The Haymaker – UFC 203: Miocic vs Overeem – Picks and Analysis
Hey fight fans! I am happy to be writing my first ever article for FanVice on UFC 203 which is coming up this Saturday night from Cleveland, Ohio. Running a PPV card head to head with the opening weekend of the NFL season means there will be large prize pools going overlooked on DraftKings which will provide a great opportunity for us to make some cash. The highlights of these are a $33 main event contest with a $10,000 first prize as well as a $5 and $33 qualifier to their Rumble in Gotham championship tournament.
The main event of the evening will be an exciting clash for the Heavyweight Championship between title holder Stipe Miocic and contender Alistair Overeem. The other big storyline on the card will be the debut of former WWE Superstar CM Punk. I for one am hoping that the fight is not the dumpster fire that everyone expects. Unfortunately we have once again lost fight days before the event as it was announced that Ray Borg was hospitalized early Thursday morning and will have to pull out of his Flyweight bout with veteran Ian McCall. While not on the main card, McCall was sure to draw a very high ownership on DK because of their mispricing of his salary relative to his betting odds. McCall would have been a heavy target of mine in cash games and a potential fade in tournaments due to his projected ownership.
The goal of this article will be to break down the fights with a focus on ownership and lineup construction. I will start by breaking down the three key fights that I think will be focused on by the majority of the population and follow it up with some format specific picks from the remaining fights.
Stipe Miocic ($10,000) vs Alistair Overeem ($9,600)
Odds: Miocic (-125) Overeem (+110)
As a fan, I am really looking forward to this highly entertaining bout between two athletic heavyweight strikers. Miocic is a very good boxer and wrestler and he’s durable. And Overeem is one of the best kickboxers to ever step foot in the octagon. Overeem has shown issues with his chin in the past, but since changing gyms he has modified his style and become a more patient fighter to help counteract that problem. Miocic however, fights with a high pace and will attempt to force Overeem out of this newfound comfort zone. This fight is scheduled for five rounds but Vegas agrees that we won’t need them all with a -550 prop to finish inside the distance. It’s a super close fight as the betting odds suggest, but I think the pressure of Miocic and the more durable chin will prove to be the difference in this one. From a DFS perspective, I will have heavy exposure to both sides in tournaments due to their one hit finishing potential and would expect both sides to be highly owned for that reason. I wouldn’t recommend a fade as we will be able to seek out other spots to go against the grain. Both are very affordable and have tremendous upside. Based on the cheaper price tag and some of the chatter I’ve heard throughout the week I wouldn’t be surprised if Overeem was the higher owned of the two fighters in tournaments. Cash games becomes a tougher question since both of these guys has a floor of 0 points, but I think I would only consider Miocic due to his higher output style in the event that the fight goes longer than expected.
Fabricio Werdum ($10,700) vs Travis Browne ($8,700)
Odds: Werdum (-225) Browne (+175)
This fight is a rematch of the two heavyweights from 2014 in which Werdum put on a clinic on the way to a dominating five round decision over Browne. Since then Browne has alternated wins and losses but was knocked out in the first round of two of those (most recently being UFC 200 which was two months ago). Werdum on the other hand won the title over Cain Velasquez before losing in his last outing to the current champ Miocic. In that fight Werdum seemed a little too loose and was sloppy in chasing down Miocic before getting tagged. After getting embarrassed on his home soil I expect Werdum to bounce back in this one in a big way. In my opinion, Werdum is one of the strongest plays on this card in any format and I think that he will get the early finish and get back into title contention. Since this is a heavyweight fight where one punch can change the outcome in an instant, I think Browne makes for a fine tournament flyer but I would not go too crazy on him.
Mickey Gall ($11,400) vs CM Punk ($8,000)
Odds: Gall (-485) Punk (+385)
This fight marks the long awaited octagon debut of former WWE Superstar CM Punk and is sure to draw the attention of the casual fan. The big question in this one seems to be not if Gall will finish Punk, but when? After all, this is Punk’s first ever MMA fight of any kind, pro or amateur. By now many people have seen the videos of the training sessions and heard the rumors of his terrible camp record. But no one knows for sure what to expect and we are left with assumptions until we see him in the cage against Gall on Saturday. And Gall is a fairly unknown commodity himself with a 2-0 record and not even 5 minutes of footage to go off of. At the moment the betting line is -200 for the fight to end in the first round but that is set purely on public perception with no real evidence. As a rule, I tend to have greater trust in Vegas lines for fights when we know more about both sides. In any event, that tells us that Gall will be a very popular pick and possibly the highest owned on the entire card despite having the highest salary. My early guess is that he will be 50-60% owned in the large field GPP’s. Given the expected ownership and the fact that Gall will need to finish in the first round to even have a chance of ending up in the winning tournament lineup, I think it makes sense to consider fading Gall in GPP’s. Now I don’t see myself going with the complete fade but I will definitely be way underweight on him compared to the field. I’m not crazy enough to think that Punk will win, but I’m willing to take the chance that he can survive for a round or two. As far as cash games go, I think Gall is a great play; I just haven’t liked the rest of the lineups that I can fit around him.
Cash Game Plays
For cash games you want to seek out fighters with high floors. I generally look to get as many favorites as possible into my lineups as you need to get wins. 4 wins are generally enough to cash in most double ups and 50/50s.
Nick Lentz ($10,200)
Nick Lentz is facing Michael McBride who is taking this fight on five days’ notice after Mairbeck Taisumov pulled out due to visa issues. Lentz is the second biggest favorite on the card at -450 but is priced just above the average which makes him an outstanding value. Lentz has strong grappling skills and is facing a taller fighter with horrible takedown defense. He isn’t usually a finisher but has good inside the distance odds (+175) and a significant experience/skill advantage should provide him with plenty of opportunities. He can also be used in tournaments at this price.
Jessica Eye ($10,100)
Jessica Eye goes into this one as a -145 favorite against Bethe Correia. Eye has been fairly low output lately as she has been overly worried about being taken down in her last few fights. However, Correia poses no threat of a takedown, so this one should play out on the feet. Also Correia, while aggressive, is known to throw pillows so Eye is not at a great risk of getting finished here. If she doesn’t manage to get a stoppage herself, a close decision is more likely to go her way as she is fighting in her home town and we’ve seen lately that the judges can be influenced by the crowd.
Sean Spencer ($8,900)
I originally had Ian McCall ($9,000) as my low priced cash play but Sean Spencer makes for a fine pivot. He is only a slight dog against Yancy Medeiros but comes at a great price discount. Spencer is a former Golden Gloves boxer with solid punching technique. Both guys throw at high rate and Medeiros has proven to be very hittable. Spencer doesn’t have any finishes in the UFC but has rocked guys early in a few fights and has just been unable to capitalize. I like him in tournaments as well but his ownership should be high with McCall out of the picture.
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. It’s fine to have some popular plays but it will usually take one or two low owned plays to win a tournament.
Yancy Medeiros ($10,500)
Medeiros is moving up a weight class to 170 so there is some uncertainty as to how he will look, but that has paid dividends for several guys lately. Not having to cut as much weight may give him more energy and power, and has helped some with a better chin. High expected ownership on Spencer due to the pricing inefficiency makes Medeiros a great leverage play. Other high priced targets like Werdum in his range should also help to keep his ownership low. He also has strong submission skills if this one goes to the mat.
Jessica Andrade ($9,900)
Jessica Andrade goes into this fight as a -145 favorite against Joanne Calderwood with an ITD of +175 which is one of the higher finish props outside of the heavyweight fights. Andrade is a high volume striker with relentless pressure. She is a much faster starter than her counterpart Calderwood but has previously faded in later rounds. She isn’t as technical as Calderwood and is at a height and reach disadvantage so she could get picked apart if she can’t close the distance. She is BJJ black belt and has a huge advantage on the ground where Calderwood is weak. Even if she doesn’t finish she is capable of putting up a high score in a decision victory.
Brad Tavares ($9,800) vs Caio Magalhaes ($9,600)
Both guys have been off for over a year so it’s hard to predict how either will look this time out. Vegas gives this one a high chance of finishing inside the distance at -150 so it makes for a great target in tournaments. Tavares is not a finisher (hasn’t KO’d anyone since 2011) but he is the much more technical striker and has faced vastly better competition than Magalhaes. He has a propensity to go to decision but has been KO’d in two of his last three fights. Magalhaes on the other hand has been a “finish or be finished” type of fighter in his previous several fights. He is an aggressive brawler on the feet and holds a black belt in BJJ so he has multiple avenues to finish this one. However in his last fight he got his nose busted open pretty easily and gave up his back to Josh Samman (who is no world beater) so I think this may be too big of a step up in competition for him. I think the most likely outcome is that Tavares takes this one in a decision but I think it’s worth having some exposure to in tournaments due to the high finish props of both guys.