This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Saturday's 12-fight card is another that is light on star power, but the dynamics at play in certain matchups present opportunities for both bettors and DFS players. We'll cover every bout across four platforms, including a veteran looking to stay on her feet against a BJJ ace and a fighter looking to introduce himself to a new weight class with a bang. Our betting lines this week come from William Hill and is accurate to the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Themba Gorimbo ($8,000)
Gorimbo was faring quite well in his UFC debut before catching an elbow in the clinch that led to his defeat. Instead of facing a fellow grappler in his sophomore effort, "The Answer" draws an opponent in Takashi Sato who has notched just a 50 percent takedown defense rate in his six UFC fights. Sato has a lightning-quick left hand, but a significant reach disadvantage should limit what he is able to accomplish.
Anthony Hernandez ( $9,400)
Hernandez seems like the worst possible matchup for someone like Edmen Shahbazyan, as "Fluffy" will constantly pressure while seamlessly transitioning from striking to wrestling. "The Golden Boy" was absolutely worn out in clinch situations and on the ground in three consecutive fights before picking up a win in his last bout over Dalcha Lungiambula, and Hernandez is no stranger to grinding in order to turn fortune in his favor.
Diego Ferreira ($8,300)
Michael Johnson has quieted some doubters by picking up wins over two wrestlers in his last three fights, but Ferreira has a functional striking game and fantastic jiu-jitsu to go along with his takedown attempts. While he has lost each of his last three fights by stoppage, Ferreira has been able to force scrambles in each one of those efforts, and it's difficult to imagine that "The Menace" will be able to stay afloat when this one hits the mat.
Gilbert Urbina ($7,800)
I have been thoroughly unimpressed with both Cosce brothers during their respective UFC runs, as they seem to be the kind of power-striking wrestlers who do well on the regional scene but don't have the depth to win at a high level. Orion may be the more exaggerated version of this mold, as he seems to get tired incredibly quickly and isn't much of a control grappler. By contrast, Urbina is always looking to secure dominant positions when he gets his opponent on the ground and can put combinations together on the feet. I expect Urbina to pick up a comfortable win here by virtue of being a much more complete fighter.
Victoria Leonardo ($6,500)
In one of the most oddly-lined fights I have ever seen, Natalia Silva will enter her second UFC bout as more than a 3-to-1 favorite against Leonardo. While she showed good takedown defense and finished in spectacular fashion, Silva looked absolutely lost when she was on the ground with Tereza Bleda, narrowly escaping a triangle choke as seconds ticked down in Round 2. Leonardo won't give any space for Silva's long-range attacks and is a much more comfortable striker than Bleda, which helps to set up her takedown attempts. Silva may be the better fighter when the fight starts, but there is only one play to make with a line this wide against a fighter who has struggled on the mat.
Lupita Godinez ($8,600)
Emily Ducote's inactivity as a wrestler was a big reason behind our pick of Angela Hill as an underdog when the two met in December. Though she will likely get more opportunities to perform on the ground here, I expect Godinez to take the center of the cage and keep her foot on the gas, mixing in her wrestling to dictate where the fight takes place. We have seen Loopy get a bit careless in grappling situations, but Ducote needs to show me she can capitalize on mistakes before I can pick her in this spot.
Plays to Consider on PrizePicks
Chase Hooper UNDER 41.5 Significant Strikes and Rodrigo Nascimento UNDER 40.5 Significant Strikes.
Hooper's lack of defensive prowess saw him absolutely pummeled by Steve Garcia in his last appearance, and he would be wise to fade the power of every opponent as he travels up to lightweight. Nick Fiore will likely engage Hooper in the grappling more often than he should, which should lead to a scramble-fest. "The Dream's" extra muscle may accelerate his fatigue, which could see him try and take more chances on the ground than normal.
Nascimento would almost certainly have his way with Ilir Latifi in a jiujitsu match, but there are very few heavyweights I would trust to do well in bottom position. Thus, I expect Latifi to attempt to control this fight in the clinch and use his strength to hold his opponent in secure top positions. This should limit the Brazilian fighter's output in another predictably slow and uneventful Latifi fight.
Plays to Consider on Super Draft
Angela Hill- 2.1 X Multiplier
I've written at length about my aversion to picking Mackenzie Dern in fights, owing mostly to her anemic takedown accuracy rate, which now stands at 11 percent in 10 UFC fights. Hill has made strides to improve her takedown defense as well as her ability to stay safe on the ground. This means that the Muay Thai striker should pick Dern apart for the majority of the 25-minute scrap, leading to a decisive victory.
Hayisaer Maheshate – 2.1 X Multiplier
One of the sleeper fights on the card, Maheshate and Slava Borshchev should go to war inside the Octagon. While either fighter could put the other to sleep, I think this line should be much closer to even money, which compels me to pick the dog here. Maheshate is the one more likely to wrestle and has shown himself to be strong in the clinch. It should also be noted that his athleticism will pose problems for the plodding "Slava Claus."
Bets to Consider
Joaquin Buckley wins by KO/TKO or disqualification (+100)
Unlike the Chase Hooper situation, I am not at all concerned with Buckley moving down in weight to take on a much slower boxer in Andre Fialho. The Brazilian fighter has a nasty habit of keeping his head on the center line, which seems like a nightmare when tasked to fight an agile and creative combination striker like Buckley.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-130)
Kowalkiewicz is still looking to find her form after a string of losses that had the Polish fighter contemplating retirement, but the former title challenger looked sharp in her last two bouts, showing improved defense and even working some wrestling into her game. Vanessa Demopoulos looked like she had her fight well in hand against Maria Oliveira, but was nearly finished in the third round due to nothing more than the pace and aggression of her opponent. Kowalkiewicz will provide that for 15 minutes, while also showcasing a stout 75 percent takedown defense rate.
Sports betting is officially live in the state of Massachusetts, just in time for March Madness. To get the most bang for your buck when selecting a sportsbook as a new customer, check out these Massachusetts Sports Betting Promos.