MMA DFS Playbook – UFC 198

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We’re back fight fans! UFC 198 goes down in Curitiba, Brazil with a STACKED card full of Brazilian superstars. In the main event, Fabricio Werdum defends his title against surging contender Stipe Miocic. The co main event pits “Jacare” Souza against legend Vitor Belfort. The card took a bit of a hit when Anderson Silva withdrew from his bout with Uriah Hall, opting for gallbladder surgery. Nevertheless, the show goes on, and the card still offers plenty of action. Keep an eye on the weigh ins, and the day of the fights for anymore injury withdrawals. Dollar values are according to Draftkings salaries.

 

Fabricio_Werdum

Can Werdum follow up on his recent success against Miocic?

 

Fabricio Werdum ($10,300) vs. Stipe Miocic ($9,100)

Werdum makes his first title defense since soundly defeating Cain Velasquez at UFC 188 last June. This heavyweight title fight was scheduled for the original UFC 196 card before Werdum withdrew with a back injury. Since a close loss to Junior dos Santos in 2014, Miocic has since defeated Mark Hunt and Andrei Arlovski by TKO. This is a much more interesting match-up than a Werdum-Velasquez rematch, as Miocic presents a different skill set for Werdum to deal with. Werdum has really impressed me since returning to the UFC in 2012, going undefeated in his last 6 fights. What impressed me the most was his domination of Velasquez in Mexico, where he submitted the former champ after dominating him for 2 rounds. Both Werdum and Miocic are going to come into this fight in great shape, and will not have to deal with extreme elevation, as Werdum had to deal with in his last 2 bouts. Miocic is going to have to win the exchanges on the feet, while having to avoid the elite jiu-jitsu of the champion. The question becomes, can he? Werdum’s striking has evolved since returning to the UFC, highlighted by victories over Travis Browne and Mark Hunt. Couple that with arguably the best jiu-jitsu in the UFC, and Werdum becomes a nightmare to prepare for. I truly believe we will see a repeat of the Velasquez fight, with Miocic holding his own in the early exchanges before Werdum’s punches and knees from the clinch wear him down. If that happens, Miocic will make a mistake by either shooting for a takedown, with Werdum catching him in a guillotine, or Werdum TKO’ing him on the mat. The pick is Werdum by submission in the 2nd round.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza ($10,600) vs. Vitor Belfort ($8,800)

This is my most anticipated fight on the card. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is criminally underrated, and still has all of the potential in the world to still become champion in the middleweight division. He takes on the legend, Vitor Belfort, in a fight that has huge title implications. Vitor is coming off of a win over Dan Henderson, after losing a title fight to Chris Weidman. Jacare returns after an extremely controversial loss to Yoel Romero in December. Romero tested positive for banned substances after the fight, but was vindicated after a supplement was found to be tainted. Before the controversial fight, Souza was riding a 5-fight win streak, and will be looking to get back on track here against Belfort. Belfort was one of the scariest fighters of all time when he had a therapeutic use exemption for TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). His physical appearance has changed dramatically since TRT was banned by the athletic commission, and at his age, time is running short to make a run. He’ll need a win here to have any shot at another title fight. Like Werdum, Souza is the best of the best when it comes to jiu-jitsu, winning ADCC gold in 2005, as well as becoming a superfight champion against Robert Drysdale in 2009. His striking has also drastically improved since coming to the UFC from Strikeforce, evidenced by his destruction of perennial title contender Yushin Okami. This is Jacare’s fight to lose for me, as his striking is going to keep it competitive on the feet. Belfort does have the speed advantage, so he will have to tread lightly. He would be wise to get the fight to the mat, which he will most likely do, where he can finish Belfort by submission. The pick is Jacare by submission in round 2, though Belfort makes for a great tournament pick.

Cris Cyborg ($11,600) vs. Leslie Smith ($7,800)

Yet another exciting fight on tap here, as Cyborg finally makes her UFC debut against Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 lbs. Props to Leslie Smith for stepping up here, as it’s rumored a few higher profile names quickly turned Cyborg down. Smith is 2-1 in the UFC with wins over Rin Nakai and Jessamyn Duke. Sandwiched in between her wins is a loss to Jessica Eye, where her ear was partially detached from her head. Heart is something you’re going to need to compete with a fighter like Cyborg, and Smith obviously has no shortage of it. Cyborg is undefeated since a loss in her debut in 2005, with finishes in all but 2 of her 15 wins. The level of competition has been questionable at best, and I see her UFC tenure being tumultuous down the road. However, this fight is tailor-made for her, as Smith is usually content to stand and swing it out with her opponents. Unless she drastically changed her game in a few moths time, Cyborg should have no problem walking through her. Cyborg has the size, power, and big fight experience advantages over Smith, and will use them to win the fight early. Cyborg wins her debut by Knockout in the 1st round.

Corey Anderson ($10,200) vs. Mauricio Rua ($9,200)

It’s prospect versus legend when light heavyweights Corey Anderson and “Shogun” square off. Since winning season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter, Anderson is 5-1 in the UFC, including an impressive win over Tom Lawlor in March. Shogun won his last bout against Rogerio Nogueira, which was much needed, as he’s been on a tailspin in the latter part of his career. He’s 4-5 since losing his belt to Jon Jones, and could ill afford any losses at this stage in his career. Anderson was a standout wrestler in college, and has relied upon his wrestling during his tenure with the promotion. To win this fight, he’ll need to use that elite wrestling, and if he does, he has a clear path to victory. Anderson will also have a major advantage if he shows up in good shape, as Shogun has shown a tendency to gas out in his fights. It’ll be a sad night for Curitiba, as Anderson is too much for Shogun at this point in their careers. It’ll be a wrestling clinic, with Anderson taking Shogun down at will in every round. The pick is Corey Anderson by unanimous decision, but don’t be surprised if he manages to finish Shogun late.

Warlley Alves ($10,800) vs. Bryan Barberena ($8,600)

With the injury to Anderson Silva, Warlley Alves and Bryan Barberena get the jump up to the pay-per-view card. Alves is 4-0 in the UFC with 3 submission wins, while Barberena is 2-1 with a huge victory in his last bout against the ultra popular prospect, Sage Northcutt. This seems to be a pretty big mismatch in skills, as Barberena is making a huge jump up in competition. Alves is a star in the making, while Barberena could use a few more fights to develop. Though he finished Northcutt, he was in trouble early in the fight, until Northcutt gassed and eventually lost by submission. Alves is going to come out aggressively from the second the bell rings, looking to take Barberena’s head off. I look for Alves to connect with something hard early, knocking Barberena out clean in the 1st frame.

Demian Maia ($10,500) vs. Matt Brown ($8,900)

The marquee fight on the preliminary card is a good one, as top 10 welterweights Demian Maia and Matt Brown face off. Both guys are savvy veterans with Maia competing in the UFC since 2007, and Brown since 2008. This card is stacked with jiu-jitsu aces, as Maia’s ground game is on par with Werdum’s and Jacare’s. He has 7 submission finishes in 16 wins, and has went toe to toe with the legends of the sport. Matt Brown is one of my favorite fighters to watch. He isn’t elite in any one area of the sport, and probably isn’t going to challenge for a belt any time soon. What he does have, is a whole lot of heart, and the ability to take any one out with his tenacity alone. He is going to push the pace, and be in Maia’s face from the opening seconds of the fight, with no relenting. If he has any advantage on Maia, its in the cardio department, where Maia has been prone to have a deficiency with a heavy weight cut. As much as I’ll be rooting for Brown, it would be irresponsible for me to pick him to win this fight. He’s a great guy personally, and was the nicest guy in the world when I met him in person, but he’s got a tough match-up here. With 9 losses by way of submission, Maia presents a monumental challenge. I’m picking Maia to win by submission in the very 1st round.

Thiago Santos ($10,900) vs. Nate Marquardt ($8,500)

A winner of his last 3 bouts, Thiago Santos takes on longtime veteran Nate Marquardt in a middleweight bout. Since his loss to Uriah Hall, Santos has rattled off 3 straight wins, including an impressive performance over The Ultimate Fighter winner Elias Theodorou. Marquardt has always been a favorite of mine, but has fallen on hard times in this stage in his career. Since defeating Tyron Woodley for the welterweight belt in Strikeforce, Marquardt is 2-5 with a few brutal KO losses. At 37 years old, his chin isn’t going to get any better, and that’s good news for Santos. Santos is a black belt in muay thai with vicious striking, and has capoeira experience. This has all the makings for a highlight reel finish for Santos. The pick is Santos by gruesome KO in the 1st round.

Francisco Trinaldo ($10,000) vs. Yancy Medeiros ($9,400)

This is an interesting fight, as Trinaldo and Medeiros are both pretty evenly matched. Trinaldo has won his last 5 bouts, including a victory over Ross Pearson in his last fight. Medeiros has won 3 of his last 4, defeating John Makdessi in his last appearance. Medeiros has faced some stiff competition, with his losses coming to standouts like Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller. Trinaldo hasn’t faced the cream of the crop yet, but has done his job defeating the fighters that have been put in front of him. Medeiros trains with the Diaz brothers in Stockton, so we know he’s going to be ready to throw down with the ultra tough Trinaldo come fight night. Trinaldo is going to come out looking to land power punches on Medeiros early, so avoiding those is going to be vital if he wants to stay in this fight in the long run. Medeiros will need to stick to the outside and use his length to keep Trinaldo at bay. I think the pressure that Trinaldo will put on Medeiros is going to be too much throughout the fight, and will lead to a victory. I’m picking Trinaldo to keep the winning streak going, and he’ll win by unanimous decision.

John Lineker ($9,700) vs. Rob Font ($9,700)

Bantamweights do battle on the prelims as sluggers John Lineker and Rob Font try to keep pace in the division. Lineker was very impressive in his return to 135 lbs. After missing weight an astounding 4 times, he finally relented, and jumped up a division. A first round submission over Francisco Rivera was a good start, and he’ll look to keep the momentum rolling against Font. Font is an impressive prospect with 2 finishes in his first 2 fights with the promotion. I have a hunch both men are going to try to keep this on the feet to prove a point, and the result should be entertaining for the fans. Lineker already has over 30 fights to his name, including 9 with the UFC, all before his 27th birthday. I think his punching power, coupled with his huge advantage in experience will provide too tough a test for Font. Lineker by KO in round 2 is the pick.

Patrick Cummins ($9,800) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira ($9,600)

The UFC keeps pushing Fight Pass, burying a good match-up on the internet based broadcast. Cummins takes on the Brazilian legend Nogueira in the featured bout on Fight Pass, in an extremely important fight for both. Cummins needs the win to prove that he can hang with the big names of the sport, while Nogueira needs a victory just to justify even fighting anymore. Cummins has looked good against guys like Kyle Kingsbury and Rafael Cavalcante, but has been annihilated by big names like Glover Teixeira, OSP, and Daniel Cormier, all by knockout. After impressive victories over Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, Nogueira has seen his stock fall in losses to Shogun and Anthony Johnson, the latter of whom knocked Nogueira into oblivion in just 44 seconds. Cummins will obviously look to use his elite wrestling to take Nogueira down. He will try to control position, while avoiding the legendary submissions that the Nogueira brothers are famous for. Cummins will also have to avoid the power punches that Nogueira throws. He’s a bronze medal winner in boxing at the Pan American Games, as well as a gold medal winner at the South American Games, so keeping it standing is a wise move for Nogueira if he’s capable of stuffing the takedown attempts of Cummins. I don’t think he’ll be able to stuff them for the entirety of the fight. I see Cummins landing quite a few takedowns, while avoiding those submissions for 3 rounds. Cummins wins by unanimous decision.

Sergio Moraes ($10,700) vs. Luan Chagas ($8,700)

Surging welterweight contender Sergio Moraes takes on newcomer Luan Chagas, in a fight that could end quickly. Moraes has been incredible since losing in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, rattling off 4 wins in a row with 3 finishes. Chagas makes his UFC debut on home soil in Curitiba, looking to pull off a stunning victory in the process. While he possesses legitimate skill, including 9 finishes in 9 straight wins, I just can’t imagine him being ready for a fighter of Moraes’ caliber. Moraes is a multiple time world champion in jiu-jitsu, and has too much experience in the big show to lose to a fighter making his debut. Chagas has every opportunity to prove me wrong. The pick is Moraes by submission in the 2nd round, after battering Chagas in the standup.

 

Tournament Lineup:

 

Werdum ($10,300)

 

Belfort ($8,800)

 

Anderson ($10,200)

 

Maia ($10,500)

 

Cummins ($9,800)

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