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UFC On ESPN+ 21 in Moscow: DraftKings and Betting Targets

I do enjoy the morning fight night cards, but more the eastern European ones that give us a start time not in the middle of the night. This one kicks off at 11 a.m. EST and has 13 fights.

There may be an advantage to be had on the field in both cash and tournaments this week with an odd diversion from the norm in the main event. The main event is only three rounds, as opposed to the normal five rounds. In the event of a decision, this will work against those who stack the fight in cash, and I suspect the overall ownership of the fight reflects a scheduled five rounds for a normal main event.

A reminder of the fight classifications for tournaments:

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.

Lock It In

Alexander Volkov, -270, 9200 vs. Greg Hardy, +220, 7000

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

Alexander Volkov is always busy with volume for a heavyweight. He is willing to pour on the strikes with good cardio and will mix in wrestling for top control time and some ground and pound. Greg Hardy fights for the fifth time in his debut year. We’ve learned the power from Hardy is real, and he showed off some chin in his last fight, and this one is the best bet on the card to find the winner to the optimal. Hardy can finish the fight with a single shot, and at $7,000, needless to say, that would find the optimal. On the Volkov side, if he is just too much too soon for Hardy, he likely pours on volume, enough (with the way Fight Metric has been tallying heavyweight strikes) to find the optimal in a decision win or a late finish. From a tournament perspective, Hardy is a great underdog with a massive ceiling, and I want him in the 40-50% range, with the same range on Volkov.

Khadis Ibragimov, -150, 8800 vs. Ed Herman, +120, 7500

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -300 to end inside the distance.

This dude, Khadis Ibragimov, is wild. In his UFC debut, he walked forward, throwing the heaviest shots he could muster for literally as long as he could until he completely and wholly gassed and was submitted. He will test the chin of Ed Herman for the first six to nine minutes of the fight, and if he hasn’t finished the job by then, it will be his turn to get finished. Herman needs to bring an early survival game plan and then turn to finishing what will be the gassed puddle of mush in the later second or third round. We will get a finish in this one, and I want equal exposure in the 45-50% range on both fighters.

Over The Field

Magomed Ankalaev, -385, 9400 vs. Dalcha Lungiambula, +300, 6800

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -195 to end inside the distance.

For lack of a better technical term, Magomed Ankalaev is simply a better fighter than Dalcha Lungiambula. Ankalaev is rounded and quick and does well in both attacking and countering in the striking. He is quite capable of knocking opponents out both standing and on the floor and has decent wrestling that is followed up by nice ground and pound. Lungiambula has big power and can knock out just about anyone with one shot, and that is his sole path to victory here, but finding that would secure his place in the optimal. Lungiambula is a far better offensive grappler than defensive grappler as he is mostly helpless if placed on his back. He probably doesn’t have the wrestling chops to get this particular fight to the floor but he might have to try if he ends up eating too many power shots. I want Ankalaev in the 45-55% range with 20-25% on Lungiambula.

Roman Kopylov, -115, 8300 vs. Karl Roberson, -115, 7900

Fight is at 185 lbs and is -165 to end inside the distance.

Roman Kopylov is a good striker making his UFC debut, is undefeated and on a streak of seven straight KOs. He has great technique and good power and is likely the fighter leading the dance here. Karl Roberson is also a striker, but one that has overestimated his own grappling prowess in the past, leading to his fights not carrying the entertainment value they should. Roberson has big power in his right hand and does well using the left to control distance, but is quite hittable when moving backward. This is a fight where Roberson would likely be the only one to initiate any grappling, but his wrestling is likely not at the level to get this to the floor and we are likely to get a fun brawl that end inside of the first 10 minutes. Both fighters are in play for a KO, perhaps even a body shot KO on the Kopylov side. Get 40-45% Kopylov and 30-35% Roberson.

Stance Fights

Zelim Imadaev, -215, 8800 vs. Danny Roberts, +175, 7400

Fight is at 170 lbs and is -195 to end inside the distance.

Danny Roberts is a nine-fight UFC vet with a propensity for being finished. Four of those nine fights have ended inside the distance on the wrong end for Roberts and those finishes have been the case each time the level of competition was raised from bare minimum in the promotion. Zelim Imadaev is heavy-handed striker that throws a plethora of dynamic attacks, and well, he is a finisher. The most likely outcome here is an early KO for Imadaev but the body of work and cage time is a small sample and we can’t fade Roberts. Imadaev is big exposure in the 45-55% range while Roberts should be at around 15%.

Shamil Gamzatov, -195, 8900 vs. Klidson Abreu, +165, 7300

Fight is at 205 lbs and is +140 to end inside the distance.

Shamil Gamzatov makes his UFC debut and draws a much tougher test than this betting line would suggest. He is definitely a better striker on the outside without true KO power, and can truly be hit on the inside. We will have to see how his chin holds up as Klidson Abreu has pop in his hands and can land those inside punches. Gamzatov has a better offensive grappling skill set than defensive and he should definitely avoid grappling in this fight as he will not have the higher end grappling skill set. It should be noted the individual ITD lines here are almost the same and Abreu is the much more attractive fighter for DFS purposes at price. Gamzatov does not have an identifiable path to finding a finish outside of a perfect counter and the pace that Abreu allows isn’t one to allow a high score in a decision. Gamzatov is a fade to 10%, while Abreu should be in the 30% neighborhood.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov, -310, 9300 vs. David Zawada, +245, 6900

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

Abubakar Nurmagomedov is Khabib’s cousin and making his UFC debut. He’s a sound striker and good wrestler as one would expect from the family, but does not at all bring a level of effectiveness that Khabib does. He doesn’t have power to KO opponents on the feet, nor does he have a strong submission game once he works his wrestling. He also is the most hittable Nurmagomedov, and if you can’t tell, this line seems far too wide to me. David Zawada is a more dangerous striker than the results have shown in his first two UFC outings. He also has sound submission chops, and I would certainly deem him the more likely fighter for a finish here. Now, Nurmagomedov has a path to a score purely based on mat returning and scoring grappling points, and we need a minimum of 25% on him. The stance here is that Zawada will be far less popular, and we need at least as much of him as Nurmagomedov. I could have listed this fight in the next section, but I want it to be apparent you’re taking an ownership stance on Zawada,

Defensive Fights

Zabit Magomedsharapov, -300, 9100 vs. Calvin Kattar, +240, 7100

Fight is at 145 lbs and is +135 to end inside the distance.

Yes it feels as odd writing a main event in this section as it does for you to read it. Zabit Magomedsharapov has quite a high end skill set and is rounded, but I would deem his grappling far more dangerous than his striking skill set. Zabit fights on the outside and will throw dynamic kicks and strikes, but are generally low percentage ones and hitting that lottery tends to be his only path to a standing KO against higher-end opponents. He is far more dangerous on the floor and is creative and dangerous attacking submissions to be sure. Calvin Kattar is the more dangerous striker and his boxing is great with power and if he can force his way inside here, Zabit’s chin is in real trouble. Kattar is certainly at a grappling disadvantage here but he is not helpless and his takedown defense has been strong. If Zabit is unable to grapple, his path is almost certainly a decision win which clearly does not return on that salary or hit the optimal, and I only want about 20-25% on him. Kattar will be the one testing the chin and probably has a more attainable ceiling at tiny salary.

Alexander Yakovlev, +135, 7700 vs. Roosevelt Roberts, -165, 8500

Fight is at 155 lbs and is +165 to end inside the distance.

I see these fighters as similar — neither are easy to hit or finish and both are sound grapplers and both are sound at attacking submissions. I would say Roosevelt Roberts is the fighter with the better chance of cinching in a choke if the fight were to end via submission or finding a KO, but that is reflected in the pricing. Alexander Yakovlev is not completely out of play for a KO or submission, he’s just the less likely of the two fighters to find the finish. A decision win for either fighter is almost certainly no-fly for the optimal and would want Roberts at 25-30% and Yakovlev at 15-20%.

Grigorii Popov, -190, 9000 vs. Davey Grant, +160, 7200

Fight is at 135 lbs and is -110 to end inside the distance.

Grigorii Popov makes his second UFC walk at 35 years old after being knocked out in his debut. The level of competition he faced prior to his debut became more apparent during the debut, as it was quite low level. Davey Grant takes just his second fight since late 2016 and like his opponent, needs a win to keep his job. Grant has never lost a fight via any avenue but submission so that works in his favor here as I would deem him the better grappler. We do have to question the chins of both fighters at the ages of 35 and 33 and there is a wide range of outcomes in this one. Both fighters have a true path to the optimal with the pricing on Grant being more attractive. I want around 25% on each fighter but coming down a little bit is okay if we are having problems zeroing in on proper exposure.

Ugly Fights

Ramazan Emeev, -130, 8400 vs. Anthony Rocco Martin, +100, 7800

Fight is at 170 lbs and is +180 to end inside the distance.

Ramazan Emeev has been a successful decision fighter in the UFC to this point, winning all nine rounds in his three fights with a slow pace and well rounded skill set. Anthony Rocco Martin is a better grappler than striker that also fights at a slow pace and this one will be a snoozer on the feet outside of some flurries from Emeev. Emeev has a low percentage chance of finding a KO while it’s nearly nil for Martin. Both fighters have a very strong grappling skill set with Emeev being the stronger in the clinch. We likely get a decision here with the winner scoring between 60 and 70 DK, but there is an outside shot at a finish so not prepared to just fade this one. Leave each fighter in the build at around 10-15%.

Rustam Khabilov, -200, 8600 vs. Sergey Khondozhko, +165, 7600

Fight is at 170 lbs and is +175 to end inside the distance.

Rustam Khabilov is a seasoned UFC vet coming off a loss for the first time in nearly five years. While he’s been a fairly high-end fighter, he’s never been a finisher and to accrue DK viability, and he needs to pile up grappling points. Sergey Khandozhko is a rounded fighter who probably has the slight edge in the striking and isn’t helpless as a grappler, but is likely ultimately controlled on the floor by Khabilov en route to a decision loss. Khabilov’s path to the optimal lies in his opponent being able to return to his feet multiple times after being taken down and being mat returned, and not a high percentage one at all. Khandozhko probably needs a KO to find the optimal and Khabilov is a fighter who has never been knocked out in 27 career fights. Limit your builds to a max of 10% on each fighter.

Jessica-Rose Clark, -115, 8200 vs. Pannie Kianzad, -115, 8000

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +285 to end inside the distance.

As the ITD line suggests, we get the highest probability of a decision on the card. Jessica Rose Clark will be the better grappler but the worse striker, and lost a decision in Invicta to Pannie Kianzad years ago. Kianzad’s path is a decision that features much of the fight being standing, but doesn’t throw enough volume to sniff the optimal that way. Clark will push to get the fight to the floor, control and look occasionally for submissions. She has the higher ceiling from a grappling points perspective and a submission isn’t completely out of the question. Clark should be in the build at about 10-15% while Kianzad is a fade candidate to a max of 10%.

Cash and Single Entry

Already discussed is the main event being over owned in cash as a stack. While this remains true, we need to cover ourselves on ownership on the underdog side and use Kattar. It would be difficult to survive a highly owned 7100 fighter hitting and being without. If the favorite hits we can overcome. The next fighters in are actually a stack, and that is the Ibragimov/Herman fight. If Herman wins later, this will easily be the highest scoring fight on the card, and if he doesn’t we still get the early KO points for Ibragimov. With three spots left for favorites, we need to attack the favorable personal ITD lines of Ankalaev and Imadaev, with Roberts being the best option for rounding out the lineup.

For single entry we aren’t stacking a fight rather taking a stand on Ibrgimov. Roberts also comes out and Kopylov and Abreu go in for more ceiling.

Picks and Bets

Picks With Personal Confidence Percentage

  • Popov 60%
  • Clark 69%
  • Roberts 70%
  • Nurmagomedov 70%
  • Kopylov 55%
  • Khabilov 80%
  • Ankalaev 85%
  • Abreu 60%
  • Martin 51%
  • Ibragimov 60%
  • Imadaev 82%
  • Hardy 55%
  • Kattar 56%

Bets

  • RRoberts -155
  • Zawada +250
  • Abreu +150
  • Partial unit – Herman R3 win +1075
  • Imadaev -220
  • Hardy +225
  • Kattar +235

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