UFC 298 Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 298 Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 298 will take place this Saturday at The Honda Center in Anaheim, California, meaning we are back with a breakdown of every fight on the 12-bout slate. We'll analyze the card across three platforms (including two distinct Prize Picks formats) to let prospective betters and DFS players know the best ways to potentially profit. Our plays this week include an undervalued kickboxer hanging out towards the bottom of the flyweight division, and a cardio machine looking to close the door on a one-time king. Our betting line this week comes from the RotoWire MMA betting page and is accurate to the post date of this article.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Anthony Hernandez ($8,800)

Any discussion of DraftKings plays on this slate must begin with the one they call "Fluffy," who has notched at least 116 points in each of his last three fights, compiling 20 combined takedowns in those bouts. Roman Kopylov is a lifelong kickboxer with a stout 92 percent takedown defense rate, but he's never faced a wrestler who can commit to their grappling from bell to bell. I expect that Hernandez will fail before he finds success, but the grind will eventually pay dividends, leaving the 30-year-old to take over in Round 2 and beyond. 

Marcos Rogerio de Lima ($8,500)

I have talked previously about the pitfalls of trusting a man who could rightfully be called one of the biggest glass cannons in the organization, as De Lima never seems to perform as well as he should in the best of matchups and is liable to be slept at any time by a competent opponent. While no De Lima pick will ever be a ringing endorsement, I still favor his speed and wrestling ability against Justin Tafa, a slow-working kickboxer who will be thoroughly outmatched on the ground. Strength of schedule isn't everything, but it needs to be said that Tafa doesn't have a win over a current fighter on the roster, which means I have to favor the veteran to get this done.

Rinya Nakamura ($9,600)

Carlos Vera is a slick kickboxer with nice footwork, but he is too willing to fight on the ground, placing his hopes in his submission grappling from the bottom. It is here that Nakamura should be able to race ahead of his opponent as he stays comfortably ahead in exchanges from the top position. This fight could be interesting for as long as it stays standing, but I don't think the Japanese fighter will want to waste any time here, as getting this fight to the ground in short order would likely result in a quick finish.

Merab Dvalishvili ($8,600)

Dvalishvili could be in a better spot than meets the eye, as the stationary version of Henry Cejudo that fought Aljamain Sterling was grounded four times by his opponent on 15 attempts. We've seen Merab attempt double that amount without so much as breaking a sweat, and I have serious doubts that this version of "Triple C" can stand up to The Georgian fighter's onslaught of pressure and pace. Cejudo has already stated he will retire if he loses this fight, which may be an indication that his mindset isn't quite where it needs to be.

Oban Elliott ($9,300)

The UFC is generally good about keeping fighters around who do them favors on short notice, but I'm not sure if there's much more to expect from Val Woodburn, who is explosive and powerful but will frequently be at a height disadvantage in this division, forcing him to leap in and close the distance. This deficit got him knocked out in less than a minute by Bo Nickal, and Elliot should be able to use his long frame to either counter effectively or wrap up his opponent and take him to the ground.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks - Significant Strikes

Amanda Lemos UNDER 46.5 Significant Strikes, Alexander Volkanovski OVER 85.5 Significant Strikes, and Ian Garry Over 76.5 Significant Strikes

The dynamic here will be similar to most Mackenzie Dern fights, as she will be trying to get the fight to the ground as soon as possible while her opponent attempts to keep her distance and strike. Lemos is a heavy puncher for the division, and I don't expect Dern to be in any mood to kickbox after being pounded into a fine paste by Jessica Andrade in her last fight. The binary here is simple: either Dern will stay as close to her opponent as possible, or Lemos will land the blows to stop the fight; in either case, significant strikes should be limited.

No one has to twist the arm of either man in our next bout to stand in the pocket and throw, as Volkanovski has landed more than six strikes per minute in his UFC career, while Ilia Topuria's number stands just shy of four and a half. This means that both competitors will be looking to trade, and the toughness shown in both corners should result in Volkanovski whizzing past his total here,  as he had done in six consecutive fights prior to his first matchup with Islam Makhachev.

Similar accolades in regard to toughness need to be given to Ian Garry and Geoff Neal, as the former has never tasted defeat, while the latter has been knocked out once in his 20-fight career. Neal's insistence on pressuring, combined with his aggression, should make this a fun scrap, which generally means significant strikes will be doled out on both sides for the better part of 15 minutes.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks - Fight Time

Danny Barlow UNDER 7.5 Minutes of Fight Time, Robert Whittaker UNDER 14.75 Minutes Of Fight Time, and Zhang Mingyang UNDER 4.0 Minutes of Fight Time

Josh Quinlan struggled mightily with a reach disadvantage in his UFC debut against Trey Waters, and will now face a fighter in Barlow who will have a seven-inch advantage in length. The problem for Quinlan is Barlow is a more dedicated knockout artist than his previous opponent, having ended four of his seven professional wins by KO/TKO. Quinlin will need to be a bit reckless in order to close the distance, which should lead to a collision that will end this one early.

I was ready to take the over on the fight between Whittaker and Paulo Costa until I saw that the lines makers were essentially betting that this one would go the distance. While I understand the tendency to assume two inactive fighters will be a bit gunshy in the cage, I don't see Costa fighting in any other way than his usual style of constant pressure, which will allow for opportunities for both men to land big shots. It's easy to forget the wars that Costa has been in, but given that five of his eight UFC fights have ended inside the distance, I am going to bank on the aggression and pace leading to someone looking up at the lights.

There isn't much to say about the fight between Mingyang and Brendson Ribeiro, as these are two brawling light-heavyweights who have 11 losses between them on the regional scene. The thing to note for our purposes is that "Mountain Tiger" stalks his opponents and throws with reckless abandon, while Ribiero will look to use his footwork and land big counters. It's always dicey to bet that a fight ends inside the first round, but I'd be surprised if this one survives the first few exchanges.

Bets to Consider

Andrea Lee wins via Decision (+240)

Miranda Maverick seems to still be priced based on the hype she had coming into the organization, but losses to Jasmine Jasudavicius and Maycee Barber may hint that "Fear The" struggles to get her wrestling game going against physically strong opponents. Lee is one of the stronger fighters in the division, frequently using her clinch work to tire out opponents. If Maverick can't score takedowns early, she will be left on an island against a much stronger kickboxer. While she may be tough enough to survive at range, it is hard to imagine she can win enough exchanges to get the nod on the scorecards.

For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC 298 Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire MMA Betting section. 


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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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