The Haymaker – UFC Fight Night 113: Picks and Analysis

Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. The UFC has a Fight Night card this Sunday afternoon at 12:00pm EST from Glasgow, Scotland. The card is headlined by an exciting Welterweight matchup between Gunnar Nelson and Santiago Ponzinibbio and features several other high action fights between lesser known names. With 12 fights to choose from, I will go over my favorite DFS targets in each format to help narrow down your options in both formats.

Main Event: Gunnar Nelson ($8,900) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio ($7,300)

Odds: Nelson (-175) Ponzinibbio (+155)

Odds to Finish: -245

This fight is a matchup between two entertaining Welterweights looking to move up the division rankings. Nelson is a dangerous submission grappler with 6 of his 7 UFC wins coming by submission in the first two rounds. He is an effective Karate-style striker with excellent footwork and distance control, although he tends to keep his hands low and is hittable at times. Nelson has solid offensive wrestling skills and slick transitions from top control which help him improve to back control effortlessly. His opponent, Ponzinibbio, is a high-action kick boxer with KO power who likes to pressure his opponents from the start of the fight. Ponzinibbio is on a 4-fight win streak and looks to be improving every time out. His wild style can lead to mistakes, but he is dangerous and unpredictable. In his recent fights, he has shown technical improvements and proven capable of employing a stick-and-move style against other grappling threats. He has decent takedown defense, but he will likely need to use this approach if he is going to avoid Nelson’s attempts for 5 rounds.

Nelson is traditionally a fast starter and tends to fade later in fights, while Ponzinibbio has never been in a 5-round fight, so it’s difficult to predict how his cardio will hold up in the championship rounds. This is a close fight to call but I give the edge to Nelson because of how dangerous he is on the ground and I expect Ponzinibbio’s style to leave openings for him to get taken down. I do give the edge on the feet to Ponzinibbio though, so I can see a path to victory for him if he can keep the fight standing and outpoint him in a decision. From a DFS perspective, Nelson has more upside with the grappling game and higher finishing potential, so he is my preferred play, but Ponzinibbio is underpriced and I think that makes him worth a look as well as an underdog with a decent chance to pick up the win. I like Nelson in both cash games and GPPs for the grappling points and think you can make an argument for stacking Ponzinibbio with him in cash since he has more upside than any of the other options in the lower pricing tier.

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. 4 wins are generally enough to cash in most double ups and 50/50s.

Brett Johns ($9,300)

Brett Johns is a -355 favorite over Albert Morales, who is taking the fight on short notice. Johns is a Judo black belt who landed an impressive 11 takedowns in his UFC debut against Kwan Ho Kwak. I don’t expect him to be able to repeat that performance, but the takedown potential does make him a very appealing target for DraftKings scoring. Johns was a former title holder in Titan FC, and had shown excellent cardio and an ability to go 5 rounds if necessary. Morales is 1-1-1 in the UFC with his loss and draw also coming on short notice. He is aggressive and I give him the advantage in the striking department, but Johns can hold his own on the feet. Morales often sacrifices defense for offense and will leave openings for Johns to take him down. Morales fights at a very high pace but has shown the tendency to gas in the later rounds. He is very durable and will be hard to finish, but even if he can keep the fight standing in the early rounds, I expect Johns to eventually get him to the ground once he tires out. I like Johns in GPPs as well because of the takedown upside, but I expect him to be popular and being the highest-priced fighter makes me hesitant to go all-in.

Leslie Smith ($8,400)

Smith enters this fight as a -190 favorite over Amanda Lemos, who is making her UFC debut on short notice. Smith has alternated wins and losses in the UFC but has always shown a willingness to trade shots in the pocket. She strikes at a very high rate of 6.81 significant strikes per minute, but has also been very hittable, allowing 8.38 strikes against per minute. It’s obviously never a good thing to get hit that often, but her incredible durability has allowed her to put a lot of pressure on her opponents. Lemos has some power and should have a speed advantage over Smith, but she is also the much smaller fighter and I think that will come into play here. If Lemos is going to get in close enough to attack, it will likely lead to some tie-ups in the clinch, and that’s an area where the taller Smith will have an advantage. Smith does not have a lot of power in her hands, but her output and size advantage should be enough to comfortably pick up the win here. Lemos may be worth a play in GPPs for her speed and power, but it’s hard to expect much from her flying in all the way from Brazil on short notice against a UFC veteran.

Other cash options: Alexandre Pantoja ($9,000), Stevie Ray ($8,100), Bobby Nash ($7,100) (punt – if necessary)

 

Tournament Plays

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.

Khalil Rountree ($8,500) vs Paul Craig ($7,700)

Odds: Rountree (-210) Craig (+175)

Odds to Finish: -750 (-195 under 1.5 rounds)

This fight is an easy choice as a top GPP target. It’s your classic striker vs grappler matchup with each opponent’s strength being the other’s weakness. Rountree is the sizable -210 favorite, but the line should probably be much closer given the nature of the fight. Through his first 3 UFC fights, Rountree has shown to be a dynamic striker with explosive power, but very clearly struggles to stop takedowns and submissions. Craig on the other hand, is a strong submission grappler, but gets himself into trouble on the feet and gets hit/hurt easily. He has decent striking, but not much power so his chances of winning on the feet are slim. The outcome of this one should depend on whether Craig can get the fight to the ground. Craig is not a great wrestler though, and has had trouble securing takedowns in his two UFC fights, so I am leaning more towards Rountree to get the finish here. Either way, I will have exposure to both sides and will be near 100% on the fight as a whole in GPPs because of the early finish potential.

Jack Marshman ($9,200)

Marshman is the biggest favorite on the card at -600 over Ryan Janes, and has the best individual finish prop. Marshman is a high-output Welsh boxer with a strong technical game and powerful hands. He is 1-1 in the UFC, with a KO win over Magnus Cedenblad in his debut and KO loss to Thiago Santos in the next fight. Janes has the same record in the UFC, but has not faced the same level of competition thus far. He won a sloppy debut matchup against Keith Berish and got caught in an early submission by Gerald Meerschaert despite being in mount. Janes is a black belt in BJJ and should have the advantage on the ground, but he has weaknesses in the stand-up game. He strikes at a high volume, but he stands very upright and doesn’t move his head, which makes him an easy target for Marshman’s power shots. Marshman doesn’t have the best takedown defense, which makes him a bit risky, but he should have a big advantage on the feet against a very hittable opponent. I think it’s very likely that Marshman gets the KO within the first couple of rounds, so I will target him somewhat heavily in GPPs, but I may hedge with a couple lineups with Janes in case he is able to get the fight to the ground.

Cynthia Calvillo ($8,800) vs Joanne Calderwood ($7,400)

Odds: Calvillo (-210) Calderwood (+175)

Odds to finish: -140

Joanne Calderwood is fighting in front of the home crowd but comes into this fight as a sizable underdog. I personally feel that the betting line is further apart than it should be and that this fight is much closer in reality. Calvillo is a strong wrestler and submission grappler and has a lot of hype after winning both of her UFC fights by submission. However, those fights were against lower level competition and she has only been in the UFC for 4 months and competing professionally for just over a year, so she is still relatively inexperienced. Her striking game is still developing and I would give the edge to Calderwood on the feet. Calderwood is a high-output (6.92 SLpM) Muay Thai striker who has a wide range of attacks from distance. Her biggest weakness has been her ground game and that is likely another reason why the line is so wide. Calderwood is coming off a submission loss to Jessica Andrade in her last fight, but Andrade was just fighting for the title. If Calvillo is able to get Calderwood down early in rounds, then I like her chances of finding a submission, but if Calderwood can keep the fight standing then I think she has a decent chance to win a decision with her high-volume style. Calvillo has the most upside since she is more likely to win inside the distance, but at these prices, I think it’s worth having exposure to both sides in GPPs, especially since I expect Calvillo to be much higher owned than Calderwood.

Other GPP options: Justin Willis ($8,700), Galore Bofando ($8,600), Bobby Nash ($7,100)

 

Optimal Cash Game Plays:

Brett Johns ($9,300)

Alexandre Pantoja ($9,000)

Gunnar Nelson ($8,900)

Leslie Smith ($8,400)

Santiago Ponzinibbio ($7,300)

Bobby Nash ($7,100)

Pivots:

For Smith/Nash: Stevie Ray ($8,100) and Joanne Calderwood ($7,400)

Optimal Cash Game Plays:

  • Darrel Horcher ($9,200)
  • Erik Koch ($8,600)
  • Kevin Lee ($8,200)
  • Jared Gordon ($8,100)
  • Michael Chiesa ($8,000)
  • Justin Kish ($7,900)

Pivots:

  • For Gordon or Kish: Johnny Case ($7,800)