MMA DFS Playbook – UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson

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Welcome back fight fans. The octagon returns for another weekend of fights, this time in Las Vegas, Nevada. What once was UFC 196, has transformed into UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson. Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum was originally scheduled to defend his title in a rematch against Cain Velasquez, before Cain withdrew due to a back injury. Next up

UFC Fight Night

Can Hendricks get back to title contention?

was the surging Stipe Miocic, before Werdum also bowed out due to an injury.

 

After some re-shuffling, and a new name, we now have a card headlined by Johnny Hendricks, who takes on Stephen Thompson. This event has also switched from Pay-Per-View, to free of charge on Fox Sports 1. Last week, my picks took a beating, finishing 5-7-1 as well as 0-4 on the main card. Let’s get back on track and make some money in the process. One important piece of advice before dive in, and I can’t stress this enough, ALWAYS check your selections on the day of weigh ins, as well as right before the card starts. There is always the chance that a fighter misses weight, falls ill during the weight cutting process, or becomes ill on fight day. This has happened numerous times, and it can kill your lineup if you don’t catch it. On to the selections! As always, salary values are according to Draftkings.

 

Johnny Hendricks ($10,400) vs. Stephen Thompson ($9,000)

In the new main event of the night, one-time welterweight king Johnny Hendricks battles Stephen “Wonder Boy” Thompson in a five round tilt. Hendricks returns after almost a year away and a weight cutting mishap. Thompson comes into this fight riding a five-fight winning streak, with three finishes. This is definitely the toughest fight for me to call. Hendricks utilized his wrestling game to capture a victory over Matt Brown in his last bout, who ironically is Thompson’s last loss. In a perfect scenario, Hendricks sticks to a game plan of staying outside striking range of Thompson and takes a decision victory. The problem I have with that, is that this bout is five rounds, and Hendricks has proven on multiple occasions to gas out late. Thompson has been more impressive with each performance, and is an incredible athlete. I don’t picture his cardio being an issue. As a kick boxer, he went an astounding 57-0 in amateur and professional contests combined, so he’ll obviously have the advantage on the feet. The deciding factor for me boils down to Thompson’s camp. Hailing from Tri-Star, which was brought into prominence by GSP, Thompson is going to have a major advantage over Hendricks, who had issues and an eventual split with Team Takedown. Head trainer Firas Zahabi will have worked Thompson’s take down defense enough for him to keep this fight standing, and I see a knockout victory for Thompson in round two or three after wearing Hendricks down. at $9,000 Thompson is also a great value play, which will come in handy with some sizable favorites on this card.

 

Roy Nelson ($10,200) vs. Jared Rosholt ($9,200)

Fan favorite “Big Country” Roy Nelson takes on Jared Rosholt in a heavyweight tilt in the co-main event of the night. At 39 years old, and a loser in five of his last six bouts, Nelson desperately needs a win to stay relevant in the division. Rosholt on the other hand, enters the cage a winner in six of his last seven. This fight is a clash of styles. Nelson is going to try to take Rosholt’s head off with power shots, while Rosholt will definitely be looking to take this one to the mat. Nelson is at the end of a brilliant career, and has not won a fight since 2014. There will be no career renaissance here. Rosholt is a three-time all american in wrestling at the powerhouse Oklahoma State. He will take Nelson down at will, but won’t have the finishing skills to put him away. Rosholt wins a clear-cut unanimous decision, sending Nelson into retirement. Another great value play, though play at your own discretion, as Rosholt likely won’t garner you bonus points for a finish.

 

Ovince Saint Preux ($10,700) vs. Rafael Cavalcante ($8,700)

This fight should provide a spectacular finish. “OSP” takes on “Feijao” in a light heavyweight affair. Saint Preux was choked out by Glover Teixeira in his last bout, after rattling off two impressive KO’s in a row. Cavalcante has been an utter disappointment in his UFC tenure with losses in three of his four fights, after holding the Strikeforce belt at 205 lbs. The fight should stay on the feet, where Saint Preux has proven to be extremely dangerous, notably in his victory over the legend “Shogun” Rua. Cavalcante has had impressive victories himself, including a knock out of Yoel Romero, his only loss in an impressive career. OSP brings incredible athleticism into the cage, and it will lead to a devastating KO in the first round.

 

Joseph Benavidez ($10,800) vs. Zach Makovsky ($8,600)

This is a nice scrap between two flyweights ranked in the top ten. Benavidez brings the obvious advantage in experience at the UFC level. He was twice unsuccessful at dethroning Demetrious Johnson in title fights at flyweight, while also dropping a close fight to Dominick Cruz at bantamweight in the WEC. Zach Makovsky comes into the bout off of a close loss to John Dodson at UFC 187. He has three wins in five fights with the promotion, losing twice to stiff competition. While I like how scrappy Makovsky has shown to be, I cannot think of an area in this fight where he has a legitimate shot to beat Benavidez. Benavidez is elite, and probably beats every flyweight not named Demtrious Johnson. Look for Benavidez to control every minute of the bout until he captures a submission victory in the second round.

 

Misha Cirkunov ($11,000) vs. Alex Nicholson ($8,400)

Cirkunov is the biggest favorite for Draftkings at $11,000 when he takes on Nicholson in a light heavyweight bout on the main card. If you can fit Cirkunov into your lineup comfortably with value plays, get some exposure. With eight first round finishes in ten victories, he’s proven to be a wrecking machine. In his seven bouts, Nicholson has some impressive finishes of his own, but hasn’t faced the same level of competition. Cirkunov should impose his will very early, ending Nicholson’s night in the first round by KO, earning you some nice bonus points.

 

Sean Spencer ($10,000) vs. Mike Pyle ($9,400)

Spencer and Pyle will kick things off at welterweight to open the main card on Fox Sports 1. Pyle has lost three of his last four fights, two in brutal fashion, and is 40 years old. Spencer has not been overly impressive in his first six fights in the UFC, hovering at .500 with a record of 3-3. That being said, he is 12 years the junior of Mike Pyle, who likely should have retired a few years ago. Pyle has had a successful career and is a pioneer for MMA. However, time waits on no man, and Spencer should be able to walk through him, eventually winning by technical knock out in the latter portion of the first round.

 

Josh Burkman ($10,100) vs. K.J. Noons ($9,300)

This will be the featured preliminary bout on the card, which is also broadcasted on Fox Sports 1. This looks like the last shot to make a run for Josh Burkman, who has lost two fights in a row to extremely stiff competition, after having a loss overturned against Hector Lombard, who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. He’s in his second stint with the UFC, and a loss here more than likely gets him canned from the promotion. K.J. Noons is also in desperation mode with losses in four of his last seven fights. With Noons excelling in striking, Burkman would be smart to take this fight to the ground, where Noons has struggled in his career. I believe Burkman will do so, exposing the deficiency in K.J.’s game. The pick is Burkman by decision.

 

Derrick Lewis ($9,700) vs. Damian Grabowski ($9,700)

This fight should be interesting, to say the least. Lewis and Grabowski both share a liking for ending fights inside of fifteen minutes. Lewis has knockouts in all four of his victories in the UFC, while Grabowski has a record littered with finishes in fights taking place mainly in Europe. At $9,700 a piece, this fight looks to be evenly matched, and if the fight stays on the feet, I expect it to be. Where I feel the fight will be decided is on the mat. Lewis has shown a tendency to be taken down by fighters with decent ground experience. With eleven of twenty wins coming by submission, Grabowski has proven to be a handful when the fight ends up on the ground. I expect Grabowski to take Lewis down early in the fight where he’ll either rough Lewis up for a technical knock out, or catch him in a submission in the first frame.

 

Ray Borg ($10,500) vs. Justin Scoggins ($8,900)

Call this a battle of young guns, as Borg who is 22 years old, takes on Scoggins who is 23 in a flyweight battle. Borg has show some serious improvements in his game after a loss in his debut to Dustin Ortiz. He’s one of the UFC’s most talented prospects currently, and I’m excited to see what he can bring against Scoggins. Scoggins also lost to Ortiz after opening up his UFC tenure with two victories. This should be a tight one, but I think that Borg has too much momentum for Scoggins to win. Look for some back and forth action before Borg takes control late, capturing a close decision, possibly by a split verdict, though I’d prefer to stay away from this one entirely.

 

Noad Lahat ($10,600) vs. Diego Rivas ($8,800)

This featherweight tilt will open the Fox Sports 1 preliminary card. Lahat trains with many of the UFC’s elite in San Jose, California at American Kickboxing Academy. He’s as tough as they come, as he also battles in Israel skirmishes. He has looked impressive in his short UFC career, winning his last two. Diego Rivas won his debut with the organization, and now faces a huge jump up in competition. Lahat faces some of the toughest fighters every day at AKA and with that experience alone, he should be able to handle Rivas, who’s inexperience should show here. Lahat cruises to a unanimous decision, improving his standing in a crowded featherweight division.

 

Mickey Gall ($10,900) vs. Mike Jackson ($8,500)

I don’t know that I’ve ever been less excited for a fight that I am for this one. Mickey Gall takes on Mike Jackson at welterweight for a shot at facing off against the former WWE star, CM Punk in his debut. Gall comes into the bout at 1-0 in his professional career, while Jackson has no recorded pro bouts. All I know about the guy, is he has kick boxing experience. How either man could be so heavily favored is beyond me. Gall probably looks to use his wrestling against Jackson, who more than likely will try to land a knock out blow to Gall. I’m guessing Gall wins by technical knockout out after landing a take down, but you won’t see me touching this contest. I advise you do the same unless you’re taking Jackson as a long shot tournament pick.

 

Artem Lobov ($9,800) vs. Alex White ($9,600)

This featherweight bout opens the night on UFC Fight Pass. Lobov trains in Ireland with featherweight kingpin Conor McGregor. He brings an astonishing record of 11-11-1 with one no contest into the cage when he fights White, who has dropped two straight bouts inside the octagon. Lobov is not the most skilled fighter on the roster, but has a wealth of experience already. White looks like a safer pick here, should you choose to play this match up. Lobov has lost eleven fights for a reason, and White should be able to navigate his way through this one with his striking, winning a unanimous decision, though this is another contest where I would advise having minimal exposure.

 

My Lineup

Starting this week, I’ll be adding a lineup that I feel confident in playing on Draftkings. For this card I like:

 

Cirkunov ($11,000)

Saint Preux ($10,700)

Rosholt ($9,200)

Thompson ($9,000)

Burkman ($10,100)

 

Thank you once again for taking the time to glance over these pieces, it truly means a lot. As always, you can also find me on Twitter discussing the fights live under my handle @MikeGaluszka. Good luck to you all, and I’ll be back next time for UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Oliviera.

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