The Haymaker UFC Fight Night 101: Picks & Analysis
Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. Tonight’s card is taking place in Melbourne, Australia and is headlined by a Middleweight bout between top contenders Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker. With 13 fights on the card, there are a lot of options to choose from on DK, so I will narrow down the field to some of my favorite individual plays for each format.
Main Event: Derek Brunson ($8,800) vs Robert Whittaker ($7,400)
Odds: Brunson (-135) Whittaker (+125)
Odds to finish: -280
Both fighters have been on the rise lately in the Middleweight division with impressive 5 fight win streaks. The winner of this one should be able to crack the top 5 and put themselves in title contention. This fight is very close with Brunson being the slight favorite heading in. He is a very athletic wrestler with lots of power in his hands and has finished his last 4 fights by 1st round KO. He likes to blitz his opponents using his speed to blind them with quick flurries and finishes them before they even know what’s happening. He does tend to rush into these flurries with his chin way up in the air however, which leaves himself vulnerable to counter shots. He just has not faced anyone lately who has been able to make him pay for these mistakes.
Whittaker is an excellent technical striker with plenty of knockout power and has been making great improvements lately. He sets up his hooks well and is very accurate with them. He knows how to cut angles and use his range striking very effectively. He has shown great takedown defense in the past (93%) but has not faced a wrestler as powerful as Brunson. If he is able to stuff the takedown attempts of Brunson, then I think Whittaker has a great shot at out-striking him on the feet. With the slight speed and technical striking advantage Whittaker has a great chance of landing a big counter shot when Brunson tries to blitz.
From a DFS perspective I think this fight is a great target in both formats. I will be heavily exposed to both guys in tournaments as we have seen their massive upside in the past. Brunson has the power to end the fight early and also the wrestling skills to land multiple takedowns in a decision victory. Whittaker also has the ability to end the fight early on the feet and strikes at a high enough rate that he should also be able to score well in a decision victory. For such a close fight I will have more shares of Whittaker in tournaments with his huge price discount. In cash games I really like the idea of stacking the main event in a close fight as you get to lock in the upside of the early finish as well as the floor of a full five rounds to work with.
Cash Game Plays
For cash games you want to seek out fighters with high floors. This means selecting fighters that strike at a high output or score lots of takedowns. I generally look to get as many favorites as possible into my lineups as you need to get wins. 3-4 wins are generally enough to cash in most double ups and 50/50s.
Jake Matthews ($9,300)
Jake Matthews is the heaviest favorite on this card at -450 over Andrew Holbrook who has not been impressive. Matthews is still very young but is one of the more promising prospects in the UFC and has shown lots of improvements despite a couple of tough setbacks. He is the way more athletic fighter in this one as well as the better striker. Matthews is primarily a wrestler but also has a big right hand. Holbrook has a decent BJJ game and likes to pressure his opponents but has shown to be a bit chinny as he got knocked out in 30 seconds in his last fight. With so many close fights on this card and not a lot of finish potential, I love locking in the biggest favorite on the card in my cash games. Matthews should dominate this fight in front of the home crowd and also has a great chance at the early finish.
Seohee Ham ($8,400)
Seohee Ham is a brawler who likes to pressure her opponents and is taking on Danielle Taylor who is small for the weight class. Ham is a slight favorite and is the more experienced fighter here. Taylor has a big bomb but only throws one shot at a time and is not very active. I like Ham to pick her apart in a decision if she can avoid the power shot. With her high volume output and toughness I think Ham is one of the safer plays on the card and is very reasonably priced.
The key to tournaments is to select fighters with high upside. On DraftKings, that means seeking out early finishes and fighters that land a high number of significant strikes. With the new DK scoring system you can also find a high ceiling with grapplers who score lots of takedowns and are active on the ground. It’s fine to have some popular plays but it will usually take one or two low owned plays to win a tournament.
Alex Volkanovski ($9,200)
Volkanovski is a very hyped 13-1 Australian prospect who is making his UFC debut. He is short and stalky but very strong for his size. Volkanovski is a well-rounded fighter who is strong on the feet and on the ground and should be able to land several takedowns which score highly on DK. He has 8 wins by KO/TKO and another 3 by submission so he definitely has the upside to finish this one early. Volkanovski is a -175 favorite over his opponent Yusuke Kasuya who has only fought once in the UFC and has been on a long layoff. Kasuya is a submission grappler who is dangerous on the ground so he is also in play for his finishing ability. I prefer Volkanovski as the more experienced fighter and I think he has a great chance to get the finish on the feet. On a card without a lot of expected finishes I think Volkanovski makes for a great GPP play and should be low owned at his price.
Khalil Rountree ($8,700) vs Tyson Pedro ($7,000)
Odds: Rountree (-135) Pedro (+125)
Odds to finish: -300
This fight has the highest finish prop on the card so it will be a big target of mine in tournaments. Rountree is a dynamic striker who is coming off a loss to Andrew Sanchez in the TUF finale. His power was on display throughout the show but his weaknesses were exposed in the finale as he got taken down 6 times on the way to a decision loss. Rountree tends to gas and has a hard time getting back up once the fight hits the mat. Pedro on the other hand is an Australian grappler who is making his UFC debut in front of the home crowd. He is 4-0 and has 3 first round submission victories this year. He has mainly faced lower level competition so it’s tough to say how well those skills will translate to the UFC.
I will have a lot of exposure to Rountree in tournaments for his finishing upside and because I think he is a higher level fighter than Pedro, but I think it’s worth having some shares of Pedro as well in the event that he can take the fight to the ground.