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We have $200,000 up for grabs on DraftKings this weekend with 12 fights and the BMF title up for grabs! The UFC heads back to Salt Lake City, Utah as we are set for an exciting weekend of combat sports.

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.

Miranda Maverick vs Priscila Cachoeira
Maverick, -345; Cachoeira, +265

Miranda Maverick is stepping up on short notice to replace Joanne Wood at UFC 291 this weekend. She is coming off a decision loss to Jasmine Jasudavicius at UFC 289 last month. Maverick is a well-rounded fighter with a Muay Thai striking base but is also capable of mixing in the ground game as she averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes. Where she struggles is when she faces opponents that are better grapples as she can be taken down and controlled for extended periods.

Her opponent, Priscila Cachoeira is coming off a first-round knockout victory last year over Ariane Lipski. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has surprisingly won four of her last five fights. She is primarily a striker and not even a good one at that. She struggles defensively and gets hit too much but she continuously walks forward and has big power for this division. She struggles in the grappling department as she only defends takedowns at 65% and has no get up game and has been submitted twice in her career.

I expect the grappling to be in favor of Maverick by a wide margin. On the feet, I expect both fighters to have some success, but it should not take much for Maverick to get the fight where she needs it on the mat. Maverick by submission is the official pick.

Matthew Semelsberger vs Uron Medic
Semelsberger, -205; Medic, +175

Matthew Semelsberger is coming off a split-decision loss to Jeremiah Wells in April. He is primarily a striker and has big power with six of his 11 career wins coming by knockout. He has landed nine knockdowns across his eight UFC bouts, so the power is for real. He is also capable of mixing in some takedowns as he averages just over one takedown per 15 minutes. The concern with Semelsberger is that he tends to slow down when fights get extended, and he has been taken down and controlled himself. Lastly, he has been finished in two of his five professional losses.

His opponent, Uros Medic is moving up a weight class after winning by knockout last May. He is a one-dimensional striker with knockout power in his own right as six of his eight career wins have come in that fashion. Medic is an explosive striker, but he is historically front loaded and has only reached the second round twice in his career. If he is unable to land the big shot early then he is likely to fade and has issues defensively grappling as well.

I expect this fight to be fireworks from the opening bell as both of these boys want to scrap and both possess fight-stopping power. I lean with Semelsberger as the more proven fighter over 15 minutes along with the potential to grapple as well. But this is a high variance matchup and I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings. Semelsberger by knockout is the official pick.

CJ Vergara vs Vinicius Salvador
Vergara, -165; Salvador, +135

CJ Vergara is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Daniel Da Silva in March. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2021 and is 2-2 in the UFC and has showed some promise throughout. Of his 11 career victories, seven of them have come by knockout. He is a solid boxer and capable of landing a takedown when he needs to but his best weapon is his cardio. He has repeatedly turned it on later in fights and his pace has made him difficult to deal with over 15 minutes. I do not fully trust his durability as he has been submitted twice in his career and rocked multiple times.

His opponent, Vinicius Salvador is coming off a decision loss to Victor Altamirano in March. That was his UFC debut after he knocked out Shannon Ross on Contender Series. Of his 14 career victories, 13 of them have come by knockout and he clearly has big power for the division. But he is not very technically sound and swings wildly with everything that he has. He has also gassed repeatedly in fights that have got extended and can be taken down and controlled once he is tired.

This is a fun matchup and I expect both fighters to have some success on the feet. But if Vergara can avoid getting dropped early then he is very live to take over as the fight goes on. I will have some exposure to both sides on DraftKings as I expect the winner to score well but the official pick is Vergara by TKO.

Jake Matthews vs Darius Flowers
Matthews, -265; Flowers, +225

Jake Matthews is coming off a decision loss to Matthew Semelsberger in December. It felt like nearly everything that Semelsberger landed was hurting Matthews in that fight and his durability has been an issue as he has been finished in four of his six professional losses. But when he is at his best, Matthews is a well-rounded fighter that has clearly been improving his striking and has always had a solid ground game as he averages nearly two takedowns per 15 minutes. Matthews is also a BJJ black belt and has seven submission victories although he has looked outmatched against the better grapplers of the division.

His opponent, Darius Flowers is coming off a contract winning performance on Dana White’s Contender Series last August. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak and eight of his 12 career wins have come by knockout. He clearly has big power in his hands and mostly wants to keep the fight standing to land a big shot. He also has some wrestling in his background but struggles in the grappling department and has been submitted in four of his five professional losses.

This is a good matchup to target on DraftKings as both fighters have clear advantages and are capable of scoring well. Flowers is going to have the power advantage and needs to land something big on the feet. Whereas Matthews will have a clear edge on the mat as he is the much better submission grappler and that will show if he takes the fight there. I side with the grappler, but I will be proceeding with caution as there is no guarantee Matthews comes in with the right gameplan. Matthews by submission is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings.

Roman Kopylov vs Claudio Ribeiro
Kopylov, -240; Ribeiro, +195

Roman Kopylov is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Punahele Soriano in January. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and both of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and it is clear he wants to keep the fight on the feet where he has the opportunity to land something heavy. Of his 10 career victories, nine of them have come by knockout. He keeps a solid pace on the feet and has shown good takedown defense so far as well. But if you can take him down, you should be able to control him and potentially submit him as well as he does not offer much resistance on the mat.

His opponent, Claudio Ribeiro is coming off an impressive second-round TKO victory over Joseph Holmes at UFC 288. Ribeiro is another Contender Series graduate and it is clear that he is a very explosive athlete. Of his 11 victories, all of them have come by knockout and the majority of those were inside the first round. He is not very technically sound, but he swings with big power and has some heavy calf kicks as well. He has also shown the ability to mix in some wrestling and should have a grappling advantage if he were to get the fight there.

I expect Kopylov to be the more active fighter on the feet and it is clear that he should have the better gas tank if the fight gets extended as well. Both guys are capable of winning by early knockout but I favor the skillset of Kopylov to get the job done. Kopylov by TKO is the official pick.

Marcos Rogerio De Lima vs Derrick Lewis
De Lima, -200; Lewis, +170

 In our only Heavyweight bout of the evening, Marcos Rogerio De Lima takes on Derrick Lewis. De Lima is coming off a decision victory over Waldo Cortes-Acosta in April and is currently on a two-fight winning streak. He is an explosive fighter early with countless first-round victories but he has also relied more on his grappling recently as he is capable of landing takedowns and holds a black belt in BJJ. The main issue with De Lima has always been his cardio as he does not always manage it well and he fades later in fights unless he is laying in top position.

His opponent, Derrick Lewis is coming off a first-round submission loss to Sergey Spivak in February. Lewis is currently on a three-fight losing streak and has lost four of his last five fights. We know what to expect from him each time out as he is not going to put a ton of volume out there but he has some of the biggest punching power in the division and only needs one shot. But typically, if that does not come early then he wilts hard as he just does not seem to have the gas tank or the durability at this stage in his career. He has been knocked out seven times and once he starts to face some adversity, he tends to look for a way out.

I am less confident in De Lima than the market seems to be but I do slightly prefer him in this fight, mainly due to his grappling upside. Lewis does not defend takedowns well and I could see De Lima taking advantage of that and taxing his cardio. De Lima by TKO is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings as Lewis is clearly a live underdog.

Gabriel Bonfim vs Trevin Giles
Bonfim, -320; Giles, +265

Gabriel Bonfim made a statement in his UFC debut with a first-round submission victory over Mounir Lazzez at UFC 283 in January. He is an undefeated 14-0 prospect fighting out of Brazil and is the younger brother of Ismael Bonfim. Of his 14 career victories, all of them have come by finish and the majority of those were inside five minutes. He is explosive early and is an opportunistic submission grappler as well. The main concern with Bonfim is his striking defense as he eats some clean shots and his cardio is relatively unproven as well.

His opponent, Trevin Giles is coming off a split-decision win over Preston Parsons in March. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and looking to play spoiler this weekend. Giles has always been a good boxer with a strong jab and fast hands on the counter. But he rarely lets his hands go as much as he should. He keeps a low pace on the feet and has questionable cardio and defensive grappling issues which is key in this matchup.

Despite the concerns on the Bonfim side, I do expect him to have a clear submission grappling edge and that should be the difference here. Bonfim by submission is the official pick.

Kevin Holland vs Michael Chiesa
Holland, -145; Chiesa, +125

Kevin Holland is coming off a knockout victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC 287 in April. Holland has never had a high fight IQ but he is a very good striker. He pushes a high pace on the feet and uses his range very well. Of his 24 career victories, 20 of them have come inside the distance and he is always a threat to finish the fight wherever it goes. The biggest issue with Holland has been his inability to defend takedowns or work back to his feet and that is going to be a big factor in this fight.

His opponent, Michael Chiesa is coming off a 20-month layoff since we last saw him inside the octagon. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and most recently dropped a decision to Sean Brady. Chiesa has worked on his striking to become more of a dual threat but let’s be real – he is a wrestler through and through. He averages just under 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and 10 of his 16 wins have come by submission. The main concern with Chiesa is that he consistently puts himself in bad spots on the mat and tends to leave his neck out there. He has been submitted four times in his career.

Holland is going to have a clear striking advantage and will be clearly ahead while the fight plays out on the feet. But Chiesa is a great wrestler and Holland only defends takedowns at 50% and I do not expect him to be able to work back to his feet. I am siding with the wrestler in Chiesa who is likely to secure time in dominant positions on the mat. Chiesa by submission is the official pick.

Bobby Green vs Tony Ferguson
Green, -410; Ferguson, +310

Bobby Green was well on his way to a first-round knockout victory over Jared Gordon before an inadvertent head clash which was deemed a no contest. Prior to that, he was on a two-fight losing streak and both came by TKO. Green is a great boxer with one of the best jabs in the division and he is always going to push a high-volume striking pace if his opponents stand and trade with him. He is also capable of mixing in the wrestling when he needs to and has very good submission defense. The durability is becoming a concern with him though as he has been knocked out four times in his career.

His opponent, Tony Ferguson is coming off a fourth-round submission loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 279 last September. He is currently on a five-fight losing streak and has been finished in three of those. He recently turned 39-years old and was cited for a DUI just a few months ago. The red flags are endless on the Ferguson side. He is a high-volume striker with good cardio and has always been able to keep a high pace. But at this stage in his career the durability is a concern along with his inability to defend takedowns and work back to his feet.

I expect Ferguson to be able to be competitive early in the fight while it is on the feet. But over time, I expect the volume to be the difference in favor of Green and he will be able to land takedowns if he wants to as well. Green by decision is the official pick.

Stephen Thompson vs Michel Pereira
Thompson, -150; Pereira, +130

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is coming off a fourth-round TKO victory over Kevin Holland in December. Even at 40 years old, Thompson is one of the better strikers in the division. He is very technically sound and stays sharp on defense which makes it difficult for his opponents to land much volume on him. His one weakness is that better wrestlers can take him down and control him on the mat. He defends takedowns at just 64% and his last two losses are a result of guys being able to take him down repeatedly.

His opponent, Michel Pereira is coming off a split-decision victory over Santiago Ponzinibbio last May. Pereira is an action-packed fighter and a true performer of the arts. He constantly wants to put a show wehter it means him dancing all the way to the octagon or doing backflips during fights. He is huge for the division and 17 of his 28 wins have come inside the distance. He is very explosive early in the fights but tends to fade if fights get extended. But he is a capable wrestler and averages over 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ.

This is a tough fight to predict for me because Thompson continues to defy the odds whenever you think a decline in skills may be coming. But I do favor the power and grappling upside of Pereira which has me siding with the younger fighter in this matchup. In terms of DraftKings, Pereira is the clear side and I will have more exposure to him as a solid underdog target. Pereira by decision is the official pick.

Jan Blachowicz vs Alex Pereira
Blachowicz, -125; Pereira, +105

Jan Blachowicz is coming off a split-draw against Magomed Ankalaev in December. Blachowicz is the former Light Heavyweight champion and that speaks to the lack of depth in this division overall. Blachowicz is primarily a striker and has the polish punching power to put your lights out if he connects clean with nine knockout victories on his record. He is also a capable wrestler although he rarely mixes in the takedowns and averages less than one per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Alex Pereira teased a move up to Light Heavyweight for a bit before finally making the leap. He was massive at the Middleweight division and should fit right in at 205 lbs. Pereira comes from a high-level kickboxing background and is coming off a loss to Israel Adesanya for the Middleweight strap. Of his seven career wins, six of them have come by knockout and you better be prepared to eat some big shots if you’re going to stand and trade with him.

This is a fun matchup and I expect Pereira to make a statement in his Light Heavyweight debut. At 40 years old, Blachowicz is clearly on the back end of his career and while he still has power himself, I give the power advantage to Poatan. Both guys are capable of winning by knockout but I favor the kickboxing, power, and durability of the younger fighter here. Pereira by knockout is the official pick.

Dustin Poirier vs Justin Gaethje
Poirier, -150; Gaethje, +130

Five years after these two fighters faced each other, we know get to the highly anticipated rematch in what will decide who owns the rights to the world-renowned BMF title. Dustin Poirier last fought in November at UFC 281 when he submitted Michael Chandler in round three. Over his last 12 fights, Poirier has only lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira, both of which were for the title. He is a legend of the fight game and will push a high-volume pace for 25 minutes if needed. He fights out of the southpaw stance and has always been one of the better boxers in the division. He also holds a black belt in BJJ although he can be outgrappled. But his cardio and durability along with his superior striking skills, have made him a staple of the elite tier in the Lightweight division.

His opponent, Justin Gaethje needs no introduction either. He is one of the most exciting fighters to ever fight in the octagon. He is coming off a majority decision victory over Rafael Fiziev as a sizable underdog at UFC 286 in March. Gaethje is all about pressuring his opponents and forcing them to fight at his pace where he can eventually land a big shot or drown them in the later rounds. He keeps a crazy pace on the feet while the fight last and is likely the hardest leg kicker in the division. He also has a wrestling background but we have rarely seen him go to it at the UFC level because he loves brawling instead.

Despite the improvements made by both fighters since the first time they fought in 2018, I see the fight playing out similarly. I expect Gaethje to have success with the calf kicks and potentially hurting Poirier’s lead leg as Poirier struggles to check kicks. But I also expect Poirier to be the superior boxer and is better defensively on the feet. Both guys are durable but we have seen them both hurt multiple times now and finished as well. Poirier will likely have to walk through fire again but I trust him more at this stage in their respective careers and I am siding with him in this fight once again. Poirier by TKO is the official pick.