This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
I'd be lying if I said the majority of them meant anything in terms of divisional relevance, but we have 12 fights to cover on this week's edition of The MMA Mashup. These include a late replacement fighter who won't rest until the fight is over and my endorsement of the black sheep of the DFS/gambling MMA community.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Mark O. Madsen ($9,100)
A former Olympian with an unyielding gas tank, Madsen connected with eight of his 12 takedown attempts against Austin Hubbard in his last bout. Clay Guida has made a career out of being a tireless wrestler, but we have seen him controlled on the ground by stronger grapplers, and Madsen has yet to taste defeat in 10 professional fights. The experience edge will be solidly in favor of Guida, but I don't expect him to keep Madsen on the back foot long enough to consistently win rounds.
Ramiz Brahimaj ($8,500)
Brahimaj came into the organization as a ferocious wrestler and scrambler, so one can imagine the collective surprise when he didn't shoot a single takedown in his UFC debut against Max Griffin. While this is troubling, it should be noted that Sasha Palatnikov won't be able to match the footwork of Griffin and should be on the wrong end of the strength equation. We saw Palatnikov get bullied in clinch situations against Impa Kasanganay and Barhimaj should be able to follow that script to victory.
Vinc Pichel ($8,300)
Pichel's status as a veteran who doesn't fight very often may get him overlooked here, but "From Hell" is an incredibly strong grappler who has been able to outwrestle the majority of opponents he's faced inside the cage. Austin Hubbard will come into this matchup with a takedown defense rate under 60 percent, having taken two of his five losses by submission. He may come out looking good on the feet as the more agile, varied striker, but I expect Pichel will get this fight to the mat when he wants to, which should result in a point total that far exceeds his salary.
Kelvin Gastelum ($7,500)
Jared Cannonier coming into this fight as a sizeable favorite seems off to me. While his recent record may not reflect it, Gastelum remains a slick boxer who can also present a wrestle-heavy attack, as we saw in his latest win over Ian Heinisch. Cannonier may be a powerful striker with excellent timing, but we have seen persistent wrestlers give him trouble in the past, with Glover Teixeira taking him down three times and amassing a whopping 10:38 of control time in 2017. Cannonier should have the edge on the feet, but Gastelum should be able to keep this close enough to frustrate the 37-year-old before taking the path of least resistance.
Saidyokub Kakhramonov ($7,400)
It seems like I recommend these late-replacement fighters fairly often, but I just can't pass on the point potential of Kakhramonov, who pressures his opponents and relentlessly looks for takedowns to parlay into submission attempts. Trevin Jones has had two impressive comeback knockouts in his UFC fights but is far too willing to let his opponent control the center of the Octagon. We have seen Kakhramonov tire in fights before, which is certainly a concern in this spot, but I think the 25-year-old will be the one imposing his will.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Fabio Cherant ($10)
While I would never pick a fighter solely based on a price discrepancy, the low salary of Cherant may be guiding my hand here, as William Knight hasn't done anything to earn his status as such a large favorite. When he's not grappling, "Knightmare" tends to keep his hands low and swing mechanically, which leaves him open to being hit. We saw Knight simply get outmuscled by Da Un Jung in the clinch, and while Cherant doesn't quite have the dimensions of the Korean fighter, he will enter this contest with a three-inch height advantage. I think Cherant should be able to stuff the majority of Knight's upper-body takedowns, allowing him to dictate where the fight takes place.
Ignacio Bahamondes ($12)
It's clear that Bahamondes was a bit thrown off by the speed and accuracy of John Makdessi in his organizational debut, but the Chilean fighter shouldn't have to worry about that when facing Roosevelt Roberts, who is rather wooden and slow by comparison. Instead, Bahamondes will need to concern himself with stopping takedowns, as Roosevelt's primary method of attack is getting the fight to the ground to work his BJJ. He may be in trouble if they hit the floor, but Bahamindes was able to stop all five takedown attempts in his fight on the Contender Series, and Roberts enters this bout with just a 53 percent shot accuracy rate. If Roberts can't be trusted to get consistent takedowns, then there doesn't appear to be much stopping the 23-year-old from lighting him up on the feet.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Bea Malecki UNDER 128.5 Significant Strikes and Josiane Nunes UNDER 79.5 significant strikes.
It probably isn't a bad idea just to take the unders here on general principle, but I think Nunes' style of blitzing her opponent with strikes will either lead to a quick knockout, or extended periods of grappling as she falls into the clinch. This seems like a spot where we are getting inflated numbers based on Malecki's last performance, as she landed just 19 significant strikes before finishing Duda Santana via submission in her UFC debut.
Brian Kelleher UNDER 65.5 Significant Strikes and Domingo Pilarte UNDER 52.5 Significant Strikes
Kelleher doesn't quite wrestle enough to expect multiple takedowns, but he will enter this contest at a seven-inch disadvantage in both height and reach, which makes it likely that he will want to keep this fight in close quarters whenever possible. This means clinch work, which means less significant strikes. Kelleher's speed advantage may make him more comfortable standing on the outside, but he will need to do an awful lot of work to close that distance.
Plays to Consider on Super Draft
Brandon Royval -2.05x Multiplier
Alexandre Pantoja has shown himself to be a solid striker as well as a wizard on the ground during his UFC career. Still, it's hard to ignore what we saw in his fight against Askar Askarov, as the Dagestani fighter drained his gas tank by engaging in prolonged grappling exchanges. This seems like a clear path to victory for Royval, who forces his opponents to keep pace with him in multiple phases of the fight. Pantoja may start out with the upper hand, but the longer the bout goes, the clearer it should be that Royval's in-your-face style is taking its toll.
Austin Lingo – 1.9x Multiplier
Lingo was stifled by the wrestling of Youssef Zalal in his introduction to the Octagon but was able to show just how sharp and quick his hands can be against Jacob Kilburn, a fight that saw him land 95 significant strikes and visibly hurt his opponent more than once. Luis Saldana has showcased a nice kicking offense, but I think the pressure and hand speed of Lingo will render him unable to get his game going.
Bets to Consider:
Chase Sherman wins via KO/TKO: +125
Sherman has become something of a punchline in MMA gambling circles due to a string of underwhelming performances that saw him amass a 2-5 record in his first UFC run. To be sure, "The Vanilla Gorilla" is not a perfect fighter, but Parker Porter's main issue in his fight with Chris Daukaus (which ended in a TKO loss), was the hand speed and power of the Philadelphia native. Sherman doesn't have the striking polish of someone like Daukaus, but he will be the faster man in the cage, which should allow him to put combinations together. He also has shown a tendency to step back and throw a left hook as a counter, which could be a devastating weapon as Porter tries to crash the pocket.