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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 302! We have another fun PPV card this weekend and I know you guys are ready to get after it since we had last week off. 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.

Andre Lima vs Mitch Raposo
Lima, -275; Raposo, +235

Andre Lima is coming off the infamous bite disqualification fight against Igor da Silva in March. He is extremely powerful for the Flyweight division and can put your lights out with one shot. He comes from a high-level kickboxing and Muay Thai background and is a two-time South American Kickboxing champion. But he is generally low volume on the feet trying to time his big shots. One of his best assets aside from his pure power, is his devastating leg kicks which he will look for repeatedly. But his low volume makes him tough to trust as a big favorite especially considering that he can be outgrappled at times as well.

His opponent, Mitch Raposo is making his UFC debut on short notice this weekend. Raposo previously fought on the Ultimate Fighter and lost in the first round. He also followed that up with a submission loss to Jake Hadley on Dana White’s Contender Series. He is a former high school state champion wrestler and typically goes to his wrestling in most of his fights. He is certainly capable of landing takedowns but his grappling is not great. On the feet, he fights out of the Southpaw stance and does carry some power himself with fast hands as well.

I expect Raposo to be more competitive than the betting odds suggest especially if you expect him to land a takedown or two like I do. But I also think Raposo is very limited outside of his wrestling and his gas tank seems suspect at times as well so I doubt he will be able to take over if the fight gets extended. Lima by decision is the official pick but I have more interest in the underdog on DraftKings.

Ailin Perez vs Joselyne Edwards
Perez, -230; Edwards, +195

Pepe Sylvia has a bet on this fight… Find out who he is backing here

Ailin Perez is coming off a decision win over Lucie Pudilova in November. She is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has mainly relied on her wrestling throughout her UFC career. She averages just under five takedowns per 15 minutes and needs to get her grappling going in most of her fights. Because on the feet, she does not have much to be concerned about as she is low volume and sloppy. She has also shown very spotty cardio in previous fights which is a concern.

Her opponent, Joselyne Edwards is coming off a decision loss to Nora Cornolle last September. Edwards has never been someone that I get excited about backing. She can keep a decent pace on the feet but it is mostly harmless calf kicks and she definitely slows in her fights as well. She also struggles with her defensive grappling as she defends takedowns at 64% and can be controlled on her back for extended periods.

Perez is tough to trust at this price tag but the takedowns should be there for her and that is likely the difference. Perez by decision is the official pick.

Bassil Hafez vs Mickey Gall
Hafez, -285; Gall, +230

Bassil Hafez is coming off a split-decision loss against Jack Della Maddalena in his UFC debut last year. Many people thought he may have won that fight as he landed multiple takedowns and controlled Maddalena for nearly half of the fight. He has some power on the feet but his striking is sloppy as well and he likely needs to get the fight to the ground. He holds a black belt in BJJ and four of his eight wins have come by submission. Lastly, his cardio has been spotty at times in the past.

His opponent, Mickey Gall fought to the end of his UFC contract in 2022 and was not resigned until recently and now gets a homecoming fight in his return in Newark, New Jersey. Gall has historically been an early submission or bust fighter which makes him to difficult to trust in most matchups, especially in this one against Hafiz who has never been submitted in his career. I am expecting a heavy grappling fight which could get sloppy on both sides. Gall’s cardio is not good and he regularly wilts as well as he has been knocked out twice in his career.

Hafez should be the better grappler in this fight in a fight where I expect both guys to look to grapple. In terms of DraftKings, I want to have exposure to both sides but the official pick is Hafez by decision.

Alex Morono vs Niko Price
Morono, -238; Price, +195

This fight is a rematch as these two fought back in 2017 which was early in both of their UFC careers. Alex Morono is coming off a decision win over Court McGee in April. He has typically been known as a high-volume striker with a solid jab and sharp leg kicks. But the volume has not really been there over his last few fights which is concerning. He also holds a black belt in BJJ although he rarely goes to his grappling. The concern with Morono is the durability as he has been knocked out three times in his career.

His opponent, Niko Price is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Robbie Lawler back at UFC 290. He has now lost three of his last four fights and was knocked out in back to back losses. Price is not a good round winner because he typically gets outlanded on the feet. But he does have clear finishing upside as 13 of his 15 career wins have come inside the distance. The glaring issue for Price is his durability as he has now been knocked out five times in his career.

This one should be a meme classic as both guys have clear durability issues. I favor Morono’s durability a little more though and the overall process to his game along with his underrated power. Morono by TKO is the official pick but either guy can get finished here and I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings.

Jake Matthews vs Phil Rowe
Matthews, -162; Rowe, +136

Evan has a multi-unit bet on this fight… Find out who he is backing NOW

Jake Matthews is coming off a decision loss to Michael Morales in November. He is a well-rounded fighter who averages 1.59 takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. He has shown off some improved striking in recent fights as well. However, 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 repeatedly by Matthew Semelsberger.

His opponent, Phil Rowe is coming off a split-decision loss to Neil Magny last June. Rowe is primarily a boxer and is very long for the division. He will be working with a seven-inch reach advantage in this matchup. On the feet, he has some power in his hands but his defense needs work still and his defensive grappling is suspect at times as well. Lastly, I do not fully trust his durability as he has been hurt in multiple fights throughout his career.

I have trust issues with both of these guys and for good reason. But I expect Matthews to be the better grappler in this fight and that has me siding with him. Matthews by decision is the official pick.

Grant Dawson vs Joe Solecki
Dawson, -355; Solecki, +280

Grant Dawson is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Bobby Green in October. He brings a high-paced grappling style and averages 3.68 takedowns per 15 minutes. While he is great at getting the takedowns, he needs to get them as he struggles mightily on the feet. He lacks any semblance of defense and regular eats punches clean so anytime he is at space, you should be worried.

His opponent, Joe Solecki is also coming off a first-round knockout loss at the hands of Drakkar Klose in December. It was an awkward slam that knocked him out so we cannot take too much away from that fight. Solecki is a slick submission grappler and nine of his 13 career wins have come by submission. On the feet, he does not present many problems for Dawson as he is primarily a leg kicker.

Dawson is clearly the better round winner and likely wins this fight at a relatively high clip. But he also has enough concerns to where I am less confident than the market as he regularly puts himself in bad spots in grappling exchanges. Dawson decision is the official pick but I will look to have exposure to both sides on DraftKings as the winner should score very well.

Roman Kopylov vs Cesar Almeida
Kopylov, -118; Almeida, -102

We last saw Roman Kopylov at UFC 298 in February where he was submitted in the second round by Anthony Hernandez. He is primarily a kickboxer and has some powerful kicks if you are going to stand and trade with him. Of his 12 career victories, 11 of them have come by knockout and it is clear that he needs to keep the fight on the feet. His defensive grappling is his biggest weakness and he typically struggles when you force him to grapple repeatedly.

His opponent, Cesar Almeida is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Dylan Budka in April. He comes from a high-level kickboxing background and four of his five career wins have come by knockout. Similar to Kopylov, he wants to keep this fight on the feet and that is where I expect this one to play out for as long as it last.

This is a great matchup and one that I expect both guys to have the potential to hurt each other. But I slightly favor Kopylov as the more proven fighter at this stage in their UFC careers. Kopylov by decision is the official pick.

Randy Brown vs Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos
Brown, -175; Dos Santos, +145

Pepe Sylvia has a bet on this fight… Find out who he is backing NOW

Randy Brown is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Muslim Salikhov in February. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has won six of his last seven inside of the octagon. Brown is primarily a striker and is very long for the division and will be working with a five-inch reach advantage in this matchup. He typically keeps a decent pace on the feet and stays active with the leg kicks as well. But he does not present much finishing upside and usually fights on thin margins as he rarely looks to grapple either.

His opponent, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos is coming off a decision loss to Rinat Fakhretdinov last November. Historically, he is a dangerous finisher with explosive power on the feet. Of his 24 career victories, 17 of them have come inside the distance. He can be controlled at times in the grappling department though and he seems to be slowing down at this stage in his career as he turns 38 in a few months.

I expect this fight to be competitive with both fighters having moments. But I favor the Brown side as I trust him to be more active and get the slight nod in what should be a very close fight. Brown by split-decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Jailton Almeida vs Alexandr Romanov
Almeida, -270; Romanov, +220

Jailton Almeida last fought at UFC 299 in March and lost by TKO at the hands of Curtis Blaydes. That was his first loss in over 15 fights and he is looks to get back in the win column this weekend. He is a physical freak and uses his explosive athleticism to get the fight to the ground. He averages nearly seven takedowns per 15 minutes and holds a black belt in BJJ. His striking leaves more to be desired but he does not waste much time going to his bread and butter on the mat.

His opponent, Alexander Romanov is coming off a decision win over Blagoy Ivanov last July. That win snapped a two-fight losing skid for him and he is looking to build on that momentum and play spoiler on Saturday. It is no secret what Romanov brings to the table as he comes from a wrestling background and averages 4.32 takedowns per 15 minutes. If he gets on top, it usually does not take long before he finds a finish. But his takedown defense and cardio are massive red flags in a matchup like this one.

I expect Almeida to be the one in top position and he has the better cardio as well which will be key in this fight. If he can avoid getting put on his back like I expect him to then he likely cruises in this matchup. Almeida by TKO is the official pick.

Kevin Holland vs Michal Oleksiejczuk
Holland, -250; Oleksiejcuz, +205

Kevin Holland is coming off a decision loss to Michael Venom Page at UFC 299 in March. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and looking to rebound this weekend. He is also moving back up to 185 lbs. for this matchup. Holland is a good striker with fast hands and will likely have a big speed advantage in this fight. He also has the biggest edge stylistically in the grappling department although we cannot rely on him confidently to force grappling exchanges. Lastly, I trust his durability significantly more which just adds to his lead in the intangibles department.

His opponent, Michal Oleksiejczuk also fought on UFC 299 but was submitted in the very first round by Michel Pereira. He is primarily a boxer and will pour on the volume in combinations. He also has clear power to go along with the technique and 14 of his 19 wins have come by knockout. But his defensive grappling has always been an issue as he defends takedowns at just 48% and has been submitted five times in his career.

I favor Holland significantly in this fight both because of intangibles and speed. If he forces Oleksiejczuk to grapple then he likely finds a submission but his fight IQ is not something I want to bank on at this price. Holland by decision is the official pick but I will likely be underweight on DraftKings.

Sean Strickland vs Paulo Costa
Strickland, -238; Costa, +195

We just saw Sean Strickland lose the championship belt to Dricus Du Plessis back at UFC 297 in January. Strickland is primarily a boxer and can fight behind his jab and calf kicks for 25 minutes at a strong pace. He is a volume striker although he lacks pure power. His grappling is solid as well but he rarely uses it and I do not expect him to do so in this fight either.

His opponent, Paulo Costa is coming off a decision loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 298 in February. Costa has just one victory over his last four fights and he usually does not stay very active either so this is a quick turnaround for him. He has clear power in his hands with 11 of his 14 career wins coming by knockout. He will also try to push a pace on the feet but he will be at a four-inch reach disadvantage and a clear cardio disadvantage in this fight.

I expect Strickland to do Strickland things here as I expect him to have the volume advantage and for that to compound in the championship rounds as this is scheduled for 25 minutes. I also think he has the durability edge as well and those should be all he needs to get the job done. Strickland by decision is the official pick.

Islam Makhachev vs Dustin Poirier
Makhachev, -625; Poirier, +455

Islam Makhachev is coming off a title defense over Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294 where he won by first-round knockout in highlight reel fashion. The improvements in his striking cannot be understated as he was previously known for being very one-dimensional as a typical Dagestani grappler. That is still without question his bread and butter and he averages 3.17 takedowns per 15 minutes and has 11 submission victories to his credit.

His opponent, Dustin Poirier needs no introduction. He is coming off a huge upset victory over Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC 299 in March where he finished him by second-round TKO. Poirier is a legend of the fight game and a former champion of the division. He is very well-rounded with high level boxing skills and a black belt in BJJ. But he has never been great at defending takedowns at just 63% in the UFC.

It is not a hot take by any means but I expect Makhachev to be able to rinse and repeat takedowns here and eventually find the submission. But Poirier is always a live dog and I will have some exposure to him as well on DraftKings considering the cheap price. Makhachev by submission is the official pick.

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