Duke’s UFC 260 Breakdown and Predictions for your DFS Lineups!!!
System Bets: (OFFICIAL)
Miranda Maverick 1.6 to win 1
Jared Gooden 1 to win 2
Khama Worthy 1.2 to win 1
Abu Azaitar by KO/TKO 0.5 to win 2.5
Francis Ngannou by KO/TKO 1.1 to win 1
This one was dealt a big blow during last week’s broadcast as it was announced that Volkanovski had some issues with COVID protocol, and his fight with Brian Ortega would have to be pushed to a later date. Sure, it took a bit of sting out of a really good UFC 260 card, but there is still plenty of meat on the bone. Volk wasn’t the only victim here. Hannah Goldy got popped for COVID. That fight is off. Shane Young was a COVID risk early, and I thought that fight was off, but now it’s on. William Knight was taken off the card, and Alonzo Menifield now has a new opponent. This is literally crazy, guys.
I’m holding these fighters less and less responsible for sub-par performances in the COVID era. The opponent is constantly changing. The camp regimen is changing. Nothing is normal and this card, as fun as it is, is not even close to normal.
JP Buys was a bust, as predicted, but I’m not so sure that Cheyanne Buys was really moved one way or another. She simply couldn’t handle the head and arm throw of Conejo as my girl came through for a nice 2.6 unit win and at min price on DK. Adrian Yanez was one both Adam and I were really excited to watch, and I can’t stress how impressive his performance truly was. Tai Tuivasa v Hunsucker was a joke…as predicted. What did you guys think about Giles/Dolidze? Giles had the damage, but Dolidze had the control. I actually wasn’t super upset with Giles getting the decision, but I had Dolidze winning the fight.
As always, live and learn. In some cases, that saying should be to win or learn. SuperDraft mass multi-entry continues to be a profitable endeavor, but the contests for 150 entries are so small that we are talking pennies and dollars, not hundreds or thousands. I’m personally OK with that as I continue to tweak my process and back study results. It’s an inexpensive way to perfect SD before the contests get bigger. Literally, guys, it’s $7.50 for the nickel contest. This is not an #ad, but if you were ever curious about dipping your toes into the MME waters, this is about the cheapest way to do so.
We don’t have a milly maker on DraftKings, but someone will win $150k in the $600k 260 special. Will it be you??
Let’s get into it!
UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 Fight Info
March 27, 2021
UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
Main Card: PPV – 10:00pm
Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+ – 8:00pm
Early Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+ – 7:30pm
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou – MAIN EVENT TITLE FIGHT
By this point, you should all know about these two monsters. Francis Ngannou is one of the most feared power punchers to ever participate in the sport. Stipe is one of the most decorated champions at heavyweight. Rather than break down their individual accolades, I think it makes sense to jump right into their first right as this is Miocic v Ngannou 2!
Five rounds for the undisputed UFC heavyweight championship of the world in front of a sold-out crowd in Boston. Remember fans at these? I remember! The crowd was partial to the American. Stipe came in as a +140 dog on fight night. The pre-fight staredown was epic. Neither man was giving an inch. Steely eyes glared back at one another as they touched gloves and prepared for war.
Francis came out southpaw and opened with a left high kick that narrowly missed the target, but the message was sent to Stipe. The high kick moved Francis back to his orthodox stance, and Stipe grabbed a single leg taking the fight to the ground. As expected and as predicted by anyone with a voice, this was the path to victory for Stipe, and the question was, could Francis stop it? Twenty seconds into the fight, the answer was a resounding NO. Ten seconds later, they were on their feet. But just two minutes into the first round, after several massive left hooks missed and right uppercuts were closer to the stadium lights than Stipe’s chin, Francis was walking around the cage mouth open, taking deep breaths.
The second round featured a slower Ngannou and the leg kicks from Stipe. Inside. Outside. Anything to beat up that lead leg. It’s important to note that Stipe was landing some big right hands, as well. They were landing clean but didn’t seem to hurt Francis like they would other fighters. The takedown with about two minutes left in the second all but guaranteed him the round, and just like that, Francis was down 2-0.
The third round was a clinch battle, a takedown by Miocic, and then finally a big shot landing from Francis. A big overhand right landed above the ear and stung Miocic. After a quick stumble, it was another double leg from Stipe and two minutes of ground and pound from Stipe. Francis just didn’t have any gas. He still had power but no energy to escape poor positions and get the fight where he wanted it. 3-0 Stipe.
Round 4 opened with another inside leg kick, a few half-assed punches from Ngannou, and a single leg inside the first 30 seconds.
Credit to Francis, he didn’t give up. There were several times where he could have taken the easy way out, but he stayed in there and took his beating. Stipe made Francis carry his weight for five rounds. It was a brilliant fight plan and one he’ll likely implement again.
So, what’s changed since January 2018? Francis has evolved as a fighter. You just go look at his fight against Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez. Two very good wrestlers with great gas tanks. He added more low kicks into the game and started stuffing takedowns with a strong underhook to shed the attacker. In his own words, Francis said he learned more in 2018/19 than he had in his whole career. HOWEVER, have we really learned anything new about Ngannou? Since his loss to Miocic and after the most bizarre fight in the world against Derrick Lewis, Ngannou has four wins. All four wins were by knockout in the first round, and the TOTAL fight time of all four fights is two minutes and two seconds.
In the Curtis Blaydes fight, he stuffed one takedown landed a big overhand right that was the beginning of the end. Forty-five seconds and he was done.
The Cain Velasquez fight was 26 seconds of pure terror. Velazquez missed with one high kick and got popped so hard he blew out his knee on the way down.
JDS? He ate a couple hard leg kicks and decided to get cute, landing a few of his own. Like everyone else, when he tasted the power one time it was all over. He lost the fight turtling for his life as Francis put a couple more on him for good measure.
Don’t even get me started on the Rozenstruik fight. There was nothing technical about the attack from Francis. It was borderline amateurish. Head back, eyes closed and swinging wildly. He clipped Jairzinho, and he went out. That’s all it takes. Francis actually ate a punch during the exchange, but it was full steam ahead. The man has scary power, but you know that.
Is Stipe better? How can he be? He has all the experience in the world and is 38 years old. He’s coming off an epic trilogy of fights with Daniel Cormier, who couldn’t be further away from Francis in terms of fighting style.
Ngannou was recently on the Joe Rogan Experience and had some interesting comments about the first time these two fought. He thought it was a good thing that he lost. He had serious questions for himself. He’d never been to the third round, let alone a five-round war. He finished the exchange with a chilling quote…..”after this fight, I get it.” Now, obviously, he didn’t IMMEDIATELY get it. He walked around for 15 minutes against Lewis and lost, but holy shit…ever since he’s been closer to committing premeditated manslaughter than losing in the octagon.
Stipe’s game plan has to be the exact same as the first go-round. Avoid the big shot in the first minute of the fight and look to shoot a single leg and get it to the ground. When Francis stands up, do it again. I can’t say it enough, the first time these guys fought, it was a clinic by Stipe.
Which makes me wonder why I really think Francis gets this done. I mean, I know why. Francis is maturing as a fighter and has unbelievable power, but I have not seen with my eyes that Francis’ game has evolved to stop what Stipe did to him the first time. The question you have to ask yourself is: will it even matter? Does Stipe even survive the first right hand or left hook? If Francis clips any human on earth, their body will shut down, and that’s what I’m banking on come Saturday night. Screw taking Francis straight up. If you think Francis wins like I do, grab him by KO at plus money.
OFFICIAL PICK: FRANCIS NGANNOU
Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque
Quick! Name the last Tyron Woodley fight you were excited to watch. For me, I think it was the Till fight back in 2018. At the time, Till was undefeated and absolutely massive for the division. I had no idea how that fight would play out and was genuinely excited to see what would happen. Oddly enough, it was the last time we really saw Woodley show aggression early. It was pure domination by Woodley. Till didn’t land a significant strike, and Woodley dropped him with the first punch of the second round before landing what looked like 50 straight elbows and busted Till up. It was the type of performance that showed why Woodley was the champion. He earned his black belt after the D’Arce Choke win.
Since then, it’s been nothing but bad news for Woodley. He was thoroughly dominated by Kamaru. Usman does everything Woodley does but better. Gilbert Burns dominated Tyron Woodley over five rounds, winning 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45. Woodley landed less than 30 significant strikes and was taken down several times. Against Colby Covington, he was outwrestled and outstruck once again before getting finished in the fifth round. Three straight grapplers/wrestlers all gave him extreme trouble. Mostly he just looked incapable in the cage. There wasn’t an answer for problems being presented. I honestly started to really question his motivation and if we’d ever see him again, but here he is as a +225 underdog to Vicente Luque. No disrespect to Luque, but my goodness, how the mighty have fallen.
How I feel about Tyron Woodley fights is the 180 degree opposite of Luque fights. Seventeen of his 19 wins have finished inside the distance. We generally get a good show when Luque fights. He has UFC losses to Wonderboy Thompson, Leon Edwards and Michael Graves. Graves had wins over Luque and Randy Brown before moving to FNG and now Titan, where he beat Jared Gooden for the belt. So not terrible losses, right? Where are his big wins? Luque finished Belal Muhammad in the first back in 2016. He finished Talin Turner (155 stud) in the first. He finished Barberena in the third. That was a fight where Luque was stunned in the first before nearly locking up a rear-naked choke and then D’Arce in the first. He recovered from getting stunned so quickly. He’s always in great shape, and you need to be to eat the biggest shots.
He finished Randy Brown in the second round the last time out. He’s finished Niko Price twice inside the distance. When this man goes, he gets it done on his own time.
Styles make fights, and this is one where Woodley might even look to lean on his wrestling. Luque is strictly a kickboxer with good jiu jitsu. If the fight ends up on the ground, he can handle himself, but that’s not his plan of attack. His chin is something to see, and the war with Barbarena was epic until the last second. But you look at Luque’s losses. Graves took him down seven times. Edwards took him down three times. It’s not that his takedown defense is horrible, but his stand up game is so good that getting it to the clinch or the mat is the best path to victory for Woodley.
When is the last time Tyron Woodley had more than one takedown in a UFC fight? 2014 against Carlos Condit. That doesn’t mean his fights don’t end up there. He still has that big right hand and is strong in the clinch, but if this stays a stand up battle for three rounds, there can only be one winner, and that’s Vicente Luque. I’m taking him to win but do think the value here from a betting perspective is on Tyron Woodley.
OFFICIAL PICK: VICENTE LUQUE
Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida
Sugar Sean O’Malley is back after the freak loss to Marlon Vera, where he clearly suffered an injury in the first round and was stopped late in the first. That is his only blemish on his professional record thus far, and he will look to jump back in the win column. But Thomas Almeida is likely the toughest opponent of his young career.
Back to the Vera fight, O’Malley showed a lot of what makes him great. His movement is smooth and done with purpose. The feints had Chito flinching every time. He was landing hard calf kicks and keeping the distance with the teep kick up the middle. He also was landing hard kicks to the mid-section basically every time he went orthodox. It was about halfway through the round when he seemed to roll his ankle. Was that all it was? The x-ray came back negative after the fact, but O’Malley was clearly compromised and could not continue the fight. Vera landed zero strikes prior to the injury, and Sean was looking like himself.
I was particularly frustrated with the loss to Chito Vera because so many in the industry were flapping their gums about Vera getting the win. Facts: Vera didn’t land a freaking thing before the injury. O’Malley should be undefeated and still has the makings of a future champ. Just go to the fight before Vera against Wineland.
The Wineland win was a clinic for Sugar. He set little traps for Wineland, and after getting a feel for the range, really got into his striking game. A big body kick was followed by a wheel kick whiff but backed Wineland up into perfect striking range. It was a subtle uppercut feint that dropped Wineland’s hands even lower before the big straight right slept Eddie for good. It was a walk-off KO that Joe Rogan called one of the best he’d seen in the sport.
What do we make of Almeida? The 29-year-old came into the UFC with all the praise and hype of the world. He was an undefeated champion, looking to make an impact in the biggest promotion in the world, and that he did. He started his UFC career with four straight wins, three of which were first or second-round knockouts. He’s not exactly getting a statue in Vegas for beating the likes of Yves Jabouin and Brad Pickett, but the UFC was bringing him along slowly, knowing this kid could be special. He was just 23 at the time. Have you ever been in a Tesla and felt the torque as you step on the accelerator? You are sitting in your seat like a normal human, and then all of a sudden, you are pressed against the seat, holding on for dear life. That was Almeida’s career trajectory.
How can you go from four, basically, region-level fighters in the UFC to the main event against Cody Garbrandt? It was poor match-making in my opinion. Garbrandt was an undefeated young prospect. Almeida was an undefeated young prospect. Neither was going to fight for the title if they won, so why put them together? Garbrandt came in as a decent dog with Almeida, sitting at 21-0.
Almeida’s 70” reach is a weapon, but he’s been losing the striking battle in his last five fights. Almeida is typically a slow starter, and that’s massively detrimental. The reach is great, but he’s been exposed from a hand speed perspective in every fight recently. I find it hard to believe that Almeida has reversed the course of his career arc at this point, and I’m leaning towards the big favorite.
O’Malley relies heavily on his kicks, especially early. He does have some injury issues with his foot and ankles causing him problems in fights, but to me, Almeida needs an injury to find a hole here. I agree with the line. If we get Almeida into the +270-+300 range, I’ll have to give consideration at that point. As of now, I don’t see any value betting on either of these fighters, and I’m picking O’Malley to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: SEAN O’MALLEY
Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick
I love Miranda Maverick. She’s young. She’s ruthless. She nearly elbowed Liana Jojua’s nose off her face. So much so that the damn fight had to be stopped between the first and second round after the doctor had a look. At just 23, you can say she’s still a bit raw, but her striking is on point. Because she was so dominant on the feet, we didn’t even really get to see her excellent top game. That is a massive red flag for any Gillian Robertson backers as that is basically where she’ll have any chance to win this fight, and I’m not even sure she’s the better grappler.
Gillian has a BJJ base and loves to use her wrestling to get into a grappling match. She’s had mixed results over the last 24 months but has been one of the more active fighters in the division. Emotionally, she can struggle in the cage. She had no answers for Macie Barber or Taila Santos. You could physically see her confidence drop and almost a frantic look fall over her face. She’s tough as nails but extremely limited on the feet. Oddly enough, she did pick up a first-round submission win over Pearl Gonzalez in a grappling bout back in December, winning by rear-naked choke. Pearl was Maverick’s last opponent in Invicta before moving over to the UFC.
Go back and watch the Robertson v Barber fight. I expect a similar outcome here with Maverick’s wrist being raised after a finish inside the distance. Gillian was taking a few punches to the dome and decided to pull guard, which ended up in the clinch. That is where she wants the fight, but Maverick is so strong that I can’t see her getting stuck in that position.
As of right now, this is not a bet for me. I need a bit more money to come in on Gillian to move into territory where I can fire on Maverick, and I’m hopeful it happens. Anything under -155 is good to let it rip.
OFFICIAL PICK: MIRANDA MAVERICK
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy
Just a couple of dudes coming off a loss. How in the world did Mullarkey survive the third-round beating by Riddell? A mere mortal would have been dropped 10 different times and certainly wouldn’t have made it to the final bell, but Jamie was right in there taking a licking. That’s kind of good news and bad news though, right? I like my guys to have a chin, but I don’t love that it’s keeping them from a grave and not helping them win fights. In saying that, Riddell is probably a -250 over Worthy, so that does help a bit. And Mullarkey took the first on my card, and the second was a toss-up. The judges saw it as a Riddell master class, and the third round was certainly a blitzing.
Mullarkey is such a warrior, but he does have some gas tank issues. He has technique issues with his wrestling. It’s a lot of naked, sloppy double legs. He does default to his wrestling when he’s hurt, which is good to see, but I wish there was more to his offensive grappling than he’s shown in the UFC. Even when he does get his opponent down, he struggles to keep the fight there. It leaves me asking the question: how good is Mullarkey? The 26-year-old throws with power. He has an iron chin. He does land takedowns. However, he has gas tank issues and can’t keep a fight on the ground. He needs to win the first two rounds.
Khama Worthy burst on the scene as a wild card. He came in with some losses to his name but after a five-fight win streak, including a brutal KO of Adam Ward. He took the fight with Smith as a former training partner and basically a lamb out to slaughter. Smith was a massive betting favorite, and we often see with former training partners it was a lot of pitter-patter in the first at distance until Khama flatlined Smith with a short left hook when Smith rushed in. Worthy was +650 and took the fight on less than a week’s notice but clearly showed his power.
He picked up a really good win against Luis Pena with a third-round submission victory, but Pena did land several takedowns and had Worthy in a world of hurt in the second round. Khama scrambled well, and even though he lost the second round, he ended up on top several times. That is something to keep in mind for this fight against Mullarkey. The guillotine in the third just came down to opportunity meeting the long-ass neck of Pena, and he shot for another takedown. Azaitar has something Mullarkey does not: big power. A clean overhand right started the 15 punch combination before finishing it with punches as Worthy was going out.
I’m by no means on the Khama Worthy hype train, but he does enough damage with his striking and scrambles so well on the ground that I see him pulling off the W here and possibly even getting a finish late if Mullarkey overextends himself in Rounds 1 and 2.
OFFICIAL PICK: KHAMA WORTHY
Fabio Cherant vs. Alonzo Menifield
Welp…yet another change to the card. William Knight is out, and my breakdown is in the trash. Thankfully, for the card and my sanity, the UFC has stepped in with a replacement in Fabio Cherant. Fabio is a 26-year-old fighter on the regional scene looking to make a name for himself at the expense of Alonzo Menifield.
Menifield is built like a brick shit house and punches with massive power, but all that muscle drains a lot of energy. He typically starts like a house on fire but has tried to pace himself a bit more to eliminate the obvious error in his game. The big weapon is the massive left hook. The overhand right packs a punch, as well, and stunned Ovince Saint Preux in the first round of their fight. The problem with this new fighting style is that inactivity followed by explosion can lead to prolonged periods of eating shots without fighting back.
Saint Preux was heavy with the kicks. Menifield rushed in after Saint Preux stumbled and a big left from Ovince absolutely dropped him. It was a clean shot. Devin Clark is a different story. He went for the shot five seconds into the fight and made it dirty. Per usual, Menifield landed some big shots and had Clark hurt early before the punches slowed and Clark started taking over. Menifield has two wins outside the first round, and each of those was within the first 32 seconds of the second round. The window here for him to explode and win is limited.
While I originally had Knight winning, I believe I’m changing my tune here. For one, Cherant has had issues making weight. He was nearly nine pounds over for his fight against Erick Murray. Maybe the extra weight helped with the big left he landed to stun Murray, but he locked up the anaconda choke with bad intentions and ended the fight inside of a minute. Against Yu Ji, he weighed in at 209.
Cherant likes to stand right in front of his opponent. He can explode with good combinations but generally likes a slower pace and doesn’t move east to west much to create angles. It’s an odd pace that creates his openings. It’s like a cobra with little-to-no movement followed by a quick right-left combination. He’s legit on the ground but uses his striking to get the fight to the mat. His footwork is lazy, and his gas tank is a massive question mark. Keep in mind, he was -400 in his Contender Series fight against Camur. He’s just not good enough yet. I expect Menifield to knock him out.
OFFICIAL PICK: ALONZO MENIFIELD
Jessica Penne vs. Hannah Goldy — FIGHT OFF – I’ll leave the breakdown as it is rescheduled for a later date.
Why is Hannah Goldy the favorite here? Miranda Granger isn’t exactly a world-beater and was able to keep Goldy at range and land at will. Goldy showed an array of striking skills but couldn’t really get inside the distance enough to land often enough. It was mostly for show. Granger is particularly long for the division, but Jessica Penne has been in with the best and lived to speak about it (sort of).
While Goldy has just six professional fights, Penne has fought the likes of Michelle Waterson, Carla Esparza, Randa Markos, Jessica Andrade and Joanna. Sure, her only win was against Randa Markos, and that was a split decision at that, but the level of comp is certainly superior.
Here’s the rub….Jessica Penne’s last fight was against Danielle Taylor, and she lost. The date of that fight? April 22, 2017. Why has she been out so long? She had a 20 month USADA ban. That’s right, baby! She’s a rule bender. It was initially a four-year suspension but was reduced after it was discovered there were only trace amounts of the banned substances due to a tainted supplement. For what it’s worth, that was her second USADA suspension. At 38 years old, I wouldn’t put it past this old bird to go for the hattrick and juice herself up for one last big win on a big PPV card!!
So one, we don’t really know what we are going to get from Penne. She’s been out so long and was coming off a three-fight losing streak as it was. Against Taylor, she had a massive height and reach advantage and still couldn’t get it done. Taylor would go on to lose her next two fights and get cut from the promotion. Penne is a striker but pretty stiff and lacks big power. She really struggled with timing against Taylor, and she never really engaged with her grappling. If you go back to the Markos fight, Penne showed some decent throws and BJJ on the ground. She had several submission attempts that didn’t come off but did open up Markos early and won the fight. If the fight wasn’t from seven years ago, I’d put more weight on the performance, but it does open up a potential path to victory.
The long absence and the age gap are probably too much for Penne to overcome here. I don’t see either of these women being in the UFC in three years, but as for Saturday, I’ll take Goldy.
OFFICIAL PICK: HANNAH GOLDY
Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Gooden was who I thought he was: a striker with a good chin who’s not quite ready for the middle-upper tier of the division. He lost an epic scrap with Alan Jouban, but Gooden took the center of the octagon early. He really struggled with the movement of Jouban, but Alan was just more experienced. The left jab of Gooden was causing some damage, and he was eating the kicks to the body and still moving forward. An interesting note is, leading up to the fight, Gooden said he had an advantage on the ground yet never really tried to work that part of his game until the last minute of the fight when he landed the takedown but ran right into Jouban’s guillotine.
It’s good to see Nurmagomedov back in the fight game. Wrong one. Abubakar is nowhere near the fighter his last name would indicate, but he does have a similar fighting style to many of the fighters coming out of Dagestan. Abubakar came into the fight against Zawada in his UFC debut as a -350 favorite. He landed a stiff jab that beat up Zawada’s eye before changing levels for a clean takedown. He was dominating the first round. Heavy top pressure and good scrambles as Zawada was looking for a way out. Nurmagomedov was a bit naive with his top game as Zawada shifted his hips and locked up the triangle and won him the fight. It was a brutal loss for Nurmagomedov on his debut, but there was plenty to like in the fight. Abubakar was heartbroken, and we haven’t seen him since.
I expect to see an improved fighter and one who’s learned from his mistakes. That was the second time we’ve seen him submitted, but I don’t see Gooden showing the ability to finish this one off his back, which is where it will eventually end up. I’d exercise caution for DK, but I’m picking Nurmagomedov to win the fight.
OFFICIAL PICK: ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV
Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
If this was a modeling competition, Modestas would be -1000. It’s not. Both of these guys are coming off first-round losses to Jimmy Crute. Bukauskas is a striker with poor takedown defense but is long and strong at 205. He ties together punch/kick combos well, and he loves the 1-2 high kick combination.
His fight against Wojcik in Cage Warriors was quite a hilarious watch. He had zero answers for the takedowns of Wojcik. In total, I think I counted 5-6 takedowns over the two rounds Bukauskas had landed, maybe 10 strikes through 10 rounds, until Wojcik completely gassed out, and the cardio of Bukauskas allowed him to get up again from his back and throw punches in bunches to get the finish. There was no big skill gap. He was completely inept at a major part of the game. He still got the TKO win.
In his UFC career, it’s been a mixed bag. Against Michailidis, he ate more than he gave. Michailidis was landing some heavy leg kicks. Bukauskas was always a couple inches too short on his strikes, which is something I noticed when looking through most of his fights. He was losing the fight before throwing several elbows after half-stuffing a late takedown attempt. It was a bizarre stoppage but great strikes. Against Crute, it was a man against a boy. Bukauskas left that chin on a plate, and Crute made him pay.
Oleksiejczuk is smaller for the division and was rag-dolled all over the cage by Jimmy Crute. He wasn’t able to show off any of his striking ability as it was just trying to defend the clinch and trips from Crute from the first second of the fight. Oleksiejczuk was either exhausted or clueless on the mat. Crute simply stepped over his stomach to mount. The Kimura was next, and the fight was over.
On his better days, he shows fast hands, good movement and a commitment to rip body shots. He stopped Villante with two massive liver shots inside the first round. He jumped all over OSP with big body shots and had him hurt in the first, but in the second, OSP went to the kicks and started to capitalize as Oleksijczuk slowed down. The Antigulov fight was an exhibition of what the left hand of Oleksiejczuk can produce. He dropped him four times in the space of a minute, and the fight was over.
Bukauskas seems to have a cardio advantage in the fight. I would give the striking and speed edge to Oleksiejczuk, but both of these guys prefer to keep a high pace. If the fight is over in the first, and it absolutely could be, I expect Oleksiejczuk’s hand to be raised. If this goes into the second and third rounds, I don’t hate what I see from Bukauskas. Michal is the more technical striker and can mix things up if need be. In the third round of Oleksiejczuk’s fight against Rountree, he shot for a single leg and kept Rountree down for a bit. With how poor the takedown defense is from Bukauskas, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Michal even look for a shot if he doesn’t KO him on the feet.
OFFICIAL PICK: MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK
Shane Young vs. Omar Morales
This fight was on; then it was off. Now, it’s back on again. Shane Young has supposedly passed the COVID protocol and sets up a very interesting matchup here against Omar Morales in the lightweight division.
Morales is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Giga Chikadze. It was the first loss of Morales’ career after picking up the biggest win of his career against Moggly Benitez. Morales will almost consider this a break from fighting two of the hardest kickers in the division of Chikadze and Benitez. I really like what I see from Morales. He has a good chin and steps in and out of range with a calmness that is hard to teach. He does tend to eat a shot as he lunges in for big explosive combinations, but when he’s simply striking, it’s a different story.
Shane Young is a crazy person. From the haka at faceoffs to his fighting style, it’s all fireworks in Young’s life. Ten of his 13 wins have come inside the distance, but he’s coming off the first KO loss of his career. He was a slight dog against Lukovit Klein. We knew Klein had big power coming in with two first-round KO wins in his last three fights, but Young was not prepared for the head kick and follow-up shots. Just a minute into the fight, it was over. I do think Klein could bag a few wins in a row in the division, so I’m not quite ready to write Young off just yet.
For Shane Young, everything starts with the jab. Against Dy, he was throwing double and triple jabs with great success. It’s all to set up other weapons while doing damage. It sets up his wrestling and that big right hand that comes right behind the jab. That Klein loss was his only loss inside the distance, and he’s only four fights removed from his UFC debut against eventual champion, Alexander Volkanovski. He’s a tough kid with a good chin who happened to get caught with the high kick.
With all of that said, I lean Morales here in what I think could be the fight of the night. Both guys are active and will throw volume. Both guys are pretty tough and show decent chins. I don’t have a line in front of me, as this fight has been so topsy turvy. But I would make the fight Morales -150 and Young +125. I would set the total at 2.5 with minimal juice on the over. I do see Morales winning a very close decision in this spot, and he’s my pick.
OFFICIAL PICK: OMAR MORALES
Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Abu Azaitar
How does a man with three losses and one no contest keep getting chances in the UFC? The opponents kept getting progressively worse as the matchmakers gave Barriult a put up or shut up type of path in the organization, and he finally picked up a win against Piechota until it was later ruled a no contest after he tested positive for ostarine. What’s that? I didn’t know either, so I looked it up. It’s an investigational drug that has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It is used by mouth to improve athletic performance and for involuntary weight loss. Yeah, that’s just cheating dude. So again, I ask, how does a guy with three losses and one no contest due to cheating keep getting chances? I do not know, but as for his fight style and overall ability, we can break that down.
Barriult was a -125 favorite against Piechota and came out pressing the action very early in the smaller cage in the Apex. I liked the urgency, but he was chasing more than cutting off the octagon. His striking is sloppy and basic. He looks for a knockout and throws with power on basically every punch. There aren’t many feints, and he often leads with an overhand right. It’s important to note that he kept a high pace in the first and maintained it in the second. Is that some new cardio training regimen that he found, or was that drugs? Keep in mind, Piechota ain’t great.
Azaitar hasn’t been in the octagon since 2018. We’ve seen quite a bit of this recently with the COVID era basically wiping out a whole year of someone’s career, but Azaitar was trying to jump in the cage; his fights just kept getting canceled. First was the April fight with Di Chirico, which was scrapped. Then in October, it was the fight with Joaquin Buckley that was canceled. Both of the fights saw Azaitar withdraw. As fate would have it, Impa Kasaganay took Azaitar’s place, and we saw the KO of the year by Buckley. That’s neither here nor there. Azaitar pulled out of the fight for “undisclosed reasons,” which always makes you nervous. He had to pull out of the Di Chirico fight with a hand injury. So basically, we have two guys with massive question marks starting off our card.
Abu is short for the division but packs big power in his 5’9” frame. Abu does tend to rush in with wild combinations, but he throws punches in bunches. He’s a Muay Thai champion and does mix in a variety of kicks to his fights. He KOd Jack Marshman who, while not good, has an unbelievable chin. Just think back to Marshman’s fight against Sean Strickland, where Strickland is openly pleading with Jack during the fight for him to go down. That is the kind of power Abu has in his hands.
In his UFC debut, he picked up the victory over Miranda and showed a wide array of skills. He neutralized Miranda’s first-round takedown with one of his own. His takedown defense was quite poor throughout the fight, and he was mounted twice in the second round, but each time, Azaitar was able to reverse the position and end up on top. He has just enough ability in all aspects to make me take a chance here even after the long layoff.
OFFICIAL PICK: ABU AZAITAR
Abu Azaitar (borderline)
UFC 260 Cheat Sheet will be posted on Friday… DON’T MISS IT!