Duke’s UFC 255 Breakdown and Predictions!!!
Mike Perry missed weight by 4.5 pounds. I still like him to win the fight but obviously he’s a wild card. This is more that I’m banking on Tim Means gassing out.
I’m moving more to ALL IN on Rodriguez.
Everyone else made weight. More details on the podcast.
This Week’s Bets
(DK) Valentina + Cosce + Rodriguez (-148) – 1.48 to win 1
(Bovada) Rodriguez + Buckley (-120) – 1.2 to win 1
(Pinnacle/Bovada) Mike Perry to win (-115) – 1.15 to win 1
(Bovada) Rodriguez + Cosce + Buckley + Figueiredo + Schevchenko (+217) 1 to win 2.17
WE. ARE. LIVEEEEE!!!!
How about not one, but two belts on the line Saturday? One seems like a foregone conclusion and the other a bit more up in the air.
I’ll watch a Valentina fight every day of the week. I don’t care how big of a favorite she might be in Vegas, just put her out there and let her work. Of course, nepotism is alive and well as her sister is also on this card again. As always, all siblings are not created equal.
Before we dive into UFC 255 and breakdown each fight, how about a quick refresher from last week!
The dogs were barking. I liked Williams but didn’t have the stones to pick him to win the fight. That one haunts me but that’s the beauty of the cheatsheet and podcast + the weigh-in updates.
I’d mentioned that Alhassan came in over the limit. He looked off. I was even more worried about him after the weigh-ins than I was going in and you guys know I wasn’t high on him in general but definitely not after the first 60-90 seconds.
Well, it didn’t even make it that damn long. Khaos Williams is officially on the radar of everyone who does this for more than a hobby. What a performance and thank you to those of you who reached out to let me know you grabbed a ton of shares after my updates. That is the goal!
McKenna got the victory which was awesome. At $7k and a big betting dog she certainly carried VALUE. That’s what I want to talk about briefly. At times, fights are simply priced incorrectly. It could be built in spiff from previous performances. It could simply be chasing a bad opening Vegas line that gets bet down almost immeidately.
We need to take advantage of these situations. Does it mean McKenna will win the fight every time? NO! In fact, maybe she didn’t even actually WIN her fight last Saturday. All three judges saw it that way and she was certainly the more active fighter and did more damage.
BUT, even in a loss, I’ll take a fighter who’s 50/50 to win on the judges scorecards at $7k. Understand, regardless of whether her hand was raised or not, we were right to take that chance.
As for the main event, RDA looked really good. Felder looked really good as well, to be honest. Better than I thought he’d look. But that was an oddly obvious spot to load up on RDA and my 100% ownership bumped me up the leaderboard a touch. Hopefully, it did for you as well.
On to this weekend’s card. Does this feel like a PPV worthy card to you? I wasn’t so sure until I started breaking down these fights. The smaller Apex cage will have an impact here. I expect big finishes in a few of these and we’ll have to be careful to pick our spots.
Let’s get to it. Let’s talk UFC 255!
- November 21, 2020
- UFC APEX
- Las Vegas, NV
- Main Card: PPV 10:00pm
- Prelims: ESPN2/ESPN+ 8:00pm
- Early Prelims: ESPN2/ESPN+ 6:30pm
Deiveson Figueiredo – $9000 (-305) v Alex Perez – $7200 (+240)
These guys are both so fast. Obviously Figueiredo is the big favorite and the champion but let’s talk Alex Perez. Perez is known as a wrestler but has shown impressive power and a smart stand up game. He’s extremely fast with his striking and will throw big volume. He stopped Formiga with calf kicks the last time out!
He has an average fight time of 7:23 and averages 4.69 significant strikes per minute. He also averages 3.2 takedowns per 15 minutes. The guy is a DFS stud.
The loss to Benavidez was a curious one. He seemed hesitant and second to the punch. He was rocked in that fight and actually had to be stopped twice due to the incompetence of Yves Lavigne. I really like Perez’s game, but the loss has me questioning his ability at the tippy top of the division. I like him, just not in this spot.
Figueiredo is so big and so powerful for this division. He is calmness personified in the cage. He can drop you with the right. He can drop you with the left. He can stuff the takedown. He can take you down. He can and will submit you.
He’s a tough out and basically you will need to knock him out or wrestle him to death to get a victory. Honestly, I think he can fight at 135 without having an issue, but he’ll likely just look to retain the belt as long as possible. The two straight finishes against Beneavidez should have the rest of the division startled.
IF Perez were to cause him issues, I think it would come down to his lead leg. Deiveson has an odd, wide-based stance with a heavy front leg. If Perez can start chopping that down he might take away some of the power of Figueiredo. Picking a -305 favorite isn’t exactly going out on a limb but I like Deiveson to get the finish here.
OFFICIAL PICK: Figueiredo
Valentina Shevchenko – 9600 (-1667) v Jennifer Maia – 6600 (+850)
My guess is Schevchenko called Dana and said give me a fight. Dana looked at the roster and wondered who the hell she could fight. Andrade is perhaps next on the list but was already tied into a fight. She’s beaten Chookagian, Eye and Calderwood.
I guess you are left with Jennifer Maia to keep her active until a better fight appears. Surely, we are heading for a super fight at some point. Weili Zhang could potentially come up or eventually we’ll see Shevchenko v Nunes again. First, Maia. Valentina is going to win. Can she score enough DK points to make it worthwhile?
Jenniver Maia absorbs 3.42 significant strikes per minute. She has a 73% takedown defense, but, in her losses especially, she’s been taken down and beaten up. It’s not just the takedowns of Valentina, it’s the combination of fearing her striking and then being taken down that is so vicious.
Valentina is averaging 2.09 takedowns per 15 minutes. This is a 5 round fight. Could we potentially see a stinker from Valentina? I don’t think so. Against Carmouche she had a much more capable wrestler than Maia.
Takedowns and finishes are what lead to Valentina’s big scores. She can eclipse the 100 point mark in this fight. She’ll likely start out striking, land punches and kicks and then get this to the ground.
I’d love an early stoppage but let’s just take our win and get out of here. Valentina ITD but NO IDEA what round.
OFFICIAL PICK: Valentina Schevchenko
Mike Perry – 8200 (-148) v Tim Means 8000 (+120)
Mike Perry is an absolute circus. His life is insane. He’s been filmed flipping tables and pushing his girlfriend. Yet, in the cage, he seems calm and ready to exorcise his demons.
He’ll have his pregnant girlfriend in his corner again. No coach. Just a girlfriend and some homeless guy he finds on the street to give him some water. That’s Mike Perry for you.
I think the matchmakers knew what they were getting when they booked this fight. The odds are telling us this one doesn’t reach the judges’ scorecards and each man is capable of getting it done inside the distance.
The thing with Tim Means is just when I’m ready to count him out, he comes back with a big victory. The evolution of Means has been interesting as well. He’s been around so long that his game has changed numerous times.
As he’s aged, he still has the sharp striking but he’s gone back to wrestling more than he used to. He has 12 takedown attempts in his last three fights and will likely look to hit a couple on Perry here as well, but Perry is so strong. It will be no easy task.
I expect a similar fight pattern to the one we just saw Perry have against Gall. Perry should walk down Tim Means with Means popping shots and circling away from the power. I do have Means with better striking than Gall which is what makes this interesting.
We know Perry can end it with one punch but Gall was touching Perry up in the first round. Perry left me impressed. He didn’t get the finish but had big moments, showed great strength in wrestling and grappling and won the fight handily.
Let’s make sure Perry makes weight. Let’s assume Means is 100%. I have Platinum Mike Perry winning this scrap and that’s exactly what it will be, make no mistake.
Sometimes when we get two veterans the action can become a touch stagnant. They are both so experienced that they can wait for the other to make a mistake. Not here.
I see Platinum pressing the action and Means being right there with his long ass arms but ultimately the new Mike Perry gets it done.
OFFICIAL PICK: Perry
Katlyn Chookagian 7500 (+195) v Cynthia Calvillo 8700 (-250)
How do you neutralize a height disadvantage? Put em on their back. Calvillo is averaging 1.83 takedowns per 15 minutes and Chookagian has just a 50% takedown defense record.
Calvillo’s striking has improved but I don’t think she wants to deal with the length and striking of Chookagian. Against Jessia Eye she landed four of seven takedown attempts. Against Rodriguez it was three of four. I would hope Calvillo understands where her bread is buttered.
My issue is with this pricing. Calvillo has essentially never been dominant in a win over anyone with a pulse. She’s won fights but never in a way that makes me stand up and scream holy shit. That’s what this price suggests. Can she pay it off in a three round fight? I’m not so sure. Does she win? Let’s talk Chookagian…
It’s hard to get the Valentina fight out of my mind. She avenged her name by beating the shit out of Antonina. She then gets her ass kicked by Jessica Andrade. Guess what? So would everyone else in the division.
So you’re telling me she lost to maybe the pound-for-pound female champ in the world and Jessica Andrade who might be fighting Valentina for the title? Uhhh ya think. She’s not a bad fighter. She’s simply not elite. She’s a striker with long limbs. If she can keep the fight at distance she can pick Calvillo apart enough to a W.
In the end, I’ll take the wrestler in this fight, but I don’t have it finishing early and Chookagian is more in this fight than the price would have you believe. Calvillo does struggle with the weight cut so let’s wait for Friday to see how she looks before we lock this in. As of now, I’ll go with her to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: Calvillo
Mauricio Rua 7700 (+140) v Paul Craig 8500 (-177)
We just saw one wiley Brazilian veteran poop in the punch bowl in Glover Teixeira. Can Rua follow suit?
The crazy thing here is that these guys are running this fight back from their November 16th match in 2019. That fight ended in a draw with one each winning on a judge’s scorecard and the third scoring it 28-28.
Craig went into that as a +255 underdog and it’s interesting to see the odds flipped. Obviously, Shogun isn’t getting any younger. Craig is coming off the win over Antigulov, but everyone beats that tomato can. Rua beat Minotoura Nogueira last time out so both men will feel good about their position coming in.
In their first match it was clear that Craig has the striking edge early. He was throwing from distance and mixing in some exotic kicking techniques. All of the damage was on Rua’s face, but Craig tried to finish the fight a bit early and might have punched himself out.
Shogun found his feet in the second and took the center of the octagon. Craig’s legs looked gone and he fell to his back, where Rua did some serious work. One of the two men was wearing a life vest in the deep waters. The experience of Shogun was apparent. I had Shogun winning the first fight and I have him winning here again.
You can’t give a veteran like Shogun 15 minutes of experience with your game and expect to come out against a worse version you saw the first time around. Shogun will understand the game plan and implement it from minute one. I’ll take the legend!
OFFICIAL PICK: Rua
Brandon Moreno 8600 (-190) v Brandon Royval 7600 (+150)
SUPER interesting fight here. Both of these cats love a submission. Royval is 2-0 in the UFC with two second round submissions. Moreno comes in with eight UFC fights under his belt and a record of 5-2-1 with two stoppages, the last a submission win over Dustin Ortiz in 2017.
Moreno has flown up the rankings with wins over Formiga (cut but a top challenger), Kara France (#7) and a draw against Asakarov.(#3) The winner here is likely to get the next crack at the champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, assuming he beats Alex Perez on this same card.
Royval’s striking is underrated but he’s a very high level grappler. He’s a submission attempt monster and is fairly big for the division. Kara-France did clip him just 30 seconds into their fight, but Royval recovered and cracked him with a spinning elbow which staggered Kara-France and followed that up with a likely illegal knee.
From there it was walking down his opponent with strikes and grabbing a neck for the win. Once again, he put his chin on a plate and was cracked by Kara-France.
In both of his fights in the UFC his corner was begging him to stop crashing into his opponent. To take a little bit off his striking to land more effectively. He never listened but the wins keep coming. He’s a game dog here.
Moreno is a round winner. Even when he’s losing and maybe just scrambling to get up, he’ll land some haymaker or high kick to wobble his opponent and put that little nugget in the mind of the judges.
He has enough power to drop his opponent. He can wrestle, scramble and grapple. He has the heart of a lion. Clearly, at this level, all of these fighters have ability. Moreno is so well-rounded and so smart in the octagon that I have to give him the edge.
If I’m predicting the flow of this fight, it will start standing. Both men will land their fair share of shots before this hits the mat, likely with Royval on his back. From there he’ll be going from submission attempt to submission attempt with Moreno controlling top position.
In my mind, Royval has to get a submission to win this fight. I have the stand up edge slightly to Moreno. The wrestling edge to Moreno. The grappling edge heavily in favor for Royval. The ring IQ heavily to Moreno.
With how much ground work will be involved in this fight, Royval is certainly in play at $7600 here but I have Moreno winning the fight, likely by decision.
OFFICIAL PICK: Moreno
Joaquin Buckley 8900 (-278) v Jordan Wright 7300 (+215)
YES. I am ready for this fight. In case you were wondering how this fight might go, simply look to the O/U rounds odds. Right now on Pinnacle it sits at 1.5 rounds with -153 juice on the UNDER.
Jordan Wright has finished 100% of his wins inside the distance with Buckley not too far behind at 72%. This should be fireworks.
In steps the undefeated challenger, Jordan Wright. Well…is he undefeated? His fight against Anthony Hernandez exposed a few things:
1) Hernandez likes weed.
2) Wright got knocked the fuck out by the weed smoker.
Fortunately for Wright, that 1st round KO loss was turned into a no contest and Hernandez was given a suspension and fine. It exposed a lot about this fighter. First, he has no idea what deep waters even are, let alone feel like. He took a weak little right from Hernandez and turtles up before being smashed. There wasn’t a ton of fight from the silver spoon mafia.
However, he’s significantly improved his body over his last two fights and taken quite a bit of the big bounce out of his stand up. There’s being light on your feet and borderline hopping around the ring.
His style he showed against Hernandez created these pauses, or windows for his opponents to time and pounce. He still moves well but it’s more fluid and grounded, if you will. He has power and his BJJ is alright but this is a monster task for Wright to prove he belongs at this level.
Buckley has big power. The Southpaw has surprisingly long arms for his relatively short stature but he’ll have a small 1” reach disadvantage here. He’ll look to get inside that deep karate stance of Wright and the small cage will certainly benefit Buckley in his pursuit of the position.
He ties his punches together well and has shown the confidence to even start talking to his opponents in the ring. Surely, you’ve seen his KO against Kasanganay. It’s the KO of the year. It will be on every best KOs in the UFC DVD and youtube video you’ll watch for the rest of your life. The guy is explosive and I have him winning this fight.
What am I worried about? Buckley keeps his right hand quite low. Wright loves the spinning heel kick to the head. He’s landed it a couple of times early in fights. At least once, as the first strike of the match. Wright is dangerous and he’s improved his game over the last 12 months but I’ll need to see it before I believe it.
OFFICIAL PICK: Buckley
Antonina Shevchenko 8400 (-177) v Ariane Lipski 7800 (+140)
How will Antonina bounce back after a loss? I’m not 100% convinced she’s even good, to be honest. She has zero takedown defense. (50%, statistically speaking). She averages just 3.33 strikes per minute, but, on the plus side, nearly half of all of her strikes are considered “significant” so that’s a positive.
She simply struggles against good fighters. Shit, she even struggles against OK fighters like Roxanne Modafferi, who she lost a split decision to just over a year ago. She desperately needs a big win here and comes in as the betting favorite.
Lipski has good power in her hands. Her game has matured and I think this is the proper next step for her career. It’s easy to forget she’s just 26 years old. She’s matured and taken little pieces of her game to the next level.
Even something as silly as her hairstyle has matured. You might laugh, but I’ve coached girls from the ages of 5 years old all the way up to 19. The maturity happens at different ages, and, especially in sport, something like a hairstyle can show intent, or seriousness.
Lipski used to go with the side braid/pony thing. She now sports a more serious and professional traditional hair style. It’s a small thing but one that makes a difference to me.
The good news for everyone is I can’t see this being a match with two fighters rolling around, just laying on each other hoping to steal rounds. This should be a stand up battle.
As always with a southpaw v an orthodox fighter, the battle for foot position will be key. I give Lipski the edge in power with Shevchenko perhaps a slight edge in technical striking. Shevchenko also incorporates her kicks more than Lipski who mostly just throws hands.
If I knew Lipski was going to grab a take down or two I’d be all in on her because I think Schevchenko is riding someone’s coattails here but either way, I’ll take the dog here.
OFFICIAL PICK: Lipski
Daniel Rodriguez 9100 (-345) v Nicolas Dalby 7100 (+260)
Rodriguez is a potential star and Dalby has a win over Alex Oliveira in the UFC. Both of these dudes can sling em. Let’s talk about the underdog first.
This is Nicolas Dalby’s second time in the UFC. In the first go round, he beat Zeleski dos Santos, controversy picked up a majority DRAW against Darren Till before losing to Zak Cummings and Peter Sobotta.
That’s not exactly a horrible run. It shows his level, if anything. He had things back on track until he was submitted in the first round last time out against Jesse Ronson. Dalby’s style is pleasing to watch. His Karate background has him light on his feet with attacks coming from all angles.
The Ronson fight gives me pause. You could argue that Dalby was following his game plan perfectly. He was landing from a distance. He was walking Ronson down. He was outstriking Ronson. However, a straight right that didn’t exactly look like it had a ton behind it absolutely dropped Dalby. From there it was basically over.
He might be starting to get a bit chinny here at his age and against someone like Rodriguez, that is a huge issue. So whereas I looked at these salaries and this betting price and was scratching my head, it’s becoming more clear after breaking down the career arc for Dalby.
Daniel Rodriguez is a scary dude. He’s 13-1 but his one loss was a controversial split decision from three years ago. Since then, he’s rattled off eight straight wins with seven finishes in the process.
He lands 9.48 significant strikes per minute and is basically all action. As always, he’ll be looking to land that big overhand left. I say that, but he can get pigeonholed into being a wild fighter. He’s not. He’s technical. He has a gameplan to get a W and generally sticks to that plan.
Against Farrington he landed 38/42 leg kicks to beat up those chicken legs. He’s so slick on his feet and his movement is so good. He finished Tim Means with a submission but dropped his ass right at the end of the first. If there were 10 more seconds the fight would have been over.
He was rocked against Grant but weathered the storm (shoutout to the ref who let it go longer than others would), got back to his feet and dropped Grant to the 1st round stoppage. He’s an animal.
Dalby might look to use more of his wrestling and even outpace his current two takedowns per fight average to neutralize Daniel’s striking. Rodriguez gets it done…likely inside the distance.
OFFICIAL PICK: Rodriguez
Alan Jouban 8300 (-137) v Jared Gooden 7900 (+110)
Alan Jouban is 38? Jesus, I’m getting old. If it feels like he’s been around forever, it’s because he has. He made his UFC debut back in 2014 and has squeezed 12 fights into six years.
The results have tailed off of late and you have to start wondering when he’ll look to hand them up. He’s not losing to bums by any means but I don’t think Gunnar Nelson, Niko Price or Dwight Grant are cracking the top 15 any time soon.
I worry about these aging fighters who rely on their fast twitch reflexes. He’s a good kickboxer and likes to keep it standing and in his wins, produces from a DK perspective. But I’m a touch nervous for him here…
Gooden is making his UFC debut. Often we aren’t sure what we’ll see from fighters the first time they step into the Octogon. Top that off with participating on the main card to close out the year and the pressure of the world will be on Gooden’s shoulders.
Thank God they are enormous. He’s a very muscular fighter and I do worry about his gas tank. He’s built like a wrestler but prefers to stand and bang with a particular love for the upper cut.
Gooden has won his last three but he’s been in trouble in a couple of these wins. He has a decent chin and won’t quit. However, you go back to his fight against Bruno Oliveira and see just how raw his game is and it has me looking elsewhere.
Could I be wrong? Sure. It’s close to a pick ‘em fight and Gooden opened as the favorite. To me, I don’t see it at this level. I like Jouban’s experience in this spot. He knows how to use his range and has been in the cage with far more dangerous fighters than Gooden.
OFFICIAL PICK: Jouban
Kyle Daukaus 8800 -278 v Dustin Stoltzfus 7400 +210
Dauakaus has a weird body. It’s like his chest/shoulders/rib cage are inverted. He’s a trapazoid. However, he’s in good physical shape and fights with a tiring, wrestling style to work in his BJJ.
He’s also incredibly tall for the division and uses those long limbs to work his submissions. He’s 9-1 as a pro with his only loss coming in his UFC debut against Brendan Allen.
I’m high on Allen’s potential but he’s a strong dude. Daukaus changed levels and nearly took Allen down before Allen landed a huge knee that dropped Daukaus just a minute into the fight.
He hung tight for 15 long minutes before losing that decision. I saw more positives than negatives from Daukaus considering that knee and when the hit happened.
Stoltzfus is an interesting matchup. I can’t wait to see these guys at weigh-ins. I expect Daukaus to be the much bigger man. Dustin is a tricky fighter though who is very active off his back and has shown good strength in the clinch.
He was getting pretty well worked by Joe Pyfer before he reversed positions and slammed Pyfer so hard that his arm snapped in half and ended the match. He fights extremely upright. He stands tall and walks forward or backs up. There isn’t a ton or east and west to his movement.
If that’s the case here again, I have Daukaus picking him apart.
OFFICIAL PICK: Daukaus
Louis Cosce 9300 -400 v Sasha Palatnikov 6900 +290
Welcome back to the -400 club to start the night. Here we have a young, highly touted prospect facing off against a fighter out of Hong Kong who probably shouldn’t be completely dismissed.
We just saw how successful the debut went for Mounir Lazzez who stepped in late in Abu Dhabi. Well that was one of two losses on Palatnikov’s record and his only loss in his last six fights.
The hot prospect is Louis Cosce. He comes in with a perfect 100% finish rate in his seven professional wins with seven finishes, five (T)KOs and two Submissions. That’s the great news. The not so great news are the opponents he’s finished.
The contender series win over Victor Reyna was legit. He’s 11-5 with eight finishes but lost in both of his chances on Dana White’s Contender Series. The other wins, not so much.
Art Hernandez: 0-4
Bill Smallwood: 0-5
Daniel McWilliams: 2-16
Sir Gregory McCowan: 0-1 (fnished in 8 seconds)
Travis Lebrun: 0-1
Travis Cavalli: 0-1
Total that sucker up and he’s fought six guys with a combined 2-28 record in professional MMA. In the Reyna fight, I saw some good stuff For starters, he’s extremely calm in the cage. He walked right through Reyna to start. He showed good hip dexterity and his kicks to the body and head were vicious.
He obviously has big power with his hands but uses those kicks to keep his opponent in the striking range. His left over the top clipped the chin and put Reyna down. The kid has serious power. Outside of his horrible chest tats, there isn’t a lot to dislike. He’s short for the division but packs a lot of power in the small package.
Palatnikov isn’t going to be a walk over. He’s fighting out of Syndicate MMA with the likes of Roxanne Modaferri and Jordan Leavitt. He was training with Sean Strickland.
He’s out of Hong Kong but has been in Vegas using the performance institute to improve his training and nutrition. He’s called it a game changer in his ability.
Usually I’d worry about the jump in competition for a debut fighter but we have both guys making their official UFC debut. Palatnikov is very confident in his striking.
He tends to use movement as opposed to a true guard to escape damage on the feet. I don’t love that strategy in this particular fight. His gas tank won’t be an issue. He’s extremely fit and went five rounds in a unanimous decision win over Sung Won Son.
The issue here is that the film on Palatnikov is so limited. I’ve seen him in training quite a bit. I did watch his most recent victory in UAE Warriors but the opponent took the fight on two days notice after his original guy had to drop due to Covid. I’m not jumping up and down for that finish but he did look quick.
At this weight and at this level, most guys are quick. Cosce appears to have a rather large edge in power. Let’s see if Cosce comes out with a right high kick and follows it up with a flurry of punches and how Sasha handles it.
OFFICIAL PICK: Cosce
On the expensive end, I’m looking for fights that will end inside the distance. I prefer Figueiredo over Shevchenko but Valentina is nearly a guaranteed win and I’ll likely have her in cash.
With Figueiredo being a touch cheaper and also likely to get a finish inside the distance I don’t mind using more of him in GPPs. Next, I’d look to the first fight of the night and bank on a big, early finish from Cosce.
Under $8k, I’ll be targeting Rua, Lipski, Royval and Perez. Perez is just so cheap and could plausibly pull off the monster upset but we are hoping simply to make it to round four or five here.
Rua I have winning the fight and could/should easily pay off his price in doing so. Lipski is my next most likely to win under $8k. Royval could slip a submission on anyone and is only +160 in the fight.
As for lineup construction, check out my cheat sheet on Friday, and, as always, I’ll see you in the chat room on Saturday afternoon talking DFS.