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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 280 at Fight Island! We have a fun 13-fight slate on DraftKings and potentially the greatest UFC card of the entire year. It also helps that on DraftKings we have another $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.

Karol Rosa vs Lina Lansberg
Rosa, -255; Lansberg, +215

Karol Rosa is coming off a decision loss to Sara McMann in March. That loss snapped a six-fight win streak for her and she will look to rebound this weekend in what should be a favorable matchup. Rosa is a high-volume striker and averages over 6.5 significant strikes per minute which is one of the highest marks in the entire division. Her biggest weakness is her defensive grappling as she can be taken down and controlled which was exposed by McMann in that last fight.

Her opponent, Lina Lansberg is coming off a decision loss to Pannie Kianzad in April. She is 10-6 as a professional and is 40 years old. What are we really doing here? Lansberg has nothing for her Rosa outside of some powerful elbows and that will not be enough in this matchup. She will not be able to keep up with the volume of Rosa and does not have good enough grappling to take her down and control her which means she does not have much of a path to victory. Rosa by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Muhammad Mokaev vs Malcolm Gordon
Mokaev, -730; Gordon, +530

The 22-year-old stud prospect, Muhammad Mokaev is coming off a dominant victory over Charles Johnson in July. He is 8-0 with five of his eight career wins coming inside the distance. His striking seems to be a work in progress, but he is not going to waste any time getting this to the mat. He has landed 14 takedowns in less than 20 minutes of cage time and has strong grappling from top position.

His opponent, Malcolm Gordon is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Denys Bondar in February. Despite the two-fight win streak, I do not rate Gordon very highly, especially not in this matchup. Gordon has massive durability concerns as he has been knocked out in four of his five professional losses. He does hold a black belt in BJJ, but he can be taken down and out grappled which was shown in the Amir Albazi fight as he was submitted inside the first round.

I expect Mokaev to get this fight to the ground where he should have a significant advantage. He can rinse and repeat takedowns before finding the finish on the mat. Mokaev by submission is the official pick and he is a great target on DraftKings.

 Armen Petrosyan vs AJ Dobson
Petrosyan, -205; Dobson, +175

Armen Petrosyan is coming off a decision loss to Caio Borralho in July. He is 7-2 professionally with six of his seven wins coming by knockout. He comes from a high-level kickboxing background and wants to keep the fight in the striking realm. He can give up takedowns but works back to his feet repeatedly and will carry his power for all three rounds.

His opponent, AJ Dobson is coming off a decision loss to Jacob Malkoun at UFC 271 in February. Dobson is also a Dana White Contender Series product and is primarily a round one or bust style of fighter. Of his six professional victories, five have come inside the first round. He is very explosive on the feet and can mix in takedowns as well, but he is still more of a striker and I expect this to be standing.

This is a high variance matchup as both fighters have power and are historically good finishers. However, Petrosyan is the more technical striker and I expect him to have the cardio edge as well if the fight does get extended. I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings, but the official pick is Petrosyan by knockout.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs Gadzhi Omargadzhiev
Nurmagomedov, -175; Omargadzhiev, +150

Abubakar Nurmagomedov is coming off an 18-month layoff as we last saw him in March of 2021 at UFC 260 when he won a decision over Jared Gooden.  He formerly fought over in PFL and made his UFC debut against David Zawada back in 2019 and was submitted inside the first round. He is a solid striker but does not put a ton of volume out there and will mix in the takedowns as well but not overly aggressive with taking it to the mat.

His opponent, Gadzhi Omargadzhiev is coming off a decision loss to Caio Borralho in April. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series and is primarily a finisher and will look to get it to the ground. He does have some power on the feet as well as he swings heavy punches and will throw some spinning kicking attacks as well. Of his 13 professional victories, 11 came inside the distance. His biggest issue is that he tends to fade as the fight goes on.

Nurmagomedov is likely the more skilled fighter, but he is entirely untrustworthy to me. He does not push a pace and constantly gets himself in compromising positions. He has been finished in all three of his professional losses and is now facing an early finish or bust style of fighter in Omargadzhiev. I am treating Omargadzhiev as a live underdog in this spot and he is one of the better underdogs outside of the five found fights. Omargadzhiev by TKO is the official pick.

Zubaira Tukhugov vs Lucas Almeida
Tukhugov, -155; Almeida, +135

Zubaira Tukhugov is coming off a decision victory over Ricardo Ramos last October at UFC 267. He is primarily a control grappler as he averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. He is a good striker as well, but he is notorious for fading as the fight goes on. Because of his low output and bad optics in round three, four of his last six fights have ended by split-decision.

His opponent, Lucas Almeida is coming off an impressive TKO finish over Michael Trizano in June. Almeida is another Dana White’s Contender Series product and is a very explosive fighter. Of his 14 professional victories, all of them have come inside the distance. He is very powerful on the feet and has a decent ground game as well.

I expect the striking to be competitive early with Almeida pushing the pace which likely causes Tukhugov to go to his wrestling. Almeida is difficult to control on the mat though and this will also help Tukhugov gas out quicker which is concerning. Almeida is another live underdog and I favor him in this matchup as he has better cardio and is going to be the more explosive striker with more volume on the feet. Almeida by TKO is the official pick.

Nikita Krylov vs Volkan Oezdemir
Krylov, -170; Oezdemir, +150

Nikita Krylov is coming off an impressive first-round knockout victory over Alexander Gustafsson in July. Krylov is primarily a striker with legitimate knockout power as witnessed in his last fight. But he is also an opportunistic submission grappler as well despite being submitted six times in his career. He is a finisher by nature as 27 of his 28 professional victories have come inside the distance. He will be working with a couple inches of reach advantage along with a grappling edge if the fight were to hit the ground.

His opponent, Volkan Oezdemir is coming off a decision win over Paul Craig in July. Oezdemir is a powerful striker in his own right with 12 of his 18 wins coming by way of knockout. He rarely looks to grapple but has shown good takedown defense over the course of his career as he defends at 86% in the UFC.

On the feet, I expect the striking to be competitive with either guy having the possibility to land a big shot that changes the fight. I still lean Krylov because he has more ways to win, and I trust his durability a little more as well. Krylov by TKO is the official pick.

Caio Borralho vs Makhmud Muradov
Borralho, -195; Muradov, +165

Caio Borralho is coming off a decision victory over Armen Petrosyan in July. He is a 12-1 prospect fighting out of Brazil. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series and was one of the best prospects two seasons ago. He is a high IQ fighter that will fight smart and use his length and powerful kickboxing at range. But it is his grappling that makes him most dangerous as he averages 2.63 takedowns per 15 minutes and is dangerous to find a finish once he gets the fight there.

His opponent, Makhmud Muradov is coming off a second-round submission loss to Gerald Meerschaert in August of Last year. He is primarily a striker with legitimate knockout power as 17 of his 25 wins have come by knockout. He is always dangerous early in the fight and can find the kill shot at any moment. However, his defensive grappling remains suspect as he has been submitted in four of his seven professional losses.

I expect the striking to be competitive, but I trust the IQ and durability of Borralho not to get hurt on the feet. And once Borralho gets the fight to the mat he should have a massive advantage down there. Borralho by submission is the official pick.

Sean Brady vs Belal Muhammad
Brady, -145; Muhammad, +125

Sean Brady is coming off a decision victory over Michael Chiesa in November of last year. He is an undefeated prospect with a 15-0 record and five of those came inside the UFC. Brady is another Renzo Philly guy and holds a black belt in BJJ to go along with his strong control grappling. He averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes and is not someone that you want to have on top of you in grappling exchanges. He has good boxing as well but tends to tire into the third rounds and starts to get very hittable, so he is not indestructible depending on the matchup.

His opponent, Belal Muhammad is coming off an impressive upset victory over Vicente Luque in April. Muhammad is skilled everywhere but not great anywhere. He pushes a decent pace and has great cardio to do it for a hard 15 minutes which is likely his only advantage in this spot. He has solid takedown defense and has looked to mix in takedowns himself, typically at the end of rounds as he is a smart IQ fighter. But he does not have the power to may Brady pay, and he has yet to face a wrestler of Brady’s caliber either.

Muhammad has been a cash cow for bettors over the last couple years so I expect to see some love out there for him, but I think his run ends here. Brady is going to be able to land takedowns here and should be able to control Muhammad as well along with having the potential to win by submission. On the feet, Brady has more power, and the striking should be very competitive. Brady by decision is the official pick and he is a solid fighter to target in the mid-range on DraftKings.

Manon Fiorot vs Katlyn Chookagian
Fiorot, -200; Chookagian, +170

Manon Fiorot is coming off a decision victory over Jennifer Maia in March and is currently on a nine-fight win streak. Of her nine professional victories, six have come by knockout and she carries some vicious elbows and power for this division that many opponents cannot deal with. She also averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes although it is mostly Judo takedowns and powerful hip tosses which doesn’t necessarily mean she is a good wrestler.

Her opponent, Katlyn Chookagian is coming off a split-decision win over Amanda Ribas in May. Despite many people scoring the fight for Ribas (myself included), Chookagian is coming into this matchup on a four-fight win streak. At this point, we know what to expect from her as she is a technical kickboxer with a high fight IQ. She will look to stay at range and point fight her way to a decision win. My biggest issue with that is that she is going to be giving up significant power in this matchup and she only defends takedowns at 54% in the UFC.

I expect Fiorot to have a clear power advantage and we have seen Chookagian get overwhelmed by power in the past. Additionally, while I do not think Fiorot is a great grappler, she should be able to land a couple takedowns here as well which would just cement these rounds. Fiorot by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings this week.

Mateusz Gamrot vs Beneil Dariush
Gamrot, -195; Dariush, +165

Fresh off his first main event in the UFC, Mateusz Gamrot is coming off a decision win over Arman Tsarukyan in June. It was a very competitive fight that could have gone either way, but Gamrot got the nod and will not take on Beneil Dariush in what should be a title challenger eliminator fight. Gamrot is a well-rounded fighter with powerful striking and strong wrestling as he averages nearly five takedowns per 15 minutes. This is another tough test for him as Dariush has solidified himself as a top three fighter in this division.

Dariush is coming off a dominant performance over Tony Ferguson in May of last year at UFC 262. He is very well-rounded himself but loves to bring the action and is more of a kill or be killed style fighter rather than a high IQ one. He has knockout power on the feet with his last two finishes coming on the feet, but he is also a dangerous submission grappler with eight of his 21 career victories coming by submission. The biggest concern with Dariush has always been his durability as he has been finished in all four of his professional losses and knocked out in three of them.

Overall, I expect this to be a great fight and very competitive. Gamrot should be the stronger wrestler but he is generally a slow starter and Dariush is going to waste no time in bringing the fight to him. Dariush should have more finishing upside as well despite the durability concern. Either way, I think there is clear value on Dariush at this number and price on DraftKings. I will have exposure to both sides across multiple lineups, but the official pick is Dariush by decision.

Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley
Yan, -265; O’Malley, +225

Petr Yan is coming off a split-decision loss to Aljamain Sterling for the Bantamweight belt in April at UFC 273. He is clearly at the top of this division and is a very difficult matchup for any opponent. He is a high-volume striker with powerful elbows and knees and tends to build as the fight goes on with good cardio. Seven of his 16 professional wins have come by knockout, and he will look to mix in a couple takedowns as well.

His opponent, Suga Sean O’Malley is coming off a no contest against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 in July. O’Malley is a flashy striker with a deadly combination of speed and power as 11 of his 15 wins have come by knockout. However, we have seen chinks in his armor at times. Specifically, he does not deal well with leg kicks and Yan should be able to have success in that area. Additionally, he can be taken down and offers little resistance in the grappling in terms of being controlled which is another potential path for Yan.

The striking exchanges should be fun, but I feel O’Malley needs to hurt Yan and have big moments to win rounds and Yan has proven to be very durable throughout his UFC career. O’Malley’s striking is electric, and it will be difficult not to root for him but Yan is the better minute winner here and the more well-rounded of the two. Yan by decision is the official pick.

Aljamain Sterling vs TJ Dillashaw
Sterling, -175; Dillashaw, +150

Aljamain Sterling looks to defend his title against former champion, TJ Dillashaw this weekend. Sterling is coming off the rematch victory against Petr Yan at UFC 273 in April and is currently on a seven-fight win streak. Sterling is massive for the division and will push a high pace against his opponents. He uses his length well in the striking but it’s his strong wrestling and submission grappling that are his best assets. He does seem to slow down, particularly in five round fights which is notable for this matchup.

Dillashaw is coming off a split-decision win over Cory Sandhagen in July in a fight that many people scored for Sandhagen. He is nearly 37 years old, and his body definitely seems to be telling him that it’s close to hang it up. But you cannot write him off as the skillset is still there and he is a very well-rounded fighter. He should be able to match Sterling’s volume on the feet and is the better wrestler of the two as well.

This is another competitive fight as the striking should be very competitive while the wrestling favors Dillashaw. However, Sterling is the better submission grappler and should be able to out scramble Dillashaw in exchanges and has more finishing potential as well. I side with Sterling, but the price seems accurate to me. Sterling by submission is the official pick.

Islam Makhachev vs Charles Oliveira
Makhachev, -190; Oliveira, +160

The highly anticipated matchup for the lightweight strap has finally arrived. Islam Makhachev is fresh off a first-round TKO finish over Bobby Green in February. He is 22-1 with 10 wins coming by submission. He is a very difficult matchup to deal with as his control grappling is likely the best this division has to offer. He averages 3.41 takedowns per 15 minutes and is going to smother you as much as possible before you make a mistake that he can capitalize on. It goes without saying though, this is clearly the toughest fighter that he has yet to face, and he has always been a liability in the striking realm so there are concerns in this fight.

His opponent, Charles Oliveira is coming off a first-round submission victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in May. He is currently on an 11-fight winning streak with 10 of those wins coming by finish. He is dangerous wherever the fight goes as he has powerful boxing and vicious knees in the clinch. But he also has the most submission victories in UFC history which makes him incredibly difficult to deal with regardless of where the fight plays out.

This is an interesting matchup because I think you have to project Makhachev to land multiple takedowns and bank some control time. But I also think Oliveira will have a clear striking advantage along with a submission grappling edge as well which leads to me to believe he has more finishing potential. This is a fight that I do expect to score well on DraftKings, and I do not expect it to last the full 25 minutes either. Oliveira by TKO is the official pick, but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings with a lean towards the underdog.