Duke’s UFC Fight Night Breakdown and Predictions!!!
UPDATES IN RED:
This Week’s Bets
(Bet Online) Khaos Williams +112 – 1 to win 1.12
(Pinnacle) Greg Hardy (-115) – 1.15 to win 1
(Pinnacle) Moraes/Font OVER 2.5 Rounds (-114) 1.14 to win 1
(Bovada) Alex Morono (+175) – 0.57 to win 1
(Bovada) Nchuwki/Pickett Completes 1st Rd – (-160) 1 to win 0.62
(Bovada) Neal + Wiliams + Hardy – 0.5 to win 2.65
(Bovada) Giagos + Nchuwki 2.82 to win 2
EVERYONE MAKES WEIGHT. TOUGH CARD WITH A LOT OF VERY EVEN MATCHUPS. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LEAVE SALARY ON THE TABLE IN DFS THIS WEEK.
MY WINNERS BY CONFIDENCE, 1 BEING THE MOST MOST CONFIDENT
- Tafon Ncukwi
- Christos Giagos
- Khaos Williams
- Greg Hardy
- Geoff Neal
- Gillian Robertson
- Jose Aldo
- Antonio Arroyo
- Rob Font
- Alex Morono
- Cody Durden
- Sijara Eubanks
AND HERE. WE. GO!
Last card of the year boys and it feels good to get some work under our belts before we kick off 2021 in January with back-to-back BANGER cards.
Anyone else looking forward to seeing Conor again? I really thought he had made his money and was off to the hills of Ireland. The will to scrap is strong with true fighters. I’m jacked.
As always, before we jump into this card, we’ll do a quick look back at the last card. The bets were fine. We ended up with a small loss on the night thanks to a bogus majority draw from the title match.
I could see it coming a mile away after the ref took a point from Deiveison. I had him winning the fight regardless, as did one other judge. Someone go check on Junichiro Kamijo because his eyes watched that fifth round and gave it to Moreno.
Combat sports judges – even in 2020, some things never change. Speaking of judges, an argument could be made for Virna to win her fight over Dern. For that to come back unanimous was a shock to me and most around the industry on social media.
To me, it was a bit of a bad game plan from Virna. I expected her to wrestle quite a bit and she wanted no part of Dern on the ground. The one time she did get her down there she had some success.
To come away with a small loss when the rest of the industry got it shoved up their rear-ends is a small victory I guess, but we are competing with our book, not anyone else.
As for the rest of the card, it was good and bad. Torres was a monster and someone I said would go overlooked and we should probably grab pieces of AND YET, come fight night, I couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger. Sad!
Pineda was a big miss, especially considering my initial read of Cub to win. Sometimes less is more and after I went back and did more tape study and research, my opinion moved quite a bit. It cost me as he was my third highest owned fighter on the night.
Oliveira was an absolute monster. He dominated Ferguson more than Gaethje honestly. I’m worried about Tony moving forward. We’ll keep an eye on that situation. Gane, Fiziev and Holland were all awesome. Hooper landed his sub in a fight he was losing.
Overall, we were mostly on it and the feedback I got on the RANKINGS means it’s here to stay. Here are my best and worst GPP scoring builds of the night:
I do have one last note before we move into this week’s card. My cash lineup was a disaster this week but I’ll explain why the process wasn’t horrible. I’m not saying it was right necessarily but the process was far better than the result.
This is from the $25 single entry double up. There were 459 entries total. The top 200 get paid. My lineup finished tied for 400th. NOT GREAT! Here are the ownership #s from the contest:
As a reminder, in cash we are completely fine eating chalk. In fact, I look for chalk. The best way to consistently lose your ass is to try to outsmart the field in a cash lineup.
As I said, I finished in 400th place. It was actually tied for 400th place with 41 other entries. That’s nearly 10% of the entries with the same build and by far the most duplicated build in the contest. Any idea why? Math.
Based on Vegas odds, finish odds, fighter projections and price, this was close to or the actual optimal lineup heading into the fights.
3rd_and_Schlong had the same build
EmpireMaker2 had the same build
Yes, these two end up on the same lineup in basically every single cash type contest they enter but their strategy is literally to simply let math show them the optimal build and enter it as many times as they can as often as they can.
This is a situation where a few years ago I’d be combing through past slates, looking at lineups and making sure I was making the right decisions. I’ve played enough and won (and lost) enough to not stress too much over this.
This is also a great example of why my volume is 80/20 GPP/Cash in MMA. MMA is so different from the NFL or NBA. Can you imagine Mahomes or LeBron scoring 2 points?? Variance is crazy and perfect for GPP but a situation that will make you pull your hair out if you are strictly a cash player.
On to our last card of the year. We have 14 fights scheduled as of now after Belal came down with the COVID. We’ll probably have a few more drop off for various reasons. I’m hoping we end up with 12 fights and what used to be a full card. It feels like it’s been ages since we’ve had one. Good lord, please let us get back to normal in 2021 and let us finish strong in 2020.
I love this card. There are so many great fights. So many great fighters. For once, we are spoiled for choice. From a DFS perspective, this opens up so many possibilities. Ownership will be more spread out. The optimal lineup will most likely have six winners with six finishes.
Let’s remember to look for fights that can finish inside the distance. We also have a bunch of live dogs. There was really only one massive favorite and that fight is off the card.
Hopefully you guys are as excited as I am for this one. This article could easily be 10,000 words so I’ll try to be as efficient as I can with the fight breakdowns. We all have lives and you didn’t sign up to read a book. Let’s get to it!
Stephen Thompson v Geoff Neal
I thought Wonderboy’s main event days were behind him but here he is closing out the year! It was only a few years ago that his style and ability made him a tough fight for literally anyone on the planet at 170.
He fought Woodley for the belt twice after the first was a majority draw. He beat the baddest man on the planet, Jorge Masvidal, just before he started his run up the rankings. He went 5 rounds with Darren Till but that fight displayed surprisingly low output from both fighters.
Thompson looked like he was back to his old self a bit against Luque early but it was as much about Luque just not getting off the mark as it was about Wonderboy displaying a drastic return to his best.
Thompson does have those sharp counter hooks as his opponents rush in. Will he be able to catch Neal? Neal’s only loss was to Kevin Holland and we’ve seen what he can do this year.
Neal is obviously a striker with big power in his hands but his wrestling is a bit underrated. He also has the heart of a lion. Against Niko Price he was stumbled by a head kick that Neal blocked but Niko put him on his butt with a straight left. The legs buckled and Neal went down but he battled to survive the last 80 seconds and get to a second round. He actually ended the first on top!
Price hurt him again in the second but Neal wound up on top again and eventually finished Niko with some heavy ground and pound. Neal looked great against Mike Perry, but we only really saw 60 seconds of action before the high kick landed on Perry’s forehead and it was over.
Stylistically this could be a very interesting fight. Wonderboy is light on his feet and looks to pick his shots. He’s not really going to string together five and six strikes in a row.
Geoff Neal is a technical striker who isn’t going to dive into trouble for no reason. I don’t think it will be a boring fight but with two strikers this technical it could be a slow start.
This feels like Dana telling Wonderboy, go prove you still belong in the promotion. Fortis MMA is well represented on this card and you know Neal will be at the top of his game here.
If this were a three round fight, I’d like Thompson a bit more, but over 25 minutes it’s going to be hard to bounce around to safety and win rounds. The big power of Neal wins out.
OFFICIAL PICK: Geoff Neal
Jose Aldo v Marlon Vera
Jose Aldo is still here? Hell yeah, he is. I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted him to retire. He was so damn invincible for so long. The legacy feels a bit tarnished at this point but a loss here would really hurt.
I can explain a loss to Volkanovski. The guy is a champ. I can explain the loss to Moraes. It was a split decision that I actually had Aldo winning. I can’t knock him for losing to the now 27-year-old champ in Petr Yan. He’s the Champ!
Marlon Vera is a fighter he would have murdered 6-7 years ago. I’m not so sure that’s the case today. Aldo has lost that sharpness. That sharpness WAS his power. He didn’t lose to Yan. He was dominated by Yan. So again, this feels like Dana White saying, “Alright champ, here’s a fighter you should expect to beat. Go do it or you’re gone.”
Vera is an interesting prospect. He’s just coming into his prime and looked fantastic against O’Malley. BUT, he dropped the decision to Yadong and came into the O’Malley fight as a big underdog. I actually really liked O’Malley in that fight.
A big part of the early attack for O’Malley was a hard low kick to the calf of Vera. He landed three in the first minute that hurt Vera and had him switching stances. Per usual, Vera just kept walking forward.
People will say Vera won that fight. Of course he did but before O’Malley got hurt, he wasn’t. Vera did a great job staying patient and finishing Sean off with a big elbow from the top but I didn’t learn a damn thing about Vera from that fight. Am I crazy to think the old man is going to win this one here?
I don’t see Aldo stopping Vera but at one point Aldo had to register his legs as weapons. If he comes out with kicks from the opening bell, it could be a long night for Vera. The worry I have with Aldo is his recent love affair with standing in front of his opponent and trading. That is exactly what Vera wants.
I’m trusting my read here and going with Aldo in a make or break fight. This is not Oliveira v Ferguson. Vera is miles away from the belt but a win here would vault his name into consideration for the rankings. I’m taking the veteran to out point Vera. Aldo by decision
OFFICIAL PICK: Jose Aldo
Michel Pereira v Khaos Williams
I dubbed Khaos Williams the new Conor McGregor. It was said in jest but the guy is absolutely electric. I’ve already entered Khaos Williams to win in the bet pack. He’s a slight underdog at the moment but my best guess is he moves to a favorite by fight night as the rest of the world catches up.
Physically the guy is a freak. He has F U power in his hands. He’s the 170 lb version of Francis Ngannou. I was a giant pussy and picked Alhassan last fight but I went back and read my breakdown of that fight. This line stood out: “If we are talking about DraftKings opportunities, there are none better than Khaos Williams.”
We ended up with way more Williams than Alhassan which was profitable. The fear here is Williams getting too much too soon. Khaos is pretty damn big for the division but Pereira is somehow bigger. Khaos will take a 4” reach advantage into the cage and will be able to use that reach to land big shots.
What is Pereira? He’s a fighter who thinks he’s far better than he is, that’s for sure. If you like flair, he’s your guy. In previous fights we’ve seen crazy angles for strikes, some capoeira and unfortunately an illegal blow that caused him to be DQd in a fight he was 100% winning against the corpse of Diego Sanchez.
Khaos Williams would send Diego to the grave inside the first but Pereira couldn’t finish him. That has to worry you if you are on the Periera side.
I saw today that Khaos was already on weight. That’s a big boost in my eyes and why I was ready to fire. I urge caution on the method of victory. Khaos has spent less than a minute in the UFC over his two wins.
He has the power to finish anyone in the division but I have a sneaking feeling that we see a more cautious Michel Periera in this fight. He has the length to keep his distance and Khaos isn’t far removed from a decision win against Jeremie Holoway.
Pereira is hugely experienced and while this would be one of, if not the best win on his resume, it’s not like he’s some debut fighter put out to slaughter.
However, I love Khaos. Alhassan had never been finished and Khaos put him stiff as a board from a straight right. It was awesome and scary at the same time.
So whether by KO or by decision, give me the rising star. In Khaos’ own words, he thinks Pereira is less of a dangerous matchup than Alahassan. I’ll trust the future champ. Kidding, but not really.
OFFICIAL PICK: Khaos Williams
Marlon Moraes v Rob Font
Remember when Henry Cejudo, the champion, was a +130 underdog to Moraes? It seems like ages ago but it was in June of ‘19. The man beat Aljamain Sterling. He avenged his loss to Assuncao with a 1st round submission win. We talked about his controversial win over Jose Aldo.
Moraes has big power for a little man but that muscular build and hard fighting style comes with drawbacks. The gas tank is always in question for Moraes.
Font is a big guy for the division. He’ll be the taller and longer fighter bringing a 4.5” reach advantage on fight night. He uses that stiff jab to keep his opponent at range and follows it with a stiff right hand.
He’s an excellent striker but has almost zero ground game. He’s sitting on a less than stellar 50% takedown defense. That’s not really Marlon’s strength but could be an avenue he explores if he’s not having success on his feet.
One last note on Font is that he is coming off serious knee injury. The ACL had a slight tear in his meniscus. I’m not holding it against him as much as I did with Cub. Font is a bit younger and like we just saw, Cub was fine and had a much worse knee injury. .
In truth, this fight is a bit of a toss up for me. I fully understand why Moraes is the favorite and realize he’s not too far removed from a title shot. However, Font has a sharp stand up game and it’s only a three round fight.
In terms of betting and DFS I simply can’t really get behind Moraes at the prices I’m being asked to pay. In turn, Rob Font now becomes a good value option with win upside.
In the small cage anything can happen. Font has 11 stoppages in his 17 wins but has won his last two by decision. I don’t mind him to outlast Moraes in the first and turn it on in rounds two and three.
OFFICIAL PICK: Rob Font
Marcin Tybura v Greg Hardy
I’VE TALKED MYSELF INTO LIKING HARDY. HE HAS THE ABILITY TO FINISH THIS BUT TYBURA IS A DECISION MACHINE. WE’LL NEED GREG TO BE AGGRESSIVE.
Ew, can I pass on a fight? I don’t like either of these fighters but they are big boys and Hardy has big power, even if it’s still raw.
Marcin Tybura has a massive edge in experience. With 26 pro fights, including 12 in the UFC, he’ll give Hardy trouble.
I’m struggling with Tybura’s path to victory. He had success on the ground in his last three fights. Does he really want to deal with the strength of Hardy down there? True, Hardy is still learning how to fight off his back but, in truth, Hardy would like to put Tybura on the ground and beat him up.
Hardy isn’t a traditional wrestler with great takedown techniques. He’s landed only one takedown in his MMA career. He uses his striking to push fights to the ground.
He lost to Volkov but I’d argue Volkov was the best fighter either of these two have faced in recent memory. Hardy has improved his gas tank in every fight and has shown more patience as he’s picked up experience.
With Tybura being a decision machine and Hardy evolving his game, we have a rare heavyweight fight that I actually like to go over the total. In the end it’s Hardy’s athleticism vs Tybura’s experience.
OFFICIAL PICK: Greg Hardy
Gillian Robertson v Taila Santos
Man, I loved Taila Santos before her match was canceled and she booked Robertson. I spoke at length about Santos being caught up in the bright lights against Romero Borella. She basically had a massive adrenaline dump and ended up gassing out when she really could have and should have finished the fight.
She bounced back with a great unanimous decision over Moly McCann in dominating fashion. She landed 5/7 takedowns and beat her up all over the mat. Can she do that to Gilian Roberston? Her kicks gear her striking from distance and she packs some power.
Robertson seems to have finally figured out that she needs to be a bulldog in the cage. She needs to embrace the suck, embrace the grind and wrestle her way to victories.
Robertson likely has the wrestling edge and can muddy the waters with some clinch work as well. If Santos can stuff the takedowns and keep this standing, she can show off her striking and work her way to a victory.
What Santos do we get? Romero Borella was able to shoot in with very basic takedowns and control Santos on the ground. Molly McCann tried those same takedowns, got stuffed and then slammed on her back several times.
Keep in mind, Gillian Robertson dominated McCann. I’m fully prepared to be wrong here because maybe Santos is an animal but Robertson to me is on a different level.
OFFICIAL PICK: Gillian Robertson
Anthony Pettis v Alex Morono
Do not let Cub Swanson influence this breakdown.
Do not let Cub Swanson influence this breakdown.
Do not let Cub Swanson influence this breakdown.
Do not let Cub Swanson influence this breakdown.
Anthony Pettis is beyond his prime. He’s also fighting up a weight class against a true 170 fighter in Alex Morono. The former champ is 2-3 in his last five but fighting some big names in the sport and coming off a win over Cowboy Cerrone.
I just don’t think he’s big enough for this division. Diaz slapped him around for three rounds and Cowboy almost murdered him with a shin to the face. Pettis ate it and squeaked out a victory but he hasn’t exactly looked spectacular of late.
Pettis has the edge in experience and has certainly been fighting better competition but when I watch the film I’m constantly comparing him to old Pettis. Perhaps that’s my issue because Morono isn’t as good as prime Pettis. Not yet at least.
Morono looked great against Ottow. He looked really good against Max Griffin. He looked great against Rhys McKee. In between there, he was put to sleep in 27 seconds by Khaos Williams. Apparently everyone does those so can we really hold that against him?
Morono is another fighter out of Fortis MMA and you know he’s had a quality camp. He and Neal will have hopefully brought the best out of one another in preparation for these fights. Keep in mind, his teammate Diego Ferreira just beat Anthony Pettis earlier this year so they’ll have a gameplan in place.
It’s always interesting to see how a fighter reacts to a loss. Alex looked really good against McKee who’s really big for the division. 176 significant strikes later he won on all three judges’ scorecards 30-27.
This is a really quick turnaround but I loved what I saw from Morono and that constant forward pressure that he brings could be the key to the fight.
Pettis is slick and the money is pouring in on him out in Vegas but I think the dogs are barking here. I like Morono to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: Alex Morono
Belal Muhammad v Dhiego Lima – OFF COVID 19
Sijara Eubanks v Pannie Kianzad
Let’s save our words for another fight. Sijara is the better fighter but extremely inconsistent. How inconsistent? She lost to Bethe Correia in September of 2019 and came back a year later to beat Julia Avila. The loss to Ketlen Viera was expected, but she did go the distance. She’ll be a touch smaller but have more power.
Pannie has some sharp striking and some decent clench work. She’s also had a lot of success stopping takedowns with stats ranging from 92%-100% takedown defense in the octogan depending on what website you trust. That’s massive because Sijara’s go to when she’s getting touched up on the feet is to change levels and muscle her opponent to the ground.
Neither of these women regularly finish their opponents. This one is likely going to a decision. If you need to get up and grab a drink, entertain the wifey or take a piss, this is the fight to do it. I’ll grab Sijara here and hope we get good Sijara. If she looks bad on the scale come Friday I retain the right to change my pick!
OFFICIAL PICK: Sijara Eubanks
Karl Roberson v Dalcha Lungiambula – FIGHT OFF – COVID
Deron Winn v Antonio Arroyo
5’6” and 195 pounds. That’s a lot of donuts. Deron Winn is coming off two straight losses and will be BY FAR the smaller man. Arroyo is a good 6-7” taller than Winn and will understandably have a reach advantage.
For me, the only path to victory for Winn is to get this to the ground. As the smaller man he’ll have leverage and he does have good wrestling but he’s shown a reluctance to use it. He does have fast hands but has found the step up in competition in the UFC to be a bit much.
I don’t know if the loss to Stewart demoralized Winn and they just wanted to completely change their gamplan or what but to attempt 15 takedowns in one fight and two the next is confusing. Frankly, the only thing that worked were the takedowns.
Arroyo looks like a million bucks and has excellent stand up but Muniz looked a bit raw in the grappling game against Muniz. Arroyo strikes me as almost too calm sometimes. He’s been taken down with ease at times and others he puts up a good fight.
If Winn decides he’ll stand and trade with Arroyo I would put my house on Antonio. We don’t have that guarantee. Even if he does get taken down, Arroyo has the size, strength and technique to get this one back to the feet and eat him alive on the feet.
I’m not in love with this pick but to me Arroyo is the much better fighter.
OFFICIAL PICK: Antonio Arroyo
Aeimann Zahabi v Drako Rodriguez – FIGHT OFF – COVID
Tafon Nchukwi v Jamie Pickett
Any idea who the UFC wants to win? We have a 4-0 powerhouse with four finishes v 32 year old Jamie Pickett who keeps trying but can’t quite break through to the UFC. Jamie picked up a nice stoppage in his second appearance on the contender series to earn this opportunity but boy did he step in it.
Tafon showed great patience against Matavao who was undersized but very game. Was it patience or inactivity? I actually had Matavao winning that first round but Tafon did end the round strong and open up Matavao.
Ultimately, a big head kick ended the match but Tafon was finding his range and starting to land some big shots. He also has a big win over William Knight who already has a win in the UFC as well.
Knight is a big boy but Tafon made him look small and completely manhandled him to force a 1st round stoppage. He showed pretty good takedown defense in that scrap as well.
Pickett has never been finished in 15 pro fights. He went all three rounds with Punahele Soriano who is a beast of a man. In the small cage there is always a chance for big early conflict but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one press into the second round.
Ultimately, it’s Tafon’s hand that I see being raised when it’s all said and done; inside the distance or otherwise.
OFFICIAL PICK: Tafon Ncukwi
Jimmy Flick v Cody Durden
As you probably remember, this fight was supposed to happen on the Vettori card but was pushed back for “reasons other than COVID”. If you noticed, Cody Durden was wearing sunglasses at the post weigh-in faceoff and rumors were flying that he had a nasty case of pink eye.
Hey, I’d much prefer a fighter have pink eye than COVID so let’s remind everyone of how I broke things down the first go round.
Jimmy sells out for the takedowns and he’s a touch chinny. I don’t think he wants to keep this fight standing and Flick certainly has the edge in BJJ so I do wonder how this fight will flow.
Durden is a decent wrestler but has some power in his hands. He is moving DOWN in weight class. Any time I see someone with KO power moving down I love these spots assuming the weight cut is feasible. At 5’7” he’ll be lean but it’s certainly feasible.
I’m actually on the dog here with Durden. Let’s make sure he looks good on the scale come Friday but I’m actually really looking forward to this fight.
OFFICIAL PICK: Cody Durden
Rick Glenn v Christos Giagos
Giagos steps in here on last-minute notice to save the fight. Why they chose to save this fight of all the fights is beyond me. Let’s keep this short: I don’t like Minus’s game. He is coming down from 170 but has been fighting on the Alaskan regional scene and we’ve seen how poorly those fighters have performed of late.
Giagos has real UFC experience and has been in with the likes of Charles Oliveira. Glenn had nothing but question marks and was still a big favorite. That price remains with Giagos and I love him to ragdoll Minus all over the cage. Giagos isn’t the biggest finisher so the price tag is high but he’s my second most confident WINNER on the card.
OFFICIAL PICK: CHRISTOS GIAGOS
Check out the podcast for more information on the DFS side of things! Money will not be the issue this week.