Duke’s UFC Fight Night Breakdown and Predictions for your DFS Lineups!!!
WHAT A PPV!! Well, technically, the PPV wasn’t all that great. What did you guys think? Nunes is a dragon. Yan was starting to dominate Sterling before the knee heard around the world. Jan was too big and burly for Izzy. Makhachev dominated Dober on the ground, and Rakic and Santos just stared at each other for 15 minutes. It really wasn’t all that great of a PPV in hindsight.
The prelims and early prelims were where it was at. We started the night with five straight finishes inside the distance. I had a profitable betting night, but Adam really had the night to talk about. He finished 6-2, and it should have been 7-1 with the Yan debacle. I guess we can talk about that quickly before moving on to the shitshow that is Joe Rogan and this week’s card.
Aljo. Did he fake it? No, man. He didn’t fake getting kneed in the head. That definitely happened.
Surely he was stunned initially. He had zero responsibility to continue the fight. I’m perfectly fine with the fight being stopped. I’m not as OK with the belt transferring in that fashion, but rules are rules, and until they are changed, there isn’t much of an argument against how everything transpired short of calling it a no contest vs. a DQ. There is one question we can ask…did Aljo play up the results of the knee? Only Aljo can truthfully answer that, but I’ll show you this:
I mean, that could absolutely be a guy who was stunned just having his eyes bug out of his head and roll around on the ground. It could also be something else. I won’t speculate. Regardless, we need to see these two run it back to either transfer the belt back to its rightful holder or have Aljo prove to everyone what he keeps telling anyone who will listen; that he was ahead in the fight.
Enough about last week. Let’s talk UFC FN Edwards v Muhammad. Shout out to Belal for stepping up when it looked like the card’s main event was in trouble a few weeks ago. This is relatively short notice for Belal, but he’s just coming off a huge win and will be ready to roll. There is a nice mix of prospects and veterans on what was a 15-fight card. We’ve already lost a few fights. We’ve had opponents shift and change. The only thing that stays the same is change. Let’s plan for the unexpected and break down a really fun card.
UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs. Muhammad Fight Info
- March 13, 2021
- UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
- Main Card: ESPN+ – 8:00pm
- Prelims: ESPN+ – 5:00pm
Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad – MAIN EVENT
People love to discredit him. People are afraid to fight him. He’s super hard to fight. Submitting him is very difficult. Typically, he gives up a lot of single punches from distance. Guys who do fight him are at the tail end of his career and aren’t with the promotion anymore. He finally gets the fight with Chimaev. Chimaev comes down with COVID and is really struggling, to the point where he’s retired from the sport. Whether that is a permanent retirement or not is to be seen. Really shines in the clinch. Loves the elbow as they break clinch. Good striker. Good top game.
Belal Muhammad is a beast but also a weird-looking dude. I was trying to describe his face to a buddy and really pinpoint what the hell was so different about it. This is what we came up with: Belal looks like he’s a deep fake. Like, it is his face. He isn’t fake. But you know how these deep fakes are getting so real and so over the top that it’s almost hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not, but you can kind of tell because of the edges of the face? That’s Belal’s face. I can’t believe I just used that many words on a meaningless opinion, but when you write as much content as I do throughout the week, at some point you just have to get things off your chest, and this is my outlet. How about Belal the fighter?
Belal has never fought in a main event. Coming in off a very quick turnaround after his win over Dhiego Lima. Wayyyy different level of opponent, but Muhammad saw his opportunity and took it. Good for him.
Both of these guys are in pretty good shape with Edwards likely having a slight edge in the cardio category here. Edwards is really hard to hit, and that is my worry for Muhammad. Right now, Muhammad is right on the edge of a bet for me. Let’s see how weigh-ins go and what happens to the line.
OFFICIAL PICK: EDWARDS
Misha Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann – CO-MAIN EVENT
I don’t love talking about betting lines right off the bat, but how can you ignore UNDER 1.5 at -140. The bookies see this one ending nice and early, and just looking back through Cirkunov’s recent fights, it’s not hard to see why. He has nine fights in the UFC, and seven of them have finished inside the first round.
Misha is very good on the ground but is stiff with his standup. There isn’t a ton to it, but he uses striking to set up grappling and uses that big ass body to beat up his opponent. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t get his way, he can be had and has three losses inside the first round in his last five fights.
Ryan Spann is a tough nut to crack. He’s at a great camp, but at 29, I’m just not seeing the improvement fight to fight that you’d expect. He’s coming off a loss to Johnny Walker that was an absolutely wild fight. Spann rocked Walker badly with a sharp left. He jumped right on him and ended up a little high on the mount. Eventually, in the scramble, Spann was working on a double leg and had his head pinned against Walker’s quad. With nowhere for his head to go, Spann couldn’t eat the nasty elbow from Walker, and that was the fight. How many of the hammer fists that Walker landed were to the back of the head is up for debate but certainly played some role in the fight.
We know Walker has big power, so the KO wasn’t crazy, but it wasn’t just the elbow that did damage. The first two punches of the fight from Walker landed flush and caused Spann enough trouble that he spammed a takedown within the first 10 seconds to get this one to the ground. He worked the clinch game well with good head position. Really he can do it all. He can strike, grapple, wrestle; he has 11 wins by submission, and he’s super calm in the cage. Generally, I like that. Calm, composed and spring into action. With these two, it could be like a cobra striking its prey after sitting back and waiting for the right opportunity.
Neither guy has great cardio. Misha has been off since September of 2019, and as always, we worry about some ring rust. Both love to wrestle, but I have Spann with the far superior standup game, so I’ll lean him. I don’t know that I can pay the juice on the under, but that is also where I lean, as well.
OFFICIAL PICK: SPANN
Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker
My god, did Gavin Tucker impress me against Billy Q. I was on Billy. Horrible read and horrible pick, with hindsight being 20/20. I’ll own that. Tucker made a massive stride in his game from Jayes to Quarantillo. Gavin Tucker is a hell of a striker and a BJJ black belt, but it was the striking and trips that Billy couldn’t handle. Tucker finished with over five minutes of control time. He’s also super strong for the division. Tucker’s lone loss in his career was to journeyman Rick Glenn in just his second fight in the UFC.
Glenn is long and a tough guy, but there is a reason he’s lost three straight and hasn’t fought since 2018. It’s interesting. Glenn was a big jump in competition for Tucker, and he struggled at times with Glenn. Tucker had a pretty big edge on the feet in the first. He mixed in low kicks with his overhand left down the pipe, landing at will almost. A straight left hand from Glenn dropped Tucker, and it seemed like the fight turned on a dime. Tucker looked absolutely gassed. I don’t know if it was just his high output or the actual knockdown shot that took it out of him, but it was all Glenn from there. Glenn stuffed every takedown and really made Tucker work in the clinch and takedowns. Credit to Tucker, he kept getting up and/or looking for heel locks off his back, but he was done.
You can’t go 15 minutes with Billy Q without working on that gas tank, and again, he was winning the fight before the big left from Glenn dropped him. If they ran it back today, Tucker would be a heavy favorite. I love the Tucker we see today. He’s taken weaknesses and made them strengths. That comes from humility and hard work. I’d love to take Gavin Tucker here. BUTTTT, it’s Dan Ige.
Do people realize Dan Ige is a few strikes and some judges away from coming off three straight losses? He hung tough with Calvin Kattar over five rounds but was outstruck and severely beaten. No big deal. He was +195 in the fight, and Kattar has excellent striking. The big worry for Ige is the lack of a plan B. He went 0/9 on takedown attempts. Prior to that shutout, he’d landed at least one takedown in each of his fights in the UFC.
Ige won a split decision over Edson Barboza before that fight. People are brushing off Barboza as over the hill. Man, he beat Dan Hooker before losing to Justin Gaethje, Paul Felder and then Dan Ige. The Felder and Ige losses were split decisions and super close fights. Barboza is a beast. It’s both a good win for Ige and not the worst loss in the world for Barboza.
The split decision win over Mirsad Bektic was different. Ige clearly had an edge on the feet, but it was Bektic who had more success getting this one to the floor. Ige also was able to control the middle of the octagon, something we haven’t seen in the other two fights I’ve discussed. I had it 2-1 Bektic.
Check that out…fights against Kattar, Barboza and Bektic. Tucker has fought Seungwoo Choi, Justin Jaynes and Billy Quartantillo. I make fun of the deep waters hardos, but Dan Ige is seemingly hurt or out in every single fight, and he always finds a way to survive, find a way to get it done. It’s that heart that has me giving a slight edge to Dan Ige. Tucker is a hell of a striker, but he’s different from Kattar. As it stands, the math is calling this a no bet, and I’m perfectly fine with sitting back and enjoying this one strictly for DFS purposes.
OFFICIAL PICK: IGE
Jonathan Martinez vs. Davey Grant
What’s up with this line? I have Martinez as the favorite, but -320? Davey Grant was my betting lean, but it’s so far off the charts that it’s moved to a no bet. Obviously, if something changes, I’ll let y’all know.
Martinez is the prospect who should be getting quite a bit of pub if he wins this fight. He’s just 26 years old and likes to finish his fights. He has extremely fast hands and is rarely second to the punch. He struggled with the trips of Wuliji Buren but has really improved his takedown defense. The UFC has stepped him along his career here, but they aren’t handing him complete walkovers. All three of his fights in 2020 were noteworthy because of how different the fights played out.
Andre Ewell is an accomplished striker, ranked ahead of Martinez, and honestly, I had Martinez winning that fight. Saenz is a savvy vet, wrestler type who always makes for a fun matchup against a young striker coming up. Martinez passed the test with flying colors, ending the fight just after the start of the third round. Then Thomas Almeida, probably the toughest of the bunch, didn’t have answers for Martinez on the feet, and Martinez did enough in all three rounds to win the fight going away.
Davey Grant is a grappler but doesn’t always follow the obvious path to a victory. Take his last fight against Martin Day. Day is a tall, long fighter for the division, and Davey Grant decides to mostly stand and trade with him for most of the fight. Everyone at home was screaming to take him down. Obviously, the big left hook landed flush on the chin and ended Day’s night, but it was the hard way. This isn’t a game where you try to prove something. That will get you losses and eventually cost you your job. He got away with it against Martin Day. He won’t against Martinez.
The paths to victory here are clear to me. Davey needs to set up his wrestling with strikes and get this one to the floor and make it a grindy, exhausting fight for Martinez. Jonathan needs to do what he does. Pick shots, throw kicks, stuff takedowns and repeat. The line is a bit funky to me; the winner is not. I like Martinez here.
OFFICIAL PICK: MARTINEZ
Manel Kape vs. Matheus Nicolau
Welcome back, Matheus Nicolau! He had his first stint in the UFC back in 2015 and won his first three fights, including a unanimous decision over Louis Smolka. He was up to #12 in the flyweight division before getting caught with a high kick from Dustin Ortiz. It happens. It was Nicolau who was beating up the legs of Ortiz. Nicolau is pretty light on his feet for a guy with such power for the division. He moves laterally to create angles and avoid damage, but when he goes, he goes with combinations and heavy strikes. The worry here is what’s happened since he left the UFC. He has just two fights in the three years since, and while both were wins, the two-year layoff gives me the shivers thinking back to the breakdown I gave Kape just a month ago…
Kape both impressed me and disappointed me in his fight with Pantoja. His hands are lightning-fast. He just didn’t throw enough volume. It was also the lack of urgency late that had me a bit confused. It was quite apparent that Pantoja was ahead on the scorecards, and I didn’t see a push to get a finish by Kape. Perhaps it was the bright lights of the UFC getting to him in his debut. With hand speed like Kape, he could be a weapon in this division, and perhaps he learned a little something from the last minute of his fight with Pantoja when he landed two takedowns. The ground game could be a path forward.
One thing I didn’t see from Kape that showed through from his tape prior to his UFC debut was massive power. He’s not a guy to move left and right, high/low…he’ll stand right in front of you, but he was dropping bombs in other promotions. Pantoja is a pretty tough debut opponent, but Kape never unleashed that power.
I’m so excited for this fight because, no matter the outcome, it could have us with our hands in the air saying, yeah I knew it. Kape shook off the cobwebs against Pantoja and is back to his best form after a two-year layoff. OR. I know the 2+ year layoff for Nicolau was a worry coming in, but he didn’t need an adjustment period and laid the wood.
The math is telling me the value is all on Nicolau, so I’m picking him to win the fight. Come Sunday morning, I could feel like a total dunce as Kape unleashes that power I’d seen on tape, and Nicolau struggles to shake off the rust, but I just see Nicolau’s power and activity being the deciding factors here.
OFFICIAL PICK: NICOLAU
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart
Let the hands fly boys! Wellllll, kind of…maybe.
Eryk Anders was supposed to be the poster boy for modern mixed martial artists. He had NFL talent but UFC aspirations, as the saying goes. One of those things was true. In theory, taking an NFL athlete and moving their lifelong training regiment to MMA should create a pretty dangerous fighter if the dedication and patience are there. Anders is a big guy with big power, but it doesn’t always show through. He has skill. He’s not just an athlete. Eryk has good takedown defense. He has a stinging left hand that he throws straight and with power. He does tend to fight well against guys at or below his level and really struggles with those above.
Anders started his career 10-0 and devastatingly won his UFC debut with a first-round KO of Natal. He picked up a nice win over a younger Markus Perez before making a big jump up to Lyoto Machida in a five-round main event….in his first UFC fight… Probably a little too much, too soon for Anders. It was more of the same moving forward. Thiago Santos brutalized him in the striking game, so much that Anders had to look for takedown after takedown to survive until Santos dropped him in the third. Khalil Rountree beat the hell out of Anders for 15 minutes. Maybe, it was a southpaw vs. southpaw thing, but Anders looked completely overwhelmed on the feet by Rountree.
At that point, Dana White has a decision to make. Clearly, this guy isn’t going to win a championship anytime soon. He was a vicious power-punching KO artist in his early career but taking the majority of his fights deep into the third round and losing most. I wouldn’t have been shocked or cared if he was cut, but instead, they threw him to Moreira in 2019 to get his groove back. The early finish looked like a return to the promenade for Anders, but a controversial split decision win over Meerschaert and uneventful loss to Jotko has me wondering what the future holds for Anders.
The Dentist has a granite chin and an underrated ground game. The film I loved the most was the Kevin Holland loss. His striking was sloppy at times, but he was in Holland’s face the whole fight, pushing the pace and looking for takedowns. Holland was the most dominant fighter of 2020, and Stewart gave him his toughest fight of 2020. The Maki Pitolo fight displayed a super tight guillotine. Stewart won against a bloated Deron Winn, who just wanted to clinch. The Bevon Lewis fight is what I watch when I can’t fall asleep. That’s my problem with Stewart. He’s not one to really push the pace and throw heavy volume.
I actually give the wrestling edge here to Stewart. He’ll likely be the one looking for takedowns is the better way to say it. Anders would prefer to keep this one standing, at range so he can pick off Stewart with this sharp right-left 1-2 combo. Both of these guys are tough as nails with good chins, so I’m looking towards one of these guys winning by decision. I’ll be interested to see what Adam says from a DK perspective because neither of these guys is a DK stud. As for the winner, I think Anders’ best days are behind him, and it looked like Stewart took a step forward even in a loss to Holland. I’ll take Stewart.
OFFICIAL PICK: STEWART
Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder
I always like to tell you guys when I have a bias. Sometimes, it’s a good bias, and sometimes, it’s a bad bias. I do not like Angela Hill’s game. She was oddly pushed by the UFC in 2020 to the tune of four fights. She beat Cifers and Lookboonme and lost to Cadelha and Michelle Waterson. So, she beat who she was supposed to beat and lost to two fighters a touch above her punching power.
I’ll say this, I gave her zero chance against Gadelha. I was right, but I was wrong. She was very much in that fight. She showed good takedown defense and absolutely held her own on the feet. The main event against Waterson was something out of a movie. No. 1, why were they main eventing a card in September? No. 2, what a battle. Hill ate what seemed like a million kicks and landed consistently to the head of Waterson before losing a split decision. She’s better than I give her credit for, and her gas tank knows no end. She’s tough as nails, has good striking, and will press the action. That is what I’m looking for in a women’s fighter. In saying that, does she deserve to be the biggest favorite on the card???
Ashley Yoder looks RIPPED.
It’s not that she’s ever looked out of shape, but clearly, she’s taking her profession seriously. She said in one interview that she walks around at 125. This is another rematch. These two fought at the Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, and of course, the fight went the distance. Yoder is more of the wrestler of the two and landed three takedowns in that fight, but Hill was able to get back up. That is her path to win. Land the takedown, hold her down. If she gets back up, she needs to take her down again. I don’t necessarily think Hill has this unbelievably massive edge on the feet, but she does have an edge, and Yoder is better on the ground.
While Hill’s takedown defense looked better against Gadelha, it’s ok to admit that Gadelha attempts many takedowns and lands few. Yoder just worries me with her inability to finish fights, and unless she can keep Hill pinned down, she likely won’t land enough takedowns to outweigh the pressure and volume of strikes from Hill. I have Hill by decision here.
OFFICIAL PICK: HILL
Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo
Jourdain is the big favorite here and a young Canadian prospect with some promise. He’s a 145 pounder, for sure, but oddly enough fought a 155er in his UFC debut, a loss back in May of 2019. He drops back down to his usual weight class but gets the super-tough Dooho Choi in Busan. Not exactly an easy fight to take. He was in trouble in the first before completely taking over the fight from the end of the first round, dropping Choi at the end of the first and finishing the job at the end of the second.
Jourdain has a wild fighting style that involves slick striking but super energy-sapping techniques like flying knees and spinning backfists. At times, it leaves the world of technique and ventures into the stratosphere of desperation. Against Fili, he was controlling things on the feet but couldn’t stay off his back. The power is obvious.
Going through Rojo’s tape didn’t take long. It’s a ton of first-round finishes against subpar competition. He has a pawing jab that he uses to gauge distance before unloading combinations as he steps in. Like most fighters today, he mixes in the calf kick, but it’s one of the weapons in the arsenal. The big one is the overhand right. If he touches you with it, it’s hard to stay on your feet. The fight against John Castaneda was an interesting watch. Castaneda is a legit UFC fighter who just knocked out Eddie Wineland and went three rounds with Nathaniel Wood. Rojo won the first round when I was scoring the fight, but starting in the second round, it was Castaneda who started working his grappling, and Rojo really struggled. That is a big gap in his game and eventually led to a loss via submission.
Rojo has really good distance control and uses very small movements to keep his opponent in frame. It’s a much more controlled fighting style than Jourdain with the same power. This should be a strictly kickboxing fight. Marcelo Rojo, at these odds, is a perfect target for my betting style and system, and come fight day will likely make my official card. Jourdain was -475 in his last fight over Culibao and was lucky to get a split draw. Unfortunately, Rojo is a 135-pound fighter fighting up a weight class against a striker with power. I see one of these guys knocking the other out. If this was at 135, I’d be on Rojo. At 145, give me Jourdain, and let’s hope I’m wrong, so my bet hits.
OFFICIAL PICK: JOURDAIN
Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez
If you see a Brazilian flag, 30-40 years old with more than 15 submission wins on their record, that’s typically a good place to start. Add to the fact that he is perfectly willing to pull guard to get it to his world, and that’s another point in the Yahya corner. Now, add in that his opponent is a middling 33-year-old fighter who was brutalized by Tony Gravely on the Contender Series and humiliated by Brian Kelleher in his full UFC debut, and I’m not sure we need a 10-page dissertation on how this fight will end.
If you are giving Rodriguez credit, he was fully willing to push the action against Kelleher. Credit given. Now, hey dummy. Avoid the guillotine of Brian Kelleher. That is HIS weapon on the ground. That sloppy shot by Rodriguez was the worst thing he could have done in the fight and ended his night in 39 seconds. Rodiguez does have a decent kicking game and can go to the calf or the body. He’s not overly strong for the division. His takedown defense is subpar. He fights very vertically, standing straight up and leaving his chin on a plate. He’s been submitted three times in his career, and that is the likely path for Yahya.
Yahya has been in the UFC since 2011. He’s not the greatest wrestler in the world. His striking isn’t an asset but is better than it was five years ago. Kimura, heel hook or arm triangle…doesn’t matter. If you hang a limb out there, he’ll grab it and rip until it falls off or you tap. Unfortunately, he’s very one-dimensional.
Rodriguez prefers to grapple. He does have a KO win over Jimmy Flick and will likely have to keep this standing because taking this one to Yahya’s world would be a big mistake. Yahya’s last decision win was in 2016 over Tanaka. He does have some gas tank issues and isn’t getting any younger. If Yahya is to win this fight, it’s likely by submission. This fight has been hanging around the Yahya -300 range since it opened, and I simply can’t pay that price. In a win, Yahya is likely going over 9x and approaching the 10-11x range. That’s great, but in a loss, he’s destroying your lineup. He doesn’t throw a ton of volume, and in a loss, it’s likely his grappling isn’t effective. I’m grabbing Yahya but preach caution from a DFS perspective.
OFFICIAL PICK: YAHYA
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Rafa Garcia
Garcia was added late, and he’s stepping into the shit here against Haqparast. Nasrat is such an accomplished striker and has that silky smooth southpaw delivery. I can’t break down Haqparast without mentioning the big KO loss to Drew Dober. It was a clean left hand that caught Nasrat and eventually ended the fight. Nasrat can certainly improve when defending strikes. He tends to keep his hands high so he can counter, not so much to defend. On that particular left, he was stepping into a calf kick and just left his chin exposed. It’s always interesting to see how a fighter responds to a tough loss and respond he did. Alex Munoz is a decent fighter in the division; underrated even. Nasrat put on a striking clinic. He stuffed most of the takedowns from Munoz and out-landed Munoz 3-to-1 in strikes. He’s back.
Garcia is an undefeated 12-0 prospect out of Combate Americas. His most recent win was over one-time UFC fighter Humberto Bandenay, but we all know how his story ended. Bandenay was KOd by Gabriel Benitez and lost decisions to a couple of bums/middling fighters and was cut. Garcia is used to giving up height in this division and uses long, looping shots to make up the distance. He doesn’t string together a ton of punches and looks a bit sloppy with his double leg takedowns. Bandenay, in particular, was able to stuff quite a few, but when he simplified his game and shot for a single leg, he had more success. His best attributes are his work rate and his gas tank. He loves the center of the ring and doesn’t let his opponent rest. He was susceptible to body kicks, especially against southpaws.
Nasrat is too cultured on the feet for the little pitbull. Nasrat can use his 81% takedown defense to keep this standing and unload a bevy of techniques. It’s not really going out on a limb to call a -400 fighter your favorite pick on a card, but Garcia could find himself in trouble early and often here.
OFFICIAL PICK: HAQPARAST
Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich
Cast Iron Casey is a fun fighter to watch. She’s happy to stand and trade with her opponents, knowing full well she can deliver two for every one she takes. That is really her path to most victories. Casey will outwork and out-volume her opponents. She doesn’t have a ton of power, but she does have length and a bit of a grappling game to fall back on. She is tough as nails, as well. While she does have a mixed record over the last four years, she does have wins over Randa Markos, Romero Borell (by submission) and Angela Hill. Casey really struggled with the wrestling of Anderson, but go back just a few fights prior, and you’ll see she looked great defending takedowns against Cynthia Calvillo.
Aldrich is coming up from 115 but isn’t really someone who likes to get dirty in her fights. She prefers a more technical bout. Aldrich surprised me with her clinch work against Viana. We’ve seen recently that Viana is a problem when she gets the fight to her world, but Aldrich used her strength to neutralize that weapon and even ended the first round on top. It’s good to know that those skills are there but also bad to know that she can be baited into this type of fight. Aldrich loves that step back left hand to an oncoming fighter. It’s a sharp, heavy blow, but at 125, she doesn’t have the firepower to finish a fight.
In the end, I see this one going the distance. Casey might look to muck it up on the ground, but I see Casey just out-pointing Aldrich in this one. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Aldrich is going to be a bet of mine (math), but I have Casey winning this fight by decision.
OFFICIAL PICK: CASEY
Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Jinh Yu Frey = 1.9 significant strikes per minute. She’s a former Invicta champion but has started her UFC career 0-2 after losses to Hansen and Lookboonme. While she’s fought at 105 quite a bit, she’s by no means small for the division. She’s physically imposing. I just really struggle to see a path to victory here. Her takedown defense is an issue, and it seems to paralyze her striking game. She has a good left but doesn’t unleash it enough to really be a weapon. She has strong, muscular legs but doesn’t effectively use them as weapons.
de Paula throws volume and can roll a bit on the ground, but her takedown defense is a big question mark, as well. She dominated Pauline Macias on the feet and fought a very smart fight to get the win. Her clinch work was great, and the elbows off the clinch were a sight to behold. That clinch work could be the key here as Lookboonme was dominant in the first in this position.
Frey looks the part but can’t quite put it together. This should be an interesting clash of styles. Frey perhaps with the power edge, and de Paula with the volume. This is similar to the Casey/Aldrich fight where they both will look to stand up, and volume could be the king.
OFFICIAL PICK: DE PAULA
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt
The Vanilla Gorilla returns to the octagon in a too-close-to-call-it fight with Matthew Semelsberger. I’m going to start dubbing guys like Semelsberger the throw-and-go fighters. He’ll look to land the big punch and follow it up with his wrestling. He’s another one of these former football players who’ve made the transition to MMA. He’s an entertaining fighter who looks for a finish. Five of his seven wins have finished inside the distance, and both of his losses were fights stopped in the third round. He has really good combinations and a decent defensive game on his feet, but he did cut fairly easily against Minus. The varied striking game from Semelsberger should give Witt a tough look. Semelsberger also likes to push the pace and use his cardio.
Witt is still a mystery to me. You can’t really take much away from his win over Cole Williams. A tub of lard who missed weight by six pounds and looked like he didn’t train for the fight. My concerns heading into that fight are the same as they are here. Witt fights with his hands low. His punches are wide and loopy. He is a bit chinny. Sato dropped him with a straight left that most fighters eat in the division, and he’s been (T)KOd four times in his career. I did like the approach from Witt in the Williams fight. Witt didn’t waste any time going for the single leg in the first 30 seconds. He showed a heavy top game and busted Williams up. With the build of Witt, you’d think this would be his approach every fight.
Semelsberger’s power and Witt’s chin is a match made in heaven for a Semslberger win inside the distance. That’s how I see this one finishing.
OFFICIAL PICK: SEMELSBERGER
Yu Frey +158
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