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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 74 in Las Vegas! We have an action-packed 13-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.

Maxim Grishin vs Philipe Lins
Grishin, -130; Lins, +110

Maxim Grishin is coming off a decision win over William Knight at UFC 271 in February. I have never been very impressed with Grishin since coming over to the UFC from PFL. He is a technical striker but does not put enough volume out there and never proactively grapples so it is tough for me to back him as a favorite in most matchups.

His opponent, Philipe Lins is coming off a decision victory over Marcin Prachnio in April. Lins is the former Heavyweight champion in PFL and has also not looked as good under the UFC banner. It was encouraging to see him implement the wrestling as he landed four takedowns in his last fight. He holds a black belt in BJJ and should have a grappling advantage if he goes to his wrestling in this fight. However, on the feet, he lacks the power that Grishin has along with the technique as well.

This is an easy stay away fight for me from a betting perspective but in terms of DraftKings, I have more interest in Lins as the underdog and the wrestling upside. Lins by decision is the official pick.

Luan Lacerda vs Da’Mon Blackshear
Lacerda, -145; Blackshear, +125

Luan Lacerda made his UFC debut in January at UFC 283 and gave Cody Stamann all he could handle before losing a decision. He is a 12-2 prospect fighting out of Brazil and previously fought in LFA. Of his 12 career victories, 10 of those have come by submission and he holds a black belt in BJJ. He is also a capable wrestler as he has shown good timing on his takedowns throughout the regional scene and even took Stamann down as well. On the feet, he is not the most technical guy out there, but he is looking to stay busy and throw volume which makes things happen. Because his ground game is his strength, he can take extra chances on the feet because his opponents are worried about grappling exchanges.

His opponent, Da’Mon Blackshear is coming off a decision loss to Farid Basharat at UFC 285 in March. Blackshear trains out of Jackson Wink MMA and is primarily a grappler as well. He has landed one takedown in each of his UFC fights, and we have seen him wrestle on the regional scene as well. Eight of his 12 wins have come by submission so we should see multiple grappling exchanges from these two. On the feet, Blackshear is low volume and not going to push a pace and has shown a suspect gas tank in the past.

I favor Lacerda to be the more active fighter on the feet and he should have success getting ahead on the scorecards with his forward pressure and leg kicks. Both fighters can have spurts of grappling success, but I rate Lacerda as the more dangerous submission grappler as well and he is liable to put Blackshear in danger multiple times on the mat. Lacerda by decision is the official pick.

Elise Reed vs Jinh Yu Frey
Reed, -130; Frey, +110

Elise Reed is coming off a second-round submission loss to Loma Lookboonmee at UFC 284 in February. She is primarily a kickboxer but rarely pushes a pace on the feet. She has powerful kicks but needs to throw more and she is very hittable in striking exchanges as well. But her biggest weakness is her defensive grappling and her inability to defend takedowns at just 47% in the UFC.

Her opponent, Jinh Yu Frey is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Polyana Viana in November. She is currently on a two-fight losing streak and just turned 38 years old. I never rated her skillset very highly but she is going to be competitive on the feet in this matchup as neither fighter is going to blow you away. She arguably hits harder than Reed and has the ability to land multiple takedowns as well which should be enough to edge this fight. Frey by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target this week on DraftKings.

Daniel Santos vs Johnny Munoz
Santos, -205; Munoz, +175

Daniel “Willycat” Santos is coming off an impressive second-round TKO victory over John Castaneda last October. He is an explosive striker with six of his 11 wins coming by knockout. He has a variety of tools on the feet and will throw a lot of spinning attacks along with constant forward pressure and volume. His cardio seems to check out as well, but his defensive grappling seems to be a clear weakness in his game.

His opponent, Johnny Munoz is coming off a dominant decision victory over Liudvik Sholinian in November. Munoz is a dangerous submission grappler with seven of his 12 career wins coming by submission and he holds a black belt in BJJ. On the feet, his striking is not very diverse, but he does have some powerful kicks and will primarily look to stay on the outside and not force pocket exchanges. He is at his best when he can implement the grappling and he averages 2.32 takedowns per 15 minutes. The main concern with Munoz is his durability as he may be in trouble if he cannot get this fight to the ground.

On the feet, Santos is going to have a clear volume and power advantage. Munoz needs to get this fight to the ground early and often. This is a great fight to target right off the bat as Santos pushes a high pace and has knockout upside while Munoz has clear grappling upside if he were to pull off the upset. For that reason, I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings, but the official pick is Santos by TKO.

Don’Tale Mayes vs Andrei Arlovski
Mayes, -125; Arlovski, +105

Don’Tale Mayes is coming off a decision loss to Augusto Sakai in February. Mayes is historically an untrustworthy fighter. He will likely have a wrestling advantage in this fight, but we have rarely seen him be aggressive with his wrestling and only averages around one takedown per 15 minutes. On the feet, he has some power but is low volume and is typically outlanded as well.

His opponent, Andrei Arlovski is coming off a first-round submission loss to Marcos Rogerio De Lima in October. That loss snapped a four-fight winning streak and at 44 years old, Arlovski looks to get back in the win column this weekend. His biggest weakness has always been his defensive grappling as he has been submitted in each of his last two losses. But on the feet, Arlovski is much cleaner than Mayes and will likely circle around the outside and avoid the big power shots coming back at him.

I favor Arlovski on the feet and do not expect Mayes to have much success grappling or even attempt to wrestle like he should. Arlovski by decision is the official pick but this fight does not have much upside for DraftKings.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos
Nurmagomedov, -110; Dos Santos, -110

Abubakar Nurmagomedov is coming off a decision victory over Gadzhi Omargadzhiev at UFC 280 last October. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak since dropping his UFC debut. He previously had success fighting in PFL and the Russian regional scene. 10 of his 17 wins have come by finish but most of those came on the regional scene and he has not shown much of a finishing threat so far in the UFC. On the feet, he is not going to push a pace, but he is a capable control grappler like most of the Nurmagomedov’s tend to be. His biggest issue is getting caught in submissions and that is the way he lost his last two losses.

His opponent, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos is coming off nearly a two-year layoff as he lost won a decision over Benoit St. Denis at UFC 267 in October of 2021. He was issued a suspension by USADA for a failed drug test so that was part of the reason for the extended layoff. When he is at his best, Dos Santos is a brawler that is looking to keep a high pace on the feet and 14 of his 23 career wins have come by knockout. My issue with Dos Santos, aside from the extended layoff, is that he turns 37 years old later this year and has always struggled to defend takedowns.

I expect Dos Santos to be the more dangerous striker on the feet, but I expect Nurmagomedov to have some success as well. I also think that Nurmagomedov should be able to land multiple takedowns here which could be enough to swing rounds if it is competitive. Nurmagomedov by decision is the official pick.

Jamie Mullarkey vs Muhammadjon Naimov
Mullarkey, -500; Naimov, +400

Jamie Mullarkey was originally scheduled to face Guram Kutateladze who pulled out of the fight. Mullarkey is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has won four of his last fights. He is always looking to push a pace on his opponents as he is constantly moving forward and throwing volume. He is also a capable wrestler as he averages over 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. His control is not great and his durability is a concern but his fighting style correlates well with winning minutes despite not being the most skilled fighter.

His opponent, Muhammadjon Naimov is stepping up on short notice to make his UFC debut. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2020 and dropped a decision to Collin Anglin. He is a powerful striker with four of his eight victories coming by knockout. However, he can be outgrappled and his gas tank is not great either. It is possible he can land a big shot early on Mullarkey but that is his only win condition. Mullarkey should really maul this guy and finish him late. Mullarkey by TKO is the official pick and he is a free square play on DraftKings due to the salary mishap.

John Castaneda vs Muin Gafurov
Castaneda, -125; Gafurov, +105

John Castaneda is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Daniel Santos last October. Despite the recent loss, Castaneda is a very well-rounded prospect. He typically keeps a good pace on the feet with solid boxing and he averages nearly 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes as well. His biggest issue is that he is not good at defending takedowns, but he is good at working back to his feet which we will likely see multiple times in this fight.

His opponent, Muin Gafurov is making his UFC debut on short notice. Gafurov fought on Dana White’s Contender Series two years ago and lost a split-decision against Chad Anheliger as a big favorite. He fights out of Tajikistan and is a two-time world combat sambo world champion. Since losing his DWCS bout, he has put together two straight victories in LFA, both of which coming by knockout. He has clear power on the feet and is capable of landing multiple takedowns as well. But his control is not great and managing his cardio has been an issue in the past as well. Lastly, he tends to put his neck where it does not belong and eventually someone will make him pay for that.

I expect Gafurov to be able to land some takedowns, but I doubt he can control Castaneda much at all on the mat. I think he will need to land something big on the feet, but I expect Castaneda to be able to withstand the early storm and take over as the fight goes on. Due to the short notice nature, I think Gafurov needs a finish and don’t think he gets one either. Castaneda by submission is the official pick.

Karine Silva vs Ketlen Souza
Silva, -225; Souza, +195

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, Ketlen Souza is making her UFC debut this weekend. She is currently on a five-fight winning streak and her two most recent bouts came over in Invicta. She seems to be well-rounded enough to compete at the UFC level. However, she can be taken down and I think she is going to struggle with the physicality in this matchup from the bigger Silva. She has also been knocked out in two of her three career losses.

Silva is not a great minute winner, but she is much more powerful on the feet and if she starts landing some big shots then I do not think Souza will be able to hang around. Silva by TKO is the official pick.

Tim Elliott vs Victor Altamirano
Elliott, -175; Altamirano, +150

Tim Elliott is coming off a decision victory over Tagir Ulanbekov at UFC 272 last March. He has now won three of his last four fights. He comes from a wrestling background and averages 3.73 takedowns per 15 minutes. He has been dealing with some personal issues outside of the octagon but when he is at his best, he can push a serious pace. The concern with Elliott for me has always been his durability as he has been wobbled multiple times over his last few fights and has been submitted five times in his career.

His opponent, Victor Altamirano is coming off a decision win over Vinicius Salvador in March. Altamirano is another Dana White’s Contender Series graduate from 2021 and has put together a two-fight winning streak in the UFC. I have referred to him in the past as a budget version of Brandon Royval. His fighting style is very similar as he is looking to move forward and spam volume. He has shown to have good cardio and be able to push a pace for 15 minutes if needed. He has some sneaky submission upside as well considering this matchup.

I expect Elliott to be able to land multiple takedowns as Altamirano does not have the greatest hips. However, Altamirano has a good chance to hurt Elliott on the feet and can potentially catch him in a submission attempt during the grappling exchanges. Altamirano by submission is the official pick and this is a great fight to target on DraftKings as I expect the winner to score well either way.

Jared Gordon vs Jim Miller
Gordon, -190; Miller, +160

Jared Gordon fought over six weeks ago and lost by TKO to Bobby Green although it was a headbutt and the fight was deemed a no contest. In any event, this is a very quick turnaround for a knockout loss which is concerning when you think about how Gordon has taken four other knockout losses. But outside of his durability issues, Gordon is still a good fighter with a very well-rounded skillset. He does not carry much power on the feet, but he pushes a good pace with volume and can mix in takedowns at two takedowns per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Jim Miller is coming off a decision loss to Alexander Hernandez in February. That loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Miller and he will look to rebound this weekend. At nearly 40 years old, A-10 Miller is still flying down the runway. He has showcased his good boxing in recent fights and has clear knockout ability. He is also one of the most dangerous grapplers in the division with the most submission attempts in UFC history. The glaring issue with Miller is his gas tank as he fades after round one which makes his durability tend to go as the fight gets extended.

Miller will likely need to hurt Gordon on the feet early in this fight. While that is possible, it is a lower percentage outcome and the most likely result is that Gordon paces him and takes over heavily as the fight goes on with control grappling and cardio advantage. Gordon by decision is the official pick and this is another solid target on DraftKings.

Alex Caceres vs Daniel Pineda
Caceres, -175; Pineda, +150

Alex Caceres is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Julian Erosa in December. He has now won six of his last seven fights with three of those wins coming by finish. His striking is not sexy, but he is very difficult to deal with as he makes it difficult for his opponents to land big shots or heavy volume. He is also a good submission grappler with seven of his 20 wins coming by submission.

His opponent, Daniel Pineda is coming off a second-round submission victory over Tucker Lutz in March. Pineda is historically a kill or be killed style of fighter. His last 12 fights have all ended inside the distance and he has only reached the judges’ scorecards five times across 42 professional fights. He has some powerful kicks on the feet and is an opportunistic submission grappler as he holds a black belt in BJJ. His biggest weakness is that he is known to be a gassy boy as well as he fades hard after the first round.

Caceres is not the style of fighter I feel comfortable backing as a sizable favorite. That being said, Pineda is similar to Miller in the sense that if he cannot find an early finish then the cards are stacked against him. Caceres can likely finish Pineda in the later rounds, but it depends how aggressive he is in pushing a finish. Caceres by submission is the official pick.

Kai Kara-France vs Amir Albazi
France, -110; Albazi, -110

Kai Kara-France gave Brandon Moreno one hell of a fight at UFC 277 last July. He lost by third-round TKO and that snapped a three-fight winning streak. He is one of the most powerful strikers in the Flyweight division and 11 of his 24 wins have come by knockout. He pushes a pace on the feet with volume and is historically difficult to take down and very hard to control on the mat. His biggest weakness has been his defensive grappling because if you can get him down and hunt submissions then you may be able to take advantage.

His opponent, Amir Albazi is coming off an impressive third-round TKO victory over Alessandro Costa in December. He is a 16-1 prospect and is currently on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC. Albazi is a very well-rounded prospect with solid boxing and a strong ground game as well. He averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and will need to pursue the grappling in this matchup as that is likely his biggest advantage.

I expect Kai Kara-France to land the bigger shots on the feet. Additionally, he is not easy to take down or control and I could see Albazi struggling in that area and possibly taxing his gas tank as well. Albazi has looked great so far but this is a massive step up for him as he has fought the lowest tier of the division so far and Kara-France is much more proven. Kara-France by decision is the official pick.