UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Lewis
#UFCVegas19 MMA Betting Preview
After the two big heavyweights chirped back and forth for some time now, the day has finally come where they get to finally settle the score and determine just who is one of the next heavyweights to get a shot at the gold potentially. Saturday night, the last two men to defeat Alexander Volkov finally square off as #2 Curtis Blaydes 14-2 takes on the UFC heavyweight knockout king, #4 Derrick Lewis 24-7.
Though the card is built around the two big dogs, this event is stacked, so nobody move, nobody jinx anything, as we have a full slate of 15 fights scheduled on the night.
Fire up the ol' ESPN+ subscriptions as this week, the entire slate will be broadcast there beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET for the prelims, followed with the main card at 8:00 p.m. ET.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT DETAILS
- DATE: SATURDAY 02/20/21
- BROADCAST: ESPN+
- VENUE: UFC APEX
- LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
- # of MATCHES: 15
- HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS / #2 CURTIS BLAYDES 14-2 VS. #4 DERRICK LEWIS 24-7
- WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS / #6 KETLEN VIEIRA 11-1 VS #7 YANA KUNITSKAYA 13-5
- FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / CHARLES ROSA 13-4 VS DARRICK MINNER 25-11
- HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS / #10 ALEKSEI OLEINIK 59-14-1 VS CHRIS DAUKAUS 10-3
- MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS / PHILLIP HAWES 9-2 VS NASSOURDINE IMAVOV 9-2
- HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS / ANDREI ARLOVSKI 30-19 VS TOM ASPINALL 9-2
- FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / JARED GORDON 16-4 VS DANNY CHAVEZ 11-3
- LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS / DRAKKAR KLOSE 11-2-1 VS LUIS PENA 8-3
- BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / EDDIE WINELAND 24-14-1 VS JOHN CASTANEDA 17-5
- FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / NATE LANDWEHR 14-3 VS JULIAN EROSA 24-8
- FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / RAFAEL ALVES 19-9 VS PAT SABATINI 14-3
- WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS / SHANA DOBSON 4-4 VS CASEY O’NEILL 5-0
- FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / CHAS SKELLY 18-3 VS JAMALL EMMERS 18-5
- BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS / AIEMANN ZAHABI 7-2 VS DRAKO RODRIGUEZ 7-1
- HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS / SERGHEI SPIVAC 11-2 VS JARED VANDERAA 11-4
MAIN CARD NOTES, PREDICTIONS & WAGERS
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS: #2 CURTIS BLAYDES 14-2 VS. #4 DERRICK LEWIS 24-7
- Bout was originally scheduled for November. Blaydes tested positive for Covid.
- Although Lewis is the heavyweight knockout King, Blaydes has the advantage in all striking statistics.
- Blaydes only has two losses on his record, both coming against Francis Ngannou.
- 76% of their combined 38 wins have come by way of KO.
- Lewis has powerful but low volume output on the feet, coupled with very few takedown attempts historically.
- Blaydes has outstruck his opponent in every victory. In five of his last six wins, he’s landed four or more takedowns against his opponent.
- In only two of Lewis's 20 UFC fights, he’s landed more takedowns than his opponent. Typically he is taken down at will.
These two have been chirping back and forth for a bit now. Potential title talks for the winner Saturday night, of course, after Jon Jones gets his crack first. That said, we know what we got. Lewis, the record holder for the most KOs in UFC heavyweight history, against the takedown machine. Though Volkov got taken down 14 times against Blaydes, he did at one point wobble Blaydes late in the fight, though Blaydes ultimately won via decision. If Volkov can spark him, wouldn’t you think the knockout king could as well? I think the line is slightly disrespectful given that Lewis could get a shot through, just as Ngannou has twice. Lewis is a 1.5 trick pony. He has the bomb, then also throws some weird flying kicks when he thinks he’s a featherweight at times. Blaydes is just more well-rounded. Coupling the fact that he lands takedowns and controls well from the top with the fact that Lewis has struggled to stay standing against less talented grapplers, if Lewis can’t connect, this should be all Blaydes. Side note, Lewis is even already setting up a fight with Overeem after this, which you don’t see much with guys coming into a fight where 100% of the focus should be.
Prediction: This being the second to last fight on Lewis’ current contract, plus the amount of time these two have been looking to square off, I expect a decent fight at least early on. I think Blaydes has a lot to prove after that lackluster Volkov fight, plus Lewis has been committed in his last three or so fights. Although both are very dangerous, most of their recent fights have cruised over the 1.5 round mark. I’m suspecting we see Blaydes lay on Lewis while the clock burns as we watch him attempt to get it back standing in frustrating fashion. If that bomb doesn’t connect, Blaydes will eventually get Lewis to cave due to hot balls, earning Blaydes a big win on his birthday.
Bet: Blaydes/Lewis OVER 1.5 rounds -175
WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: #6 KETLEN VIEIRA 11-1 VS #7 YANA KUNITSKAYA 13-5
- Since entering the UFC, Kunitskaya is 3-2, with her three wins coming by way of decision and her two losses via KO.
- Five of Vieira's last six wins have been via decision.
- Vieira has fairly low striking output but is typically successful in landing takedowns in her fights. This will work to match up well for her with Kunitskaya’s 33% takedown defense.
Kunitskaya struggles a bit when she’s on the defensive and getting pressured, and unfortunately for her, that’s what we will see here. Vieira will walk her down and also show her much more technical striking and forward pressure. Couple this with her grappling edge, I like Vieira getting the nod. The world was on another Vieira last week (Rodolfo Vieira), where he lost at his own game, so hopefully, no jinxes here.
Prediction: Vieira leaves victorious, most likely via decision.
Bet: Pass (parlay consideration)
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: CHARLES ROSA 13-4 VS DARRICK MINNER 25-11
- Rosa is dropping back down to 145, where he’s 5-4 in the division.
- In 36 fights, win or lose, Minner has only gone to a decision on three occasions. His average fight time is less than one round.
- Twenty-two of Minner’s 25 wins have come by way of submission. Rosa has never been defeated in that fashion. (Rosa a BJJ blackbelt)
- 62% of Rosa’s wins have come by way of submission, while 73% of Minner’s losses have by submission.
This should be a fun one. Neither fighter is great on the feet, but man, can they scramble. I’d say Rosa has the edge on the feet, and quite frankly, just more fight in him. Go back and watch the Bryce Mitchell fight. Minner is a "finish or be finished" fighter, and if his opponent gets something locked in, typically, it's game over. That is if he doesn’t lock something in first. Could he hand Rosa his first loss via submission? Oddsmakers say there is a less than 20% chance.
Prediction: I look forward to some scrambles. I side with Rosa and expect him to win, but Minner has some skill as well. The under 2.5 line at a better price than Rosa straight up catches my eye, as Minner hasn’t gone to the third round in his last 13 fights and just once in his last 20.
Bet: Rosa/Minner UNDER 2.5 -170
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS: #10 ALEKSEI OLEINIK 59-14-1 VS CHRIS DAUKAUS 10-3
- Considerable experience edge for Oleinik, with 74 fights, in comparison to Daukaus with 13.
- Win or lose, Daukaus' last eight fights have ended via KO, and 6 of those in the 1st round.
- In a similar trend, 9 of Oleinik’s last 10 fights have ended inside the distance.
- Their overall combined average fight time is less than one round. (87 total fights)
- Oleinik gets knocked down on average just under one time per 15-minute fight. Daukaus has secured two knockdowns in each of his 2 UFC fights, eventually winning both by KO.
- Oleinik comes in at 43 years of age, 12 years older than Daukaus.
So Daukaus has gone from being the +125 and +260 underdog against much lower level fighters in his last two fights to now the favorite against a guy that has put away guys like Werdum, Mark Hunt, Crocop, Junior Albini (okay, maybe now I’m reaching). Seventy-five pro fights against some big names along the way. No doubt Daukaus will be the man on the feet, but if this one hits the mat, the game completely changes. Yes, Oleynik has been KO'd on eight occasions, but across 74 fights and mostly against guys known for their big power.
Prediction: I will be highly surprised if this fight makes the final bell, let alone the over rounds. (Probably a safe bet) Although Daukaus has that power and recency bias, I’m going to take a stab on the dog here who’s secured 46 submission wins across four decades of war. Oleynik, even though up there in age, has looked better than ever in this last run. Boa constrictors live long and age well, right?
Bet: Oleinik via sub +240
MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: PHILLIP HAWES 9-2 VS NASSOURDINE IMAVOV 9-2
- Hawes is back after winning his UFC debut in just 18 seconds (KO over Jacob Malkoun).
- After 11 fights, Hawes has never gone to a decision.
- Imavov has been on a little tear as well, as seven of his nine wins have come in the very first round.
- Imavov has never been KO’d, which is the method Hawes has won 78% of the time.
- This will be Imavov’s first fight in the states.
Some probably expect Hawes to come out and end this one quick again, but Imavov is game. Imavov will have a cardio advantage and some well-rounded skills. Hawes will see Imavov probably tougher to put away than expected, then things get interesting.
Prediction: Imavov weathers the storm then takes control of the fight.
Bet: Imavov +110
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS: ANDREI ARLOVSKI 30-19 VS TOM ASPINALL 9-2
- Aspinall is on a five-fight winning streak, and all nine of his wins have come in the first round.
- Arlovski fights considerably more patiently these days, and his last six wins, along with nine of his last 10 fights, have reached the final bell.
- This will be Aspinall’s first fight in the U.S.
- Arlovski is 42 years of age and will be 15 years older than Aspinall coming into this one.
- Aspinall's overall average fight time is just over two minutes.
Arlovski has been collecting these big paydays fighting very safely, doing all he can not to take damage while staying at distance. Smart. His most recent matchups in Tanner Boser and Philipe Lins have a style that benefits that stand at bay and trade type of fight that fits the former champ these days. Aspinall won’t hang around. He'll quickly move forward and cut this small cage off. Aspinall has worked rounds with Tyson Fury in the past, and his comfort level on the feet here should be something different than Arlovski has seen recently. Not in a good way.
Prediction: Aspinall gets the biggest win of his career as long as he stays composed. He has to be careful in trying to keep this round TKO win streak going. Not saying that’s on his mind, but Arlovski isn’t Alan Baudot or Jake Collier.
Bet: Aspinall via TKO/KO -125, The fight doesn't get to a decision -161
PRELIMS NOTES, PREDICTIONS & WAGERS
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: JARED GORDON 16-4 VS DANNY CHAVEZ 11-3
- Gordon has won every fight he’s been in that has gone to a decision (8)
- Chavez has gone to a decision in 10 of his 14 pro fights.
- Gordon returns to 145lb, where he is 4-1 overall in the division.
- Chavez is on a four-fight win streak, including a win in his UFC debut as a +155 underdog.
Chavez looked great against TJ Brown in his debut and is booked here against Gordon as a favorite. Probably a similar matchup where these two will look to trade and counter on the feet. It looks like money continues to come in on Chavez in this spot.
Prediction: To me, Gordon is a tougher opponent than TJ Brown, but Chavez should still be able to do enough to get the nod. I’m not confident enough quite yet in Chavez to put a position down.
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: DRAKKAR KLOSE 11-2-1 VS LUIS PENA 8-3
- Pena is taking the fight on 10 days' notice after Jai Herbert withdrew.
- Pena's last six fights have gone into the over rounds.
- Eight of Klose's last nine fights have gone to a decision. (over rounds as well)
- Klose is 0-2 against southpaws and will also have a 5-inch reach disadvantage.
Pena is coming in on very short notice. I’ve seen him putting fans, or probably by now ex-fans, on blast on social media over this last week, probably out of boredom during quarantine. But last fight week, he was also posting on Twitter asking where he could get some post-fight smoke or something. Then he was suspended, testing positive for it. Not a chance I back this guy.
Prediction: Although Pena has the reach advantage in almost every matchup, he doesn’t know how to leverage it. Klose is a grinder, and I can see him mixing in and landing some great leg kicks, similar to Gutierez last week. Klose by decision.
BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: EDDIE WINELAND 24-14-1 VS JOHN CASTANEDA 17-5
- Both fighters need a big showing here, as they are both 1-3 in their last four.
- Castaneda has gone to the third round in his last five fights.
- Wineland, known for not taping his hands, has won via KO in seven of his last eight wins.
- Castaneda has only been knocked out once in 22 fights, and that was 18 fights ago, back in 2014.
Two guys that love to come forward and trade. Castaneda will get through and land on the aging vet. Castaneda has a decent chin, and I’m kind of seeing him just land more to the point Eddie eventually just goes all in, looking to land the big one.
Prediction: Castaneda edges this one out.
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: NATE LANDWEHR 14-3 VS JULIAN EROSA 24-8
- Landwehr is 8-1 in his last nine, only losing to Herbert Burns just over a year ago via KO.
- Erosa has won via finish in eight of his last nine wins.
- Erosa is just 2-4 in the UFC and 5-5 in this weight class. (previously fought up at 155lb)
- Landwehr is 2-0 against southpaws.
It should be a scrap here. Both guys will look to make this a war, and I could see Erosa looking technically better. Still, Landwehr laughs it off, talks some smack in there, and eventually exposes Erosa's inability to take some damage in there.
Prediction: Landwehr eventually lands that fight-changing shot and either takes the later rounds or possibly gets the finish.
Bet: Landwehr -110
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: RAFAEL ALVES 19-9 VS PAT SABATINI 14-3
- Alves earned his shot fighting on DWCS, though this will be both fighters' debut under the UFC bright lights.
- Sabatini steps up on eight days' notice after Mike Trizano pulled out due to an ankle injury.
- Alves is on a five-fight winning streak.
- Though having 28 pro fights, Alves is just 3-1 at this weight. (He usually fights ups at 155lb)
- Both fighters are submission specialists and are BJJ Black belts.
- Sabatini has never lost via submission, while Alves has lost six times by sub, all via a choke.
Both guys are making their official UFC debuts and will look to impress with something big. Alves can get his opponents down but typically is out grappled. Alves has some suspect cardio, and you can see through his career he's faded late and either been finished or retired. Sabatini comes in as a +160 dog and on short notice. He’s probably not going to try and stand in this one for 15 minutes and would rather close and get this one down to control. He trains with Paul Felder, and he should be more prepared than the oddsmakers have this one.
Prediction: Sabatini gets this one to the mat and grinds this one out.
Bet: Sabatini +160 (something small on ITD might be worth a flyer at +400)
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: SHANA DOBSON 4-4 VS CASEY O’NEILL 5-0
- O'Neill makes her UFC debut at 5-0, though all wins have come against low-level opponents.
- Dobson looked great in her last fight after moving to the Elevation Fight Team in Colorado. She beat Mariya Agapova via TKO as a +500 underdog.
- O'Neill has never fought in the U.S.
Dobson looked like a completely different fighter in her last fight, and you would never think she was a 4-4 fighter. O'Neill looks to stay undefeated, and I must say I don’t know too much about her, but I know she can grapple and has been training at Xtreme Couture, I believe. She's great with the Muay Thai and stays busy in the clinch. Dobson will have to stay smart if she takes her down, as O'Neill isn’t afraid to throw submissions from the bottom if she gets in position.
Prediction: O'Neill won’t gas out as Agapova did, and even if Dobson has her spots. O'Neill should be able to out grapple Dobson and can adjust her gameplan if needed along the way.
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: CHAS SKELLY 18-3 VS JAMALL EMMERS 18-5
- Skelly is back after being out for over 17 months due to two fight cancellations.
- Since entering the UFC, Emmers has gone to a decision in both fights (1-1)
- Skelly has won via submission in three of his last four wins. Emmers has only been submitted once, dating back to 2015, 15 fights ago.
- Skelly has just a 33% takedown defense, while Emmers is above average on the offensive side. Emmers has also successfully landed seven takedowns total in his last 2 UFC fights.
It should be a good fight here. Skelly probably has a couple of bucks on himself this week as the dog. Although Skelly is always looking for the submission, he can be just as dangerous in the stand-up as well. Emmers should be just a hair better in there, though, and sneak at least two rounds on his way to a win. Emmers holds a win over Cory Sandhagen, if you didn’t know.
Prediction: Emmers via decision
BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: AIEMANN ZAHABI 7-2 VS DRAKO RODRIGUEZ 7-1
- After earning his contract on DWCS back in September, Rodriguez is making his UFC debut after finishing Leomana Martinez via triangle choke.
- Rodriguez has finished his opponent in seven of his seven wins.
- This is a rebooking, and Zahabi has been out for over 21 months after testing positive for Covid in December.
- Zahabi is 0-1 fighting in the states and just 1-2 overall in the UFC.
- Both fighters' average fight time is less than 1.5 rounds.
- Zahabi has low striking accuracy, landing just 39% of his thrown shots, though absorbs 1.12 strikes more on average.
I’ve never been impressed with Zahabi while in the UFC and hasn’t been the most active fighter either. He’s been out for just under two years and gets a hungry finisher making his debut in this spot. Drako has only gone to a decision once and can win a fight anywhere.
Prediction: I side with Drako, but not a fan of the line. Maybe if they keep pounding Zahabi, I’ll jump in closer to fight time.
Bet: Pass for now, watching the line.
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 265LBS: SERGHEI SPIVAC 11-2 VS JARED VANDERAA 11-4
- Vanderaa is making his UFC debut after winning his fight on DWCS back in November.
- Vanderaa has won via finish in 10 of his 11 victories.
- Spivac has won 6 of his 11 wins via submission. Vanderaa has lost via submission in two of his four losses.
Spivac should have the speed and technical advantage here. He doesn't pack much power, especially for a heavyweight, but makes up for it with the grappling. Vanderaa is a log, can get heavy on the mat, and very durable in the stand-up.
Prediction: Spivak should be able to outpoint him here, but I just believe the line should be tighter. What I do like is for this one to get at least to the halfway point.
OFFICIAL BET CONFIDENCE RANKING
- Rosa/Minner UNDER 2.5 rounds
- Aspinall TKO
- Blaydes/Lewis OVER 1.5 rounds
- Aspinall/Arlovski fight does not go the distance
PARLAY & ROUND ROBIN CONSIDERATIONS
- Rosa/Spivak +115
- Rosa/Spivak/Rodriguez +232
- Rosa/Spivak/Rodriguez/Vieira +355
- Rosa/Spivak/Rodriguez/Vieira/Blaydes +469
THE GUPPY SPECIAL
Now, this is no “whale play," and actually, it's completely the opposite. This one is for pure entertainment purposes only. Many of you know that I’ve run the board a handful of times as I've thrown out predictions, and one of these week's we will hit one of these "guppies."
I’d say use this play to round your balance off at your book, and if we hit, we’re going to Sizzler.
This week's Guppy Special (odds from DraftKings):
Parlay pays +2755
FULL CARD PREDICTIONS
- CURTIS BLAYDES defeats DERRICK LEWIS
- KETLEN VIEIRA defeats YANA KUNITSKAYA
- CHARLES ROSA defeats DARRICK MINNER
- ALEKSEI OLEINIK defeats CHRIS DAUKAUS
- NASSOURDINE IMAVOV defeats PHILLIP HAWES
- TOM ASPINALL defeats ANDREI ARLOVSKI
- DANNY CHAVEZ defeats JARED GORDON
- DRAKKAR KLOSE defeats LUIS PENA
- JOHN CASTANEDA defeats EDDIE WINELAND
- NATE LANDWEHR defeats JULIAN EROSA
- PAT SABATINI defeats RAFAEL ALVES
- CASEY O’NEILL defeats SHANA DOBSON
- JAMALL EMMERS defeats CHAS SKELLY
- DRAKO RODRIGUEZ defeats AIEMANN ZAHABI
- SERGHEI SPIVAC defeats JARED VANDERAA
UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY
- 2021 fight card predictions overall: 25-20 (56%)
- 2021 targeted matchups (wagers): 18-17 (51%)
Be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook options as well, on top of the daily fantasy tournaments available for Saturday. The sportsbook has lines up and available for fight lines, method of victory, and round betting!
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 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 % 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 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.
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.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT DFS RECOMMENDATIONS
- Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
- Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
- Blaydes/Lewis -280
- Rosa/Minner -250
- Oleinik/Daukaus -565
- Imavov/Hawes -265
- Arlovski/Aspinall -165
- Erosa/Landwehr -130
- Vanderaa/Spivak -155
- Sabatini/Alves -145
- As usual, take a look at the main event with five rounds to score. Both fighters have upside based on pricing. Blaydes, with the takedowns and scoring from the top, should be a moneymaker. But if you play multiple lineups, you must have some exposure to the knockout king.
- Top-tier fighters to build around include Blaydes, Aspinall, Vieira
- Mid-tier fighter considerations are Rosa, Daukaus, Rodriguez
- Live dogs are Imavov, Oleinik, Landwehr, Sabatini
Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY