UFC Halifax: Lewis vs. Browne Quick Picks
Welcome to another edition of the UFC Quick Picks!
I went a little above and beyond this week, adding in a few random categories to give you a wider perspective on the fights. If you want full breakdowns of every fight, along with rankings, projections and more, you can join our Premium MMA section here.
Myself and BigMarley3 broke down every fight on The Daily Fantasy MMA Podcast, so give that a watch if you need more guidance. Click here.
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Cash Game Plays
1. Sara McMann, $9,300
I never thought I’d say this or write it in public, but Sara McMann is a cash game lock for me at 9.3k. She’s a massive favorite at -600, with an ITD prop of +160.
McMann is fighting UFC newcomer Gina Mazany who’s only 4-0, even though she’s been fighting since 2008! Clearly Mazany is not a full-time fighter. We have seen her in the past though, she lost to Julianna Pena to get into the Ultimate Fighter house. Pena dominated a two-round decision against Mazany, and I think McMann will do the same.
McMann is an elite wrestler for the women’s division, and she should have no problem getting Mazany down where she can pass the guard and look for a submission. Even in a decision win, McMann’s floor is so high based on that wrestling, and her odds to win, she’s an easy cash play.
Normally I don’t go heavy on women’s fights because they finish much less, but I think McMann has the upside for tournaments as well, as DraftKings scoring strongly favors grapplers these days. Don’t be afraid to lock her in your lineups and start off with a “safe” win.
2. Carla Esparza, $9,100
Different name, similar analysis on Carla Esparza, compared to that of McMann. Esparza is one of the best fighters in the 115 division, but there’s clearly a gap between her and the champ, as she was dominated by Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2015.
Esparza has her flaws, she’s not a great striker and she lacks confidence, but her current opponent Randa Markos is a far step down from Jedrzejczyk. More importantly, Esparza is a great wrestler, and that gives her a very high floor on DraftKings. Markos isn’t bad, but she’s not great anywhere.
This will really come down to whether Esparza can land the takedowns, and I think she can, and that should lead to enough passes and strikes for her to put up a safe number this weekend.
She doesn’t have the upside I’m really looking for in tournaments, although a submission is in play, but as a -285 favorite, she should be able to secure a decision victory.
1. Aiemann Zahabi, $8,800
You may be familiar with a fighter named George Saint Pierre, or maybe Rory MacDonald. Well, Aiemann Zahabi isn’t either of those guys, but there is a connection. Zahabi is the younger brother of Tristar trainer Firas Zahabi, one of the top trainers in the world.
Zahabi is 6-0 making his UFC debut, and there’s already a hype train around him. My biggest concern is that he hasn’t fought anyone great in the regional circuit, but he does look good on film, and he’s supposedly been beating up UFC level competition in the gym for years. I wouldn’t doubt it, honestly.
Zahabi is fighting in his home country of Canada against an opponent in Reginaldo Vieira who is near the bottom of the food chain. Vieira has powerful strikes and some good power grappling, but he’s nothing special. I think Zahabi is going to jab him to death and win the counter striking battle, and probably get a knockout here.
If not, he can still win a decision, or even get a submission against Vieira, who’s shown susceptibility everyhwere, including his cardio. For 8.8k, with an ITD prop of +178, I’m willing to take some shots on Zahabi in tournaments.
2. Travis Browne, $8,100
At this point, we all know the upside of Derek Lewis, one half of the main event this weekend against Travis Browne. And there’s no reason not to target Lewis, who’s won five in a row, but I like Browne a bit more.
Browne is better nearly everywhere in my opinion, he’s the better range striker, and his grappling game is good enough. Lewis has KO power of course, and he’s amazing once he gets on top, but other than that he’s very beatable, and he’s been knocked out multiple times.
This fight has a finish line of -485, so you need to be targeting it in tournaments. I think Browne may be susceptible to an early knockout, but I think he can finish Lewis, or win a decision, or even get the fight to the ground and finish there. Browne is coming off a poor stretch, but that was against high level fighters better than Lewis, and he should be able to get back into the win column here.
Fade of the Week
1. Paul Felder, $9,500
This is an easy fade for me, I didn’t have to think about it twice. Paul Felder should not be priced at 9.5k. He’s a -400 favorite which is great, but I don’t think those odds are accurate.
Even if you think they are, he still needs to score 120 points and beat the likes of McMann, Ponzinibbio and others to be on winning tournament lineups. He’s actually never landed more than 60 significant strikes in a three round fight in the UFC, so if the fight goes to a decision I doubt he breaks 80 points.
His odds to finish are +254, which is fine on average but not what I’m looking for in a 9.5k fighter. His name is big enough that he’ll draw some ownership regardless, and I’d much rather have his opponent Alessandro Ricci for 6.7k. Not that I think Ricci will win, but this fight could be a low-output striking affair, and Ricci is fighting at home in Canada, so stealing a decision isn’t out of the question.
Use your money elsewhere.
Underdog of the Week
1. Jack Marshman, $7,900
I’ll throw in some bonus categories this week, just because I like you all. My underdog of the week is Jack Marshman, who’s 7.9k on DraftKings and a +160 dog against Thiago Santos.
For me, it’s the simple fact that I think Marshman is the better boxer than Santos. He looked good in his UFC debut, knocking out Magnus Cedenblad in the second round. Santos is a different fighter obviously, but I don’t think his punches are as good as Marshman’s.
Santos is a high-level kicker, and that’s where he does most of his damage. If he can keep Marshman at kicking range, he should be able to win, but if not, Marshman could easily steal rounds or get a knockout. Both fighters have been KOd multiple times in their careers, and I think this fight could end quickly.
If you need some salary relief, definitely consider Marshman.
Weak Chin of the Week
1. Cezar Ferreira
I laughed at this category but it’s accurate, Cezar Ferreira has a very weak chin and I think we should take notice. Even though his opponent Elias Theodorou isn’t a great power puncher, there’s no reason to believe if he lands clean he won’t knock out Ferreira.
Theodorou is a +105 dog and priced at 8k, and I think he’ll be overlooked. Don’t be afraid to throw him into a GPP.
Fight to Watch
1. Gerald Meerschaert vs. Ryan Janes
There are several I could list, including Santos vs. Marshman, and Tucker vs. Sicilia in terms of DraftKings perspectives. I picked the opening prelim fight though, Gerald Meerschaert vs. Ryan Janes.
Both fighters are coming off debut wins, Meerschaert submitted Joe Gigliotti and Janes decisioned Keith Berish. The odds that this fight finishes is -165, so I will be looking to target it.
Meerschaert is more experienced and trains out of a better camp, and he has 23 finishes to his name, the majority by submission. Janes is a black belt in BJJ though, so the ground game could be a wash. Janes looked ugly on the feet in terms of technique, and he will get knocked out sooner or later, but he also comes forward and lands at a high rate.
I think Meerschaert can finish Janes in this spot, he’s the better and more experienced fighter, but I can also see Janes landing more and stealing rounds, and winning a decision. For 9k and 7.2k respectively, I think this fight is a good one to target.