UFC 244: Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal
It’s been a while since the UFC put on a major card, but this one is worth the wait. From top to bottom, every fight is at least mildly interesting. Kelvin Gastelum is back in the cage after his war with Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. He gets Darren Till making his Middleweight debut. Steven Thompson looks to rebound from is KO loss to Anthony Pettis against rising Welterweight Vicente Luque. Derrick Lewis is also looking to break a two-fight losing streak by taking on the dangerous Blagoi Ivanov. The final fight on the main card is another guy looking to bounce back from a two-fight losing streak: Kevin Lee. Lee takes on the undefeated, 11th ranked Gregor Gillespie. Plus, I haven’t even mentioned the undercard. It’s going to be an excellent night of fights.
Jorge Masvidal (-160) vs. Nate Diaz (+150)
Knockout Till. Three piece with the soda. Knockout Askren.
It’s been quite a year for Masvidal. Heading into the Till fight in March, he had been out of the cage for 18 months. Back to back decision losses has Masvidal floundering. Now, he’s in the main event at Madison Square Garden fighting for a belt created specifically for him. That’s a wild 8 months.
Meanwhile, Diaz came back after three years away to slowly beat the brakes off of Anthony Pettis. He’s back in the cage just three months later trying to become the official BMF.
We know exactly what we’re getting here. These guys are going to scrap. I would be surprised to see a finish. I can confidently say if you’re playing multiple lineups, you should have 100% exposure to the main event. I’m currently sitting at a 61/39 split in favor of Masvidal. Stacking the fight in cash is very much in play. I’m always rooting for Diaz, but a Masvidal win makes the future clean. He fights the winner of Usman/Covington while Diaz takes some time off before the inevitable Conor McGregor trilogy fight. There’s too much money on the table for it to never happen. If Diaz wins, who the hells knows. You would expect the UFC to make the Masvidal/Edwards fight. Who the hell knows what happens with Nate after that? Either way, you should be going out of your way to watch this fight.
Kelvin Gastelum (-235) vs. Darren Till (+215)
Before running my preliminary crunch, I was shocked to see our projected ownership for Till. I assumed he would naturally be a leverage play. Turns out, not so much.
Till is making his Middleweight debut in the most difficult way possible. Gastelum could easily be the Middleweight champ right now. It’s possible that the cut to 170 was simply too much for Till. He can completely re-ignite his push with a big finish. I have a hard time seeing it happen. Gastelum provides more volume in the striking department, while also getting hit less. There’s no contest in the grappling department. Till will need to utilize his jab to keep Gastelum at distance. Otherwise, Kelvin will be all over him for 15 minutes. The fact that this fight isn’t a five rounder is a boon for Till, but ultimately, I’m going into this fight with very little exposure to him. Because of the three round nature, I don’t see this as a smash spot for Gastelum either. I’m looking to just stay with the field in GPPs. I think he’s a bit too expensive to be confident in his ability to pay off that price tag. I would avoid this fight in cash as well. Neither fighter projects well enough for that kind of risk.
Stephen Thompson (-105) vs. Vicente Luque (-105)
This one is easy. The odds on the fight imply a coinflip. The salaries, on the other hand, tell a different story. Thompson is $800 more expensive. Luque is one of my favorite GPP plays of the night. By going with Luque, you’re getting better odds of a finish and the same odds of a win for a much cheaper price. I have no problem going to Luque in cash because of the price. Oddly enough, Thompson has one win since 2016: a decision victory of Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217.
Thompson is just too expensive for the odds. He has some of the lowest odds of a finish on the card. He hasn’t finished someone in the cage since he TKO’d Johny Hendricks in February 2016. Play the math on this one. Luque is the priority.
Derrick Lewis (-105) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (-105)
This fight might be the opposite of Masivdal/Diaz. Lewis has one skill: land a bomb. He has 21 wins, 18 by KO. Meanwhile, Ivanov has only been finished once in his career, a submission loss to Alexander Volkov at Bellator 120 in May 2014. Otherwise, this 5’11”, 250 pound fire hydrant of a man simply absorbs everything that people throw at him. You can’t bet against a Lewis KO, but I’m expecting to take a 15 minute nap to rest up for fights that come on after this. I’m trying to avoid both sides of this fight. Currently, my exposure is less than the field for both guys. I wouldn’t be looking to them in cash, either. The volume will likely be very low. Cross your fingers for fireworks, but don’t get your hopes up.
Gregor Gillespie (-140) vs. Kevin Lee (+130)
After riding a five-fight winning streak, Lee hit a bit of a skid. He was finished by Tony Ferguson in an interim Lightweight title fight back in 2017. He rebounded with a finish of Edson Barboza, but has dropped two straight to Al Iaquinta and Rafael dos Anjos. Now, he’s back in the Lightweight division taking on the undefeated Gillespie. While Lee is an accomplished wrestler, it’s Gillespie that has the true pedigree. He was a four-time NCAA All-American at Edinboro University. He was a national champion in his sophomore year. We’re talking about some really high-end grappling chops. The key to this fight comes from the changes Lee has made in his life. He finally went to a real camp. Heading into this fight, Lee has attached himself to Firas Zahabi and the Tristar team. He’ll go from handling most of his fight camps on his own to having one of the best camps in the world behind him. That’s hard to overlook.
It’s also possible that Lee is just too big for Gillespie. While he has the grappling chops, he’ll be giving up three inches in height and six inches of reach. If Lee keeps this fight vertical, he’ll have the chance to put himself back in the win column. Lee has the benefit of some advantageous pricing. He’s the third-cheapest fighter on the card, but could easily be $500 higher. There are a quite a few fighters packed in this range with identical odds to win. That makes me interested as the one pay-down cash game option. Otherwise, I’m not highly enamored with either guy in GPPs. The odds of a finish for either guy are relatively low. They’ll need to rack up the grappling points for either one to truly matter. There’s more value in Lee because of the projected ownership, but it’s not my favorite DFS fight on the card.