite his punching power, he is low volume on the feet and his striking defense needs work. His biggest issue is that he stands heavy on his lead leg and doesn’t check leg kicks. That has been a clear problem for him in multiple fights.

His opponent, Journey Newson is coming off nearly a two-year layoff after getting knocked out by Randy Costa in September of 2020. At 33 years old, Newson is not a prospect that I rate very highly but he does have a solid skillset wherever the fight goes. He should be able to land leg kicks whenever he wants to in this matchup and will hold a grappling advantage as well as he holds a black belt in BJJ.

His durability is a little concerning, but Newson should be the more proven fighter in this matchup with the more well-rounded skillset. Newson by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Lupita Godinez vs Ariane Carnelossi
Godinez, -190; Carnelossi, +160

Lupita Godinez is coming off a decision victory over Loma Lookboonmee in November. Godinez is a technical boxer and aggressive wrestler as she averages 4.57 takedowns per 15 minutes. She does not put much volume out there, but she will look to move forward and grind her opponents against the cage before peeling them to the mat.

Her opponent, Ariane Carnelossi is coming off a third-round submission victory over Istela Nunes in October and is currently on a two-fight win streak. She is a physical specimen and clearly has punching power. However, she repeatedly moves forward and does not move her head off the center line so she will eat some shots in most of her fights.

I expect the striking to be competitive with both fighters landing some shots. But the wrestling of Godinez could be the difference. Na Liang was able to take Carnelossi down three times and Godinez is a better wrestler with a better gas tank as well. I will have some exposure to Carnelossi on DraftKings as well because she has more upside to finish but the official pick is Godinez by decision.

Kleydson Rodrigues vs CJ Vergara
Rodrigues, -290; Vergara, +230

Kleydson Rodrigues is coming off a decision victory on Dana White’s Contender Series in September. He is a legitimate prospect in the Flyweight division with five of his seven victories coming inside the distance. He is the former Flyweight champion in Jungle Fight promotion and seems to be well-rounded.

On the feet, he has multiple tools with various wheel kicks and spinning elbows with clear knockout power. He likes to put his opponents on the back foot and use that powerful kicking game at range. Additionally, he should have a submission grappling advantage as well although I doubt this fight goes to the ground much.

His opponent, CJ Vergara is coming off a decision loss to Ode Osbourne in his UFC debut in November. I do not rate Vergara as highly, but he came off this past season of Contender Series as well with a first-round knockout victory. He comes from a boxing background and six of his nine wins have come by knockout. He does not have much to offer in terms of grappling, but his cardio seems to check out over 15 minutes.

I expect this fight to play out on the feet for the majority and could see both fighters having some success but Rodrigues clearly landing the more impactful shots. The kicking attack will likely play a huge role in this fight and Rodrigues could get him out of there if he connects clean. He is my preferred play on DraftKings and Rodrigues by decision is the official pick.

Tracy Cortez vs Melissa Gatto
Cortez, -165; Gatto, +145

Tracy Cortez is coming off a split-decision victory over Justine Kish last April. She is 3-0 in the UFC and currently on a nine-fight win streak. She is a competent boxer although her defense still needs work as she does not block punches well or move her head off the center line. But it’s when she goes to her wrestling that she shines as she averages three takedowns per 15 minutes and typically maintains control well.

Her opponent, Melissa Gatto is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Sijara Eubanks in December. She is 2-0 in the UFC and has won both fights inside the distance. She is an explosive prospect with a powerful kicking game and is a dangerous submission grappler. She is only a purple belt in BJJ, but she is very aggressive and has four submissions inside the first round.

I expect Gatto to have success with her kicks at range, but Cortez is likely to earn some top time for extended periods as Gatto likes to play off her back too much. However, Gatto’s physicality could be a major factor in this fight, and she is the more likely to finish of the two. Cortez needs to land multiple takedowns and bank control time to win this fight. That would not be a major surprise as she has implemented the same game plan throughout her UFC career. But Gatto is liable to find a submission off her back or potentially reverse Cortez and is much more likely to hurt her on the feet as well. For those reasons, I favor Gatto on DraftKings as a solid underdog to target this week. Gatto by submission is the official pick.

Francisco Trinaldo vs Danny Roberts
Trinaldo, -115; Roberts, +105

Francisco Trinaldo is coming off a split-decision victory over Dwight Grant in October. The ageless wonder turns 44 years old in August and has won four of his last five fights.

Trinaldo is a tough test for any opponent and has given his share of veteran lessons to up and comers in the division. He is a technical striker, albeit low volume and will mix in a little grappling as well.

His opponent, Danny Roberts is fresh off a split-decision victory over Ramazan Emeev in October. Roberts is going to have a four-inch reach advantage over Trinaldo but I’m not sure it will play that big of a role in this fight. I expect it to be a low volume striking match with a lot of cage push and defensively grappling on both sides.

I favor Trinaldo slightly, as Roberts’ durability is a red flag as he’s been finished in all five of his career losses. Trinaldo by decision is the official pick in what should be a close fight with little upside for DraftKings.

Blagoy Ivanov vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima
Ivanov, -145; De Lima, +125

Blagoy Ivanov is coming off a two-year layoff as we last saw him drop a split-decision against Augusta Sakai in May of 2020. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak with both losses ending in a split-decision. He always seems to find himself in razor close fights because he doesn’t throw a ton and only averages one takedown per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Marcos Rogerio De Lima is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Ben Rothwell in November and is currently on a two-fight win streak. De Lima is historically an early finish or bust guy as he has power early in fights and holds a black belt in BJJ despite not being much of a grappling threat.

He will likely have a power advantage, but Ivanov is historically as tough as they come and has never been knocked out in his career. The cardio should favor Ivanov as well and in a fight that I expect to be close, I lean with the one who has the better gas tank and durability. Ivanov by decision is the official pick.

Brandon Royval vs Matt Schnell
Royval, -240; Schnell, +195

Brandon Royval got back in the win column in January with a split-decision nod over Rogerio Bontorin. It’s no secret that Royval brings one of the most exciting fighting styles to the Flyweight division. His high-paced nature and aggressive submission grappling make him must watch television when he’s inside the cage.

His opponent, Matt Schnell brings a much more reserved approach with a technical jab and will look to win this fight on the outside. However, Royval is going to be constantly in his face pressuring and attacking with his legs so I doubt Schnell will be able to just box him up for 15 minutes. Additionally, Schnell has some decent grappling chops but most of his submissions have come after he is taking down by his opponents as he defends at just 50% and has only landed two takedowns across nine UFC bouts.

Lastly, I favor Royval’s grappling when the fight goes to the mat and his durability is better as well. Royval by submission is the official pick but I prefer other targets on DraftKings in that price range and do not expect this fight to score well if we don’t get a finish.

Norma Dumont vs Macy Chiasson
Dumont, -220; Chiasson, +180

Norma Dumont is coming off a main event victory over Aspen Ladd in October. It was a very boring fight where not much happened throughout but either way, Dumont is on a three-fight win streak currently since losing her UFC debut.

She is a powerful boxer but does not throw in high-volume and typically looks to cage push and clinch against the fence. She averages just over one takedown per 15 minutes and holds a brown belt in BJJ. She is going to be at a size disadvantage here against the larger Macy Chiasson.

Chiasson is four inches taller and will hold a five-inch reach advantage. She does not have many tools to get excited about, but she could use her size to her advantage in the clinch against Dumont. I expect this fight to be low scoring with tons of cage push as both fighters implement a similar game plan. I could see value on Chiasson as the underdog as I do expect this to be a competitive fight but overall, a fight that I do not want action on outside of a few shares of Chiasson for the salary savings. Dumont by decision is the official pick.

Khaos Williams vs Randy Brown
Williams, -115; Brown, -105

Khaos Williams is coming off a third-round knockout victory over Miguel Baeza in November. He is 4-1 in the UFC with three of those wins coming by knockout. His punching power is obvious but outside of that he does have some flaws. When the early knockout does not materialize, he tends to slow down and his defensively grappling still needs work.

His opponent, Randy Brown is coming off a decision victory over Jared Gooden in October. He is a technical kickboxer that uses his length well. He will occasionally mix in some grappling which would serve him well in this matchup.

The biggest issue I have with Brown is his durability as he has been knocked out twice and does not react well to getting hit. He also struggles when his opponents put pressure on him, and I expect Williams to do just that. This is a fight that I do have moderate interest in for DraftKings as Williams has knockout upside while Brown could have some grappling upside with the right game plan. My lean is Williams on DraftKings as I think the knockout is more likely to happen. Williams by knockout is the official pick.

Donald Cerrone vs Joe Lauzon
Cerrone, -170; Lauzon, +150

This matchup makes us question which fighter is more washed at this point? They have been knocked out a combined 14 times in their respective careers. Many people thought Donald Cerrone would retire but he is back in the octagon despite being 0-5-1 over his last six tries. He has clearly lost a step in the last few years, but he still is a technical boxer with sharp counterstriking. He has historically been a great grappler as well and has not been submitted since 2010.

His opponent, Joe Lauzon is coming off a two-and-a-half-year layoff since winning by first-round TKO over Jonathan Pearce in October of 2019. Despite the victory his last time out, I actually think Lauzon is a bit more shot at this stage in his career and the extended layoff certainly doesn’t help. Lauzon excels when he is able to initiate his grappling and he averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes.

The problem is that I do not think he will have much success in taking down Cerrone and controlling him in the grappling. I expect Cerrone to be the much better striker and he should be able to keep the fight where he needs it for the majority of minutes which makes me favor him in this matchup. Both guys could randomly get finished and it wouldn’t surprise me, but the official pick is Cerrone by decision and this fight has a wide range of outcomes on DraftKings.

Ovince St. Preux vs Mauricio Rua
Preux, -235; Rua, +190

This matchup is a complete dumpster fire and a rematch that we never asked for. These two first fought back in 2014 which resulted in a first-round knockout victory for Ovince St. Preux. He is coming off back-to-back knockout losses and has lost five of his last seven fights dating back to 2018. Seeing him as a sizable favorite against anyone is concerning.

His opponent, Mauricio Rua is right up there in the conversation for most washed up fighter on the card. He is a legend of the sport but turns 41 years old later this year and is coming off a TKO loss to Paul Craig in November of 2020. He has been knocked out six times in his career and the durability is a major concern. Rua should have a wrestling advantage, but I am not sure how much he will be able to implement it against the bigger St. Preux.

Lastly, St. Preux should have a clear power advantage and even though he does not put much volume out there, he is likely to hurt Rua if he lets his hands go. I do not have any sort of confidence in this fight but St. Preux by knockout is the official pick.

Michael Chandler vs Tony Ferguson
Chandler, -400; Ferguson, +300

Michael Chandler is coming off a decision loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 in November. It still blows my mind how that fight went the full distance and that is all credit to the heart of both these fighters. Chandler comes from a wrestling base but is a powerful striker as well with 10 of his 22 career victories coming by knockout including his last three wins. I expect him to have success with the leg kicks early and potential hurt Tony Ferguson in one of the early striking exchanges.

Ferguson is coming off a decision loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 262 last May. The fall from grace has been brutal for Ferguson as he was knocked out by Justin Gaethje after taking an absurd amount of damage at UFC 249 and then repeatedly got dominated in the wrestling and grappling against Charles Oliveira and Dariush. He will need to keep this fight on the feet and try to use his five-inch reach advantage.

I expect Chandler to close the distance and go to his wrestling early and often if he is unable to hurt Ferguson early on the feet. I think Ferguson is getting slept on a little here unless he is completely shot but I don’t think we are there yet. Chandler by decision is the official pick due to the potential to hurt Ferguson or wrestle him as the takedowns should be there repeatedly.

Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza
Namajunas, -220; Esparza, +180

Thug Rose Namajunas is coming off a title defense against Weili Zhang at UFC 268 when she won by split-decision. For my money, she is the best striker in this division as she is super technical and has so many weapons she can go to if needed. I expect her to have a clear striking advantage in this matchup over Carla Esparza, but she will need to keep the fight standing to take advantage.

Esparza is currently on a five-fight win streak and most recently won by TKO against Yan Xiaonan last May. The game plan of Esparza is clear as she will need to go to her wrestling and avoid getting stuck in a striking battle at range against Namajunas. She averages over 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and her wrestling was key in her victory against Namajunas back in 2014 on The Ultimate Fighter when she won by third-round submission.

Both fighters have obviously made massive improvements since they last fought but the wrestling advantage should still hold true, and I do expect Esparza to land multiple takedowns in this fight. Namajunas will likely be fishing for submissions off her back, and she is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the division. If a finish does materialize, then I expect it to come from the Namajunas side but if it goes the distance then I think it favors Esparza due to the wrestling as Namajunas gets easier to control as the fight goes on.

There is clear value on the underdog as Esparza is very likely to land multiple takedowns as Namajunas only defends at 51% and was taken down five times by Zhang in her last fight. It is just a matter of if Esparza can stay safe in the striking exchanges and avoid getting subbed on the mat. At her price on DraftKings, I’m willing to take that chance and I expect her to be one of the most popular underdogs on the entire slate. Esparza by decision is the official pick.

Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje
Oliveira, -165; Gaethje, +145

Charles Oliveira is coming off his first title defense against Dustin Poirier when he submitted him in the third round at UFC 269 in December. “Do Bronx” has the most submission victories in UFC history and is currently on a 10-fight win streak. We have always known about him being one of the most dangerous submission grapplers in the sport, but it has been the evolution of his striking that has really put the division on notice.

His opponent, Justin Gaethje is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport in his own right which makes this an excellent matchup to headline the PPV card. Gaethje is a knockout specialist with 19 of his 23 career wins coming by KO. He comes from a wrestling background but rarely uses it and will be trying to avoid going to the mat at all costs in this matchup.

I expect Gaethje to have success with his leg kicks and boxing combinations and potentially hurt Oliveira early in this fight. Oliveira has legitimate power himself but if he is going to war with Gaethje on the feet then he is going to lose that battle nine times out of 10. Oliveira’s biggest issue has always been his durability as he has been knocked out four times in his career and was also dropped by Poirier and Chandler. The most likely outcome to me is that Gaethje is able to keep it on the feet long enough to hurt Oliveira and knock him out. However, Oliveira could only need one shot to get it on the mat and could submit Gaethje in a flash.

Being that both fighter’s strengths play into each other’s weaknesses, I am expecting a finish one way or the other which makes this a must play on DraftKings. I will have exposure to both sides with a slight lean towards the underdog in Gaethje. Gaethje by knockout is the official pick.