Woohoo! The UFC is returning after a two-week hiatus, and I couldn’t be happier. The promotion returns to New York by way of Buffalo on Saturday night, and with it, a bout sheet filled with intriguing matchups. One that holds particular interest, at least to me, is Charles Oliveira vs. Will Brooks.
The main event is the highly anticipated rematch between light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier and No. 1 contender Anthony Johnson. Their first fight went down nearly two years ago and ended in a R3 loss for Johnson via rear-naked choke. Since then, Johnson has racked up three wins to Cormier’s two, and is looking like an unstoppable juggernaut.
But, I digress. Let’s get down to the business you came here for: the upsets. There are four fighters on this card that have the opportunity to show fans what an overturned apple cart looks like. I believe these four fighters, the underdogs, have the best points-earning potential for your teams. Let’s get started:
Katlyn Chookagian $8,700 / Irene Aldana $7,500
Katlyn is a good, durable up-and-comer, but has a lot of room for improvement. Her Octagon debut saw her get the upset over Lauren Murphy, but her second outing was a split decision loss to Liz Carmouche back at UFC 205. She’s very good on the ground and has a budding boxing game to match, but she’s just so green, and against an opponent like Aldana, who has seven first-round finishes on her resume, that’s going to be a tall order to fill.
Aldana has knockout power as well as a great submission game, and despite her UFC debut loss against wily veteran Leslie Smith, she’s still a woman you want to keep your eye on because she’s got tons of potential and good instincts. Aldana’s incredible stand-up is the key here, and I think it wins her the fight.
Irene Aldana via DEC
Will Brooks $9,000 / Charles Oliveira $7,200
Will Brooks is a top talent, make no mistake about it. He’s not had the best UFC run so far, but with his excellent wrestling game, good fight IQ and durability, he’s a handful of problems you don’t want to take lightly if you happen to be in a cage with him.
Charles Oliveira, aka “Do Bronx,” is an aggressive submission specialist who is phenomenal in scrambles and has a ridiculously nasty guillotine. His record is peppered with losses, but those have ONLY come to the best guys in the division. While Brooks will present a big challenge, Oliveira at a more healthy weight might just be the answer to ending his spotty record.
Charles Oliveira via SUB
Patrick Cote $8,500 / Thiago Alves $7,700
Patrick Cote is a 37-year-old French Canadian with serious power and a super durable chin. In fact, he was long considered to be darned near impossible to put away until he met up with Donald Cerrone. The wear-and-tear is starting to show these days, and against a powerful, hungry Thiago Alves, I fear the seams might just come undone entirely.
Alves had a terrible 155-pound debut, and smartly returned to his home at welterweight after his last fight. He’s a hard-hitting athlete with devastating kicks and a decent ground game. He’s had some injury issues, but on the other hand, that just means he’s a little less shopworn than Cote.
This is a very close fight between two gents that have likely seen their best days already, but it should be a fun one, and will hopefully feature some highlight reel moments.
Thiago Alves via (T)KO
Gegard Mousasi $8,300 / Chris Weidman $7,900
Gegard Mousasi is on a hot streak right now with four-in-a-row under his belt, the longest of his UFC career. He’s avenged his surprising loss to Uriah Hall, and has taken his smack-talking game to the next level. I’ve always admired an athlete with a good verbal game, and Gegard’s is coming along nicely. Back on track…. Gegard’s striking is marvelous, and his ground game is also quite impressive; however, he’s shown a weakness in the past to wrestler/grapplers with good pressure games, and that happens to be a major element in Weidman’s wheelhouse.
Weidman has been unfairly assessed, in my opinion, and dropping losses to two of the top three guys in the sport doesn’t encourage me to devalue his tremendous talent. He’s got great striking, powerful takedowns and is very aggressive. Against Mousasi, who can sometimes be a little too patient, for lack of a better term, these elements provide a very solid foundation for victory.
Chris Weidman 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.