Here’s some advice for your gambling and fantasy needs for Saturday’s UFC On FOX 22 event in Sacramento, California, headlined by Paige VanZant taking on Michelle Waterson in a five-round women’s strawweight bout on FOX.
Paige VanZant (7-2) vs. Michelle Waterson (13-4)
Betting Odds: VanZant (-115), Waterson (-105) DraftKings Salaries: VanZant- $8,300, Waterson- $7,900 Key Statistic: Waterson hasn’t fought since July 2015 Analysis: VanZant and Waterson square off in the main event in what should be a very competitive bout. Waterson steps back into the Octagon for the first time in 17 months, so there will likely be some ring rust to shake off. VanZant showed more aggression in her last fight, and she should be looking to do the same against an opponent coming off the long layoff. Waterson has fought most of her career at 105 pounds, and she moved up in weight to get in the UFC, so she will be giving up a little bit of size. However, she has noticeably gotten a little bigger heading into this fight. VanZant’s striking was also much more improved in her last fight with Bec Rawlings, and she got a spectacular finish. Waterson is a better fighter than Rawlings, and she has some good striking and a good ground game. I feel like this fight will go 25 minutes. The betting odds are a pick ’em, and I favor VanZant in this fight. Both women would be solid fantasy plays, but I see more upside in VanZant. The extra ten minutes should give more scoring opportunities, and I feel she is a safe play.
Sage Northcutt (8-1) vs. Mickey Gall (3-0)
Betting Odds: Northcutt (-105), Gall (-115) DraftKings Salaries: Northcutt- $8,000, Gall- $8,200 Key Statistic: Gall has never fought an opponent with UFC experience Analysis: This one will be interesting as it is two marketable young fighters in a prime spot, but neither one is close to being ready for tough competition. Northcutt has actually beaten opponents who have won in the UFC. Gall has just three fights, all wins, but none against a true UFC fighter. Northcutt already has the edge there. Gall may actually be a better prospect in the future, but he is still unexperienced. Northcutt is not without his flaws, but his athleticism is great, and he is fast and powerful. He is moving back up to welterweight, and while he got his only career loss in that weight class, his growing size is more suitable for the division. Gall is going to have to pressure Northcutt and drag him down quickly, because Northcutt has shown to be lost most of the time on the mat. Northcutt will have the big edge on the feet. I’m surprised the betting odds and fantasy salaries are so close, and I think Northcutt is the easy play in this fight. He is definitely worth putting on your fantasy line-up, and I expect him to have a high draft percentage.
Urijah Faber (33-10) vs. Brad Pickett (25-12)
Betting Odds: Faber (-440), Pickett (+350) DraftKings Salaries: Faber- $9,600, Pickett- $6,000 Key Statistic: Faber’s final career fight Analysis: A future hall-of-famer and a bonafide legend of the smaller weight classes, Faber will walk to the Octagon for the final time in his career for his final fight. Pickett is also near the end of the road as a fighter, and this could be it for him as well. We could be treated to a special fight. Neither man is near their best, but Faber is still better at this stage. Pickett is coming off a bad loss, and Faber has been at least competitive in his recent fights. Pickett still packs some pop in his hands, but Faber is still more crafty on his feet. Faber is still the king of scrambles, and he has 19 wins by submission in his career. Pickett has been submitted five times in his career. This fight is better suited for Faber to end his career on a high note. Pickett is a big underdog, but he isn’t worth placing a bet on. Faber has the highest salary on the card, and you have to hope he gets a finish. He definitely has a big chance, but that is far from a guarantee. I would only roster him if you can afford to, though I do expect him in a high percentage of fantasy line-ups.
Alan Jouban (14-4) vs. Mike Perry (9-0)
Betting Odds: Jouban (+110), Perry (-130) DraftKings Salaries: Jouban- $7,700, Perry- $8,500 Key Statistic: Each man has nine wins by knockout Analysis: This one should be a slugfest and is a great bit of matchmaking. Both men are powerful strikers. Perry has won all of his professional fights by knockout. I don’t expect it to go to the ground, much, or even at all. Jouban has a more diverse arsenal, with some good wrestling and he is good in the clinch. Perry is more powerful, but his defense on the feet isn’t the greatest. He tends to leave his chin out there too much, and Jouban packs enough in his punches to make him pay. Jouban is also physically big, and that might be too much for Perry to bully around in a clinch. Jouban will also switch up his striking while Perry just looks to punch. With all of that being said, Perry has yet to lose, and Jouban has. Perry is the favorite here, and I favor him, but Jouban is a real live underdog play. When it comes to fantasy plays, both men are solid plays. It just depends on how you wanna fill your line-up. I feel this goes to a finish, and it’ll be a back-and-forth fight.
Henrique da Silva (12-0) vs. Paul Craig (8-0)
Betting Odds: da Silva (-225), Craig (+185) DraftKings Salaries: da Silva- $9,000, Craig- $7,200 Key Statistic: Each man has won all of their fights by finish Analysis: Two undefeated prospects at 205 pounds highlight the prelims on Saturday. This should bring plenty of fireworks as both men have finished all of their opponents. Da Silva has had to come from behind in both of his fights in the UFC, but he has that Octagon experience while Craig is making his debut. Craig is tall for the division at six-foot-four, and he has some good submissions. Da Silva is powerful on his feet and is very aggressive in looking for the knockout. Da Silva is a big favorite due to his UFC experience, and that makes Craig a live underdog. This is a pick ’em fight in my view, and the winner is going to finish the loser. Craig is a great underdog play in fantasy.
Cole Miller (21-10 1 NC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (17-7-2)
Betting Odds: Miller (-105), Hirota (-115) DraftKings Salaries: Miller- $8,100, Hirota- $8,100 Key Statistic: Miller has 15 wins by submission Analysis: A very vocal and unhappy Miller steps back into the Octagon for perhaps the last time as he takes on Hirota at 145 pounds. Hirota is still in search of his first UFC win in his fourth appearance, and this may be his best chance thus far. Miller is long for the division and he uses his jab well, and he has an excellent ground game with 15 career submissions. Hirota is a good wrestler but he may not wanna play in the guard of Miller for very long. This is essentially a pick ’em fight in the betting odds and in fantasy. I like Miller as the better play here due to his knack for getting submissions. He has a very good chance of finishing Hirota and is a solid pick at $8,100.
Bryan Barberena (12-3) vs. Colby Covington (10-1)
Betting Odds: Barberena (+300), Covington (-360) DraftKings Salaries: Barberena- $7,300, Covington- $8,900 Key Statistic: Both men each have one career submission loss Analysis: Barberena and Covington will each be looking to score their third straight win when they square off on Saturday. Covington is the better prospect of the two, but Barberena has scored some upset victories in his last two fights. Barberena is the better fighter on the feet with more aggression, but Covington makes up for that in his huge takedowns and strong top game. He is very powerful and Barberena is going to be giving up some size. Barberena has been known to spring on an upset, so a bet on him wouldn’t be a bad option, though he is the underdog for good reason. I’m not sure I would play either one in fantasy as I expect it to go the distance. If I were to play one, it would be Barberena as an upset play.
James Moontasri (9-4) vs. Alex Morono (12-3)
Betting Odds: Moontasri (-110), Morono (-110) DraftKings Salaries: Moontasri- $7,800, Morono- $8,400 Key Statistic: Neither man has scored a takedown in UFC competition Analysis: Morono is going to be in his second UFC bout, and while he won his first, it was controversial and he wasn’t all that impressive. He’s not overly great at anything, and is the definition of low-level UFC fighter. Moontasri has struggled inside the Octagon, but he really should be the favorite in this fight, which he is not. He has flashy striking and knockout power, and we aren’t sure if Morono can take a punch. Morono isn’t a great wrestler either, and that is what Moontasri has struggled against in the past. Moontasri is a great underdog play, and he has a nice path to a knockout finish. He is worth a look for fantasy line-ups.
Josh Emmett (10-0) vs. Scott Holtzman (9-1)
Betting Odds: Emmett (-170), Holtzman (+150) DraftKings Salaries: Emmett- $8,700, Holtzman- $7,500 Key Statistic: Holtzman lands on over 52% of his strikes Analysis: Emmett is undefeated and from the Team Alpha Male camp, so he will have the crowd behind him in Sacramento. Holtzman is the better looking athlete and he’s good in every aspect of the fight. Emmett is a strong wrestler with some good power in his combinations. Holtzman is probably the better grappler, but Emmett is also good on the ground, and should be considering his training camp. It’s a close fight on paper, but Emmett is a decent-sized favorite, which makes Holtzman a good underdog bet. I would lean away from putting either of these two in your fantasy line-ups, though, as I expect a decision and not a lot of scoring opportunities.
Leslie Smith (8-7-1) vs. Irene Aldana (7-2)
Betting Odds: Smith (+255), Aldana (-310) DraftKings Salaries: Smith- $7,100, Aldana- $9,100 Key Statistic: Aldana has never been the distance in her career Analysis: Aldana is making her UFC debut coming over from Invicta, and she gets a good match-up against the veteran in Smith. Smith is just 2-3 inside the Octagon and has struggled to put together a good run. She is a brawler at heart, but she will lose a brawl against Aldana, who is very technical on her feet and has a lot of power. The only issue with Aldana is she lacks head movement at times. I don’t see this one going to the ground at all. Smith has been knocked out by opponents, and with Aldana’s power and crisp boxing, she should be the overwhelming favorite, which she is. Aldana is also a good fantasy play, and I would avoid Smith completely.
Eddie Wineland (22-11-1) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (21-10-2)
Betting Odds: Wineland (-225), Mizugaki (+185) DraftKings Salaries: Wineland- $8,800, Mizugaki- $7,400 Key Statistic: Mizugaki has scored 15 of his 21 wins by decision Analysis: Wineland looked like he was headed to the end of his career, but looked fresh in his knockout win over Frankie Saenz in July. Mizugaki has lost three of his last four, and he has been getting knocked out in those. That spells trouble here. Wineland is a strong striker with a lot of power, and he has great head movement and good counters. Mizugaki likes to grapple and push the pace, but Wineland has good defense and will be looking to exploit the chin early. Wineland is going to find a way to keep this standing. This is Wineland’s fight to lose. He is a great betting option, and his fantasy value is very good despite a high salary.
Hector Sandoval (12-3) vs. Fredy Serrano (3-1)
Betting Odds: Sandoval (-130), Serrano (+110) DraftKings Salaries: Sandoval- $8,100, Serrano- $8,100 Key Statistic: Serrano competed in the Olympics in wrestling Analysis: Both fighters need a win in this one, and Sandoval will have the crowd behind him in Sacramento. Serrano is an Olympic wrestler, but he’s getting into MMA late. He has shown good power against weaker competition, and struggled against Ryan Benoit in his last fight. Serrano is a better athlete but Sandoval is the better overall fighter with crisper combinations. They are even in fantasy salaries, but I really wouldn’t recommend having either in your line-up.
Bojan Velickovic (14-3-1) vs. Sultan Aliev (13-2)
Betting Odds: Velickovic (-160), Aliev (+140) DraftKings Salaries: Velickovic- $8,600, Aliev- $7,600 Key Statistic: Aliev hasn’t fought since January 2015 Analysis: Aliev is coming in off of an almost two-year long layoff while Velickovic is looking to remain unbeaten in the UFC. If this fight stays on the feet, it will belong to Velickovic as he is the better striker and comes from a southpaw stance. Aliev is a sambo specialist and has a strong takedown game and is powerful from the top. Each man has a clear path for victory and I give Velickovic a slight edge in this one due to being more active. I wouldn’t play either in fantasy line-ups though Aliev would be the more tempting play with the lower salary.