MMA DFS Playbook – UFC 196

Welcome back to the MMA DFS Playbook. This is a huge weekend for the UFC, as Conor McGregor fights Nate Diaz, and Holly Holm makes her first title defense against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in Las Vegas. This is the first major card for the UFC in quite some time now, and there are a lot of good fights to dissect, so let’s get down to it.


Conor McGregor looks add to his legacy against Nate Diaz.

Usual disclaimers apply here, always keep up to date with information on the fights and weigh ins for cancellations. Values are according to Draftkings salaries.

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Conor McGregor ($11,000) vs. Nate Diaz ($8,400)

In the main event of UFC 196, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor faces short notice replacement Nate Diaz in a welterweight bout. MMA’s most popular figure was supposed to challenge Rafael Dos Anjos for the 155 lb. belt, but that fight will have to wait, as Dos Anjos bowed out due to injury. So now, we get McGregor vs. Diaz, an extremely enticing match-up in its own right. At $11,000 McGregor is the biggest favorite on the card, and for good reason. His 5 straight TKOs are not a fluke, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll win again by stoppage. Diaz has elite level boxing, as well as a solid jiu jitsu game, the latter of which could serve him well if he ever tried to use it. I imagine his constant willingness to stand up will eventually lead to problems, as McGregor has a much more well rounded striking game. The huge momentum behind McGregor will continue, and I see yet another TKO victory for Ireland’s favorite son.


Holly Holm ($10,800) vs. Miesha Tate ($8,600)

Holm makes her return after demolishing Ronda Rousey, to take on Tate, who rides a 4 fight win streak over stiff competition. Tate presents a much different stylistic match up for Holm than Rousey did. She’ll be much more calculated with her attacks, will try to bully Holm against the cage, and will more than likely try harder to take the fight to the mat with her excellent wrestling. Though all of that adds up to a more difficult night for the champ, I’m confident she’ll retain the belt. Holm’s striking is light years ahead of every other woman in the division, and that includes Tate. She also showed great takedown defense against Rousey. Even if Tate manages to get it to the floor, Holm will be more than capable of getting it back to her comfort zone. She’ll beat Tate to the punch (and kick) for a few rounds before finally putting her away in the 3rd or 4th round by TKO.


Ilir Latifi ($10,200) vs. Gian Villante ($9,200)

This is going to be a fun filler fight. Sweden’s Latifi takes on New Yorker Gian Villante, a surging light heavyweight prospect and training partner of Chris Weidman. Latifi has 4 first round finishes in his last 4 wins, while Villante is coming off of a KO of Anthony Perosh. Fireworks are to be expected, as both men posses more than enough punching power to end each other’s night early. Latifi has looked more impressive lately, as Villante has been rocked numerous times in his last few fights, and I question his ability to take the Swede’s power shots. Latifi ends this one early with a huge punch, winning by brutal KO in the 1st round.


Corey Anderson ($10,600) vs. Tom Lawlor ($8,800)

TUF vets battle each other at 205 lbs. as Season 19’s Corey Anderson faces Season 8’s “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Anderson has won his last 2 fights, though in unimpressive fashion. He was also knocked out by fellow UFC 196 competitor Gian Villante prior to his streak. Lawlor on the other hand, impressed me in his return to light heavyweight when he knocked out the previously mentioned Villante. Though inconsistent at middleweight, that fight convinced me enough to be confident in a victory over Anderson, who has not lived up to the hype of winning The Ultimate Fighter. Unless his cardio has improved immensely, he’s in rough shape. Lawlor will beat him up on the feet until he wears him down late for a TKO in the 3rd round.


Amanda Nunes ($9,900) vs. Valentina Shevchenko ($9,500)

Opening the PPV portion of the card is another women’s bantamweight scrap as Amanda Nunes returns after an impressive win over Sara McMann in August. Her opponent will be Shevchenko, who returns after winning her UFC debut against Sarah Kaufman. Shevchenko performed well for a debuting fighter, but didn’t overwhelm by any means. She definitely has a tough fight on her hands here. Nunes is another story. She absolutely destroyed McMann, and showed obvious improvements in her overall game. I think she’ll be too much for Shevchenko here, who probably isn’t ready for a fighter of Nunes’ caliber. Look for Nunes to take a 2nd round submission, after dominating every aspect of this fight.


Brandon Thatch ($10,900) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada ($8,500)

There isn’t a fight on the under card that excites me more than this one. Elite strikers Brandon Thatch and Siyar Bahadurzada headline the prelims on FS1. This is more than likely a do or die match up for both men, as they are both riding 2 fight losing streaks ahead of the bout. Brandon Thatch has been incredibly disappointing lately, dropping back to back fights against Ben Henderson and Gunnar Nelson. His ground game was exposed against Henderson, but against Nelson he was dropped by a looping punch from a fighter with limited striking. That shouldn’t be happening at this point in his career. Bahadurzada hasn’t fought since 2013 due to injuries, but was defeated soundly by John Howard and Dong Hyun Kim before then. I think the layoff will be too much of a factor here for Bahadurzada to overcome. I think Thatch will finally figure out the issues he has with the mental portion of the fight game, and get back on track with a KO victory in the 1st round. Hopefully we see a bit of what made him arguably MMA’s most exciting prospect a few years ago.


Erick Silva ($10,300) vs. Nordine Taleb ($9,100)

Brazilian Erick Silva takes on Canadian TUF vet Nordine Taleb. Silva is another fighter that just hasn’t lived up to expectations thus far. He built momentum winning fights he should have, but just can’t seem to win the fights that will put him over the hump into the mainstream of MMA. Taleb gained a lot of momentum with 3 straight wins before being submitted in his last bout. He’s a tough, gritty fighter who is decent in a lot of facets of MMA, but isn’t spectacular in any of them. Silva should be able to impose his will on Taleb in any area that the fight goes. His striking is better, as well as his jiu jitsu, and has trained with the likes of Anderson Silva as well as the Nogueira brothers. His experience should carry him to a clear-cut unanimous decision over Taleb.

Vitor Miranda ($10,700) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes ($8,700)

Fellow Brazilians Miranda and Guimaraes square off in a middleweight tilt. This is a fight that should be fairly easy to call. Miranda is coming off of 2 straight impressive finishes over Jake Collier and Clint Hester. Guimaraes was last seen in June 2014 besting Andy Enz by decision. Miranda is too skilled for Guimaraes who has barely skated by inferior competition so far in his UFC tenure. He should make quick work of Guimaraes, ending the contest by TKO in the 2nd round.


Chas Skelly ($10,100) vs. Darren Elkins ($9,300)

Wrestlers Skelly and Elkins face off in the first FS1 prelim bout at featherweight. Skelly has won his last 4 bouts in a row, but Elkins represents an obvious step up in competition. He has fought the who’s who of the featherweight division, including Jeremy Stephens and Chad Mendes. This should be a wrestling clinic, with both men relying heavily on their ground games. Skelly is a fighter on the rise, and has all the momentum coming into this fight. He should be able to compete in the stand up portion of the contest, and will land enough take downs to secure a unanimous decision victory in what could be a lackluster affair.


Jim Miller ($10,000) vs. Diego Sanchez ($9,400)

Interesting move here by the UFC to bury this exciting match up of vets on the UFC Fight Pass portion of the card, obviously done to drum up business for the internet subscription based website. Regardless of that, I absolutely love this match up. Both have lost more fights than they’ve won recently, but both bring exciting, fan-friendly styles that will make this a fun scrap. I think Miller still has the most left in the tank, and should be able to tag Sanchez with more polished striking. Sanchez tends to leave himself open to counter strikes when he wings his crazy punches, leaving ample opportunity for Miller to win the exchanges. If the fight goes to the ground, Miller is arguably the better submission artist, and should be able to handle Sanchez there as well. I don’t think either fighter has enough to finish each other, so Miller takes this via unanimous decision.


Jason Saggo ($10,400) vs. Justin Salas ($9,000)

This lightweight bout features 2 fighters making their returns to the cage after lengthy layoffs. Both men have been out of action since 2014, and would love to get a win to start 2016 off right. Saggo lost his last bout against Paul Felder, while Salas has alternated wins and losses in his 6 UFC appearances. Saggo gave Felder all he could handle in their bout, and looked to be on his way to big things in the UFC before his layoff. Salas has looked like a middle tier fighter to this point, and shouldn’t offer Saggo anything he can’t deal with. The cobwebs will be hard to shake for both men, but Saggo will earn a hard fought unanimous decision.


Julian Erosa ($10,500) vs. Teruto Ishihara ($8,900)

Prospects collide in the opening bout on Fight Pass, as Erosa takes on Ishihara. Ishihara lucked out a split-decision victory over Mizuto Hirota in Japan in his debut with the promotion. Erosa also earned a victory by split-decision in his debut, meaning both fighters will be eager to earn an impressive win to vault their careers in the big show. Japanese fighters seem to have a tough time transitioning to the UFC, and it looks like that was the case for Ishihara in his first fight. Erosa has 15 victories in his young career, and 8 have come by way of submission. Hard to make a call in a fight such as this one, but I like the ground game of Erosa enough to take him here, and he’ll win the fight by submission late in the 3rd round.

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