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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 82! We have an action-packed 14-fight slate on DraftKings which we have not had a slate this big in forever so hopefully 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.

Rafael Estevam vs Charles Johnson
Estevam, -130; Johnson, +110

Rafael Estevam is a former Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner from two seasons ago. He has had two matchups scrapped in the UFC and will make his long-awaited debut this weekend. He is an 11-0 prospect with seven of his 11 wins coming inside the distance. He is primarily a grappler as he has solid takedowns, good control and holds a black belt in BJJ. He is very well-rounded and could compete on the feet as well with some powerful leg kicks and volume. The only real concern is the level of competition as he has spent most of his career on the Brazilian regional scene.

His opponent, Charles Johnson is coming off a decision loss to Cody Durden in April. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and looks to rebound this weekend. Johnson is an impressive athlete and well-rounded fighter but never seems to do enough to convincingly win rounds. He is a good scrambler and works back to his feet quickly but struggles to defend takedowns at just 54% in the UFC. This is a reoccurring issue for him as any competent wrestler is going to have success taking him down repeatedly.

I favor Estevam in this matchup pretty significantly. Estevam has yet to be tested at the UFC level so that carries some risks but he seems to be a strong grappler and holds a black belt in BJJ. I expect him to get the takedowns and make it difficult for Johnson to have much success anywhere the fight goes. Estevam by decision is the official pick.

Nikolas Motta vs Trey Ogden
Motta, -135; Ogden, +114

Nikolas Motta is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Manuel Torres in June. Motta is a powerful striker with nine of his 13 wins coming by knockout. He is a solid boxer and can obviously put your lights out if he connects clean. But his durability is a major red flag as he has now been knocked out four times in his career. He wants to stand and brawl but because he has no chin, it creates some very high variance results.

His opponent, Trey Ogden is coming off a decision loss to Ignacio Bahamondes in April. Ogden is primarily a grappler with 11 of his 16 career wins coming by submission. But most of those submission victories came against low level talent on the regional scene and he is not even looking to take many of his opponents down in the UFC. He has also never won by knockout in his career so I am not sure he can take advantage of Motta’s biggest weakness.

If you guys have been following my content for a while then you know that I will likely never pick Trey Ogden to win a UFC fight and that is not changing here. He simply does not have much of a skillset that translates to winning rounds or fights at the UFC level. Motta could always get knocked out but the risk is much less against Ogden and he should be landing the bigger shots on the feet and have all the finishing potential. Motta by decision is the official pick.

Ailin Perez vs Lucie Pudilova
Perez, -185; Pudilova, +154

Ailin Perez is coming off a dominant performance over Ashlee Evans-Smith in July. Evans-Smith is beyond washed at this point but it was still an impressive grappling performance by Perez. If she is able to keep that pace and relentless grappling pressure then she is going to have success in the division. Her striking is nothing special but she landed 10 takedowns in her last fight and even a fraction of that would set her up for success in this fight as well.

Her opponent, Lucie Pudilova is coming off a split-decision loss to Joselyne Edwards in April. Pudilova is a very middling fighter in this division and was previously released by the UFC a few years ago. On the feet, she is not much of a threat and she is at her best when she is able to land multiple takedowns and have grappling success. However, she is still not a good grappler and better wrestlers have been able to take advantage as she only defends takedowns at 63% in the UFC.

I expect Perez to be able to land multiple takedowns here and get the better of the grappling exchanges. Perez by decision is the official pick and she is a solid target on DraftKings as well.

Lucas Alexander vs Jeka Saragih
Alexander, -455; Saragih, +350

Lucas Alexander is coming off a decision victory over Steven Peterson in March. Alexander is a 8-3 prospect fighting out of Brazil. He has some power on the feet but is not very technical and has no ground game whatsoever. He can be taken down and his defensive grappling is a liability as he has been submitted three times in his career.

His opponent, Jeka Saragih is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Anshul Jubli in February. He is 13-3 prospect with eight of his wins coming by knockout. He throws with bad intentions on the feet and although he is reckless, it is clear he has legitimate power. He has been outgrappled regionally multiple times and was finished in all three of his professional losses.

This fight should be a firefight for as long as it lasts. But I favor the bigger fighter in Alexander who should be landing more volume and the bigger shots on the feet. Alexander by TKO is the official pick.

Mick Parkin vs Caio Machado
Parkin, -380; Machado, +300

Mick Parkin had a huge upset victory in his UFC debut over Jamal Pogues. He is an undefeated 7-0 prospect with five of his wins coming by knockout. He has the typical Heavyweight power and it was encouraging to see him have good volume as well over 15 minutes. I previously had some major concerns with Parkin as he faced very low level of competition on the regional scene but he seems to be making some notable improvements at least.

His opponent, Caio Machado is making his UFC debut this weekend. He fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season and won an uninspiring decision. He is a 8-1 prospect fighting out of Canada. Of his eight career victories, six of them have come inside the first round. He has also not been tested much in terms of competition and despite earning a contract this past season, he is not very impressive. He does have some meme style power early in the fight but clearly seems to fade as the fight goes on.

This is a high variance matchup as most low-level Heavyweight fights. But I favor Parkin as the more talented fighter and has the better gas tank as well Parkin by TKO is the official pick.

Christian Leroy Duncan vs Denis Tiuliulin
Duncan, -305; Tiuliulin, +255

Christian Leroy Duncan was originally supposed to face Cesar Almeida who pulled out of the fight this weekend. Duncan is an 8-1 prospect fighting out of England. Of his eight career victories, six of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and has fast combinations and explosive power when he lands. But he is very one-dimensional and he typically does not put a ton of volume out there either which gives him a limited path to victory.

His opponent, Denis Tiuliulin is stepping in on short notice after losing by TKO to Gregory Rodrigues in August. Tiuliulin is a knockout or bust style fighter with nine of his 10 career wins coming in that fashion. But he historically fades as the fight goes on and has never been able to defensively grapple as he has been submitted four times in his career.

I expect Duncan to be much faster on the feet and have the better durability as well which should be all he needs to beat Tiuliulin. Duncan by knockout is the official pick.

Jose Johnson vs Chad Anheliger
Johnson, -185; Anheliger, +154

Jose Johnson is coming off a first-round submission loss to Da’Mon Blackshear in August. He is 15-8 professionally with 10 of his wins coming inside the distance. He is a technical striker and does carry some power with his bigger frame. He can also mix in the grappling and he is aggressive in looking for submission opportunities. However, he gets very sloppy in grappling exchanges and can be taken down and controlled as well along with the fact that he has been submitted four times in his career.

His opponent, Chad Anheliger is coming off a sizable layoff having fought last September. He lost that fight by decision and largely looked outmatched and is now coming off an injury at nearly 37 years old at Featherweight. I was never a believer in Anheliger at the UFC level coming into his Contender Series fight and he has not done much to change my original opinion.

I expect Johnson to be the better striker here landing more volume and carrying more power as well. Johnson could also have some grappling success but I do not fully trust him to stay safe on the mat. Johnson by decision is the official pick.

Jonathan Pearce vs Joanderson Brito
Pearce, -130; Brito, +110

Jonathan Pearce is coming off a decision victory over Darren Elkins last December. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak since dropping his UFC debut to Joe Lauzon back in 2019. Pearce keeps a hellish pace in all of his fights as he is constantly attacking with volume on the feet until he closes distance and goes to his grappling. He averages just under six takedowns per 15 minutes and that is typically how he wins most of his fights with his relentless pace on the mat.

His opponent, Joanderson Brito is coming off a first-round knockout victory in July. Brito is 3-0 since losing his UFC debut to Bill Algeo in what was a very competitive fight. He is extremely explosive and has finished his last three victories inside of three minutes. He has clear power on the feet but has a very solid ground game as well and averages over three takedowns per 15 minutes.

I think Pearce is the better grappler here and more likely to land takedowns but he better stick to Brito like glue because when this fight is out at space, Brito is going to hurt JSP. Brito is way more powerful and Pearce seems to get hurt in all of his fights as his durability is not great. This is a fight that I want heavy exposure to both sides on DraftKings as I am expecting the winner to score well but the official pick is Brito by TKO.

Myktybek Orolbai vs Uros Medic
Orolbai, -125; Medic, +105

Myktybek Orolbai is making his UFC debut on very short notice this weekend. He is replacing Johnny Parsons who pulled out of the fight this week. Orolbai previously fought in LFA and sports an 11-1 professional record with 10 of those wins coming by finish. He fought just three weeks ago and won by TKO in the second round. He seems to be a well-rounded fighter with competent striking and a well-rounded ground game as well. He should have a clear grappling advantage but I am skeptical on the short notice nature along with the step up in competition.

His opponent, Uros Medic is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Matthew Semelsberger at UFC 291 in July. Medica is a powerful striker with devastating kicks and legitimate knockout power. Of his nine career wins, seven of them have come by way of knockout and he is yet to see the judges scorecards in any of his fights. The issue with Medic is that he has never been a great defensive grappler and he has had cardio issues in the past.

This is a fun fight and one that I want exposure to both sides on DraftKings. I am siding with the more proven fighter in Medic who had the benefit of a full training camp and seems to making improvements still. If he is able to keep the fight on the feet then he should get the better of the striking exchanges and that may be the difference. Medic by TKO is the official pick.

Amanda Ribas vs Luana Pinheiro
Ribas, -250; Pinheiro, +205

Amanda Ribas is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Maycee Barber in June. She has now lost three of her last five fights and was knocked out in two of those. Ribas is a very well-rounded fighter that keeps a high pace on the feet. She can fight behind her jab and mix in the leg kicks as well. But she is at her best when she goes to her ground game as she averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. Her glaring weakness is her durability as she is very chinny and has been knocked out three times in her career.

Her opponent, Luana Pinheiro is coming off a split-decision victory over Michelle Waterson at UFC 287 in April. She is an explosive fighter early with a ton of first-round finishes on the regional scene and on Dana White’s Contender Series. But she is limited with low volume on the feet and mixes in some takedowns but that likely will not be a path for her here. Her biggest issue is her gas tank as we have seen her get very tired in fights that get extended.

I think Ribas is more skilled everywhere the fight goes. The thing about Ribas though is that she get chinned by nearly anyone in the division and Pinheiro does have power while she is fresh so that is something to be aware of. The official pick is going to be Ribas as I think she gets it done by decision but I will have some exposure to both sides on DraftKings.

Payton Talbott vs Nick Aguirre
Talbott, -750; Aguirre, +525

Payton Talbott earned a contract this past season on Dana White’s Contender Series with an impressive decision victory over Reyes Cortez. He is primarily a striker and generally starts off slow but works his way into fights. He has a ridiculous pace once he gets going as he will continually walk his opponents down and carry his power for three rounds. He wrestled in high school but can be taken down and gives up his back in some of those exchanges. He is also very hittable on the feet but seems to be durable enough.

His opponent, Nick Aguirre is coming off a decision loss to Dan Arguetta in his UFC debut. Aguirre is more of a grappler and does not have much in terms of the striking. But I would be surprised to see him have much grappling success against Talbott. Aguirre has also been to decision just once and was dominated in that fight so I worry about the gas tank against a pressure fighter like Talbott.

I fully expect Talbott to take over the later the fight gets. His pace and pressure should be enough to break Aguirre over 15 minutes and get the finish in rounds two or three. Talbott by TKO is the official pick.

Chase Hooper vs Jordan Leavitt
Hooper, -218; Leavitt, +180

Chase Hooper is coming off a dominant performance over Nick Fiore in May. At this point, we know what to expect from Hooper as he is a very dangerous submission grappler that wants to tangle up with you on the mat. He has been working on his striking more recently and it paid dividends in his last fight but his striking defense is still bad. The other positive note is that he looked great in his debut at Lightweight and it is possible that the extra pounds help him in grappling exchanges and overall durability. His pressure is great for optics and winning rounds, but he is still susceptible to giving up takedowns and playing jiu jitsu off his back which is a concern.

His opponent, Jordan Leavitt is coming off a first-round knockout over Victor Martinez in February. Leavitt is similar to Hooper in the sense that he is not a huge striking threat and wants to get the fight to the ground. He averages over two takedowns per 15 minutes and six of his 11 wins have come by submission. This is a good stylistic matchup for Leavitt as he should be able to land takedowns and spend time in top position.

This is a fun fight with fighters that have a similar style. It should be competitive with both guys having success in grappling exchanges, but I am slightly siding with the underdog in Leavitt as I trust him to hold dominant positions longer. Leavitt by decision is the official pick.

Michael Morales vs Jake Matthews
Morales, -290; Matthews, +235

Michael Morales is coming off a decision win over Max Griffin in July. The 23-year-old prospect from Ecuador is 3-0 in the UFC and sports a 15-0 professional record. He is primarily a striker and 11 of his 15 wins have come by knockout. The power is for real with this kid and he also has a little bit of a wrestling background as well. He seems to be a well-rounded prospect that is still improving but I still have my doubts about how he will hold up against the better grapplers in the division.

His opponent, Jake Matthews is coming off a second-round submission win over Darius Flowers at UFC 291. Matthews is a well-rounded fighter who averages 1.71 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. He has shown off some improved striking in recent fights as well. However, the durability is a legitimate concern. He has only been knocked out once in his career but has been finished four times in his career and was dropped three times by Matthew Semelsberger.

I think Matthews has some tools to make things interesting against Morales but ultimately, I do not trust his durability. It should be competitive until Morales lands something that inevitably hurts Matthews and gets him out of there. Morales by TKO is the official pick.

Brendan Allen vs Paul Craig
Allen, -395; Craig, +310

Brendan Allen will take part in his first career main event this weekend. He is coming off a first-round submission victory over Bruno Silva in June. Allen is 10-2 in the UFC with seven of those wins coming inside the distance. He pushes a high pace on the feet and has an aggressive ground game and he holds a black belt in BJJ. His striking has greatly improved over the years but his defense still needs to get better especially when facing the better fighters in the division.

His opponent, Paul Craig is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Andre Muniz in July. He looked good in his debut at 185 lbs. but the gas tank was clearly an issue for Muniz in that spot. Craig is one of the most dangerous submission grapplers on the roster with 13 of his 17 wins coming by submission. But his striking is not much of a threat and his wrestling has never been great either which gives him a limited path to victory in most matchups. I expect Allen to get the better of the striking exchanges and spend time in dominant positions on the mat. He just needs to avoid getting caught by Craig in a grappling exchange and I think he can do that here. Allen by TKO is the official pick.