UFC Fight Night: Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic - MMA Betting & DFS Preview

A light heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic headlines this UFC Fight Night main card. MMA expert Casey Olson runs down your best bets & DFS plays.
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After we went 4-1 on Tuesday for Dana White’s Contender Series this week, we are right back at it! UFC has cards already built or in progress for the next 16 weeks in a row, so we are locked in for tons of MMA action--Let's go!

No stranger to the bright lights, Anthony Smith will make it six main events in a row on Saturday night, as he looks to avoid losing two in a row for the first time under the UFC banner. On the night, his opponent will be a very game Aleksandar Rakic, who is coming off a loss himself when he dropped a very debatable split decision to Volkan Oezdemir last December. The co-main features MMA legend and former champion Robbie Lawler, stepping up on short notice to take on Neil Magny in a welterweight match you will not want to miss. Speaking of not wanting to miss, kicking off the main card will be the much-anticipated rematch between Ion Cutelaba. He looks to avenge his controversial loss to Magomed Ankalaev back in February, a fight that just about started before Bruce Buffer could make a run for the cage door. Expect fireworks!

The card is scheduled for 11 fights and will take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, for the fifth straight week, since returning from Fight Island. Prelims will start at 6 PM ET and the main card following at 9 PM ET. The entire card will be televised on ESPN+. 

UFC Fight Night Details

DATE: SATURDAY 08/20/2020
BROADCAST: ESPN+
VENUE: UFC APEX
LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
# of MATCHES: 11

MAIN CARD

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205 LBS

#5 ANTHONY SMITH 33-15 VS #8 ALEKSANDAR RAKIC 12-2

WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBS

#13 ROBBIE LAWLER 28-14 VS NEIL MAGNY 23-7

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT 125 LBS

#14 JI YEON KIM 9-2-2 VS ALEXA GRASSO 11-3

FEATHERWEIGHT 145 LBS

RICARDO LAMAS 19-8 VS BILL ALGEO 13-4

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205 LBS

#14 MAGOMED ANKALAEV 13-1 VS ION CUTELABA 15-5

PRELIMS

MIDDLEWEIGHT 185 LBS

MAKI PITOLO 13-6 VS IMPA KASANGANAY 7-0

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT 115 LBS

MALLORY MARTIN 6-3 VS HANNAH CIFERS 10-6

MIDDLEWEIGHT 185 LBS

ALESSIO DI CHIRICO 12-4 VS ZAK CUMMINGS 23-7

FEATHERWEIGHT 145 LBS

ALEX CACERES 16-12 VS AUSTIN SPRINGER 12-3

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT 115 LBS

POLYANA VIANA 10-4 VS EMILY WHITMIRE 4-3

WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBS

SEAN BRADY 12-0 VS CHRISTIAN AGUILERA 14-6

MAIN EVENT PREDICTION

#5 ANTHONY SMITH 33-15 VS #8 ALEKSANDAR RAKIC 12-2

Taking center stage Saturday night are two of the world’s best at 205, as both Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic look to rebound after losses in their previous matchups. Anthony Smith, the former title contender, who just has no quit in him, was last seen getting outstruck in Rounds 3, 4, and 5 by opponent Glover Teixeira in a fight that could have been stopped more than once. At one point, Smith handed referee Jason Herzog his teeth as they hit the mat, and continued to defend the brutal melee from Glover. Though his corner was criticized for not throwing in the towel, Smith validated yet again, just how much heart he has, along with his ability to get into wars with the world's best fighters. 

Rakic’s last loss came significantly differently. While he was on the losing end of a split decision to Volkan Oezdemir, I had him winning the fight, along with seven of eight media members who turned in their scores, with two even giving him a clean sweep on the cards. Rakic also landed more significant strikes in the fight, at a much higher accuracy rate and the only takedown across the three rounds. That decision snapped a 12-fight winning streak since losing his debut back in 2011. I know one thing is for sure, he’s coming in not looking to let any judges steal one away from him this go around, but it's not going to be a walk in the park by any means. Smith has never lost two in a row under the UFC banner. 

Although Glover put it on him back last May, Smith was very dominant in taking the first round, before the momentum shifted the other direction. Smith has a respectable resume, and is 7-3 in his last ten fights, with all seven of those victories coming by way of finish. Looking beyond the last 10, Smith is without a doubt a finisher. In 48 fights, he's only gone to a decision on four occasions. Smith can compete wherever the fight goes, with outstanding striking leading to 18 TKO/KO victories and 12 submissions as a BJJ black belt. 

A factor we may see here working against Smith, is his below-average striking defense, leading him to get hit more than he lands on average. This is where I give the advantage to Rakic.

Rakic lands an impressive 5.17 significant strikes per minute with high accuracy, and ability to avoid shots and defend. He hasn’t been taken down in his last four fights and has only been submitted once, that being in his professional debut almost ten years ago. Rakic is a finisher himself, with 10 of his 12 victories inside the distance and eight in the first round. Though Smith has a technical edge, Rakic will be the faster, much busier fighter in there, visible across the three rounds. Smith has gone on record stating Rakic is a one-trick pony, though Rakic is far from that. If you go back and rewatch the Ledet fight, Rakic took him down three times, landing 263 strikes, to Ledet’s 28, showing his ability to grappler and control from the top. This is a quick turnaround for Smith after taking all that damage, and I expect Rakic to pick up where Glover left off.

PREDICTION

  • ALEKSANDAR RAKIC (As we get closer to fight time, the line continues to move in our favor here, so I'm waiting to pull the trigger.)
  • O/U 1.5 rounds is pending. I am awaiting for the referee assignments. 

OTHER WAGERS

MAIN CARD

#13 ROBBIE LAWLER 28-14 VS NEIL MAGNY 23-7

  • Lawler taking the fight on short notice, and coming off of three consecutive losses
  • Lawler is 1-4 in his last five fights.
  • Magny has bounced back. He's won his last two after, in a fight he was winning, getting caught and finished in Round 4 against Santiago Ponzinibbio.
  • Magny has a six-inch reach advantage.
  • BET: NEIL MAGNY (look via DEC -135)

#14 JI YEON KIM 9-2-2 VS ALEXA GRASSO 11-3

  • Grasso is making her debut at 125 LBS, moving up in weight.
  • Kim will be the bigger fighter, and will also have a six-inch reach advantage.
  • Kim has never been finished.
  • Grasso has gone to the final bell in seven of her last eight fights.
  • Neither fighter favors the grappling, so watch for the majority of the fight on the feet.
  • Grasso is better statistically across the board in both striking and grappling.
  • The size advantage for Kim versus Grasso's technical standup will be fun to watch. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Pass for me.

RICARDO LAMAS 19-8 VS BILL ALGEO 13-4

  • Algeo is making his debut on six days' notice.
  • Lamas will have a power advantage.
  • Algeo's strength is his sub-game, while Lamas has never been submitted.
  • Lamas should cruise, but no play for me.

#14 MAGOMED ANKALAEV 13-1 VS ION CUTELABA 15-5

  • The long-awaited rematch from the controversial match up back in Feb, where Cutelaba was playing possum as if he was hurt, and the referee stopped the fight.
  • As six of Ankelaev's last seven wins came by way of TKO/KO, both guys are finishers. Cutelaba has 13 finishes in the first round.
  • Though he scored a TKO loss for Cutelaba in his last fight (against Ankelaev), neither fighter really has a TKO/KO loss on their record, across 34 combined fights. Both fighters rarely go for submissions, the method they’ve both lost to the most.
  • BET: ANKALAEV/CUTELABA O1.5 -130

PRELIMS

MAKI PITOLO 13-6 VS IMPA KASANGANAY 7-0

  • Impa is making his official debut after getting signed on August 11th.
  • Impa is 7-0, with 71% of his fights going to decision.
  • Only one of Pitolo’s last eight fights have gone to the final bell.
  • I'm impressed with Impa's composure in there, and it could be a difference-maker in this fight. I'll side with Impa, but no official play.

MALLORY MARTIN 6-3 VS HANNAH CIFERS 10-6

  • Cifers is dropping back down to 115, and on a three-fight losing streak.
  • Martin lost her debut on 11 days' notice, and I believe she was ill fight day as well, possibly COVID-related back in December before the pandemic blew up.
  • BET: MALLORY MARTIN (look via DEC -115)

ALESSIO DI CHIRICO 12-4 VS ZAK CUMMINGS 23-7

  • Neither fighter has ever been KO’d, though expect them both going for it on Saturday night. Both will struggle with takedowns.
  • Three of Cummings’ last four wins have come by way of submission.
  • Di Chirico is 1-1 against southpaws, and 3-4 in the UFC.
  • BET: ZAK CUMMINGS -105

ALEX CACERES 16-12 VS AUSTIN SPRINGER 12-3

  • Springer is making his UFC debut on two days' notice.
  • This is the third opponent lined up for Caceres on this card now.
  • Springer previously beat Chikadze, Caceres’ original opponent.
  • No betting lines out at the time of write-up.

POLYANA VIANA 10-4 VS EMILY WHITMIRE 4-3

  • All of Viana’s wins have been inside the distance, six by way of submission.
  • Whitmire has three losses, all by submission.
  • Viana is 0-3 fighting outside of Brazil.
  • I have some sort of feeling one of these two will make a mistake, resulting in a tap.
  • BET: VIANA/WHITMIRE U2.5 ROUNDS +165

SEAN BRADY 12-0 VS CHRISTIAN AGUILERA 14-6

  • Brady looks to stay undefeated, coming in 12-0, with most of his fights coming by way of decision.
  • Aguilera has a high TKO/KO rate, finishing 11 of 14 by KO, and 10 in the first round.
  • Aguilera has also lost the majority of his fights by TKO/KO (67%)
  • Expect a fast start from both fighters, with a possible finish by Brady.
  • I’ve been impressed with Brady, but the line is too wide.

FULL MAIN CARD & PRELIM PREDICTIONS

  • ALEKSANDAR RAKIC defeats ANTHONY SMITH

  • NEIL MAGNY defeats ROBBIE LAWLER

  • ALEXA GRASSO defeats JI YEON KIM

  • RICARDO LAMAS defeats BILL ALGEO

  • MAGOMED ANKALAEV defeats ION CUTELABA

  • IMPA KASANGANAY defeats MAKI PITOLO

  • MALLORY MARTIN defeats HANNAH CIFERS

  • ZAK CUMMINGS defeats ALESSIO DI CHIRICO

  • ALEX CACERES defeats AUSTIN SPRINGER

  • POLYANA VIANA defeats EMILY WHITMIRE

  • SEAN BRADY defeats CHRISTIAN AGUILERA

UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY

Fight card predictions overall: 255-143-7 (64%)
Targeted matchups (wagers): 109-47-3 (70%)

UFC FIGHT NIGHT DFS Plays & Strategies

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
  • Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most of the weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
  • Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
  • Don’t get excited and rush a pick based on stats, consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
  • Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high percentage of submission victories matched with Fighter B, with a high percentage of submission losses.

As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC Fight Night. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.

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Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.

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UFC Fight Night Final Recommendations

  • Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates match those that get finished. (see my charts above)
  • Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
    • Cutelaba/Ankalaev -270
    • Rakic/Smith -180
    • Kasanganay/Pitolo -110
    • Aguilera/Brady -110
    • Whitmire/Viana +110
  • I usually take a look at the main event with five rounds to score, but this one is scheduled for three. Still side with Rakic and his ability to finish.
  • Top-tier fighters to build around include Brady, Ankalaev, Martin
  • Mid-tier fighter considerations are Rakic, Magny, Cummings
  • Live dogs are Viana, possibly Pitolo

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