The Haymaker – UFC Fight Night 104: Picks & Analysis
Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. This weekend’s card is taking place the night before the Super Bowl in Houston, Texas and is headlined by a Featherweight bout between Dennis Bermudez and the Korean Zombie. This card is the opposite of last week from a betting point of view, in that there are a bunch of heavy favorites and only a few close fights. Since DraftKings usually prices fighters according to their Vegas odds, this makes the lower pricing tier quite unappealing this week. This will make roster construction difficult as you will not be able to fit the heavier favorites in your lineup without having to punt a position or two. This is a fairly common occurrence in MMA, so I will go over how I like to handle situations like this in both cash games and GPPs.
Main Event: Dennis Bermudez ($8,400) vs Chan Sung Jung ($7,800)
Odds: Bermudez (-200) Jung (+170)
Odds to finish: -130
The main event is a 5-round fight between Featherweights Dennis Bermudez and Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie”. Jung is coming off a massive 3.5-year hiatus as he was completing military training for his home country. Before the long layoff, Jung was in title contention as he lost his most recent fight to champion Jose Aldo back in 2013. The big question mark in this one is how rusty will he be? I think the time off will play a major factor in this one and Vegas tends to agree, which is why Bermudez is a sizable -200 favorite.
Bermudez is a strong wrestler and is very aggressive, which are both very appealing qualities when dealing with DK scoring. He has excellent cardio and should have an advantage the later the fight goes, especially when you take the layoff into consideration. Bermudez has decent striking, but he has the tendency to get rocked in almost every fight. He has been able to tough it out despite getting hurt, but should be looking to get the fight to the ground.
Jung is high output striker and is very active in all phases of the game. He has a massive 6” reach advantage so he will likely want to keep this one standing, although he does have excellent BJJ and a great transition game on the ground.
From a DFS perspective, I think that both fighters have high floors and very reasonable upside for their price, considering they have a potential 5 rounds to work with. This puts each fighter in play for cash and GPPs. Due to the unpredictability of how good Jung will look after the time off, and the lack of quality low-priced options, I think the best way to handle this fight in cash is to stack it. By stacking the fight, you can lock in a win at less than the average price of a fighter, as well as take advantage of the upside of 5 full rounds of scoring for two active fighters. In GPPs I will have a lot of exposure to both fighters given their reasonable prices and scoring potential. I will be heavier on Bermudez because I think that the most likely outcome of this fight is that he lands several takedowns and wins by decision, or gets a late stoppage when Jung gasses out. Jung is the more likely of the two fighters to earn an early stoppage, which makes him a solid GPP play at under 8k.
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.
When dealing with situations where there is not a lot of odds value in the lower pricing tiers, a couple strategies that I like to use are stacking a fight (usually the main event for the 5-round potential) or punting a position with a fighter that is likely to make it to a decision even if they don’t have a great chance of winning.
Jessica Andrade ($9,300)
Andrade is the largest favorite on the card at -525 over Angela Hill, who is making her return to the UFC after winning the Strawweight title in Invicta. Hill was previously cut from the UFC after consecutive losses to solid competition in Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas. Hill is a high output striker without much of a wrestling game and has shown that she can be neutralized by takedowns. Andrade is a well-rounded fighter that is known for her aggressive style. She is a very high output striker that pushes the pace but also has a lot of power in her hands. Andrade also has solid wrestling skills and should have a major advantage on the ground as she is a BJJ black belt. As very active fighter with many paths to victory, Andrade is one of the strongest overall plays on the card. Her combination of safety and upside make her an ideal play in cash games. I think she is an excellent GPP play as well if you can fit her into your lineups, but I will mostly be taking a different approach to roster construction as I will explain in the tournament strategy section below.
Bec Rawlings ($7,200)
In order to fit the heavy favorites like Andrade into your cash game lineups, you will most likely need to punt a position or two. Rawlings isn’t very talented, but she strikes at a decent volume and her opponent hasn’t finished a fight in her UFC career, so she is likely to make it to a decision. Her opponent, Tecia Torres, is a -280 favorite, but she has one of the worst finish props on the card. Rawlings is very hittable, but she does have a 5” height and 4” reach advantage in this fight, so she should be to land a few strikes of her own. Rawlings does not have much upside at all, but her floor should be useful enough for cash games given her cheap price tag.
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.
When we see fights with a lot of massive favorites, the crowd tends to gravitate more towards a “stars and scrubs” form of roster construction. In this case, I feel the ideal strategy is to focus on a more balanced lineup in GPPs, using mostly fighters in the middle tier. You will need 6 wins to take down a GPP, so avoiding the heavy underdogs is often the way to go.
Curtis Blaydes ($8,900)
Blaydes is big Heavyweight that is taking on an undersized Adam Milstead who won his UFC debut, but did not look all that impressive. Blaydes is a power wrestler with a lot of toughness. He took a beating from Francis Ngannou in his UFC debut, but kept going until a massive cut opened over his eye and resulted in the fight being called by doctor’s stoppage. Blaydes then steamrolled over Cody East in his next fight, landing 5 takedowns and using nasty ground-n-pound to finish the fight in the 2nd round. Blaydes is the 2nd biggest favorite on the card and has a nice -120 finish prop, yet he will probably go lower owned than he should, with people paying up for names like Andrade and Ovince Saint Preaux who are only a few hundred more. Milstead is a high output striker with some power, so he has chance at landing a KO punch early in the fight, but I fully expect Blaydes to use his size advantage to get this fight to the ground and eventually finish it. I will have a lot of exposure to Blaydes, but might hedge with a Milstead lineup or two because it is Heavyweight MMA and one well-timed punch can end a fight quickly.
Khalil Rountree ($8,500) vs Daniel Jolly ($7,700)
Odds: Rountree (-145) Jolly (+135)
Odds to finish: -425
This fight has the highest finish prop on the card and will be a heavy target of mine in GPPs. This fight is opening the card and both fighters have a combined 3 UFC fights between them (all losses), so I think it won’t be highly owned at lower stakes.
Rountree is coming off The Ultimate Fighter show and has shown to be a dynamic striker with a lot of power. He has also shown a weakness in defensive wrestling, as he was taken down 8 times in his 2 UFC fights and has had a hard time getting back to his feet. He is explosive early in fights but gasses out somewhat easily.
Jolly was schooled by Misha Cirkunov in his first UFC fight, but Cirkunov has proven to be a much higher quality fighter so we didn’t learn a lot about Jolly in that one. Jolly does not appear to be a very skilled fighter, but he is training at ATT so there is a chance that he has been improving his wrestling. From what we’ve seen of him, he appears to have an average grappling game and has not scored a ton of takedowns in his career, but he is a purple belt in BJJ so there is a path to victory for him here.
From a DFS perspective, I think Rountree makes for the best play here in GPPs. He has an excellent chance of landing an early KO and his 2 underwhelming performances in the UFC might keep his ownership down. He is also priced near other popular options like Bermudez, which should have the same effect. Given his discounted price and Rountree’s known weakness vs wrestling, I think Jolly warrants some exposure in GPPs as well. Its tough sledding in the under-8k salary range and Jolly has a reasonable chance at a win.
Other GPP options: Chas Skelly, Ricardo Ramos, James Vick/Abel Trujillo