For being an ESPN + card and not a PPV, this could possibly be the best card of the year. There are so many fights that I’m looking forward to and I see a pretty big edge this week. Let’s get it!
7.4K Kyle Prepolec vs 8.8K Austin Hubbard
This fight kicks off the preliminary action and I don’t have much interest in this one. Both fighters are coming off a loss in their UFC debut and Prepolec is dropping down to 155 lbs. for this one. Hubbard fights out of elevation fight team in Colorado and I give him the edge in this one. The problem is that he is way too expensive on DraftKings as a (-135) favorite and is a fighter that doesn’t have a huge output and isn’t looking for takedowns. This fight as a whole is (-260) to go to decision so it is possible that Prepolec fights inspired as the local fighter and steals a decision but it’s not something that I’m banking on happening. Prepolec is worth some exposure if playing multiple lineups as he has seven TKO’s on his record but I won’t be having heavy exposure to either side in this one. Hubbard by decision is my official pick.
9.2K Louis Smolka vs 7K Ryan Macdonald
Both fighters are coming off a loss in this fight as well but it is a little more enticing than the opener. Ryan Macdonald was undefeated prior to his UFC debut against Chris Gutierrez. UFC jitters are a real thing but I was very unimpressed by Macdonald’s performance although I do like his story. Stories don’t win you fights though and I think Smolka is better in nearly every aspect of this matchup. He is the better grappler and is a brown belt in Judo as well. Macdonald got pieced up on the feet in his debut and if that is supposed to be his only advantage in this matchup then things aren’t looking promising. Smolka is my preferred play with the ITD line of (+140) but he is slightly overpriced here which keeps him from being a core play for me. Smolka by submission is my official pick.
7.5K Chas Skelly vs 8.7K Jordan Griffin
This fight is (-180) not to go to decision so it is a clear fight that we should be targeting. Skelly is looking to stop a two fight losing streak and Griffin is coming off his UFC debut loss against Dan Ige. Griffin is the (-155) favorite here and with a strong ITD of (+140) for his price. But Skelly is no slouch as he is a slick grappler with 10 submission wins to his credit. He also comes from a wrestling background so it is no secret what his gameplan will be. On the other hand, Griffin trains at Roufusport so he has the better gym and prior to his UFC debut loss, he had four straight submission victories. I expect to see a lot of grappling exchanges in this one but I have to lean with Griffin as he has a clear advantage on the feet. My concern is that both fighters neutralize each other on the mat but overall this is still a fight that I want pieces of both sides. Griffin by decision is my official pick.
8.9K Brad Katona vs 7.3K Hunter Azure
These are the type of spots that I absolutely love in MMA DFS. Katona is coming off his first pro loss and is a (-160) favorite here over Hunter Azure making his UFC debut after fighting on Dana White’s contender series. Because many people do not know much about Azure, this creates a massive edge for us to get some leverage on the field. Azure is a four time high school state wrestler in Montana and moved to Pheonix, AZ to train at MMA Lab. He is big for the Bantamweight division and has explosive power. He will have a massive advantage in the wrestling department against the smaller Katona. He also has nice leg kicks and is a respectable striker due to his power. It is very rare for me to recommend a fighter this cheap as a core play but that’s exactly what I’m doing. The line is off on this and the DraftKings prices are laughable with this fight. Azure by decision is my official pick and he will be a core play for me this week.
7.6K Cole Smith vs 8.6K Miles John
In this fight we have another Dana White contender series fighter from this season making their UFC debut in Miles John. He will take on Cole Smith who is coming off an upset victory in his debut. John is only a slight favorite here at (-130) so we are getting some line value on Smith. That being said, I don’t expect Smith to score highly here so even though I think he could win I have little interest on DraftKings. Miles John has a wrestling background but the size of Smith could be an issue for him and that is my main concern here. With this fight likely to go to decision, I’d be worried that John has a difficult time paying off his price. Smith by decision is my official pick but I have little interest on either fighter.
8.4K Marcin Tybura vs 7.8K Augusto Sakai
This fight is (-150) to go to decision which you never want to see in a heavyweight fight. That line alone makes me skeptical of either fighter landing on the optimal lineup but I would lean Sakai in this one. Sakai is the lesser known fighter of the two but he is 2-0 in the octagon and has the better ITD at (+255) along with being the bigger fighter. Even if Tybura were to win, I don’t see him putting up enough points where you need to have him in GPPs and for that reason it is Sakai or pass in this matchup. Sakai by decision is my official pick.
8K Misha Cirkunov vs 8.2K Jimmy Crute
This fight is absolutely one that you need to target with both fighters being so cheap and the fight being (-325) to end inside the distance. This is essentially telling us that the winner will end up on the optimal lineup. Cirkunov is coming off a first round knockout loss to Johnny Walker and has now been knocked out in the first round in three of his last four fights. Jimmy Crute is 2-0 in the UFC and still undefeated professionally with wins over Paul Craig and a first round knockout win over Sam Alvey in his most recent bout. This fight is an even pick em as both fighters are good grapplers and relatively even on the feet with a slight advantage to Crute. If you think Cirkunov’s chin issues are a real thing as this line suggests then you can plant your flag on Crute but I will be taking both sides of this fight just in case Cirkunov’s chin holds up and he surprises Crute with a slick choke. Crute by TKO is my official pick.
7.1K Uriah Hall vs 9.1K Antonio Carlos Junior
Up next we have a classic striker versus grappler matchup in the middleweight division. Hall is coming off a knockout win while ACJ is coming off a decision loss to Ian Heinisch. Prior to that, Antonio Carlos Junior had three straight submission victories with none of them reaching round three and he has one of the best ITD lines of the slate with (-120). I have little reason to believe he doesn’t get the job done here against Hall and he is an excellent target if you have the salary for him. I have no interest in Hall in this matchup as I don’t see him being able to keep the fight standing. ACJ by submission in the pick here.
9.5K Michel Pereira vs 6.7K Tristan Connelly
For anyone that hasn’t seen Pereira fight yet, you are in for a real treat. Stop reading this right now and go on Youtube to watch his UFC debut against Danny Roberts and you won’t be disappointed. Pereira is a six to one favorite here and has the best ITD odds on the entire slate at (-260). Connelly is the local fighter making his debut and is basically being paid to get knocked out here in style. There is not much more that needs to be said with this one. If you have the salary then Pereira is the layup. Pereira by TKO is the official pick.
7.9K Todd Duffee vs 8.3K Jeff Hughes
If you have read any of my previous fight card articles then you know that I never feel comfortable when we have a fighter coming in after a very long layoff. That is exactly what we have with Todd Duffee who hasn’t fought for over three years. Normally, I just try to avoid these fights but because this one is (-285) to end inside the distance, I don’t think that would be wise. Both fighters are priced very affordable on DraftKings so you want to target this if you think it ends with a finish. Duffee has the better ITD line at (+145) so my lean is with him at the cheaper price but just know that there is risk here with such a long layoff and a heavyweight fight. Duffee by TKO is my pick in this one.
8.5K Nikita Krylov vs 7.7K Glover Teixeira
In the co-main event we have an interest matchup at light heavyweight as Teixeira looks to keep his win streak going with back to back submission wins. Krylov is coming into this one with a submission victory himself and this one is (-495) not to go to decision. As with many fights that are likely to end early where I don’t have a strong lean, I will look to target both sides of this one. That being said, I favor Teixeira here with the much cheaper price tag and think that he has looked very good in his last couple fights. I wouldn’t be surprised at either outcome in this one though so I’ll have pieces of both fighters. Teixeira by submission is my official pick.
7.2K Donald Cerrone vs 9K Justin Gaethje
If you were ever going to watch one fight in your entire life then this should possibly be that fight. I have been excited for this one ever since it was announced as both of these fighters always put on a great show. Gaethje has earned six fight bonuses in his last five fights which is absurd. I also just really like both of these fighters and Justin Gaethje specifically who is right there with Cory Sandhagen as my favorite fighters in the UFC. Gaethje is going to put a pace on Cerrone as he does with all of his opponents but Cerrone is very cheap on DraftKings which has me interested. I definitely prefer Gaethje as most people will since he is a (-185) favorite. I think he gets the job done and gets the knockout here but will have some shares of Cerrone as he doesn’t need much to pay off his price and he has stunned us many times before. Either way this fight should be fireworks and I can’t wait! Gaethje by TKO and an immediate call out of Conor McGregor right after is my official prediction.
My DraftKings core:
Antonio Carlos Junior
My favorite bets:
Krute by TKO (+150)
As always, I will post any Vegas line updates or changes in anything on Twitter @JonKelly22 so feel free to follow me there. Also, if you enjoy reading this, do me a favor and click the thumbs up on this post! Best of luck to everyone playing and enjoy UFC Vancouver!