MadLab’s UFC 251 Breakdown and Predictions!!! Here is what Twitter is saying…
UFC 251 CARD
Kamaru Usman DK $8900 / FD $22 vs. Jorge Masvidal DK $7300 / FD $18 TITLE FIGHT
This is a main event that had to take a hard jab step in the opposite direction. Originally slated to be Usman vs. Burns, Burns would test positive for Covid-19. In a scramble to find a replacement, they didn’t have to look too hard to find a street Jesus waiting within the shadows for the right time and the right payday. Masvidal, in which who has a slight history with Usman inked the line to step in on short notice to continue #TheResurrection campaign in its highest manor. The fight is more intriguing to me because quite honestly we really don’t know what Burns is yet. He is improving in a lot of ways for sure but he is NOT top of the heap in that division in which is absolutely stacked. One thing I will say is the matchup was a bit more intriguing than this one because the paths to victory for Burns and Usman were a bit more locked in horns in spots. In this fight, Masvidal really has the ability to bring more revenue in and he holds more name-value, but on paper, the fight isn’t really one to look so salacious in his favor. However, we aren’t paper shredders here and we do things a little differently in the Lab. There are a few nuggets that you need to take into consideration for all these fights and we will cover them today. However, let’s take a look at both men’s overall body of work and then look at his last 5 fights, shall we? Masvidal comes to us with a record of 35-13. Masvidal has 16 by way of KO and 17 by way of decision, which is strange considering the reputation that he has built for himself. Having more decisions than KO’s seems odd. In his 13 losses, he has been overall durable with only 1 by KO and 2 submissions. Masvidal has a very good chain boxing game. Being groomed in the street, he has built a certain style and a certain mindset to his game. Street fighting is much different. The way you throw your punches is different and the target areas are much different. You need to not waste punches and really understand how to sit down a little differently on them. His accuracy and his ability to really make most of them count is all credited to his time in the street. His grappling game is very underrated but utilizing that is much more defensive then it is offensive. Masvidal will much rather stand and trade on the feet than play in the sandbox with you. Masvidal carries a 70% takedown defense, but that is honestly a little misleading. If you really want to take him there you absolutely can. Maia was able to secure him there 4 times and I wouldn’t say that Maia is exactly the explosive wrestler on entries that Usman is. If you look at the 5 most recent fights they aren’t that impressive from the vantage point that people are slating it to be. A great 3 fight run? Yes. But more from a name-value perspective and not an actual matchup uncomfortability perspective besides 1. He lost to Maia by decision. He lost to WonderBoy by decision. He KO’d Darren Till in a fight where Till sent him to the Canvas in the 1st round and ended up getting caught in the 2nd. He KO’d Ben Askren with a flying Knee right in the beginning, so we really never got to see that fight kick-off. His most impressive win was against Nate Diaz in a fight that I was at and he was abusing Nate for the better part of 3 rounds. With that said the tides did start to sway and you can clearly see Masvidal losing steam and Nate starting to even the playing field a bit. However, the fight was stopped due to a cut and we never got to see if Nate could actually finish the job he started later in the fight. So all great wins but is Masvidal really hitting stride late in his career? Did he really take a huge leap into his potential? The later rounds in that Nate Diaz fight really started to make me wonder how well he will perform down the stretch, and that is going to be a concern for me in this fight against a guy that is much more athletic, explosive and stronger than Nate. If you look at the fights that Jorge went 5 rounds, he is 0-2 with any fight that goes past the 3rd round. So forget about the record of 0-2; he has only been passed the 3rd round 2 times in all of his fights.
Now, we look at Usman, who really seems to have an edge here if he wants it. His record stands to be a bit more impressive with a 16-1 record including a 14 fight win streak. In his last 5 fights, his resume is as follows. KO’d Covington in a very good fight, Decision over Woodley, Decision over RDA, Decision over Maia. and Decision over Meek. The impressive thing about this streak is that 4 of the 5 all went to the 5th round and he was able to finish a cardio machine in Covington in the 5th. So, in 2 years, Usman has been in the championship rounds double the amount of times than Masvidal in his entire career and won them all. That does tell a small tale. Solid wrestling, good hands and a very good chin, Usman is a problem on paper and in the cage. Averaging a little over 3 takedowns a fight, Masvidal is going to really want to keep his hips in space, especially if this thing goes deep when Usman will be going to that well to win close rounds late. So Masvidal’s cardio really needs to be in check to go deep.
The other major twist and question mark here is the travel time and the weight cut. Probably no other tout will tell you this because they most likely just watch from TV or have become “Pandemic MMA Touts.” When you fly to a destination, your body fills up with water. So, when you are traveling for a fight, it’s always good to land a little earlier to expel that water. However, the plot has twisted here. Not only do they need to fly, land and expel; they need to Fly to Vegas, Test, Quarantine, Fly 12-14 hours again into a completely flipped time zone, test and start the process. The body will be so out of whack at this point between their bodies will handle it genetically the way their body handles it. That’s a really tough ask for a guy on 6 days notice, but if one guy can manage it, I would say mentality wise it would be Jorge. With that said I really just don’t like this matchup for him. I think the fight will be generally interesting early. Not many people are going to outclass Masvidal on the feet. So, for as long as it stays there, we are going to be looking at an interesting scrap in which Jorge should be able to really have his spots. However, The champ isn’t going to take chances. He will stand and trade until he knows that he is either losing the battle or he finds a hole into his hips. As the fight carries on, expect Usman to lean on his wrestling more and more to secure rounds and retain his title.
The Pick: Usman
Alexander Volkanovski DK $9100 / FD $18 vs. Max Holloway DK $7100 / FD $16 TITLE FIGHT
Interesting fight here. This is really going to show the championship heart of Holloway here. In his first fight against Volk, it was seemingly close but there was really no doubt that Volk won that fight. However, it seemed that Holloway really didn’t let his hands go like he normally does. This really starts to draw some questions on “Why” did he approach the fight this way. Even tho he was the one that was moving forward, He really just hunted more than he fired. He had his spots especially late in the fight but the trigger happy Holloway just wasn’t there. The numbers at the end of the fight were comparable but you can see that he was not throwing in bunches like he normally would. He would engage, start to get off, and then Volk would start throwing heavy heat and Max would then back up and reset. He seemed like he was just a hair off, although his work rate was up if you look at the numbers. With that said, Volk’s work rate was the highest it’s ever been in terms of numbers and punch volume, so you wonder if he will be able to keep that pace up a second go-around with Holloway and what happens if Holloway really pulls the trigger this time. I think the fight can play out very similar to the last fight with a few extra twists and turns. I think the output will be a little different on both ends. I think Max knows he needs to get started right out of the gate and I think Volk will go as Max goes. So it will possibly have a little volume attached to it. I also think there may be a few different approaches on both ends. Volk will look to ground this fight this time around. Although Max has very, very good Takedown defense, you must remember how powerful Volk is being a heavyweight at one time. He has an extremely solid base and if he really commits to that takedown he may just land it. Max is going to really want to use his height and length in his striking to keep Volk at the end of his punches. He will need to really check leg kicks and he is going to need to understand that he isn’t going to win this fight on power matching. He is going to need to win this on Volume and Volume only. Max is claiming that he has only trained on zoom and did no sparring for this fight. How much of that I believe and I am not certain. That is suicide for a fighter like Max, and here’s why. He is a timing fighter. He needs to set beads on you and get into a tempo to really start getting off. Sparring is a huge puzzle piece to that. If he isn’t sparring, then it is hard to believe that he is going to come out of the gate firing away on all cylinders and will need some time to really dial in again. That is the reason he fell behind on the cards in the last fight. Max came on late. He fought off desperation late and it ultimately cost him the fight. Max is really going to have to pick up where he left off in the 4th and 5th round of their last fight where he was finding his mark and ramping up the volume. Volk will need to make some changes, but ultimately, he was able to really just walk through what Holloway was throwing his way. I think we are going to see more of the same here. Holloway will have his spots and probably land the more strikes in volume, but I think Volk will land the harder shots which may sway the judges a bit. Holloway has been rocked quite a few times as of late and I just don’t see Holloway having the torque to really put Volk on skates. It is so hard to pick against Holloway here because I know what he can do when he is ripe and dilated in and I do believe a primed and focused Max beats Volk, but I am not sure he is able to get to the peak level during a time like this with the state of the world. Even if he is lying about the entire Zoom thing, he isn’t getting truly what he needs and Max needs that cage time. He needs to be able to see different looks in training to create different looks. I think it’s a close fight but one that Volk ends up winning in the end. Sad to say, and it hurts to say, but it’s true. I will be cheering for Max but I have to pick with my head and not my heart. Volk gets it done.
The Pick: Volk
Petr Yan DK $9300 / FD $19 vs. Jose Aldo DK $6900 / FD $14 TITLE FIGHT
This fight is so so good, and it is grossly priced, to be quite honest. Peter Yan seems to be the future of the division. The guy literally looks like all systems go with him. Very dynamic striking, good chin, good cardio and pace. However, after really reviewing his resume and his tape, I think it’s fair to say that he hasn’t faced someone like Aldo. The fight that really was glaring to me was his fight with Jimmie Rivera. Rivera is a good striker but he doesn’t have the power or the speed as Aldo and he was really able to hang in with Yan in a close fight that it seemed he was losing in spots and then would connect on Rivera and drop him which would steal him a close round. If he never dropped Rivera those few times, would he have won that fight? Also the Faber fight he did much better against Yan then many expected. At 40 years of age, he really had his spots and ended up getting caught with a kick in the 3rd. With that, I feel like Yan is very very good but I do think that he is a little inflated as this huge power puncher that can take your head off. At 14-1 he has 6 by KO and 7 by decision. This is a huge opportunity for Yan to really nail down what he has been searching for his entire career. A chance to win a belt against one of the greatest to ever do it. I have to be honest with you, people who think Aldo doesn’t deserve this shot are wrong. I do agree that I see both sides of the argument. I do see why people would think that coming off 2 losses. However, has he really been dealt a fair hand himself? Back in the day when he lost to Conor, he was caught. He never got the chance to redeem himself or a rematch. How does one of the greatest to ever do it not have a chance to run it back? They gave it to GSP when he lost to Serra. They gave it to Holloway after he lost to Volk. They gave it to Conor when he lost to Diaz. Why didn’t he ever get his rightful rematch? In his last fight against Marlon, he lost a very tough split decision in which many people thought that he won, including me. So to say he doesn’t deserve a little bit of a break is not fair. Ranking-wise and record-wise? Yes, Aljo 1000 percent deserves it and it will happen, but I think Aldo isn’t just some pawn in a show here. The pricing of this fight is absolutely insulting. $6900 for a guy that in my opinion can really beat anyone on his best day. Look, there is no doubt that Aldo is on the decline but sometimes you really need to look for the value and wonder why so many people are down on Aldo as such a shot fighter. I will say this. The one thing that really concerns me here is his cardio going into the 4th and 5th rounds. I am not sure if he is going to be able to cut a round deficit if he is down heavily on the cards. He hasn’t been to the 4th and 5th in quite some time so you def have to wonder if he can still have that output going deep against the younger fresher fighter in Yan. All I am going to say is this. Aldo is getting majorly disrespected here and he has an opportunity to really do something special on saturday night. He will need to go back to Old Aldo, style-wise. He needs to remarry his leg kicks. He needs to really understand that those kicks made Aldo, Aldo. Fight cautious but not to a fault. Let the fight come to him and look for the body to head and not just head. Yan is going to want to pressure but if he was smart he would test the cardio of Aldo here. Test his will and test his chin. The writing will be on the wall for Yan early and I think we will get a good idea of how this fight is going to pan out within a round or so. I am picking Aldo here. I may regret it but I have had this feeling all week so I am just going to stick with it.
The Pick: Aldo
Rose Namajunas DK $9000 / FD $17 vs. Jessica Andrade DK $7200 / FD $13
If you watch the first fight, you really can’t get altered by who won that fight. Rose really beat her from Pillar to post. She made a mistake and all it takes is one mistake for you to get caught. However, she didn’t get caught. She was slammed on a beam that would put her out. It was literally the right spot on the cage at the right time. Namajunas was really just getting the best of her in the exchanges. Don’t let the stats fool you. This is your perfect matchup of Technical and graceful fighter against the Joe Frazier style brawler. In Andrade’s last fight she was waxed by Zhang and now will be looking to bounce back in a big way to show that the win against Rose was not a fluke. If you look at both of their resumes, they both have fought the elite of the division. They both have beaten the elite of the division. So there is really no experience advantage when it comes to huge fights. They have both been champions as well. The real concern here for Rose is her mental warfare within herself. She isn’t mentally stable when it comes to a lot of things in her life. She really needs to be centered outside of the cage in order to perform inside of it. This is true for many fighters but she is a little more magnified than most. If her life is altered in a bad state then it will show within her fighting. Her fighting goes as her life goes and you wonder if the major transition in process with fight island will alter her performance in any way. As far as Andrade, you have to wonder how she bounces back from such a tough loss to Zhang. You have to wonder if she will be able to secure takedowns safely against Rose. I say that because, every time Andrade would put Rose in a spot, Rose would tie her up with something and her only escape was to slam Rose down on that beam to shake her and finish the fight. Andrade typically throws more volume and will have the takedown advantage but that doesn’t tell the tale here the way Rose fights. She fights more in a sense of not wasting movements. She tries to make everything count and is extremely calculated. Instead of fighting the grain, she goes with the grain in all that she does. Stand up and especially grappling. She lets the fight flow to her and takes whatever floats by. I like that about Rose. Andrade will try to break barriers and knock down doors, and although that tends to work, some matadors are better than others. I feel as if Rose is going to play high-level matador here and get this one back.
The Pick: Rose
Amanda Ribas DK $9500 / FD $20 vs. Paige VanZant DK $6700 / FD $10
This is really not a fight that I am super interested in. If you really look at it from a Matchmaker perspective, what do you really have in VanZant at this point? The girl literally said that she can make more in a day job than she can fighting. She really doesn’t seem to want to be here and lost 3 of her last 5. She is fighting a very good and promising prospect in Amanda Ribas who is a black belt in BJJ and is really showing some very good potential. With a 9-1 record, she has a perfect balance in her wins with 3-3-3 and her solo loss is by way of KO. The thought that they would put Ribas in danger of losing to someone like VanZant, who truly doesn’t want to be there, is highly unlikely. I think they want to get Ribas a win here and give VanZant her pink slip. There is no denying that VanZant does have her spots and is an extremely tough fighter that is not afraid to get bloody and fight, but I think Ribas is way too much for her in this fight and I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets this one done inside the horn. It would be a big blow to the UFC if VanZant somehow re-springboarded her name here of a good talented prospect like Ribas.
The Pick: Ribas
Volkan Oezdemir DK $8400 / FD $17 vs. Jiri Prochazka DK $7800 / FD $15
This is a perfect example of a guy coming from overseas with a very very impressive record on paper with an extremely high finish ratio, looks the part, plays the part but you wonder if he really is the part. Prochazka is a pretty big and powerful guy with a decent striking game. At 6’4 he has the ability to fight long and really keep you at the end of his punches if he wants to do so. The light heavyweight champs debuts in the cage with an astounding 26-3 record with 23 of them by KO. That is just an insane finishing ratio. However, you now ask yourself, who has really fought? The thing with overseas fighting is that you really need to keep a close eye on the level of competition because that can really waver things heavily. It’s not saying that this kid isn’t talented because he is, but you need to be really wary when you’re looking at records like that. Example… his last win was against CB Dolloway, who lost 5 of his last 7. Before that, he beat Maldonado, who lost 6 of his last 10. Before that, Lawler, who lost 6 of his last 10. You see the pattern? He is beating guys that he really should be beating. It’s not saying he isn’t good, but he may be magnified a little bit. We really don’t know what he is until Saturday night. Volkan we at least know what he is. He is going to come into the cage. Look to put hands on you and try and time something big by getting you to walk onto something. Books has had a rough go but look at the level of competition he has fought. The level is far higher and he presented himself well. He lost to Cormier, Anthony Smith and a very close fight with Reyes that I feel should have gone his way. Then he clinches back with 2 big wins against Latifi and Rakic. He has proved his worth in the UFC as of now and he will look to make it 3 straight against a guy that looks very sharp but highly unproven. I won’t lie, the 5-inch reach does concern me a bit and Volkan will need to really get underneath and get within range to win. However, I just think the debuting fighter is a little spastic. He really is jittery and jumpy when he’s in there. Waving his hands around. Throwing flying knees that he actually does time well and really has no real semblance of a grappling game. He really is all stand up all the time and that is OK with Volkan because that is his game as well. However. Volkan just seems more patient, more composed and a little cleaner here. I think Volkan gets this one done.
The Pick: Volkan
Muslim Salikhov DK $8200 / FD $16 vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos DK $8000 / FD $15
This fight is really just too close for comfort here. The price is actually dead on if you ask me. Salikhov came into the UFC with an extensive KickBoxing background with an unreal 185-13 record with 76 by way of KO. I mean that is pretty insane if you think about it. In his debut in the UFC after having a very successful run on multiple overseas circuits such as M-1, he was ready to hit the big show. Against Alex Garcia, he was quite the touted favorite and ended up getting submitted. The questions started to whirl now if he was a little bit of a hype train. Since then he silenced people banging off 3 straight including his most solidifying one against Nordine Taleb in which he sparked him out cold with one shot. Salikhov seems to be finding his groove even at 36 years of age. His extremely dynamic style with spinning movements coming from very awkward angles coupled with good pop and power. The issue with him is that if you get him to his back, then he really can be had, and to be quite honest, with an established record like his in KickBoxing, why wouldn’t you try to get it there. That is exactly what makes this fight so intriguing and tough for me. dos Santos is exactly everything Salikhov wants to face on one end, and then on the other end, he can be a complete problem. dos Santos is extremely well versed in the art of Capoeira. This art is extremely dynamic as well and calls for a lot of spinning and offset movements that have elements of surprise hooked to them very very similar style to Salikhov and he would most likely feast on. On the other end, dos Santos also holds a black belt in BJJ, so he is extremely capable of handling Salikhov’s weakness on the ground. However, we have seen it so many times before where fighters just stray away from the clear path and get baited into a jock measuring contest that ends up backfiring on them. dos Santos has the credentials to do work on the ground but doesn’t really go to it all that much. With a record of 22-6, he has 14 by KO and only 3 by way of submission. The key here is really black or white here. If dos Santos stands for 15 minutes and trades with Salikhov, he will most likely get caught with something. If he decides to really commit to grappling then this will be his fight to win or lose. If I was his corner I would literally forbid him for getting into any sort of pocket exchange. I would have him use his striking only to set up looks for entries and then commit. If you fail, Commit again. Eventually, you will secure him and once you do, Salikhov does not have the ability to escape quickly. So like I said, in my opinion, there is only one true option here that isn’t playing with fire. Get underneath, take away his range and ability to create havoc on the feet and get this to the ground. I am going to take a shot on he does that here and take the dog with the hopes that he hears my thoughts…
The Pick: dos Santos
Makwan Amirkhani DK $8600 / FD $19 vs. Danny Henry DK $7600 / FD $11
I usually am not high on SBG guys, but I like this kid Amirkhani. Not a world-beater but a very under the radar solid and very well rounded fighter. With a 15-4 record, he has 10 by way of submission, and in his 4 losses, he has been finished 1 time both ways. In his last fight against Burgos, he was really picked apart and that is really not shocking to me, considering Burgos is extremely sharp on the feet. His 2 previous fights before that were a submission against Fishgold and the wild card slippery grappler in JASON knight who is no longer in the UFC. It’s safe to say that he has a lot to prove yet but he has a way about him that has an upward trajectory in my eyes. He has good attributes that you can build off of and he’s also a southpaw which I always tend to like considering I’m a south law myself. Hey! Us southpaws stick together! He takes on Danny Henry, who is another very promising talent with a well-rounded game in his line right. With a record of 12-3, he has a very nice balance of 5 subs and 5 KOs. In his 3 losses, he was only submitted 1 time that came by the hands of Dan Ige, which was his very last fight. Danny Henry is sharp on the feet and his grappling is good once he gets in a positive position on the ground, but his wrestling isn’t where Amirkhani’s is and that can be the backbreaker for him here. Amirkhani is marking about 3.5 takedowns per affair, and Henry is sitting at around a 60 percent takedown defense. Amirkhani is much better, but Henry is not a very good chain wrestler. Ok, expecting it to be competitive on the feet, but eventually, Amirkhani will push forward and secure Henry against the cage where he will be able to drop a level and get this to the ground where he can control top position. I’m expecting more of the same as the rounds go on ultimately giving him the nod in the end.
The Pick: Amirkhani
Leonardo Santos DK $8800 / FD $19 vs. Roman Bogatov DK $7400 / FD $12
Santos is so confusing to me. The guy is so talented but it seems that he comes and goes like the wind. The 4th degree Black belt in BJJ holds a record of 17-3 with 9 submissions and 3 KO’s. He came into the UFC winning the Ultimate Fighter Brazil and now holds a record of 6-0-1, beating guys like Stevie Ray, Kevin Lee and Anthony Rocco Martin. Santos is long, rangy and is extremely slippery from anywhere on the ground. Whether he is on top or off his back Santos is the guy that is a weapon anywhere. He will take on Roman Bogatov who walks into the UFC with a 10-0 record. Bogatov is an extremely aggressive fighter with heavy hands and will look to push you onto your back foot, take you down and literally ground and pound you into dust. However, his ground and pound usually is to soften you up to grab a limb or a neck. With 5 submissions and 1 KO to his merit, he will have his work cut out for him if he thinks he is going to submit the much better grappler in Santos. The issue for me here with Santos is his inconsistent ways of fighting and his age. At what point do you fall off and at what point does it just not walk into the cage with you. Leonardo Santos is 40 years old now and Bogatov is 11 years younger, which in fighting makes a big difference in cases. However, with BJJ you can avoid damage and inflict offense. Santos can roll for days and it is second nature to him at this point. If he is taken down then you can expect his hips to be sharp and active right out of the gate. Bogatov isn’t going to want to play too cute on the ground with Santos even tho he is a capable grappler. There are Capable grapplers and there are Elite Grapplers and Santos is an Elite Grappler. I know he’s 40, and I know he is very inconsistent with his activity, but it is so hard to pick against him in this spot. Bogatov can earn a lot of respect from me here if he wins but I can’t pick him here just yet.
The Pick: Santos
Marcin Tybura DK $7900 / FD $14 vs. Maxim Grishin DK $8100 / FD $16
Late notice replacement Max Grishin steps into the cage at 36 years of age looking to make a little splash for his debut. The natural light heavyweight will be fighting at heavyweight here. He may be stepping in as a debuting fighter for the UFC but Grishin has been around the circuit. The former PFL fighter holds a record of 30-7 with 15 KOs and 6 submissions. In his 7 losses, he has been KOd 3 times and submitted 3 times. Grishin has an aggressive style when he has you confused and backing up. It is then when he will really let his hands fly. He has a robotic type of style where he throws stiff, but they seem to come out of the barrel with pop and accuracy. I think at 36 it’s fair to say that he really is what he is at this point. A very capable striker with good pop in his hands and not afraid to really bite down to throw heat with you. At 6’4, he fared quite well at 205, but you have to wonder how it will all translate against a natural heavyweight in Tybura. Tybura is much more well rounded in my opinion. Not a world-beater in any sense of the imagination, but I think he tends to get a raw deal. I say that because he has fallen off a bit. Winning only 2 of his last 6, you need to really see who he lost to before passing hard judgment (Werdum. Sakai. Derick Lewis and Abdurakhimov). Tybura really is better than his record indicates. He has decent striking, good wrestling and solid grappling. His game just seems to have options where Grishin only has that one path, which is a solid path, but if Tybura can get his wrestling going, then the big man should be able to do enough to grind his way with top control. There is something about the strength of schedule with me, and win or lose, they still stepped in with that opposition. If they represent themselves well, win or lose, it should stand for something. It does to me and I feel as if Tybura has shown much more of his cards on the proving grounds a little more. I can’t pick blindly and even tho we know Tybura is not an elite level fighter, we know he isn’t a bad one either that has faced some of the Elite. Give me Tybura.
The Pick: Tybura
Raulian Paiva DK $8700 / FD $18 vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov DK $7500 / FD $13
This fight is one that confuses me a bit, to be honest. There is a bit of hype around this kid Zhumagulov and I can understand why. He has looked very good in the film that I have watched and also beat some good competition in the process. Even tho some of his opponents were not in the UFC, does not mean they are shills. He is an active striker and he does do some very nice things inside the pocket. That is really where he likes to take things. With a 13-3 record, he has 6 by KO and only 1 by decision. The one place I have seen him have trouble on the feet is when you keep him at range. However, he does a very good job usually coming underneath and clearing that space rather quickly. I also noticed that his grappling and takedown defense really isn’t where it needs to be, but he has done just fine without it. He will debut against 24-year-old Paiva, who has had his ups and downs under the UFC umbrella. With a record of 19-3, Paiva usually gets his work done at the final horn with 12 wins via decision. He is long and rangy and likes to really keep you at the end of his punches where he can utilize space and room to work. In his last fight against Mark De La Rosa, he was really able to keep De La Rosa at bay until he found his mark to finish him, giving him one of his rare finishes. In the 2 fights before that, he lost to Bontorin and KKF, who were able to get inside on him. A place that really takes away what he likes to do. Zee is really going to need to understand that approaching this fight in that manner is going to make or break him. He can’t sit on the outside playing the range game with Paiva cause he will get picked apart. He needs to really push the pace and make Paiva uncomfortable and make him work at a different pace. I think Paiva is able to put on a Pace that is relaxing enough for him to find his range. Slow things up and score. Not a fight I am looking forward to but I’ll side with Paiva here in a fight that is honestly a coin flip.
The Pick: Paiva
Karol Rosa DK $9200 / FD $16 vs. Vanessa Melo DK $7000 / FD $10
Let’s throw defense to the wind! This fight is low-level in my eyes. However, these girls really don’t have the word Defense in their dictionary. Rosa is coming in here with a 12-3 record and looked mighty good on the regional scene, but if you look at the metrics of her last fight. The girl throws 11 punches per minute and absorbs the same amount! Melo is really the same animal. However, she is scoring about 4 per minute and absorbing 6. That’s called throwing caution to the wind! Melo missed weight by 5 pounds. That is not even excusable. Her cardio is questionable already and she has a 2 fight losing streak. She loses this fight and she most likely is gone. So it is safe to say that this girl didn’t try to make weight. However, her grappling is pretty good, and it kind of ends there. She is fairly durable and has only been finished 1 time in her career and that even includes a decision loss to Aldana who is extremely tough. with a record of 10-7 with 8 wins by way of decision. It is clear how she likes to get things done. Missing weight by 5 pounds is just someone that I can get behind unless they have a track record of being a winner. With a 10-7 record, is she really someone that you can honestly get behind? It’s a fight that ultimately I am not interested in but come on…. There is NO excuse for this. May the best worst woman win…
The Pick: Rosa
Martin Day DK $8500 / FD $17 vs. Davey Grant DK $7700 / FD $14
Here is a fight where the path is there but will he use it. Martin day is your typical points style fighter. Good Karate style where he will look for points. Stay on the outside and throw volume to accumulate points. Averaging around 5 per minute, Day has a good grasp on how to hit his mark when it counts. With a record of 8-3, Day has the ability to shell out some volume as well as accumulating 100 SS in his loss to Pinguyan. In his 8 wins, he has 3 by KO and 2 by way of Submission, so he does have finishing ability. However, the fighters that have given him some issues are ones that are really willing to not play the range game with him. Something that Davey Grant can, in fact, implore if he decides to. The one path for Grant here is to shoot in early and often. Do not let Day get any sort of tempo in his striking. Do not give him time to reset. Make it dirty, grindy and even boring if it needs to be just to get the W. If he decides to abandon that game plan then he will probably get rolled. However, one reason I think Grant tends to be wishy-washy at times with his wrestling is that with an 11-4 record, even tho 8 of them have been by way of Submission, all 4 losses he has been submitted as well. So I think there is an element of safety there for him. However, he will not need to concern himself with that here and I think if he sticks to the path of least resistance then he can walk out of here with a nice win for himself. This is the first fight of the night and obviously both of these guys are wild cards, but all signs show a clear path for both men. However, if one fighter holds the ace of getting it to the floor and grounding it, then I have to lean his way slightly here. Give me the dog.
The Pick: Grant
UFC 251 DFS
Jorge Masvidal – DK $7300 / FD $18
I can see Jorge being very chalky here, and I get why people may think this, but I just don’t see it. His path here is really knocking because I can’t see him outpacing Usman for 5 rounds. The value is insane here, but I will not be baited in. I will have some for sure, but I will be underexposed and let the rest of the field overexpose him.
Kamaru Usman – DK $8900 / FD $22
I’m all about Usman here. Giving me Usman under $9k in a 5 round fight? I’ll have some. I feel like he may be a bit cautious early on with the understanding that Masvidal’s stand up is very real, but as the fight goes on, I think he starts finding the hips and wrestles his way to victory here.
Max Holloway – DK $7100 / FD $16
I am picking him to lose, and it pains me to do so, but even in a loss the last time, he tossed up 140 SS. The volume will be there, win or lose, in a fight, he can very well actually win. Fading him would be foolish. You can’t bench Holloway at $7100. You need to take some action here.
Alexander Volkanovski – DK $9100 / FD $18
Tough tag here, but if he wants to win, he will need to keep up with Holloway’s volume this time around again. In the last fight, he threw the most strikes in his career. He had no choice. This time around he may have to throw more. So I will make some room for him especially if he plans on wrestling a bit this time around.
Jose Aldo – DK $6900 / FD $14
I’m sorry and I may eat crow for this but I can’t see how in God’s name you aren’t going to have some Aldo at $6900. This is a play that I can’t fade. Win or lose, you need to understand you are getting one of the best to ever do it, who is coming off a split decision loss to a beast in Moraes in which many people thought he won. I understand it’s 5 rounds, and I understand that it’s not the Aldo of old, but he is a very live dog here and I am treating it as such. Don’t fade Aldo.
Petr Yan – DK $9300 / FD $19
5 round fight, and if he wins, he covers value. It’s hard to avoid anyone in a 5 round fight in any price range unless they are notorious low scorers. Yan has the ability to even possibly finish this fight in the championship rounds if Aldo gasses out so I can’t sit and watch from the sidelines if that happens. HOWEVER, I can tell you this. This fight is grossly mispriced, and I will be underexposed to the field on Yan here. I can see people going all in, and I think that is insane to disrespect Aldo like that. Tread but don’t go nuts.
Jessica Andrade – DK $7200 / FD $13
Another insulting line. I am picking Rose, but come on…. How do you fade Andrade at $7200… You just can’t. You need to get a small share at least.
Rose Namajunas – DK $9000 / FD $17
In their first fight, it was not really close and Andrade still won with a fluke slam on a beam of the cage that would knock out Rose. I don’t think that Beam is a problem here but her mental space does scare me a bit. With that said if Rose is Rose, she could have a big night. While others will be riding the Yans and Volks of the world, she may be under-appreciated in a fight that she may be able to hook something up late. But at the end of the day, it is only 3 rounds while the others are playing with 5. However, that won’t drive me away from rose at least a little. But Common sense tells you the 3 rounds will steer you a bit.
Amanda Ribas – DK $9500 / FD $20
Little pricey for me here, but I can see her finishing this by submission inside the horn. She is a bit pricey tho so def don’t overexpose yourself.
Paige VanZant – DK $6700 / FD $10
Volkan Oezdemir – DK $8400 / FD $17
Jiri Prochazka – DK $7800 / FD $15
Someone can go to sleep here. I am leaning on Oezdemir here. I think he has the ability to get this done late where I think the path for Prochazka will be to swarm early and not let Oezdemir really set. I know Oezdemir in the past was the quick finisher, but his game has changed a bit. He is more patient now. I just think he is the more polished fighter, and at $8400, I am willing to put some small trust in him. As far as Prochazka, he will be underexposed. I think Oezdemir is durable enough to last and keep Prochazka at bay and a little more tentative. So, if you are going to play this fight, you really are playing for the win here because I can see the winner scraping their value. I don’t see any of these guys being on the winning lineup, but I do think there is some upside for Oezdemir to possibly get a finish if he plays his cards right.
Muslim Salikhov – DK $8200 / FD $16
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos – DK $8000 / FD $15
Salikhov has the bigger upside to finish, but if dos Santos gets his grappling exchanges going, this could be his fight to win. I would play this both ways with a slightly heavier lean on dos Santos for me here.
Makwan Amirkhani – DK $8600 / FD $19
Never was super high on SBG guys. However, I like this kid. Seems like this week all the tags are high, and although he is no one that I would suggest putting in your main lineup, I will have some of him because he is a talented kid that is very well rounded. I wouldn’t sleep on this kid.
Danny Henry – DK $7600 / FD $11
I think he loses this fight, but it’s DFS guys. However, he is going to really need to be on his game to beat Amirkhani here and I don’t see that happening.
Roman Bogatov – DK $7400 / FD $12
I would see why you would want to. He’s younger, and he has a very good pressure game. I won’t hate you if you did and needed to save some space, but I am really not high on this outside of some secondary lineups.
Leonardo Santos – DK $8800 / FD $19
I know that he is 40, and I know he is inconsistent. I also know his price is high. With that said he still is a 4th-degree black belt in BJJ and if he can somehow get something locked up then I can tell you that he will most likely be lower owned. I feel like I have to take a couple swings here especially in large-field GPP.
Maxim Grishin – DK $8100 / FD $16
Marcin Tybura – DK $7900 / FD $14
Not a fight that I am uber excited about but when they are this closely priced you can obviously hedge without disturbing much. Not a fight that I feel you need to have, but as heavyweights, it’s good to have a taste. I am leaning on Tybura a little heavier here, but it’s a fight that can honestly go either way so play it safely.
Raulian Paiva – DK $8700 / FD $18
I don’t like his price here. A little too pricey. I am picking him here to win, but that $8700 price tag stings a bit. Not a fight I am overly excited about, and this price tag doesn’t make me any more excited about it.
Zhalgas Zhumagulov – DK $7500 / FD $13
If you are going to play this fight, then I think there is some value here. But from someone who might just leave this one alone totally, it may just be a dog or leave alone situation at best here.
Vanessa Melo – DK $7000 / FD $10
Karol Rosa – DK $9200 / FD $16
The volume will be there, but damn; $9200 for someone who is highly unproven other than the regional scene? I think many people may be scared off of her and because of that reason in large field GPP I may have a few stabs to see if I can strike lightning in a bottle, but outside of that this fight is a fade for me.
Martin Day – DK $8500 / FD $17
I’m fading this here at $8500. I see better value elsewhere.
Davey Grant – DK $7700 / FD $14
Grant is the dog here, but he can without a doubt win this fight if he gets his wrestling going. If he implores the proper game plan and wins then you are looking at some takedowns, some transitions and a win. That should be enough to really cover that $7700 tag. However, 1st fight of the night? I would be careful. But def worth looking into as a sneaky little play on large GPP.
UFC 251 VEGAS
2.35 to win 1
Usman by decision +165
1 to win 1.65
1.8 to win 1
Small Play Parlay +138
Rosa (not Rose) -250
1 to win 1.38
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