No need to sugarcoat this one. This card leaves a lot to be desired from a marketability perspective, and with an ugly main event headlining just 11 fights, it also leaves much to be desired from a DFS perspective. The nature of the main event makes cash difficult as there will be hard decisions on whether to fade what seems like bad chalk, and tournaments are likely to see chopping at the top. Three of the 11 fights are at heavyweight, where one shot KO’s and ugly decisions are much more common, making cash lineup construction even more difficult. Unless you’re playing for enjoyment and win/loss doesn’t matter, proceed with caution on this one. I never want to tell subscribers not to play, but it would be irresponsible not to touch on the potential/probable pitfalls of this card.
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.
Lock It In
Ciryl Gane, -340, 9200 vs DonTale Mayes, +265, 7000
Fight is at heavyweight and is -515 to end inside the distance.
Ciryl Gane makes his second octagon walk against the debuting DonTale Mayes, who punched his ticket on his third try on DWCS. Gane is a highly athletic striker with great movement and adequate power to find finishes. He’s tall and long with good strength and throws nice volume, particularly for heavyweight. Mayes is also a striker, and has good movement, but is the worse of the two. He is hittable and will be knocked out by many UFC fighters. He also has adequate, if not devastating, power and can find finishes if landing a power strike. We almost certainly get a finish in the first 10 minutes in this one, and we could see a real strike count to go with it and a nice score for the optimal. Gane should be our most owned fighter in the 60-80% range, while Mayes should be in the 15-25% range.
Over The Field
Frank Camacho, +125, 7800 vs Beneil Dariush, -155, 8400
Fight is at 155 lbs and is -175 to end inside the distance.
Beneil Dariush remains a high-end BJJ fighter with a very questionable chin. His striking is sound enough, but that is not where he wants this fight to take place. Frank Camacho is willing to pour on volume in the striking, and Dariush is a fighter capable of being swarmed and finished. Camacho is a capable grappler, but he pales in comparison to Dariush, and the cardio edge belongs to Dariush. In what should play out as a striker vs. grappler matchup and a race to knockout or submission, at least 40% on each fighter is prudent.
Muslim Salikhov, -175, 8600 vs Laureano Staropoli, +145, 7600
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -190 to end inside the distance.
Muslim Salikhov is very much a high end, entertaining striker and finisher. He throws a multitude of spinning techniques and has big power in his right hand. Laureano Staropoli will have to be very careful with where he leaves his chin against this opponent. He will have to keep good movement throughout and keep good distance. He will throw explosive strikes but doesn’t have a ton of power. A win for him is almost certainly one that sees him outpoint Salikhov and win on the scorecards. We are highly unlikely to see grappling in this one. Salikhov should be one of the highest exposures on the card, at least 50% with room for more — Staropoli much less, around 15-20%.
Maurice Greene, +195, 7200 vs Sergei Pavlovich, -245, 9000
Fight is at heavyweight and is -280 to end inside the distance.
Sergei Pavlovich is a low volume KO seeking striker that truly has a KO or bust skill set. His right hand has very big power, and he is long. He will have a 2-inch reach advantage on 6-foot-7-inch Maurice Greene despite giving up 4 inches of height. Pavlovich needs to land one early to find himself in the optimal, but if he doesn’t get that kill shot, he will be at a volume disadvantage here, and a decision would be dicey. A KO for a 9000 salary or a decision for 7200 is an attractive enough situation. Get 50-65% on Pavlovich with 20-30% on Greene.
Loma Lookboonmee, -120, 8200 vs. Aleksandra Albu, -110, 8000
Fight is at 115 lbs and is +185 to end inside the distance.
Loma Lookboonmee makes her debut against Aleksandra Albu. Each fighter has a narrative to sell on both a win and a ceiling. Lookboonmee is a Thai striker and will be at a technical advantage on the feet. She is moving up from atomweight and will be at a strength and power disadvantage. Albu appears to be carved from granite and is tough as nails, and will throw with big power and volume, even if not technically sound. Albu is a little too willing to grapple without having a great skill set in that aspect and was submitted quickly in her last fight. Lookboonmee will be the more dangerous fighter attacking submissions if this fight hits the floor, but again, there will be a real divide in power and strength. Albu will continue to try to swarm with volume and power early to the point of gassing, as been her style, and either that will work or it won’t, but each road likely leads to a finish. I want at least 40% of each fighter, and this is a great fight to get an ownership leg up on the field on an 11 fight card.
When considering salary, win probability, and scoring probability in a win, no fights meet these criteria.
Demian Maia, +150, 7700 vs Ben Askren, -180, 8500
Fight is five rounds at 170 lbs and is -120 to end inside the distance.
It feels weird to list a main-event fight under this heading, but this is truly an odd one. We have limited information on what Ben Askren can do in the octagon, especially given he was asleep by the time the ref finished saying the word “fight” in his last bout. We do, however, know exactly who Demian Maia is. He’s a world-class BJJ fighter that doesn’t enjoy striking and has a questionable gas tank at 41 years old. Neither fighter is an impressive striker, and through two UFC fights and 3 minutes and 25 seconds of ring time, Ben Askren has landed a total of zero significant strikes. Maia has fought three high-end wrestlers like Askren fairly recently and lost all three fights, but there were zero takedowns in any of those fights and no strike count to write home about. If Askren forces the wrestling issue, particularly early, he will probably be submitted. His best chance is to wait out the gas tank of Maia and grind out a later finish or decision. If there is an early finish to be had here, it’s Maia turning the tables and working the offensive wrestling as Lawler did. This fight will still be popular enough because it’s a main-event fight, but I don’t want this fight making or breaking my day by any stretch of the imagination. Twenty-five percent on Askren as a favorite is plenty, while 35-40% on Maia is also more than enough.
Michael Johnson, -320, 9300 vs. Stevie Ray, +245, 6900
Fight is at 155 lbs and is +120 to end inside the distance.
This matchup is likely viewed as a bounceback gift for Michael Johnson after being knocked out in his last fight. Johnson is 3.5 inches longer than Stevie Ray and is the better and quicker striker. Ray is slow on the feet, and the quickness there will have a massive divide. Johnson doesn’t have devastating power on the feet, but he is capable of landing enough volume for an attrition-based knockout. Ray will have the advantage in the grappling department, and his mission will be getting the fight to the floor and seeking a submission. If that’s not his game plan stepping in, it will be once he gets punched for a round. Johnson is likely to win here, but a finish and scoring ceiling compared to price is the question. The 30-40% range is sound on him, while Ray should be 15-20%.
Alex White, +170, 7300 vs Rafael Fiziev, -205, 8900
Fight is at 155 lbs and is -155 to end inside the distance.
Rafael Fiviev is a high-end Muay Thai striker that uses all weapons at his disposal and has power in his hands, elbows, knees and feet. He was KO’d in his debut, but I don’t think that indicates what to expect going forward. He defended a spinning back kick that glanced and got through to his chin, in what I’d deem a lucky outcome on the particular strike. On the grappling side, we don’t know what he offers other than sound takedown defense. Alex White is a guy that will continue to win a fight against similar competition and then be fed to better fighters needing a win, as I view this fight. White is a brawler with a sound chin who will be the aggressor but will be at a massive disadvantage from a technical perspective, and he will also be at a quickness disadvantage. For White to win, he needs to avoid the big shots and wear on Fiziev, and some clinch work and takedown attempts could be his friend here. I also leave room for Fiziev’s chin to be a problem, so not fading White. Stick with 35-50% on Fiziev and 15-25% on White.
Raphael Pessoa, +190, 7400 vs. Jeff Hughes, -235, 8800
Fight is at heavyweight and is -155 to end inside the distance.
Jeff Hughes is a local fighter out of Strong Style in Cleveland, and I root hard for him, but this line is a little extreme for him against really any UFC heavyweight. Hughes has been hittable but has shown good chin and cardio, a recipe for decisions. Raphael Pessoa was finished by Gane in their co-debut and gets a more level playing field in his encore. Gane’s movement is enough to make anyone look bad, and Pessoa threw some big rights and sound kicks in that fight. He also labels himself a BJJ fighter, and I think he was caught off guard by the submission attempt in his last fight. I think the range of outcomes here spans the full spectrum with either fighter being capable of winning by decision or finish, and I truly want to play defense in the build on this one — roughly 30% on each.
Enrique Barzola, +160, 7500 vs Movsar Evloev, -190, 8700
Fight is at 145 lbs and is +205 to end inside the distance.
We get a matchup between two-point fighters here, and both have wrestling chops. Enrique Barzola grinds with mat return while Movsar Evloev grinds with top control and generally needs one takedown in a round to ride it out. I might give Barzola the advantage on the feet, and he might out volume Evloev. I would deem Evloev the better wrestler, but if Barzola can grind out some takedowns and when Evloev pops back up, we could see a few point-accumulating mat returns, but that’s far from something to rely on and is not probable. I would deem this fight the most likely on the card to reach the judge’s scorecards and want little of it. Get perhaps 10-15% on Evloev and 15-20% on Barzola.
Randa Markos, -160, 8300 vs. Ashley Yoder, +130, 7900
Fight is at 115 lbs and is +245 to end inside the distance.
Randa Markos will continue to be a liability to herself and to spectators while her fights are on the feet. She’s a slow-paced striker who has only had success in the octagon when she can force grappling on opponents she had an advantage over in that department. This is not one of those fights. Ashley Yoder is likely the better fighter on the floor, even off her back, and is the better bet for a submission, which is probably the only avenue to a finish in this one. On the feet, Yoder is the longer fighter and will be able to use her length to keep distance and win the points battle or to press forward and win on volume. I believe the wrong fighter is favored here, and I believe the scoring ceiling, if there is one, belongs to Yoder. Go with 20-30% on her with Markos being a fade to a max of 10%.
Cash and Single Entry
I have the same feeling on cash as I did early in the week, but here goes an attempt at putting a lineup together. I do not feel comfortable stacking this gross main event, but would put Maia in there. I then want three attractive personal ITD lines in Gane, Pavlovich and Fiziev. We then need two more underdogs averaging 7600. Assuming we are unwilling to stack any fight, this makes our possible combinations a side in the Albu fight with Ray, Yoder with Ray, Camacho and Pessoa or Staropoli and Barzola. The latter feels the best option.
For single entry, the structure is very similar, except I believe the best ceiling comes in the Camacho and Pessoa combo.
Picks and Bets
Picks With Personal Confidence %
- Hughes 60%
- Lookboonmee 55%
- Pavlovich 78%
- Evloev 60%
- Fiziev 75%
- Yoder 65%
- Salikhov 75%
- Gane 90%
- Camacho 52%
- Johnson 85%
- Maia 53%
- Lookboonmee/Albu ITD +205
- Fiziev -195
- Yoder +115
- Salikhov -165
- Camacho +140
- Maia +140