A quality 14-bout card is a welcome change from our recent run of fight-night slates, which includes former title challengers and intriguing underdogs. We start by taking a look at a wrestler primed to put up a ton of points in DFS and bring it to a close with a short-notice replacement who is one of the bigger plus-money plays on the docket. Our lines this week come from the RotoWire betting page and are accurate as to the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Alexandr Romanov ($8,600)
Romanov had trouble with a mobile heavyweight who can stuff takedowns in Marcin Tybura, but will now face a lanky, foot-slow competitor who was unable to stop takedowns from Tom Aspinall before being submitted by a straight armbar from half-guard. Romanov is durable enough to absorb a storm from Alexander Volkov early and "Drago" doesn't have much hope of surviving on the ground against one of the most active submission grapplers he's ever faced.
Merab Dvalishvili ($7,000)
It feels like I'm missing something because it's hard for me to explain why a tireless wrestler who is nearly impossible to finish and has put up an average of 113.4 (!) DraftKings points in his 10 UFC fights can be had so cheaply. Petr Yan remains one of the most creative and successful technical strikers in the bantamweight division, but it's tough to watch Aljamain Sterling control the Russian fighter for nearly 9 minutes of a 25-minute bout and think his teammate can't do the same. This is without considering the fact that Yan almost always drops the first round of a fight while sizing up his opponent and making reads, as it is never a good idea to give a cardio machine like Merab a head start.
Mario Bautista ($9,700)
Bautista's dominant run over his last three fights has coincided with an uptick In wrestling, with the 29-year-old notching seven takedowns over that span. Bautista is athletic and skilled enough as a grappler to win this fight in any way he chooses, as Guido Cannetti, is a considerably less-athletic 43-year-old bantamweight who will attempt to stand in the pocket and throw hands. This will almost certainly lead to the Argentinian fighter being hurt early, leaving Bautista to decide in what way he'd like to get the finish.
Anton Turkalj ($8,000)
There is a significant part of me that will always root against Turkalj to avoid having to refer to the Swedish fighter by his nickname of "The Pleasure Man." Still, the grapple-first light-heavyweight has a chance to put up a nice score at this price due to his constant offensive activity. Vitor Petrino is incredibly powerful but swings his punches so wide that I have to imagine Turkalj will be able to see the shots coming and find clinch positions. This should allow him to grind down his muscle-bound opponent until he can finish with a submission or secure a dominant decision win.
Sedriques Dumas ($8,800)
Dumas is athletic enough to hide lethal head kicks behind a solid jab, but "The Reaper's" favorite mode of attack is to work in top position after securing a body lock takedown. At 6-foot-four-inches tall, Josh Fremd stands out as one of the taller fighters in the middleweight division. While this could make striking exchanges more difficult, it should also allow Dumas to get takedowns more easily, to say nothing of the 26 percent defense rate the 29-year-old has sustained in his first two UFC fights.
Tony Gravely ($7,800)
Bettors seem to think that Victor Henry's pressure and volume will be enough to wear out Gravely here, but the athletic wrestler hung in the pocket well with the more credentialed striker during his last fight with Javid Basharat and will be the much quicker party in this one. Henry will come into the bout with a hefty 75 percent takedown defense rate but was grounded twice in his loss to Raphael Assuncao, who averages less than 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time.
Ricardo Ramos ($9,500)
There is more danger in this spot than there might seem at first glance, as Ramos has occasionally seemed to get tired or even lose the will to fight in the face of pressuring opponents, but the Brazilian fighter will have so many advantages here that it's tough not to pick him. The athleticism, depth of striking, and grappling ability should win the day for Ramos, even if the price seems prohibitive. Ricardo has put up his biggest DraftKings scores against people that allow him to impose his will, and Austin Lingo should fall into that category.
Nikita Krylov ($8,700)
Ryan Spann's vicious knockout of Dominick Reyes in November has rightly turned some heads, but he has never beaten an opponent like Krylov, who will push a thunderous pace, mixing in takedowns with an underrated kickboxing game. Spann is live to find a submission off of his back here, as Krylov has shown himself to be a bit reckless in top position, but it's difficult to imagine "Superman" running over the Ukrainian fighter, as Krylov has been knocked out just once in 38 professional fights. This fight is no longer five rounds after an illness forced Krylov to pull out from a spot in Vegas 70's main event, but the principle remains the same.
Plays to Consider on Prize Super Draft
Lukasz Brzeski – 2.1 X Multiplier
Brzeski has the punch mechanics of a rusty gate and his upright stance makes him vulnerable defensively. I can't help but like how his game fits together, though, as aggressive swinging in the pocket generally leads to heavy offense in the clinch. Karl Williams can be a lockdown grappler when the fight hits the ground, but he has struggled with his wrestling efficiency in the past and likes to have time to set up strikes on the feet. While a grapple-mugging would hardly be surprising here, I'm going to take a shot on the fighter whose game I feel is a bit deeper overall in a low-level bout like this one.
Ariane Lipski – 2.25 X Multiplier
As a boxer without a whole lot of depth to her game, JJ Aldrich may represent a fighter Lipski can bully in the striking realm. "The Violence Queen" has struggled with big punchers and more technical kickboxers, but Aldrich can be pressured, and Lipski can be quite an offensive force when she is able to put strikes together. She is also a willing grappler, which should make this fight interesting if Aldrich decides to take it to the ground.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Davey Grant UNDER 62.5 Significant Strikes and Said Nurmagomedov OVER 50.5 Significant Strikes.
Grant has a reputation for being an all-action striker who throws from unorthodox angles, but only TJ Dillashaw has landed more than 62.5 significant strikes against Raphael Assuncao in the veteran's 22-fight UFC career, and I expect him to use lateral movement and grappling to keep the streak alive. Grant has never been one to shy away from a clinch situation, and I expect Assuncao to wrestle to stifle the pressure of "Dangerous" as he did in his fight with Victor Henry.
Nurmagomedov likes to strike more than his surname might lead you to believe, as the Dagestani fighter has averaged just 0.52 takedowns per 15 minutes of cage time. Jonathan Martinez has no issues with standing in the pocket and trading, as evidenced by the 4.84 significant strikes he averages per three-round fight. This should be a contest where Nurmagomedov's opponent will force him to work quickly, allowing him to breeze over the line here.
Bets to Consider
Bruno Silva vs. Tyson Nam does not go the distance (+120)
The single-strike nature of both fighters may make this seem a bit dicey, but Nam and Silva are incredibly powerful and will enter exchanges in the pocket throwing as hard as they can. It will only take one shot from either man to cash a ticket here, and it's worth noting that the last four combined wins from Nam and Silva have come by stoppage inside the second round.
Jared Gooden (+240)
The fact that this fight was announced roughly 24 hours before the publication of this article has made it impossible to find a knockout prop for Gooden, but that would be the play if it were available. "Nite Train" may be an upright, rote striker, but he is powerful and clean with his strikes, and Carlston Harris eats big shots in every fight regardless of the outcome. The clincher here is that Gooden has been notoriously difficult to takedown in the Octagon, logging a stout 85 percent defense rate in four UFC bouts.
For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC Las Vegas Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire MMA Betting section.
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