UFC 259 may be headlined by Blachowicz vs. Adesanya, but there are plenty of other great fights to keep an eye on. This weekly Fight Analysis article will break down and analyze every matchup. Below you’ll find my data-driven analysis for each match as well as a pick to win, which will help us make UFC DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel MMA lineups.
UFC DFS Picks: Blachowicz vs. Adesanya DraftKings + FanDuel
Blachowicz vs. Adesanya
In the Main Event, we have Israel Adesanya taking on Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya moved up a weight class, from middleweight to light heavyweight and is looking to become the next double-champ. In this fight, we will see an obvious speed advantage for Adesanya, who should look to keep this fight on the outside and pick apart his opponent. Blachowicz is a dangerous fighter who has turned his career around. Early on Blachowicz faced struggles in the UFC but found a recipe for success and became the world champion with a victory over Dominick Reyes. Blachowicz possesses devastating power and a solid grappling game, and that should be part of his game plan. On the feet, Blachowicz has low volume and could be behind on the scorecards because of Adesanya’s speed and technical advantage. Even though Blachowicz is an excellent value play, I’ll be siding with Adesanya.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Adesanya ($9,200)
Nunes vs. Anderson
In the co-main event of the evening, we have Amanda Nunes taking on Megan Anderson. If you’re an MMA fan you have to appreciate the career of Nunes. She is extremely skilled in all facets of the game with excellent striking, exceptional wrestling and a strong ground game. This will be a huge jump in competition for Anderson, who has been underwhelming in her UFC career. The issue here is that there aren’t many adversaries out there to challenge Nunes. The GOAT has a list of impressive victories, and I can’t say the same about Anderson. I don’t find much interest in the underdog here. Nunes has advantages in all categories, and the only reason to back Anderson would be due to James Krause in her corner, and the fact Nunes just had a baby with her girlfriend. I’m expecting the typical Nunes in this fight, who will have a vast skill advantage against an opponent who has weak wins in the division.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Nunes ($9,600)
Yan vs. Sterling
As the first title fight of the evening, we have Petr Yan taking on Aljamain Sterling. I’m the most excited about this fight, since I also believe this is the most even matchup. Both fighters are extremely talented and possess unique skillsets. Yan will have the striking advantage in this matchup while Sterling will have the wrestling advantage. I slightly prefer Yan here because it feels like he will be able to neutralize most of Sterling’s takedowns. The obvious concern is dealing with Sterling’s strength and sneaky submissions, making Yan a fantastic value play.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Yan ($8,400)
Makhachev vs. Dober
Islam Makhachev will be facing Drew Dober in an exciting lightweight contest, pairing grappler vs. striker. Makhachev is a talented wrestler who can compete on the feet, but he should look for the takedown immediately. I believe Makhachev will be too strong of a grappler in this fight; as long as he avoids the power of Dober, he should win decisively. Dober has good takedown defense but has succumbed to submission artists within his career. Dober’s power is as legitimate as they come, though, and Makhachev’s lone defeat was via knockout. I will be playing some lineups with Dober because of his upside, but I do like Makhachev’s ability to dictate the fight with his wrestling.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Makhachev ($9,400)
Rakic vs. Santos
Aleksandar Rakic is a name to circle in the division since his upside is massive. Rakic will be taking on Thiago Santos, a staple within both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions and arguably beat Jon Jones. There will be plenty of recency bias in this matchup as Santos disappointed his last time out. Santos is a dangerous striker with excellent power and precision, but his Achilles heel has been grappling. Rakic is a well-rounded fighter with tremendous upside, and he could look to utilize his wrestling to solidify rounds. I believe this is a close fight, where the public will be favoring Rakic due of his potential. I will be slightly leaning towards Santos as a unique value play but Rakic can’t be ignored either.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Santos ($7,600)
D. Cruz vs. Kenney
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Dominick Cruz, arguably the greatest bantamweight fighter of all time, will be taking on Casey Kenney. The latter is a talented fighter who took advantage of the pandemic, actively competing and winning in the octagon. Kenney is talented in all areas but prefers to stand and strike with his opponents; he has impressive power for the division and puts together good combinations. Cruz has an infamous style, blending excellent footwork and evasive moment to frustrate his opponents. As a fighter gets older, speed diminishes, reflexes decrease and injuries take a toll on your body. Cruz has been able to defy the odds countless times in his career, but his recent TKO loss to Henry Cejudo can’t be ignored. The stoppage was questionable, but Cruz was rocked by a knee and ate a lot of unanswered strikes. I recognize the difficult task ahead of Kenney in this matchup but will still lean in his direction. Kenney should land the more meaningful shots, yet he’ll need to be careful with the takedown ability of Cruz. I’m not sure this is a pivotal fight for GPPs, but both fighters have exceptional value at their respective salaries.
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UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Kenney ($8,100)
Yadong vs. Phillips
This next bout is an interesting fight between Song Yadong and Kyler Phillips. Yadong is a high-level striker who puts together impressive hand combinations. Yadong has a share of questionable decision wins but is a highly-skilled fighter at the end of the day. Phillips is a well-rounded martial artist with good striking and a sneaky ground game. Phillips should utilize more kicks in this matchup while mixing in takedowns to test the ground game of Yadong. This is a difficult matchup for both fighters but I view Phillips as a live dog. Both fighters should have competitive moments. However, Phillips’ ground game is the X factor in this fight. I believe Phillips is a great value play who could pull off the upset.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Phillips ($7,400)
Askarov vs. Benavidez
We have the flyweight staple, Joseph Benavidez, taking on Askar Askarov. From the WEC to the UFC, Benavidez has showcased a well-rounded skillset, combining good combinations with strong wrestling. Askarov is an undefeated fighter with a ton of potential but has been less than impressive in the UFC. Askarov’s game revolves around strong wrestling and decent striking, which hasn’t been the case at all in the UFC. I understand that Benavidez is coming off of two devastating knockout losses to the great Deiveson Figueiredo, and it’s difficult to hold that against him. At some point, we have to wonder about the damage accumulated in those fights. If Benavidez is able to avoid running into a big shot, I like his chances here. The skills are still there for Benavidez, and he can match Askarov in all areas of the fight. It’s not an easy fight by any means, and Askarov has a high ceiling in the division. At this point in time, I do think that Benavidez can edge out the undefeated prospect and pull off the upset victory. It’s tough to trust Benavidez, because of the damage, but I do like his skillset.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Benavidez ($7,900)
Kara-France vs. Bontorin
Kai Kara-France and Rogerio Bontorin will face off in an exciting flyweight matchup. Kara-France is a part of City-Kickboxing, one of the hottest teams in the game right now. Kara-France is an excellent striker who throws great volume and power for the division. Bontorin is a grappling ace, hopefully looking to secure takedowns early and often to avoid getting picked apart in this matchup. The only issue is that Kara-France has good takedown defense. I am favoring Kara-France despite the submission path for Bontorin.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Kara-France ($8,500)
Espinosa vs. Elliot
We have another flyweight contest pairing the wild man, Tim Elliot, against Jordan Espinosa. Elliot is a flyweight veteran who has fought the notable names of the division. Elliot brings an awkward style to the cage, with strange combinations and a relentless wrestling attack. His recklessness has been the biggest detriment in the past, making mistakes that directly led to losses. Hopefully, the tutelage of James Krause can calm down the madman. Elliot is a common fighter to target in DFS, as he pushes a high-pace with significant output and DFS production. Elliot needs to limit his mistakes in this bout and look towards implementing his sneaky submission game. Espinosa is a generalist who doesn’t excel in one particular area. Espinosa has decent striking, decent wrestling and decent offensive jiu-jitsu. It’s hard to feel confident here but I recommend splitting exposure, as this matchup is extremely volatile. I will lean towards Elliot to make adjustments and come away with the victory.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Elliot ($8,200)
Ulberg vs. Nzechukwu
In the low-level bout of the evening, it’s two relatively unproven fighters with Carlos Ulberg facing Kennedy Nzechukwu. I am actually excited to watch Ulberg return to the cage, as I think he is a talented striker coming from a strong camp. Ulberg is a main training partner for Israel Adesanya and will be prepared for this bout. Nzechukwu is a fighter with an impressive frame for the division, but I think we could be looking at a dominant victory for Ulberg. This matchup doesn’t worry me because Nzechukwu doesn’t possess high-level wrestling that could test the skills of Ulberg. In a striking affair, I favor Ulberg to walk away with the victory and potential knockout.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Ulberg ($9,000)
Brady vs. Matthews
This welterweight clash is a tough one for both Sean Brady and Jake Matthews. When I was watching tape on both fighters, I found a lot of similarities. Both guys have good boxing, strong wrestling and an underrated ground game. I think Brady is slightly better in every department though. I understand Matthews has more UFC experience, but Brady has been impressive in every fight thus far. This is one of the fights on the card that could be underwhelming from a DFS standpoint, as both are highly skilled and could nullify each other throughout. I believe Brady is slightly superior in every department and will walk away victorious.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Brady ($9,300)
Lemos vs. Souza
Next we have a matchup between Amanda Lemos and Livinha Souza. Initially I was interested in the Souza side, since she has accomplished a lot outside the UFC. Souza is a decorated judoka, with championship experience in multiple organizations. Her experience cannot be questioned, but her body of work inside the UFC can be. Souza has been underwhelming in the UFC and involved in close contests in most of her fights, due to her low volume and sluggish style. Souza has a strong ground game but relies too often on a big overhand right on the feet. Souza will have to increase her volume in this contest if she wants to be victorious. Lemos is an aggressive fighter with good combinations and a strong ground game as well. I foresee Lemos landing with more volume and edging it out on the scorecards. If Souza decides to fight like her old self, she can definitely win this fight. I will slightly lean Lemos and sprinkle Souza.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Lemos ($8,700)
Medic vs. A. Cruz
In the second match, we have two fighters coming from the Contender Series in Uros Medic and Aalon Cruz. Both fighters had impressive victories on the show, but Cruz has made his UFC debut already and lost to Spike Carlyle. Cruz is a tall and long fighter but moving up a weight class for this bout. Medic is an excellent striker coming from a promotion with questionable talent. We have seen high-level skills in Medic’s short, but he has been relatively untested. I foresee this being a striking matchup with two dynamic fighters and favor Medic to come away victorious. If you’re wary about Medic being untested, you could do worse than Cruz as a value play.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Medic ($8,900)
Bautista vs. Jones
In our opening bout of the evening, we have Mario Bautista taking on Trevin Jones. In Bautista’s UFC career, we’ve seen a promising striker who is slowly putting it together under a strong camp in the MMA Lab. Jones is a fighter who was brought in to lose against Timur Valiev, and he walked away with the victory before popping a positive test due to use of marijuana. In that fight, Jones was beaten from pillar to post and looked moments away from being finished. Jones landed a beautiful counter shot and followed it up with some ground and pound to come away with the insane upset. Jones is an average fighter in all aspects of the game but I don’t think lightning will strike twice here. I am favoring Bautista significantly and don’t view Jones as UFC material.
UFC DFS pick for DraftKings & FanDuel MMA: Bautista ($9,100)
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