This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC is back after a short break to present us with a 13-fight card that is packed with interesting bouts throughout. We will take a look at each fight across three platforms, including an expansion of our Prize Picks plays to include a second prop category. These plays include a once-promising wrestler who has fallen so far out of favor that he has become an enticing underdog, and a man called "BJJ" who seems primed to get a knockout. Our betting line this week comes courtesy of the RotoWire MMA Betting Page and is accurate to the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Veronica Hardy ($7,700)
Hardy has always been an agile fighter with a slick submission game, but her first UFC appearance in three years showed marked improvement in striking to go along with a wrestling attack, which secured her a comfortable win over Juliana Miller. Jamey-Lyn Horth will have a physicality advantage here, but I would give Hardy the edge in every other aspect. I expect her to pick Horth apart at range and throw in some takedowns for good measure, resulting in a solid point total at this price.
Joe Solecki ($7,900)
Solecki's suffocating style hasn't always translated to gold on DraftKings, but he gets a nice matchup here against Drakkar Klose, who has been taken down at least twice in two of his last four fights. His athleticism generally keeps him out of trouble, but he has yet to meet a control grappler like Solecki, who has notched at least five minutes of control time in four consecutive contests. The underdog price helps us here, as a blanketing performance will get us plenty of points in cash games while leaving a bit of room for upside in GPP tournaments.
Cody Brundage ($6,900)
Zachary Reese's performance on the Contender Series was the closest I've ever come to calling someone lucky to win a fight, as "Savage" was being pummeled on the ground by his opponent before a rudimentary mistake allowed him to finish an armbar in the first round. Brundage has looked completely checked out in recent months, but there is no way a 6-0 professional fighter with nothing but first-round finishes should be this big of a favorite. This compels me to pick Brundage, as I have seen nothing to indicate Reese is ready to fight at a high level.
Arman Tsarukyan ($9,200)
Beneil Dariush has a tough task ahead of him, as we are about to find out what his fight with Mateusz Gamrot would have looked like If "Gamer" were a more athletic and dynamic striker. While it's true that "Ahalkalakets" dropped a decision to Gamrot in 2022, it is also the case that styles make fights. Dariush will be in a world of trouble if the grappling exchanges are even close to competitive, as it will mean Arman will get the chance to employ his skills as the much crisper striker.
Rodolfo Bellato ($9,600)
Bellato is a big light heavyweight and Ihor Potieria has lost two of his three UFC fights by knockout. That would be enough for me to pick the debutante here, but we need to add some clever trips and throws into the mix for Bellato, as Poteria was taken down at a 66 percent clip by the only man in the organization who has tried. Poteria needed to find his bearings before getting the upper hand on a version of Mauricio Rua who should have retired more than five years before that bout in January, and the fact that this fight is likely going to end quickly makes me favor the Brazilian fighter far more than I would in most circumstances
Deiveson Figueiredo ($7,400)
Prospective owners are understandably skeptical of a 35-year-old moving to bantamweight, but the former flyweight champion still has power and the ability to grapple, two things Rob Font has struggled with in the past. Font could pick Figueiredo apart from range for portions of this bout, but I still need to see a sustained performance from him against a fighter who can trouble him and take him out of his rhythm.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks – Fight Time
Wellington Turman OVER 14.75 Minutes, Melquizael Costa OVER 8.5 Minutes, and Jalin Turner OVER 10.5 Minutes.
We're essentially betting that our first fight goes to decision, but the only real risk here comes from the underdog side, as Turman has shown himself to be a bit chinny in fights against Andrew Sanchez and Bruno Silva. Jared Gooden's counter-punching style and lack of fluidity will make it hard to find the chin of anyone who doesn't outwardly present it to him, and "Nite Train" has only been finished twice (two KO/TKOs) in 31 professional MMA fights.
I see Costa's fight with Steve Garcia as very similar to his last bout against Austin Lingo, as a heavy-handed puncher is going to try to pressure him and throw heat. Costa was able to stay on his bike and pick off Lingo from range for the better part of 15 minutes, and I expect a thoroughly defeated Garcia to also hear the final bell.
I was warning of Grant Dawson's suspect chin and defense in my article for UFC Vegas 80, so I don't look at Bobby Green's quick knockout as the shocking outcome some have considered it to be. Even if I were concerned with an uptick in the power of "King," he will need to negotiate a six-inch reach disadvantage against an aggressive fighter. On the other side of the ledger, Green has lost via KO/TKO just four times in 47 career bouts.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks – Significant Strikes
Julia Avila UNDER 47.5 Significant Strikes, Sean Brady UNDER 49.5 Significant Strikes, and Punahele Soriano UNDER 40.5 Significant Strikes.
With the exception of her UFC debut against Pannie Kianzad, Avila has fought committed grapplers each time she has stepped into the Octagon. While she was able to just barely edge out this line against Julija Stoliarenko, she fell short of the mark in the only other bout that went to decision. Miesha Tate doesn't have the physicality of someone like Sijara Eubanks but does like to do her work in the clinch, as evidenced by the 36 non-significant strikes she landed in her last bout with Lauren Murphy. I expect both fighters to do their share of clinch work in this one, limiting the opportunity for strikes from range.
A similar dynamic will be at play for Sean Brady, who will not want to box with Kelvin Gastelum for any prolonged period. I would even go a bit further and say that Brady will be wary of the pummeling he took from Belal Muhammad in his last fight, which will compel him to start wrestling immediately. If this is the case, then we need only rely on Gastelum's excellent takedown defense to ensure stalemated positions and minimal significant strikes.
Our last under is a bit different from the two that came before, as I expect the most likely outcome here is that someone gets finished in short order. Soriano is a heavy puncher who is high-energy to a fault, and Dustin Stoltzfus has only seen the final bell once in his last four fights. While these finishes tend to occur in the later rounds, he will finally meet someone as aggressive and reckless as he is, which should result in fireworks.
Bets to Consider
Joaquim Silva wins via KO/TKO (+210)
Clay Guida is historically far more likely to be submitted than knocked out, but he also rarely faces the caliber of athlete he will have in front of him on Saturday. It's entirely possible that a wayward shot from "The Carpenter" will lead to a guillotine choke, but I think it's more likely that the plodding Guida is simply overwhelmed by a powerful opponent whose last win against Jesse Ronson in 2022 came via knockout.
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