The UFC’s penultimate numbered PPV event goes down Saturday, part of a weekend doubleheader for the promotion. The card features Anthony Pettis vs. Max Holloway fighting in the main event, and I’ve got to admit, even without the interim title perk, it’s a fantastic match-up well worth the price of admission.
Names like Donald Cerrone, Cub Swanson, Dooho Choi, Matt Brown and Tim Kennedy are peppered throughout the night’s fight roster, making the event not just rock solid, but darned near fantastic. As is my tradition, I’ve selected four fighters with upset potential. This quartet of athletes represents the best chance, in my humble opinion, of providing underdog action for those much needed points on your fantasy teams.
Let’s get started.
Lando Vannata $8,700 / John Makdessi $7,500
Lando Vannata came dangerously close to ending Tony Ferguson’s huge win streak. A dynamic striker, Vannata is not afraid to stand in the pocket and trade. He’s got good timing and serious power. His use of angles and range advantage could be a handful for most in the lightweight division.
That said, Makdessi is also a great striker and is technically sound in that department. He has a super effective jab and packs a big punch in that right hand. He has a dependable kicking game and isn’t afraid to mix things up. He’s a crafty fighter, with the edge in experience at a high level, and that’s where I think the difference will be made.
John Makdessi via (T)KO
Tim Kennedy $8,300 / Kelvin Gastelum $7,900
Tim Kennedy is an excellent fighter with good power and a strong wrestling base that he utilizes efficiently (see Kennedy/Bisping fight). The problem here is that he has some strikes against him going into this bout:
- He’s 37-years-old.
- He’s been out of commission for 2+ years.
- He carries a ton of muscle which can make for a short gas tank.
Gastelum has youth on his side, and while he isn’t a cardio machine, he’s not adding to that deficit with a bunch of oxygen hungry muscles. He’s a southpaw with real power and a good blast double that is very effective. He’s got good counters and does well fighting in a phone booth.
This is a tight fight, but I think the edge will favor Gastelum based on Kennedy’s inactivity.
Kelvin Gastelum via DEC
Dooho Choi $8,900 / Cub Swanson $7,300
Dooho Choi is on my list of breakout stars that could be in title contention by the end of next year. He’s an aggressive fighter with excellent counters and a HEAVY kicking game. He mixes it up well, and will throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. His willingness to get into a dogfight might be his undoing against Swanson, though.
Cub is a seasoned veteran of a dozen years. He’s gone toe-to-toe with the best in the business and beaten most of them. He packs good power, is fast and has beautiful footwork. He’s got a solid jab and uses angles well. His experience is key here, and I believe it will win him the fight.
Cub Swanson via DEC
Max Holloway $8,800 / Anthony Pettis $7,400
Max Holloway is on a tear. With nine straight wins to his credit, you can’t deny that he is one of the best fighters on the entire roster. He’s a tall fighter with fantastic technical striking. He has a solid grasp on all the fundamentals: footwork, angles, distance control, head movement. He really is a marvel on the feet, and he’s defensively sound as well.
Pettis is an opportunist who makes the most of the situation. He’s faster than Holloway, and is slick and crafty. His high kick and aggressive striking are his bread and butter, but he’s more than competent on the ground, securing a submission win in his last fight over grappling ace, Charles Oliviera.
He can fight from either stance, but seems to have settled on the southpaw stance as his go-to choice. He’s not really what you’d call a power puncher, but when he mixes up his lightning strikes with those devastating kicks, especially his liver kick, it’s going to be a bad night for whomever is standing in front of him.
This is a really hard fight to predict, but I’m going with Pettis. His ability to find opportunity where none seemingly exists is mind-boggling.
Anthony Pettis via DEC
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.