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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 62 in Las Vegas! We have a fun 12-fight slate on DraftKings which is always nice after a week off to reset. 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.

Pete Rodriguez vs Mike Jackson
Rodriguez, -675; Jackson, +500

Pete Rodriguez is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Jack Della Maddalena in his UFC debut at UFC 270 in January. He is a 4-1 prospect fighting out of Arizona and is very green in terms of professional experience. Of his five fights, none of them have reached the second round as all of his wins have come by first-round knockout against low level competition. That being said, he is extremely powerful and throws with everything he has trying to connect and get you out of there early. I have some concerns with his cardio and overall skillset but only against middling level or better fighters. Fortunately, Mike Jackson is bottom level which makes this a great matchup for him.

Jackson is coming off a disqualification victory over Dean Barry in April in what was an embarrassing fight for the UFC to be honest. Jackson is a former photographer turned MMA fighter that has only got an opportunity in the UFC due to his friendship with UFC matchmaker, Mick Maynard. Simply put, the guy does not belong at this level. He is severely outmatched in terms of power on the feet, and he was getting stung repeatedly by Barry before managing to get the DQ victory. At 37 years old, he is not getting any better.

I expect Rodriguez to connect clean at some point in the first round and Jackson’s durability will not be able to handle the power of Rodriguez. Rodriguez by knockout in round one is the official pick, and he is a strong play on DraftKings with a real chance at the first minute win bonus.

Tatsuro Taira vs CJ Vergara
Taira, -230; Vergara, +195

Tatsuro Taira is coming off an impressive UFC debut in May as he earned a unanimous decision victory over Carlos Candelario. Taira is an undefeated prospect fighting out of Japan. He sports an 11-0 professional record with five wins coming by submission. On the feet, his striking defense still needs some work, but he has very nasty leg kicks and does carry real power in his punches for the Flyweight division. He is a very slick grappler with a strong back take and will threaten with submissions or ground and pound when he finds himself in dominant position.

His opponent, CJ Vergara is coming off an upset victory against Dana White’s Contender Series standout, Kleydson Rodrigues at UFC 274 in May. Vergara is a punching bag on the feet, but he moves forward aggressively and throws in volume as he tries to break his opponents that way. His best skillset is his cardio as he will maintain a heavy pressure pace and typically comes on strong late in the fight. The problem in this matchup is that I’m not convinced he can win this fight with cardio alone as he will be outclassed in the grappling and will eat a lot of punches and heavy leg kicks on the feet.

I am not as convinced as the rest of the world seems to be in that Taira is a superstar prospect. However, he should have multiple advantages in this matchup and as long as he does not gas badly in the third round then he gets his hand raised. Taira by decision is the official pick.

Piera Rodriguez vs Sam Hughes
Rodriguez, -170; Hughes, +145

Piera Rodriguez is coming off a decision victory over Kay Hansen in her UFC debut at UFC 273 in April. She is a former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner and sports an 8-0 undefeated professional record. I bet on Rodriguez against Hansen, but it was more of a fade of Hansen than it was me thinking Rodriguez is some great talent. She seems to have power in her hands and some heavy leg kicks as well, but she does not throw in high volume or push a pace and seems to slow down when forced to fight a full 15 minutes. She will look to mix in the takedowns as well as she landed three on Contender Series and three against Hansen as well.

Her opponent, Sam Hughes is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Elise Reed in May. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak after dropping three straight in the UFC. It is clear she is still making some improvements and has relied on her wrestling recently landing six takedowns over her last two fights. She is a bit of a punching bag on the feet, and I expect her to eat some shots here, but she is aggressive in moving forward and has great cardio as well.

This should be a competitive fight as Rodriguez should have a striking advantage on the feet and either fighter is capable of landing takedowns. However, the cardio dynamic should favor Hughes and I expect her to come on strong late in the fight. This could very well come down to whichever fighter ends in dominant position at the end, but it can go either way. In that situation, you clearly want the +150 as opposed to laying the juice on the favorite. I think there are better fights to target on this slate, but I will likely have a little exposure to both sides on DraftKings.

Victor Henry vs Raphael Assuncao
Henry, -330; Assuncao, +275

Victor Henry is coming off an impressive upset victory in his UFC debut in January over Raoni Barcelos. Henry was a big underdog in that spot and looked excellent as he pushed a high pace and landed over 180 significant strikes across 15 minutes. Henry also has eight submission victories and is very durable as he has never been finished across 27 professional fights.

His opponent, Raphael Assuncao is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Ricky Simon in December. He has now lost four straight bouts and has been finished in three of them. At 40 years old, it might be tent time for Assuncao as it is clear his best days are behind him and now the durability is becoming a huge concern. Even if his durability holds up, he has never been a high-volume striker and will struggle to match the pace of Henry.

This is Henry’s fight to lose as Assuncao cannot keep pace with him and does not have the durability to get into a firefight. Henry by decision is the official pick.

Nick Maximov vs Jacob Malkoun
Maximov, -140; Malkoun, +120

Nick Maximov suffered his first professional loss as he was submitted by Andre Petroski in the first round back in May. He was the biggest favorite on the card in that spot so naturally it was a disappointment for the Stockton prospect. That being said, I still consider him a dangerous submission grappler with three of his eight wins coming by submission. But it is his wrestling as well as he will look for that single leg takedown repeatedly and averages over 5.5 takedowns per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Jacob Malkoun is coming off a decision loss to Brendan Allen his last time out in June. Malkoun is looking to do much of the same when it comes to the grappling as he likes to get in close and stick to his opponents like glue. He also averages just under seven takedowns per 15 minutes although he is not much of a threat to finish as he is looking to bank control time and grind out a decision for the most part. The problem with that gameplan in this fight is that he is facing a better wrestler and submission grappler and I expect Maximov to outscramble him on the mat.

I expect this to be a heavy grappling fight and am willing to back the better grappler in Maximov despite his last loss. Maximov by decision is the official pick and this is a solid fight to target on DraftKings as either fighter could land multiple takedowns in a victory.

Mana Martinez vs Brandon Davis
Martinez, -155; Davis, +135

Mana Martinez is coming off a decision loss to Ronnie Lawrence in February. That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for him and was just the third time in his career that he fought a full 15 minutes. He is primarily a power striker with eight of his nine wins coming by knockout. When you force him to grapple is when he starts to fatigue and he cannot defend takedowns well either.

His opponent, Brandon Davis is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Danaa Batgerel last October. This is his second stint in the UFC after a four-fight win streak on the regional scene. Davis should have a clear grappling advantage, but he rarely looks to grapple and averages less than one takedown per 15 minutes. He will throw in volume on the feet but is pretty hittable and the knockout loss was not a good look as he was previously though to be very durable, so it is possible all the years are catching up to him.

This seems like a favorable matchup for Martinez as he will get a striking fight that he wants. Martinez will have a clear power advantage and will be landing the more impactful shots in exchanges along with having nearly all the finishing upside as well. Martinez by knockout is the official pick.

Alonzo Menifield vs Misha Cirkunov
Menifield, -205; Cirkunov, +175

Alonzo Menifield is coming off a first-round knockout victory over the infamous Askar Mozharov in June. Menifield is one of the more frustrating fighters to me as his fight IQ is just not there. He has obvious power and nine of his 12 career wins have come by knockout, but he tends to gas out seven minutes into the fight. Additionally, he basically invites people to clinch with him despite not being a good grappler and it just tires him out even faster.

His opponent, Misha Cirkunov is coming off a second-round submission loss to Wellington Turman in February. He is currently on a three-fight losing streak and was finished in two of them. Cirkunov is a dangerous submission grappler with eight of his 15 wins coming by submission. However, his durability is always a concern as he has been knocked out four times in his career and has been finished in seven of his eight losses.

This is an interesting dynamic as Menifield has clear knockout upside in this matchup, but it is always tough to trust if he will be aggressive and let his hands go. On the flip side, if Menifield invites the clinch and gets involved in the grappling then Cirkunov could certainly wrap something up on the mat. This makes it a good fight to target on DraftKings as I am expecting the winner to finish and score well. I will look to be overweight to the field on this fight with a moderate lean to Menifield. Menifield by knockout is the official pick.

Joanderson Brito vs Lucas Alexander
Brito, -335; Alexander, +275

Joanderson Brito is coming off an impressive first-round knockout victory over Andre Fili in April. He is a former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner and represents the Chute Boxe team in Brazil. He is a very explosive fighter with big power in his hands and a capable ground game as well. His cardio does slow down over time as he is a big energy fighter, so it makes sense but not a massive issue like some of the other fighters that we are accustomed to.

His opponent, Lucas Alexander is stepping in on short notice to make his UFC debut. Alexander is a 7-2 prospect fighting out of Brazil as well. He is currently on a five-fight win streak but most of those came against low level competition and he will be at a sizable disadvantage in terms of the skillset matchup with Brito. He has also been submitted in both of his professional losses and can be taken down by competent wrestlers like Brito.

Brito has this guy covered wherever the fight goes. If he decides to slug it out on the feet with him then it adds some variance, but I still favor the power of Brito. But the easiest path to victory would be to initiate the grappling as Brito should be able to land takedowns and potentially threaten with a submission on the ground. Brito by submission is the official pick.

Dusko Todorovic vs Jordan Wright
Todorovic, -205; Wright, +175

Dusko Todorovic is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Chidi Njokuani in May. Since winning his UFC debut against Dequan Townsend back in 2020, he has now dropped three of his last four fights and was knocked out in two of those losses. Todorovic has never been a prospect that I rated highly as he is basically a one-dimensional boxer. His defense relies heavily on his head movement which never makes you feel comfortable at these bigger weight classes. He is capable of fence stalling and controlling his opponents in the clinch but rarely does much damage in those exchanges.

His opponent, Jordan Wright is coming off a first-round submission loss to Marc-Andre Barriault in April. The Beverly hills ninja is now on a two-fight losing streak and will look to get back in the win column this weekend. Wright has a narrow path to victory in that he only knows one speed – fast. But we could at least count on him to go for it as he can swarm Todorovic and potentially land something big to test his chin. Wright is also a good grappler for this division and has the potential to look for takedowns if he gets hurt on the feet as well. The main concerns with Wright are his cardio as he is not looking to fight extended minutes. But also, his wrecklessness as he leaves himself wide open for counters especially when brawling in the pocket.

Todorovic has more paths to victory and is the rightful favorite, but I still feel you would be nuts to lay the juice with him in this spot. Todorovic by knockout is the most likely outcome here but not by as much as these odds indicate so I’ll be rooting for the Wright knockout and have more exposure to the underdog on DraftKings.

Askar Askarov vs Brandon Royval
Askarov, -240; Royval, +200

Askar Askarov is coming off a decision loss to Kai Kara-France in March. That was his first professional loss if you ignore the draw against Moreno that should have been another L. Askarov is a very competent fighter with strong wrestling skills and good grappling. However, his striking is very one-dimensional, and his striking defense and durability are concerns for me moving forward. He does not throw in volume either, so he has to close distance and control you with his wrestling.

His opponent, Brandon Royval is coming off a first-round submission victory over Matt Schnell at UFC 274 in May. Royval always pushes a high pace and will throw everything and the kitchen sink at his opponents which naturally adds a lot of variances to his fights. He is a dangerous submission grappling threat as well which is worrisome if backing Askarov considering he will be taking this fight to the ground. Royval should also have a clear cardio edge if this reaches the final round.

I expect this to be a competitive fight as Askarov likely lands multiple takedowns here. But I do not trust him to win the striking exchanges or the scrambles on the mat and Royval is always live for a submission. It is possible Askarov lays and prays to a boring decision but there is clear value on the underdog in Royval who is my favorite underdog on the entire slate. Royval by submission is the official pick.

Jonathan Martinez vs Cub Swanson
Martinez, -205; Swanson, +175

Jonathan Martinez is coming off a decision victory over Vince Morales in May. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak with all three wins coming by way of decision. Martinez is primarily a striker with devastating leg kicks that he will throw relentlessly on repeat. He manages distance well and his kicks make it difficult for his opponents to close distance on him. He generally plays it safe especially when he is likely winning the first two rounds but has been knocked down four times in the UFC, so the durability is a little suspect.

His opponent, Cub Swanson is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Darren Elkins in December. At nearly 39 years old, Swanson’s striking skills are still sharp with two knockout wins over his last three fights. His durability has never been great and is not getting any better pushing 40 years old, and he has been finished in 9 of his 12 career losses. Now he is coming down to 135 lbs. from 145 lbs. which seems like a red flag at this stage in his career.

I expect the striking to be competitive and think Swanson is the better pure boxer of the two if he can close distance. But that is easier said than done against Martinez that will have success with the kicking attack and is the natural 135 lb. fighter. Martinez by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Alexa Grasso vs Viviane Araujo
Grasso, -215; Araujo, +185

Alexa Grasso headlines the main event as a sizable favorite against Viviane Araujo this weekend. Grasso is coming off her first career submission victory as she defeated Joanne Wood inside the first round. Grasso is a high-volume striker with good boxing and solid footwork. She averages just under five significant strikes per minute and will push a high pace for all five rounds if needed.

Her opponent, Viviane Araujo is coming off an impressive decision victory over Andrea Lee in May. Her striking has never been great, but she does have some power and will mix in the wrestling as well as she averages 2.23 takedowns per 15 minutes. The biggest issue for Araujo has always been her gas tank as she tends to fade in three round fights, and this has the potential to go 25 minutes which is a major concern.

This should be a competitive fight and if it were only three rounds then I would be siding with the underdog here. But based on what should be a massive cardio edge in the championship rounds, the most likely outcome is Grasso pulls away late in the fight. Grasso by decision is the official pick but a finish would not surprise me either.