UFC 285 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 285 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

As bettors and DFS players, we have more to focus on than just the return of Jon Jones for UFC 285, as the 14-fight slate features a variety of underdogs at enticing odds. We'll cover every bout across four platforms, including a hard look at the aforementioned main event. Our betting line this week comes from William Hill and is accurate as to the post date of this article.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Loik Radzhabov ($9,000)

It's not often a fighter goes from a favorite to underdog odds after a late replacement, but that is the fate of Esteban Ribovics, who will face a much more active and smothering top control grappler after Kamuela Kirk had to be pulled from the bout. Ribovics' slick punching combinations tend to wither away when an opponent gets in his face, and Radzhabov will be looking for takedowns from the opening bell. His lack of defense may also come into play when "Jaguar Paw" throws big shots looking to close the distance.

Mana Martinez ($7,400)

I broke my own rule last week when I picked a fighter who emerged from the EFC in Themba Gorimbo, but I vow never to make that mistake again, starting with Cameron Saaiman's fight with Martinez. Saaiman is a slick striker with power in his hands, but his strength is the only thing that saved him against a very green Steven Koslow, who took him down five times in nine attempts. The South African fighter is unlikely to just explode out of bad positions against Martinez, who is strong for the division and has shown himself to be a decent positional grappler. "Manaboi" also carries tremendous power in his own right, securing four knockdowns in his last two fights.

 Bo Nickal ($9,600)

I had to work very hard to resist the urge to fade a (-2000) favorite with three professional fights, but Nickal's game looks much more functional than other highly-credentialed wrestlers we've seen start their MMA career, as he uses feints to disguise his entries, and is a legitimate submission grappler. Jamie Pickett works just slow enough to be overwhelmed by Nickal's pace, to say nothing of the fact that he was taken down multiple times by two men who aren't known for their wrestling ability in Joseph Holmes and Laureano Staropoli.

Derek Brunson ($7,500)

Dricus Du Plessis had a fantastic matchup against Darren Till in his last fight, and a tepid endorsement was still the best I could muster. This is because "Stillknocks" remains an incredibly unstructured and sloppy fighter 20 bouts into his MMA career. Derek Brunson is still far too hittable but has become noticeably more patient and willing to stick to a game plan under the tutelage of Henry Hooft, which should be enough to get him the win here. I expect the former title challenger to secure takedowns and ride out rounds in top position, though there will likely be a tense moment when Du Plessis' strike inevitably finds its mark.

Tabatha Ricci ($8,900)

Jessica Penne deserves credit for continuing to collect wins as someone with almost a decade of service time in the UFC, but those wins seem increasingly hard to come by when she is unable to leverage her size and grappling ability. While she will carry significant height and reach advantages against Ricci, "Baby Shark" has never been shy about going into the teeth of her opponent's strengths, as evidenced by the five takedowns and 10:31 of control time she amassed against a very tricky guard grappler in Polyana Viana. Penne took a loss to the woefully undersized Danielle Taylor in 2017 simply due to her aggression, and Ricci should push a ferocious pace in this one.

Mateusz Gamrot ($8,600)

It's not often that I take one fight as a measuring stick for how a competitor will fare in the future, but Matt Frevola had so much success taking Jalin Turner down with single legs, that I have to believe Gamrot will be able to replicate that feat with what is overwhelmingly his favorite way to get the fight to the ground. Turner uses his length well and is very powerful, but "Gamer" has never been finished in 23 professional fights and Turner will likely get into trouble if he tries to outscramble his opponent on the mat. 

Valentina Shevchenko ($9,400)

Shevchenko's dominance at flyweight is due in large part to her size and strength, as she has notched at least three takedowns in each of her last five fights. Alexa Grasso is a solid boxer who can throw in combination, but "Bullet" has always had an excellent command of range, and Grasso will enter this bout with just a 64 percent takedown defense rate.

Viviane Araujo ($7,900)

I'm mildly surprised that this fight is lined so closely, as Amanda Ribas tends to struggle with physically strong opponents who can hit hard. This perfectly describes the game of Araujo, who will throw big shots en route to trying to get her opponent on the ground. Ribas will have a speed advantage here, but we've seen her pay for carelessly throwing in the pocket before, which means "Vivi" will have multiple paths to pick up a victory. 

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Ciryl Gane – 2.05 X Multiplier

The fight between Gane and Jon Jones seems to hinge on whether or not Jones can take the French fighter to the ground. The bad news for the former lightweight champion is we have seen multiple fighters struggle to wrestle effectively when moving up a weight class, with the most recent example being Tatiana Suarez in her bout with Montana De La Rosa last week. Add in the fact that Jones is making his heavyweight debut after a three-year layoff, and it becomes too difficult for me to pick the plodding Jones against an agile, athletic kickboxer. I expect Gane to pick Jones apart at range, while potentially gassing his opponent if he repeatedly fails to get the fight to the floor.

Julian Marquez – 2.1 X Multiplier

I consider us lucky to get this kind of multiplier on Marquez, as not only is the fight lined much closer to even, but the "Cuban Missle Crisis" seems to have a good style matchup here. Marc-Andre Barriault tends to win fights where he can impose himself physically on his opponent and outlast them down the stretch. That seems like a doomed strategy against Marquez, who is incredibly strong for this division and will make Barriault watch his neck every time he is tied up with the opportunistic submission grappler.

Da'Mon Blackshear – 2.4 X Multiplier

Youssef Zalal is a tough matchup for anyone making their UFC debut, and Blackshear did quite well on short notice, doing enough in the first two rounds before slowing down in round three to force a draw. There are too many things I like about Blackshear's game to let him pass as such a big dog in this spot, as he will throw power shots in combination, can wrestle, and showcases an active guard when taken down. As a pressure fighter who looks to counter, Farid Basharat fights a lot like his brother. While this style can be effective, it means that Blackshear will have plenty of opportunities to set up his shots, which should be enough to win him a decision here.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks 

Ian Garry UNDER 50.5 Significant Strikes and Cody Garbrandt OVER 33.5 Significant Strikes

Garry's length and crisp power striking have been an obstacle for every fighter the UFC has put in front of him thus far, and Song Kenan looks to crash the pocket and throw big shots. The problem is he keeps his head on the centerline, which saw him get brutally knocked out in his last fight against Max Griffin. I think this fight ends early if it stays at range, while the two men will accrue non-significant strikes if Song is able to find his way into the clinch.

Garbrandt's kill-or-be-killed attitude has led to shorter fights more often than not, but Trevin Jones should be able to force "No Love" to fight a more patient style, as he will rely on his defense and look for counterpunches to a fault. Garbrandt may have wrestling in his back pocket, but it can be argued that we've never seen him offensively grapple effectively in the UFC, as the most takedowns he's ever landed in a victory (3) only led to 0:53 seconds of control time against Henry Briones in 2015.

Bets to Consider

Geoff Neal (+400)

This kind of line won't come around often with a talent like Neal, and we've yet to see Shavkat Rakhmonov win a fight against someone he couldn't easily take down. Neal will come into the contest with a takedown defense rate of 80 percent, while also being the faster, cleaner striker. It would hardly be shocking if Rakhmonov dispatched Neal as he has the majority of his UFC competition, but this is a test that may be too much for him, as Neal is far and away the best fighter he's fought in the organization so far.

For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC 285 Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire MMA Betting section. 


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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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