UFC Raleigh Preview: Which Fighters Should You Bet on?

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

What’s up fight crew! We are back after last week’s huge UFC 246 card and this week, the org heads on over to Raleigh, North Carolina for UFC on ESPN+ 24: Blaydes vs. Dos Santos!

Last week, our targeted matchups went 2-0 as predicted, with Conor McGregor making it a quick night via his 40-second finish of Donald Cerrone, and Askar Askarov cruising to a very one-sided unanimous decision over Tim Elliott. These selections, along with the rest of last week’s card, now brings the overall prediction record to 105-49-6.

As we look forward to Saturday night’s event, all fighters successfully made weight, which clears the way for a great night of fights with 12 matches in total scheduled for the event.

So let’s dive in!

SATURDAY 01/25/20 at 5PM ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+
VENUE: PNC Arena
LOCATION: Raleigh, North Carolina
MATCHES: 12

MAIN CARD:

HEAVYWEIGHT 265LBS

#3 CURTIS BLAYDES 12-2 (-250) VS #4 JUNIOR DOS SANTOS 21-6 (+210)

WELTERWEIGHT 170LBS

#5 RAFAEL DOS ANJOS 29-12 (-270) VS MICHAEL CHIESA 15-4 (+230)

FLYWEIGHT 125LBS

#11 JORDAN ESPINOSA 14-6 (+220) VS #12 ALEX PEREZ 22-5 (-260)

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT 115LBS

HANNAH CIFERS 10-3 (+150) VS ANGELA HILL 10-7 (-170)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205LBS

JAMAHAL HILL 6-0 (-125) VS DARKO STOSIC 13-3 (+105)

PRELIMS:

MIDDLEWEIGHT 185LBS

BEVON LEWIS 6-2 (-450) VS DEQUAN TOWNSEND 21-9 (+360)

FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

#15 ARNOLD ALLEN 15-1 (-300) VS NIK LENTZ 30-10-2 (+250)

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT 125LBS

JUSTINE KISH 6-2 (+145) VS LUCIE PUDILOVA 8-5 (-165)

BANTEMWEIGHT 135LBS

MONTEL JACKSON 8-1 (-700) VS FELIPE COLARES 9-1 (+500)

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT 135LBS

#10 SARAH MCMANN 11-5 (-150) VS #11 LINA LANSBERG 10-4 (+130)

BANTAMWEIGHT 135LBS

BRETT JOHNS 15-2 (+100) VS TONY GRAVELY 19-5 (-120)

FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

HERBERT BURNS 9-2 (+105) VS NATE LANDWEHR 13-2 (-125)

MATCHUPS TO TARGET:

#3 CURTIS BLAYDES 12-2 (-250) VS #4 JUNIOR DOS SANTOS 21-6 (+210)

Great main event here as #3 Curtis Blaydes, who’s already defeated two legends of the sport (Overeem & Hunt), takes on another one in former champ, #4 Junior Dos Santos. While Blaydes is positioning himself for a crack at the title with potentially three straight wins here, Dos Santos is looking to get back on track after suffering a TKO loss in just over a minute to Francis Ngannou. Speaking of Ngannou, he happens to be the only man to defeat Blaydes so far, finishing him twice to strikes. I’d have to say that’s not a fun thing to have in common for Blaydes and Dos Santos, right?

Anyhow, Blaydes averages more than seven takedowns per 15 minutes, and is as good as they come with the grappling. Dos Santos has an 80% takedown defense, and could quite possibly defend some shots, but Blaydes will get him down eventually just as Cain Velasquez did when they fought. Matter of fact, in one of those matches, Cain actually took Dos Santos down 11 times in a very decisive victory against the heavyweight striker. Stats will show Dos Santos hasn’t allowed a takedown in his last seven fights, but let it be known that there was also only one single attempt from that string of opponents combined (shoutout to Alistair Overeem).

Dos Santos has been matched up with some stiff guys, most of which look to stand and trade. Blaydes ain’t about that life. This should be one of the tougher tests Dos Santos has seen in the last few years.

You can’t be disrespectful and underestimate Dos Santos, as he can crack you at any given moment, but you’d have to think that Blaydes is well aware of the position he’s in. Blaydes will bring that mental composure, take advantage of this age difference and put on a show. He has his cardio, grappling, chin and striking of his own, which puts him as a moderate favorite in my book. Like I said, Dos Santos has that big shot he could land, but Blaydes has more ways to win and is my selection in the main event.

PREDICTION: CURTIS BLAYDES

BEVON LEWIS 6-2 (-395) VS DEQUAN TOWNSEND 21-9 (+350)

Bevon Lewis, the prospect from the Jackson/Wink stable, has something to prove here as he’s dropped two in a row since snagging a UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series back in July of 2018. Those two losses were against some tough foes, though. He was immediately matched up with Uriah Hall, who eventually got through and KO’d him in the third round, followed by dropping a decision to Darren Stewart last June.

He’s slated to take on Dequan Townsend this go around. I believe Townsend just isn’t UFC-caliber yet and is getting a second shot after losing via TKO to Dalcha Lungiambula in his debut. I’m actually surprised he’s getting another shot this quickly. You see, Townsend took his first UFC fight on very short notice and (to quote him) was new to this USADA process. The results were obvious. Townsend tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl and has since served a six-month suspension. Has he done enough to surround himself with the right crowd and patch up some of the holes in his game that quickly? We will see against Lewis.

We haven’t seen Lewis look to take his fights to the mat as of yet, but this is a spot that he may want to put that into play. Townsend has horrendous takedown defense, and once to the mat, tends to struggle to get back to the feet. On the feet he has knockout power, but isn’t very technical and throws haymakers with hopes to land the one-punch shot.

Townsend is for the most part one-dimensional, a scrapper who seems to be a tad slower to decide what to do “next” in there when he finds himself in trouble. You’d have to think Lewis and his camp will be a step ahead in this matchup, and I expect Lewis to play it safe to ensure he gets back in the win column while outsmarting Townsend.

PREDICTION: BEVON LEWIS (I LIKE THE OVER 1.5 ROUNDS)

OTHER PREDICTIONS:

CURTIS BLAYDES defeats JUNIOR DOS SANTOS

RAFAEL DOS ANJOS defeats MICHAEL CHIESA

ALEX PEREZ defeats JORDAN ESPINOSA

ANGELA HILL defeats HANNAH CIFERS

DARKO STOSIC defeats JAMAHAL HILL

BEVON LEWIS defeats DEQUAN TOWNSEND

ARNOLD ALLEN defeats NIK LENTZ

LUCIE PUDILOVA defeats JUSTINE KISH

MONTEL JACKSON defeats FELIPE COLARES

SARAH MCMANN defeats LINA LANSBERG

TONY GRAVELY defeats BRETT JOHNS

NATE LANDWEHR defeats HERBERT BURNS

Fight Card Prediction Recap

DATEEVENTWINLOSSDRAWBET WIN PERCENTAGE

1/18/20

UFC 246

5

6

0

45%

12/21/19

UFC Busan

9

4

0

69%

12/14/19

UFC 245

8

5

0

62%

12/07/19

UFC DC

9

1

2

90%

11/16/19

UFC Sao Paulo

10

1

1

91%

11/09/19

UFC Russia

5

8

0

38%

11/02/19

UFC 244

7

5

0

58%

10/26/19

UFC Singapore

8

3

0

73%

10/18/19

UFC Boston

6

6

1

50%

10/12/19

UFC Tampa

12

2

0

86%

10/06/19

UFC 243

9

2

0

82%

09/14/19

UFC Cowboy-Gaethje

8

3

1

73%

09/07/19

UFC 242

9

3

1

75%

TOTAL

105

49

6

68%

DFS Notes

Some quick MMA DFS reminders:

HOW MMA DFS SCORING WORKS:

Lineup Requirements

Lineups will consist of 6 Fighters.

In salary cap contests, participants will create a lineup by selecting players listed in the player pool. Each player listed has an assigned salary and a valid lineup must not exceed the salary cap of $50,000.

Contest results will be determined by the total points accumulated by each individual lineup entry.

Scoring

scoring-ufc

Scoring Notes

  • Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
  • Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control.
  • A knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.

Casey’s tips and strategy to consider when playing MMA DFS:

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his or her way to an 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 to always 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.
  • Always look for value at the top of my MMA DFS Heat Chart. Using fight-odds data and stacking the fighter lineup via odds to finish in comparison to DFS salary price can find you some spots. RED = HOT, BLUE = COLD. The chart also provides finish percentages, which validate odds even more if the matchup and past opponents’ strengths support the provided stats.
  • 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 via the Heat Chart, and as you dive in even more, 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 % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.

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

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 10.16.58 PM

Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents, watch your points rack up quick. 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.

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 10.18.25 PM
Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 10.18.37 PM

Worth a look on DFS:

STARS: Blaydes, Jackson,

SCRUBS: Stosic, Gravely

Kick some tail this weekend!