We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 57 in Las Vegas. We have a fun 12-fight slate on DraftKings and what seems to be a very solid fight night card including an excellent main event between Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot. 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.

Jinh Yu Frey vs Vanessa Demopoulos
Frey, -250; Demopoulos, +210

Jinh Yu Frey is coming off a decision victory over Ashley Yoder last July. She is currently on a two-fight win streak with both wins coming by way of decision. She comes from a Muay Thai striking background but typically doesn’t throw in volume. But she will hold a six-inch reach advantage and historically has good takedown defense which is likely to be tested against Vanessa Demopoulos.

Demopoulos is coming off a first-round submission victory over Silvana Gomez Juarez in January which was her first win inside the UFC. She is primarily a grappler with four of her seven career wins coming by submission. But if she is unable to force the grappling exchanges, she is a punching bag on the feet. I expect Frey to be able to keep this fight standing where she should have a clear striking advantage. Frey by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings this week.

Mario Bautista vs Brian Kelleher
Bautista, -160; Kelleher, +140

Mario Bautista got back in the win column with a decision victory over Jay Perrin in February. He is a well-rounded fighter that will push a pace for 15 minutes. He throws in volume and will mix in a couple takedowns as well. The biggest issue with him is that he is very hittable on the feet and has been stopped in both of his professional losses.

His opponent, Brian Kelleher is coming off a first-round submission loss to Umar Nurmagomedov in March at UFC 272. Kelleher is a savvy veteran with strong boxing and dangerous submission grappling, mainly his guillotine choke which is his patented move. Historically speaking, he is not a great minute winner, but he has finished 18 of his 24 professional victories.

Bautista is going to try to put a pace on Kelleher, but I expect Kelleher to have success with his powerful counter hooks and possibly hurt Bautista on the feet. Additionally, if Bautista goes for takedowns, then Kelleher could put him in trouble on the mat as well. I will have some exposure to both sides as I expect this fight to score well on DraftKings. But I am siding with the finishing upside of Kelleher and am expecting him to get the job done. Kelleher by submission is the official pick.

JP Buys vs Cody Durden
Buys, -120; Durden, +100

JP Buys is coming off an absolute beat down at the hands of Montel Jackson in September of last year. He is 0-2 in the UFC and could be fighting for his job in this spot. Buys is very low output on the feet and it is clear that he needs to get the fight to the ground to have success. He is likely the better submission grappler in this matchup and five of his nine career wins have come by submission.

His opponent, Cody Durden is coming off a first-round submission loss to Muhammad Mokaev in March. Durden has now been submitted in the first round in two of his four UFC bouts. Durden trains out of American Top Team Atlanta and comes from a collegiate wrestling background and averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes. His biggest issue is his gas tank as he pushes a fast pace early and can almost never keep it up as he gasses badly in the third round if pushed that far.

I do expect Durden to have a slight striking advantage as he should be able to have success with leg kicks while Buys is the more dangerous boxer of the two but will need to close distance to realize that. Buys is the better submission grappler but only if he is able to get in favorable position as we have seen him neutralized on bottom multiple times. Because I expect Durden to have the wrestling edge, I think he will be the one having early success in this fight. Both fighters have cardio concerns, so it is tough to trust either guy, but I lean Durden to get his hand raised. Durden by TKO is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Sergey Morozov vs Raulian Paiva
Morozov, -135; Paiva, +115

Sergey Morozov is coming off what was one of the most exciting fights of this year against Douglas Silva De Andrade in February at UFC 271. He nearly finished the fight multiple times but gassed out badly in the second round and got dropped repeatedly before being submitted himself. Despite the loss, I still rate Morozov highly as a prospect as he is very skilled wherever the fight goes. He does not throw a ton of volume, but he is technically sound and does have some pop in his punches. Additionally, he averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes and is a capable submission grappler as well.

His opponent, Raulian Paiva is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Sean O’Malley at UFC 269 in December. Paiva is not a bum by any means, but I do believe I gave him more credit than he deserved early on in the UFC. A lot of his strengths at 125 lbs. are negated at the Bantamweight division and he seems like just another low-level guy. His takedown defense is solid at the first level but if you are able to chain takedown attempts together then you can get him down and control him. That’s what I expect Morozov to do here and because I expect the striking to be even on both sides, that is the difference maker here. Morozov by decision is the official pick.

TJ Brown vs Shayilan Nuerdanbieke
Brown, -205; Nuerdanbieke, +175

TJ Brown is coming off a decision victory over Charles Rosa in January and is now on a two-fight win streak. He landed six takedowns in that fight and was able to control Rosa for half of the entire fight. Brown is an aggressive wrestler that averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes and nine of his 16 career wins have come by submission. The glaring issue with Brown has always been his durability as he does not react well to getting hit and he has been finished in six of his eight career losses.

His opponent, Shayilan Nuerdanbieke is coming off a win over Sean Soriano in November. Nuerdanbieke is not someone that I rate very highly as he is very low output on the feet and basically does nothing but cage push and try to land some takedowns which likely will not be in play much in this matchup. I expect Brown to be winning every minute of this fight if he is able to avoid getting clipped on the feet. It is always risky trusting TJ Brown, but the matchup is very favorable, and this is his fight to lose. Brown by submission is the official pick.

Carlos Ulberg vs Tafon Nchukwi
Ulberg, -110; Nchukwi, -110

Carlos Ulberg is coming off a decision victory over Fabio Cherant in February at UFC 271. Ulberg is a technical kickboxer with legitimate knockout power, but he is still very inexperienced, and his gas tank is always a concern. He is notorious for starting fast and fading if he cannot find the early finish. Although we did see a more contained version of him against Cherant his last time out, so it is likely that they have been working on improving this throughout his training camps.

His opponent, Tafon Nchukwi is coming off a third-round knockout loss to Azamat Murzakanov in March. Nchukwi was clearly winning that fight before getting clipped with a flying knee that put him out.

Nchukwi is a technical kickboxer with real power himself as four of his six career wins have come by knockout. He tends to keep a high guard which should help him against Ulberg who likes to go head hunting at times. I expect the striking to be competitive, but Nchukwi should have more success in boxing range and I expect him to have the cardio edge as well. Nchukwi by decision is the official pick.

Chris Curtis vs Rodolfo Vieira
Curtis, -135; Vieira, +115

Chris Curtis has now stunned me twice with two straight knockout victories in the UFC, both of which came as a sizable underdog. He is currently on a seven-fight win streak with six of those coming by way of knockout. He is an experienced veteran with powerful striking and strong technique. However, he will need to keep this fight on the feet at all costs or he could be in a world of trouble.

His opponent, Rodolfo Vieira is coming off a third-round submission victory over Dustin Stoltzfus last July. Vieira comes from a world class submission grappling background and holds a black belt in BJJ. He is 8-1 professionally with seven of his eight wins coming by submission and he is arguably one of the most dangerous grapplers on the UFC roster. His biggest issues are that he is very hittable on the feet and is notorious for gassing badly when he gets extended in fights.

Both fighters have a real path to victory in that Curtis will need to keep the fight on the feet and withstand the early storm and he should be able to hurt Vieira at some point if that happens. However, Vieira has a strong chance to get this to the mat in round one and he is so good in the grappling realm that he may just need one takedown against Curtis. I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings but Vieira by submission is the official pick.

Umar Nurmagomedov vs Nate Maness
Nurmagomedov, -900; Maness, +625

Nurmagomedov is one of the most exciting prospects in MMA right now and honestly one of my favorite fighters on the roster. He is 14-0 and seven of his 14 wins have come by submission. But what makes him so dangerous is that it’s not just his Dagestan wrestling style, but his high-level striking as well. He just has so many ways to beat you and I believe he will eventually compete for a title in this division.

His opponent, Nate Maness is coming off a second-round knockout victory over Tony Gravely last September. He fought through some adversity in the first round and credit to him for his toughness for getting through it. He is now on a four-fight win streak with three of those four wins coming inside the distance. But he has been fortunate in that most people thought he lost to Johnny Munoz and he was nearly finished in that Gravely fight.

Now he will face Nurmagomedov who is legitimately better than him in every area of martial arts. If Maness somehow pulls this one off and burns me again then I will eat my own sock. Nurmagomedov by submission is the official pick.

Thiago Moises vs Christos Giagos
Moises, -255; Giagos, +215

Thiago Moises is currently on a two-fight losing streak, but those losses came against Islam Makhachev and Joel Alvarez. Moises comes from a grappling background and holds a black belt in BJJ. He is low volume on the feet, but his striking has come a long way over the last couple years. Despite the grappling credentials, he is not aggressive in getting the fight to the ground and only averages one takedown per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Christos Giagos is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Arman Tsarukyan last September. Giagos is a low volume striker and typically looks to mix in takedowns as he averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes. The problem for him in this matchup is that if he goes for takedowns then he is liable to get submitted by Moises. And on the feet, he does not throw enough volume to consistently win minutes and Moises is historically durable so I doubt he can knock him out either. Moises by decision is the official pick.

Alan Baudot vs Josh Parisian
Baudot, -115; Parisian, -105

Alan Baudot is coming off a decision loss to Parker Porter his last time out in February. He is 0-3 in the UFC and is likely fighting for his job in this fight. Baudot is a very low-level prospect and coming into the UFC, it was clear that he did not belong. However, he did look to be improved his last fight against Porter where he was able to push a hard 15 striking pace and even won the third round. I do not want to overrate him too much based on one performance, especially being a loss but it was at least encouraging.

His opponent, Josh Parisian is coming off a third-round knockout loss to Don’Tale Mayes in December. Parisian is a low-level prospect as well and is very similar to Baudot stylistically. Neither fighter will look to grapple, and I expect this fight to play out on the feet until someone gets hurt. I expect this to be very sloppy where either guy can win by knockout but I trust Parisian’s durability a bit more so I will side with him. Parisian by knockout is the official pick but this fight has a wide range of outcomes for DraftKings.

Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Neil Magny
Rakhmonov, -390; Magny, +320

Shavkat Rakhmonov is a surging prospect in the Welterweight division. He is 3-0 inside the octagon with three straight finishes and is sporting a 15-0 undefeated record with all 15 wins coming inside the distance. He is a dangerous finisher with legitimate knockout power on the feet but also has some tight chokes in his arsenal with seven submission victories. The only real concern with Rakhmonov is that we have not seen /+his cardio tested over a full 15 minutes.

His opponent, Neil Magny is coming off a split-decision victory over Max Griffin in March. He is currently on a two-fight win streak and has won five of his last six fights since getting knocked out by Santiago Ponzinibbio in 2018. Magny is a savvy veteran that can fight behind his educated jab and will mix things up in the grappling realm as well. He averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a brown belt in BJJ.

This is clearly the toughest test yet for Rakhmonov as Magny is a tough guy to get out of there and can make this a competitive fight if he can last 15 minutes. The issue is that I am not fully confident that he can do that at this stage in his career as he is turning 35 years old, and he has not looked great against fighters with a clear athleticism advantage recently. Rakhmonov by knockout is the official pick but you’re paying for his upside at this price.

Arman Tsarukyan vs Mateusz Gamrot
Tsarukyan, -295; Gamrot, +245

Arman Tsarukyan is coming off a second-round knockout over Joel Alvarez in February. He is 18-2 professionally with one of those being his UFC debut against Islam Makhachev where he gave a strong account of himself on short notice against the division’s best. He has all the tools to be a contender in this division as he is a very explosive athlete with legitimate knockout power and a smothering ground game as well. He averages right around 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has great cardio to keep up that pace so I have no concerns about him potentially going 25 minutes here.

His opponent, Mateusz Gamrot is coming off a second-round KO victory over Diego Ferreira in December. He sports a 20-1 professional record with his only career loss being the controversial split decision loss to Kuram Gutateladze in his UFC debut back in 2020. Gamrot is a high-level opponent and difficult matchup for anyone in this division. He has knockout power himself with seven KO victories on his record, but it is the high-level wrestling that is his best weapon as he averages just under six takedowns per 15 minutes.

This is an interesting matchup as both guys have a lot of the same tools, but I do side with Tsarukyan as having a clear speed advantage in this fight. Additionally, he is very difficult to hold down and control so even if Gamrot can land a few takedowns, I doubt he does much with them. The price is steep, but Tsarukyan should get his hand raised. Tsarukyan by TKO is the official pick and this is another good fight to target on DraftKings and will come with heavy ownership as most main events do.