The 52-week season rolls on as we get another UFC card this weekend, headlined with a Flyweight championship title fight!

Last week, we were set up to go 3-0 in targeted plays, yet came up just short in the main event, as some hometown cooking led to a split decision loss for the very game underdog in Paul Felder. Heading into this week, it brings our prediction total to 126-65-6.

Let’s dive into this week!

Why can’t we have nice things at 125? First, talks rumble that the division would be collapsed. Then, Henry Cejudo self-proclaims himself the savior of the division by winning the title, only to vacate it last December. With the division still intact, the UFC sets up Saturday’s championship fight between No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez and No. 3 Deiveson Figueiredo to determine who takes hold of the vacant flyweight title. But not so fast. Figueiredo comes in heavy by 2.5lbs and forfeits not only 30% of his purse to Benavidez, but also if he happens to win, the title remains vacant. That said though, if Joe B. can pull off the victory Saturday night, he will leave Norfolk, Virginia as champion, with the gold around his waist.

The co-headliner features another division needing title contenders, the Women’s 145-pound featherweight division. Saturday night’s match features a contest between No. 22 featherweight Zarah Fairn, taking on former Invicta Fighting Championships star No. 3 Felicia Spencer. Spencer is most recently known for going the distance last July against Cyborg Santos, where she dropped a unanimous decision. But while doing so, she won over a ton of fans as she displayed some serious toughness and ability to hang with the best.

There are 12 fights in total Saturday night, so let’s take a closer look!

SATURDAY 02/29/20 at 5 P.M. ET
BROADCAST: ESPN+
VENUE: Chartway Arena
LOCATION: Norfolk, Virginia
MATCHES: 12

MAIN CARD:

FLYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT 125LBS

#1 JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ 28-5 (-145) VS #3 DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO 17-1 (+125)

WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

#3 FELICIA SPENCER 7-1 (-800) VS ZARAH FAIRN 6-3 (+550)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205LBS

#15 ION CUTELABA 15-4 (+180) VS MAGOMED ANKALAEV 12-1 (-220)

WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

#4 MEGAN ANDERSON 9-4 (-225) VS NORMA DUMONT 4-0 (+185)

FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

GRANT DAWSON 14-1 (-420) VS DARRICK MINNER 24-10 (+335)

PRELIMS:

LIGHTWEIGHT 155LBS

LUIS PENA 7-2 VS STEVE GARCIA JR 11-3

BANTAMWEIGHT 135LBS

GABRIEL SILVA 8-1 (-130) VS KYLER PHILLIPS 6-1 (+110)

MIDDLEWEIGHT 185LBS

BRENDAN ALLEN 13-3 (+115) VS TOM BREESE 11-1 (+115)

HEAVYWEIGHT 265LBS

MARCIN TYBURA 17-6 (+100) VS SERGEY SPIVAK 10-1 (-120)

FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

TJ BROWN 14-6 (+120) VS JORDAN GRIFFIN 17-7 (-140)

FEATHERWEIGHT 145LBS

AALON CRUZ 8-2 (-185) VS SPIKE CARLYLE 8-1 (+160)

WELTERWEIGHT 170LBS

ISMAIL NAURDIEV 19-3 (-125) VS SEAN BRADY 11-0 (+105)

MATCHUPS TO TARGET:

#1 JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ 28-5 (-145) VS #3 DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO 17-1 (+125)

Benavidez gets another crack at UFC gold Saturday night and he could arguably be in conversation as one of the best to never hold gold in the organization. To get it done though, he has to go through Figueiredo, who has that rare ability as a flyweight to knockout any opponent he faces. With tons of speed, backed with the power, Figueiredo can flip the switch and change the momentum of any fight he is in with just one shot. 

Even though Figueiredo isn’t going to get a shot to take the title even with a win, he’s still coming in with a chip on his shoulder, as we saw at the weigh-ins. His demeanor and what he has vocalized tells us he’s looking to sleep Joe B as quick as he can. Though it can be done, it's not going to be an easy task. 

Benavidez has only been knocked out once, and it was seven years ago when he got clipped by Mighty Mouse. Additionally, Benavidez has a ton of experience, and has a trend of always throwing a ton of volume, though only landing 33% of the time. This movement and constant pressure will make it a challenge for Figueiredo to gain position and land one of those heavy blows he is known for. He could sneak a counter though, and Benavidez does eat some shots at times (2.52 SApM, 63% defense). 

If something doesn’t land early though, Figueiredo’s technique can become sloppy, and he’ll allow openings for his opponent to score. This won’t fair well against Benavidez and he’ll be able to match the speed on the feet, and should win the scrambles on the mat, and or reverse if he gets taken down. I expect Benavidez to come out in the earlier rounds mixing in some low kicks and being more selective with his strikes with the intent of frustrating Figueiredo early, throwing him off his game plan. 

I’m going with Benavidez Saturday night, and if you are looking at the props, him via decision hanging around +150 is a great position.

Prediction: Joseph Benavidez

#3 FELICIA SPENCER 7-1 (-800) VS ZARAH FAIRN 6-3 (+550)

Not trying to be disrespectful, but how is this the co-main event leading up to a title fight? Spencer is absolutely the rightful huge favorite, and really should have no issue getting the win Saturday night. The idea here is dialing in on how she gets it done, and I believe we see another submission win. 

Fairn is coming off a loss to Megan Anderson back in October, where she made Anderson look like a wizard on the mat, losing via triangle choke in one round. That same Anderson lost to Spencer in even less time back last May. I know “MMA math” isn’t a thing, but in this case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one end shortly after Spencer lands her first takedown. I’m not huge on chasing props, but let's have some fun here with this lackluster co-main.

Prediction: Felicia Spencer via submission

Note: I'm also looking to also make a play on Tom Breese -125 as a small favorite as long as he makes the walk, and watch the line with Sean Brady +105 as the dog.

QUICK PREDICTIONS ON THE MATCHUPS:

JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ defeats DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO

FELICIA SPENCER defeats ZARAH FAIRN

ION CUTELABA defeats MAGOMED ANKALAEV

MEGAN ANDERSON defeats NORMA DUMONT

GRANT DAWSON defeats DARRICK MINNER

LUIS PENA defeats STEVE GARCIA JR

KYLER PHILLIPS defeats GABRIEL SILVA

TOM BREESE defeats BRENDAN ALLEN

SERGEY SPIVAK defeats MARCIN TYBURA

TJ BROWN defeats JORDAN GRIFFIN

AALON CRUZ defeats SPIKE CARLYLE

SEAN BRADY defeats ISMAIL NAURDIEV

Fight card prediction recap: 126-65-6

DFS NOTES:

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

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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 Norfolk. 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.

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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.

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Worth a look on DFS:

STARS: Spencer, Dawson

SCRUBS: Breese, Cutelaba, Brady

Kick some tail this weekend!

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