This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
The final card of the year is upon us, as the UFC looks to go out with a bang. We will cover all fights across five platforms on a 14-fight slate, including a recommendation of one of the biggest underdogs on the docket. All lines are taken from the William Hill online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Raoni Barcelos ($9,300)
Victor Henry is in for quite a test during his UFC debut, as Barcelos is a quick, powerful, boxer who is also a willing wrestler and BJJ champion. Henry likes to come forward and put pressure on his opponents, but his lack of defense should result in the 34-year-old eating clean shots. Henry has yet to be finished in his 26-fight professional career, but Barcelos will carry so many advantages into this bout that I feel comfortable paying a premium against the late-replacement fighter.
Amanda Lemos ($9,500)
Lemos is another fighter who has shown herself to be dangerous in every phase of a fight, as she will seamlessly mix heavy-handed striking with takedowns and an opportunistic submission game. Angela Hill always acquits herself well, but the veteran has been taken down at least one time in five consecutive fights and hasn't faced many top-control grapplers as physically imposing as Lemos. The cost may seem prohibitive, but Hill always fights at a high pace, which should facilitate action. This makes the Brazilian fighter a firm cash option with some upside if she can really get her grappling going.
Jordan Leavitt ($8,200)
It can be difficult to know what to make of Leavitt, who had a slam KO of a very old-looking Matt Wiman in his UFC debut before getting out-grappled by a jiu-jitsu ace in Claudio Puelles. Matt Sayles is a fluid striker with decent footwork but spent nearly the entirety of his fight against Bryce Mitchell on his back before being submitted in Round 1. While his striking may be rudimentary at best, Leavitt will be relentless in pursuing grappling exchanges, and I don't expect Sayles to be able to keep up in the scrambles in the same manner as Puellues.
Diego Ferreira ($7,500)
Ferreira hasn't always turned to his wrestling but aggressively chased takedowns in his last win against Anthony Pettis before getting a submission in Round 2 of their fight in January of 2020. Mateusz Gamrot employs nothing but single-leg takedowns in order to get the fight to the ground, and we've seen how effortlessly the UFC veteran is able to take the back of his opponents during such exchanges. It should also be noted that Guram Kutateladze was able to stifle Gamrot's grappling simply by having an active guard. Ferreira should be able to have similar levels of success while getting a few of his own takedowns for good measure.
Gerald Meerschaert ($9,000)
As quickly as it had seemingly gone, Meerschaert's durability returned in his fight with Makhmud Muradov, as he was forced to absorb several hard shots before turning the fight in his favor. Dustin Stoltzfus hits hard but is rote and mechanical with his strikes, and "GM3" should be able to pressure effectively before getting this fight to the floor. The play doesn't come without risk, but Meerschaert has scored over 100 DraftKings points in three of his five UFC wins, making him someone to take a look at on the platform.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Ricky Simon OVER 2.5 Takedowns and Raquel Pennington UNDER 1.5 Takedowns
Something will have to give in the matchup with Raphael Assuncao, as the Brazilian fighter has never been taken down more than twice in a fight, and Simon has failed to ground an opponent three times just once in 10 UFC bouts. It may not look pretty, but Assuncao has been decidedly non-lethal in his MMA career, and it's not uncommon for Simon to shoot 20 times during the course of a 15-minute fight. With so many bites at the apple, one has to assume that Simon hits the "over" here, even if he is unable to get much done on top of the BJJ black belt.
Pennington's line seems a bit off here, as "Rocky" has landed two takedowns in a fight just twice in 14 UFC contests. Macy Chiasson will come into this fight sporting just a 64 percent takedown defense rate, but Pennington doesn't show the commitment to wrestling required for me to pick this the other way, opting instead to wear her opponents down in the clinch.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Melissa Gatto – 2.2x Multiplier
Sijara Eubanks is so strong out of the gate that I fully expect her to have success in Round 1 by grounding Gatto and playing from top position. If she cannot secure a finish, however, the constant activity and pressure of the undefeated Brazilian should pay dividends, as Eubanks has been known to slow down as her fights progress. The more grappling exchanges Gatto can force, the more likely it is that she will have a tired "Sarj" in front of her in rounds two and three, which should result in the 25-year-old taking the fight over.
Andre Ewell – 2.2x Multiplier
Charles Jourdain is an explosive and powerful kickboxer but tends to stand a bit flat-footed in the cage, particularly after he has worked his way into range. Ewell's speed and agility should pay dividends in this phase, allowing "Mr. Highlight" to find counter shots when Jourdain loads up to throw big shots in the pocket.
Belal Muhammad – 2.25x Multiplier
The work rate of Muhammad alone would be enough to take a shot with him at this level of a multiplier, particularly when we consider that Stephen Thompson has been known to struggle with fighters who are able to stay in his face and work a wrestling game. While opponents like Vicente Luque have paid a heavy price for trying to take a fight to "Wonderboy," it must be said that Muhammad is much more defensively responsible, and will look to take away space rather than exchange. It's not often that a fighter the caliber of Muhammad is this big of an underdog. We should take advantage against an opponent who can be outworked.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Josh Parisian UNDER 73.5 Strikes and Don'Tale Mayes OVER 59.5 Strikes
It's not every day that we see the underdog projected to land more strikes than the favorite, but the line setters here have undoubtedly noticed that Parisian likes to muscle his opponents against the fence and run up the numbers by landing short shots in the clinch. Mayes will be the most athletic fighter Parisian has faced in the UFC by a wide margin, which should allow him to stay out of the grasp of the 32-year-old and get his own offense going.
Bets to Consider
Chris Daukaus wins by KO/TKO/DQ (+138)
Derrick Lewis should be commended for rising as high as he has in modern-day MMA by simply having extraordinary power, but I'm not sure how well that skill set will hold up against someone like Daukaus, who marries his own power with fast hands and combination punching. He will need to mind his defense, but we have seen Lewis crumble more than once after taking damage to his eye, and the former police officer will be well equipped to cause the damage that results in his fifth KO/TKO in as many UFC fights.
Cub Swanson wins via KO/TKO (+250)
Prior to getting folded by a body shot in his fight with Giga Chikadze, Swanson used his footwork and ability to explode in the pocket to viciously KO Daniel Pineda, who looked to be gathering momentum in his second stint with the company. Darren Elkins gets hurt in most of the fights he participates in these days, and while "The Damage" generally manages to stay in the fight, Swanson's wrestling defense looked drastically improved in his second fight with Frankie Edgar, when he went 8-for-8 on takedowns defended.
Harry Hunsucker (+260)
I didn't exactly love Justin Tafa as a fighter when he stepped in the cage against Juan Adams, but I couldn't imagine what a fighter like Adams had done to warrant being such a large favorite, which had me leaning towards someone I felt had a few advantages. I see a similar situation here, with the fast and aggressive Hunsucker going up against a powerful, but largely stationary and inactive Tafa. Aside from that bout with Adams, Tafa hasn't proven himself to be someone who can hurt his opponents at this level, which will allow Hunsucker to work his way into the bout after being finished in less than a minute against Tai Tuivasa in his debut.