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UFC on ESPN+19 in Tampa: DraftKings and Betting Breakdown

Well, this is quite a change. We get 14 fights this week, which is quite a welcome change from the 11 and 12 fight cards we’ve had almost exclusively. This is a much better top-to-bottom card compared to the PPV last week, with the main event not being a close call like it was last week. We do, however, have some drama surrounding the main event and the ability/likelihood of Joanna making weight. This is something to monitor as the fight could ultimately be changed, but my gut feeling is that the main event goes on as scheduled.

First, a reminder of the new format for tournament deployment:

I will take each fight and assign it to one of five categories for tournament deployment. Those categories are:

  • “Lock It In” – This will be for fights that the build should have at or near 100% exposure.
  • “Over The Field” – This will be for attractive fights that are likely to see the winner to the optimal, but not quite at the “Lock It In” level. These fights should be deployed at approximately 80% total fight exposure.
  • “Stance Fight” – This will be for fights for which we have a real expectation on one fighter winning and being probable for the optimal. The exposure level will vary. I’ll explain both the level of exposure of our stance fighter and whether their opponent is a fade or low-level exposure.
  • “Defensive Fight” – This will be for fights that are middle of the road for the optimal and have a wide range of outcomes. We will generally deploy the total fight exposure at 35-50.
  • “Ugly Fight” – This will be for fights in which the winner is unlikely for the optimal.

As always, check back after weigh-ins for cash, single entry, picks, bets and any other final thoughts.

Note that my suggestions on exposure will be higher than total exposure allows as a card with 14 fights makes it difficult to get the true exposures we want. I will be updating after weigh-ins on where I think the proper changes in exposure are to make it fit correctly.

**Friday morning update** Mark your calendars, all 28 fighters are on weight, we may never see 14 fights without a hitch again. The drama this week was much ado about nothing.

Lock It In

There is no “Lock It In” fight this week. With questions surrounding the weight cut off, the supremely attractive favorite in the main event and 14 fights to choose from, no fights fit the bill this week.

Over The Field

Joanna Jedrzejczyk, -335, 9200 vs. Michelle Waterson, +265, 7000

Fight is five rounds at 115 lbs and is +200 to end inside the distance.

We had a news cycle whirlwind regarding Joanna Jedrzejczyk‘s ability to make weight for this fight. From what I can tell at the time of this writing, there was more smoke than fire, and Joanna will attempt to make weight for this fight with Michelle Waterson. Joanna is the larger fighter and superior striker. Watterson may try to grapple in this one and may get a handful of takedowns, but it is highly doubtful she’s able to rack up a significant amount of control time. Joanna historically racks up extremely high-end volume in these five-round fights, and it’s likely she uses her 3-inch reach advantage to do just that as she racks up north of 150 significant strikes in a decision win or ultimately breaks Watterson with a late finish. Now the weight cut is a real concern for Joanna, and we have seen her knocked out once because of a bad cut in the past. If the body isn’t right, the opposing skill set doesn’t matter, and the chin will give out. This is the biggest reason we need to take at least 20% Watterson while going with at least 60% on Joanna.

Post weigh in update: The size difference is as much as we thought and Joanna looks great. Optional to reduce Watterson exposure.

Niko Price, -160, 8400 vs. James Vick, +130, 7800

Fight is at 170 lbs and is -350 to end inside the distance.

Whew, this one is fun. We have the legendary lack of chin of James Vick versus a durable yet hittable chin in Niko Price. We know Vick has seen his chin rocked and fail in an ugly fashion on multiple occasions, and now we are left to figure out whether a move up to 170 lbs will improve that situation. Vick is the better fighter both standing and on the floor, but the history and stylistic matchup make this very much a question mark. Price will walk through shots to land big ones of his own, which brings the genuine potential of history repeating itself, and Vick could be sucking canvas again. Take big exposure to this fight, sit back, and enjoy the show. Both fighters should be used at a minimum of 40%, and I think I want a slight exposure edge to the underdog Vick.

Post weigh in update: I get the sense coming down to around 30% on Vick keeps you over the field as we try to make the build fit.

Ryan Spann, -150, 8800 vs. Devin Clark, +120, 7400

Fight is 205 lbs and is -205 to end inside the distance.

This fight will play out as a striker vs. grappler matchup. Ryan Spann is the striker with real KO power and fighting a wrestler in Devin Clark who isn’t a fighter that truly enjoys being hit, as some do. Spann will have a huge 6.5-inch reach advantage and the big power advantage. KO before any grappling is his most likely path to victory. Spann has a better ability to return to his feet than he does defending takedowns, which works well for Clark’s ability to score as a potential mat returner. Both fighters have a clear path to the optimal, and I want at least 40% of each.

Post weigh in update: Much like Vick, dropping some ownership on Clark keeps us over the field and gets us closer to making the build fit.

Stance Fights

Mike Davis, -255, 8600 vs. Thomas Gifford, +195, 7600

Fight is at 155 lbs and is -140 to end inside the distance.

Let’s get this one out of the way quickly. Thomas Gifford is a grappler that does not have a UFC skill set, and I doubt there’s anyone in the division he would be favored against. Mike Davis is a significant favorite despite taking the fight on just four days’ notice. With Gifford being priced as a more expensive underdog, he’s a strong fade candidate that should be capped at 10% if played at all. Davis is in play for both a finish or decision call and needs to be played at a minimum of 25% with room for up to 45%.

Matt Frevola, +135, 7200 vs. Luis Pena, -165, 9000

Fight is at 155 lbs and is +155 to end inside the distance.

Luis Pena gets his first legitimate opponent at 155 lbs in Matt Frevola. Pena’s length cannot be understated in this one as he will have 6″ of height and 7″ of reach and will be the technically better striker. Frevola will try to push inside and attempt to land bombs, and there’s a chance he can get something home, but the expectation is he gets picked apart on the feet. Frevola is probably best served attempting to use his wrestling in this one and fighting under Matt Serra, there will be something in the game plan to put him in a position to win. The Pena price versus betting line is a strong anti-value, and it will cap exposure to him at 25-30%. Frevola is a live enough dog that he can’t be faded and should be in the 15-25% range.

Post weigh in update: Fitting a build likely requires going to the lower end of exposure in this one.

Eryk Anders, -165, 8500 vs. Gerald Meerschaert, +135, 7700

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -240 to end inside the distance.

Eryk Anders returns to 185 after a gimme KO win at 205 lbs. This should restore any lost confidence he had, and he will be the more athletic fighter and better and more powerful striker in this fight. If you’re familiar with Gerald Meerschaert, you know he sells out for grappling in his fights and somehow often gets his opponents to play right into his hands. I don’t think that’s the probable outcome in this one. Anders is the better wrestler and will be much stronger and should be able to fight off the takedown attempts. Assuming Anders is willing to let his hands go, he will knock Meerschaert out. The issue with Anders is he’s been a low IQ fighter at times, and there’s a non-zero chance he gets taken off a game plan. For this reason, we will use 15-25% Meerschaert and 40-50% Anders.

Post weigh in update: I get the feel Anders knows what he has to do and will reduce my own Meerschaert exposure.

Deiveson Figuerdo, -195, 9300 vs. Tim Elliott, +165, 6900

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +125 to end inside the distance.

This is an exciting fight and one I’m looking forward to. It could easily be listed in the “Over The Field” section, but I placed it here as there will be a clear heavier play for DFS purposes. Tim Elliott returns from injury after a nearly three-year layoff. His style is that of a wrestler that likes to create scrambles and attack submissions throughout. This is gold for DK scoring, and Elliott will rack up points with a style that’s given Deiveson Figuerdo problems in the past. Figuerdo is a massive flyweight with huge power and can knock anyone down and out. With the potential for rust for Elliott, this ceiling can’t be avoided for Figuerdo but there is so much more value in the underdog. Figuerdo should be in the neighborhood of 20% while Elliott needs to be played at 40% or more, but if you want to be aggressive with a tiny priced fighter with a real ceiling, I would sign off on him being at or near your highest exposure on the card.

Marlon Vera, -170, 9100 vs. Andre Ewell, +140, 7100

Fight is at 135 lbs and is -150 to end inside the distance.

Marlon Vera is a heart attack waiting to happen when playing him or betting him. He seems to always put himself in trouble in the first round before ultimately finding the finish after. His last six wins have all been finishes and every loss in his career is via decision. While giving up 4.5 inches of reach to Andre Ewell, he will be the more dangerous striker, but the path of least resistance is in the grappling where Vera is highly likely to find a submission if the fight hits the mat just one time. Ewell has some power and has the length advantage but it’s difficult to envision him finishing Vera and also difficult to envision him remaining upright for 15 minutes. Ewell is a fade candidate that would be capped at 10% if played while Vera should be deployed around 40-45%.

Miguel Baeza, -210, 9400 vs. Hector Aldana, +170, 6800

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -140 to end inside the distance.

Miguel Baeza is debuting fighter after punching his ticket on DWCS. He showed pop on the feet in that fight but also had some inconsistency in that fight. He is the superior fighter in all aspects and Hector Aldana is not a UFC level talent that will be cut after this loss. Despite being 31 years old, Aldana has just four wins in his career and those all came on the regional scene. Baeza can find a KO on the feet but the path of least resistance is in the grappling department and a submission is the most likely outcome. The narrative that one could create for Aldana is the mixed results of DWCS fighters in their debuts and he tries to throw heavy, but that’s it. Aldana is a fade that should be capped at 10% if played at all. Baeza’s salary is not at all a value compared to the betting line but still needs to be played at a minimum of 25% with room for up to 45%.

Defensive Fights

Cub Swanson, +130, 7500 vs. Kron Gracie, -160, 8700

Fight is at 145 lbs and is -185 to end inside the distance.

This is the ultimate striker versus grappler matchup. There are few in the world on the BJJ level of Kron Gracie but his MMA game remains far from complete. The advantage he will have on the floor will be just slightly wider than the advantage Cub Swanson will have on the feet. Gracie is tough and Swanson will need to land a true volume of strikes if he’s got any chance of finding a finish, and a decision win is more likely. Swanson needs to be moving and keep it standing for a full 15 minutes as he’ll be tapping if the fight hits the floor just once. It’s preferable to have at least 25% Swanson and at least 35% Gracie. This fight gets lesser exposure because a submission win after the first round for Gracie would be unlikely for the optimal.

Mackenzie Dern, -145, 8300 vs. Amanda Ribas, +115, 7900

Fight is at 115 lbs and is -160 to end inside the distance.

This fight has a truly unknowable variable to it and it can’t be understated and is the reason we can’t take a hard stance. Mackenzie Dern gave birth just four months ago. Yes, just four months ago. She was a huge concern for missing weight in her previous fights, and when I saw this matchup and knowing she was a new mother, I assumed she would miss weight by 10 pounds. Everything being reported this week, however, is that Dern is nearly on weight already and it is not a concern. This fight matches up two BJJ black belts, but Dern is almost certainly on another level in that department. Amanda Ribas is also a judo black belt and that likely works to counteract Dern’s advantage on the floor keeping it from going there, or at least puts Ribas on the floor in a spot she prefers. Neither is a good striker, but Dern holds the power advantage. With the variable of motherhood in play for Dern, we need to play the underdog Ribas at around 20%. Dern is the fighter with the better ceiling and she should be around 30% with room for more.

Post weigh in update: Dern is on weight and looks good and I think the lean goes stronger towards her. Ribas exposure can be reduced to fit the build.

Max Griffin, -150, 8200 vs. Alex Morono, +120, 8000

Fight is at 170 lbs and is +160 to end inside the distance.

Max Griffin comes back with his decision style and questionable gas tank. He has taken steps to address his cardio but the results remain to be seen. He will have a 4″ reach advantage and will be larger than Alex Morono. Griffin will be the more athletic striker and better wrestler but Morono is the more dangerous striker and has the superior BJJ game. Despite underdog status, Morono has the smaller ITD line and Vegas believes, as I do, he’s the more likely fighter to find a finish. Morono’s last fight showed he’s being molded at Fortis MMA and having his skill set aimed better. Griffin is the more likely for a decision win and that has a chance at the optimal given the middling pricing. Morono is more likely for a finish and has a better ceiling. I want at least 20% of both fighters but am giving an exposure edge to Morono.

Post weigh in update: I’m not carrying a real confidence of Griffin being able to make the optimal in a decision win and would reduce him to around 10%.

Ugly Fights

Marvin Vettori, -365, 9500 vs Andrew Sanchez, +280, 6700

Fight is at 185 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.

Marvin Vettori is a steep favorite for a reason, as he has a completely better all-around skill set and has refined his wrestling to the point where he won’t be at a massive disadvantage in that department against Andrew Sanchez. Vettori is a sound fighter and highly probable to win, and the line should probably be even wider. The issue for DFS is that he’s very much a decision point fighter and a decision has zero path of returning on this salary. Sanchez is a fighter that gasses hard late in fights, and could very well be finished by just about anyone in the third round. His path to victory is either utilizing to control for the majority of the first two rounds and eking out a decision or finding a highly unlikely finish. Any win for Sanchez would be favorable for tournaments but is highly unlikely and he should be capped at 10-15% and a fade is acceptable. Vettori certainly needs a finish to return salary and history works against him in that department. He should just be in the 10-20% range.

Post weigh in update: I’m feeling better about a full fade on Sanchez or just hand making him as a one off.

J.J. Aldrich, -170, 8900 vs Lauren Mueller, +140, 7300

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +275 to end inside the distance.

This fight given the skill sets is either underdog or pass. J.J. Aldrich is the far better technical striker, and the more educated grappler in this fight. She is a point-decision fighter with nothing exciting in her arsenal — it’s just straight strikes. She doesn’t produce the volume to return on her salary and is a DFS fade. Lauren Mueller at price is more attractive. She’s the bigger and stronger fighter and has more pop in her strikes, but there is a gap in technicality. Where she will do well is pressuring forward in this fight. She will eat strikes early in the fight doing so but could very well wear down Aldrich and find a later finish or decision win. She can be played up to 25%.

Cash and Single Entry

This feels like a phenomenal cash card. The first step is the main event stack and the second step is two big value fighters with ceiling in Davis and Elliott. With 9150 per on the last two slots, I want a couple favorites who I truly think will win, but if a loss comes it is likely of the decision variety. Those are Vera and Pena.

For single entry it’s Watterson and Pena that come out of the lineup, with three separate options to attack ceilings. Those combos are Anders/Clark, Dern/Vick and Ribas/Price.

Picks and Bets

Picks With Personal Confidence Percentage

  • Baeza 90%
  • Mueller 51%
  • Vettori 95%
  • Vera 91%
  • Elliott 53%
  • Morono 60%
  • Spann 58%
  • Vick 55%
  • Anders 75%
  • Pena 80%
  • Dern 70%
  • Davis 95%
  • Gracie 65%
  • Joanna 95%

Bets

  • Baeza -215
  • Vera -160
  • Anders -160
  • Pena -170
  • Dern -145

 

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