The Haymaker – UFC on Fox 22: Picks and Analysis
Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. This Fox card is taking place from Sacramento, California and kicks off at 3:30pm EST, so make sure to get your DraftKings lineups in early. The undercard bouts are not particularly interesting, but the main card has a few fights that should be very entertaining and close to call. The pricing is tight on DK once again and there are not a lot of underdogs with huge upside, so a mid-tiered roster construction is probably the ideal way to go with your lineups. I will try to make your decisions easier by going over some of my favorite plays in this tier for both formats.
Main Event: Paige VanZant ($8,300) vs Michelle Waterson ($7,900)
Odds: VanZant (-110) Waterson (+100)
Odds to finish: +115
The main event should be an entertaining five-round battle between two of the more marketable faces in the UFC. This fight has the closest odds on the whole card, with Paige VanZant being the slight favorite over the older and more experienced Michelle Waterson. Both fighters have question marks surrounding their motivation, as Waterson is coming off a one-and-a-half-year hiatus, while Paige has been living up the celebrity life outside the Octagon. Paige is the bigger and more athletic fighter and is well known for her excellent cardio, which should come into play in a five-round fight. After a humbling loss to Rose Namajunas, in which she showed her incredible toughness, she came out looking fairly sloppy in her last fight with Bec Rawlings, but pulled off a highlight-reel head kick for the finish. Paige is very aggressive and should have the wrestling advantage, but has shown questionable ring IQ in the past which could get her into trouble here.
Waterson is a dynamic striker who also fights with a ton of aggression, but has been somewhat of a slow starter at times. She has a very active ground game and is dangerous off her back, where she is always looking to set up a submission. As the larger fighter, Paige should be able to control the grappling game, but if she makes a mistake, Waterson has a great opportunity to get a finish. Paige will have the reach advantage on the feet, but Waterson has better movement and is hard to hit.
Vegas thinks this fight is likely to go the distance, and with how active both of these fighters are on the feet and on the ground, I think there is a lot of scoring potential in a five-round fight. From a DFS perspective, this fight has the most appeal for me in cash games, where I think stacking is the best approach due to how close it is and how high each fighter’s floor is. In tournaments, each fighter is priced cheap enough that the winner has a chance of ending up in the winning lineup even if it goes to decision. I will have light exposure to each in tournaments, but with Paige likely being the much higher owned fighter, I think it makes sense to have more shares of Waterson.
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.
Colby Covington ($8,900)
Colby Covington is the biggest favorite on the card at -355 over Bryan Barberena and is only the 4th highest priced fighter on DK, so he has great odds value here. Covington is a young fighter who has made noticeable improvements every time out. He is an elite wrestler who is very active on the ground. This helps him to control fights as well as rack up DK points through multiple takedowns and advances. Covington has won multiple fights by submission but Barbarena has decent grappling skills and will not be easy to finish. Vegas thinks this fight is the most likely to go to decision on the whole card, so I will have minimal exposure to it in tournaments where we are looking for the early finish. However, with the increase in scoring to the grappling game, Covington should have one of the highest floors on the card, which makes him an ideal cash game play.
James Moontasri ($7,800)
James Moontasri is another fighter with excellent odds value, which is something that we want to be seeking out in cash games. Moontasri is a -115 favorite over Alex Morono yet is priced as the underdog at $600 cheaper. Morono is a relentless fighter, but Moontasri is more athletic and a more dynamic finisher. Moontasri is not a high output striker, so his floor isn’t great, but he does have way more upside than Morono. This also puts Moontasri in play in tournaments, but he will likely be a popular value play. Upside, price and odds are what this pick is all about.
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.
Mike Perry ($8,500) vs Alan Jouban ($7,700)
Odds: Perry (-130) Jouban (+120)
Odds to finish: -315
Mike Perry has two fights in the UFC and both have been very exciting striking battles with lots of points scored on DK. Perry looks to get right into the pocket and start throwing punches without any regard for defense. He strikes at an incredibly high rate, but he leaves his hands down when he trades punches and gets hit at a very high rate as well. He does tend to punch himself out a little and was noticeably gassed in his last fight against Danny Roberts. This strategy has worked out well for him so far in the UFC, as he has proven to be the tougher fighter and more powerful puncher in both his fights. However, he has been knocked out prior to coming to the UFC and this style of fighting is going to get him into trouble sooner or later.
Alan Jouban also likes to settle things on the feet and has been in several fire fights himself. He has been rocked early in many of his fights, yet typically recovers and gets stronger as the fight goes on. Neither fighter has great striking defense, but Jouban is the more technical fighter, which is where his edge lies in this one. But Jouban has also been knocked out before and Perry has the power advantage here.
With the highest odds of finishing inside the distance, I will be very heavily exposed to both sides of this fight in tournaments. Perry is the favorite here, and has the higher finish prop of the two fighters, but he will likely carry the higher ownership in tournaments. As a result, I will probably have more shares of Jouban to take advantage of the lower price and ownership in the hopes that his technical advantage proves to be the difference.
Mickey Gall ($8,200) vs Sage Northcutt ($8,000)
Odds: Gall (-140) Northcutt (+130)
Odds to finish: -300
It’s hard to feel confident in picking either of these fighters here given that Northcutt’s weaknesses have been exposed and Gall does not have any experience against high level competition. One thing we can be confident in however is that one of these fighters should end up in the winning tournament lineup. At -300, it has the third highest inside-the-distance prop on the card. Northcutt is the more athletic fighter and the better striker, but he has had a lot of trouble against aggressive grapplers. If he can keep this fight standing, he has a great chance to put Gall away. However, if Gall can get him to the ground, then Sage will have a hard time surviving. Gall is an accomplished grappler and seems to be the hungrier fighter here.
Given that each fighter has a very clear path to victory, I think it makes sense to have exposure to both sides in tournaments. Despite being the underdog in the fight, Northcutt is the more popular fighter, which should give him the higher ownership of the two. The Vegas line has also been moving further towards Gall as the fight draws closer. These two factors make me want to have higher exposure to Gall in this one.
Henrique Da Silva ($9,000)
Henrique Da Silva is a -215 favorite over Paul Craig, who is making his UFC debut. Da Silva is another all offense-no defense style of fighter. He strikes at a very high rate with decent power, but is also very hittable. Craig is a talented fighter himself, but he is primarily a submission grappler and doesn’t have a great stand-up game. Da Silva has finished both of his fights in the UFC and has the best ITD prop on the card at -135, making him a strong tournament play.