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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 73 in Las Vegas! We have an action-packed 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.

Takashi Sato vs Themba Gorimbo
Sato, -115; Gorimbo, -105

Takashi Sato is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Bryan Battle in August. He is currently on a three-fight losing streak and has lost four of his last five fights. Sato is an easy fighter to break down as he is a powerful striker with 11 of his 15 career wins coming by knockout. His last seven wins have all come by knockout. But there is basically nothing else you have to worry about when fighting him as he does not have really any other skills. He struggles to defend takedowns and has been submitted three times in his career. I do not trust his durability either coming off the knockout loss and we have seen him knocked out prior as well.

His opponent, Themba Gorimbo is coming off a second-round submission loss to AJ Fletcher in his UFC debut in February. He is the former Welterweight champion in EFC. It is clear that he has some improvements to make as he seems pretty raw to me. But he does have some powerful kicks and a crafty submission game with six of his 10 career wins coming by submission. He is likely going to have a clear wrestling advantage and is capable of finding a finish on the mat considering Sato’s defensive grappling issues.

This is a great fight to target right off the rip as I see the winner of this fight scoring very well. It has a high chance to finish but Gorimbo also has a high floor even in a decision if you expect him to land multiple takedowns like I do. Gorimbo by submission is the official pick and I will have heavy exposure to this fight on DraftKings.

Natalia Silva vs Victoria Leonardo
Silva, -750; Leonardo, +550

Natalia Silva burst onto the UFC scene when she beat Jasmine Jasudavicius in her UFC debut as a big underdog last year. She followed that up with an impressive third-round knockout victory over Tereza Bleda in November. Silva is an aggressive striker that will throw in volume and manages distance very well. Her striking defense still needs some improvement, but she is a very well-rounded fighter with capable grappling and strong takedown defense as well.

Her opponent, Victoria Leonardo is coming off a decision victory over Mandy Bohm last July. Leonardo is not a great striker as she is very hittable on the feet and has been outlanded in all three of her UFC bouts. But she does have a capable ground game if she can get the fight to the ground, and she averages 1.7 takedowns per 15 minutes. The issue that I have with Leonardo is that we have seen her struggle with the physicality of multiple opponents, and I expect her to struggle trying to take down Silva in this fight.

The most likely outcome is that Silva is able to defend the takedown attempts and triple up Leonardo in volume on the feet. Silva by TKO is the official pick and she likely dominates this fight.

Nick Fiore vs Chase Hooper
Fiore, -140; Hooper, +120

Nick Fiore is coming off his UFC debut in January where he was dominated by Mateusz Rebecki. He was on short notice for that fight and Rebecki is a tough opponent but there was not much to suggest Fiore has a bright future in the UFC. On the regional scene, he was known as a dangerous finisher with all six of his career wins coming inside the first round. However, his regional opponents were extremely low level including two wins over the infamous regional grinder, Jay Ellis. Fiore has some grappling credentials, but his striking needs improvement and I am not sold on his grappling either despite being a BJJ black belt.

His opponent, Chase Hooper is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Steve Garcia in October. Hooper has always been a punching bag on the feet so that knockout was not very surprising. Hooper does not have great wrestling, but he averages over 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and is very dangerous on the mat when he does get the fight there. Of his 11 career wins, nine of them have come inside the distance and most of those were done on the mat.

I expect Hooper to be the better grappler in this fight and the more likely of the two to find a finish. Hooper struggles against powerful strikers, but Fiore does not seem to have the tools based on what we have seen and we know he is likely to engage in the grappling match that Hooper wants. Hooper by submission is the official pick and this is another strong target on DraftKings.

Rodrigo Nascimento vs Ilir Latifi
Nascimento, -180; Latifi, +155

Rodrigo Nascimento is coming off a split-decision victory over Tanner Boser in September. Nascimento is primarily a grappler with six of his nine career wins coming by submission. He trains out of American Top Team and has a solid skillset for the Heavyweight division. The concern with Nascimento is that he does not always go to the ground game and is too willing to get into striking brawls even when he has a clear advantage in the grappling.

His opponent, Ilir Latifi is coming off a decision victory over Alexey Oleinik in October. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and will look to keep that momentum going this Saturday. Latifi is extremely low volume on the feet but does still carry some power when he lets his hands go. He has relied on his own wrestling recently and averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes. He has also historically had great takedown defense and has yet to give up a takedown in the UFC.

I expect this fight to be competitive early with both men having trouble trying to grapple each other. Nascimento is going to have the striking advantage and will be working with a seven-inch reach advantage as well. Nascimento will be winning the striking exchanges clearly but could also get stuck on bottom if he allows Latifi to land takedowns so there is a little risk here. I still side with him to get it done as the low output boring style of Latifi is tough for me to trust. Nascimento by decision is the official pick but there are much better fights to target this week.

Orion Cosce vs Gilbert Urbina
Cosce, -130; Urbina, +110

Orion Cosce is coming off a decision win over Mike Matheta at UFC 277 last July. Cosce comes from a wrestling background and averages 2.3 takedowns per 15 minutes. He has power in his hands as well with six of his eight career wins coming by knockout. However, his striking defense still needs improvement as he gets hit clean way too often. Lastly, because of the aggressive wrestling and big movements in the striking, he tends to fade hard as the fight goes on.

His opponent, Gilbert Urbina is coming off nearly a two-year layoff after losing to Bryan Battle in the TUF finale in August of 2021. Urbina is a well-rounded fighter who is looking to push a pace on the feet. He is also a capable submission grappler and will look to mix in the takedowns as well. My biggest issue with Urbina is his durability. Despite never being knocked out in his career, he has been hurt and stung multiple times throughout his eight professional fights.

I expect this fight to play out competitively with both fighters having moments of success. I favor Cosce’s power on the feet, but his striking defense is terrible and if he starts to fade then his optics look very poor in terms of winning minutes too. Urbina can win this fight just by being the busier of the two if he is able to avoid getting hurt with the early power shots or getting stuck on his back. Urbina by decision is the official pick.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Vanessa Demopoulos
Kowalkiewicz, -130; Demopoulos, +110

Karolina Kowalkiewicz is coming off a decision win over Silvana Gomez Juarez at UFC 281 in November. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has proven she still has some gas left in the tank at nearly 38 years old. She is a high-volume striker that is looking to push a pace and move forward and brawl. She has recently shown off an improved ground game in her last couple fights, but I doubt that is the game plan in this matchup.

Her opponent, Vanessa Demopoulos is coming off a decision victory as well as she beat Maria Oliveira in November. She is currently on a three-fight winning streak since dropping her UFC to JJ Aldrich in 2021. She is primarily a grappler four of her nine career wins coming by submission. But her wrestling is not great so she struggles at times to get the fight where she needs it. She is somewhat of a punching bag on the feet, but she is very active while she has her cardio in check.

I expect this fight to be action packed from the opponent bell as both women like to push a pace and both of them have defensive flaws as well. Demopoulos likely needs to get the fight to the ground as Kowalkiewicz has been submitted multiple times in her career, but I am not sure if she will be able to do that. Kowalkiewicz is old but she is the better striker and likely the better wrestler as well. Kowalkiewicz by decision is the official pick.

Viacheslav Borshchev vs Maheshate
Borshchev, -165; Maheshate, +140

“Slava” Borshchev has hit a bid of a skid mark after bursting on to the UFC scene with a first-round knockout in his UFC debut. Since then, he has dropped two straight decisions and was taken down a combined 20 times in those fights. He is a great striker and has clear knockout power but his takedown defense would make Bryan Barberena blush. He defends takedowns at just 31% but is generally good at working back to his feet, he just struggles to stay there.

His opponent, Maheshate is coming off a decision loss to Rafa Garcia in December. He is primarily a striker and has real power in his own hands with four of his nine wins coming by knockout including his UFC debut at UFC 275. Maheshate is similar to Borshchev in that he is not interested in grappling and struggles to defend takedowns as well. Make no mistake about it, these boys are going to stand and trade.

This is a high variance fight with two powerful strikers that are going to look to slug it out on the feet. However, I favor the technicality and the counter striking of Borshchev significantly in this fight. I could see Borshchev catching him with a big counter and putting him out. Borshchev by knockout is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Carlos Diego Ferreira vs Michael Johnson
Ferreira, -155; Johnson, +135

We last saw Carlos Diego Ferreira in December of 2021 in a matchup with Mateusz Gamrot where he was hurt to the body and lost by knockout in the second round. He is currently on a three-fight losing streak and coming off a long layoff at 38 years old which is a bit concerning. But he has faced a murderer’s row of competition in that span, and this is a much better matchup for him. When at his best, Ferreira is a high-volume striker that is constantly active with his legs but he is much more deadly on the mat.

His opponent, Michael Johnson is coming off a decision victory over Marc Diakiese in December. Johnson is primarily a striker and can match the volume of Ferreira on the feet and will be the better boxer in this matchup. Johnson’s issues have always been his fight IQ and submission defense. He has put himself in bad spots countless times and has paid the price with nine submission losses. But he is not easy to takedown as he defends at 80% and comes from a wrestling background. He will need to keep the fight on the feet to win.

This is a fun matchup and one that I expect to be fairly popular on both sides. Ferreira has the higher ceiling on DraftKings with the potential grappling upside but there is some risk in that Johnson has stuffed the last 13 takedown attempts against him. I like Ferreira to bounce back in this fight and favor him to win due to the grappling upside, but I will have some exposure to both sides on DraftKings. Ferreira by submission is the official pick.

Joaquin Buckley vs Andre Fialho
Buckley, -225; Fialho, +190

Joaquin Buckley is coming off a second-round knockout to Chris Curtis at UFC 282 in December. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak after winning five of his first seven UFC bouts. Buckley is built like a fire hydrant and carries massive power with 11 of his 15 career wins coming by knockout. He has also shown the ability to land takedowns as well but typically only goes for them when he is hurt which is likely his biggest weakness being his durability.

His opponent, Andre Fialho is coming off a third-round TKO loss to Muslim Salikhov in November. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and was finished in both of those fights. He is very similar to Buckley in that he is primarily a striker and basically just has early knockout power. Of his 16 career wins, 13 of them have come by knockout with most of those being in the first round. But his durability is a legitimate concern as well as he has been knocked out four times in his career.

This is another high variance fight where both guys have clear power and obvious durability concerns. Either guy is capable of winning by knockout which makes this another strong target on DraftKings. But I trust the durability and the skillset of Buckley more in this fight so will be siding with him. Buckley by knockout is the official pick but I will exposure to both sides in hopes that we see an early knockout.

Loopy Godinez vs Emily Ducote
Godinez, -150; Ducote, +130

Loopy Godinez is coming off a split-decision victory over Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 287 just six weeks ago. She is a well-rounded fighter with a solid frame and powerful boxing. But what is likely her best skillset is her wrestling as she averages nearly four takedowns per 15 minutes. The problem is she is not always aggressive in getting the fight to the ground and her fight IQ has been questioned multiple times.

Her opponent, Emily Ducote is coming off a letdown against Angela Hill where she was basically outclassed from pillar to post. She was unable to get a read on Hill early and it clearly frustrated her and she was constantly one step behind in the striking. But this is a much different matchup for her and unless Godinez is shooting multiple takedowns then I expect it to play out very competitively. Ducote is a skilled striker and will be throwing more volume than Godinez as well.

This fight will be close as it plays out on the feet with Ducote likely landing more kicks at range while Godinez tries to close distance. Godinez has the more upside with her wrestling ability but Ducote is a decent grappler as well and there is no guarantee that Godinez comes in with that gameplan. I bet Ducote at the open at +170 because I believe this is close to a 50/50 fight. Ducote by split-decision is the official pick.

Anthony Hernandez vs Edmen Shahbazyan
Hernandez, -240; Shahbazyan, +200

Anthony Hernandez is fresh off a third-round submission victory over Marc-Andre Barriault last September. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak and trying to keep building momentum as he works his way up the division. Hernandez is an aggressive grappler and he averages 6.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has the gas tank to keep that pace the entire fight. He is a very difficult opponent to deal with because of that relentless pace and wrestling.

His opponent, Edmen Shahbazyan is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Dalcha Lungiambula in December. That win snapped a three-fight losing streak for him and it was good to see him get back in the win column. Shahbazyan is a dangerous finisher early in the fight as all but two of his 12 career wins have come inside the first round. His biggest issue is that he is historically known as a gassy boy as he fades badly outside of the first round. Once the cardio fails him, he can be tagged at will on the feet and outgrappled easily on the mat.

Hernandez will need to avoid the early burst of Shahbazyan but he will likely look to get this fight to the ground early and often. It is only a matter of time before he breaks him on the ground. Hernandez by submission is the official pick and this is another excellent fight to target on DraftKings.

Mackenzie Dern vs Angela Hill
Dern, -170; Hill, +145

This fight was originally supposed to go down last week but was moved to the main event slot for this weekend. Mackenzie Dern is coming off a majority decision loss against Yan Xiaonan in October. At this point, it is obvious what Dern brings to the table as she is the most dangerous submission grappler across any of the women’s divisions. Seven of her 12 career wins have come by submission but her wrestling is still very poor with just an 11% accuracy rate. Despite not being good at landing takedowns, she has been very creative in working to get fights to the ground and typically makes quick work of her opponents when she gets it down there.

Her opponent, Angela Hill is coming off a decision win over Emily Ducote in December. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and is working her way into title discussion with a victory this weekend. Hill is primarily a striker and comes from a Muay Thai background. She throws in high volume on the feet and will have a clear striking advantage in this matchup. But one of her biggest issues in her career is her defensive grappling as she has been submitted multiple times.

I expect Hill to be landing more volume on the feet and trying frantically to keep the fight standing. But I feel it is only a matter of time before Dern forces some sort of grappling exchange from the clinch or even by pulling guard. If she gets Hill to grapple, then it’s game over. Dern by submission is the official pick.