As many of you know, I spent the majority of 2021 in the Middle East due to my job in the military. For those that have never experienced a deployment, the feeling of being able to finally come home is like a drug you have never felt before – total euphoria. Naturally, you try to prevent anything that could get in the way of you coming home. But you also just have total anxiety that someone or something is going to stop you before you get home whether it is a plane crash, an active shooter, kidnapping etc. Now I understand these are a bit extreme, but it makes more sense if you have been in that situation.

Anyway, my day to come home had finally arrived and I made it to the airport safely around 3 a.m. and headed to the line to check in my bags. On high alert from my beforementioned anxiety but also just so excited I could cry, I start scanning the area for potential threats, suspicious behavior etc. Keep in mind, when you are an American in the Middle East, you stick out like a sore thumb, so it is natural for locals to stare at you. I notice two gentlemen in front of me in the line that I have immediately captured their attention. They were not threatening at all, but you could tell one of them just simply had never interacted with an American before.

They both keep turning around in the line staring at me and speaking in Arabic and whispering to each other. Now I only understand bits and pieces as I am not fluent whatsoever, so I just smile and awkwardly nod. Finally, the one speaks up and ask where I’m from in broken English. I explained that I am on my way home to the United States and they were both very intrigued. Only the one spoke English so he kept asking me questions, nothing intrusive really just basic things. He said he had a family with seven children, and I told him I had a daughter that just turned one-month old when I left the U.S. They were surprised to hear that I was 30 years old as we were roughly the same age but they looked older. The one who could not speak English made a joke that his friend looked older than me because he was chubby as he made a motion of a big belly with his hands, and we all laughed.

They explained to me that they were only in the country for a short period of time to work and try to bring money back home to their families. This is very common in the Middle East, and it was now time for them to go back home or to the next location and look for work. I could tell they did not have much and seeing an American they just assumed I was important or rich which is also fairly common in some countries overseas. We chatted for about 15 minutes and checked our bags then went our separate ways.

I had time to kill as I was in the airport nice and early so, I eventually went to check out the options in the Food Court. You guys probably already know this, but I am a very picky eater, so I was not expecting to see anything to catch my eye. They did have a McDonalds, so I checked out the menu but ultimately decided I was not hungry anymore and started to exit the Food Court.  

As I left the Food Court I was approached by a man who said, “Excuse me, sorry, do you mind if I ask questions” in broken English. I said, “Yeah whatsup?” to which he replied, “My friend, me and my friends have a problem” struggling to get the words out. I said, “What’s the problem” and he replied, “We are very hungry but do not have money.” I said, “No problem. Come with me and pick whatever you want.”

We walked back to the McDonalds counter together as the man was thanking me repeatedly. He did not even know how to order as he explained he never tried McDonalds because he didn’t have the money. I said just pick whatever you want but he was overwhelmed looking at the menu and became a little flustered. I said, “I’ll order for you what do you want?” and he said, “I just want to try big juicy burger. I never had big juicy burger from McDonalds.” I went to order him a Big Mac sandwich and he said “What about my friends?” I turned around and, in the distance, could see a group of four men sitting at a table at the end of the Food Court watching the interaction with intense anticipation. I noticed two of the men were my friends from the baggage line. I paid for the five Big Macs and the guy shook my hand and thanked me repeatedly as he was nearly in tears.

As I exited the Food Court, I watched as the men all enjoyed their burgers and my two friends from baggage had the biggest smiles on their faces as they waved to me. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had to be able to do something so small but to them it meant so much. The morale of the story is that things are not always as they seem.

We have multiple fights on this weekend’s slate that may not be as they seem as well. For some of these fights, I think the public sentiment will create the potential for big leverage depending on our approach.

Bill Algeo vs TJ Brown

Bill Algeo sets up to be one of the more popular uses of salary this weekend. I am currently projecting him to be a top five owned fighter on the slate which you can see here . But TJ Brown is currently getting lost in the mix of tempting underdogs like Arnold Allen, Brandon Royval and Azamat Murzakanov which means he is likely to go under owned relative to his upside.

Now I expect Algeo to win this fight more times than not but the times where he does lose, it sets up for Brown to absolutely crush his DraftKings score. No doubt that Brown has issues with durability, fight IQ and cardio at times but when he is at his best he is landing takedowns at a high rate which correlates well for DraftKings scoring. Additionally, Algeo is a great scrambler and good at working back to his feet which means we can see the takedowns really start to rack up if Brown is having wrestling success.

It seems that the public sentiment is Algeo should roll here and I even predicted him to win in my breakdown but I am more interested in the leverage opportunity and potential upside of Brown if he pulls off the upset.

Gillian Robertson vs Piera Rodriguez

Gillian Robertson seems to always garner ownership and that is likely due to her big upside when she wins as she has scored 90 or more fantasy points each time she has won. That is always going to be enticing and I will have my fair share of Robertson exposure this weekend. But what is interesting is that Rodriguez is not getting much support on the other side.

Rodriguez is a physical grappler herself and has landed three or more takedowns in each of her UFC fights. That may not be the game plan here, but it is certainly possible she spends time in top position against Robertson. She is also a much better striker and if she can keep the fight on the feet then she likely looks like a moderate favorite in this matchup. She is currently projecting to be in the lowest range of ownership on the slate and I see her as having decent potential upside for the mid-range price along with the leverage against the popular Robertson.

Billy Quarantillo vs Edson Barboza

This one stuck out to me the most in that the public narrative is that Quarantillo just buzzsaws through Barboza this weekend. While I do predict Quarantillo to win this fight, I am less confident than the market and certainly less confident than a 38% projected ownership on DraftKings.

Quarantillo has good cardio and pushes a high pace and has shown to be very durable as well. Those are all great attributes but we have not heard much this week of how much damage he takes early in fights before he starts mounting the comeback. His striking defense is not good as he tends to eat a lot of shots as he tries to move forward and pressure his opponents. He also does not check leg kicks well and is facing one of the most dangerous leg kickers on the roster in Edson Barboza.

Now I think Barboza has clear issues of his own, mainly his durability. He also does not put up a great score on DraftKings historically because he does not look to grapple so he is strictly knockdown or knockout reliant. But those are both reasons why he is going to be low owned this weekend and presents big leverage against one of the most popular fighters on the slate who we know gets hit a lot in his fights.

Maybe none of these situations end up materializing this weekend, maybe they do. The key is being able to see the potential leverage of going against the public sentiment because things may not always be as they originally seem. As always, best of luck this weekend and I’ll see you in the streets.