fbpx

We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 71 in Las Vegas! We have a fun 12-fight slate on DraftKings which is lacking known talent but should not be lacking in entertainment value. It also helps that we have $100K up for grabs to first place!

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.

Danaa Batgerel vs Brady Hiestand
Batgerel, -140; Hiestand, +120

Danaa Batgerel is coming off a close decision loss against Kyung Ho Kang at UFC 275 last June. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and will look to right the ship this weekend. Batgerel is basically a one-dimensional power puncher, but he has three first-round knockouts in the UFC and eight of his 12 career wins have come in that fashion. Outside of his power, he can be taken down and outgrappled which could be key in this matchup.

His opponent, Brady Hiestand is coming off a decision win over Fernie Garcia in November. Hiestand previously fought on The Ultimate Fighter and had an absolute war with Ricky Turcios in the finale but ended up losing an exciting split decision. He is very young and still likely making improvements, but he pushes a solid wrestling pace and averages 4.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. His biggest issues are his control grappling as he does not consolidate position well and he is extremely hittable in striking exchanges. His striking defense gets even worse later in the fight after he gets tired.

I think Hiestand could have a significant wrestling edge in this fight, but I do not trust his fight IQ or striking defense whatsoever. He is likely to try and brawl as he typically does and Batgerel is skilled and powerful enough to make him pay. Batgerel by knockout is the official pick and this is a great fight to target on DraftKings as the winner should score well either way.

Karine Silva vs Priscila Cachoeira
Silva, -190; Cachoeira, +160

Karine Silva is coming off a first-round submission victory over Poliana Botelho in her UFC debut last June. She previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2021 and is currently on a six-fight winning streak. Of her 15 career victories, all of them have come by finish and she has only reached the judges scorecards once across her 19 professional bouts. She is powerful on the feet and has some opportunistic submission attempts as well. Despite her not being a strong minute winner, she has clear finishing ability with her power on the feet and strong chokes if opponents try to grapple her. Her biggest weakness is the cardio as she is not used to fighting later in rounds and the pace starts to wear on her if the fight gets extended.

Her opponent, Priscila Cachoeira is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Ariane Lipski in August. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has now won four of her last five fights. Cachoeira is not the most skilled fighter as she is clueless in the grappling realm and hittable in striking exchanges. But the one thing she clearly has is big power for the division and seven of her 12 career wins have come by knockout. The problem with Cachoeira is that if she cannot land the big shots and have those big moments then she is typically getting beat on the scorecards and the grappling deficit is wide in almost any matchup.

This is a banger matchup and I am expecting to see a finish one way or the other. I give the edge to Silva as she is more dangerous with a variety of tools on the feet with her front kicks and heavy right hand. But she also would have all the grappling upside if she chooses to go that route which has me favoring her in this matchup. Silva by submission is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings as this is another good fight to target this weekend.

Francis Marshall vs William Gomis
Marshall, -215; Gomis, +185

Francis Marshall is an undefeated prospect with a 7-0 professional record, and he previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series this past season. He made his UFC debut against Marcelo Rojo in December and won by second-round knockout which made a lasting impression on fight fans.

He is still only 24 years old and certainly has things to improve upon, mainly his striking defense. But he has a very solid wrestling base and he pushes a crazy pace with excellent cardio which has been enough to break many of his opponents.

His opponent, William Gomis is coming off his UFC debut where he beat Jarno Errens by decision last September. He is currently on a nine-fight winning streak and six of his 11 career wins have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and has an awkward style with his kicking approach. He seems constantly off balance and Marshall should have little trouble landing takedowns if that is the gameplan. Gomis will not be able to keep pace with the volume of Francis in the striking exchanges and I doubt he can go to his wrestling like he did against Errens either.

Marshall by decision is the official pick and he is a great target on Draftkings due to his pace and wrestling upside. I have very little interest in Gomis and he will likely be a strong fade candidate for me this weekend.

Junior Tafa vs Mohammed Usman
Tafa, -115; Usman, -105

Junior Tafa is making his UFC debut this weekend. He previously fought for Glory kickboxing and comes from a heavy striking background. His power is his best asset as he is very explosive and all four of his career wins have come by knockout. He is still very green to MMA as he just turned professional last year and has never fought into the third round in any fight. His cardio is unproven along with his defensive grappling and this is likely his toughest test to date so keep that in mind.

His opponent, Mohammed Usman is coming off a second-round knockout over Zac Pauga in his UFC debut for the TUF finale last August. Despite the knockout victory, Usman is just not a very talented fighter. He is extremely low volume on the feet and does not push a high wrestling pace either. He is reliant to land a big power shot which is always possible because he is massive but I think Tafa is going to have a huge speed advantage in this fight. Usman has fought way better competition and I would trust his cardio much more if the fight gets extended but I’m not sure that it does.

This fight has some clear volatility with two Heavyweights swinging leather but I favor the better overall striker who is going to be much faster and throw more volume. Tafa by knockout is the official pick.

Norma Dumont vs Karol Rosa
Dumont, -115; Rosa, -105

Norma Dumont is coming off a decision victory over Danyelle Wolf at UFC 279 last September. She has now won four of her last five fights surprisingly. Dumont is not going to push a high pace on the feet but she generally stays sharp defensively. She is also capable of mixing in the takedowns but only averages just over one takedown per 15 minutes.

Her opponent, Karol Rosa is coming off a majority decision victory over Lina Lansberg at UFC 280 in October. Rosa is typically a volume machine as she averages over six significant strikes per minute and is constantly landing her lab and leg kicks. She is also capable of mixing in takedowns as she averages over 1.5 per 15 minutes. The biggest issue for Rosa is that she has no clue how to get back to her feet if she is taken down.

I expect this to be competitive on the feet with Rosa landing more volume but Dumont having more power in her punches. Both fighters have the ability to land takedowns here but I think Rosa is at more risk to be on bottom for longer periods of time when taken down. I still lean her in this matchup as I do not trust Dumont to wrestle aggressively and I think she needs to or she will get out pointed on the feet. Rosa by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Montel Jackson vs Rani Yahya
Jackson, -560; Yahya, +430

Montel Jackson last fought Julio Arce at UFC 281 in November and won via unanimous decision. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak and has won six of his last seven fights. Jackson is a very well-rounded prospect with powerful boxing and six of his 12 wins coming by knockout. But he is also a skilled wrestler and averages over 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has the cardio to keep that pace throughout the entire fight if needed.

His opponent, Rani Yahya is coming off a year and a half layoff as he last fought Kyung Ho Kang in November of 2021 and won by decision. Yahya turns 39 years old later this year and has been finished in three of his professional losses along with having historically subpar cardio. But he is a dangerous submission grappler and 21 of his 28 career wins have come in that fashion. He will need to force some grappling exchanges in this one to have a chance to pull off the upset.

I expect Jackson to understand that Yahya’s only path to victory is to catch him in a submission. For that reason, I think Jackson does not try to wrestle much and instead just bullies Yahya on the feet and eventually knocks him out. Jackson by knockout is the official pick and he is always a strong DraftKings target.

Ricky Glenn vs Christos Giagos
Glenn, -165; Giagos, +140

Ricky Glenn is coming off a lengthy layoff as he last fought in October of 2021 against Grant Dawson and resulted in a majority draw. Glenn is a very technical fighter that is solid wherever the fight goes. He has power on the feet with 13 of his 22 career wins coming by knockout. But he also holds a black belt in BJJ. The issue with Glenn is that he struggles to defend takedowns at under 70% in the UFC and he has previously had some serious injuries in the past.

His opponent, Christos Giagos is coming off a first-round submission loss to Thiago Moises in June of last year. He is currently on a two-fight losing skid and was finished inside the first round in both of those fights. He is not a great striker and is very low volume on the feet but he is a capable wrestler. He averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes and will likely need to get the fight to the ground in this matchup.

I expect Glenn to have a clear striking advantage. Additionally, I am not sure if Giagos can have much grappling success against him and I do not trust his durability at all as he has been finished in seven of his 10 professional losses. Glenn by TKO is the official pick.

Matthew Semelsberger vs Jeremiah Wells
Semelsberger, -110; Wells, -110

Matthew Semelsberger is coming off a decision victory over Jake Matthews in December. He has won three of his last four fights and will look to keep the momentum going this weekend. He is primarily a power puncher on the feet with six of his 11 career wins coming by knockout. He also comes from a wrestling background and averages nearly 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes, but he is mostly looking to brawl. His biggest issue is that he can be taken down and controlled and seems to slow down in fights that get extended.

His opponent, Jeremiah Wells is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Court McGee last June. Wells is 3-0 in the UFC and currently on a five-fight winning streak. He is a very explosive fighter with nine of his 11 career wins coming inside the distance. Not only does he have explosive power on the feet, but he holds a black belt in BJJ and trains at a good camp in Renzo Gracie in Philadelphia.

This is another volatile fight as both fighters have clear power on the feet. Either guy has the capability to hurt each other but Wells has more grappling upside and finishing potential on the mat as well which has me leaning towards him in this matchup. Wells by submission is the official pick and this is another strong DraftKings target.

Iasmin Lucindo vs Brogan Walker
Lucindo, -330; Walker, +275

Iasmin Lucindo is coming off her UFC debut against Yazmin Juaregui last August where she dropped a decision. But overall, it was a solid account for her in that fight as she was competitive in the striking department. She has shown the ability to land takedowns on the regional scene although I would not consider her a great grappler and she has been submitted twice in her career.

Her opponent, Brogan Walker is coming off a third-round TKO loss to Julianna Miller in the TUF finale last August. She has now lost three of her last four fights and I was not inspired by her regional tape coming into the TUF house either. She is a 7-3 prospect and six of her career wins have come by decision and she is not much of a finishing threat. She can be taken down as we saw in the Miller fight but I also do not trust he durability either.

I expect Lucindo to be landing more volume on the feet and have the wrestling upside as well. I also trust her cardio and durability more than Walker. Lucindo by decision is the official pick but this is likely a fade for me on DraftKings this week.

Bobby Green vs Jared Gordon
Green, -250; Gordon, +210

Bobby Green is coming off a second-round knockout at the hands of Drew Dober in December. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and is just 2-4 over his last six fights. Despite the recent skid, Green is still one of the better strikers in the division. He is a technical boxer and will keep a decent pace on the feet. He is also a very capable wrestler although he does not go to it as much as he should.

His opponent, Jared Gordon is coming off a decision loss to Paddy Pimblett at UFC 282 in December. Gordon has also not had much recent success as he has lost two of his last three fights. Gordon is still a very well-rounded fighter with solid striking and a strong ground game. He averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a brown belt in BJJ. His biggest issue is his durability as he has been knocked out four times in his career. He also does not have the same “flash” that he used to which is concerning.

I expect Green to have a clear boxing advantage with his volume and speed. Green is also not easy to take down and a very solid defensive wrestler so I am not sure if Gordon will have much of a grappling edge either. Lastly, the durability clearly favors Green as well and I think he is the rightful favorite in this matchup. Green by decision is the official pick.

Brad Tavares vs Bruno Silva
Tavares, -155; Silva, +135

Brad Tavares is coming off a decision loss to Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 276 last July. That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for him and he will look to rebound this weekend. Tavares is a well-rounded righter with technical striking and strong takedown defense. He has also occasionally mixed in wrestling but only averages just under one takedown per 15 minutes. My biggest issue with Tavares is his output as he does not push a high pace on the feet and is not a huge finishing threat either, so his margins are thinner than some.

His opponent, Bruno Silva is coming off a third-round submission to Gerald Meerschaert last August. After winning his first three UFC fights by knockout, he is now on a two-fight losing streak. Silva is not the most technical fighter but what he does have is clear knockout power. Of his 22 career wins, 19 of them have come by knockout. But if he is unable to land the knockout blow, he tends to gas out and fade as the fight goes on. He is also very careless in the grappling and has been submitted six times in his career.

I expect Tavares to be the cleaner striker on the feet and much sharper defensively. But Silva is much more dangerous in the first round which gives me interest in targeting both sides. The most likely outcome is Tavares stays safe in round one and eventually takes over and gets Silva out of there. Tavares by TKO is the official pick.

Curtis Blaydes vs Sergei Pavlovich
Blaydes, -170; Pavlovich, +145

We last saw Curtis Blaydes in a main event matchup with Tom Aspinall last July. He was credited with a first-round TKO victory, but we only saw 15 seconds of the fight as Aspinall blew his knee out. Blaydes is currently on a three-fight winning streak and has only ever lost to Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis across his entire professional career. All three of those losses came by knockout and that is clearly the way to beat him because nobody is able to win rounds better than Curtis Blaydes at the Heavyweight division. He has an aggressive wrestling style and great cardio to back it up as he averages over six takedowns per 15 minutes. But he has also improved his striking over the years and is a good striker as well, he just needs to avoid getting knocked out.

His opponent, Sergei Pavlovich is one of the more deadly knockout threats in round one. Pavlovich is coming off a first-round knockout over Tai Tuivasa in December. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak with all five of those coming by first-round knockout. He has big power early in the fight and will be swinging to take your head off, but he really struggles on the mat. That makes this matchup very easy to break down as it basically comes down to if Blaydes can get him to the ground without getting his head blown off.

For that reason, I want heavy exposure to this fight on DraftKings. This is very likely to end inside the first two rounds regardless of who wins so I plan to have exposure to both sides, and I want a piece of this fight in every lineup I build this weekend. You guys know me, I favor the better round winner in Blaydes but acknowledge that there is big risk in the first round. Blaydes by TKO is the official pick.