UFC St. Louis Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC St. Louis Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC St. Louis Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

Saturday's card features so many closely-lined fights on paper, and potential bettors and DFS players should study each bout to see where the value lies. We will cover each contest across three platforms, including a veteran who loves to play on the ground and a flyweight who is seemingly almost being counted out. 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

Veronica Hardy ($8,200)

The line on this fight (-140) would likely lean a bit heavier for Hardy if not because her first run in the organization saw her notch just one win in five attempts. Since her return in 2023, the woman formerly known as Macedo has learned to incorporate her speed into her kickboxing game while hitting takedowns when necessary. JJ Aldrich has always been a solid boxer but doesn't offer much else to the weight class, as her wrestling seldom matches up to other grapplers in the division. I think Hardy controls this fight wherever it goes, leading to a comprehensive decision victory.

Charles Johnson ($7,600)

Johnson has a solid all-around game, which has only been bested in the UFC to date by committed grapplers who have been able to neutralize his offense. While Jake Hadley has shown slick submissions, he has yet to land a takedown in four UFC fights and will be at a significant athleticism disadvantage here. This will allow "InnerG" to avoid the pressure of Hadley and land crisp counters while mixing in his own grappling.

Tabatha Ricci ($8,300)

Ricci is at her best when she can run her opponents ragged with constant pressure and takedown attempts. While she couldn't impose her will on a fellow grappler in Lupita Godinez, she should have no problem controlling real estate against Tecia Pennington, who enters this fight with just a 61 percent takedown defense rate. Pennington's fighting style involves getting in the pocket and trying to overwhelm with volume, leaving ample opportunities for Ricci to get to the clinch.

Carlos Diego Ferreira ($6,800)

I'm confident in saying that this price isn't based on the style matchup between Ferreira and Mateusz Rebecki, as the Brazillian is notorious for making his opponents keep up with him on the ground, and the game of "Chinczyk" centers around getting fighters to the ground. While he generally starts out by throwing big strikes, the takedown attempts will likely come instinctively from Rebecki, and I have serious doubts that he will be able to scramble with the UFC veteran for a long time. If Rebecki can't hurt Ferreira on the feet, it will be a long night for a competitor who we have seen slow down in the past.

Chase Hooper ($7,700)

Hooper starting to grow into his frame spells trouble for the lightweight division, as he has been able to execute takedowns and control opponents better in recent fights. Slava Borshchev is a phenomenal boxer who has been known to crumple competitors with body shots. The issue is that "Slava Claus" needs time to overwhelm his opponents with activity, as four of his seven finishes have come outside the first round. Giving Hooper time to work his grappling would be a mistake for anyone, but it may be a nightmare for Borshchev, who has been taken down at least four times in three of his six UFC fights. If I thought Slava was likely to end things early, I might feel differently, but Hooper should be able to weather a few shots before getting his game on track.

Esteban Ribovics ($8,900)

This one has the potential to be a blur, as both Ribovics and Terrance McKinney hit hard, get hit too much, and are dedicated finishers. The one major dividing line here is cardio, as Ribovics somehow never slowed down despite being pushed by Kamuela Kirk, and McKinney has historically had a round of fight in him at best. Add in the wrestling and grappling of "El Gringo," and a McKinney win becomes less likely outside of a KO/TKO, which RIbovics has never experienced in 13 professional fights. 

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks - Significant Strikes

Trey Waters OVER 55.5 Significant Strikes, Robelis Despaigne OVER 19.5 Significant Strikes, and Sean Woodson UNDER 74.5 Significant Strikes

Waters' frame will ensure he often has height and reach advantages at welterweight, but this may be one of the biggest disparities we've seen, as "The Truth" will have seven inches of height over Billy Goff. Goff is an agile and active fighter but rarely moves his head and tends to throw blind kicks. I would play this fight as a knockout if Waters were a better finisher, but even an extreme counter-punching style should easily clear this line over three rounds.

Speaking of height and reach advantages, Despaigne's athleticism and whopping 87-inch wing span made him a terrifying force on the regional scene. The Olympic medalist in taekwondo backed up that ferocity with a finish of Josh Parisian in under a minute, but I expect a bit more fight from Waldo Cortes-Acosta, who has never been finished in 12 professional fights. It goes without saying that Despaigne has a different kind of power, but he can also be clumsy in the cage, giving "Salsa Boy" the opportunity to extend this fight if he exercises a bit of caution.

Woodson can put on striking displays in the Octagon when he leverages his lanky frame, but grapplers have muted his output in the past, as we saw in the bout against Youssef Zalal. Woodson's greatest strength is his boxing, so it would hardly be surprising to see Alex Caceres work his wrestling and stay out of punching range. This will curtail output on both sides and could result in a boring fight between two generally active fighters.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks - Fight Time

Kevin Jousset OVER 12.5 Minutes of Fight Time, Carlos Ulberg OVER 8.5 Minutes of Fight Time, and Joaquin Buckley UNDER 8.5 Minutes of Fight Time

Much like Trey Waters above, Jousset would be someone I would expect to knock out Jared Gooden if Jousset had more weapons than jabs and low kicks. Despite this, the French fighter has carved up his first two UFC opponents, notching a submission win over Kiefer Crosbie before landing 134 significant strikes against Song Kenan. Gooden is something of a stationary target but is as tough as fighters come, having been finished just twice in 23 professional fights. Jousset will probably pick Gooden apart, but that takes time, which should ensure that this fight goes the distance.

Ulberg finally seems to be putting his athleticism to use in a coherent fighting style, but apart from a solid win against Da Woon Jung in his last outing, "Black Jag's" wins in the Octagon (which include names like Fabio Cherant and Ihor Potieria) are far from impressive. Meanwhile, Alonzo Menifield is coming off what may be the best win of his career against Dustin Jacoby and has the speed and power to make Ulberg think twice about recklessly attempting to crash the pocket. This more careful approach should dictate a slower-paced fight, which sees the final frame.

Buckley likes to force action by crashing into range with strikes, and Nursulton Ruziboev stands upright and throws big strikes without much care for defense. This will likely result in a finish sooner rather than later, particularly if Ruziboev throws his submission grappling into the mix, as the fighter from Uzbekistan has notched 20 of his 34 wins via submission.

Bets to Consider 

Derrick Lewis Wins via KO/TKO (-135)

At first blush, it may seem like Lewis and Rodrigo Nascimento are on different trajectories, as Lewis is 1-5 in his last six fights, and Nascimento is 5-1 over the same span. However, it must be noted that all of Lewis' losses in this stretch have come against tremendous punchers or committed submission grapplers. Nascimento has been neither of these things at the highest level, notching just one finish dating back to 2020. Interestingly, the Brazilian fighter was knocked out following a blitz by Chris Daukaus in October of that year. This suggests that Nascimento cannot handle power strikers, and Lewis is one of the heaviest hitters the sport has ever seen.

For another UFC betting perspective, check out our UFC St. Louis 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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