Big names and big fights make UFC 192 a must-see event. I’m predicting a number of big upsets and big knockouts, guaranteed to make your mind spin like you’ve just been smashed by a Ryan Bader right hand. Let’s break down DraftKings UFC 192.
Daniel Cormier ($11100) vs Alexander Gustafsson ($8400)
Some people will look at Anthony Johnson’s vicious finish finish of Gustafsson and figure this will be Cormier’s fight to lose. I think that’s a mistake. Gustafsson nearly beat Jon Jones, and he can beat Cormier. Jones provided the blueprint on how to beat Cormier, and Gustafsson has the skill and size to do the same thing. “The Mauler” excels at takedown defense, and his height and length will make it difficult for Cormier to get inside without eating punches. Gustafsson is the far better striker, and he will keep Cormier at bay with both kicks and punches, methodically earning a unanimous decision in the process. And then we get to see what we all want: Gustafsson vs. Jones II. And while I generally don’t like to pick fighters that win by decision, Gus throws a lot of volume and will accumulate a decent points over five rounds to reach value at just $8400.
Pick: Gustafsson by $8400
Johny Hendricks ($10800) vs Tyron Woodley ($8600)
Tyron Woodley has stopped 91% of the takedown attempts against him. Hendricks has 30 takedowns over his last five fights, and it’s something he relies on to set up his hands. Can he get Woodley to the mat? I don’t think so, or at least he won’t be able to keep him there. This is Woodley’s time. A win over Hendricks and he will get the title shot he has been longing for. Woodley has insane power, and he closes the distance with super speed. Meet the new boss: Tyron Woodley is going to knock out Johny Hendricks. A huge upset special that will win people a lot of Draft Kings tournaments.
Pick: Woodley by KO/TKO
Ryan Bader ($9300) vs Rashad Evans ($10100)
What does two years away from the cage do to your skills? We’ll find out Saturday when Rashad Evans meets up with Ryan Bader. Both fighters were outstanding collegiate wrestlers that developed into power punchers. Bader has four straight wins and is looking to obtain a title shot. Evans has had multiple surgeries, and while Bader may not be at the top of the division, he is dangerous. This will likely be too much for Evans in his first fight back. I think Bader erases Evans with a right hand in the second or third.
Pick: Bader by KO/TKO
Ruslan Magomedov ($9900) vs Shawn Jordan ($9500)
Jordan is the former LSU fullback who has fared well in the UFC heavyweight division. He has good power and sneaky speed — just ask Derrick Lewis. I hate this matchup for Magomedov — Jordan is much too dynamic for him and I think that will show early in the fight. Jordan is explosive — ask Derrick Lewis — and Magomedov is more of a plodder. I think Jordan lands a huge left hand that puts out Magomedov’s lights. In that scenario, Jordan represents excellent value at just $9500.
Jessica Eye ($8700) vs Julianna Pena ($10700)
Pena is a truck that can’t be stopped, seemingly destined for a fight with Ronda Rousey down the line. She’s finished both her opponents in the first round by KO, absorbing just four significant strikes in those two fights. Yes, Eye went the distance with Miesha Tate in July, but Pena is much more explosive that Tate and she will finish Eye early in the fight.
Pick: Pena by KO/TKO
Joseph Benavidez ($10900) vs Ali Bagautinov ($8500)
Baguatinov has never been finished, not even in his fight against Demetrious Johnson. But I still like Benavidez here due to his speed and volume, and the fact the he wins most every scramble during his fights. Benavidez will simply outscore and outwork Bagautinov, making it his fourth win in a row. He’s dying for another shot at Mighty Mouse. This fight gets him one step closer.
Pick: Benavidez by decison
Yair Rodriguez ($10400) vs Dan Hooker ($9000)
This is a tricky matchup. Rodriguez wowed fans and foes alike with his excellent performance at UFC 188 against Charles Rosa. Hooker thrilled the crowd in Australia when he throttled Hatsu Hioki in May. Both fighters seemingly improve with each appearance in The Octagon. This is a tough call. But one thing Rodriguez will not have to worry about in this bout is takedowns. Hooker has yet to complete one in three UFC fights. Rodriguez will be able to let his hands and feet go, compiling more volume than Hooker, who has been out-struck in his last two bouts. Rodriguez will win it on the scorecard, though for $10400 he might not be worth adding to your lineup.
Pick: Rodriguez by decision
Albert Tumenov ($10300) vs Alan Jouban ($9100)
At the top I mentioned I’m predicting a bunch of upsets. Here’s another, with Alan Jouban taking this fight over Albert Tumenov. Jouban works at a furious pace, one usually too much for his opponents to handle. He’s been simply brilliant in his last two fights, knocking out Richard Walsh and then dominating Matt Dwyer. While both fighters have plenty of power and love to stand and bang, I favor Jouban in those exchanges in what I believe will be the turning point of the fight. Jouban will score the KO win, and he’ll be coming soon to a PPV in the near future.
Pick: Jouban by KO/TKO
Rose Namajunas ($10600) vs Angela Hill ($8800)
Hill was taken down repeatedly in her bout against Tecia Torres, but she likely won’t have that problem against “Thug” Rose. Both fighters prefer to stand and bang which means it should be an exciting war. While I think Rose will win, it will likely be by decision. And if you’ve played Draft Kings MMA or read these preview pieces before, you know that decision wins aren’t the best way to go about winning. I don’t see value in this fight so I’ll be staying away.
Pick: Namajunas by decision
Islam Makhachev ($9700) vs Adriano Martins ($9700)
The rare Draft Kings pick ’em, where both fighters have the same salaries. I like Martins here because he just fought someone similar to Makhachev in Rustam Khabilov, he looked great against Cowboy Cerrone until he ate a huge head kick, and this will be his fifth UFC fight. Makhachev has only one UFC fight under his belt, his win against Leo Kuntz. It’s always interesting when top prospects go against veterans, and this fight should be very entertaining. I just think with all things considered Martins will do more to win. Conventional wisdom suggests this will go to decision, and I won’t argue with that. Enjoy watching the fight, but I won’t be adding either fighter to my lineups.
Pick: Martins by decision
Francisco Trevino ($8900) vs Sage Northcutt ($10500)
There’s a lot of excitement and hype for Sage Northcutt’s UFC debut — something I’ve bought into. However, this is a huge step up in competition for Northcutt. His last opponent owns a 21-33 record, and his previous opponents had little pro experience. Trevino has a lot of that, the problem being that Northcutt has adavantages in height, reach, speed and youth. I think Trevino hangs until the final horn, but look for the new kid to show off his skills in an impressive debut. But for $10500 I need a finish to add you to my lineup, so I will likely be passing on this bout.
Pick: Northcutt by decision
Sergio Pettis ($10200) vs Chris Cariaso ($9200)
There aren’t many fighters that are grittier than Chris Cariaso, who will grind all day. It’s a trait to be admired, and it’s propelled Cariaso to a title fight last September. But Pettis, like his brother, excels at the striking game, and his reach will cause problems for Cariaso. Pettis will win exchanges and completely outstrike Cariaso in both effectiveness and volume. But Cariaso will be there at the end. It will be a good fight to get Pettis back on track, and a nice win on his resume. But he likely won’t get the finish.
Pick: Pettis by decision
Derrick Lewis ($9400) vs Viktor Pesta ($10000)
So what happens first — Pesta scoring a takedown on Lewis then releasing some vicious ground and pound, or Lewis and his big power flattening Pesta out on the canvas. Lewis has scary, scary power, and although he has suffered two losses in his last three fights, I believe he will knock Pesta out. It’s a small upset, but a ton of value at just $9400.
Pick: Lewis by KO/TKO