The Haymaker – UFC Fight Night 106: Picks & Analysis

Hey fight fans, welcome back to another edition of The Haymaker. Last weekend’s PPV card featured a lot of crazy upsets of the top tiered fighters and served as a reminder that anything can happen in the Octagon. This weekend’s card is taking place in Fortaleza, Brazil and is headlined by a Middleweight fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Vitor Belfort. The UFC typically stacks their Brazil cards with grapplers, so there are not as many finishes expected this weekend. The fighters that have a great chance of finishing are expensive so I find myself with more “stars and scrubs” lineups than usual in tournaments. With so many options available this week for DFS, I will go over my favorite targets in each format to help make your decisions a little easier.

Main Event: Kelvin Gastelum ($9,500) vs Vitor Belfort ($6,700)

Odds: Gastelum (-425) Belfort (+340)

Odds to finish: -925

This fight is a mismatch on paper between a young and improving Kelvin Gastelum, and the declining Brazilian, Vitor Belfort. Gastelum has been impressive lately with dominant performances against veterans Johny Hendricks and Tim Kennedy. He looked great in his return to Middleweight against Kennedy and even finished the fight by KO in the 3rd round. Gastelum is a solid wrestler with decent submissions, but his boxing has become more technical and he looks quicker on his feet. He has a high-output style with a great gas tank and a sturdy chin to back it up. Belfort, on the other hand, has been KO’d 3 times in his last 4 fights, and has not looked the same since the TRT ban. Belfort has a BJJ black belt, but he is more known for his power, as his last 14 fights have ended by finish. It’s not surprising that this fight has by far the biggest finish prop on the card.

Gastelum is the most expensive fighter on the card, but he is also the biggest favorite and has the best chance of scoring an early finish so I would recommend heavy exposure to him in both formats. He is the younger and faster fighter, and strikes at a high output which is beneficial to DK scoring. Gastelum has the much better chin and more paths to victory. If Gastelum doesn’t finish the fight on the feet, then has the capability of landing takedowns and finishing via ground-and-pound or a submission. Belfort has a chance of landing an early KO, and we saw even crazier upsets last week, but I don’t think it is very likely to happen. I think he will be popular enough due to name value and his ownership will outweigh his chances of winning so I won’t be investing much in him this weekend.

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.

Michel Prazares ($8,900)

As a -260 favorite, Michel Prazares is in a great position to get the win over the struggling Josh Burkman. Burkman has been around for a long time but has lost 4 out of 5 fights in his most recent stint in the UFC. He is 1-2 since moving down to the Lightweight division and lost his most recent fight to Zak Ottow, who was making his UFC debut on short notice. Burkman was outworked in that fight and poor game plans have been his issue lately. Burkman has good kicks but he is not very threatening on the feet, and does not strike at a high output. He is very tough and has only been KO’d once in his career, although he has been submitted multiple times. Prazares has been fighting at a much higher level than Burkman lately, and this is a good style matchup for him. He is a fast starter and is very strong for the weight class. Prazares is not a known finisher, as every one of his fights has gone to decision, but he is a very active striker and his strong offensive wrestling game can lead to a lot of takedowns. This makes him more of a cash game play since his floor is very high and his chances of scoring an early finish are low. I may have a few shares of him in GPPs in the hopes that he can land several takedowns and passes in a decision, which score highly under the DK system.

Kevin Lee ($8,300)

Kevin Lee is another young prospect that has shown a lot of improvement lately, and is taking on the much older Fransisco Trinaldo. Trinaldo is a veteran kick boxer who has looked good lately, winning 7-straight fights. He is not an easy matchup for anybody, but he has shown cardio issues later in fights, and has been taken down a bunch. Both areas are strengths for Lee, and Trinaldo’s ability to scramble and get back to his feet can lead to even more takedowns. Lee is young and still making mistakes, but he has bounced back nicely since losing to Leo Santos a few fights ago. His striking is much smoother now and he looks to be fighting with a lot more confidence. Lee is a -175 favorite, which makes him a very strong play for his price, especially considering his high floor. Lee will be a popular play and is not likely to finish early, but he is such a strong value that I don’t mind using him in tournaments as well to fit in some of the higher priced studs. I think Trinaldo is in play in tournaments as well, given his price and his impressive record of late, but I would avoid him in cash games since there is a possibility that he spends a lot of the fight on his back.

Other cash options: Ray Borg ($7,800), Jeremy Kennedy ($8,100)

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.

Paulo Borrachinha ($9,100)

Borrachinha is a heavy-handed Brazilian making his UFC debut against Garreth McLellan, who is one of the worst fighters in the division. McLellan has looked awful in his few fights in the UFC and is a fighter that I like to target in DFS regularly. He is an average fighter at best and is not very athletic. McLellan has a wrestling background and likes to use his size to hold his opponents down, but he has terrible takedown defense and was even taken down 10 times in his debut. He was also KO’d by Magnus Cedenblad, who is more known as a grappler, and McLellan has been KO’d multiple times prior to entering the UFC. This is a great matchup for Borrachinha, who showed a strong grappling game during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, as well as an ability to knock guys out on the regional scene. He is young and athletic, but has a questionable gas tank which makes me hesitant to trust him in cash games. But with the 2nd-highest finish prop on the card of -183, I think he makes for an excellent tournament play, especially considering that he is priced between two popular targets in Tim Means and Kelvin Gastelum, which should keep his ownership down.

Tim Means ($9,000) vs Alex Oliveira ($7,200)

Odds: Means (-185) Oliveira (+160)

Odds to finish: -215

This fight is a rematch of their controversial no-contest from UFC 207 in which Means hit Oliveira with a questionable knee towards the end of the first round. The first few minutes of that fight were action-packed and it was a back-and-forth affair until the stoppage. Each fighter landed several big shots and takedowns, and it looked like a finish was going to come quickly. Means and Oliveira each scored 20 DK points in that first 3.5 minutes, which is very promising for the rematch and makes it a fight to target heavily on a card without a lot of expected finishes. Given the high output on both sides, I don’t mind stacking this fight in cash games to lock in a win and capture the upside.

Means appeared to be getting the better of Oliveira just before the stoppage, which is probably why he is such a heavy favorite here. Oliveira surprised him with a few wild strikes, but that style can lead to a lot of mistakes for Means to counter. Means also showed excellent takedown defense and scrambling as he stuffed multiple attempts from Oliveira and even landed one of his own. Oliveira likes to try to get in close for the clinch, but the close striking game is Means’ bread and butter as he is known for his vicious elbows. Means looked close to finishing that first fight and Vegas likes his chances of repeating that performance, so I think he is a solid tournament play despite his high expected ownership.

It’s hard to argue against Means being the favorite, but the fight was closer than the current odds and pricing suggest. At such a huge discount, I think Oliveira is also worth a shot in tournaments, especially when Means is likely to be very popular. Oliveira is strong and has a good ground game, and he could steal a victory if he can have more success with his wrestling. He also has power in his hands, as evidenced by his 10 career KO victories, so he has a reasonable chance at a finish as well.

Other GPP options: Mauricio Rua ($8,500), Gian Villante ($7,700), Davi Ramos ($7,400)