MadLab’s UFC 239 Breakdown and Predictions!!! Here is what Twitter is saying…
UFC 239 MAIN CARD
Jon Jones $9600 vs. Thiago Santos $6600 TITLE FIGHT
When you think about The Goats of the sport, there are so many people that you can throw into the conversation. It really depends on how deep your skin goes in the game and how far back you really go It also depends on the level of competition they have faced, the era, and so many other variables involved. The lesser educated will label Jon Jones as the “Undeniable” GOAT and these are probably the same people that would label Mike Tyson a GOAT and that’s ok. However, they just know what they have seen. They never watched the film work on Sugar Ray Robinson, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Chavez, and Giants of the sport before him. They looked at his record and what he was doing to people, but never really looked at who he was doing it to. It was a very weak Heavyweight Division at that time and Tyson was a right time right place fighter. He had Ruthless power and his body was way ahead of its time physically, but he was a child at heart and once he faced his first dose of adversity, he failed miserably. To me, variables involved for labeling someone the GOAT runs very deep. You can say the best in a certain ERA, but labeling the GOAT is a very very tricky and extremely opinionated statement which hangs in the balance of the knowledge of a person and their criteria. Jones has def proved that he is the best fighter in his era right now. He is a riddle that is just so hard to solve. He is long, rangy, durable, dynamic on his feet and on the ground and even tho he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed outside of the cage, he is very cerebral inside the cage. However, labeling him the GOAT is something that I am not willing to do right now. People throw around that label way too easily these days and I do not think it is fair, to be honest. It’s unfair to the people before him and it is also unfair to people like Khabib and Nunes. People forget so easily what this young lady did. Why? Because she is not a male fighter? At one tie Rhonda was touted as some kind of machine that just couldn’t lose. She was marketed much like a female Mike Tyson and got her clock cleaned by Nunes even tho it was in her comeback after her loss to Holm. Then she beats the fighter that everyone labeled as a freak of nature in Cyborg silencing everyone. I actually picked Nunes there because she was the only woman that I knew would cause her resistance. We’ve never seen Cyborg with resistance and she failed when she felt it. So you see, there are many fighters that you can stake claims for. So don’t throw around GOAT too loosely guys. Jones beat some very good fighters and he did dispose of everyone that was put in front of him so it is no fault of his own but there are men that have passed their primes that were extremely hard to handle and we will never know how he would fare against these men. Back in the day, for me, PRIDEFC was the is all to end all in MMA when it came to the roughest and deepest talent pool. UFC had the spotlight for the most part with more notable faces because they saturated the US market, but if you look at PRIDEFC back then, there were some dogs there that would clean divisions out. With all this said, Jon Jones is making a clear separation in his claim to the “Era’s” throne. He is a riddle that hasn’t been solved yet, however, I do believe he lost the 1st fight against Gus, but that is a story for another time. Here he is again looking to take one more step into his already solid legacy inside the cage. He will take on Thiago Santos who without a doubt has a puncher’s chance against anyone. In 21 wins he has won 15 by way of KO and has dismantled 3 in a row inside the horn in his last 4 wins. Santos presents a different type of danger. He presents a precautionary danger with his power in his punches and kicks. When you fight Santos, you need to be very very aware of your movements early. You can’t get sloppy and you need really keep the open windows to a minimum. If you leave a window open for him to the body or the head and he jumps through, then you can find yourself behind a hurricane of strikes that it is hard to gather yourself from. With that said if you get by the danger zones with him then there is clear holes and windows that he leaves wide open for any fighter to expose and Jon Jones is just not any fighter. Santos is extremely dangerous for about 2.5 rounds and then he starts to really fall off the shelf. He has also shown the ability to lose his legs when he gets clipped. He does not have what you would call a granite chin. When he is caught, he is put on skates and it also seems to really slice open his gas tank even more. He also does have a clear deficit on the ground. Even tho he is a Black Belt in BJJ he uses it very sparingly in his game planning. Santos has a clear pattern and it is all premised on windows and spurts. He will throw oxygen pulling body kicks along with message power strikes keeping you honest, but when the time is right or the window opens, he will charge forward and unleash a bucket of strikes that will force you to backpedal in the hopes he can sneak one in putting you in a defensive fetal cover-up situation. It is a reckless approach but it does work for him because he does have that faith in his power. However, I just don’t have that faith in his chin because Jones will not be rattled by that and if Santos keeps his chin on a shelf while doing so leaving that center line open, Jones will step into him and send something right down the pipe putting a halt in the train coming forward. To say that Santos has no chance is just outright crazy but I will say that he has to do his work within the first few rounds. He can’t let Jones figure him out, catch a tempo, make his adjustments, and most importantly you can’t give Jones any sign or signal that you are slowing down, because that is where Jones will feast on you and start salivating for your blood. What I will say is that I wouldn’t be shocked if Santos catches Jones early but I will be shocked if he actually can outwork him and outfight him. That just doesn’t seem realistic at all. I think Jones stays safe, takes his time, finds his marks, makes his reads, and slowly starts to dismantle Santos as the time starts wearing on Santos’ conditioning and gas tank. I can see Jones taking this to the ground possibly ground and pounding him to a point that he turns and gives up his back, or Jones just plane out finishes him with strikes. I know that Jones has made it perfectly clear in some of his performances that he is willing to go to the cards and I feel like sometimes he just fights down to his opposition and des just enough to win, but against someone like Santos that proposes a clear power threat, I think he will look to get this one done a different fashion. Picking against Jon Jones is just really a stupid cold take. Anyone who is picking against him here in the sporting world is merely doing it for the clear fact that they are a fan or they are just trying to catch lightning in a bottle to look good. That is not saying that Santos can’t beat him, because power is always the great equalizer, but I can’t go with a puncher’s chance here even tho I personally would like to see it, I just think the odds are much heavier in favor of it not happening and I am not willing to take a blind swing on that. Nunes vs. Cyborg was a different animal. I saw it with Amanda. I knew she could beat Cyborg and I really believed she would. Thiago will need to be at the right place at the right time and land something special where Nunes has the ability to match Cyborg everywhere. The variables are far different. This fight will be very very interesting early, but in the end, Jones should slowly start doing Jon Jones things and run away with this one.
MadLab Keys to Victory for Santos:
- Understand that he needs to bring it right out of the gate. (Jones will never show you the same looks, so trying to dial him in is quite pointless.)
- Send a message early with hard and heavy kicks keeping Jones honest. (Let him taste your power and make it known that if he comes in he will be hit.)
- Stay off the cage and don’t let Jones get comfortable in the clinch or allow him to get good looks at your hips.
- Be honest with yourself and know that your path to victory is your power. (You are not the better fighter and you will not outwork him for 25 minutes. So you can’t play safe, you will not outwork or outsmart him late.)
- Pocketing the 1st few rounds is crucial if Jones fights labored and just enough to win rounds and the fight. (Given the conditioning issues, falling behind is not an option. You need him to play catch up, not the other way around.)
- Fight loose and fight your fight don’t allow him to dictate the dance just because it’s Jon Jones. (Be the Bully and make him know early that you are there to fight and not that you are honored for the opportunity to be there.)
MadLab Keys to Victory for Jones:
- Be patient and Respect the power of Santos early.
- Know that he will fight in surges make it difficult but setting traps and creating off balanced angles. (This will take that centerline away making him think twice about parading forward.)
- Look for his Hips and test him on his back. (When you are on your back, your power means absolutely nothing.)
- Fight Loose and let the fight flow its way to you until you see him slowing down. And you feel the pop coming off of his shots or you see him backstepping.
The Pick: Jon Jones
Amanda Nunes $9100 vs. Holly Holm $7100 TITLE FIGHT
When we talk about the Greats in an era, it is very very hard not bringing up Amanda Nunes. She has proven her worth in 10 folds and has shown the ability to adjust, adapt, recalibrate, and win where ever you decide to bring it with her. She will fight you fire with fire without taking a backstep like she did against Cyborg and Rousey or she will use her Black Belt in BJJ to test your chops there. With a record of 17-4, it is quite clear that her BJJ is secondary with 12 wins by way of KO and only 3 by way of submission. With that, she has only been to the cards 3 times in her career. (1 that she lost). In her 4 loses she has been KO’d 2 times and submitted 1 time). Her last loss was to the hands of Cat Zingano back in 2014 and since then she has been on an 8 fight tear, just absolutely destroying her opposition including 2 wins against the great Valentina Shevchenko. There is no doubt that Nunes is something very special becoming the only female double champ in UFC history and she has been making her claim as one of the greatest fighter male or female in combat sports. She will have an opportunity to stake another stake in her legacy with a win over the very first woman to prove that Rousey was human. Holly Holm. Holly came to us from an extremely high pedigree boxing background. With a list of accolades that seems endless, Holly holds a 33-2 boxing record along with being a one time Light Welterweight and Welterweight champion. The 2012 fighter of the year left the boxing world and traded in her gloves to test her skills in MMA where she would race off to a 10-0 start including her 10th win by the way of brutal head kick against Ronda Rousey in which would ultimately be the springboard to her spotlight. Holm then lost her following fight and it seemed that she wasn’t able to handle a loss mentally or she just physically showing signs of wear. Dropping 3 straight and just not in the right headspace, you can tell that something was wrong with holly. Since then her last 3 fights have been a bag of tricks. A much-needed win followed by a decision loss to Cyborg and a win in her last fight against the highly touted Meagan Anderson. Outside of her hard-fought loss to Cyborg, Holm looks redialed in and calibrated. Her striking is at a very elite level and her grappling is highly underrated. The matchup to me is honestly very intriguing. Holm is extremely durable and understands the ins and outs of striking. She understands the science behind it and can surely match anyone in a dance on the feet. It all really depends on which Holm shows up because there really is 2 Holly Holms. The supremely confident one and the one that really shys away and just fights in a very counterproductive way. She seems to be in a different mindset now. Her confidence, attitude, and even her persona, in general, have seemed to take a shift. It seems she is more aggressive in all her approaches outside of the cage which will obviously carry into the cage. This is by far her tallest task to date but she has been on this stage before and she should be used of the feeling by now. I also think that she understands that this can be one of her last opportunities to feel that strap across her waist again. So in ways, this one is very similar, but in ways, this one is very different. She will need to be calculated, composed, and really wait for her spots. She will be stalked and walked down but she will be best served if she keeps her range and stays patient against Nunes. Utilize the jab, move laterally, and keep Nunes honest with a blistering kick now and again. Holm has the athletic ability and the fighting prowess to beat just about anyone in the division and it is not out of the realm of possibility at all that Holly Holm can our move, outwork, and out strike Amanda Nunes. The issue is, what Holly will actually show. I think the fight is going to be a very slow one to start. I think Both women have high respect for each other and understand that mistakes are not really an option on either side of the board here. However, as the fight goes on, Nunes will more than likely start to mirror Holm and stalk her, making her throw off her back foot or just throw punches to keep her off her and keep space. This is a really intriguing matchup to me but one that Nunes should be able to edge some more rounds out just with her aggressive offensive style. The durability of Holm will surely keep her in this one but when all said and done, I think Nunes grabs the decision in a very competitive fight. And still…
The Pick: Nunes
Ben Askren $8700 vs. Jorge Masvidal $7500
Those of you who follow me know how high I am on Ben Askren. I have expressed on many levels how wrestling is the foundation of a solid MMA game and building your game from the inside out using that formula will always be a huge leg up if you have a solid foundation in wrestling and the ability to learn the rest. However, Leaning on your wrestling is something that can be used from start to finish in your career and it is a tool that Askren is the best at. Askren was a standout in his primed college years. He had what they refer to as “The Funk” his wrestling style was smothering, tricky and confusing. He brought that style to MMA and he is yet to be figured out. The undefeated fighter went an entire year without getting punched one time in one championship due to his ability to just change levels instantly and give you zero room to breathe or get back to your feet. However, in his debut fight here in the UFC, he was finally exposed as being human, but in turn, he showed yet another positive trait. Let me explain. It is no secret that his stand up game is terrible and it is clearly known that if you can actually keep him standing long enough the window is there. With that said Robbie Lawler was able to push him to the brink of a possible referee stoppage when he was able to gain top control and reign down shots that many men would have possibly been put out by. He kept his composure, survived the onslaught, and came back to submit Robbie with a Bulldog choke in which was highly controversial. Robbie gave thumbs up and the ref did not see it thinking that he was out and waved off the fight. Now I am still torn by this because I did see the thumbs up but I also did see Robbie go limp. However, he popped right back up when the choke was released. So he was either out for a moment or limbered himself to stay calm in the hopes that Askren would gas his arms out or even just ride out the round. In any event, the rematch should have been immediate and it wasn’t, but here he is fighting Jorge Masvidal who is an absolute animal in the cage. The former street fighter from the streets of Miami couples great boxing with extremely underrated wrestling and grappling. His nickname “GameBred” is actually the perfect name for him because he literally grew up on the streets fighting. It is in his blood and rattling his cage mentally is probably humanly impossible. He has had his ups and downs and I have seen him sparked out cold as well as submitted, but he will never go out without a fight and if Askren thinks that he will not be in for a similar style scrap like he was with Lawler then he is mistaking. Masvidal has more than double the fights in MMA and has much more experience when it comes to the entire ball of wax. At 33-13, Masvidal has seen it all in his 13 losses and has only been finished 3 times way back at the beginning of his career. Masvidal is still in search of his opportunity to UFC gold and a win over Askren may bring him closer then he has ever sniffed before. However, he has shown the ability to be taken down in multiple fights and one that stands out to me a bit is Maia. He was taken down 4 times and I do understand that Maia does this to everyone, but what you need to understand here is that his Grappling is superior yes, but he doesn’t have nearly the wrestling that Askren has and even tho Askren on the flip side does not have the submission capability of Maia, he has the ability to secure top control better than anyone in the division. In turn, Masvidal can be grounded for quite some time without any offensive output and that can be a problem. The outlook for Askren here is that he will need to ground this as fast as possible. I have no faith in him standing and trading with Masvidal. If Masvidal can keep this standing then it is clear as day that Askren will be in some serious trouble. Askren is a smart person that has taken minimal damage in his career and he knows where his ace lies. He will commit to his wrestling over and over again until he either gets KO’d or he gets it to the ground. Either way, he will commit and that is really going to dictate this fight’s terms. If he succeeds, then you will be looking at a possibly boring positional match on the ground in which Jorge will spend most of his time on his back trying to escape. If he doesn’t succeed then you may see a lot of the other way around with Askren doing what he can to cover up and shoot for desperation shots to avoid Jorge’s striking engagement. I will never put anything past Masvidal but it is really hard for me to go against Askren here. Even tho he had a very close call against Lawler, he was able to survive and show us his durability and willingness to win. The thing about Askren is you know exactly what he is going to do, but escaping it is an entirely different ball of wax. He will literally be on you like a leech the entire way on the ground. You move one way, he will be right there to meet you or go for the ride. You go the wrong way, he will be right there to take your back or gain top control. It’s the “funk” that he possesses to really just grind you and smother you. In a 5 round fight, I may be leaning Masvidal here, but in a 3 round fight where Askren just needs one takedown to keep it there for the round, I am going with Askren and the “Funk.”
The Pick: Askren
Luke Rockhold $8400 vs. Jan Blachowicz $7800
Luke Rockhold is a very talented fighter in which he seems to have 2 lives, which is interesting. He and Alan Jouban both have a life in fighting and in modeling. I would say that Rockhold is much more successful in both modeling and fighting but it seems that Rockhold is fighting spotty these days. The decorated Black Belt in BJJ and former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion has had his share of time in the sun and time in the dark. As of late, his fighting activity is hovering about 1 fight per year and they have been up and down. In his last fight against Yoel Romero, he was doing quite well until he was sparked out in the 3rd round. In his fight before that against David Branch, he was on the right side of the KO in the second round. Rockhold is a clear talent and he has very good athletic ability. There is no denying that the guy is an athlete and a fighter, but he has an arrogance about him that just doesn’t sit well with me and many other people. However, denying the guys talent would be quite foolish even if you are not crazy about the way he carries himself outside of the cage. He was having serious issues with the middleweight limit and he just looked horrible and sucked out. Those who have never cut weight before should know that the more you struggle, the more your cardio and ability to take a punch struggles as well. In his last fight against Yoel, I can see he had a really bad weight cut and the inevitable was just going to happen, especially against someone like Yoel. Now back moving up to light heavyweight will be extremely interesting to see. The cardio and the durability may just be cushioned a bit more now that he doesn’t have to cut so much weight and he can, in fact, make a very good wave in the Light Heavyweight division. With all that said this is obviously all speculation on my end, but one I feel to be pretty accurate from a science standpoint. Welcoming him into the division is Jan Blachowicz a polish fighter in which who was on a 4 fight year until he was stopped dead in his tracks against Thiago Santos in his last affair. Jan was making a serious scream for a title run until that fight and now he is welcoming Luke into the division in another extremely tough fight for him. With a 23-8 record, the BJJ black belt has 9 by submission 5 by KO and 9 by way of decision. In his 8 losses, he has 5 by decision, 2 by KO and he has been submitted 1 time. Jan is a very rough guy, and he seemed to really be coming into his own before the Santos fight. I picked against him only because of Santos’ equalizing power and Jans’ persona to be baited into a firefight. I was proven right there, but here, he is fighting a guy who can and will take it anywhere. Jan does have extremely good grappling for a light heavy but it’s not better than Luke. It’s just not. His striking is very capable but if Luke can keep him on the outside out of range, then it’s going to be a very long night for Jan. As much respect as I have for Jan and as good as he is, I truly believe this fight really hangs in the balance of what Rockhold do we see at Light Heavy. There is no doubt in my mind who the better fighter is, but there is pause in my mind on which fighter we will see. We know what Jan is and we know how tough of an out he is for anyone, but on Luke’s best day and Jan’s best day, Luke wins that fight. There is however a certain element you need to beat someone like Rockhold. Chances are, he is one of the better and more well-versed athletes in this division now. So trying to be the slicker fighter is not something I would propose to do unless your name is Jon Jones. A major key in beating him is taking the fight to him in a very dirty manner. You really can’t show him any respect in there and you need to just send a message early letting him know that he’s in for a dog fight that is not going to go as he planned. Don’t accept anything and lean on his conditioning. Make him work and test his tank. Even as arrogant as he is, he has no idea how he will hold up in real time at 205. I just don’t think Jan is going to be that guy to push the envelope. I think Rockhold starts to get off early and Jan goes ground with him before he realizes that Rockhold has no issues with rolling around in the sandbox with you either. This is a fight I will have my eye on, but def a fight that Luke should win if he is dialed in, his body is right, mind is right, and most of all….. His chin is right.
The Pick: Rockhold
Michael Chiesa $9200 vs. Diego Sanchez $7000
If this fight was a few years ago, then we could be looking at a pretty sick war but like all of us, age will eventually get us and we will succumb to it at some point. Mentally we know what needs to be done. We have been there before, we understand the techniques and the lanes to win but while the brain is firing to the body, the body just doesn’t respond to it the way it used to. It’s just a fact of life and law of science. Sanchez was one of those fighters that you literally had to kill when he was in there. It didn’t matter who you were, how you fight, and what dangers you can actually present to him. He was not going out like that and he wasn’t going out without a fight. These days it is much of the same with Diego mentally, but physically Diego’s body only shows these things in spurts. Right now he seems to be reborn a bit and all the crazy meditating and zen lifestyle makes us all start to think that maybe this kid just has it all right and we have it wrong. However, the proof has been in the pudding numerous times with his chin and it has been a clear issue in the past leading up to this little resurgence. In all of his last 4 losses, he has been finished by way of KO. All of them coming in the 1st round. With that said he will be taking on a fighter in Michael Chiesa who truly relies much more on his grappling to get things done and Diego has shown time and time again that he is not one to be toyed with when it comes to a game of chess on the ground. The BlackBelt in BJJ has a gas tank, still, like nobody’s business and he will not make anything easy on the ground if you want to tussle there. Chiesa brings a very strong wrestling foundation and his submission game in the cage far exceeds his purple belt in BJJ. in his 15 wins Michael has sealed up 11 submissions. He has yet to finish a fight due to strikes, and in his 4 losses, he was KO’d 1 time and Submitted 3 times. Both men align quite well both being southpaws and Michael holding a 3-inch reach advantage. I highly doubt that this fight will be dictated by range or distance. I think both men have the clear idea that they are going to end up in some exchanges on the ground and this will likely be a game of position. Chiesa is the more active wrestler considering if you throw at Diego, he is firing right back and if you throw at Chiesa, more likely than not he is level changing and going for your hips. He is averaging a little over 3 takedowns per affair and Diego is hovering a little over 50% on his takedown defense. Diego on the offensive side is averaging about 25% takedown accuracy while Chiesa’s defense is hovering just below 70%. Numbers are great and all but the numbers really don’t mean much once you are put in some bad positions. Diego has the ability to live a little safer in there knowing that Chiesa is not a KO artist and chances are Diego is just going to have to outwork him positionally on the ground. With that said, it is honestly easier said than done. Chiesa is a much better fighter than he is given the credit for and even with the few blips on his radar, the guy can def fight and he sure as hell can grapple. I think Chiesa has some early success with takedowns but given the energy level and cardio of Diego he will find his way back to his feet. Diego’s stand up really shouldn’t be too much of a threat to Michael, considering Diego is very uncoordinated and does tend to just throw wild with no real meaning or calculation behind it. I can see both men holding top control for a period of time, but in the end, Chiesa will be the one to have been in control most of the fight giving him the nod if it ends up making it to the cards.
The Pick: Chiesa
UFC 239 UNDERCARD
Arnold Allen $9000 vs. Gilbert Melendez $7200
Back in his Strikeforce days, this would have been a no brainer for me, but Gilbert Melendez has seen better days in his career. The 37-year-old is an extremely talented fighter with a very good long and rangy striking game, a very dominant ground game if he can get it there, and an extremely high threshold for pain and damage. There is a fine line when you lean on durability to get you through a fight and lean on your durability to be the X-Factor when you are keeping up and firing on all offensive cylinders. It seems that as the time carries on, he is leaning more and more on his durability then what his body is willing to give him offensively inside the cage if that makes any sense. Melendez’s entire career he has a tendency of being very heavy on his lead leg in which eventually getting kick enough there, it will start to diminish and weaken. It seems as if now it has weakened a lot and people are really starting to see that now. Melendez lost 5 of his last 6 and had been out of the cage since September 2017. In his last 2 fights specifically, both men were able to literally chew up his leg to oblivion leaving him basically helpless in those fights. Jeremey Stevens could have finished easily a few times in that fight and just wouldn’t pull the trigger. His calf was the size of his upper legs it was so swollen and at one point in the fight he was barely able to stand on it, but his mindset and pain threshold allowed him to fight on. However, that doesn’t win fights. You need offensive output, and if his lead leg is compromised in such a manner, it is merely impossible to mount any significant offense. This is a problem if you are fighting a cerebral fighter that understands blueprints. Arnold Allen is not what you would call a seasoned fighter, but he is a talented one and he is on quite the streak in the UFC. With a 5-0 record under the UFC umbrella, the kid is living up to expectations. The 25-year-old has tons of room to grow and if anyone will help him read these blueprints, it’s Zahabi from Tristar. The tristar system is a very patient one. They believe in patients and composure. Very calculated system and it’s usually very tailor-made. Tri-Star has lost a lot of steam as of late and it will be hard to get back to the days of GSP, but the system, the philosophy and the techniques are all there for a very young fighter to absorb. This is by far the toughest test to date for Allen. Melendez has fought some of the top dogs in the game. However, at some point in time, the young lion needs to face the old dog and sometimes that dog still has some major fight left. I think Melendez has that fight left in him but I am not sure his body and most of all his legs do anymore. I would not be shocked if Melendez wins this fight because he is still a very good chain wrestler with extremely good grappling and Allen has shown the weakness to be taken down. I just think Allen is younger, sharper, faster. And fresher in this spot at this point. This fight is really premised on how Melendez’s legs and body holds up and I am just not confident from what I have seen as of late.
The Pick: Allen
Claudia Gadelha $8800 vs. Randa Markos $7400
This fight is more intriguing than many are speaking about. On one side, you have Cláudia Gadelha who has fought The Who’s who in the division and in some spots came up short and in some spots passed the test. She had one crack at UFC gold and lost to JJ. Since then her record has been up and down. The 2nd degree BJJ black belt has genetics, chops. And a toughness about her that has never allowed her to be finished inside the horn. In her 4 losses, all have been by way of decision. The girl is a firecracker but sometimes she does tend to get caught up in these fights that put a pin hole in her gas tank. When she gasses. She gasses hard and you can expose her in many ways. That is the one thing that has made me nervous with her as of late and if someone can drag the will out of her in a grinding affair it sure can be someone like Markos. The crazy thing about Markos is that in her entire career outside of her 1st three fights to start her career she has had a perfect rotation of wins and loses right down the board outside of one no contest. As of right now if you believe in that kind of MMA math then she is up for a loss after her most recent win against Angela Hill. I actually do find it amazing that she has never tied 2 consecutive wins together in since her first loss in 2014. However, this can be one time that she can break that trend. Her 9-6 record won’t appeal to you but she has looked better as of late and she is really starting to lean on her wrestling much more than she did in the past. This fight just really all depends on the gas tank of Cláudia here. It’s clear that she is the fighter with more tenacity and avg 3 takedowns an affair but her gas tank can and has been an issue down the stretch in long-winded battles. Markos needs to really show up here or she will get completely outworked. As we all know by her up and down record, she shows up half of the time, but she seems to be in a little different mind frame right now. Her confidence seems different then it did in the past, but she needs this to carry over here or she won’t last. Markos needs to use durability and patience to win this fight. Cláudia is going to come out blazing and Markos will need to weather the storm and not try to keep up. Let here burn the candle at both ends and then start to work on the 2nd round. She isn’t athletic enough to match Cláudia fire with fire. So she will need her to burn out slightly and take over late. I think she is very live here and on a card that dogs aren’t plentiful, I’m willing to give her a nod here.
The Pick: Markos
Song Yadong $8500 vs. Alejandro Perez $7700
Team Alpha Male has taken a slight dip as of late and they are hoping that they have something here in this 21-year-old from China. The 13-3 fighter is showing much promise, and TAM has him in their scopes closely, hoping he can be one of the elements that bring alpha male back to relevance. He will be facing Alejandro Perez. I would dare to say that he is the best fighter that Yadong has faced to date and he will present problems to many fighters with his pressure and well-rounded abilities. It is a really tough spot here when you are picking this fight because Yadong is the more dynamic fighter but I would say that Perez is the more fluent and technically sound fighter. I think Perez has a really good chance here to upset this kid and I am fully confident that any way you crack it this is going to be a highly contested fight. I will take Perez here on a card that is once again….Starving for dogs…
The Pick: Perez
Marlon Vera $9500 vs. Nohelin Hernandez $6700
VERA was supposed to fight Sugar Shane and now he is fighting on very very late notice Hernandez. VERA is the type of fighter that has been looking very good but he just can’t be trusted fully and even tho Hernandez was replaced in minutes and has his cards stacked against him. It’s a fight that VERA has his choice here to win or lose. This is his fight to do so. With that said I don’t trust him all that much, but this is his fight if he wants it.
The Pick: VERA
Julia Avila $8600 vs. Pannie Kianzad $7600
Kianzad is a good wrestler, but she is not as aggressive as I would like to see her. She will be taking on a debuting fighter in Avila on last minute notice as well and Avila puts on a good pace. She has all the tools to win here, but you wonder if the short notice and debuting on such a big card will affect her in any way. If it doesn’t I am expecting her to finish this fight just by her pressure alone.
The Pick: Avila
Edmen Shahbazyan $9400 vs. Jack Marshman $6800
Shahb is one of those fighters that comes to us with a 9-0 record all by the way of 1st round finish except 1 fight in which he earned a split decision over Darren Stewart. With all his finishes coming by way of KO, we don’t really know what he is fully just yet, and against a fellow striker like Jack Marshman, this can be a pretty entertaining fight. Marshman is a Welsh-based fighter in which he really is what he is. A tough boxer with solid skills on the feet. When you sign up to fight Marshman, you need to know that majority of the fight will end up on the feet of he has his choice about the matter. Shahbazyan is happy to oblige in such an affair. With a 23-8 record, The 29-year-old has 13 by way of KO, and in his 8 losses, he has been stopped 4 of the 8 with 3 by KO. Marshman even at the young age of 29 has some mileage on him. His record in the UFC has been very up and down with a 3-3 record. It does seem as if he beats who you expect him to beat but the minute the competition gets dicey he loses. He is really a matchup-based fighter at this point and there is not much that will change in that. Even tho we have only seen Shahbazyan go yard one time, the matchup was much different. Darren Stewart looks to grind you where Marshman will want his space to work. This is much better for someone like Shabazyan because it gives him the choice instead of being put in a situation that he is dealt. Marshman will be there and he has the confidence in his striking to really keep up and put it on his opponents, but I think Shahbazyan will be a little sharper, a little faster, and get to the spots and finish off the exchanges in a more convincing manner in this one.
The Pick: Shahbazyan
Ismail Naurdiev $9300 vs. Chance Rencountre $6900
In Naurdiev’s debut, he really showed well-rounded capabilities. Putting an absolute clinic on the very tough Prazeres, Naurdiev was able to completely dismantle him with an array of strikes along with a very good grappling game that not many people can deal with fighting a guy like Prazeres. Even though he was able to reverse scenarios on the ground with Prazeres, it’s quite obvious that the guy loves to strike. He ties so many combos together that it is really hard to dial him in defensively. Spinning attacks, punches and kicks and a very athletic style of striking. At 18-2 he has 11 by way of KO, so more times than not he is getting it done with leather. Rencountre is a tuff fighter with good wrestling, but it really stops there. He isn’t the most athletic guy, and in the feet, I just don’t see him having much for Naurdiev. At 13-3 he has a good track record but it’s really nothing that the Australian wonder boy has not seen yet and he actually has seen better versions of what Rencountre offers. It’s not a fight where I am willing to reinvent the wheel here. Rencountre has his work cut out for him and it’s just a matter of time until he sees that as the fight drifts on.
The Pick: Naurdiev
UFC 239 DRAFTKINGS
- Jones $9600
It’s Jon Jones guys. $9600 in a 5 round fight. It doesn’t matter who it is. You want a little skin in the game.
- Santos $6600
He has one path to victory here. He needs to catch Jones cold and early. Can it happen? Yes. Probable? Meh. With that said, when people are telling you to fade him in this spot, I will have a punt or two on him. The unknown is very real and you just never know.
- Nunes $9100
Nunes is possibly the best female fighter that this world has come to know, and she will be able to cement her legacy further with a win over the highly respected Holly Holm. At $9100 in a 5 round fight, there is value but you need to remember that Holm is extremely durable and will never go quietly into the night without a fight. Nunes is going to bring heat, but I am not sure that it will be enough to cover her value in a fight that I am expecting to go yard. She is not a must play and I would say put your toe in the water but don’t go deep.
- Holm $7100
Holm is the original Rhonda Rousey assailant. Super crisp boxing with extremely high pedigree kickboxing mixed in. Her movement and striking play in perfect concert with each other to a point that it flows like water. She really understands the science of baiting, trapping, starting low and going high, creating angles, and fighting off the centerline. She is a true talent with an extremely athletic genetic code behind her. With that said, the volume against someone like Nunes may not be there. She may find herself on her back heals playing the counter game and that won’t be enough against Nunes. However, $7100? I don’t hate it. I can tell you that I have seen much worse at that price point and she is not out of the question. I personally wouldn’t fade her totally.
- Askren $8700
The founder of the funk. The collegian standout was known for his “Funk” style that no one can dial in or figure out. His transitions and his ability to scramble out of very difficult positions and situations are second to none. He proved to us that he had a chin against Lawler, and I am not quite sure Masvidal has the power to really fend him off. At $8700, expect Askren to find Masvidal’s hips early. He can make this a grind fest, but he can also finish it in the process. I’m interested.
- Masvidal $7500
The original street fighter from Miami. A man after my own heart. Just a tough kid from the streets that never backed down from a fight in his life. Sharp hands, good solid wrestling and a fearless persona are all wrapped up in one with “Game Bred.” However, I think he comes up short here and even at $7500 if he’s on his back, much of his offense will be X’d out. If anyone can beat Askren however, it would be Masvidal. I just have a tough time comprehending how. Fringe play for me here. He either gets worked or he catches Askren.
- Rockhold $8400
He had serious issues making weight at middleweight and his move to light heavy will really dictate where he is and how far he can take this thing. His durability scares me but the serious weight cuts could have played its hand in it. I’m actually interested here. I think Rockhold has a very good window to roll here. Keep one eye on him this weekend. Ignoring him can be something you regret.
- Blachowicz $7800
I like Jan but I don’t think he fares well here. Rockhold coming out at Light heavy can be a good sign for him and the division and even tho Jan presents problems for anyone, I am not sold they he beats a hydrated and strong Rockhold. But stranger things have happened and we know that Luke’s chin has been dust. So if he brings that weak chin up to light heavyweight. Things can get worse. So you are picking on a question mark here, but a question mark that needs an answer. He is not a terrible play. I just don’t think he wins.
- Chiesa $9200
He’s longer, faster, rangier, and he has a good wrestling pedigree behind him. This is his fight to win or lose. I don’t like his price, but since Sanchez lives with a kill or be killed attitude, Chiesa will have his opportunities to finish in several moments of this fight. What he does will be on him, but they will be there.
- Sanchez $7000
“TheNightmare” is without a doubt one of the most interesting characters that you will ever come across. He has a very odd outlook on life, healing, and prayer. However, the aging vet can fight and he is always looking for a good scrap. The issue here is his chin. It has become dust and that scares me. Can’t do it against a young talent like Chiesa. I’m passing.
- Allen $9000
He’s young, strong, and talented. Problem is, he is fighting “El Nino.” I expect Allen to win this fight but he isn’t going to finish Melendez in my guestimation. So that can hinder his value. I’m not too thrilled about this spot.
- Melendez $7200
At one time, I would literally give this kid every roster spot I have at $7200, but it has come to my attention that the fighting style he possesses is really starting to take its toll. Science tells us boxers tend to lay heavy weight on their front lead leg, and after years of getting scorched by leg kicks, it seems Melendez’s lead leg doesn’t want anymore. It has been giving out I a very bad way and that is just a sign of body breakdown. He is not the “El Niño” of old. Don’t buy into this too deeply on name value. He “was” great and still has a chance due to his durability and will to win so I would not fade him totally but he will need to keep that leg free and fight a very very good fight here.
- Gadelha $8800
She has high octane but she without a doubt has a tendency to gas. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with her price here but I can tell you that her cardio and conditioning will play a big role in her scoring. This one is dicey for me. I would say proceed with caution.
- Markos $7400
Markos is very very hit or miss. At $7400, there is clear value there if she’s a hit then you will have made a great decision. However, her record does fluctuate up and down and you never know what Markos you will get. She wouldn’t be my first choice but on a card with minimal plays for the underdogs, I have seen worse. She’s worth a few small looks.
- Yadong $8500
The kid is good, but this is a very big test for him here. I’m not super comfortable with this price tag and I may sit back on this one.
- Perez $7700
He is and should be the dog here, but he is very tough with good hands. At $7700, even in a decision win, he will need to stay active enough to put work Yadong, so if he wins, he scores and covers. I have my eye on him.
- Marlon Vera $9500
Too expensive for me. I am passing here
- Hernandez $6700
- Avila $8600 / Kianzad $7600
I am passing here.
- Shahbazyan $9400
I like this kid a lot, and against a very very hittable Marshman, the door is open for him to do some work. Very highly tagged but I’m willing to take a few chances here.
- Marshman $6800
I’ll pass on Marshman.
- Naurdiev $9300
I’m expecting him to be a little lower owned here then some of the $9k fighters and I get why. However. His athletic ability and his hard to pin down fighting style is going to be a problem for the slower Rexountre. I think he has a good opportunity here to showcase. Large field GPP, I will have my eyes on him in spots.
- Rencountre $6900
Good wrestling, but his pace and keeping up may not be enough here.
UFC 239 VEGAS BETS
THERE IS NO VALUE ON THIS CARD AT ALL…. THE LINES ARE VERY BAD UNFORTUNATELY…. HERE ARE A FEW TO TOY WITH AND YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH MY PICKS BUT THE LINE ARE BAD… I HAVE NO HEAVY CONVICTION ON THESE PLAYS DUE TO THE VALUE LACKING BUT I CAN’T LET THIS CARD GO ON WITHOUT A LITTLE SKIN IN THE GAME. SO I ADDED A TASTE TO PLAY LIGHT WITH….
Holm vs Nunes Over 3.5 -120
2.4 units to win 2 units
1.9 to win 1
2 Units to win 2.16 units