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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 301! We have another fun PPV card this weekend not nearly the star-studded lineup that UFC 300 was but it’s still a 14-fight slate on DraftKings. It also helps that on DraftKings we have another $200,000 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.

Alessandro Costa vs Kevin Borjas
Costa, -142; Borjas, +120

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Alessandro Costa is coming off a decision loss to Steven Erceg at UFC 295 in November. Costa is a low volume striker but very powerful. He will look to land his heavy legs and has legitimate knockout power in his hands as well. He is also an aggressive grappler but is not very proactive with his wrestling and regularly loses position in grappling exchanges. The main concern with Costa is the lack of output and the questionable durability as he has been hurt across multiple fights at the UFC level and regionally.

His opponent, Kevin Borjas is coming off a decision loss to Joshua Van in his UFC debut. Borjas also previously fought on Contender Series and looks to get his first win at the UFC level this weekend. He comes from a Karate striking background and wants to keep the fight on the feet. Of his nine professional victories, eight of them have come by knockout and he has only fought to a decision twice in his career. He can give up takedowns but is generally hard to control and works back to his feet quickly.

I expect Borjas to be the more active striker on the feet with the better footwork as well. Either guy is capable of hurting each other but I trust the durability of Borjas more. Borjas by TKO is the official pick.

Ismael Bonfim vs Vinc Pichel
Bonfim, -460; Pichel, +360

Ismael Bonfim is coming off a nearly a year layoff as we last saw him get submitted by Benoit Saint Denis last June. Bonfim is primarily a striker and has fast hands and good footwork. But he is one-dimensional in that he is not going to grapple and his path to victory is narrow. Of his 19 career victories, nine of them have come by knockout, including a highlight reel flying knee TKO over Terrance McKinney at UFC 283.

His opponent, Vinc Pichel is coming off a two-year layoff as he last fought at UFC 272 back in 2022. He is also turning 42 years old later this year so you can imagine my excitement in watching him fight this weekend. There was a time when Pichel may have been competitive with Bonfim on the feet and able to mix in the wrestling which could give Bonfim issues but that time has come and passed.

I expect Bonfim to have a massive speed advantage in this fight and he really should have his way with the withered Pichel. Even if Pichel is able to land a takedown or two, I do not expect him to do much with it and he likely gets pieced up on the feet. Bonfim by TKO is the official pick.

Dione Barbosa vs Ernesta Kareckaite
Barbosa, -205; Kareckaite, +170

Dione Barbosa is making her UFC debut this weekend. She fought on last season of Dana White’s Contender Series and won by first-round submission on a week’s notice. Of her six professional victories, three of them have come by submission. Barbosa is primarily a grappler and comes from an Olympic level Judo background and holds a black belt in BJJ. But she is not a one-trick pony and is a very capable striker that can fight behind her jab and mix in the leg kicks well.

Her opponent, Ernesta Kareckaite is also making her UFC debut coming off last season of Contender Series where she won a split-decision. She comes from a Lithuanian kickboxing background and sports a 5-0-1 professional record. Of her five victories, three of them have come by decision. She is very tall for the division and wants to move forward with relentless pressure and spam volume. But I have concerns with her defensive grappling in general and particularly in this matchup.

I expect Barbosa to get the fight to the ground where she will have the biggest advantage in this fight. She gets it done in front of her home crowd in Brazil. Barbosa by submission is the official pick.

Mauricio Ruffy vs Jamie Mullarkey
Ruffy, -166; Mullarkey, +140

Mauricio Ruffy is another UFC debutant fresh off the Contender Series last season. He is an 9-1 prospect fighting out of Brazil so will be sure to have the hometown support this weekend. All nine of his wins have come by knockout and he has only reached the third round once in his entire career. He is a flashy striker with a strong jab and a fast one-two combination. It is clear that the power is there if he is able to connect clean on you. But outside of the early knockout power and flashy leg kicks, there is not much else to his game. His defensive grappling and gas tank are unproven and he did not face much resistance on the regional scene.

His opponent, Jamie Mullarkey is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Nasrat Haqparast in December. Mullarkey is a high-paced fighter that is willing to stand and trade with anybody. He can also mix in some takedowns as he averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. The glaring issue with Mullarkey is that he does not have the durability to support his fighting style. He has now been knocked out five times in his career and he is at risk any time this fight is at space.

Mullarkey might be able to land some takedowns here but I think it is only a matter of time before Ruffy hurts him on the feet. The power and durability clearly favor the newcomer and I do not trust Mullarkey not to engage in a brawl. Ruffy by TKO is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Drakkar Klose vs Joaquim Silva
Klose, -185; Silva, +154

Drakkar Klose is coming off a first-round knockout slam over Joe Solecki in December. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak and looks to keep that momentum going this weekend. Klose is a well-rounded fighter with powerful striking and the ability to mix in some wrestling as he averages 1.78 takedowns per 15 minutes. He keeps a solid pace on the feet and he has only been finished once in his career.

His opponent, Joaquim Silva is coming off a decision win over Clay Guida in December. Silva is a powerful striker with seven of his 13 career wins coming by knockout. He also holds a black belt in BJJ but rarely looks to grapple. The main concern with Silva is his durability as he has been knocked out in three of his four professional losses.

I favor the Klose side in this fight significantly. Klose is a very solid fighter wherever the fight goes and I expect him to avoid the power shots of Silva for the most part. He also has the potential to hurt Silva on the feet and should have the better gas tank down the stretch as well. Klose by TKO is the official pick.

Jean Silva vs William Gomis
Silva, -175; Gomis, +145

Jean Silva is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Westin Wilson in his UFC debut in January. He is a powerful fighter with nine of his 12 career wins coming by knockout. He clearly has power on the feet and is very explosive as well. But he tends to fade as the fight goes on and I do not trust his defensive grappling at the UFC level.

His opponent, William Gomis is coming off a third-round TKO victory over Yannis Ghemmouri in September. I remember that fight vividly as I bet the over 2.5 round prop and the fight was a total snooze fest until Gomis landed a kick that shut down Ghemmouri – brutal scenes. Anyway, Gomis is a boring fighter as he is low volume and will look to keep distance by using his length and kicking attack. He is also capable of landing some takedowns as he landed three in his UFC debut.

Silva clearly has more power and finishing potential in this fight. But if he is unable to hurt Gomis early then I have concerns with him winning rounds in an extended fight. I strongly dislike Gomis fighting style and think he gets exposed sooner rather than later. But in this matchup, he is a live underdog in that he is going to have a big size advantage, high fight IQ and the potential to land takedowns and take over if Silva gasses out. Gomis by decision is the official pick but he has no upside on DraftKings so I will have more exposure to Silva as he is the only one capable of putting up a big score.

Myktybek Orolbai vs Elves Brenner
Orolbai, -265; Brenner, +215

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We last saw Myktybek Orolbai in November when he submitted Uros Medic in his UFC debut. He previously fought in LFA and sports an 12-1 professional record with 11 of those wins coming by finish. He is a well-rounded fighter with competent striking and a strong ground game as well. He should have a clear grappling advantage in this fight and I expect him to use it.

His opponent, Elves Brenner is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Kaynan Kruschewsky in November. He is 3-0 in the UFC and currently riding a five-fight winning streak. Brenner is not the most technical fighter out there, but he is very aggressive and pushes a wild pace that relies on pressure and cardio. He is also dangerous at times on the mat with 11 career submission victories but I expect Orolbai to be more positionally sound in grappling exchanges.

Brenner is tough to bet against as a big underdog because he always fights for your money. He is durable as well and has never been finished in his career so I would expect this fight to get extended. But I worry about Brenner’s round winning ability against someone that is as skilled as Orolbai in multiple areas. I expect Orolbai to land takedowns here and spend time in top position which should lead to him getting his hand raised. Orolbai by decision is the official pick.

Iasmin Lucindo vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Lucindo, -410; Kowalkiewicz, +320

Iasmin Lucindo is coming off a second-round submission win over Polyana Viana last August. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and will likely ride that momentum into another victory this weekend. On the feet, she is looking to push a pace with her powerful kicking attack and is willing to bite down on the mouthpiece and fight in the phone booth. She has also shown the ability to land takedowns and grapple at times as well and is one of the more exciting prospects in the division.

Her opponent, Karolina Kowalkiewicz is coming off a decision win over Diana Belbita in December. Don’t look now but Kowalkiewicz is currently on a four-fight winning streak despite turning 39 years old later this year. She is a high-volume striker and works well in the clinch but she will likely be at a clear athletic disadvantage in this fight. She has made improvements in her grappling over the years but she can still give up takedowns at times.

I expect this fight to be closer than the betting odds suggest but I still think Lucindo will be the clear winner. She is going to be much faster and will carry more power as well and I just think this is a tough fight for Kowalkiewicz at this stage in her career. Lucindo by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings this week.

Joanderson Brito vs Jack Shore
Brito, -170; Shore, +142

Joanderson Brito is coming off a comeback victory when he submitted Jonathan Pearce in the second round back in November. Brito is a very explosive fighter with 14 of his 16 career wins coming inside the distance. He is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and wants to keep that going in front of his home crowd this weekend. Aside from pure power, Brito is also capable of landing takedowns and establishing control on the mat. The biggest issue is his striking defense as he is very hittable.

His opponent, Jack Shore is coming off a second-round submission victory over Makwan Amirkhani at UFC 286 over a year ago. Shore is a well-rounded fighter that will look to pump out his jab until he wants to close distance and grind on you. He pushes a heavy grappling pace typically and averages nearly 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. But I expect him to struggle if he pursues the grappling against Brito.

I expect Brito to be landing the more powerful shots on the feet and he likely punishes Shore if he pursues the grappling path. Brito by TKO is the official pick and this is a good fight to target on DraftKings.

Caio Borralho vs Paul Craig
Borralho, -520; Craig, +390

Caio Borralho is 5-0 in the UFC and four of those wins came by decision, including his last time out in November against Abu Magomedov. Borralho fights out of the Fighting Nerds and will be a big hometown favorite this weekend so maybe he increases his aggressiveness (let’s hope). But generally, he is a very well-rounded fighter with high fight IQ as he knows what it takes to win rounds and does not often take unnecessary risks. On the feet, he carries legitimate power but he is limited in the sense that he can be hurt and tends to slow down in extended fights as well, so he needs the back takes to secure rounds.

His opponent, Paul Craig is coming off a third-round submission loss to Brendan Allen in November. He has lost three of his last four fights but is just 1-1 since dropping down to the Middleweight division. Craig is always one of the more dangerous submission grapplers on the roster, but he is so one-dimensional and needs to have grappling success or he will die. His durability is always a concern as well as he has been knocked out four times in his career.

Borralho has enough issues that give me some concern about this wide of a betting price tag. But he should do enough to secure rounds here as long as he stays safe in grappling exchanges. He also has some sneaky knockout upside on the feet, but I doubt he pushes it. Borralho by decision is the official pick.

Michel Pereira vs Ihor Potieria
Pereira, -535; Potieria, +400

Michel Pereira is coming off a first-round submission victory over Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC 299 in March. He is currently on a seven-fight winning streak and will be fighting in front of his home crowd in Brazil so he will certainly be looking to put on a show. He is a very explosive fighter and will try flying knees and spinning attacks in an effort for a highlight-reel knockout. But he has also shown the ability to land takedowns and control his opponents on the mat as well. The main issue with him is the cardio management if the fight gets extended.

His opponent, Ihor Potieria is coming off a decision win over Robert Bryczek in February. Despite the recent victory, he is still just 2-3 inside the UFC and was knocked out in all three of those losses. He is very hittable on the feet and will be at a speed and power disadvantage in this fight. He also struggles in the defensive grappling department which could get him in trouble here.

This is Pereira’s fight to lose as long as he does not DQ himself for doing something stupid. He is the faster fighter along with having the power and durability advantage as well. If he goes to the grappling early then this fight may not last long. Pereira by TKO is the official pick.

Vitor Petrino vs Anthony Smith
Petrino, -520; Smith, +390

Vitor Petrino is coming off a decision victory over Tyson Pedro in March. He is 4-0 in the UFC since coming off the Contender Series two years ago. He has explosive power on the feet and has proven that he can land takedowns and control his opponents for extended periods as well. He is typically low volume, but his power makes up for it when he lands and he averages nearly four takedowns per 15 minutes.

His opponent, Anthony Smith is coming off a third-round TKO loss to Khalil Rountree in December. It is no secret that Smith has never been a good round winner, but he is a great finisher with 34 of his 37 professional victories coming inside the distance. He has power on the feet and holds a black belt in BJJ as well. He really only struggles against better grapplers or other powerful strikers that can test his durability. Unfortunately for him, he is facing someone that potentially has him beat in both of those categories.

I expect Petrino to be landing the more powerful shots on the feet and he should also be able to mix in takedowns if he chooses to. Lastly, I favor his pace and cardio if the fight gets extended. Petrino by TKO is the official pick.

Jonathan Martinez vs Jose Aldo
Martinez, -162; Aldo, +136

Jonathan Martinez is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Adrian Yanez last October. He is currently on a six-fight winning streak and faces what is likely his toughest test to date this weekend. Martinez has great leg kicks and everyone mentions it when he fights because it is basically all he does. He is very one-dimensional in that sense, but his leg kicks are a real problem. If you can get around the kicking attack and get inside, you can crack him as he has been dropped four times in the UFC.

His opponent, Jose Aldo is coming off nearly a two-year layoff since he dropped a decision to Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 back in 2022. He turns 38 years old later this year and combined with the layoff, it is somewhat concerning. But over his last few fights, he has proved that he is still a very tough matchup for anyone in the division – even at this stage in his career. He has knockout power on the feet with 17 career KO victories and is very difficult to grapple as well. He also defends calf kicks very well historically and has some sharp kicks of his own too.

This should be a competitive fight as I do not expect either fighter to look to grapple so we should have a kickboxing match. I expect Aldo to give Martinez a veteran lesson if he is unable to have much success with his usual kicking approach. Aldo is a much better boxer and has the ability to hurt Martinez even at this stage in his career. Lastly, the crowd factor will likely play a role in what should be a close fight. Aldo by decision is the official pick.

Alexandre Pantoja vs Steve Erceg
Pantoja, -185; Erceg, +154

Alexandre Pantoja is coming off a decision victory over Brandon Royval in December at UFC 296. He is currently riding a five-fight winning streak and looks to defend his title in front of his own Brazilian crowd this weekend. Pantoja pushes a high pace from the opening bell and tries to get his opponents out of there early. He will walk you down and try to big brother you and force you into grappling exchanges where he is very good at finding the back. He holds a black belt in BJJ and has 10 career submission victories. The concern with Pantoja is always his gas tank as he regularly fades outside of the first round. Even in his last fight, Royval started to come on late but there was not enough time.

His opponent, Steve Erceg is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Matt Schnell in March. He is just 3-0 in the UFC and already challenging for the title which is very impressive albeit surprising. He is primarily a grappler as six of his 12 career wins have come by submission. But his striking is serviceable as well and he seems to be very durable. He averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes and it will be interesting to see if he engages in the grappling with Pantoja who is likely better on the mat while they are fresh.

Pantoja is always capable of finishing you early but if he doesn’t do that then I expect this fight to be competitive down the stretch. I still side with Pantoja as the more proven fighter but the cardio always worries me with him so I will also be targeting some Erceg on DraftKings as well. Pantoja by decision is the official pick.

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