fbpx

We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Austin in Texas. We have a fun 14-fight slate on DraftKings and many fights that could end up being some fan favorite bangers. It also helps that on DraftKings we have another $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.

Kyle Daukaus vs Roman Dolidze
Daukaus, -235; Dolidze, +190

Kyle Daukaus is coming off a first-round submission over Jamie Pickett in February. Daukaus is a promising young prospect with a well-rounded skillset. His striking is solid despite not throwing much volume and he holds a black belt in BJJ. It is clear that he is at his best when he is on the mat, and he averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and nine of his 11 career victories have come by submission.

His opponent, Roman Dolidze is coming off a decision victory against Laureano Starapoli last June. He is 3-1 in the UFC, but the level of competition has been lacking and this is a clear step up for him. Dolidze is basically a lesser version of Daukaus in every area. He is a powerful striker but throws very low volume. He is aggressive at going to for submissions but will be at a clear grappling disadvantage against Daukaus as well. Lastly, his cardio is always a concern as he tends to slow down in fights even when not pushing a high pace.

Daukaus has him covered in every area and is one of the safer picks on the board this week. Daukaus by decision is the official pick but a finish wouldn’t surprise me either, especially is Dolidze gasses out again.

Phil Hawes vs Deron Winn
Hawes, -255; Winn, +205

Hawes is coming off a decision victory over Kyle Daukaus in May of last year. He is now 11-2 professionally and currently on a seven-fight win streak. Hawes comes from a collegiate wrestling background and has big time power in his hands with seven knockouts on his record, the majority of which are inside the first round. The problem with Hawes has always been his gas tank as he is notorious for slowing down when the fight gets outside of the first round. His cardio did look much better against Daukaus in his last fight, but it is still something to note moving forward. 

Winn is coming off a decision victory against Antonio Arroyo in December. Winn also comes from a high-level wrestling background and averages just under five takedowns per 15 minutes. The big concern with Winn is two-fold for me. For starters, he is going to be undersized as always and Hawes is very physically strong and has never been taken down before.

I expect Hawes to be the one landing takedowns if he desires. The second concern is that when both fighters know their opponent can wrestle, it sometimes turns into a boxing match and in that scenario, I strongly favor Hawes. He is going to be much bigger, longer and powerful along with being the better striker in general and he likely knocks him out. Hawes by knockout is the official pick and this is a good fight to target as the winner should score well on DraftKings. 

Cody Stamann vs Eddie Wineland
Stamann, -525; Wineland, +385

Cody Stamann is coming off a first-round submission loss to Said Nurmagomedov in January at UFC 270. He is currently on a three-fight losing streak but the level of competition has been strong so we cannot fault him too much. He comes from a collegiate wrestling background and averages 2.78 takedowns per 15 minutes. But he also has technical boxing and excellent cardio to be able to push a hard pace for 15 minutes if needed.

His opponent, Eddie Wineland is coming off a first-round knockout loss to John Castaneda in January. He turns 38 years old in just a few weeks and has now lost four of his last five fights, including his last two by knockout. Needless to say, it isn’t looking good for Wineland and this is a difficult stylistic matchup for him as well.

Wineland has great takedown defense historically because he fights with his hands low but I expect Stamann to have success with his jab even giving up the five inches in reach. Stamann is not much of a knockout threat so the durability concern of Wineland is somewhat negated here. But I do think Stamann will be able to mix in takedowns if he chain wrestles like I expect him to. Stamann by decision is the official pick but he does not have a ton of upside on DraftKings this week being that he is the most expensive fighter on the slate.

Gloria De Paula vs Maria Oliveira
De Paula, -265; Oliveira, +215

Gloria De Paula notched her first UFC victory with a decision win over Diana Belbita in February. She is a powerful boxer with fast hands but still needs to improve her takedown defense and defensive grappling. She should have the speed and technique advantage in this matchup, but I doubt she blows her out in any round.

Her opponent, Maria Oliveira is coming off a decision loss to Tabatha Ricci where she was taken down five times and mostly dominated throughout. I do not believe she belongs in the UFC as it was clearly a showcase fight for Ricci and Oliveira was coming off fighting someone making their pro debut on the regional scene. That being said, she is primarily a striker and should be competitive throughout. She struggles to defend takedowns, but De Paula rarely goes for them, so I expect this to play out mostly on the feet.

De Paula by decision is the official pick but I have no interest in this fight on such a big slate with 28 fighters to choose from.

Ricardo Ramos vs Danny Chavez
Ramos, -300; Chavez, +235

Ricardo Ramos is coming off a decision loss to Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 267 in October. He is long and rangy for the division, with technical striking and strong submission grappling skills. However, historically speaking, he has been untrustworthy in terms of his fight IQ, cardio and durability. He tends to slow down in fights and has been knocked out twice inside the first round.

His opponent, Danny Chavez is coming off a majority draw against Kai Kamaka last July. I like taking the shot on Chavez as a sizable underdog in this matchup. Aside from giving up five inches in reach, this actually sets up well for him. Historically, he is very durable and has excellent takedown defense which will help him keep this one on the feet. He also has nasty leg kicks, and his low volume is negated as Ramos does not keep a high striking pace either.

It is somewhat difficult to know what to expect from Ramos on a fight-by-fight basis and seeing him as this big of a favorite against a solid opponent is concerning. I expect Chavez to have success with his kicking attack early and often and this fight should play out closer than the odds suggest. Chavez by decision is the official pick and a head kick knockout is not out of the question either.

Court McGee vs Jeremiah Wells
McGee, -120; Wells, +100

Court McGee is coming off a dominant performance over Ramiz Brahimaj in January and is currently on a two-fight win streak. He is a savvy veteran who is very well-rounded wherever the fight goes. He is a technical boxer that will throw in volume, and he showed off his wrestling in his last fight against Brahimaj landing five takedowns against him. Historically, McGee is very durable but at nearly 38 years old, I would not be surprised if that were to change. He has only been knocked out once in his career back in 2016 but has been knocked down and hurt multiple times over his last few fights.

His opponent, Jeremiah Wells is coming off a first-round submission victory over Blood Diamond in his last fight and is now 2-0 in the UFC with two straight finishes. Wells is an exciting prospect training out of Renzo Gracie in Philadelphia with guys like Sean Brady and Pat Sabatini. He is not technical on the feet, but he makes up for it with explosive athleticism which was evidenced in his UFC debut against Warlley Alves.

Wells is liable to hurt McGee on the feet, but it is also possible he can land takedowns and bank some control time as well. McGee has never been submitted in his career and was able to work back to his feet against Brady, but it could be a different story with Wells on top of you as he is more aggressive in chasing the finish. I disagree with the big line movement in favor of McGee this week and I will be backing Wells aggressively in all markets including on DraftKings. Wells by TKO is the official pick.

Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Natalia Silva
Jasudavicius, -250; Silva, +200

Jasmine Jasudavicius is coming off a decision win over Kay Hansen in her UFC debut in January. She is a former Dana White Contender Series winner from last season and trains out of Niagara Top Team in Canada. She is long and rangy and solid wherever the fight goes but especially in the clinch and when she can get her wrestling going.

Her opponent, Natalia Silva is making her UFC debut in this matchup. She is an aggressive fighter that will throw in volume but lacks defense. She is also aggressive in throwing up submissions on her back and six of her seven submission victories have come by armbar. The level of competition is a concern, and this is a step up for her from her most recent fights. Not to mention we haven’t seen her perform in the last two and a half years so there is a bit more variance with this fight.

I expect the striking to be competitive, but it should be Jasudavicius having success in the clinch and being able to land a takedown or two. She will need to avoid the armbar but should stay safe as she has never been submitted in her career. Jasudavicius by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on this slate.

Adrian Yanez vs Tony Kelley
Yanez, -350; Kelly, +270

Adrian Yanez is fresh off a split-decision victory over Davey Grant in November. He is currently on an eight-fight win streak and 4-0 in the UFC. He is a technical striker with fast hands and good counter striking. Nine of his 15 career wins have come by knockout, and he holds a blackbelt in BJJ as well.

His opponent, Tony Kelley is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Randy Costa at UFC 269 in December. He is currently on a two-fight win streak after losing his UFC debut to Kai Kamaka. Kelley is a high-volume striker and a decent grappler as well. But much like Yanez, he rarely looks to offensively grapple so I expect this to be a striking match. Both fighters will likely have their moments and I do think Kelley will be more competitive than the odds suggest. Regardless, he should do enough to get his hand raised as his counterstriking should be the difference as Kelley is there to be hit a bit more than Yanez. Yanez by decision is the official pick.

Gregory Rodrigues vs Julian Marquez
Rodrigues, -190; Marquez, +160

Gregory Rodrigues is coming off a split-decision loss to Armen Petrosyan in February which snapped a two-fight win streak for him. Rodrigues is a powerful striker that will throw in volume and can mix in the grappling as well as he averages over 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. Nine of his 11 career wins have come inside the distance and that is credit to his finishing ability both standing and on the mat.

His opponent, Julian Marquez is coming off a second-round submission victory over Sam Alvey in January. Marquez is not a very good minute winner due to his low volume style, but he is a dangerous finisher with all nine of his career wins coming inside the distance. Both times, he went to decision he lost and was likely going to lose another decision to Maki Pitolo before submitting him in the third round.

Marquez is a live underdog in the sense that you can never count him out as he is powerful enough to knock you out on the feet and submit you on the mat. However, Rodrigues is both powerful and a credentialed grappler himself so unless he gets clipped clean on the feet, he should be able to get his hand raised. Rodrigues by decision is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Damir Ismagulov vs Guram Kutateladze
Ismagulov, -160; Kutateladze, +140

Damir Ismagulov is coming off a decision win over Rafael Alves in May of last year. People were chirping that this guy was a possible future contender in the division but after seeing him against Alves, it is clear that he was being overrated by the market. He is a very technical striker who will fight behind his jab and is typically good about limiting the damage coming back at him. He can mix in the wrestling as well as he averages 1.75 takedowns per 15 minutes, although he should look to do so more.

His opponent, Guram Kutateladze is coming off a split-decision win over Mateusz Gamrot in his UFC debut in October of 2020. After starting his professional career just 3-2, he has rattled off nine straight victories. He is a technical striker that comes from a high-level kickboxing background and seven of his 12 career wins have come by knockout. Despite impressing in his UFC debut, I still have concerns about his minute winning ability against fighters who can push a pace and mix in the grappling similar to how Gamrot was able to. For what it’s worth, Kutateladze admitted he thought he lost the fight, as did I.

The hardest thing for me with this fight is knowing what type of gameplan Ismagulov will implement in this matchup. I believe if he makes wrestling and grappling a priority then he should cover this price tag and get his hand raised. But I also do not fully trust him to do so as he is a very good striker and has been content to strike with everyone even if it is not the path of least resistance. I am still siding with him though as he has the upside to look like a big favorite here, but I will have some exposure to Kutateladze as well on DraftKings.

Albert Duraev vs Joaquin Buckley
Duraev, -210; Buckley, +175

Albert Duraev notched a win over Roman Kopylov in his UFC debut last October at UFC 267. I was in the arena for that fight, and I remember thinking Duraev is not impressive whatsoever. After rewatching the fight, it confirmed my original opinion of the fight. Duraev came over to the UFC with a ton of hype and followed it up with a win on Dana White’s Contender Series, but it is clear to me that there are holes in his game that will be exposed as he faces better competition.

For starters, his wrestling did not seem as good as it did against the low-level regional talent that he faced previously. He landed just one of nine takedowns on Kopylov but did show off some impressive ground and pound and control once he finally got it to the ground. But overall, it was a sloppy performance as he is there to be hit on the feet and his takedown entries leave him vulnerable to be countered as well. Lastly, his cardio seems to be a concern as he clearly slowed down in that fight and was completely gassed in round three so that is worth noting moving forward.

His opponent, Joaquin Buckley is coming off a split-decision victory over Abdul Razak Alhassan in February and is currently on a two-fight win streak. Buckley is mostly known for his viral knockout over Impa Kasaganay in October of 2020.

It is clear he has the power to knockout anyone and 10 of his 14 career wins have come by knockout. But outside of the striking power, there is not much to love about his skillset. He does not push a huge pace and if he cannot knock you out then he does not have much to fall back on. He has also been knocked out three times in his career, so the durability is a concern as well. Lastly, he struggles to defend takedowns at just 40% in the UFC which is the most concerning to me in this matchup as Duraev will cruise if the takedowns come easy. This is a high variance fight so I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings, but I have to side with Duraev as it seems clear that he will be able to land takedowns and get in favorable positions on the mat. Duraev by TKO is the official pick.

Kevin Holland vs Tim Means
Holland, -260; Means, +210

Kevin Holland got back in the win column with a second-round knockout victory over Alex Oliveira in March. At this point, you know exactly what to expect from Holland as he is long and rangy and has excellent striking. His speed and counter striking typically give him an advantage over his opponents and that should be clear in this matchup as well. Not to mention, he will hold a six-inch reach advantage over Tim Means which will play into his benefit as he is great at managing distance.

Means is coming off a decision victory over Nicolas Dalby last June and is currently on a three-fight win streak. At 38 years old, it is clear that the ‘Dirty Bird’ has lost a step since the glory days and that is a major problem against someone as fast as Holland. Holland’s biggest weakness is that he can be taken down and controlled on the mat. Means has the ability to do that but historically only averages less than one takedown per 15 minutes so we cannot trust him to implement a wrestle heavy game plan here. For that reason, I expect this to be a striking match and one that favors Holland in nearly every area including durability. Holland by knockout is the official pick and he is a solid spend-up option on DraftKings on a slate where the expensive range is dicey.

Donald Cerrone vs Joe Lauzon
Cerrone, -165; Lauzon, +1
45

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.

Calvin Kattar vs Josh Emmett
Kattar, -235; Emmett, +190

What a main event we have this week for a fight night card as this is likely the number one contender fight at 145 lbs. Calvin Kattar came through as a sizable underdog his last time out against Giga Chikadze and won by decision in very impressive fashion. Kattar beat Chikadze at his own game with his striking but also showed off a little wrestling as well landing two takedowns in that fight which showed some high fight IQ considering the matchup. Kattar is a high-volume striker and for my money, the second-best boxer in the division behind Max Holloway. He is historically very durable and maintains distance very well with one of the best jabs in the UFC.

His opponent, Josh Emmett is coming off a decision victory over Dan Ige his last time out at UFC 269 in December. Emmett is currently on a four-fight win streak with his last loss being the brutal knockout at the hands of Jeremy Stephens in 2018. The biggest thing you have to watch out for against Emmett is his powerful right hand. He is arguably the hardest hitter in this division and three of his last five wins have all come by knockout.

The problem for Emmett is that Kattar is one of the most durable guys in the division and has never been knocked out in his career, even after eating over 400 strikes from Holloway. So unless we think Kattar’s durability has fell off a bit, which we have no reason to believe it, it is hard to see how Emmett wins this fight. Kattar is much bigger and will hold a two-inch reach advantage to go along with the nonstop volume and technical striking. I expect Kattar to get hit hard at times in this fight but as long as he powers through that then he will get his hand raised in this matchup. Kattar by decision is the official pick and he is a strong play on DraftKings due to the potential for a finish along with the high volume if it does five rounds.