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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC San Antonio! We have a fun 13-fight slate on DraftKings which makes for an interesting slate with so many fights to choose and some really fun fights to target. 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.

Hailey Cowan vs Tamires Vidal
Cowan, -140; Vidal, +120

Haily Cowan is a 7-2 prospect with four of her wins coming inside the distance. She spent most of her regional time in LFA before fighting on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and delivered with a decision victory. She is an exceptional athlete and former NCAA all-American gymnast and seems to have a well-rounded skillset. She is primarily a striker and fights from the southpaw stance and will look to land some heavy leg kicks while the fight plays out at range. But she has also shown a solid ground game as well for the lower levels of the division as she is a good scrambler on the mat. She is dangerous when she gets in dominant position but is careless defensively and has been submitted in both of her professional losses. She can be controlled by good grapplers as well and did just pull out of a fight against Ailin Perez a few weeks ago due to a health issue.

Her opponent, Tamires Vidal is coming off a statement victory in her UFC debut as she knocked out Ramona Pascual in the first round. She is a 6-1 prospect fighting out of Brazil and has two wins by submission. Her only career loss came against Karol Rosa back in 2019 and she was a win (DQ) over current UFC fighter, Ailin Perez in November of 2021. Despite the two recognizable names, the level of competition on the regional scene was low and I do not rate her skillset highly. She has some powerful striking and should land the bigger shots on the feet but I do not trust her grappling at all.

This fight likely plays out competitively with Vidal throwing more volume on the feet while Cowan tries to maintain distance and land kicks. But once they clinch up, I expect Cowan to be the more physical fighter that is going to win those exchanges and control Vidal along the fence. Additionally, I favor Cowan’s top game as well although she will likely have to avoid getting put in a submission while Vidal is on her back. Cowan by decision is the official pick but this fight does not have much upside on DraftKings and there are better fights to target this week.

Vinicius Salvador vs Victor Altamirano
Salvador, -110; Altamirano, -110

Vinicius Salvador is making his UFC debut this weekend as he previously earned a contract on last season of Dana White’s Contender Series with a TKO victory. Of his 14 professional wins, 13 of them have come by knockout and he has only fought to a decision once across 18 fights. He is big for the division and primarily a striker with clear knockout power. But if he is unable to find the knockout then he typically slows down as the fight goes on and becomes very hittable. He has been finished in three of his four professional losses and usually needs to find the knockout early.

His opponent, Victor Altamirano is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Daniel Da Silva at UFC 278 last August. Altamirano is also a former Contender Series fighter as he fought on the 2021 season and earned a contract with a win over Carlos Candelario. I have never been high on Altamirano but he does have some solid attributes like his willingness to throw in volume and keep a high pace while also mixing in some takedowns. His striking defense is nonexistent as he fights with his hands down and was rocked in his last fight as well. But he should have a clear cardio advantage down the stretch if he can avoid getting dropped early in this one.

Salvador is going to have a clear power advantage and both of these fighters are hittable on the feet. So it’s likely that he can land a big shot and potentially get the early knockout. But if that does not happen then I expect him to slow down and for Altamirano to take over as the fight goes on. Salvador by knockout is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings and expect the winner to score well either way.

Manuel Torres vs Trey Ogden
Torres, -145; Ogden, +125

Manuel Torres knocked out Frank Camacho in the first round in his UFC debut in May of last year. Torres is another Contender Series alumni and is currently on a four-fight winning streak. Torres is all action, all the time. Of his 15 professional fights, just one of them have reached the second round. He is extremely aggressive and is looking to get his opponent out of there as fast as possible. He has power on the feet and does have six submission victories as well but those came against very poor grapplers and I do not rate his grappling very well.

His opponent, Trey Ogden is coming off a decision victory over Daniel Zellhuber last September. He looked improved in his last fight but I still do not rate his skillset very highly. He does not put a ton of volume out there but does have a decent ground game. He just struggles to get the fight to the ground because he is usually at a physicality disadvantage. But when he does get the fight there he is an opportunistic submission grappler with 11 submissions on his record and he will likely have a cardio edge if the fight gets extended.

I do not trust Torres at all but I am very interested in his round one finishing upside for DraftKings. Ogden has a real path to victory if he can stay alive early, but I have my doubts. Torres by TKO is the official pick, but I will have some exposure to both sides on DraftKings across multiple lineups.

CJ Vergara vs Daniel Da Silva
Vergara, -240; Da Silva, +205

CJ Vergara had his hands full last time out with Tatsuro Taira as he was submitted in the second round last October. Vergara is yet another Contender Series alum and finds himself with a nice rebound opportunity this weekend. Vergara is primarily a striker and will look to keep the fight on the feet and put a pace on his opponent. He is hittable and can be out grappled if you can get him down but he has shown great cardio and the ability to fight through adversity.

His opponent, Daniel Da Silva is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Victor Altamirano at UFC 278 in August. He is 0-3 in the UFC and has been finished inside of six minutes in all of those fights. He is basically the budget version of Terrance McKinney but without the ability to land takedowns. Of his 15 professional fights, just two of them have reached the second round and he has never fought to decision. He is very aggressive early with power on the feet and slick submission attempts but if you can avoid getting caught then he wilts big time after the initial few bursts.

I will have some exposure to Da Silva on DraftKings as he can break the slate with an early finish. But the most likely outcome is that Vergara stays alive early and takes over after round one and likely gets a finish himself. Vergara by TKO is the official pick.

Trevin Giles vs Preston Parsons
Giles, -120; Parsons, +100

Trevin Giles is coming off a decision victory over Louis Cosce in September. It was clear that Cosce had nothing left in the gas tank and nearly any fighter could have got a finish in that spot but Giles was content to cruise to a decision. Giles has historically never been a high volume striker and just does not put enough output out there. He is capable of mixing in takedowns but only less than 1.5 per minutes and he has been finished in all four of his professional losses. His cardio rarely holds up even in lower paced fights which is always a big concern with him.

His opponent, Preston Parsons is coming off a career best performance with a dominant victory over Evan Elder in April of last year. Parsons is primarily a grappler and landed four takedowns in his last fight and nine of his 10 career wins have come by submission. He is much more active than Giles as he going to be putting much more volume out there and looking to land takedowns as well. But he is also similar to Giles in that when he loses, he typically gets finished.

I expect Giles to have a speed and striking advantage but Parsons is going to be the much more active fighter and the one more willing to mix in the grappling where he should be able to take over as Giles slows down. Parsons by submission is the official pick and he is a solid target in the mid-range on DraftKings.

Steven Peterson vs Lucas Alexander
Peterson, -180; Alexander, +155

Steven Peterson is coming off a split-decision loss to Julian Erosa last February. He arguably won that fight and won his last two fights prior to that one as well. He is a high paced fighter that will move forward and trade shots. He is also a capable grappler as well as he will occasionally mix in takedowns and has eight submission victories on his record. The concern with him is that he is hittable on the feet and can be taken down and controlled as he pulls guillotine often and only defends takedowns at 64% in the UFC.

His opponent, Lucas Alexander is coming off a first-round submission loss to Joanderson Brito in his UFC debut in October. Alexander is a 7-3 prospect fighting out of Brazil. He has three knockout victories, but most came against low level talent on the regional scene. He has also been submitted in all three of his professional losses and can be taken down by competent wrestlers like Peterson.

I expect both fighters to land shots on the feet but I think it will be Peterson moving forward and controlling the center along with throwing more volume as well. Additionally, he has all the grappling upside in this matchup. Peterson by submission is the official pick.

Tucker Lutz vs Daniel Pineda
Lutz, -285; Pineda, +245

Tucker Lutz is coming off a year and a half layoff since he lost a decision to Pat Sabatini in November of 2021. That loss snapped a 12-fight winning streak and he will look to get back in the win column this weekend. Lutz is a very well-rounded fighter that can keep a decent pace on the feet but is at his best when mixing in takedowns as he averages two takedowns per 15 minutes. Eight of his 12 career wins have come inside the distance but his last four fights have all gone the distance.

His opponent, Daniel Pineda is coming off nearly a two-year layoff since his “No contest” against Andre Fili in June of 2021. Fili was torching him up to that point and Pineda has looked like a shell of himself over his last few fights. Specifically, his durability is a major concern as he has been knocked out three times in his career and submitted six times as well.

Simply put, I expect Lutz to have an advantage wherever the fight goes. Pineda can be dangerous early but typically fades in fights and I do not expect him to keep pace with Lutz. Lutz should be able to land multiple takedowns and take over bigly as the fight goes on. Lutz by TKO is the official pick.

Chidi Njokuani vs Albert Duraev
Njokuani, -185; Duraev, +155

Chidi Njokuani is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Gregory Rodrigues last September. That fight was absolute fireworks from the opening bell and Njokuani had a ton of success early but Rodrigues was able to persevere. Njokuani is primarily a striker and has clear knockout power with 14 of his 22 career wins have come by knockout. The concern with Njokuani is that he does slow down if the fight gets extended and has been finished in seven of his eight losses.

His opponent, Albert Duraev is coming off a TKO doctor’s stoppage loss to Joaquin Buckley last June. That loss snapped a 10-fight winning streak for him. Duraev is primarily a grappler and averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and has nine submission victories on his record. However, he is extremely hittable on the feet and I do not trust his durability or his gas tank. He has been knocked out in all four of his professional losses and he likely needs to get the fight to the ground early and often.

Chidi Chidi Bang Bang. Njokuani should have plenty of opportunities to find the big shot against Duraev and I expect him to do so early. Njokuani by knockout is the official pick and this is a great fight to target on DraftKings.

Manel Kape vs Alex Perez
Kape, -175; Perez, +150

Manel Kape is coming off a decision victory over David Dvorak in December. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak after losing his first two UFC bouts. Kape is an explosive athlete with power on the feet and a solid ground game as well as he holds a black belt in BJJ. My only gripe with Kape is that he doesn’t proactively grapple as much as he should, and he can be taken down and controlled as well.

His opponent, Alex Perez is coming off a first-round submission loss to Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 277 last July. He is currently on a two-fight losing skid and a win this weekend would prove he still belongs near the top of the division. Perez comes from a high level wrestling background and averages nearly three takedowns per 15 minutes. He pushes a high pace on the feet as well but is notorious for putting himself in bad spots as he has been submitted five times in his career.

This is a great fight to target on DraftKings as the winner is likely to crush either way. I expect Perez to look to get this fight to the ground where he should be able to control Kape on the mat. However, Kape has powerful tools on the feet to combat the takedown entries of Perez and is also a capable submission grappler as well. I expect this to be a very good fight and one where the winner looks clear in hindsight. But I’m willing to bet on the wrestling path to victory one more time for Perez. Perez by decision is the official pick.

Maycee Barber vs Andrea Lee
Barber, -260; Lee, +220

Maycee Barber is coming off a decision victory over Jessica Eye at UFC 276 last July. She is currently on a three-fight winning streak and will look to keep her momentum going this weekend. Barber burst on to the scene in the UFC with four straight knockout victories. But most of those came against fighters that could not compete with her physicality. Since then, she has refined her approach to become more of a technical boxer rather than a brawler. She is still a bully in the clinch and very physical with muscling her opponents to the ground when she decides to. But she doesn’t put a ton of volume out there since she’s changed her approach and I still have questions with her defensive grappling as well.

Her opponent, Andrea Lee is coming off a disappointing decision loss to Viviane Araujo in May of last year. She dropped Araujo early in the fight and cardio dumped trying to earn the finish. Lee is a very well-rounded fighter with good boxing and high volume on the feet. She also has underrated submission ability but her one glaring weakness is her unwillingness to stop takedowns. She defends at just 56% in the UFC and that has been the difference in multiple decisions throughout her career.

I expect this fight to play out much closer than these odds suggest. Both fighters will be landing shots on the feet with more power coming from Barber but more volume on the Lee side. Barber will need to rely on her wrestling in this fight and that’s something we have not seen her do much of recently. It seems to me that there is clear value on Lee regardless of how the fight plays out on Saturday so I’ll be riding with her again and hoping she doesn’t let me down. Lee by decision is the official pick.

Nate Landwehr vs Austin Lingo
Landwehr, -205; Lingo, +175

Nate Landwehr is coming off a majority decision over David Onama last August. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and was originally booked to fight Alex Caceres who pulled out of the fight. Landwehr is a high volume striker that is going to move forward and try to land as many shots as possible and has also showcased a little wrestling in his last few fights as well. But make no mistake about it, he wants to stand and bang.

His opponent, Austin Lingo is coming off nearly a two-year layoff since he beat Luis Saldana in August of 2021. He was booked to fight Ricardo Ramos a couple weeks ago but Ramos botched the weight cut and now Lingo is stepping in on short notice to replace Caceres. Lingo is a powerful striker with three of his nine career wins coming by knockout. He also landed a knockdown in each of his last two fights. He struggles when his opponents are faster than him and he needs to get better at cutting off the cage.

I expect this fight to be a banger all the way through. Both of these guys want to stand and trade for the most part and both disregard their defense. This is a high paced fight that has the opportunity for knockdowns and/or a knockout on either side along with high volume stats as well. For that reason, I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings but the official pick is Landwehr by decision.

Holly Holm vs Yana Santos
Holm, -250; Santos, +210

The co-main event that nobody asked for. “The preacher’s daughter,” Holly Holm is coming off a split-decision loss to Ketlen Vieira last May. At nearly 42 years old, it is clear that Holm’s skillset is declining and I am not sure how much longer her style will work at the higher level of the division. She is a low-volume kickboxer and strong in the clinch but rarely lands takedowns and does not have a ton of power left in her strikes at this stage in her career.

Her opponent, Yana Santos is coming off nearly a two-year layoff after getting knocked out in the first round against Irene Aldana. Santos is a well-rounded fighter with vanilla striking and struggles in the physicality department. She only defends takedowns at 53% in the UFC and that may end up making the difference in this fight.

I expect this to play out at range and mostly a low volume affair with Holm looking to control Santos up against the fence for extended periods. Holm by boring decision is the official pick but I have zero interest in having any dollars invested in this fight.

Cory Sandhagen vs Marlon Vera
Sandhagen, -170; Vera, +150

Cory Sandhagen is coming off a TKO victory over Song Yadong. He landed a nasty gash on Yadong that ultimately forced the doctor to call the fight. I still consider Sandhagen to be one of the best pure strikers in the division. He keeps a high pace on the feet and has a variety of tools with his constant stance switching as well. 10 of his 15 career wins have come inside the distance and he has been working more on his wrestling in recent fights as well.

His opponent, Marlon Vera is coming off a fourth-round knockout victory last August. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak with two of those wins coming by knockout. Vera is historically a slow starter but is built for main events as he has excellent cardio and always seems to build into his fights. He has heavy leg kicks and is a very slick submission grappler as well. He has proven to be one of the most durable fighters in the division along with Sandhagen.

I expect this fight to be play out competitively but I do favor the Sandhagen side. Sandhagen has a high likelihood to land more volume along with mixing in some takedowns as well. He would also have more finishing potential although I fully expect this fight to last 25 minutes. Sandhagen by decision is the official pick and he has a strong floor due to the high volume over five rounds.