This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.
CJ Vergara (9-2-1) v. Ode' Osbourne (9-4-1, 1NC)
- Vergara is making his UFC debut fresh off his DWCS win in September. He is a strong striker with quick movement, flashing in and out of the pocket and mixing in jabs and one-twos. He tends to fight with his hands low but has really great head movement and avoids taking big shots as well. He will look to mix in kicks sporadically to change levels, as well as mixing in the occasional flying knee. The past Fury FC champion does not willingly take the fight to the mat often. He has great takedown defense and does well to get back up quickly when taken down. He is exceptional in the clinch and will throw continual knees to overwhelm fighters.
- Osbourne is a rangy striker with a great overall game and tends to finish or get finished with ten of his last twelve fights ending in the first round. He is long for the division and uses a slick one-two. He throws good volume with a nasty jab-hook and will also mix in kicks to the head and body. He has quick lateral movement and can be difficult to hit. "The Jamaican Sensation" has an excellent submission game, and he works well off his back when he gets taken down. He will look to shoot if his striking is unsuccessful but struggles to keep control on the mat at times.
DFS Perspective: I think this is a great bounce back spot for Osbourne. Vergara leaves a lot to be desired defensively and Osbourne only needs to land one to hurt him. He will have a shot to be the finisher himself but given the disparity in competition faced I think Osbourne will be leagues ahead of him. I do not see this fight going to the mat often, if at all, so expect a striking match for as long as it lasts. Look for another early finish from Osbourne nailing value.
My Pick: Osbourne
Melsik Baghdasaryan (6-1-0) v. Bruno Souza (10-1-0)
- Baghdasaryan impressed in his UFC debut with an early second round knockout. He is a fast-paced blitzer loaded with power. He is constantly pressuring forward with massive hooks and a nice jab. He will throw hard kicks and knees to the head and body and mix in consecutive combinations to the head until they are down. The native Armenian fighter has yet to show much offensive wrestling or grappling. He has been taken down at a decent clip but bounces back almost immediately. He can flip control and move to a top mount and lay down deadly ground and pound. If he knocks fighters down on the feet, he will instantly look to take the top and end it early.
- Souza is making his UFC debut after a successful run of wins, including a championship, on LFA. He is a technical striker with a sound jab and quick one-two. He bounces in and out of the pocket with nice combinations and will look to mix in looping hooks, low and front kicks, and flying knees. He fights with his hands low making him hittable but has never been finished in eleven professional fights. The protégé of Lyoto Machida does not offer much offensive grappling or wrestling, preferring to stand and strike for fifteen. He looks to struggle off of his back has some difficulties getting back up against true grapplers.
DFS Perspective: I think this ends early with a knockout for Baghdasaryan. Souza fights with his hands low and Baghdasaryan will rush in and exploit that early and often. Souza does not have the power to keep up, but he could avoid enough shots that Baghdasaryan gets frustrated and makes a mistake opening up a shot for him.
My Pick: Baghdasaryan
Dustin Jacoby (15-5-1) v. John Allan (13-6-0, 1NC)
- Jacoby continues to make the most of his second UFC stint earling a huge first round knockout pushing him to 3-0-1 in his last four fights. He has excellent footwork with heavy low kicks to the legs and brutal round kicks to the head and body. He has excellent distance control and keeps the right just in range of his jab. He works well sliding in and out throwing quick one-twos and baiting counters. The factoryX product seldom snags a takedown but has excellent hammerfists if he winds up in top control. His own takedown defense is great, and he will punish any failed attempt with a huge hook or knees.
- Allan has gotten off to a slow start in the UFC with a no contest followed by a split decision loss. He is a Muay Thai striker with quick hands and good power. He has a slick left jab and heavy overhand right. He is an excellent kickboxer with strong low kicks and deadly head kicks. He has also displayed great forward pressure and striking against the cage. "The Hunter" will mix in body locks and trips to take the fight to the mat, and then look to pass into top control where he can lay down heavy ground and pound. He has been susceptible to being takedown, controlled, and has been submitted four times in six professional losses.
DFS Perspective: Jacoby is taking this fight on very short notice but is a huge favorite, nonetheless. He will hold an advantage anywhere this fight goes, has fought far better competition, and should make quick work with another win. If he scores an early knockout, he will do well to hit value. If it goes to decision, I am not sure he will get enough done to do so. If Allan scores a lucky knock, he will hit value easily.
My Pick: Jacoby
Gian Villante (17-13-0) v. Chris Barnett (21-7-0)
- Villante has his back up against the wall and needs a win in the worst way having lost six of his last eight fights. He is a volume power striker with heavy hands and excellent forward pressure. He holds his hands high in defense and walks fighters down working into the pocket where he can throw vicious combinations. He has huge looping hooks and overhands and will throw multiple after leading with a quick jab or strong kick. Villante seldom attempts takedowns preferring to keep the fight on the feet. He has fantastic takedown defense and good defensive wrestling to work his way back up if taken down.
- Barnett struggled to a submission loss in the second round in his UFC debut back in May. He is a Taekwondo striker with massive power. He looks to close the gap and fight in the pocket early with heavy hooks and overhand combos. He has great kicks and throws them to all parts of the body. He does become sloppy and wild at times making him hittable. "Beastboy" is not great on the mat or even in the clinch. He will tie guys up and then lose control almost immediately. He struggles off his back and will also give it up when he tries to get back up.
DFS Perspective: I am not a huge fan of this fight. It features two aging fighters with not much going for them. Both guys have a shot for a knockout with their power, but a decision is more likely. Barnett should be able to slow Villante with kicks and I do like that he blitzes forward often. If he tires out too quickly it will give Villante a big advantage leading to a win for him. Not a fan of either guy.
My Pick: Barnett
Ian Garry (7-0-0) v. Jordan Williams (9-5-0, 1NC)
- Garry is considered one of the more exciting prospects in MMA and is finally making his UFC debut on a huge card. He has an impressive all-around game. He will strike from range with a nice jab and quick one-two, and then pressure forward into the pocket throwing powerful hooks and overhands. He will also mix in strong kicks to change levels and will attack the head and body often. The Sanford MMA product also features a great ground game to go with his striking. He does not attempt takedowns often but has fantastic defensive grappling and wrestling. He works well off the back and can take control dominant positions with hammerfists and hunting for a submission.
- Williams lost his second consecutive fight dropping to 0-2 and really has not looked great thus far. He is a fast-paced striker with big power. He works from a range and pressures forward to back his opponent up. He will lead with a nice jab and then throw big hooks and try to lock them into the clinch where he can inflict a lot of punishment. He will stand in the pocket and trade shots but does keep his hands low making him hittable. "Bomaye" averages just over a takedown per fifteen minutes and has shown good control when he gets it to the mat. He will look to move into top mount and throw huge hammerfists to end it early. His takedown defense is excellent, and he has great get ups if he does go down.
DFS Perspective: Williams has been largely unimpressive so far, but he has faced the better competition so if he is going to win it needs to start here. He could rip into Garry early and finish him annihilating value at the lowest salaried fighter. Garry is an elite prospect and should show everyone exactly why in this fight. Garry will need an early first round finish to pay off his salary, however.
My Pick: Garry
Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2-0) v. Nassourdine Imavov (10-3-0)
- Shahbazyan rides a two-fight losing streak and has a very winnable matchup going into this fight. He is a dangerous striker with an excellent combination of punches and kicks. He will hit early and often with long jabs and quick one-twos attacking the head and body. He will throw powerful kicks and look to keep forward pressure. "The Golden Boy" is a great offensive grappler and will mix takedowns in often after changing levels. He will quickly look to take the back for a submission or get on top to lay on heavy ground and pound. He has shown a weakness for defensive grappling in the last couple fights, getting taken down and controlled often.
- Imavov was impressive in his last fight earning a huge knockout win in the second round. He is a powerful striker with fast hands. He is quick on the feet and will bounce in and out of the pocket throwing a nice jab followed by a huge hook or overhand and will also bait and counter. He throws decent volume, and can be difficult to hit, but will stand and trade blows to get the shot he wants. The "Russian Sniper" has excellent takedowns and will mix them early after a level change. He has good control on the mat and is constantly on the hunt for a submission or a ground and pound finish.
DFS Perspective: If both fighters fight how they did in their previous fights, Imavov will look great here and could score another finish. That said, Shahbazyan has fought much better competition and has look much better in fights overall. I think they have the odds flipped here and that Shahbazyan wins by early knockout smashing value.
My Pick: Shahbazyan
Phillip Hawes (11-2-0) v. Chris Curtis (20-5-0)
- Hawes continues to impress with his third UFC win in as many fights. He is a beast of a fighter and is always composed. He throws a nice jab and heavy calf kicks to cut down fighters early. He throws a huge left hook to overhand right combo and is deadly in the pocket. He has good head movement and is good at avoiding big shots. The Sanford MMA fighter is a fantastic wrestler and has excellent takedowns. He is very strong and once he has ahold of fighters, it is difficult to get away. He can keep control on the mat, pass guard, dominate with ground and pound, or hunt for submissions.
- Curtis is making his UFC debut riding a five-fight winning streak with other promotions. He is a technical striker with good forward pressure and good power in his hands. He will lead with a quick jab and follow it with a massive overhand or hook. He throws moderate volume but constantly applies pressure to work in the pocket where he can dish out maximum damage. "The Action Man" does not grapple much offensively and rarely even attempts to clinch. He prefers to just stand and fire in the pocket. He has shown excellent takedown defense but has been controlled when he does go down or when he is put into the clinch.
DFS Perspective: I am not entirely sure the reason Curtis is getting this fight now of all times, but Hawes is not the guy you want to face in your debut. If the fight stays a 15-minute striking match it becomes much closer of a fight. I expect Hayes to work inside and find a takedown and then go to work from there. Even on the feet, unless Curtis scores an early shot, I think Hawes overwhelms early and gets an early finish to hit value.
My Pick: Hawes
Al Iaquinta (14-6-1) v. Bobby Green (27-12-1)
- Iaquinta comes back to octagon after just over two years and currently rides a two-fight losing streak. He is a technical striker who works well from distance and controls the ring. He has quick hands and throws a fast jab followed closely by one-twos. He will mix in big hooks and overhands, as well as multiple legs kicks to all parts of the body. Fighting out of Serra Jiu-Jitsu, Iaquinta will occasionally mix in takedowns and look to gain top control. He prefers to keep it on the feet and has great takedown defense to keep it there. He does well to get back up after being taken down and is great at avoiding the clinch.
- Green has now lost two in a row and needs a big win to prove he still has something left in the tank. He is a veteran and great all-around fighter. He has fast hands, and good movement. He rolls off punches well and looks for counters. He has power in his jabs and one-twos and will attack all parts of the body. Bobby "King" Green uses his movement and level changes to shoot for takedowns often. He is successful with single and double legs, and controls very well on the mat. He is an excellent offensive and defensive grappler and can use ground and pound in top control, or hunt for a submission.
DFS Perspective: It is hard to say how Iaquinta is going to look after the layoff. If he returns to the fighter from a couple years ago, I think he has a legitimate chance to score an upset, though it would likely be a lower scoring decision. Green has fought six times in the time Iaquinta has been off and being more active gives him a big advantage. If Green works his volume and takedowns, he could score a finish or higher scoring decision.
My Pick: Green
Alex Pereira (3-1-0) v. Andreas Michailidis (13-4-0)
- Pereira get his UFC debut after a successful run in kickboxing bouts and is the only man to knockout the current UFC Middleweight Champ. He is a kickboxer with massive power and is tall for the division. He has dangerous kicks and will throw them to all parts of the body and a powerful combination that flies from his hands. He does stand tall leaving his legs exposed for takedowns but keeps his hands high to prevent taking big shots. The Cruz MMA fighter has little to no grappling or wrestling to speak of as the majority of his fights have been kickboxing fights. He is unlikely to attempt any takedowns and this fight will really come down to how he defends takedowns and gets up from the.
- Michailidis got back on track in dominating fashion last time out moving his UFC record to 1-1. He is a defensive striker preferring to keep his hands out in front to parry and counter incoming shots. He has good jabs and spinning backfists, but his bread and butter are his kicks. He has strong low kicks and deadly round kicks to the head. He can be wild with his striking at times making him hittable. "The Spartan" is an elite submission specialist. He has a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and has won several BJJ championships. He has improved his takedowns and so long as he is able to implement them, he can control the fight or find that submission.
DFS Perspective: Pereira gets the chance to prove he belongs with this debut. I do not necessarily agree with him getting the shot as it is mainly because he once beat Israel Adesanya, but here we are. He does have amazing striking with big power and could end this at any time. Michailidis looked excellent in his last fight and if he brings that same strategy, I think he could win and score the upset. His path to victory is to get the fight to the mat and keep it there.
My Pick: Pereira
Frankie Edgar (23-9-1) v. Marlon Vera (17-7-1)
- Edgar continues to show his age with another loss in his last fight and could soon be facing the music. He is a well-rounded fighter with excellent footwork and ring control. He is technical with his combinations throwing multiple jabs and one-twos. He has a great counter hook and kick and closes the distance quickly. "The Answer" sports fantastic wrestling and grappling and has some of the best takedowns in the UFC. He will shoot for singles and doubles or look to drag fighters down in the clinch. He will quickly look to posture up and fire down ground and pound.
- Vera continued his impressive run in the UFC with a monster performance in his last fight earning fight of the night honors in unanimous decision win. He is an ever-improving fighter with great technical boxing. He throws solid volume with great power and controls the pace of the fight with forward pressure. He has a nasty jab and one-two combo and will follow with big overhands and powerful kicks. "Chito" Vera is a black belt in BJJ, has exceptional wrestling, and is constantly moving to control in dominant positions. He can keep control and slug multiple strikes, power down with ground and pound, or work into a submission.
DFS Perspective: I think Edgar starts out quickly in this fight getting ahead which could lead to a decision. Vera will want to find his openings and land hard shots against the wavering chin of Edgar. Edgar will also likely look for takedowns early but given Vera's proficiency on the ground it may end up hurting him. I like Vera as the favorite and to win, but never count out the veteran.
My Pick: Vera
Shane Burgos (13-3-0) v. Billy Quarantillo (16-3-0)
- Burgos took a second consecutive loss last time out and needs to fight his way back into the win column to stay relevant. He is a dangerous striker with constant forward pressure. He has massive power and will attack the body with looping hooks and huge overhands. He will look to mix in low and front kicks, as well at bait in fighters to throw counter combinations. "Hurricane" offers very little offensive grappler and rarely goes for takedowns. He is very defensively sound and defends takedowns at an elite clip by lowering his body or flattening out.
- Quarantillo was a notorious slow starter and set out to remove that title in his last fight earning fight of the night with a huge performance and knockout last time out. He uses great movement to control the ring and has fast hands. He throws high volume with a solid jab-hook and overhead. He will lower his hands when shooting for takedowns leaving him open to bigger shots. Quarantillo is a monster on the mat and will shoot for takedowns early and often. He has excellent control and passes guard to hunt for submissions. He can also sit in top or side control and plug away with volume striking.
DFS Perspective: Burgos is live for an early knockout and could also score well in a decision with volume. Billy Q is being underrated here. Burgos does have good takedown defense, but Quarantillo is relentless and once he gets it down you are in trouble. Look for Quarantillo to tire and frustrate Burgos out quickly and grind his way to another big upset win.
My Pick: Quarantillo
Justin Gaethje (23-2-0) v. Michael Chandler (22-6-0)
- Gaethje is taking on his first fight since the title fight loss just over a year ago. He is a dangerous striker with huge power and a brawling nature. He will apply constant pressure forward and light the pocket on fire with multiple one-twos, hooks, overhands, and knees. He has excellent ring control and great volume for as long as the fight lasts. "The Highlight" offers little to no offensively grappling or wrestling, instead preferring to keep the fight on the feet and pummel his opponents. He features excellent takedown defense and has a great scrambling ability.
- Chandler took the UFC by storm with an exceptional UFC debut but was brought back to Earth getting knocked out in his second fight to even his record. He is a strong striker carrying big power in his hands. He looks to fight at range and explode into the pocket to unleash deadly hooks or overhands. He can get wild at times and fight with his hands low leaving him open to a big shot. The alliance MMA fighter is a fantastic grappler and also has a wrestling background. He has great double leg takedowns and will look to posture up for hammerfists immediately after getting one.
DFS Perspective: This is going to be an absolute banger. I fully expect both guys to come out guns blazing and looking for an early finish. Someone is going down in this fight, and the winner is going to hit value. Gaethje is the better aggressor and defender, with a better chin, so I lean on him to come out on top.
My Pick: Gaethje
Rose Namajunas (11-4-0) v. Zhang Weili (21-2-0)
- Namajunas lit up the UFC world with a massive head-kick knockout to earn the belt, and now she looks to defend it. She is a multi-faceted striker with excellent movement and good volume. She will move laterally, jumping in and out of the pocket and throwing from different angles with jabs and one-twos. She has a nice overhand-hook and dangerous kicks. Thug Rose sports an excellent ground game to complement her striking. She will change levels and look to sweep or find a single or double leg and immediately look to keep control until she can mount in top or side. She will sneakily take the back and look for the rear naked choke as soon as she can.
- Weili lost her belt to a first round head kick knockout and aims to get it right back in this rematch. She is a technical striker with good power for the division. She throws high volume and loves to fight in the pocket with a nasty jab-hook-overhand and quick one-twos. She will mix in kicks to all parts of the body and will bait fighters into knees. "Magnum" has decent offensive grappling and averages about one takedown per fifteen minutes. She will quickly mount up and throw ground-and-pound but is not a huge submission threat. She has shown excellent takedown defense and strong work in the clinch.
DFS Perspective: This rematch should go much differently than the first fight. Weili got clipped with a nasty head kick and was knocked out in less than 90 seconds. I do not expect another finish here, rather both ladies getting volume for days and it coming to a close decision. If Thug Rose can bring the fight to the mat, she will hold a huge advantage. Weili needs to keep the fight on the feet where she holds the advantage. I expect a good score from the winner even with a decision.
My Pick: Weili
Kamaru Usman (19-1-0) v. Colby Covington (15-2-0)
- Usman continued his dominance of the welterweight division with another huge knockout win in his last fight, extending his winning streak to 18. He is a dominant technical striker with big power and fantastic defense. He has one of the best jabs in the UFC, as well as quick one-twos and powerful overhands. He is a great counter puncher and will attack the body with nasty leg kicks and hooks. "The Nigerian Nightmare" is an elite grappler. He smothers fighters in the clinch and will tire them out quickly while throwing elbows and knees as punishment. He also has excellent takedowns and control on the mat. He is not a submission threat but will hold fighters and throw combinations repeatedly.
- Covington dominated in his previous fight, earning his rematch with the champ for a chance to earn the belt back. He is a great all-around fighter with no glaring weakness. He is a strong striker with a great left hook. He will mix in multiple jabs and low kicks, as well as round kicks to the head and body. He fights with his hands high and does well to avoid big shots. "Chaos" is an elite grappler and will look to tie up in the clinch or for takedowns early and often. He is strong and can keep control of fighters for long periods of time, moving from side to top or taking the back for a submission.
DFS Perspective: The rematch is here, and I am pumped. Usman has been dominant in the three fights that followed their last fight and will certainly be hungry to put Covington away early. He will need to keep the fight on the feet and catch Covington when his hands are down. Covington will need to mix volume on the feet with takedowns and control time to avoid eating too many shots from the champ. Unless you think this fight ends early, both fighters can and should be used in cash contests given how high the scoring output from them combined will be.
My Pick: Colby *Chaos* Covington
Significant Strikes = 0.6pts
Takedown = 6pts
Takedown Defense = 3pts
Knockdown = 12pts
Submission Attempt = 5pts
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win = 100pts
2nd Round Win = 75pts
3rd Round Win = 50pts
4th Round Win = 35 pts
5th Round Win = 25pts
Decision Win = 20pts
- Significant Strikes are "Distance Strike" or "Clinch/Ground Strikes" that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider a substantial amount of time.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.