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UFC On ESPN+ 23 in Busan: DraftKings and Betting Breakdown

This card is a cruel follow-up to the fireworks of UFC 245. It starts at 2 a.m. EST and takes place in Busan, South Korea. There’s zero star power on the card and is the lowest level even the promotion offers. We do have more fights than normal to take more stances on and I think there are some very live dogs with real scoring ceilings to attack on this one. Let’s get to the fights.

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.

Update: All fighters are on weight.

Lock It In

No fights meet this criterion.

Over The Field

Chan Sung Jung (Korean Zombie), -180, 9000 vs Frankie Edgar, +150, 7200

Fight is five rounds at 145 lbs and is -135 to end inside the distance.

I’m not entirely sure what the motivation was for Frankie Edgar to take this fight. His plan was to drop to 135 to attempt a title run and even winning this fight wouldn’t be anything more than a paycheck for him as his dream at 145 is dead. Chan Sung Jung was originally scheduled to face injured Brian Ortega in this fight so we can safely assume his takedown defense and BJJ tools were already being sharpened in his camp. Edgar still has sound boxing, but he is at a massive power disadvantage and in danger of being put out in any round. Edgar will probably try to use his wrestling in this one but being able to control is another story. Zombie has a slick submission game. Edgar’s price with potential grappling output makes him very much in play, but I don’t believe this line is wide enough — Zombie is the one with the ceiling. Zombie at 50-60% and Edgar at 20-30%.

Volkan Oezdemir, +115, 7600 vs Alexander Rakic, -145, 8600

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

This is likely the most fun fight on the card. Alexander Rakic gets a huge step up in competition to gauge his level of readiness in Volkan Oezdemir. Rakic is 4-0 in the UFC with a pair of first-round KOs in his most recent fights and will try to have that carry over to much higher level competition. Oezdemir looked fantastic in his last fight coming off a dud in the prior fight, snapping a three-fight losing streak. This is a very close fight with the obvious salary value belonging to Oezdemir. Oezdemir’s grappling has improved to the point that Rakic needs to be careful with the takedowns he shoots. Oezdemir is the more powerful striker on the feet and will likely neutralize the movement of Rakic. Oezdemir is the much better bet for a standing KO, and Rakic might be forced to resort to bad takedown shots if he’s hurt. If he’s able to get those takedowns and establish control, it could put Rakic on track for a low-ish scoring decision win. Rakic is perfectly capable of a KO himself, and is not a fade, but there feels like more ceiling and there’s definitely more value in Oezdemir. I want 45-50% Oezdemir and 20-30% Rakic.

Dooho Choi, -290, 9400 vs Charles Jourdain, +230, 6800

Fight is at 145 lbs and is -160 to end inside the distance.

Despite the wide line on this one, it is a difficult fight to get a great read on. Dooho Choi has just two fights, both losses in the last three years due to mandatory Korean military service, much like Kang had previously. He was able to take this fight due to no need for traveling. Charles Jourdain enters his second UFC fight coming off a decision loss in his debut. He is a finisher, much like Choi, and these two fighters combine for 17 finishes in their last 17 wins. Jourdain has the wider striking arsenal but Choi has more pop in his hands, and we will get a striking affair for as long as it lasts. This fight could fly under the radar a bit, but it really is a great bet for the optimal and a great spot for a stance. I want at least 35% on each fighter but capping at 45% on either. The Jourdain salary is very attractive and I’ll probably edge my exposure towards him, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Stance Fights

Da Un Jung, -105, 7900 vs Mike Rodriguez, -125, 8300

Fight is at 205 lbs and is -130 to end inside the distance.

I don’t believe this line to be nearly wide enough in favor of Mike Rodriguez. Rodriguez is 1-2 in the octagon with an ugly loss as a big favorite in his last fight. He struggled with active grappling and is still at a point in his career where he needs to be standing and striking. This matchup with Da Un Jung is one that should be a favorable stylistic one for him and his length and power should be the difference in him securing a KO. He will have a 4-inch reach and big power advantage and is capable of using any of his limbs to secure that KO. He could also tear up the lead leg of Jung early. Jung is outclassed on the feet here and will need to get the fight to the floor where Rodriguez has plenty of issues. I don’t believe he has the strength or wrestling prowess to do so but if he finds a way, the fight totally flips. I want 40-50% Rodriguez with just 10-20% Jung.

Junyong Park, -105, 7700 vs Marc-Andre Barriault, -125, 8500

Fight is at 185 lbs and is +180 to end inside the distance.

Marc-Andre Barriault is a fairly annoying fighter to see listed on cards for both viewing and DFS purposes. He is not a volume striker and has decent but not massive power and is an average grappler. He’s just a mediocre fighter that doesn’t put out big volume and isn’t exciting. He will probably be the more active grappler than Junyong Park, but don’t expect submissions as he’ll be looking for control and ground and pound. Barriault’s cardio is questionable and a high pace would be to his detriment. Park is going to be the busier and more powerful striker and will have the cardio advantage. His wrestling is nonexistent, instead using submission attacks to defend wrestling, which has mixed results. He won’t have a chance against high-end grapplers but that hole shouldn’t haunt him too much in this particular matchup. This is also the widest salary gap of the near pick’em fights, creating value on Park, who I think should be the small favorite. Park could pour it on late and does have something of a ceiling. He is 30-45% while Barriault is a fade to 15%.

Kyung Ho Kang, -255, 9200 vs Liu Pingyuan, +205, 7000

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +115 to end inside the distance.

Liu Pingyuan is very much just a guy for me, and I think he’s without an advantage in this fight, but there is an extremely clear path to victory for Kyung Ho Kang. That path is takedown to attacking submissions and I don’t see much resistance in either of those areas. Kang is also the better fighter on the feet but he’s not an overly powerful striker and the path of least resistance and DK ceiling is on the floor for Kang. Kang should be 25-40% while Pingyuan is a fade to 15%.

Ciryl Gane, -705, 9600 vs Tanner Boser, +480, 6600

Fight is at heavyweight and is -285 to end inside the distance.

Ciryl Gane is a high-end and quick kickboxer but has won each of his two UFC fights by submission, so there is even more to the skill set than we originally believed. I would deem the line to be appropriate and the question in this fight is whether Gane scores enough to return on the salary. Tanner Boser is a low kick specialist that seems to have a tough chin, but is very much outclassed in this fight. Gane will be popular and I want to be about level with the field. Gane should be 40-50% while Boser is a fade to 10%.

Seungwoo Choi, -275, 9300 vs Suman Mokhtarian, +220, 6900

Fight is at 145 lbs and is -105 to end inside the distance.

Seungwoo Choi enters his third UFC fight, losing both of his first two fights, albeit against much higher level competition. Suman Mokhtarian is 0-1 in his UFC career and looked incredibly hittable in that fight as he was quickly knocked out, perhaps exposing his previous level of competition as the lowest of levels. Mokhtarian is a fighter that did his best work with submissions on the regional scene but has no wrestling skill set to get the fight to the floor at this level. Choi will have a large advantage on the feet in this one. He is longer with a 7.5-inch reach advantage, has more power and is technically better. I think a standing KO Choi is the most likely outcome in this one, but it gets more wide open if the fight hits the floor at any point. Choi should be in the 35-50% range with Mokhtarian at 10-15%.

Raoni Barcelos, -120, 8400 vs Said Nurmagomedov, -110, 7800

Fight is at 135 lbs and is +140 to end inside the distance.

Raoni Barcelos isn’t a household name, but he is a fun fighter and one with an exceptional approach and skill set from a DFS perspective. He presses forward, throws volume with KO power and has high-end BJJ with the ability to wrestle as well. He’s 3-0 in the UFC with three stoppage wins and simply put, this line isn’t wide enough. Said Nurmagomedov isn’t overly exciting, and I think this stylistic matchup is very bad for him. Nurmagomedov doesn’t have power in his hands and throws more kicks from distance, and it’s unlikely he gets the needed distance to put those kicks to work in this one. He has a good takedown game but just looks to control and will be in danger as I think Barcelos can very much threaten submissions from his back or from sweeps. Barcelos is very favorably priced with real ceiling and I want 45-60% of him with Nurmagomedov being a fade to 15%.

Miranda Granger, -190, 8900 vs Amanda Lemos, +160, 7300

Fight is at 115 lbs and is +170 to end inside the distance.

Both fighters are entering their second UFC fight but Amanda Lemos is on a two-year layoff due to suspension. Oddly enough, this is the first UFC fight at 115 for both fighters as Miranda Granger fought at 125 in her debut and Lemos UFC debut was at 135. Granger is undefeated and has a good deal of submission wins to her name, but offers very little wrestling and getting a fight to the floor is unlikely against non-lower-level opponents. She puts out decent volume on the feet and her offensive striking is sound enough but is hittable. Her boxing defense isn’t the greatest and she leaves her lead leg out there to be torn up. Lemos is the superior striker and throws with real power and additionally has nasty leg kicks that could really come into play in this one. She did have a cardio fail in her UFC debut and it is a concern here, but we are left with a good amount of projecting with both fighters cutting additional weight. Lemos is completely capable of finding a standing finish in this fight and is the livest dog on the card by my view. Granger also has paths to ceiling with grappling or just finishing a gassed fighter. While this is a stance fight, we also want to be over the field on it. 35-45% on Lemos and 15-25% on Granger.

Defensive Fights

Dong Hyun Ma, +160, 7400 vs Omar Morales, -190, 8800

Fight is at 155 lbs and is -205 to end inside the distance.

Omar Morales makes his UFC debut at 34 years old, which is always a bit of a red flag for debuting fighters to be at an advanced age. His striking appears sound and powerful and uses his kicks well. If Dong Hyun Ma stays at range for this one, he will get touched up and probably finished in this one. Pressing forward and getting inside on Morales would be the proper strategy, but it is far from a given he will do so. We know nothing about the grappling level of Morales and have to assume Ma has the advantage in that department and could do well on the floor. This is a fight to not let ruin the build one way or the other. I think 25-35% Morales and 10-20% Ma covers it enough that the result doesn’t crush the build.

Alexandre Pantoja, -220, 9100 vs Matt Schnell, +180, 7100

Fight is at 125 lbs and is +115 to end inside the distance.

Matt Schnell is on a four-fight winning streak, with the last two being submissions of fighters he’s superior to in that department. That won’t be the case in this one and he will have to do some striking with Alexandre Pantoja. Schnell might have quicker hands but this is the most difficult fight of his career who is very close to the top of the flyweight division. That submission path for Schnell is highly unlikely in this one and Pantoja has fought and grappled with higher-end black belts than Schnell and came away with wins. Pantoja has much more power and is a KO threat on the feet while Schnell will mostly be looking to use his length and 4-inch reach advantage for attrition strikes to add up. Pantoja should be in the 25-40% range while Schnell is fade to 15%.

Heili Alatengm -110, 8000 vs Ryan Benoit, -120, 8200

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

Ryan Benoit comes up to bantamweight and returns to the octagon after a two-year layoff. He is certainly the fighter in this matchup that looks for the KO, throwing the heavier but wider and slower shots. Heili Alateng is the tighter striker but doesn’t have a world of power. He is the fighter that could initiate grappling in this one, but outside of Benoit scoring a KO, there isn’t a world of ceiling to be found in this fight. Get 15-25% on Benoit and fade to 15% on Alateng.

Ugly Fights

At least from a DFS perspective, no fights match this criterion

Cash and Single Entry

Cash should have a main event stack and Gane to start, with the floor of Lemos as the next fighter in. We then have two paths. The first is taking two small favorites with ceiling in Rodriguez and Barcelos and the second is using Oezdemir and then paying up for S Choi with Oezdemir. The second iteration will likely be the more popular one and better from an ownership defensive perspective.

For single entry, it’s a totally different build. We will use only Zombie from the main and remove Gane. I then want to still use Lemos and Oezdemir as underdogs with Barcelos, Rodriguez and Kang as favorites.

Picks and Bets

Picks With Personal Confidence Percentage

  • Benoit 55%
  • Lemos 55%
  • Barcelos 75%
  • Pantoja 84%
  • Morales 75%
  • Choi 88%
  • Gane 98%
  • Kang 94%
  • Park 51%
  • Rodriguez 74%
  • Choi 61%
  • Oezdemir 60%
  • Zombie 85%

Bets

  • Lemos +160
  • Barcelos -115
  • Park +100
  • Oezdemir +115
  • Zombie -175
Image Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Chan Sung Jung.

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