The MMA Mashup: UFC Vegas 51 Preview

The MMA Mashup: UFC Vegas 51 Preview

This article is part of our UFC Picks series.

Saturday's 14-fight slate doesn't include the most compelling bouts we've ever seen from a ranking standpoint, but it is chock full of opportunity, featuring interesting newcomers and what I see as a few incorrectly-lined underdogs. We'll take a look at each bout to help prospective players make money across five different platforms. 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

Heili Alateng ($8,800)

Aletang has stalled out after grappling-heavy victories in his first two UFC bouts, but a fight with Kevin Croom should be just the thing to get him back on the winning track. Croom will enter this fight with significant advantages in both height and reach, which will allow the Mongolian fighter to execute his blitz-counterpunching style. Not only will he be on the right side of the power and hand speed equations, but Alateng should also be able to return to his takedown game, as Croom will enter the contest with just a 30 percent takedown defense rate. The 30-year-old has yet to put up more than 80 DraftKings points in a contest, but Croom's aggressive style and lack of defense could make him a sneaky candidate to notch a big score.

Devin Clark ($8,600)

It's interesting to watch Clark become more than just a power takedown artist, as "Brown Bear" has rounded out his skill set with some functional kickboxing. While he was outwrestled down the stretch in his bout with Ion Cutelaba, Clark never stopped trying to win and was able to execute several getups from compromising positions on the bottom. The fact that he was grounded so easily may give some pause against a strong Judo player like William Knight, but it's worth noting that "Knightmare" was soundly outwrestled by Da Un Jung last year, and lacks the agility of someone like Cutelaba. I expect Clark to wear on Knight early and trust that he is tough enough to absorb any big shots.

Gadzhi Omargadzhiev ($8,400)

Caio Borralho's athleticism and slick striking look great on the surface, but the Brazilian fighter can be backed up in straight lines, which causes his defense to suffer tremendously. While he has shown adequate takedown defense in the past, he has almost certainly never faced a grappler like Omargadzhiev, who will be relentless in his pursuit and look to close the distance with big strikes. There is a concern that Barralho will be able to stay on his bike and avoid the Russian fighter, but he tends to slow down in the later rounds, and Omargadzhiev won't stop applying the pressure.

Jordan Leavitt ($7,900)

The well-worn truism that two dedicated grapplers will look to have a striking bout almost certainly won't hold in the case of Leavitt vs. Trey Ogden, as both men have shown no problem having extended ground exchanges with other wrestlers. Ogden's jab alone makes him the better striker by a considerable margin, but the 32-year-old is far too comfortable throwing himself into bad positions with the expectation that he will come out on top. This has led to four submission losses and a handful of other close calls. It will be fun to see these two scramble on the mat, but Leavitt will likely be able to outlast his opponent by being more solid on the ground.

Mounir Lazzez ($TBD)

Lazzez marries powerful kickboxing with wrestling in a way that makes him dangerous for any opponent. While he was unexpectedly stopped by Warlley Alves in his last fight, I don't think he will have much trouble against newcomer Ange Loosa, who tends to shell up and look for an escape from the pocket when facing heat. Loosa is an athletic kickboxer who may also look to wrestle, but Lazzez has shown incredible strength in the clinch, which should help him stay on his feet.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

 Drakkar Klose OVER 1.5 Takedowns and Mayra Bueno Silva UNDER 1.5 Takedowns

We haven't seen Klose since he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a fight against Beneil Dariush when he was clipped and knocked out while pressing for a finish of his own. This is one of the reasons I believe Klose will put on his wrestling shoes but it's far from the only one. It should also be pointed out that the 34-year-old has been no stranger to grappling in the past, having notched at least two takedowns in four of his last seven fights. Brandon Jenkins was taken down and easily controlled by Rong Zhu in September, and it wouldn't be surprising if Klose took the path of least resistance here.

The line on Mayra Bueno Silva is just bizarre, as not only has she never secured a takedown in the Octagon, but she has never attempted to go to the ground in her five UFC contests. I see no reason why she would want to start with Wu Yanan, who should give "Sheetara" the exact stand-and-bang kind of fight that she enjoys. It must be noted that Silva shot eight times in her Contender Series bout in 2018, but current data is so radically in the favor of a stand-up war that I can't give much weight to one bout that took place almost four years ago.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Jesse Ronson – 2.05 x Multiplier

Ronson was a sizeable underdog in his return to the Octagon against Nicolas Dalby but showcased slick, powerful counterstriking and good work on the ground to notch an early victory. Rafa Garcia is a powerful wrestler, but is a bit too open to be hit in boxing range, and has shown a propensity to get tired as the fight drags on. Ronson should be able to keep this fight standing for the most part, but if he is taken down I expect "The Body Snatcher" will be able to hold his own and spend his opponent's gas tank.

Vicente Luque – 1.8 x Multiplier

It's been years since a precise counter shot from Luque separated Belal Muhammad from consciousness, and while "Remember the Name" has put together a nice streak of wins, I don't see anything in his style that would make this fight turn out much differently. Luque's hands are as fast and powerful as ever, and he is quite comfortable leading as well as countering. Muhammad will look to get in his face and work a wrestling game, but we saw him get stung by counter shots late in his bout with Dhiego Lima, and I doubt he can out-scramble "The Silent Assassin" on the mat. It may not be another knockout, but Luque should notch a victory as he continues to ascend towards a title shot.

Istela Nunes – 1.8 x Multiplier

Nunes was seemingly on her way to a victory against Ariane Carnelossi before being trapped against the fence led to just the second submission loss of her career. Sam Hughes is big for the weight class, but the fact that she hasn't secured a takedown in three UFC fights gives me confidence that Nunes will be able to use her length and accurate counterpunching to take home a victory. Hughes is a decent boxer in the pocket, but her lack of hand speed will make it difficult to get inside and connect consistently.

Bets to Consider

T.J. Laramie (+360)

After Laramie closed as a big favorite in his debut loss to Darrick Minner, the fact that he now sits as a massive underdog feels like an overcorrection. That's not to say that Pat Sabatini isn't a tremendous wrestler in his own right, but we have seen him look very hittable on the feet. He also got noticeable tired in the third round of an otherwise dominant win over Tucker Lutz. Minner caught him cold in a choke, but that loss marks the only time in Laramie's career he has tapped out. While this could end up being as simple as who can get their game going first, I see no clear reason why one smothering wrestler should be such a heavy favorite over another, particularly when we consider Sabatini's aforementioned deficiencies.

Martin Buday wins via KO/TKO/DQ or Submission (-165)

Chris Barnett is athletic, scrappy, and fun to watch, but he is simply too small for the division. This was the case in his debut against Ben Rothwell, and will likely prove true again against Buday, against whom he will surrender seven inches of height. Buday should be able to march Barnett down much the same way as Rothwell, and use his physicality in the clinch to either land a big shot or get an attritive knockout late in the bout.

Miguel Baeza wins via KO/TKO/DQ or Submission (+165)

Aside from pure boxing, it's difficult to think of an area of MMA where Andre Fialho has an advantage over Baeza. "Caramel Thunder" is faster, more agile and a better kickboxer than Fialho, who tends to simply walk after his opponents to try and close the distance. The 28-year-old had a good first round against Michel Pereira before the Brazilian fighter concluded that he could win by simply being the better athlete, and Baeza will have both a technical and athletic advantage in this one.  

Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight

Pannie Kianzad UNDER 106.5 Strikes and Lina Lansberg OVER 56.5 Strikes

If anyone can stifle the high work rate of Kianzad it will be Lansburg, who is known for tying her opponents up in the clinch and working on them with strikes against the fence. "Banzai" was controlled for a whopping 6:16 by Raquel Pennington on the strength of just one takedown, so it won't be surprising if a physically strong Lansburg can limit her opponent's strike output while adding to her own.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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