This article is part of our UFC Picks series.
Interesting scenarios abound for Saturday's 12-fight slate, which begins at 4 p.m. EDT. We'll cover every bout across five platforms, including a juicy bet on a heavy-handed fighter and an underdog DFS play on a jiu-jitsu specialist. Our betting line this week has been taken from the RotoWire MMA Betting page and is accurate to the post date of this article.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Alexandr Romanov ($9,600)
This fight was delayed a week due to an unspecified injury to Chase Sherman, but it now looks as though Romanov will welcome Sherman to his third stint in the UFC. Unfortunately for the "Vanilla Gorilla," this seems likely to be a short stay, as Romanov likely will march him behind the two black lines en route to notching takedowns. Sherman is a decent counter puncher with some power, but it's difficult to watch former middleweight Jake Coiler effortlessly move from position to position on top of him and think that this bout will be much different. While $9,600 is a steep price, a decorated wrestler is the only one who has prevented "Kong" from scoring at least 110 DraftKings points, and Sherman is certainly not that.
Tatsuro Taira ($9,200)
Taira and Carlos Candelario will both try to control of the fight with wrestling, but the Japanese fighter will have a considerable athletic advantage, which should help him as his opponent bears down with pressure. It should also be noted that Taira is a powerful and accurate counter puncher who can put Candelario at risk if he gets sloppy closing space. The price may seem a bit prohibitive, but Taira has multiple advantages that should help him turn the fight in his favor.
Gina Mazany ($8,900)
Mazany has gone just 2-5 in her UFC career, but she has made her wins count from a DFS perspective, averaging 128 DraftKings points in those two victories. She will have a chance to employ her smothering style against Shanna Young, who stands upright and will allow her opponents to take the center of the cage. Young has been taken down at least twice in all three of her UFC (and UFC-adjacent) bouts, giving Mazany a pretty clear path to victory. While some may look at Mazany's recent run and bristle at the price, prospective owners need to be aware of what "Danger" can achieve in the right matchup.
Darren Elkins ($8,600)
Connelly's pace and pressure were enough to sneak out a win in his UFC debut against Michel Pereira, but it's not clear that "Boondock" offers much else to trouble opponents. We saw in his fight with Pat Sabatini that Connelly's defense leaves something to be desired, as he got dropped early in the contest before being held on the ground for a combined 9:39. Elkins will show a similar relentlessness on the ground and in the clinch. It's unlikely that Connelly will be able to hurt "The Damage," which should mean Elkins will have 15 minutes to wear on the 36-year-old, allowing the points to accumulate in the form of takedowns and control time.
Gerald Meerschaert ($7,400)
It didn't look pretty, but Meerschaert showed in his bout with Dustin Stoltzfus that he will always be dangerous on the ground, no matter how dire the circumstances get. Krzysztof Jotko is committed to a movement-heavy, counter-punching style, meaning "GM3" should control range on the feet. Jotko has strong initial takedown defense, but Meerschaert should have his foot on the gas from the first minute of the bout and will constantly be looking to force clinch situations to get this fight to the mat. While he is generally good about holding his opponents down, I see Meerschaert needing to ground the Polish fighter several times early before he acquiesces due to fatigue.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Jake Collier – 2.2 X Multiplier
Andrei Arlovski has been able to sustain success by being agile in a division without much agility, but that won't be enough against Collier, who is similarly quick with fast hands as a former middleweight. Unlike most of his opponents, Collier shouldn't allow the former heavyweight champion to dictate the speed of the fight, as he has landed 5.59 significant strikes per minute in the Octagon. This fight may be competitive early, but even Jared Vanderaa was having success as his fight with Arlovski wore on, and Collier should keep a high pace for 15 minutes.
Rob Font – 2.05 X Multiplier
This fight represents a departure for me, as I generally like to pick the kickboxer over someone who works primarily with their hands, but Marlon Vera tends to start slow in fights, and I can't trust that someone as active as Font will cede control back to an opponent once it has been established. I expect Font to control the fight early with a stiff jab, and won't be surprised if he mixes in wrestling, as "Chito" found himself stuck on the ground in bouts against Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.
Gabriel Green – 2.05 X Multiplier
After going to war in a short-notice loss to Daniel Rodriguez, Green showed us his full capabilities against Philip Rowe, scoring two takedowns and two knockdowns in a comprehensive victory. Yohan Lainesse is a sharp boxer with power in his own right, but he is too willing to let his opponent lead while not being the most defensively responsible fighter. The latter may also be said for Green, but "Gifted" has shown himself to be incredibly tough and will be a stiff test for his undefeated opponent.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Francisco Figueiredo under 2.0 Takedowns and Grant Dawson over 2.5 Takedowns
Figueiredo has averaged three takedowns in his two UFC appearances, but I doubt he will want to spend much time on the ground with Lacerda, who can expertly find the back and wreak havoc with his jiu-jitsu. Instead, I expect the brother of the flyweight champion to work his pressure striking game, as we have seen Lacerda pay dearly for the holes in his defense.
The interesting thing about the matchup between Dawson and Jared Gordon is we can ride with the over on takedowns even if we expect Gordon to win, as Dawson looked incredibly tired down the stretch in his last fight against Rick Glenn. Gordon found his way back to the feet four times after being taken down repeatedly by Joe Solecki, and Dawson is comfortable shooting 10 or more times throughout the course of a bout.
Bets to Consider
Mike Breeden wins via KO/TKO (+460)
It's an understatement to say Breeden didn't look great in his UFC debut against Alexander Hernandez, but the parts of his game that did look promising were his power and takedown defense, as he was able to get his hips away and grab underhooks early to stuff both takedown attempts from "The Great." That's all we need to make this play live, as Levy leaves himself wide open to be cracked in exchanges. The speed gap shouldn't be as pronounced as it was against Hernandez, and Levy has never registered a win by KO/TKO, which likely means Breeden will be safe for as long as the fight is at range. The odds are long for a reason, but I see enough to justify taking the shot.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Andre Fili over 54.5 Strikes and Joanderson Brito over 45.5 Strikes
Fili's output has run lower in recent fights as he's focused more on wrestling, but Brito should be the one chasing takedowns in this bout, having attempted eight in his two contests in the UFC and on the Contender Series. Brito didn't have much luck controlling Bill Algeo on the ground and Filli has always been active off of his back, which should result in these two standing and trading for the majority of the contest.