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No time to waste as we are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 86! We have an action-packed 14-fight slate on DraftKings which makes for a very interesting Saturday evening. 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.

Daniel Marcos vs Aori Qileng
Marcos, -230; Qileng, +190

Daniel Marcos is coming off a controversial split-decision victory over Davey Grant in July at UFC London. Grant outstruck him in every round and most people thought Grant did enough for the victory. Regardless, Marcos kept his undefeated record and now sits at 15-0 with eight wins coming by knockout. He is primarily a striker and has some fast hands with some power behind them as well. He typically pushes a pace on the feet but the volume was not there against Grant. His takedown defense is solid and it is going to take a good wrestler and grappler to take advantage of him on the mat.

His opponent, Aori Qileng is coming off a decision win over Johnny Munoz in October. Qileng is an easy fighter to read as he is a powerful striker that wants to move forward with nonstop pressure on his opponents. However, he is very hittable on the feet and eats a ton of shots because of that strategy. He has also had questionable cardio in the past and tends to fade as the fight gets extended.

I expect this fight to be competitive in the first round with both fighters capable of landing some shots on the feet. But as the fight gets extended, I see Marcos as have a clear cardio advantage and should be able to take over and potentially get a finish if he turns it up on Qileng late. Marcos by TKO is the official pick.

Hyder Amil vs Fernie Garcia
Amil, -185; Garcia, +160

Hyder Amil is making his UFC debut this weekend. He fought on Dana White’s Contender Series this past season and won a decision over Emrah Sonmez. He is an 8-0 undefeated prospect fighting out of California. He has previously fought over in LFA and has four wins coming by knockout. He fights out of the southpaw stance and does carry some power on the feet. He is basically a brawler as he wants to move forward and turn it into an ugly fight. He has some powerful hooks but gets sloppy on defense and eats too many shots to make you feel comfortable, but his durability has held up so far. He has shown the ability to mix in some wrestling as well but gets sloppy in grappling exchanges. His best asset is likely his cardio as he has been able to break his opponents by pushing a grueling pace. He holds a purple belt in BJJ but tends to give his back up when he gets taken down and has been nearly submitted multiple times on the regional scene.

His opponent, Fernie Garcia is coming off a decision loss to Rinya Nakamura in August. Garcia is 0-3 in the UFC and I am a little surprised to see him get a fourth fight. Garcia is a low-volume boxer with little power in his hands with just one career knockout. He also struggles to defend takedowns at under 50% in the UFC. The only way I could see him winning this fight is by landing something big enough to hurt Amil.

I expect much more output from Amil who will be moving forward nonstop as Garcia always accepts the back foot. Additionally, Amil has the power advantage and could mix in some grappling as well. Amil by decision is the official pick.

Zac Pauga vs Bogdan Guskov
Pauga, -135; Gukov, +114

Zac Pauga is coming off a decision loss to Modestas Bukauskas in June. Pauga is primarily a striker as well, but he lacks real power and has just one career knockout victory. He is more of a point fighter and very one-dimensional. He just lacks upside in most matchups as he fights on thin margins, but this could be a winnable matchup for him.

His opponent, Bogdan Guskov is coming off a first-round submission loss to Volkan Oezdemir in September. He is a 14-3 prospect with 12 of his career wins coming by knockout. He fought very low level competition on the regional scene and was exposed by Oezdemir in his first true test. This guy is a complete question mark and it seems like he needs to land a big punch early.

This is one of those matchups where Pauga is the more skilled fighter with better cardio, but Guskov has much more finishing upside early in the fight. It seems to be that this will be Guskov early or Pauga late and either way the winner should score well for Draftkings. For that reason, I will have more exposure to Guskov on DraftKings and the official pick is Guskov by knockout.

Jeremiah Wells vs Max Griffin
Wells, -180; Griffin, +150

We last saw Jeremiah Wells when he fumbled the bag against Carlston Harris last August. He dominated the first two rounds and get caught in a submission in the third and lost. Wells is the definition of an explosive fighter with clear power on the feet. But he is also a very strong grappler with solid wrestling and a smothering top game. He averages just under four takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. The concern with Wells is that he has been stung multiple times and is not the smartest IQ fighter either.

His opponent, Max Griffin is coming off a decision loss to Michael Morales in July. Griffin is a well-rounded fighter with big power on the feet and can mix in the wrestling as well. But I doubt he will want to engage in the grappling much in this fight as he will be at a disadvantage in that area. Additionally, his power starts to fade after the first round and his cardio is not what it used to be at nearly 39 years old.

I expect this fight to be a banger on the feet while it plays out there. Both fighters are capable of hurting each other but I strongly favor Wells in the grappling department and think he has better cardio as well. Wells by decision is the official pick and he is a strong target on DraftKings.

Devin Clark vs Marcin Prachnio
Clark, -198; Prachnio, +164

Devin Clark is coming off a second-round submission loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC 288 last May. He has now lost four of his last six fights but looks to rebound this weekend in what should be a promising matchup for him. Clark comes from a collegiate wrestling background and averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. He has some power on the feet as well but usually is more interested in grinding his opponents up against the fence and wrestling them. The main concern with Clark is that he is a very bad nail so in matchups where he cannot get his gameplan going, he struggles mightily and has been finished in seven of his eight professional losses.

His opponent, Marcin Prachnio is coming off a third-round submission loss to Vitor Petrino at UFC 290 last July. He is primarily a kickboxer and does carry some power with 11 of his 16 career wins coming by knockout. But he struggles to defend takedowns at just 54% in the UFC. I also worry about the durability as he has been knocked out four times in his career as well.

Clark is historically an untrustworthy fighter, but this is a good matchup for him to get back in the win column. I expect the wrestling to be the key difference maker this weekend. Clark by decision is the official pick.

Loma Lookboonmee vs Bruna Brasil
Lookboonmee, -258; Brasil, +210

Loma Lookboonmee is coming off a second-round submission victory over Elise Reed at UFC 284 last February. She comes from a technical striking background and is very solid in the clinch and on the outside with her nonstop kicking attack. She has also shown the ability to mix in takedowns as she averages just over two takedowns per 15 minutes.

Her opponent, Bruna Brasil is coming off a decision victory over Shauna Bannon last July. She previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series and is primarily a striker by nature. She comes from a kickboxing background and five of her nine career wins have come inside the distance. She is a physical fighter and going to have the size advantage in this matchup but can be taken down and controlled by better grapplers and has been knocked out three times in her career.

I expect this to be a competitive fight but still favor the Lookboonmee side. She is the more skilled Muay Thai striker and should be able to have success in the clinch and mixing in a couple takedowns. Lookboonmee by decision is the official pick but there are better fighters to target this week on DraftKings.

Robert Bryczek vs Ihor Potieria
Bryczek, -198; Potieria, +164

Robert Byrczek was originally scheduled to face Albert Duraev in his UFC debut this weekend. Duraev was forced out and is being replaced by Ihor Potieria on short notice. Bryczek is coming off a first-round knockout victory last July. He is currently on a five-fight winning streak and all five wins came by first-round knockout. He seems to have some real power on the feet and 11 of his 17 career wins have come by knockout. He has beat a lot of low level talent on the regional scene and the times he did face legit competition, he came up short.

His opponent, Ihor Potieria is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Rodolfo Bellato in December. That fight was an absolute war and many referees may have even stopped the fight to give Potieria the finish. But Potieria’s cardio has never been good and he continuously fades in fights where the finish does not materialize early. But he does have power in his own right and these two are going to stand and trade.

This is a great fight to target on DraftKings as either guy can win by knockout early. I still have some serious questions about Bryczek and feel it is hard for him to pay off this price tag in a fight that should be a high-variance coin flip. I will be leaning into Potieria who is more proven at this point assuming the drop down to 185 lbs. goes well. Potieria by KO is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings.

Bolaji Oki vs Damir Hadzovic
Oki, -290; Hadzovic, +235

Bolaji Oki makes his UFC debut this weekend. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series and cashed a big underdog ticket for me in that fight. He is an undefeated 8-0 prospect fighting out of Belgium. Of his eight career victories, five of them have come by knockout, including that Contender Series fight. He trains at Xtreme Couture with guys like Ion Cutelaba, Sean Strickland and many others. He is very powerful on the feet and works the body well in combinations. He is a patient striker but once he finds his openings, he will start to unleash. He also has freak athleticism and has shown the ability to go to his wrestling when he needs to which would be a clear advantage for him in this fight.

His opponent, Damir Hadzovic is coming off a lengthy absence as he last fought in July of 2022. The reason for the layoff was ACL reconstructive surgery and meniscus surgery as well. Those are some serious red flags for someone turning 38 years old later this year. But even when fully healthy, Hadzovic is very one-dimensional. He has power on the feet and can put your lights out if he connects but he generally fades the later the fight goes. He has also always struggled with his defensive grappling and defends takedowns at just 34% in the UFC.

I do not like laying juice on unproven Contender Series prospects, but this is really Oki’s fight to lose. He is going to have a clear speed and athleticism advantage to go along with the obvious wrestling edge. But the longer the fight goes, the more it should favor him as well. Oki by decision is the official pick but he has knockout upside as well.

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Carlos Prates vs Trevin Giles
Prates, -245; Giles, +200

Carlos Prates is another fighter making his UFC debut fresh off Contender Series. He finished Mitch Ramirez inside of two rounds in dominant fashion. He is a 17-6 prospect fighting out of Brazil. Of his 17 career victories, 12 of them have come by knockout. He comes from a high-level kickboxing background and has a ton of experience throughout the Brazilian regional scene and had a few fights in LFA prior to Contender Series. He trains regularly with Caio Borralho and the Fight Nerds and fights out of southpaw stance with heavy leg kicks and legitimate knockout power. He also holds a black belt in BJJ although he has been submitted multiple times on the regional scene. He is extremely powerful with the head kicks and body kicks, but he fights with his hands down and can be clipped himself and has been knocked out twice in his career as well. Overall, he seems like a promising prospect with impressive offensive firepower despite some of the defensive concerns that I still have about him.

His opponent, Trevin Giles is coming off a first-round submission loss to Gabriel Bonfim at UFC 291 last July. Giles is a technical boxer with fast hands and a strong jab. The problem with him is that he is low-volume and typically lets his opponents dictate the dance. He has an okay ground game while fresh but gets sloppy at times and his cardio is very suspect and he has been finished in all five of his professional losses.

This should be a competitive fight in the beginning with the kicks of Prates doing damage while Giles tries to establish his jab. I trust the output of Prates more and could see his kicking attack paying dividends as the fight gets extended. If he turns it up late, he should be able to get Giles out of there. Prates by knockout is the official pick but there is an argument for Giles as a cheap underdog on DraftKings.

Rodolfo Vieira vs Armen Petrosyan
Vieira, -125; Petrosyan, +105

This fight was originally supposed to go down at UFC Sao Paulo in November but was rescheduled to this weekend. Rodolfo Vieira is coming off a second-round finish over Cody Brundage last time out in April. Leave it to Vieira to make even a layup matchup seem sketchy as he got rocked and nearly finished in round one. We know he has a dangerous submission game as he is a world-class grappler and holds a black belt in BJJ. However, his wrestling has never been good and he is known for having obvious gas tank concerns as he has gassed out multiple times in the UFC. On the feet, he has improved his striking and has a solid jab but is still hittable on defense. I have some serious concerns with him in this fight if he is unable to get the fight to the ground or control his opponent for extended periods.

His opponent, Armen Petrosyan is coming off a decision victory over Christian Leroy Duncan in June. Petrosyan is a 9-2 prospect fighting out of Armenia. Of his nine professional victories, six of them have come by knockout. He is primarily a striker and has powerful kicks that he will look for repeatedly. He can be taken down but is historically very difficult to control and pops back up to his feet constantly. On the feet, he should be the more technical striker and much better defensively.

I think I am finally just out on Vieira becoming anything decent at the UFC level. He will always be a submission threat with his elite grappling, but he still has so many red flags that I cannot continue to overlook. Petrosyan has seen similar matchups to this multiple times with guys that just want to take him down and he generally does well against them. With how hittable Vieira is on the feet and especially if he starts to fade, I see Petrosyan finding the knockout. This is another good fight to target on DraftKings.

Michael Johnson vs Darius Flowers
Johnson, -125; Flowers, +105

Michael Johnson is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Diego Ferreira last May. Johnson is primarily a striker and has some great boxing even at nearly 38 years old. But he is very one-dimensional and he is notorious for having poor fight IQ. He has some wrestling in his background but if you can get him down then you could threaten him with submissions as he has lost nine fights in that fashion. Simply put, I do not trust his durability at this stage in his career, especially coming off a knockout loss.

His opponent, Darius Flowers is coming off a second-round submission loss in his UFC debut to Jake Matthews at UFC 291. I have never been much of a fan of Flowers game as he is basically just a powerful brawler. He swings big on the feet and eight of his 12 wins have come by knockout. He is also capable of landing takedowns, but his defensive grappling is very poor and he has been submitted five times in his career.

This feels like a classic Michael Johnson fight where he is clearly the more skilled fighter and winning on minutes until he gets himself finished. Flowers is going to have a big power advantage if he can find the chin of Johnson early. Flowers by TKO is the official pick.

Gregory Rodrigues vs Brad Taveras
Rodrigues, -245; Taveras, +200

We last saw Gregory Rodrigues at UFC 292 when he knocked out Denis Tiuliulin in the first round. Rodrigues is a powerful striker with nine of his 14 career wins coming by knockout. But he also has a solid ground game as he averages 2.4 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. His problem is that he loves to brawl and does not go to his grappling as much as he should. The durability is a concern as he has been knocked out three times in his career.

His opponent, Brad Taveras is coming off a decision win over Chris Weidman at UFC 292. That win snapped a two-fight losing skid for him and he is looking to build on that momentum this weekend. Taveras is a well-rounded fighter with technical striking and strong takedown defense. But he is a thin margins type of fighter and his durability is a concern as well as he has been knocked out multiple times himself.

I expect this fight to play out closer than the betting odds suggest but I do slightly lean with Rodrigues who should have more paths to victory and carries more power in the striking as well. Rodrigues by TKO is the official pick.

Dan Ige vs Andre Fili
Ige, -175; Fili, +145

Dan Ige is coming off a tough matchup against Bryce Mitchell that he ended up losing a decision. Mitchell is relentless with the takedowns and was able to control Ige for half of the fight. Ige is a powerful boxer with five of his 17 career wins coming by knockout. He will also mix in a little wrestling and holds a black belt in BJJ although better grapplers can control him on the mat. He has proven to be very durable throughout his career as well.

His opponent, Andre Fili is coming off an impressive highlight reel knockout victory over Lucas Almeida at UFC 296 in December. Fili is a well-rounded fighter with a solid jab and strong calf kicks. He will also look to mix in some wrestling as he averages 2.19 takedowns per 15 minutes. He is skilled in all areas but it is also obvious when he is outmatched in the cage in certain matchups. His durability is a legitimate concern as he has been knocked out three times in his career.

I expect this to be a competitive matchup and it should play out closer than the betting odds suggests. However, I still slightly favor Ige as I doubt Fili will be able to wrestle him much and I trust the durability of Ige more in the striking exchanges. Ige by decision is the official pick.

Joe Pyfer vs Jack Hermansson
Pyfer, -245; Hermansson, +200

Be Joe Pyfer. Yes, I start every Pyfer breakdown the same way. Pyfer is coming off a beautiful second-round submission victory over Abdul Razak Alhassan in October that cashed some huge tickets for many of you guys, including myself. He is 3-0 in the UFC with three straight finishes since coming off the Contender Series in 2022. Pyfer is an explosive striker with eight of his 12 career wins coming by knockout. But he is also a capable wrestler and grappler and averages just under three takedowns per 15 minutes. The downside of Pyfer is that he is typically low output as he is waiting to land that big shot and sometimes does not go to the wrestling as much as he should.

His opponent, Jack Hermansson is coming off a TKO loss to Roman Dolidze in December of 2022. Hermansson is a well-rounded fighter in his own right as he likes to push a pace on the feet with high volume and mixing in the takedowns as he averages 1.66 takedowns per 15 minutes. He is an opportunistic submission grappler as well and solid wherever the fight goes. The main concern with Hermansson is the durability as he is hittable in striking exchanges and has been knocked out three times in his career.

This is an exciting main event matchup as both of these guys have an entertaining fighting style. I favor the power and durability of Pyfer but have concerns if the fight gets extended. I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings as the winner is going to score well but the official pick is Pyfer by TKO. 

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