fbpx

We have $200,000 up for grabs on DraftKings this weekend with 11 fights and two titles up for grabs! The UFC heads to Boston 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.

Karine Silva vs Maryna Moroz
Silva, -162; Moroz, +136

Karine Silva is coming off a first-round submission victory over Ketlen Souza in June. She is a former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner and has finished her first two opponents in the UFC inside the first round. She is big for the division and has a powerful right hand to go along with some opportunistic submission grappling. Of her 16 career wins, all of them have come inside the distance. She is a dangerous finisher but can be exposed if the finish does not materialize as she slows down in fights and can spend time on her back as well.

Her opponent, Maryna Moroz is coming off a decision loss to Jennifer Maia in November. That loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for her and she will look to get back in the win column this weekend. Moroz is a well-rounded fighter that should be the more active striker and much cleaner defensively. Both women can be taken down but I favor the gas tank of Moroz if she can withstand the early storm.

Silva always has upside for DraftKings but Moroz has never been finished in her career. If the fight makes it out of the first round then it certainly favors the veteran. Moroz by decision is the official pick and this is a sneaky good fight to target on DraftKings.

Mario Bautista vs Da’Mon Blackshear

Mario Bautista is coming off a first-round submission victory in March. He is currently on a four-fight winning streak and looks to keep building on that this weekend. Bautista is a very well-rounded fighter that is solid wherever the fight goes. He pushes a pace on the feet and mixes in the grappling as he averages just under three takedowns per 15 minutes. Of his 12 professional wins, six of them have come by submission.

His opponent, Da’Mon Blackshear just fought last week with an early submission win over Jose Johnson and we cashed a nice (+200) on that prop. He is primarily a grappler and averages just over one takedown per 15 minutes. Most of his wins have come by submission but he has some solid boxing as well when he actually lets his hands go. But I doubt he will be able to control Bautista if he can take him down as he is a much more difficult matchup than Johnson was.

I expect Bautista to have the striking advantage and to be landing more on the feet. Both fighters are capable of landing takedowns but I trust Bautista more to do so and think he has the better gas tank as well. Bautista by decision is the official pick.

Natalia Silva vs Andrea Lee
Silva, -355; Lee, +280

Natalia Silva committed murder just a couple months ago as she knocked out Victoria Leonardo in a fight that should not have been sanctioned.

https://twitter.com/JonKellyDFS/status/1660023261965500416?s=20

Silva is an explosive striker that will put a pace on her opponents on the feet. But she is also very well rounded with multiple submission victories and the ability to land takedowns as well. For my money, she is one of the best prospects in the division and if she continues improving then she is a bad matchup for any opposition.

Her opponent, Andrea Lee is coming off a split-decision to Maycee Barber in March. Yet again, Lee deserved a victory and was robbed by the judges.

https://twitter.com/JonKellyDFS/status/1639789149304639488?s=20

Lee is a well-rounded fighter in her own right. She can fight behind her jab and is a willing grappler as she averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes. But she is getting older and has been hurt multiple times in the past. She is also going to be at a physicality disadvantage and that is when she tends to struggle the most. I expect Lee to be somewhat competitive early but Silva likely gas pedals her down the stretch. Silva by decision is the official pick but there are better fighters to target in the expensive range.

Andre Petroski vs Gerald Meerschaert
Petroski, -258; Meerschaert, +210

Andre Petroski makes his return to the octagon after a dominant decision win over Wellington Turman at UFC 281. Petroski comes from a collegiate wrestling background and averages nearly 5.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. He has big power on the feet but is at his best when he is going to his bread and butter in the grappling. The main concern with Petroski is always his gas tank which has been hit or miss at times.

His opponent, Gerald Meerschaert is coming off a first-round knockout loss at the hands of Joe Pyfer at UFC 287. Meerschaert is easy to project as he is a very dangerous submission grappler as 27 of his 35 career wins have come by submission. But if he cannot get to his grappling then he tends to struggle. On the feet, he is very low volume but does have a powerful body kick that he uses regularly. The main concern though is his durability as he has been knocked out four times in his career.

This is a great fight to target on DraftKings as the winner is going to score well. I favor Petroski as the more powerful striker and the one with multiple takedown and control upside. Meerschaert is always live to pull off the submission upset but Petroski is solid enough to stay safe on top in those exchanges. Petroski by TKO is the official pick.

Brad Katona vs Chase Gibson
Katona, -160; Gibson, +140

This is the other TUF finale as Brad Katona takes on Chase Gibson. Katona won season 27 of TUF and is now looking to become a two-time champion and get himself back in the UFC. His first stint did not go so well with one decision victory and two losses to Merab Dvalishvili and Hunter Azure. Since then, he went back to the regional scene and beat a few bums. He is undersized for the division but is well-rounded and holds a black belt in BJJ. He is low volume on the feet but stays defensively sound and will mix in the takedowns as well.

His opponent, Chase Gibson is coming off a TKO victory in May on the regional scene. He had a little more success than Katona in his former UFC spurt as he did notch a knockout victory and won a round over Aljamain Sterling in his UFC debut. Gibson is going to have a big size advantage in this fight and will be working with a five-inch reach advantage. He is clearly the more dangerous of the two as nine of his 12 career wins have come inside the distance. He is powerful on the feet and can mix in the takedowns as well. The main concern is whether or not he is fully healthy as he suffered a knee injury during the TUF competition.

I favor the power and aggressiveness of Gibson. Despite the knee concerns, he clearly has more upside on DraftKings whereas a win for Katona is likely a boring decision. Gibson by decision is the official pick.

Austin Hubbard vs Kurt Holobaugh
Hubbard, -175; Holobaugh, +150

Up next, we have the Ultimate Fighter finale with two veterans that previously fought in the UFC and neither had much of a career. Austin Hubbard last fought inside the octagon in 2021 with a decision loss to Vinc Pichel. Hubbard is a well-rounded fighter that trains out of Elevation Fight team in Colorado. He had some tough matchups in the UFC as he seemed to always get matched up with better grapplers. But he has improved his takedown defense over his fights and is difficult to submit. He is also a technical striker and stays active with the leg kicks along with proven durability as well.

His opponent, Kurt Holobaugh last fought in the UFC in 2019. His UFC stint went poorly as he never booked a win. His best moment was dropping Shane Burgos before getting himself submitted. He does have some finishing ability but he is facing someone very durable in Hubbard. Additionally, it is clear his best days are behind him as he turns 37 years old next month.

This is the fight that I am least excited about but I do favor Hubbard in this matchup. Hubbard is sharper defensively and should be able to mix in some wrestling if he needs to and I still think he is on the up and up while Holobaugh close to then end of his career. Hubbard by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target this week.

Gregory Rodrigues vs Denis Tiuliulin
Rodrigues, -355; Tiuliulin, +280

Gregory Rodrigues is coming off a disappointing first-round knockout loss at UFC 281 in January. Rodrigues is a very well-rounded fighter with legitimate knockout power on the feet, but he also holds a black belt in BJJ and averages 2.2 takedowns per 15 minutes. The downside with Rodrigues is that he fights recklessly and his chin has not held up at times as he has been knocked out three times in his career.

His opponent, Denis Tiuliulin is coming off a first-round submission loss in February at the hands of Jun Yong Park. Tiuliulin is a one-dimensional power puncher as nine of his 10 wins have come by knockout. But he has always struggled with defending takedowns and grappling. He has been submitted four times in his career.

If Rodrigues comes in with the right game plan then he is likely to find a submission. But we can never expect Rodrigues to fight smart as he is a brawler by nature so he likely makes this fight more competitive than it needs to be. Either way, he should get the win, but he likely makes you sweat it first. Rodrigues by submission is the official pick and this is another good fight to target on DraftKings.

Brad Tavares vs Chris Weidman
Tavares, -270; Weidman, +220

Brad Tavares is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Bruno Silva in April. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and gets a favorable matchup opportunity to bounce back this weekend. Tavares has been known as a staple in the Middleweight division for years. He is very well-rounded as he is very technical on the feet and difficult to grapple as well. He will occasionally mix in some wrestling, but he is mostly wanting to stay at range. The two issues are his volume could be better as he is not a huge finisher so that usually means he is fighting on thin margins. More importantly, the durability is a concern as he has now been knocked out four times in his career.

His opponent, Chris Weidman is making his return to the octagon since the brutal leg injury against Uriah Hall at UFC 261. He is now 39 years old and coming off an extended layoff due to injury. His durability was already a huge concern as he has been knocked out in all six of his professional losses. But with his age now too, it seems like his body is just not holding up anymore. At his best and healthy, he is an excellent fighter with powerful striking and he averages nearly four takedowns per 15 minutes. But we are not getting the best version of him as I thought he looked washed years ago and cannot imagine he improves given the circumstances.

I expect Tavares to be able to keep the fight on the feet for the majority of the time where he should have a clear advantage. Weidman will be much slower and will not react well to getting hit. He has also had suspect cardio as well which all favor the Tavares side. Tavares by TKO is the official pick.

Marlon Vera vs Pedro Munhoz
Vera, -185; Munhoz, +154

Marlon Vera is coming off a split-decision loss to Cory Sandhagen in March. To be honest, the fact that was considered a split is criminal as he was largely dominated throughout the fight. That loss snapped a four-fight winning streak for him and he attempts to get back in the win column on Saturday. Vera is historically a slow starter, but he has great cardio and builds well into the fights. He is a sharp kickboxer on the feet with powerful leg kicks and has proven to be one of the most durable fighters in the division. Lastly, he is also a tricky submission grappler as well and has eight submission victories on his record.

His opponent, Pedro Munhoz is coming off a decision victory over Chris Gutierrez in April. Munhoz has always been known as one of the hardest leg kickers in the division. He is also very durable as well as he has never been finished in his career. On the feet, he is going to throw volume but gets sloppy defensively and will eat some shots. He also has one of the best guillotine submissions in the UFC so you always need to be aware of that if looking to take him down.

I expect this fight to be competitive with both fighters landing shots and both being able to eat those shots. I favor Vera down the stretch to have the cardio edge and to be landing the more powerful shots as well. Vera by decision is the official pick.

Ian Garry vs Neil Magny
Garry, -395; Magny, +310

Ian Garry is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Daniel Rodriguez. He is an undefeated prospect with an 12-0 professional record. Of his 12 victories, seven of them have come by knockout. He is a great striker and has clear power on the feet and will throw in volume as well. The biggest issue that I have with Garry is his striking defense as he is extremely hittable and I will continue to say this about him because it is true. I think whenever he gets a true test within the top 10-12 of the division then he will get exposed. Fortunately for him, I doubt this is the spot to fade him.

His opponent, Neil Magny is stepping in on short notice. He is coming off a split-decision win over Philip Rowe in June. Magny is a veteran of the division and has some tools that make him a solid round winner. He is lanky and can fight behind his jab and mix in the grappling as well as he averages 2.3 takedowns per 15 minutes. But Magny is low volume on the feet and his wrestling is not good and he struggles against guys that are more physical than him.

I expect Garry to be able to keep this fight on the feet where he needs it. He is going to be dealing with a reach disadvantage but Magny does not have the power or volume to make him pay. Magny has also looked for a way out multiple times when facing some adversity and has been finished eight times in his career. Garry by knockout is the official pick but a submission would not surprise me at all either.

Zhang Weili vs Amanda Lemos
Weili, -330; Lemos, +280

Zhang Weili is coming off a second-round submission victory over Carla Esparza at UFC 281 in November. She looks to defend her belt against the dangerous challenger, Amanda Lemos. Zhang is a difficult matchup for anyone in the division as she is a high-volume striker with clear power when she lands. She is also capable of mixing in the wrestling as she averages right around two takedowns per 15 minutes and she’s clearly improved her submission grappling recently as well. Her one weakness is her striking defense and she has been hurt multiple times because of it.

Her opponent, Amanda Lemos is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Marina Rodriguez in November. Lemos is one of the most dangerous finishers in the division. She is very powerful on the feet while she still has cardio. Her glaring issue is her gas tank as it has looked suspect at times in the past when fights get extended. If the early finish does not materialize, then you have to expect her to get less explosive and dangerous outside of the first round.

I expect this fight to be competitive in the striking with Lemos having the power advantage. But if she is unable to knock out Weili early then I think we see Weili take over in the middle to late rounds. Weili by TKO is the official pick.

Aljamain Sterling vs Sean O’Malley
Sterling, -258; O’Malley, +210

Which brings us to our main event at Bantamweight as Aljamain Sterling looks to defend his strap against Sean O’Malley. Sterling is coming off a controversial decision victory over Henry Cejude at UFC 288 in May. Sterling is a difficult opponent for anyone in the division as he is a high-volume striker and manages distance very well. He makes it hard for his opponents to get off on volume against him and he has only been outlanded once in his UFC career outside of getting knocked out in the first round against Marlon Moraes. He is also one of the best grapplers in the division and averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and if he takes your back then you’re not getting up.

His opponent, Sean O’Malley is coming off a split-decision victory over Petr Yan in October. He is one of the best strikers in the division as he is constant with the kicking attack and has fast hands and will throw in big combinations as well. He is very flashy and does carry knockout power as 11 of his 16 wins have come by knockout. The worry with O’Malley is that he has shown a suspect gas tank in the past at times and has been shown he can be taken down and controlled.

O’Malley should have a striking advantage but Sterling will have all the grappling and control upside. Both fighters have had poor cardio in the past but I lean with Sterling who should be able to get the fight to the ground and control O’Malley for extended periods. Sterling by submission is the official pick.