What to Expect:
Evan Cheney @Echeney69 continues to battle with inclement weather and power outages. I will be taking over this week’s UFC Rundown as a result. You can typically find me answering questions about your account or content at NumberBall Support. I am an avid fan of the UFC, and I practice Muay Thai. I love the sport. I won’t have Evan’s robots to assist with this article, but I will give you my takes. After the small fight card last week (just nine fights), we have 12 matches this weekend. So let’s have some fun.
Derrick Lewis (-185) – $8,700 vs Aleksei Oleinik (+160) – $7,500
This fight should not see the scorecards. Most books have the fight Doesn’t Go to Decision (FDGTD) at a whopping -675 (I did see BetOnline has the FDGTD at -160 tons of value there if you can get that price). You will want exposure to this fight in your lineup builds. No debating the raw power of Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis. Believe it or not, Lewis hasn’t finished a fight since October 2018 when he KO’d Alexander Volkov in the 3rd round. This seems like the right spot for him to do so, as Aleksei Oleinik, has not fared well versus big punchers. Both Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem knocked Oleinik out in the 1st round of their fights. With that being said, Lewis will want to strike and keep this fight standing. Oleinik’s path to victory would be to take Lewis down. Should he get, Lewis down this could end in a submission finish for The Boa Constrictor. So this makes Oleinik a live dog and would likely provide leverage against the field as I expect Lewis to be higher owned in lineups. Lewis does possess a 53% takedown defense so that it won’t be easy. I am siding with Lewis here. For all you Derrick Lewis fans. You know if he wins this fight we can expect something colorful to come out of his mouth or wherever.
Lewis by Finish (TKO)
Chris Weidman (-142) – $8,000 vs Omari Akhmedov (+122) – $8,200
Ok, on the count of three 1…2…3! Chris Weidman is favored?!? OK, moving on. Weidman, a former champion, probably shouldn’t still be fighting in the UFC. He has been KO’d in 5 of his last six fights. So his chin is always an issue. He has also taken long periods off in between matches in his career. But his experience might be too much for Akhmedov. Akhmedov, for his career, hasn’t finished a fighter in the UFC since he KO’d Zaleski dos Santos in 2016. The problem I have with this fight is Vegas seems to think it has a chance to end inside the distance. The FDGTD line is -125. Perhaps this is due to Weidman’s chin? If Weidman wins, it will likely be a low scoring decision. It’s risky, but for DFS purposes, I will take the underdog here.
Akhmedov by Finish (TKO)
Darren Stewart (-155) – $8,600 vs Maki Pitolo (+135) – $7,600
Darren Stewart tends to rely more on striking and will occasionally look for a takedown (he only has two takedowns in his last three fights). So we can expect this fight to remain standing. The problem with Stewart for DFS purposes is he’s priced at $8,600. He would need to score at least 86 points to have a chance at making the optimal lineup. He would likely need several takedowns or a finish to score that many points. This is something he hasn’t done since 2018 when he TKO’d Charles Byrd in the 2nd round. The funny thing about Charles Byrd, he too was KO’ed by Pitolo in the 2nd round just two months ago. I am not buying Vegas’ line of FDGTD of -165. But if someone were to win inside the distance, my money would be on the underdog.
Pitolo by Decision
Yana Kunitskaya (-220) – $8,800 vs Julia Stoliarenko (+180) – $7,400
Kunitskaya was scheduled to fight Ketlen Vieira last weekend. She will now take on Julia Stoliarenko. Kunitskaya is a well-rounded fighter and mixes her punches well with takedowns. This fight Kunitskaya will likely want to keep it standing. As her opponent, Stoliarenko has won by Armbar submission four of her last five fights. Stoliarenko is taking this fight on short notice. She is also making her UFC debut. I suspect Stoliarenko will likely bring pressure in hopes of getting this fight to the ground. There’s always an unknown element when you prepare to fight one fighter and have to switch styles and take on a different opponent on short notice. I see Kunitskaya using her 5.24 punches landed per minute to her advantage and securing enough rounds to win this fight.
Kunitskaya by Decision
Beneil Dariush (-175) – $9,100 vs Scott Holtzman (+155) – $7,100
This is shaping up to be a fun fight. Both fighters will bring pressure and keep the fight active. Dariush is on a four-fight win streak with three straight finishes. Of note, Dariush is coming off a knee injury that was expected to keep him out longer. He is returning about a month early and ready to fight this weekend. His DraftKings scores are what we look for in DFS in his last four fights he has scored 94, 110, 111 and 87 fantasy points. I expect Dariush to be popular on DraftKings. Holtzman is a solid wrestler as well. In his last two fights, he has put up 82 and 116 fantasy points on DraftKings. So you want exposure to this fight. I think Dariush’s competition has been far better than Holtzman’s, and that may be the difference in this fight. But the FDGTD line is sitting at -130, while the FGTD is sitting at -110. Tough fight to predict the outcome as a result of that Holtzman is live and would create excellent leverage against the field in a win. With that said, I will side with Dariush here.
Dariush by Decision
Laureano Starpoli (-135) – $8,300 vs Tim Means (+115) – $7,900
Starpoli comes in as the slight favorite here against the veteran Tim Means. Starpoli is a striker and only has one takedown in his three career UFC fights. You may do research and see that Starpoli has a 6.47 significant strikes landed per minute stat line. But look closer, and you will see most of that came in one fight nearly two years ago. His volume is just not there. Tim Means enters this fight, trying to prove he is not a gatekeeper and still has something left in the tank. It is worth noting; the Dirty Bird has seesawed wins and losses since 2016. If the pattern continues, he’s set to win this fight (if you believe in those things). I think Means will pose a significant challenge to Starpoli. I think Means will secure takedowns and do enough to win two rounds.
Means by Decision
Kevin Holland (-440) – $9,400 vs Joaquin Buckley (+350) – $6,800
Kevin Holland is back after a very impressive outing versus Anthony Hernandez in May of this year. His fight scheduled for last weekend against Trevin Giles was canceled after Giles fainted just before entering the octagon. Until his previous fight, Holland hadn’t looked all that impressive winning his fights by decision. He did put up an incredible 156 DraftKings fantasy points in a fight against John Phillips. But that was back in 2018. This fight, he should have very little trouble as he is taking on Joaquin Buckley, who is making his UFC debut. Buckley has fought in both Bellator and recently in LFA. He has power and won his last two fights via TKO. Another opportunity for leverage against the field as Holland will be one of the higher owned fighters on the card. But as I stated earlier, I don’t see Holland having any trouble with Buckley here.
Holland by Finish (TKO)
Nasrat Haqparast (-240) – $9,000 vs Alex Munoz (+200) – $7,200
Nasrat Haqparast is coming off a brutal first-round KO loss to Drew Dober in January. He entered that fight a heavy favorite as well. Haqparast is a striker and throws punches in bunches. Even with his quick night loss in January, Haqparast still maintains a significant strike landed rate of 5.24 per minute. He will face off with a fighter making his UFC debut in Alex Munoz. Munoz will look to get this fight to the ground. If he is successful, he will make for an excellent leverage play with the decision win. But I will go with the better talent and more experienced fighter here in Haqparast.
Haqparast by Decision
Wellington Turman (-155) – $8,500 vs Andrew Sanchez (+135) – $7,700
This is a fight of who will impose their will. Both of these fighters like to wrestle. I will give the slightest of edges in the ground game to Sanchez. Although in his last fight versus Marvin Vettori, he wasn’t able to secure one takedown and lost that fight. This is a very close fight. While I would not be surprised if Sanchez wins this fight…I think Turman will do just enough to avoid the draw or the loss.
Turman by Decision
Gavin Tucker (-120) – $8,400 vs Justin Jaynes (+100) – $7,800
Gavin Tucker looked amazing his last fight more than a year ago. He landed five takedowns in a submission win versus Seung Woo Choi. The problem with Tucker is he just hasn’t been an active fighter. He does get somewhat of a newcomer in Justin Jaynes. Jaynes stepped in on short notice to fight Frank Camacho and won via TKO five weeks ago. Jaynes came in the UFC riding a three-fight win streak in which he won those fights by finishes. This appears to be an evenly matched fight only because we just don’t know what we will get from Tucker. I’ll lean with the experience here in Tucker.
Tucker by Decision
Youssef Zalal (-460) – $9,300 vs Peter Barrett (+365) – $6,900
Youssef Zalal comes in as a heavy favorite. It’s rare you see a fighter this large of a favorite that isn’t expected to win by finish. Well, in this fight the FDGTD line is +105. Zalal is coming to this fight on short notice. He has two fights in the UFC. Zalal won both contests by decision scoring 65 and 82 DraftKings fantasy points. He’s going to have to score much higher than that for us to play him at $9,300. His opponent Peter Barrett is making his UFC debut. Barrett earned his way into the UFC by getting a contract after winning on DWCS – Season 3 last year. This is a mismatched fight. Zalal should prove to be too much for the newcomer in Barrett.
Zalal by Decision
Irwin Rivera (-170) – $8,900 vs Ali Al Qaisi (+150) – $7,300
Irwin Rivera had his UFC debut just three months ago against a tough Giga Chikadze. He lost that fight in a decision. Rivera is a striker, but he didn’t throw much volume in his debut. He only landed 34 significant strikes. He will now take on Ali Al Qaisi, who is making his UFC debut. Al Qaisi is riding a five-fight win streak, winning three of those five fights via submission. I think Irwin wins this fight, but I don’t know that he will do enough to make the optimal lineup at his price of $8,900. I will take a chance on the newcomer in Al Qaisi for Draftkings purposes in hopes he can secure a submission finish.
Al Qaisi by Finish Submission