Duke’s UFC Fight Night Breakdown and Predictions for your DFS Lineups!!!
System Bets: (I hate most of these but…math)
Sasha Palatnikov 1 to win 2.4
Arnold Allen 1 to win 1.2
Mike Perry 1 to win 1.15
William Knight 1 to win 1.16
Kevin Holland 1 to win 2.55
(non-system) Grapplers Delight Parlay: Gamrot/Solecki/Shore 1 to win 2.02
WE. ARE. BACK!
It’s been a week, but it feels like it’s been a lifetime. We declared a new NCAA champion with the Baylor win. The Masters has teed off. AND, Mighty Mouse Demetrious Johnson has lost. The pound-for-pound beast was the much smaller man and ate a nasty knee on the ground. I’m talking lights out…eyes roll back in the head KO. It was hard to watch, and even though Johnson is a stone-cold killer, he’s so little! He’s also a dynamite champion and a good promoter of the sport, so I’m a fan. When you start looking at other promotions, it’s easy to see why UFC is the king.
The One broadcast was fine. It was on TNT, which was great. Rich Franklin looked nothing like himself. The One booth couldn’t touch Anik and even the worst of the worst analysis from the UFC. They had audio and visual issues all night. Eddie Alvarez was DQ’d and red carded for some BS. Overall, it wasn’t the best experience. However, some fights are better than no fights, so it was a fun watch. This weekend should be an absolute cracker of a card, so let’s jump into that.
To the desert…
UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs. Holland Fight Info
April 10, 2021
UFC APEX, Las Vegas, NV
Main Card: ABC/ESPN+ – 3:00pm
Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+ – 12:00pm
Early Prelims: ESPN+ – 11:30am
Darren Till Kevin Holland vs. Marvin Vettori – MAIN EVENT
Yep. That snake Kevin Holland somehow, someway has worked his way back into a main event after a horrific performance against Derek Brunson just a few weeks ago. It was a mauling. Brunson had 16:55 of control time, and Holland flapped his gums through the whole fight. Was it embarrassment? Was he trying to distract from how badly he was getting whooped? I hope so, but we don’t have proof that is why.
What irked me the most was Holland’s behavior between rounds. This was a man completely out of his element and in desperate need of instruction. He had to find a solution for Brunson’s takedowns, and instead of sitting on a stool, sipping some water, and listening to his coaches, he was pacing the octagon and yelling to Khabib, who was sitting ringside asking for help. It was disrespectful to his coaches. It was disrespectful to Dana White. And it was disrespectful to the fans.
I don’t think I’m overstating this…I would have considered cutting Kevin Holland. Not a lifetime ban, but a “go figure your shit out on someone else’s dime” kind of cut. Kevin Holland is immensely talented. With his swagger and his length, he could have been a marketing bonanza for the UFC in certain markets, but a loss here puts him into a category of athletes who found lightning in a bottle for a short period but were never able to regain that status. In soccer, we call that form. Form is temporary, class is permanent. Kevin Holland strikes me as somewhere in between with one massive hole in his game.
Odds are showing us that Vettori is the clear favorite. I agree. Vettori has advantages all over the place. Holland cannot stop the takedown. Vettori has a fantastic chin which should relatively stymie some of the striking that Holland does display. Vettori is big for 185. Holland could fight at 170. Vettori can pressure Holland and work that cardio for Holland who is taking the fight off the couch. Vettori showed me a lot against Hermansson.
You’ll remember I liked Hermansson in that spot because I thought he had a few edges in the fight but undoubtedly would have the better cardio. Vettori lost the third round, in my eyes. Hermansson was in his face and I thought we were going to coast home to grinding victory. Vettori was right there and handled Hermansson in the fourth and fifth round. I had obviously not seen that on tape and immediately made notes for future reference on how great he looked. It’s a one-fight sample size but my god did that change my opinion on Vettori. Add to that, Vettori is a legit crazy person.
Holland answered the bell and will get his medicine on Saturday. This is such a dangerous move for Holland. He’ll earn some goodwill for taking a fight on short notice and saving a main event. Vettori has never been finished. That is Holland’s only path to victory in my eyes. I don’t let emotion influence my selections and certainly not my bets but everything is pointing to Vettori for me and that’s how I see it. I’m not paying -350. As of right now, Holland is a bet for me. +250 on someone this talented coming off a tough loss and maybe fighting for his job isn’t the worst spot to attack. He’s a LEAN, not a bet just yet. Stay tuned.
OFFICIAL PICK: MARVIN VETTORI
Arnold Allen vs. Sodiq Yusuff
YES! This is going to be an awesome fight. Two excellent, high-level strikers. Sodiq has the power edge, but Allen is a super technical striker and has the edge on the ground with his grappling. Before I get into the breakdown, I’ll tell you this. I like Sadiq to win, but I’m going to bet Allen. Let me explain…
Sadiq is undefeated in the UFC with wins most recently over Andre Fili and Gabriel Benitez. I respect both of those wins and especially appreciate Moggly’s game. Fili presents an interesting challenge with his height, length and well-rounded skills. He was able to take down Sodiq three times in the fight and most notably at the end of the first round after rocking Sodiq with a short right hand in an exchange. That little wobble and subsequent takedown is the worry in my eyes for Sodiq.
Credit to him for regaining his wits and getting through the first round, but he rushed into an exchange with Fili, got clipped, kept his feet, and was easily taken down behind a soft jab. Allen needs to get this one to the ground to win the fight, and assuming he can use that technical striking to hide behind, he can grapple his way to a victory.
The pace of this fight will be interesting. Sodiq is volume and pressure. Arnold Allen is not. Look at his striking numbers from his recent fight.
For one, have a look at that opponent list. Nick Lentz is 36 but a tough dude who just narrowly lost a split decision to Movsar Evloev. That was a close fight but one I’ll give Allen credit for winning. Gilbert Melendez? The 38-year-old former Strikeforce Champ, who never quite got over the hump in the UFC and compiled a record of 1-6 in the promotion. Rinaldi? He hasn’t fought since and doesn’t look to be high on the priority list for any promotion. Burnell? He’s 4-0 in Cage Warriors since their fight (3 sub wins). The Amirkhani fight was a super close split decision win for Allen but probably his best win in the division.
The level of opponent has been deceivingly poor, but Allen has performed and done enough on every occasion. Even when he was in a bad spot against Burnell, he found a back door and escaped with a submission win. Some guys just win. The issue here is that Allen is a decision king at this level. He pulled off the submission against Burnell but because that was his only path to victory. He’ll go 15 minutes with no problem and Sodiq will as well. The oddsmakers see this one going the distance with -200 juice on OVER 2.5 rounds.
As I said at the start, I like what Sodiq brings to the table. I give him a pretty big edge in the power and stand-up department, but the fight is close enough that Allen could use that grappling advantage to grind out or even steal close rounds. That is why he is likely a bet at + money as we get to Saturday, but I’m picking Sodiq to win the fight. Allen hasn’t fought anyone with the striking ability of Sodiq.
OFFICIAL PICK: SODIQ YUSUFF
Sam Alvey vs. Julian Marquez
Smiling Sam drops back down to 185, which probably makes more sense as he tries to extend his career. He was competitive at 205 but was starting to come in as a massive dog as he worked his way through the division. Oddly enough, he was a -390 favorite at fight time against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. That was the first in a string of 4 losses at 205, prompting this drop back down. It’s a positive in my eyes, assuming he can make the weight without ravaging his body. Alvey didn’t have a power advantage and rarely had a big speed advantage at 205, so there were very few positive indications for him in the future. Now, he won’t be thanking Uncle Dana for the first matchup back at 185.
Julian Marquez is back in a big way with his win over Maki Pitolo, but he had his own problems in that fight. For one, he was down 2 rounds to 0 heading into the third. The long layoff was apparent, and he couldn’t stop the clinch wrestling of Maki. When they were standing, Marquez was back to his sweet spot in the center of the octagon, trying to pick off Maki from distance. However, Marquez knew he needed a finish and was told as much by James Krause in between the second and third round. The gas tank was there, as was the power. The BJJ was still there, and with less than a minute left in the round, he was able to lock up an anaconda choke after stuffing a desperate takedown.
There was so much there that was encouraging; the gas tank is the main course, not just the cherry on top. The hunger, the power and brainpower to stuff the takedown and find the quickest way to stop the fight was what made me loving Marquez in his return.
Sam Alvey is not one for big output. He does have a decent left hand and a chin that has taken a beating of late, but you’d think it would hold up better at 185. We know Marquez has a chin. Pitolo smacked him around pretty good in the first. These are big boys with decent power, but could this one go to the cards?
Julian has never won a decision in his professional career. A major factor I’m looking to account for is that Alvey expects to be 215-217 pounds on fight night. This is going to be a serious weight cut. Remember, he hasn’t really had to cut weight in 3 years. It’s a tall task, and I’m waiting until he steps on the scales to lay any cash on this one. But I’m taking Marquez, who should be free of the ring rust we saw in his last fight. Alvey is not a wrestler/grappler, and this should be a standup battle. Alvey has been battling guys bigger than Marquez, but I still have Marquez with the speed advantage taking him to a win.
OFFICIAL PICK: JULIAN MARQUEZ
Nina Nunes vs. Mackenzie Dern
I do not get the Mackenzie Dern hype. I know people think she’s hot. Not my cup of tea. I know she’s an accomplished grappler. Great, show me in the cage. I had her losing the Jandiroba fight. Dern couldn’t get it to the ground. She had to stand and trade; it just looked a bit awkward the whole fight. She is an evolving fighter and improving. She did step on the scale in fantastic shape and looks to have put her weight issues behind her. These are all positives for Dern that have her ability catching up to the hype.
We haven’t seen Nina Ansaroff (now Nunes) since her loss to Tatiana Suarez in June of 2019. There was a decent reason for that…SHE HAD A BABY! She and Amanda are proud parents now, but that was 6 months ago, and she’s been in camp. I’m not overly concerned by the pregnancy and bouncing back in the cage, but she is 35. She’s in a fantastic camp and clearly has the best training partner you could ask for in the pound-for-pound greatest fighter of all time (Come fight me…I said it).
Dern likely takes the center of the octagon here but Nunes doesn’t have a problem fighting going backward. She is the slightly taller and longer fighter. She did struggle with takedowns against Suarez, but who hasn’t? The single-leg was the path to success there, but from that position, it was mostly brute force, not technique, that completed the takedown. I just don’t see Dern with that kind of power.
Nunes is more of a complete fighter whereas Dern is a work in progress. Her stand up is improving, and she does have a nice right hand. She can get right-hand heavy. There is more to striking than the big shot.
From a fantasy perspective, I’m not sure I love either of these women. Nunes isn’t a big finisher and has shown durability that would make me believe this goes the distance. Even in a win against Angela Hill that went the distance, she won and threw 143 significant strikes; she only scored 88 DK points under the new scoring system. Dern is the fighter I’d take more of a chance on at $7.9k. Obviously, if it does get to the ground, she has the ability to finish the fight. And if it stays on the feet, she will likely be the one pushing the pace and throwing more volume.
This is a fight I won’t be betting unless we see some serious line movement toward Dern at which point I would take Nunes. As for who wins, I have the slightest of leans toward Nunes. She’s the sharper striker and has a good chin. Her takedown defense has me a bit nervous, but if this stays on the feet, the kicks and strikes of Nunes will be too much for Dern.
OFFICIAL PICK: NINA NUNES
Mike Perry vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Reminder, Mike Perry was a favorite against Tim Means. He’s a lunatic with serious issues outside the cage. Perry is penny wise and pound foolish. He doesn’t pay for a nutritionist. He has his girlfriend in his corner as opposed to actual coaches. Often, he misses weight. He gets his ass kicked by Tim Means. He has scary power, and that’s always what you like about Mike Perry. He’s also tough as nails and a new Dad. He posted on Instagram in camp, looking in great shape with all his motivation around his son and his girlfriend. He’s finally at a camp. He’s likely to have actual coaches in his corner. Is he taking this more seriously? When I saw the matchup announced, my initial inclination was to hammer D Rod, but Perry is a near auto-fade as a favorite and a scary underdog to bet against.
D Rod lost to Nicolas Dalby last time in a decision I didn’t necessarily disagree with but I had it much closer than the judges’ scores would indicate. DRod landed more significant strikes and was only slightly behind in control time, but I did think he lost. It was also the first time we didn’t see Rodrigeuz start the fight like a house on fire. It was a more measured approach. Watching it back, it just didn’t look like the same Rodriguez to me, and he could never really kick it into that next gear.
If he goes back to his old ways to get back on the right side of the win column, this fight could be over in a hurry. We know Perry will stand right in front of you and trade blows. We know D Rod has big power and more technical striking. This should be a fun fight from start to finish. I’m taking Rodriguez for now but reserve the right to change my mind if Perry looks phenomenal on the scales. Also, as of right now, Perry is a bet for me as the dog.
OFFICIAL PICK: DANIEL RODRIGUEZ
Jim Miller vs. Joe Solecki
Jim Miller is still fighting huh? He fought 3 times in 2020, losing to Pichel and Holtzman, and honestly, I wondered how long he’d keep at this. He’s 37 years old and 47 fights into his pro career. What else is there to do? Obviously, this is all he can do and doesn’t want to give it up, but he’s clearly a fighter on the downswing of his career. This is prospect v vet. We’ve seen quite a few of these lately. Miller is slick on the ground and loves the guillotine off his back or after stuffing a takedown. What worries me about Miller is the Pichel fight. He’s a decent enough fighter and has had some success in the UFC, but he’s older than Miller and basically won the fight going away.
These are two BJJ black belts. Solecki hasn’t beaten anyone of note. He finished Hubbard standing up with a rear-naked choke. It was a very technical back mount and finish. I think Solecki’s stand game is a bit underrated. Assuming he wins and continues to take on more and more difficult opponents, he’ll need to keep evolving his striking game but he has enough power and enough snap on his punches to get by. He has a quick left hook and throws a straight right hand. He’s not strictly limited to wrestling and submissions. In saying that, Miller is the more experienced and better striker. So, who wins?
Experience v youth. Miller is the Donald Cerrone of the welterweight division. He’s fought the best of the best and is still kicking. He’s a grinder who certainly has a decent chance to win this fight. I am worried about his gas tank and his inside leg kicks. He caught Pichel in the pee-pee with one of those inside kicks, but that also could be what Solecki grabs a hold of to get this fight to the ground where he MIGHT have an edge on top. It’s a scary one, and I could not pay the price for Solecki in this fight, but I’m taking him to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: JOE SOLECKI
Scott Holtzman vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Holtzman looks like he’s 30 and might be the star of a little show called Billions, but he’s not. He’s 37 and just 18 fights into his pro MMA career. He is one hell of an athlete and has been in with some dangerous fighters. He was absolutely demolished by Beneil Dariush, but he’s a couple big wins from a shot at the belt. If anything, Holtzman showed off his chin a bit before eating the unbelievable spinning back fist/forearm that ended the fight. That was a tough loss but has little bearing on this fight as Gamrot is a completely different fighter who will look to get this to the ground asap.
Gamrot entered his fight with Guram Kutateladze as a massive -315 favorite. Gamrot is the rare wrestler who can actually get it done in the middle of the octagon. So often these days it seems like wrestlers will just shoot to get the fight up against the cage so they can then drop for a double leg and drag a fighter to the ground. Gamrot will shoot from left field and land it. He does have the ability to finish you from top position
I love Gamrot in this fight. If you go back and watch Holtzman’s past fights, he’s had issues with takedown defense. Drew Dober took him down 5 times in a loss. Josh Emmett took him down 8 times and won. More recently, Nik Lentz took him down 5 times in a loss for Holtzman. Holtzman is also coming off a devastating loss and could be a bit gun shy to pull the trigger. Gamrot is my most confident pick of the week and could have us wondering how he wasn’t -500.
OFFICIAL PICK: MATEUSZ GAMROT
Bae Malecki Erin Blanchfield vs. Norma Dumont
Another fighter bites the dust! Erin Blanchfield steps in on short notice and is typically a flyweight fighting at bantamweight. Let’s see how they both look on the scale before we make sweeping judgements.
Blanchfield is just 21 years old and wants to get the fight on the ground and grapple. She’s small and young, fighting Norma Dumont who is a year removed from fighting Megan Anderson at 145. That seems like a tall ask to me.
For everyone with UFC Fight Pass, I recommend you go watch Blanchfield’s fight against Kay Hansen. They were both 19 at the time, and Hansen is a legit UFC fighter at this point. Hansen really controlled the fight early, but Blanchfield was tough to take down and strong in the clinch. Blanchfield always had good head position and worked for underhooks immediately when she was in a bad position. She was more seasoned than Hansen at that point in their career, and that got her the win. She really struggled with her striking, but she is tough as nails. Against Cloudy, she was rocked in the first by an awkward uppercut and managed to recover enough to grab a split decision win.
Norma will have the better, more creative standup. She’ll certainly have the power advantage. She has massive legs and throws kicks with power. The size difference should play a big role in how this fight is dictated. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Norma dominate this fight, and she is my pick to win.
OFFICIAL PICK: NORMA DUMONT
John Makdessi vs. Ignacio Bahamondes
Full disclosure: I think Makdessi is a bum. He’s 2 years removed from his last win over Pinedo. Fracisco Trinaldo put it on him to the tune of (2) 30-27 scores from the judges and he just couldn’t get off the mark. Here is my issue with Makdessi in this fight. He’s a 35 year old striker who’s 7 inches shorter than his opponent with a 68” reach. That’s 7 inches shorter than the 75” reach that Bahamondes will bring to the octagon. The only, and I do mean only, advantage I give Makdessi is that he’s a pitbull in there and has experience in the promotion.
This will be Igancio’s official UFC debut after his big KO win over Gomez in the contender series. He’s massive for the division and just 23 years old. He has flash and pizzazz with his striking. He’s marketable. His legs are weapons. He uses axe kicks. Basically, any kicking technique you can imagine, he’ll throw. Bahamondes also ate some big punches in the first and stuffed takedowns. He’s young and a bit green but extremely skilled. He switches stances with fluidity and fights at length with skill. There is so much to like from the prospect.
If Makdessi had any sort of wrestling game, I’d have more interest, but in a strictly striking matchup, I’ll take Ignacio to maybe get it done inside the distance.
OFFICIAL PICK: IGNACIO BAHAMONDES
Yorgan De Castro vs. Jarjis Danho
This one could be over in a hurry…
Yorgan De Castro is saying all the right things. He’s learning from his mistakes. Do we trust him? He has absolute tree trunks for legs and throws them HARD. That will play a huge role in this fight and I’ll explain why in the Danho breakdown. De Castro has power in his hands, but as we’ve seen against Hardy and Felipe, he can be outworked. That’s all it was. It was a lack of urgency and volume for De Castro, who was better than both of those fighters and lost each. That is my worry for De Castro but again, we’ll take him at his word. He’s also got a pretty tasty matchup here.
Jarjis Danho hasn’t fought since 2016. He has 997 followers on Twitter and is verified. I can’t tell you how tilting that is for me. How is he still part of the UFC roster? On Instagram, he does look to be in good shape and was training with Vokanovski not too long ago. I will say, comparatively speaking, he has chicken legs. He’s all upper body but isn’t one of the fat, flabby heavyweights. Maybe that’s his edge in the division. Danho would prefer to get the fight to the ground, but how does he get it there? I don’t know that you are just overpowering De Castro.
The total is 1.5 with juice on the under. I have De Castro inside the distance. Let’s ride.
OFFICIAL PICK: YORGEN DE CASTRO
Hunter Azure vs. Jack Shore
This is a very nice fight. I like Azure’s game, but he did gas against Kelleher. He gassed against Cole Smith as well but his ass down in the first and followed it up with big ground and pound. That’s a bit frustrating for Azure. He has skills, and he has some sharp striking but is mostly a wrestler. He got back to his roots against Cole Smith, but that third round was full of very heavy arms throwing extremely weak punches.
Jack Shore is a guy I have my eye on. He’s a quick 2-0 in the UFC with 2 submission finishes, each coming AFTER the first round. He has a lot of hype and a lot of promise. He finds ways to get to the clinch and then absolutely grinds on you. He’ll eventually get it to the ground and start working the ground game. He has a heavy top game and diverse submissions. He’s like an anaconda in there. He narrows the distance and grabs underhooks. From there the fight is in his world and it’s a matter of time. Shore shows great patience in dominant positions. Shore to win in round 3 is +1500. I don’t hate that.
I do think this will be a competitive fight, but the Welshman gets it done, maybe inside the distance.
OFFICIAL PICK: JACK SHORE
Luis Saldana vs. Jordan Griffin
Griffin actually showed me a little something against Zalal. His wrestling ain’t great, but his grappling is pretty good. His striking is improving but can get a bit wild at times, particularly when he’s feeling confident. He’s certainly the more experienced guy. He went 3 rounds against Dan Ige. I just never get excited for a Griffin fight, but my God am I going to bet Jordan Griffin here?
Saldana is on a 4 fight winning streak. He doesn’t have a marquee win on his record and makes his UFC debut here as a favorite. He’s still making improvements to his striking and likes to stay outside of range. Saldana’s never won a fight that went to a decision and has finished all 14 of his wins inside the distance. He’s also been stopped 4 times.
This feels like a fight most people will avoid in DraftKings. Saldana is just a touch too pricey, and Jordan Griffin isn’t someone you are dying to play. At $7600, he’s worth some stabs in my opinion. Right now, this is a no bet for me, but I’m leaning towards far more shares of Griffin than Saldana.
OFFICIAL PICK: JORDAN GRIFFIN
Da-Un Jung vs. William Knight
I had William Knight beating Alonzo Menfield. Why would I not have him beating Da-Un Jung?
Knight comes in at 9-1 with 8 wins by (T)KO. Knight has a decent ground game. He’s dangerous. He doesn’t have a ton of skill but has 5 first-round KO/TKOs, and his only loss was the 2019 loss to Tafon Nchuwki, who’s continuing to knock people out in the UFC. Knight has heart and a will to win. He has suspect takedown defense, but that shouldn’t be an issue against Jung. He has some decent ring IQ, as well. Some of these under-sized guys have to be, right?
Jung is the prototypical size and build for the division. He does have heavy hands but is a bit plodding with his footwork and tends to stand right in front of his opponent. He was a massive favorite against Sam Alvey and really struggled to win that fight. Why? Ring IQ. Alvey fought a smart fight and knew when to press and when to back off.
I have a suspicion this one will be over early…like in the first round early. At $7800 on DraftKings, with his wrestling and power, William Knight is someone I’m very interested in. He has a different opponent, but I’m expecting a similar outcome.
OFFICIAL PICK: WILLIAM KNIGHT
Impa Kasanganay vs. Sasha Palatnikov
When you get dunked on, you are on a poster forever. That can even become your identity. Remember that 7’ Eastern European Vince Carter jumped over and dunked on? Me neither. That’s the point. You can fade into the background if you don’t change the narrative. Kasanganay is coming off that devastating loss to Buckley in what turned out to be one of the most vicious knockouts in UFC history. We are only 6 months removed from the fight and he was out cold before he hit the mat. I wonder if he’s even all there. Physically, he’s extremely fit and fighting at 170 for the first time. At 5’11”, I get the move.
Sasha Palatnikov picked up a massively unbelievable win over Louis Cosce. He was a +445 dog and looked gassed halfway through the first. He was absolutely rocked as well, and I thought the fight was over 10 different times. Palatnikov has a hell of a chin and just keeps coming forward. He has a very long jab and dynamic striking. His cardio turned out to be the winning element here. That early tiredness looked more like a reaction to the bright lights than actually being physically tired.
My thing is that I learned a little bit about Palatnikov and how he responds in deep waters, but my God, Cosce was a shell of himself in the back half of that fight. He had no pop on his punches, and Palatnikov was simply able to outwork him. Is that something he can do against a fighter coming down a weight division for the first time? Eh, we’ll see.
Palatnikov is game, but Impa is a scary dude.
OFFICIAL PICK: IMPA KASANGANAY
Many of these look like they’ll change by fight day.
Blanchfield +215 (borderline)
Perry +138 (borderline)
Alvey +162 (borderline)
UFC Fight Night Cheat Sheet will be posted on Friday… DON’T MISS IT!