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We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 93!

We have an action-packed 13-fight slate on DraftKings which makes for a very interesting Saturday afternoon. 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.

Melquizael Costa vs Shayilan Neurdanbieke
Costa, -170; Neurdanbieke, +142

Melquizel Costa is coming off a second-round TKO loss to Steve Garcia in December. He is primarily a striker and fights out of the southpaw stance. Seven of his 20 career wins have come by knockout and he keeps a solid pace on the feet with his kicking attack. He has also shown that he is capable of mixing in the takedowns as he averages nearly 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. I also think his takedown defense and grappling is better than people will give him credit for based on his UFC debut.

His opponent, Shayilan Neurdanbieke is coming off a knockout loss to Steve Garcia at UFC 287 last year. He is primarily a wrestler and tries relentlessly to get the fight to the ground as he averages 2.9 takedowns per 15 minutes. But he is very one-dimensional in that his striking is not very good as he is low volume on the feet and struggles defensively.

I like the Costa side in this matchup as he is more well-rounded and should dhave a clear advantage in the striking department. Neurdanbieke has to get this fight to the ground and have success controlling Costa which I believe will be very difficult for him. Costa by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on DraftKings.

Josefine Knutsson vs Julia Polastri
Knutsson, -225; Polastri, +185

Josefine Knutsson is coming off a decision victory over Marnic Mann in her UFC debut last September. She comes from an experienced kickboxing background and six of her seven career wins have come by decision. On the feet, she has some strong leg kicks and looks to move forward and pressure her opponents. But she is not a high-volume striker as she is very patient and waits for her openings. She is also well-rounded and looks to hold her opponents against the fence for extended periods and that is typically where she looks to mix in some takedowns as well.

Her opponent, Julia Polastri is coming off a second-round submission victory on Contender Series last season. She is primarily a striker and carries some power in this division and four of her 12 career wins have come by TKO. She has also improved her submission grappling over the years but she can still be taken down and controlled at times which is likely her biggest weakness.

I expect this to be a competitive fight on the feet but the difference should be that Knutsson will be able to control Polastri in the clinch exchanges and up along the fence. I also expect Knutsson to be able to land takedowns which likely make the difference here. Knutsson by decision is the official pick.

Jeka Saragih vs Westin Wilson
Saragih, -345; Wilson, +275

We last saw Jeka Saragih in November when he came through as a big underdog with a highlight reel knockout victory. Although reckless, Saragih swings with some serious power and nine of his 14 career wins have come by knockout. He struggles defensively in the grappling department and that is where opponents will need to take advantage of him as he was submitted twice on the regional scene.

His opponent, Westin Wilson is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Jean Silva in January. He is 0-2 in the UFC and was brutally knocked out in each of his losses. He comes from a Karate striking background and struggles to keep his hands up defensively which causes him to eat some big shots. He is primarily a grappler and 11 of his 16 wins have come by submission. The striking defense and durability are clearly his biggest issues.

This is my favorite fight to target on DraftKings. The likelihood that this ends in round one is extremely high to me. Saragih has clear knockout power and is facing someone that does not defend strikes well. But also Wilson is a tricky submission grappler and could even high roll a finish if Saragih gives him an opportunity to grapple so I will likely be overweight to the field on him as well. Saragih by TKO is the official pick and he is an obvious target on DraftKings.

Gabriella Fernandes vs Carli Judice
Fernandes, -205; Judice, +170

Gabriella Fernandes is coming off a decision loss to Tereza Bleda in June of last year. She is a good striker but very one-dimensional and has proven to have no resistance to takedowns or any ability to work back to her feet. I expect her to have a striking advantage in most matchups but her inability to defend takedowns make her a liability against anyone that can grapple.

Her opponent, Carli Judice is coming off a split-decision loss on Contender Series last season. All three of her career wins have come by first-round knockout. She turned professional less than two years ago and is still relatively green and inexperienced at this level. She fights out of the southpaw stance and is good striker with powerful kicks and uses her length well. She lacks the ground game that I want to see in order to take advantage of Fernandes as she is very one-dimensional herself.

This should be a competitive striking match but one that expect Fernandes to be getting the better of. Judice does not have the grappling to take advantage of Fernandes and on the feet, Fernandes ability and experience will be the difference maker. Fernandes by decision is the official pick.

Josh Quinlan vs Adam Fugitt
Quinlan, -120; Fugitt, +100

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Josh Quinlan is coming off a third-round TKO loss to Danny Barlow in February at UFC 298. He is primarily a striker and does have knockout power with four of his six career wins coming by knockout. But he is very one-dimensional and low volume on the feet. He is also very hittable and struggles defensively. I worry about his durability long term.

His opponent, Adam Fugitt is coming off a second-round submission loss to Mike Malott at UFC 289 last year. Fugitt is not the most talented guy on the roster, but he has a ton of heart and a well-rounded skillset. He comes from a Muay Thai striking background and holds a brown belt in BJJ. He is also capable of mixing in the takedowns as he wrestled in junior college and averages 3.43 takedowns per 15 minutes. He fights out of the southpaw stance and will be working with a five-inch reach advantage in this fight.

I expect Fugitt to be able to use his length to his advantage and land some powerful kicks. I also trust him more to put up volume and he should be the to have grappling success as well. Fugitt by TKO is the official pick.

Nate Maness vs Jimmy Flick
Maness, -470; Flick, +360

Nate Maness is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Mateus Mendonca in October. He is low volume on the feet and typically being outworked and landed on because he lacks basic defense. He has solid first level takedown defense but once you get him flat on his back then you can control him on the mat. I do not fully trust his durability either as he has been finished in two of his three professional losses and hurt in others as well.

His opponent, Jimmy Flick is coming off an upset victory over Malcolm Gordon with a round-two submission in January. Flick is a dangerous submission grappler with 15 of his 17 wins coming by submission. He is the better wrestler and grappler in this fight but desperately needs to get the fight to the ground as his striking is toast. The main issue with Flick is the glaring durability problem as he has been knocked out in six of his seven professional losses.

The most likely outcome is that Maness lands something that hurts Flick on the feet and knocks him out. But Flick has some upside as well and for that reason, I will have exposure to both sides on DraftKings. Maness by TKO is the official pick.

Tagir Ulanbekov vs Joshua Van
Ulanbekov, -230; Van, +190

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We last saw Tagir Ulanbekov when he submitted Cody Durden in the second round at UFC 296. He is primarily a grappler and has landed 14 takedowns across his five UFC bouts. But he can be taken down himself as well and he does not carry much power on the feet. Eight of his 15 career wins have come by submission and that is likely his only chance at finishing the fight.

His opponent, Joshua Van is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Felipe Bunes in January. He is primarily a striker and does carry some power with six of his 10 career wins coming by knockout. He is 3-0 in the UFC and currently on an eight-fight winning streak overall. He is high-paced on the feet and is difficult to grapple as well which will certainly be tested in this fight.

I expect Van to have the striking advantage but he will likely be defending takedowns and working back to his feet for most of the fight. Ulanbekov’s relentless grappling is likely the difference here. Ulanbekov by decision is the official pick.

Garrett Armfield vs Brady Hiestand
Armfield, -175; Hiestand, +145

Garrett Armfield is coming off a decision victory over Brad Katona at UFC 297 in January. He is primarily a striker and has some explosive power early in the fight and has shown the ability to mix in takedowns on the regional scene but has yet to do so in the UFC. The main concern with him is that his cardio is suspect and he repeatedly has put himself in bad spots grappling and paid the price as he has been submitted twice in his career.

His opponent, Brady Hiestand is coming off a third-round TKO finish over Batgerel Danaa last April. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak since losing his UFC debut in the Ultimate Fighter finale against Ricky Turcios. He is primarily a wrestler and averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes. He pushes a high pace and has solid cardio but he lacks defense on the feet and regularly eats some clean shots.

I expect Armfield to be landing some big shots while the fight plays out on the feet. He likely gives up a few takedowns in the process but should be landing the majority of the damage. Armfield by decision is the official pick.

Asu Almabaev vs Jose Johnson
Almabaev, -535; Johnson, +400

Asu Almabaev has largely dominated his two UFC fights. He has a 19-2 professional record with eight wins coming by submission. He is primarily a grappler and averages over seven takedowns per 15 minutes. But he is very well-rounded and has solid striking as well and to this point has shown no major weaknesses.

His opponent, Jose Johnson is coming off a round-three submission victory over Chad Anheliger in November. Surprisingly, he is dropping down to Flyweight for this fight despite being tall at 135 lbs. so he keep an eye on weigh-ins. Aside from the big size advantage, Johnson may not have any other edges in this fight. He is a solid striker but struggles defensively and continuously puts himself in bad spots in grappling exchanges. He has been able to scramble out of them at times but against grapplers not at the level of Almabaev.

I expect to see multiple grappling exchanges in this fight and think it is only a matter of time before Almabaev makes Johnson pay for a mistake. Almabaev by submission is the official pick.

Miles Johns vs Douglas Silva de Andrade
Johns, -125; de Andrade, +105

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Miles Johns is coming off a decision win over Cody Gibson in March. He is more of a decision fighter but does carry some power and has landed multiple knockdowns in the UFC. He comes from a collegiate wrestling background but he rarely uses it in his fights as it typically makes him gas out quicker than striking. On the feet, he has good boxing but not a ton of output so he needs to make it count when he lands. His biggest weakness is the cardio management as he does tend to slow down in extended fights.

His opponent, Douglas Silva de Andrade is coming off a decision win over Cody Stamann last May. He is a powerful striker with 20 of his 29 wins coming by way of knockout. But he is usually getting outlanded on the feet and turns 39 years old in just a couple of weeks. I also worry about his durability as he was hurt by Sergey Morozov a few fights back and dropped and nearly finished by Stamann in his last fight and neither guy is known for their power.

I have concern with both fighters but for different reasons. I favor the Johns side as I think he is the better boxer and I trust his durability a bit more. He could also potentially mix in some wrestling although he likely refuses like usual. Either way he should get his hand raised. Johns by decision is the official pick.

Timothy Cuamba vs Lucas Almeida
Cuamba, -205; Almeida, +170

Timothy Cuamba is coming off a split-decision loss in his UFC debut against Bolaji Oki in February. He previously fought on Dana White’s Contender Series last season but failed to earn a contract despite getting his hand raised. Cuamba is primarily a striker but he typically does not put a ton of output out there. He will also look to mix in the takedowns but he is not very skilled in that area and better grapplers can take advantage of him on the mat. One of his best assets is that he seems to be very durable and I expect him to be a tough out for most opponents.

His opponent, Lucas Almeida is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Andre Fili in December. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and was finished in both of those losses. He is an explosive striker that wants to keep the fight on the feet. He keeps a high pace and has the power to put your lights out if he connects clean. Of his 14 professional victories, all of them have come inside the distance and he has only been to decision once in his career and that was with Daniel Zellhuber on the Contender Series.

I expect this fight to be a firefight on the feet with both guys having some succuss. I favor the power and volume of Almeida and think he is the better submission grappler as well if the fight were to hit the mat. Almeida by decision is the official pick and he is a good underdog to target this week.

Ikram Aliskerov vs Antonio Tricoli
Aliskerov, -1100; Tricoli, +700

Ikram Aliskerov is coming off a first-round TKO victory at UFC 294 in October. He is 2-0 in the UFC with both wins coming by first-round finish. He was originally scheduled to face Andre Muniz in this spot and Antonio Tricoli is stepping in on short notice to replace him. Aliskerov is a powerful striker on the feet and has six career knockout victories. But he also has a solid ground game as well and is capable of landing takedowns and controlling his opponents on the mat.

His opponent, Antonio Tricoli is making his UFC debut this weekend. He has sat out for the past two and a half years and previously fought on Contender Series back in 2019. He failed to make his debut back then because he failed a drug test. He has some power on the feet but is more of a grappler and holds a black belt in BJJ. He seems like he could compete at the lower level of the division but asking him to beat Aliskerov in his short-notice debut seems like a nearly impossible task.

Aliskerov has Tricoli covered wherever the fight goes and he likely keeps his finishing streak going in the UFC. Aliskerov by TKO is the official pick.

Tatsuro Taira vs Alex Perez
Taira, -185; Perez, +154

Tatsura is making his first main event appearance this weekend. He is coming off a second-round TKO victory over Carlos Hernandez in December. On the feet, Taira has some sharp leg kicks that he constantly looks to attack with. But his striking is just a means to an end in setting up his takedown attempts. He averages 2.12 takedowns per 15 minutes and is a dangerous submission grappler with seven of his 15 career wins coming by submission.

His opponent, Alex Perez is coming off a second-round knockout win over Matheus Nicolau in a main event back in April. He keeps a solid pace on the feet with powerful leg kicks and will lean on his collegiate wrestling background as he averages 2.06 takedowns per 15 minutes although he would be wise to avoid grappling exchanges in this fight. The main concern with him is that he loves to stick his neck out there and has been submitted five times in his career and if he makes a mistake like that against Taira then it could be a quick night. He needs to keep the fight on the feet at all costs where he will have a clear advantage in the striking as the better boxer.

Perez has multiple advantages in this fight. He has the main event experience, a clear striking edge on the feet and is the better wrestler as well. The one thing he needs to avoid is getting caught during any of the grappling exchanges. if he can avoid getting taken down or giving up his back then he gets the job done this weekend. Perez by decision is the official pick.

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