WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – UFC 211 CLOSE UP
On Saturday, May 13th at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, MMA fans will be treated to an absolutely stacked UFC pay-per-view. Atop this card is heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic against the last man to defeat him, Junior dos Santos. In the co-main event, women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts her belt on the line against the surging Brazilian, Jessica Andrade.
Simply put, this is (on paper) the best UFC event of 2017 by a considerable margin. Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier is on the preliminary card, for crying out loud! It’s just a giant ocean of great fights across the board, and hopefully, they bring excitement for the fans. Before UFC 211 kicks off, here’s a rundown of some of the fighters on this card who can provide high scores and benefit your DraftKings team(s).
Stipe Miocic ($8,500) vs. Junior dos Santos ($7,700)
terribly active over the last few years, with surgery-requiring injuries leading him to fight just twice since he beat Miocic by unanimous decision in 2014. He suffered a TKO loss to Alistair Overeem in 2015 but looked excellent in his five-round decision against Ben Rothwell last April.
This was a great fight when they first met, and JDS turned things around in his favor with a crucial knockdown in round three. While JDS should by no means be counted out, I believe that the current Miocic is a better version than he was three years ago, and dos Santos’ granite chin has been much easier to find since the first time he lost to Cain Velasquez. I’m backing Miocic to avenge his defeat and keep his title in the process, most likely by TKO.
Number of Note: 212. Dos Santos (123) and Miocic (89) combined for 212 significant strikes in their first meeting. We could see another prolonged war between them, which would buck the three-fight streak of Stipe finishing his opponents in round one.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($8,800) vs. Jessica Andrade ($7,400)
Joanna Champion is seeking her fifth consecutive title defense on Saturday. The Polish sensation bested her fellow countrywoman Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision at UFC 205. Preceding that bout was her toughest defense to date, a dramatic unanimous decision over rival Claudia Gadelha, who scored an early knockdown. Andrade has benefited greatly from the decision to drop from 135 to 115. She’s a perfect 3-0, including finishes of Jessica Penne and Joanne Calderwood, and a thrilling unanimous decision vs. former Invicta FC champ Angela Hill.
This is going to be an incredible battle. Both women push a hellacious pace and throw an absurdly high amount of strikes. Andrade loves to pressure and has the power advantage, but she’s more defensively vulnerable and less technical. If Andrade wins it’ll have to be by stoppage, or else Joanna’s efficient violence will be too much. I’m sticking with Jedrzejczyk, but it won’t be easy.
Number of note: 189. In Jedrzejczyk’s last three fights, which have all gone the full five rounds, she’s landed an average of 189 significant strikes. That’s more than seven strikes per minute!
Yair Rodriguez ($7,600) vs. Frankie Edgar ($8,600)
Rodriguez is one of the most exciting prospects in all of MMA. “El Pantera” is coming off a vicious mauling of the legendary B.J. Penn. He also had a highlight reel head kick KO of Andre Fili, as well as an entertaining split decision against Alex Caceres in a five-rounder. His next opponent is former lightweight champion and perennial featherweight contender Frankie Edgar, whose only losses at 145 lbs have been against Jose Aldo. Edgar responded to his second Aldo loss by defeating Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision at UFC 205. The signature win for “The Answer” at featherweight is his December 2015 KO of Chad Mendes.
I truly wish this was five rounds and not three. Edgar is by far the more skilled fighter, and his chain wrestling is otherworldly, but he’s also approaching 36 years of age. Rodriguez is the bigger, faster, more athletic fighter, not to mention a creative striker who can produce a knockout through his plethora of kicks. This is a risky choice, but $7,600 is good value for the Mexican, and I think he makes that leap into stardom by using his dangerous offense to finish the never-before finished Edgar.
Number of note: 0. Literally no one has taken Frankie Edgar down at featherweight. Rodriguez has taken everyone except B.J. Penn down at least once in his UFC career.
James Vick ($9,500) vs. Marco Polo Reyes ($6,700)
Vick is quietly 6-1 in the UFC, and bounced back from a KO loss to Beneil Dariush by submitting Abel Trujillo with a d’arce choke. “The Texecutioner” perhaps is best known for handing prospect Jake Matthews his first loss, using a guillotine choke in the opening round. Reyes earned the adulation of fans for his epic battle with Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 199, winning a back-and-forth war by third-round TKO. The Mexican also previously knocked out the defense-lacking Cezar Arzamendia, and most recently won a much less exciting split decision over Jason Novelli. Reyes definitely is one to brawl in the pocket and his power is worth respecting.
At $9,500, Vick is the most expensive fighter on the entire card, but I say he’s worth the pick. He uses his big frame (6’3”, 76” reach) very well, touching his opponents up with jabs and heavy kicks. Reyes is a tough fighter but his weakness is grappling, which bodes well for Vick’s opportunistic submission game and solid scrambling abilities. I think Vick scores another win in his home state and keeps climbing up the ranks of the 155 lbs division.
Number of note: 40. Reyes has only successfully defended four of 10 takedowns (a rate of 40%) in his three-fight UFC career. On the other side, Vick has only attempted four takedowns in seven UFC fights, completing one against Trujillo.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mookiealexander) 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.