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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Jacksonville! We have a fun 14-fight slate on DraftKings which is always fun as we can get some ownership discounts and we have some really fun fights to target. It also helps that on DraftKings we have another $100,000 to first place in the main contest.

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.

Jafel Filho vs Daniel Barez
Filho, -115; Barez, -105

Jafel Filho is coming off a third-round submission loss to Muhammad Mokaev in his UFC debut at UFC 286 in March. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and is a 14-3 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 14 career victories, 13 of them have come inside the distance. He holds a black belt in BJJ and has eight submission victories to his credit. But he is not a great round winner and typically needs to get his grappling going or have big moments on the feet to win fights. His wrestling is not very good and he can give up takedowns and will spend too much time playing guard while laying on his back. On the feet, he does have a little power but is not a big knockout threat and is mostly looking to land leg kicks.

His opponent, Daniel Barez is making his UFC debut this weekend. You may recognize the name as he fought on Dana White’s Contender Series two seasons ago and lost a competitive split-decision against Carlos Hernandez. Since then, he has finished four straight opponents and is now getting his shot in the UFC as a short-notice replacement. He comes from a high-level grappling background as he is a Spanish combat sambo gold medalist and a European No-gi bronze medalist. But his striking is very explosive as well as he carries significant power for the Flyweight division. Of his 16 career victories, 13 of them have come by finish and he can finish the fight in multiple areas. He also has good wrestling and great timing on his entries as well along with the cardio to push a pace for 15 minutes if needed.

I favor Barez in basically every category of MMA. He is the better boxer and should have a speed advantage on the feet. He has sharp leg kicks and a strong jab and will have the power advantage as well. He is the better wrestler by far and more likely to land takedowns and spend time in top position. Despite Filho being the black belt, I expect Barez to be the better grappler as well. Barez by submission is the official pick and he is a great target on DraftKings.

Bruna Brasil vs Shauna Bannon
Brasil, -125; Bannon, +105

Bruna Brasil is coming off a knockout loss in her UFC debut at the hands of Denise Gomes in April. That loss snapped a seven-fight winning streak for her and she looks to rebound this weekend. She is another Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner from this past season. She comes from a kickboxing background and five of her eight career wins have come inside the distance. She is very physical but can be taken down and controlled by better grapplers and has been knocked out three times in her young career which is a concern.

Her opponent, Shauna Bannon is making her UFC debut this weekend. She is an undefeated 5-0 prospect fighting out of Ireland. Of her five career wins, three of them have come by decision. It is clear that the UFC wants to market her as a rising Irish star but honestly, the talent does not seem that great to me. She is primarily a striker but does not seem to have much power and I do not think her defensive grappling will hold up at the UFC level.

It almost feels like Bannon is just a lesser version of Brasil to me. Brasil is the more technical striker and has more power as well. She also seems to be the more well-rounded of the two which has me siding with her in this matchup. Brasil by decision is the official pick but there are much better fights to target on DraftKings.

Chris Duncan vs Yanal Ashmoz
Duncan, -120; Ashmoz, +100

We last saw Chris Duncan at UFC 286 in his UFC debut as he won a split-decision over Omar Morales. Duncan is yet another Contender Series graduate and is currently on a three-fight winning streak. Of his 10 career victories, seven of them have come by knockout and he clearly has big power on the feet. He has also shown the ability to mix in takedowns as he landed five in his debut and wrestled throughout the regional scene as well. The biggest concern with Duncan is his striking defense as he gets hit clean too often and has been hurt multiple times which has me worried about his durability long term.

His opponent, Yanal Ashmoz came through as a big underdog in his UFC debut with a knockout victory over Sam Patterson in March. He is an undefeated 7-0 prospect fighting out of Israel. Six of his seven career wins have come by finish, but he seems to have a well-rounded skillset. I expect him to be competitive with Duncan on the feet as both guys have knockout ability and want to exchange. The main issue with Ashmoz is that he is still very unproven and despite the knockout win in his debut, I still have questions about him when facing UFC level competition.

This is a fun fight to target as both fighters have clear finishing ability and are priced in the mid-range on DraftKings. For that reason, I will have exposure to both sides but I trust the durability and defense more on the Ashmoz side and think he comes through with another upset victory. Ashmoz by TKO is the official pick.

Ketlen Vieira vs Pannie Kianzad
Vieira, -170; Kianzad, +145

Ketlen Vieira is coming off a split-decision loss to Raquel Pennington in January. She is one of the better fighters in the division but just seems to come up short against the elite tier of fighters. She has power on the feet but is typically lower volume and struggles in the defense department which explains why she tends to get outlanded by her opponents. She is a capable grappler as well but only averages 1.3 takedowns per 15 minutes.

Her opponent, Pannie Kianzad is coming off a decision victory over Lina Lansberg in April of last year. She is primarily a striker and comes from a Muay Thai striking background. She keeps a high pace on the feet and is well rounded wherever the fight goes. Her biggest issue is that she can be controlled for extended periods if you are able to get her to the ground. But she is not easy to takedown and should make Vieira work hard for any takedowns.

I expect this to be a competitive fight with Kianzad having the output advantage on the feet and Vieira having the grappling upside. Vieira’s cardio has been an issue for her in the past but it seems to be better than it used to with her having gone five rounds multiple times now. I expect her grappling to give her the edge just barely. Vieira by split-decision is the official pick but there are much better fights to target on a 15-fight slate for DraftKings.

Makhmud Muradov vs Bryan Barberena
Muradov, -280; Barberena, +220

Makhmud Muradov is coming off a decision loss to Caio Borralho at UFC 280 in October. He is currently on a two-fight losing skid and looking to get back in the win column on Saturday. Muradov is a powerful striker with 17 of his 25 wins coming by way of knockout. He always looks good early but tends to fade if the fight gets extended, especially if you force him to defensively grapple. Fortunately for him, this is the first time in a few years that he is not facing a grappler. I expect him to fully take advantage of that.

His opponent, Bryan Barberena is coming off a first-round submission loss to Gunnar Nelson at UFC 286 in March. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak as well but he has faced stiff competition in Rafael Dos Anjos and the Nelson fight I mentioned. He is primarily a striker and pushes a solid pace on the feet but I worry about his durability in this fight. If he is going to stand and trade with Muradov then I think he gets knocked out here at a high clip. He has been in countless wars over the years along with multiple major surgeries as well and has been finished in five of his 10 professional losses.

I expect Muradov to have the striking advantage along with the knockout upside as well. Not having to frantically defend takedowns every step of the way is going to pay dividends for him in this fight and I expect an early knockout. Muradov by KO is the official pick and he is a strong target on DraftKings.

Jamal Pogues vs Michael Parkin
Pogues, -145; Parkin, +125

Jamal Pogues is coming off a decision victory over Josh Parisian in February. Keeping with the theme of this card, Pogues is another Contender series contract winner from this past season and he is currently on a three-fight winning streak. Pogues comes from a wrestling background and he has landed five or more takedowns in two of his last three fights. He has decent volume for the Heavyweight division and can fight behind his jab before mixing in the wrestling.

His opponent, Michael Parkin is making his UFC debut in this spot. He fought on last season’s Dana White Contender Series and won by first-round submission in August. He is an undefeated 6-0 prospect fighting in front of his home crown in London. Of his six career victories, five of them have come by knockout and he has yet to reach the third round in any of his fights. I have some major concerns with Parkin as he faced very low level of competition on the regional scene and I expect him to struggle at the UFC level.

Pogues should be the more technically sound fighter on the feet and he will also have the wrestling advantage. It is Heavyweight so either guy can win by knockout early but I favor Pogues as the fight gets extended significantly. Pogues by decision is the official pick.

Joel Alvarez vs Marc Diakiese
Alvarez, -170; Diakiese, +145

Joel Alvarez is coming off a year and a half layoff as we last saw him in there against Arman Tsarukyan in February of last year. He was largely dominated and lost by TKO in the second round but that was a brutal matchup as Tsarukyan is one of the best in the division. Alvarez is primarily a grappler with 16 of his 19 wins coming by submission. His striking has come a long way as well but he gives up takedowns easily as he would rather fight on the mat and that is a problem against good grapplers.

His opponent, Marc Diakiese is coming off a decision loss to Michael Johnson in December. That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for him and he looks to rebound this weekend. Diakiese is a technical striker with flashy leg kicks and six knockout victories. But he has relied on his wrestling over the last few fights and he averages 3.33 takedowns per 15 minutes. The lack of output at times and the fight IQ are legitimate concerns with him and he struggles to win rounds when he cannot get his wrestling going.

Alvarez is likely to give up takedowns here but he is so much better on the mat that I am not sure that would be a negative for him in this fight. He clearly has more finishing upside and I do not expect this one to hit the judges’ scorecards. Alvarez by submission is the official pick.

Jonny Parsons vs Danny Roberts
Parsons, -125; Roberts, +105

Jonny Parsons is coming off nearly a two-year layoff since he last fought on Dana White’s Contender Series in October of 2021. He came through as a big underdog and won a split-decision over Solomon Renfro. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak and is the Muay Thai striking coach at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. It is clear that he wants to keep the fight on the feet and stand and trade with his opponents. He has clear power as well with five of his seven wins coming by knockout. The main issue with him is his durability as he has been knocked out twice in his career.

His opponent, Danny Roberts is coming off a first-round knockout loss at the hands of Jack Della Maddalena in November of last year. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and has lost four of his last six fights. At this point, I simply have no faith in Roberts. He is not a bad fighter from a skillset standpoint, but his ceiling is certainly limited. Not to mention his durability is a glaring issue as he has been knocked out four times in his career.

This is a low-level fight but I just can never be backing Roberts in any fashion at this stage in his career. I trust the striking skills of Parsons more and think he has the power to hurt Roberts and potentially get him out of there. Parsons by knockout is the official pick.

Daniel Marcos vs Davey Grant
Marcos, -135; Grant, +115

Daniel Marcos made a statement in his UFC debut with a knockout finish over Saimon Oliveira at UFC 283 in January. Marcos came off the Contender Series as well last season and is an undefeated 14-0 prospect fighting out of Peru. Of his 14 career victories, eight have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and has explosive burst on the feet. He will also try some flying knees and other unorthodox attacks, but he has shown he can push a pace and is durable as well.

His opponent, Davey Grant is coming off a third-round submission victory over Raphael Assuncao in March. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and looks to keep that momentum building this weekend. Grant is a well-rounded fighter with unconventional boxing but does carry some power on the feet. He is also a capable wrestler as he averages nearly 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. The main issue with Grant is that we have seen him hurt and finished multiple times by submission and he turns 38 years old later this year.

I expect this fight to be competitive on the feet, but I do favor the speed of Marcos who will be throwing straight punches as opposed to the looping hooks of Grant. Both guys will have success, but I trust the durability of Marcos more and expect his takedown defense to hold up as well. Marcos by decision is the official pick.

Lerone Murphy vs Josh Culibao
Murphy, -150; Culibao, +130

Lerone Murphy is coming off a split-decision victory over Gabriel Santos at UFC 286 in March. Murphy has technically never lost a fight but he has shown some limitations in the UFC. He is a technical kickboxer with powerful leg kicks and seven of his 12 wins have come by knockout. But he is very low volume on the feet and typically wins on thin margins if the fight gets extended. He is a capable wrestler as well but only averages just under one takedown per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Josh Culibao is coming off a submission victory over Melsik Baghdasaryan in February. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak since going to a draw with Charles Jourdain in 2020. Culibao is a powerful striker with sharp leg kicks and knockout power. But he does not push a pace either and rarely looks to grapple so he relies on big moments to win fights.

I do not have much interest in this fight for DraftKings purposes. This is a huge slate and this is a fight that I expect to be low output and go to decision. For that reason, this will mostly be a fade for me on both sides. Murphy by decision is the official pick.

Fares Ziam vs Jai Herbert
Ziam, -155; Herbert, +135

Fares Ziam exposed the unproven prospect in Michal Figlak last September. Ziam has been a frustrating fighter to back at times but the improvements he has made throughout his career is noticeable. He comes from a high-level striking background but has really been working on his ground game and that has materialized inside the octagon recently. He is still low output on the feet but very technically sound and plays defense well if his opponents are not going to force the grappling.

His opponent, Jai Herbert is coming off a majority draw against Ludoveit Klein at UFC 286. Herbert is all-action all the time and sometimes to his own detriment. He is a one-dimensional striker and is knockout or bust in most matchups. He struggles with his defensive grappling, but he does have clear power on the feet with nine of his 12 career wins coming by knockout. The main issue with him is his durability as he has been knocked out in three of his four career losses.

I expect this fight to play out on the feet with Ziam being the sharper boxer and avoiding most of the power shots from Herbert. I also trust Ziam’s durability much more and he would have all the grappling upside as well despite not expecting him to use it really. Ziam by decision is the official pick.

Andre Muniz vs Paul Craig
Muniz, -240; Craig, +200

Shout out to Brendan Allen for coming through as a big underdog and squashing the nine-fight winning streak of Andre Muniz. Muniz is a dangerous submission grappler and 15 of his 23 victories have come by submission. On the feet, he has some powerful leg kicks as well but it is clear he is just waiting for an opportunity to get the fight to the ground.

His opponent, Paul Craig is dropping down to Middleweight for this matchup. Craig is similar to Muniz in a sense in that he needs to get the fight to the ground to have a chance to win. Of his 16 career wins, 13 of them have come by submission and he is going to be willing to take the fight there against Muniz. On the feet, Craig is low volume as well and probably the better boxer of the two but I worry about his durability just as much as Muniz.

This is a fun matchup and I am expecting to see some exciting grappling exchanges between the two of them. I favor Muniz as the more dangerous grappler and worry about the weight cut for Craig who has never had good durability to begin with. Muniz by submission is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Nathaniel Wood vs Andre Fili
Wood, -200; Fili, +170

Nathaniel Wood is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Charles Jourdain last September. It seemed like I was on an island for that matchup as everyone was betting Jourdain despite Wood being the better round winner. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has won three of his last four fights against respectable competition. He is a well-rounded prospect that pushes a high pace on the feet with a strong jab and sharp leg kicks as well. He is also a capable grappler and averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes and has five submission victories to his credit. The only real concern with Wood is that he has been chin checked a few times and has been finished in four of his five professional losses.

His opponent, Andre Fili is coming off a split-decision victory over Bill Algeo last September. Fili has been a staple of the Featherweight division for the past decade. He is a very well-rounded fighter and a solid gatekeeper for up and coming prospects. But he has shown limitations that keep from entering that elite tier of the division. He is a good striker that can fight behind his jab and has powerful leg kicks as well that he is always looking to land. He will also mix in a few takedowns in some matchups as he averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. His durability is a concern as well though as he has been knocked out three times in his career.

I feel like Wood is just a better version of Fili at this stage in their respective careers. They are both similarly skilled with Wood just a little bit better in nearly every area. I expect his pace to be the difference in what should be an exciting kickboxing match. Wood by decision is the official pick.

Molly McCann vs Julija Stoliarenko
McCann, -215; Stoliarenko, +185

Meatball Molly McCann makes her highly anticipated return to the octagon as she was submitted by Erin Blanchfield in the first round at UFC 281 last November. McCann is always an exciting fighter in this division as she wants to get out there and brawl with her opponents. I expect her to be feeding off the energy of her home crowd and trying to put a pace on her opponent. She is also capable of mixing in the wrestling as she averages nearly two takedowns per 15 minutes.

Her opponent, Julija Stoliarenko is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Chelsea Chandler last October. Stoliarenko is a very easy fighter to project as she is basically a one-dimensional grappler that is typically losing minutes while searching for an armbar submission. That being said, her armbar is her best weapon and she has finished nine of her opponents in that fashion.

McCann’s defensive grappling is not great so the armbar by Stoliarenko is live if McCann takes it to the mat. But on the feet, McCann is going to be the better boxer moving forward and landing at will. I expect her to get her hand raised. McCann by decision is the official pick but I will have some exposure to the underdog on DraftKings as well.

Tom Aspinall vs Marcin Tybura
Aspinall, -490; Tybura, +360

Tom Aspinall blew out his knee in the first round of his main event fight against Curtis Blaydes last July. That snapped an eight-fight winning streak for him and he is surely looking to rebound on Saturday in front of the London crowd. Aspinall is a powerful striker with clear knockout power as nine of his 12 wins have come in that fashion. He also holds a black belt in BJJ although he rarely looks to implement his grappling. He has never been to a third round in his entire career and I still have some concerns about his cardio against the better fighters in this division if the fight were to get extended but I doubt that is an issue here.

His opponent, Marcin Tybura is coming off a decision victory over Blagoy Ivanov in February. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and will need to pull off a monster upset to keep the momentum going. He is no stranger to playing the role of the underdog as he derailed the Alexander Romanov hype train last year. Tybura will need to stay alive on the feet and try to force Aspinall to grapple and wear him down that way. But his durability is a problem to me in this fight considering how outgunned he is on the feet and he has been knocked out four times in his career.

Aspinall is going to hurt this man on the feet. I do not expect this fight to get past round one and Aspinall is a great target on DraftKings in the main event. Aspinall by first-round knockout is the official pick.