We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 76 in Las Vegas! We have an action-packed 12-fight slate on DraftKings which is usually the sweet spot for me assuming we don’t lose any fights. 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.

Guram Kutateladze vs Elves Brener
Kutateladze, -520; Brener, +410

Guram Kutateladze is coming off a split-decision to Damir Ismagulov last June. He was scheduled to fight Jamie Mullarkey a few weeks ago but the fight was scrapped due to visa complications for Kutateladze. He is a powerful striker with seven of his 12 career wins coming by knockout. He is also difficult to take down and control, which will be a factor in this fight. My main issue with him is that he is one-dimensional as he typically doesn’t look to grapple offensively, and he is not blowing away the competition with his striking unless he is having big moments because he is not a volume machine by any stretch.

His opponent, Elves Brener is coming off a split-decision victory in his UFC debut against Zubaira Tukhugov in February at UFC 284. He is primarily a submission grappler with 11 of his 14 career wins coming on the mat. On the feet, he is willing to scrap but he is going to be at a technical disadvantage in this fight along with being the inferior striker. I doubt he will be able to take down Kutateladze or control him much, if at all. Which makes me think we have a kickboxing match and that strongly favors Kutateladze who should cruise in this fight. Kutateladze by decision is the official pick.

Alexander Romanov vs Blagoy Ivanov
Romanov, -135; Ivanov, +115

We last saw Alexander Romanov just a few months ago and he lost by TKO in the first round at the hands of Alexander Volkov in March. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and will try to right the ship this weekend. Romanov is a powerful grappler and dangerous finisher in the first round. But we have seen time and time again that he gasses out badly after his initial burst if the finish does not materialize. If you are able to keep the fight standing then it is only a matter of time before his cardio fails him.

His opponent, Blagoy Ivanov is coming off a decision loss to Marcin Tybura in February. He has now lost three of his last four fights and turns 37 years old in a few months. Ivanov has been known for his durability his entire career as he has never been knocked out before. He is primarily a striker but rarely looks to wrestle and does not keep a high pace on the feet either so he is typically fighting on thin margins.

Romanov only has enough gas to threaten a finish in the first round but he is very dangerous for those first few minutes especially if you let him get the fight to the ground. Ivanov is a potential look to live bet if he survives the first round but I am not sure he will be able to. Romanov by submission is the official pick.

Ivana Petrovic vs Luana Carolina
Petrovic, -215; Carolina, +185

Ivana Petrovic is making her UFC debut this weekend. She is the former Flyweight champion in Ares FC. She is a 6-0 undefeated prospect with five of her six wins coming inside the distance. She fights out of the southpaw stance and is primarily a grappler. She is willing to slug it out on the feet, but her best work comes when she mixes in the takedowns. But I have some concerns as her striking defense needs improvement and she has yet to face any real competition on the regional scene.

Her opponent, Luana Carolina is coming off a split-decision loss to Joanne Wood at UFC 286 in March. She is currently on a two-fight losing streak and is looking to spoil the debut of the UFC newcomer. Carolina is long and rangy and wants to keep the fight on the feet where she can spam volume. Her defensive grappling has always been an issue but she is not easy to takedown, so it is possible she turns this into a striking match.

Petrovic is going to have a clear grappling advantage and liable to find a finish on the mat if she gets the fight there. But this is still a massive amount of respect for a UFC newcomer that has not been tested by any real competition. Carolina is the better striker and despite the grappling deficiencies, she is more proven at this level. I expect her to keep the fight standing for the majority and get the better of the exchanges. Carolina by decision is the official pick.

Karol Rosa vs Yana Santos
Rosa, -165; Santos, +140

Karol Rosa is stepping in to replace Macy Chiasson who pulled out of the fight this weekend. Rosa is coming off a decision loss to Norma Dumont in April. Rosa seemed like a solid prospect when she joined the UFC and won her first four bouts but we have seen some gaping holes be exposed over her last few fights. On the feet, she is solid striker that usually likes to keep a high pace and land in volume. She can also mix in a couple takedowns against opponents that cannot outwrestle her. But at times, we have seen the volume not be there on the feet and she can be taken down and out grappled by anyone with a competent ground game. Those two issues alone make it tough to trust her as a sizable favorite.

Her opponent, Yana Santos is coming off a decision loss to Holly Holm. She is currently on a two-fight losing streak but has faced much stiffer competition in that span. Santos is well-rounded enough to compete everywhere but she is very vanilla in her striking and she defends takedowns at under 50% in the UFC. She is a flimsy fighter as she struggles with the physicality at times and has been knocked out three times in her career.

This is likely going to be a boring fight and one that I have little interest in for DraftKings. I expect Rosa to be landing more volume on the feet and slightly favor her to land a takedown if either were to do so. But she is tough to trust in general and this should be competitive. Rosa by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Joanderson Brito vs Westin Wilson
Brito, -850; Wilson, +600

Joanderson Brito is coming off an impressive first-round submission victory over Lucas Alexander in October. He is a former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner and represents the Chute Boxe team in Brazil. He is a very explosive fighter with big power in his hands and a solid ground game as well as he averages just under four takedowns per 15 minutes. His cardio does seem to fade whenever fights get extended, but he is a dangerous finisher so many of his fights do not get there.

His opponent, Westin Wilson is making his UFC debut on short notice this weekend. He is a 16-7 fighter who has fought basically nobody worth anything on the regional scene. He is 34 years old and quite frankly, has no business fighting in the UFC. Brito is the heaviest favorite on the card and for good reason. They brought in any warm body for Brito to get another highlight reel finish. Brito by knockout is the official pick and he is one of the safest plays on DraftKings this week.

Rinat Fakhretdinov vs Kevin Lee
Fakhretdinov, -205; Lee, +175

Rinat Fakhretdinov is coming off a dominant performance over Bryan Battle in December. He is 2-0 in the UFC and currently on a 19-fight winning streak. Fakhretdinov is primarily a grappler and landed five or more takedowns in each of his two UFC bouts. He has power on the feet as well and has a good gas tank to push a hard grappling pace for 15 minutes if needed. The only issue is that he does get a bit sloppy on the feet and can be clipped but it is going to be someone that can defend takedowns and make him pay.

His opponent, Kevin Lee is making his return to the UFC and looks to play spoiler this weekend. Lee is coming off a 15-month layoff after winning a decision over Diego Sanchez in Eagle FC last year. Years ago, he was known as a legitimate prospect in the 155 lb. division with strong wrestling skills and powerful striking. However, injuries seem to have taken a toll on his body and he lost four of his last five fights prior to being cut from the UFC. I doubt his training situation has been great and he is taking this fight at 170 lbs. so he is going to be undersized in this matchup. Lastly, the cardio has always been an issue for Lee when forced to wrestle and he has never had strong fight IQ either.

I expect Fakhretdinov to land multiple takedowns throughout this fight. He may struggle to control Lee early but the cardio dynamic is going to favor him largely as the fight goes on. Fakhretdinov by TKO is the official pick and he is a strong target on DraftKings.

Brunno Ferreira vs Nursulton Ruziboev
Ferreira, -160; Ruziboev, +140

Brunno Ferreira shocked the world when he knocked out Gregory Rodrigues in his UFC debut as a big underdog at UFC 283 in January. He is an undefeated 10-0 prospect with all of his wins coming inside the distance. Of his 10 victories, eight of them have come inside the first round. That speaks to his explosive style as he is very powerful on the feet and can mix in some takedowns if he needs to as well. The main thing to worry about with Ferreira is that his cardio is entirely unproven and he is so reckless at times that he can be countered by good strikers.

His opponent, Nursulton Ruziboev is making his UFC debut on short notice. He sports a 34-8 professional record and is fighting out of Uzbekistan. Despite the long professional career on the regional scene, I have some concerns with him at the UFC level. For starters, his record seems padded as most of the opposition he faced were very low level. Additionally, he seems to fade as the fight goes on and has lost nearly every time his fights reach the judges scorecards. But he does seem pretty dangerous early on as he has explosive striking and is very opportunistic with his submission attempts as well. He is the type of fighter that you can never fully count out because of his finishing ability, but you also never want to trust his round winning ability either.

This is a fun matchup with two explosive guys that are likely going to put on a show for as long as the fight lasts. I favor the power of Ferreira and the wrestling as well but acknowledge that both of these guys are capable of finishing each other. For that reason, I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings and plan to be overweight to this fight as a whole. Ferreira by TKO is the official pick.

Ismael Bonfim vs Benoit St. Denis
Bonfim, -325; St Denis, +270

Ismael Bonfim is coming off an electric knockout victory over Terrance McKinney at UFC 283 in January. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series and is the older brother of Welterweight prospect, Gabriel Bonfim. He has some sharp striking skills with great footwork and fast hands. Nine of his 19 career wins have come by knockout as well so he is capable of landing some big shots. His defensive grappling has been an issue dating back to his regional scene fights but it seems he has shored up his takedown defense and grappling holes to a degree.

His opponent, Benoit St. Denis is coming off a second-round TKO finish over Gabriel Miranda in September. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak since dropping his UFC debut to Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos back in 2021. He is primarily a grappler and he averages 3.36 takedowns per 15 minutes. Of his 10 career wins, eight of them have come by submission and five of those were inside the first round. His striking is still improving but he is very durable and has great cardio to keep a pace for 15 minutes if needed.

I cannot help but feel Bonfim is being overvalued in this spot. He should have a clear striking advantage but I am not convinced it will be so wide to validate this pricing, especially factoring in St. Denis may be able to have some success grappling. Bonfim winning a striking based decision is still the most likely outcome of this fight but I will be treating St. Denis as a live underdog with a grappling path to victory. Bonfim by decision is the official pick but I will have more exposure to the underdog on DraftKings.

Melissa Gatto vs Ariane Lipski
Gatto, -195; Lipski, +165

Melissa Gatto is coming off a decision loss to Tracy Cortez at UFC 274 last May. That loss snapped a three-fight winning streak and was the first official loss of her career. She is primarily a grappler with a dangerous guard and four of her eight victories have come by submission. But she is a capable striker as well and showed off some power with a knockdown against Sijara Eubanks in her fight prior. The main issue with Gatto is that being a guard player, she is willing to accept takedowns and at times could spend too long on her back giving up dominant positions.

Her opponent, Ariane Lipski is coming off a decision victory over JJ Aldrich in March. Lipski is primarily a striker and does have some powerful boxing for this division. Despite having multiple knockdowns, she has yet to find a knockout at the UFC level. The easiest way to beat her is by forcing her to grapple as she only defends takedowns at 73% but it has been improving her last few fights. Her durability is a concern though as she does not move her head off the center line and has been knocked out four times in her career.

I favor Gatto in this matchup as she has nearly all the grappling upside. Additionally, I trust Gatto’s durability more even if she is not as good of a pure boxer, I feel she has more upside to hurt Lipski on the feet as well. Gatto by submission is the official pick.

Michael Morales vs Max Griffin
Morales, -245; Griffin, +205

Michael Morales is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Adam Fugitt at UFC 277 last July. He is a 14-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of Ecuador. Of his 14 career victories, 11 of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker with legitimate knockout power but is capable of mixing in the takedowns as well. He keeps a high pace on the feet but his striking defense has been a concern for me for a while now as he gets hit clean way too often. He is young and durable at this stage but eventually someone can make him pay and we have seen him stunned already.

His opponent, Max Griffin is coming off a split-decision victory over Tim Means in October. He has now won four of his last five fights and is looking to keep building momentum this Saturday. Griffin is a powerful striker with nine of his 19 wins coming by knockout. He has also landed eight knockdowns in the UFC including one in each of his last four fights. He is also capable of landing takedowns as he averages 1.6 takedowns per 15 minutes. The main issue with Griffin is that he slows down as the fight goes on typically because he goes so hard in the first round.

I expect this fight to be very competitive which gives me some interest in Griffin as an underdog. Morales is very athletic and likely has the cardio edge, but Griffin is very powerful and should be able to land on Morales often. I do not trust the gas tank of Griffin, but this line is disrespectful in terms of skillset disparity between the two. Griffin by decision is the official pick.

Damir Ismagulov vs Grant Dawson
Ismagulov, -125; Dawson, +105

Damir Ismagulov is coming off a decision loss to Arman Tsarukyan in December. That loss snapped a 19-fight winning streak and he looks to rebound this weekend. Ismagulov is a technical striker that will fight behind his jab and is very good at avoiding damage coming back his way. He is also difficult to take down and control and occasionally looks to land takedowns of his own. He has also proven to be very durable as he has never been finished in his entire career.

His opponent, Grant Dawson is coming off a third-round submission victory over Mark Madsen in November. Dawson is an aggressive wrestler and averages 3.8 takedowns per 15 minutes. He is yet to lose in the UFC through eight bouts but has had some very sweaty moments in multiple fights. His grappling is great but on the feet, he is still a complete punching bag and gets stung repeatedly which is concerning. He has always been good about forcing it to the ground when getting hurt on the feet but that is not something I want to bank on especially considering this matchup.

I expect Dawson to have a clear advantage on the mat but I always feel uneasy when I watch him in striking exchanges. He needs to get this fight to the mat immediately as he will be getting tagged on the feet. Ultimately, I do side with him getting it to the ground and getting his hand raised. Dawson by decision is the official pick.

Sean Strickland vs Abusupiyan Magomedov
Strickland, -175; Magomedov, +150

Sean Strickland will have his third straight main event this weekend after beating Nassourdine Imavov by decision in January. At this point, we know what to expect from Strickland. He is a high-volume striker with a great jab and will keep a strong pace throughout the fight. He is also a good defensive grappler and forces his opponents to strike with him. He is a volume machine and generally turns his fights into sparring matches which can get boring at times as he is very good defensively as well.

His opponent, Abusupiyan Magomedov is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Dustin Stoltzfus in his UFC debut in September. He sports a 25-4 professional record with 20 wins coming inside the distance. He is a wild man on the feet but is very aggressive and does carry some knockout power. He has also shown the ability to land takedowns and hunt for submissions on the mat. His biggest issue is his recklessness on the feet and I have concerns with his gas tank in a five rounder.

This is an interesting matchup as I favor the finishing upside of Magomedov, particularly early in the fight. But over the course of 25 minutes, I have to expect Strickland to be landing more volume and clearly winning rounds as the fight gets extended. Strickland by decision is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings.