Duke’s UFC 258 Breakdown and Predictions for your DFS Lineups!!!
UPDATES: ROBERTSON/MAVERICK IS OFF!! DO NOT ROSTER EITHER FIGHER
This Week’s Bets
Chris Gutierrez -130 — 1.3 to win 1u
Dhiego Lima – 1 to win 3.5u
Maycee Barber -105 – 1.05 to win 1u
Julian Marquez -162– 1.62 to win 1
Gabe Green -135 — 1.35 to win 1u
Kamaru Usman + Rodolfo Viera – 1 to win 0.68u
Does this feel like a PPV card to you? It doesn’t to me. In fact, you could probably flip last week’s card with this one and I wouldn’t bat an eye. The two fights I’m most excited about bookend the night. Robertson/Maverick is going to be a scrap, and Usman/Burns could be one for the ages (or a clinch fest with 4,000 foot stomps…). Regardless, we have plenty of fights to break down, but as always, let’s recap last week.
We went 2-2 on bets for a slight profit after Choi’s big win. Pantoja was the clear winner in his Kape fight. Ode Osbourne kicked the night off with a 26-second KO, and I believe in general, we had a winning night across the board. I was playing with my cash lineup right up until the fights started and decided that five winners would likely be enough to get home, pivoting to both fighters in the main to cover myself.
Obviously, the 4.45 isn’t ideal from Reem, but his 44.1% ownership and, more importantly, the 76.5% ownership on Volkov meant I was guaranteed a cash heading into the main event after wins from Osbourne, Rosa, Valiev and Dariush. These particular ownership numbers are from a 34-person single entry $5 double up and were fairly representative of other double up contests. Remember, in cash, we don’t need to or really want to finish in first. We are trying to remove glaring errors and let others beat themselves! The top 15 got paid in this particular contest, and I finished ninth, nearly 70 points in front of 16th place.
Sometimes, it’s fun to poke some fun at others…check this cash lineup out…
Reneau didn’t even fight and almost tied Frankie!!
Alright, let’s go back-to-back with winning weeks here. Let’s get to it!
UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns Fight Info
- February 13, 2021
- UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
- Main Card: PPV – 10:00pm
- Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+ – 8:00pm
- Early Prelims: ESPN+ – 6:30pm
CONFIDENCE COMING POST WEIGH-INS
DFS – FRIDAY NIGHT PODCAST
BETS – COMING SATURDAY
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns – MAIN EVENT TITLE FIGHT!
Who is the more dominant fighter over the last 10-12 years: McGregor or Usman? It’s obviously Usman. McGregor has the gift of gab and a monster left hand. Usman might be the worst on the mic compared to how good he is in the cage in the entire promotion. THAT is why we see him on a card like this. The main event is a banger. These two used to be training partners. Usman left and Burns wants the belt back for his gym. Let’s break this baby down.
Usman is out in CO with Trevor Whitman. Whitman is the golden boy of training right now. He’s featured on broadcasts. To his credit, he’s the best in-fight trainer in the sport. That’s an area of this sport that is severely lacking, and if you look at what he did with Gaethje against Tony Ferguson, you saw how much of an influence he has on his fighters’ performances. So, you are giving me a prohibitive favorite, who’s the undisputed champ and leaving for better training? Yes, I’ll take Usman.
The issue with Usman is his style of fighting. Tyron Woodley catches a lot of shit for fighting to win fights. In a different way, but with the same result, Usman is very similar. He’ll clinch. He’ll focus on shots to the body. Furthermore, he’ll foot stomp you to death. It’s not what many consider a championship fighting style but my god is it effective. AND draining for his opponent. I’d argue nothing is boring about an Usman fight. It’s constant forward pressure and watching him press for the finish against Covington late in the fifth was a sight to be seen. Yes, Goddard was praying he could end that fight, but Usman didn’t let it go to the judges’ card, and I like that in my fighters.
Burns likely wants to get this one to the ground. With these two training together for so long, they’ll likely know how to attack the other. Burns likely will see his best chance to win in the first two rounds, either landing a big shot – he does have some power – or taking Usman to the ground and rolling his way to a submission.
Usman has takedown defense. Covington loves to wrestle. He’s an energizer bunny who wears his opponent into submission. He didn’t even attempt a takedown. This is the same with 17 takedowns in his previous two fights. Didn’t even attempt a takedown. The issue for Burns is Usman is the better wrestler!
I really do like Gilbert Burns in general but not in this particular spot.
OFFICIAL PICK: USMAN
Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso
I took the biggest L of my MMA career in Barber’s fight against Modafferi. I infamously called Roxy a tomato can and went all-in on Barber. She was the hot young prospect with good hands, who was a KO machine heading into that fight. Of course, she tore her ACL in the first minute after a fluky step and had to battle through it for three rounds before taking her L. I was embarrassed, but there were some positives to take away from that fight. Maycee is TOUGH, man. Her knee was done with 95% of the fight left and finished the fight on one leg. She had no power left. She had nothing to push off of to throw kicks. If they fought 10 times and Mayce had two functional knees, I think Maycee wins nine times or even all 10.
You have to wonder where Barber is at the moment. She’s taken the year to rehab that knee. Perfect, you’d hope she was back to 100%. We’ve never seen how she responds to a loss. Barber has always been the best of the bunch and getting put on your ass can change a person. On top of that, she didn’t look particularly sharp before the injury against Roxy. She’s very aggressive, which I love in the female division, but I have more questions than answers for Maycee Barber. I really want to see what she looks like on the scale. She was round for her fight with Roxy. It’s a long way off from the lean, strong fighter she was in making her way to the UFC.
Grasso is a tough Mexican striker who seems to beat who she’s supposed to but can’t quite compete with the best of the division. The loss to Tatiana Suarez is fine. Suarez is a beast. The loss to Esparza is troubling, in general, but one that I’m throwing out for this fight because I don’t see Barber shooting for takedowns in this spot. The Herrig fight is what concerns me. Granted, it was in 2017, but Grasso entered the fight at -385 and lost. Herrig put forward pressure on Grasso and mixed in a few takedowns but mostly just outstruck her. Outworked her.
Both of these women have short arms and both are strikers at their core, but the frame of Barber allows her to carry more weight on fight night. She has big, thick legs to generate her power. She has elbows, straight right and lefts with hooks to boot. She’s incredibly young and should be making strides in the gym. I’m a touch worried about the status of her knee and her cardio. However, Barber at dog money will likely be a bet I’ll take come fight night, and I’m picking her to win the fight.
OFFICIAL PICK: BARBER
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch
It’s hard to say there are good losses, but Hermansson, Till and Adesanya are a murderer’s row. Gastelum is small for the division. He’s super fast because he has to be. He landed 91 significant strikes and won multiple rounds against Adesanya! I don’t love that he hasn’t been able to get over the hump and grab another win but this is a tough fight, but a winnable fight for Gastelum. Kelvin is a wrestler with super sharp striking. His kicks inflict damage. He can go high or low. His hands are efficient, accurate and heavy. He should be the favorite in this fight. Should he be -230? I don’t believe so. -230 implies Gastelum wins the fight nearly 70% of the time. I have this fight much closer because Heinisch is no walkover.
Whereas Kelvin is small for the division, Heinisch is a big boy. He’s a thick grinder who will lay his weight on his opponent. The win over Meershaert wasn’t exactly a complete shocker but a win Heinisch needed after two middling performances. Heinisch moving to Tiger Muay Thai could be a game-changer for his career. His hands looked sharp, and his leg kicks were devastating. He showed his power with the big overhand right that dropped Meershaert.
When it comes to a pick, I have to take the man with more advantages. Heinisch very well could have a power advantage, but Gastelum makes up for that with sharp, straight shots. He can drop you, as well. Gastelum should have the speed advantage. He should have the wrestling advantage, but I’d guess both of these men keep this standing. Gastelum has the grappling/BJJ advantage should the fight head there. Kelvin gets back in the W column here.
OFFICIAL PICK: GASTELUM
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
Man, F Bobby Green. The guy screwed me out of a couple units last time out in a fight. He’s pretty damn good but sometimes just is far too casual in the cage. He has a really good chin, more power, better striking, better cardio, and he’s younger…Bobby Green should be -500 against Jim Miller, but no one can keep a beaten fighter in a fight more than Bobby Green. When was Green’s last finish? It’s a good win, but it’s eight years ago in a KO win over James Krause. He goes to the decision. His grappling is very solid, which can negate Miller’s only real path to victory. The wild thing is Green does have some power. Miller has only been finished by Dan Hooker (2018) and Donald Cerrone (2014).
Miller needs to hold his own in the stand up and land a takedown to close out each round on top. That is his path in what could be a close fight. If he can sneak rounds away from Green and bag a decision somehow, he’s going to shock me and Vegas at the same time, but again, it’s a Bobby Green fight.
I say this with the tightest of butt cheeks….Bobby Green by decision. Miller is a tough SOB but just lacks the ability to give Green a ton of trouble in this spot.
OFFICIAL PICK: GREEN
Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez
What Marquez do we get? The loss to Di Chirico looked worse at the time than it does now (Buckley..smh), but the biggest issue from that fight was not the loss; it was the back injury. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some back issues, and give me a broken bone over back issue any day of the week. With a back injury, you can’t do a freaking thing. With a broken bone, you set it, cast it, and eventually, you are back to 100%. He’s had multiple surgeries on his back and hasn’t fought since July, 2018.
If this fight took place in 2018 without the back issues, I’d have Marquez 100 ways to Sunday. It’s not. It’s 2021, and we have a guy who hasn’t fought in over two years with a major back injury that caused one doctor to say he’d never fight again. Marquez has big power. He’s finished every single fight he’s won. The guy is not a fan of cardio in the first place because of his fighting style, so he is the perfect GPP type of selection. If he wins, it will be in the first or second round, but there are so many question marks that it’s hard to trust a guy like him in cash, even against Maki Pitolo.
Coconut Bombz (with a z) is one of the more hilarious nicknames in sports, but he might need to re-brand if he loses this fight. He has technical hands and has 7 KOs, including two finishes in the UFC. Pitolo does struggle off his back, but I don’t think the fight gets there. Pitolo uses his movement well but does more circling than creating angles. With how thick his legs are, I’d love to see more kicks added to his game. We saw how good Holloway looked recently, and perhaps some of that greatness rubbed off on Pitolo.
This is one that could end in a hurry. I don’t believe either of these guys are eager to see a judge’s scorecard. This is a fight where I don’t really want either of these guys, but Marquez has more power in his hands, and Pitolo can stand in the pocket and trade once he stops circling left. Live, I can see taking a stab on Pitolo if he survives an early barrage, but I have Marquez landing a big shot and ending the fight.
OFFICIAL PICK: MARQUEZ
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Anthony Hernandez
This one I’ll keep short and sweet. Viera is limited on the feet but should absolutely dominate this fight on the ground. Safarov isn’t fighting for the belt any time soon, but his striking is underrated in my opinion, so I’m not as worried about the early striking exchanges against Safarov as others are. It was essentially one front kick that did all the damage, and Vieira decided enough was enough, and Goldberg spiked his ass to the ground. Vieira is the rare combination of extreme physical strength and technical proficiency on the ground. If this goes to the ground, it seems like when not if it’s over. By the way, he did it all with one eye. The cut he suffered against Safarov was nasty and could have stopped the fight if Vieira didn’t get the finish.
How does Hernandez win this? He’s not going to submit Vieira. He has to keep this standing and use that 85% takedown defense to the best of his ability. He needs to start fast and land shots from the outside early. If I was coaching Hernandez, I’d tell him to stay outside, land a few shots, but don’t get finished early. Make him work in the first, and let’s see where we stand heading into the second.
My issue is that he stands right in front of his opponent. Vieira should take this ground and get a submission.
OFFICIAL PICK: VIEIRA
Belal Muhammad vs. Dhiego Lima
Muhammad is -400, and the over 2.5 is -250. We are being told this will go the distance. Dhiego Lima has a 50% takedown defense. Belal Muhammad has at least two takedowns in six of his last eight fights. Belal can strike, clinch and wrestle. He’s always in control. He moves at a very smooth pace and always looks in control, even when the fight is close.
Dhiego is a good striker and is coming off three straight wins. He was fighting off the back foot against Laprise, eating leg kicks early before absolutely starching him with a big left from an awkward angle. Once again, he’s fighting against the cage vs. McGee but won a close, split decision. Once again, that left hook was the main weapon, followed by a right. Lima had the better of Jumeau but again won a close, split decision. He’s long. He has really good low leg kicks. If this is a strictly standing fight, Lima could hang in this fight. This leads me to the main question about this fight…how much does Belal want to wrestle?
I have Belal winning this fight, but I don’t have him as a -400 favorite in a fight that is likely to go the distance. Lima does have big power in his hands, but I’m not sure it’s enough to check Belal’s chin.
OFFICIAL PICK: MUHAMMAD
Polyana Viana vs. Mallory Martin
My goodness did I go straight to the tape on these two. Oftentimes, I’ll see a fight made and have an immediate lean that is either confirmed or changed by the tape. This one I simply didn’t have a read.
Both of these women prefer the fight on the ground, so I do think it heads there fairly quickly. At that point, we need to find out who will have the edge on the mat. Viana was billed as a BJJ wizard. She came into the UFC with five submissions to her name and an 11-1 record. The submission win over Stevenson was sort of confirmation of that claim but consider the opponent.
As Polyana was taking on slightly better fights….slightly, not good, slightly better…she was really struggling. She lost a close fight to Aldrich while completing only one of her five takedown attempts. She opened another card against Hannah Cifers, and again, zero takedowns and lost a split decision. Cifers dropped her with a right hand in the first. Viana showed decent but raw striking ability but took another L. Against Macedo, she came out with a really good body kick, closed the distance, and got the takedown. Viana took the fight where she wanted and lost the damn fight. She’s about as frustrating a fighter to tape study as there is. She has ability in a lot of areas but will leave you scratching your head.
Martin opened the card when Viana beat Whitmere in the first. Martin’s fight was particularly interesting because we have a common opponent. Cifers beat the living shit out of Martin in the first round. The ref could have and probably should have stepped in several times but continued asking Martin to show him something. Martin pulled guard, Cifers punched herself out, and Martin submitted her in the second. Martin has a good straight right and right hook, but she’s very hitable. The toughness she showed against Cifers goes a long way with me, but if Viana gets Martin in the position Cifers had Martin, she’ll wrap up something and end the fight.
The edge to me is the wrestling and ground and pound for Martin. She has a super-heavy top game and raw power. Viana is too willing to work off her back, and Martin can pour elbows on her face.
OFFICIAL PICK: MARTIN
Andre Ewell vs. Chris Gutierrez
Ewell always has a long reach for the division, but he’ll carry an 8” reach advantage into the octagon on Saturday night. Neither of these guys is a wrestler and rarely look to take their fights to the ground. That reach should come into play because neither of these fighters possesses much power in their hands. The question remains, as it does for every Ewell fight, can Gutierrez get inside that reach?
One way to break down the reach is by beating up the front leg. Gutierrez has a mean calf kick, and while he lacks power in his hands, look at his 29 leg strikes against Durden. He has 36 leg strikes against Morales. We know de Freitas is a wizard on the mat, but Gutierrez was willing to land 24/33 leg strikes against him in a win. Ewell is a literal twig at this division, and those leg strikes to me are the difference in the fight.
This is one I have going the distance. Ewell has been taking money all week, and the line is getting much closer to where I have it, but as of now, I’m still interested in betting the Gutierrez side of this fight, and I have him winning.
OFFICIAL PICK: GUTIERREZ
Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher
Kelleher is like an alcoholic father. You don’t know what you are going to get when he gets home from work. Is it the good version who’s going to love you and give you everything you want, or is he going to come home and throw a kitchen chair at you? What the hell am I talking about?
I had Kelleher as done in the UFC. He was coming off two losses and surely looked like he was on the way out before catching Ode Osbourne in a guillotine in the first and getting a massive upset victory as a +140 dog. Then he takes on Hunter Azure, who was undefeated at the time, and Kelleher gets beat up in the first. You’re thinking, alright, maybe this is it. Nope. Kelleher figured out Azure over five minutes and stone-cold dropped him with a left in the second. Bang, another +175 win.
Almost as if the UFC is saying alright prove it, big boy, they hand him Cody Stamann. Alright, water finds its level. That was a bridge too far and we didn’t get the Kelleher we had seen the last two nights out. They thank him for his service and give him Ray Rodriguez. This had to be a win for Kelleher at -310 and prove he still has the goods. Thirty seconds in, he’s got Ray choked out in the famous Kelleher guillotine.
More often than not, he’s been the good Dad of late. He’s not as old as he looks at just 34, but with 33 pro fights under his belt and somewhat of a career resurgence, he’s very much a live dog in this spot.
But I really like Ricky Simon….if I had to guess, I’d bet Ricky wakes up next to his significant other and waits for her to stand up so he can shoot a double leg. The guy just ragdolls people around the ring. He bullied Pirrello with seven takedowns. He landed seven takedowns against Ray Borg in a win. Simon’s standup is still evolving, and he’s had issues on his feet in the past.
There are paths to victory for each of these guys. Simon carries all of the risk. He has all the upside and all the downside here. If Kelleher can catch him with a big shot on the feet, Kelleher wins. If Kelleher locks in a guillotine on one of Simon’s 10 takedown attempts, he could win. Keep in mind though, this isn’t Ricky shooting 10 times. He will take a guy down, let him up just to take him down again. I have Simon winning this wrestling battle and getting this one to the ground early and often. It’s a scary fight from all angles, but I have Simon winning. However, I don’t believe I’ll be paying that price in Vegas.
OFFICIAL PICK: SIMON
Gabe Green vs. Phil Rowe
This is low-level MMA, but this could give us some DFS opportunities. The odds say this one won’t go to the judges, but I’m not so sure, and I’ll explain why.
Rowe is tall and long for the division and will have a 7.5-inch reach advantage. The absolutely HILARIOUS thing about Rowe’s fight with the mini-Shahbazyan is his pre-fight interview. Rowe couldn’t stop talking about how he wouldn’t get hit. That first round, he was getting absolutely destroyed. A short uppercut dropped him that didn’t look particularly dangerous. He gathered himself but continued to eat shots. It wasn’t an encouraging start to his UFC career. The second round was better for Rowe as he was bouncing Shahbazyan’s head all over the octagon. The third round was the finisher and should show a game plan for Rowe moving forward. Long but sharp straight punches to the dome typically get it done, regardless of the opponent. The worry for Rowe is what happens when your opponent can just eat damage and keep coming forward?
What Gabe Green lacks in skill, he makes up for with a decent chin and work rate. He was stopped in the first round earlier in his career by NOW UFC fighter Jalin Turner and made Turner look like Muhammad Ali in the ring. Turner, like Rowe, is long and can fight at range, but is Rowe on the Ivan Drago steroid plan when it comes to power? Daniel Rodriguez has monstrous power but fought an extremely curious fight against Green. He wasn’t rushing in looking for a finish like he typically does and instead decided to strike Green 175 times in a walk away win. The issue is that Green was still there standing in front of Rodriguez in the third round and actually having some of his best action in the third.
I don’t have Rowe with power anywhere near Turner or Rodriguez, so is he getting the stoppage? Green could simply look to grapple with the taller man and wrap up a submission as he has in six previous fights, but he didn’t attempt a single takedown against Rodriguez. I’m not betting it, but if I were, I could see this one going to the cards. Green has fought the much tougher competition to date, but Rowe likely has the higher ceiling. Reluctantly, I’ll take Rowe in this spot.
OFFICIAL PICK: ROWE
Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick
I loved Ode Osbourne last week and ended up with a ton of him in cash and GPP. My goodness was it fun to start the night out front. I’d love to do the same this week, but this is a dangerous fight. To me, it might come down to experience in the cage.
The big question: which Gillian Robertson are we going to get? It seemed like she’d turned a corner with her style of fighting. The standing and striking wasn’t getting her to the level she wanted to be, and when that progression stopped, this new grappling style looked like it had legs. However, she’s not much of a wrestler. She’s not overly strong. She really performs well when she is the one pushing the pace. That might not be the case in this fight.
Maverick is young but tenacious and violent. She’s 23 and relatively green in the cage but has shown fairly rapid progression in her game each time out. The left was busting up Jojua early in the first but Maverick was eating some shots herself. Her kicks carry some weight but aren’t very nuanced. She throws them because she’s supposed to and most are to the body because she’s a southpaw and faces mostly righties.
I wonder how Robertson will handle the strength of Maverick. She’s a brick shithouse for the division. She’s constantly in your face. I don’t think Robertson wants to stand and trade with Maverick so can Robertson use her somewhat limited wrestling to get Maverick to the ground? That’s her path to victory but honestly, Robertson needs to use her experience. She’s only 25 herself but has almost as many UFC fights as Maverick has total fights. I wish I’d seen more of Maverick at this level to really say this with my chest, but I like Maverick to take the next step and win here. If Robertson can’t find a path to victory she might need to seriously consider changing some things within her camp because this is a really tough fight but a potential turning point for her career.
OFFICIAL PICK: MAVERICK
UFC 258 Cheat Sheet will be posted on Friday… DON’T MISS IT!