WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – UFC 211 CLOSE UP
After a three-week hiatus, the UFC has pulled out all the stops for their 211th numbered event. Two title fights are on the line, and even with one of the bouts being scrapped, the card is simply stellar from one end to the other. If they’re trying to remind us that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this card is our reward for being patient, they’ve done an excellent job on both fronts.
There are 13 fights on the bout sheet, and of the 26 athletes, only three of them are fresh faces to the UFC: Jared Gordon, Michael Quinones and Rashad Coulter. The card also marks the return of David Branch for the first time in six years, as well as Eddie Alvarez’ first bout back since losing his title to Conor McGregor last November. And who can forget the welterweight title eliminator between Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia. “Stacked” doesn’t begin to cover it.
Now, to get on with the predictions. I’ve selected four fighters — underdogs — that I feel will add the most value to your fantasy lineups. This quartet is going to be the bane of existence for those unlucky souls that chose to stick with the favorites. Let’s take a look at how my selected underdogs will be overturning the proverbial apple carts.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk $8,800 / Jessica Andrade $7,400
Joanna is one bad mammajamma. If you think otherwise, you may want to turn in your fan card. She’s precise, kicks like a mule and kicks like a mule. What’s that? I said “kicks like a mule” twice? I meant to. She does. She’s great at distance management and at dictating the pace. Her striking precision and cardio also set her apart from most fighters on the UFC’s roster, male or female.
Where she’s weak (if you can even use that word in the same sentence with her name), and everyone knows this, is on the ground. Unfortunately for her, Jessica Andrade is an absolute dynamo on the mat. She’s also got ferocious striking and she is not afraid to get in the pocket and trade, shot for shot. In my eyes, this is a much closer matchup than most are giving it credit for. My gut is telling me Andrade unseats the champion.
Jessica Andrade via DEC
Jorge Masvidal $8,400 / Demian Maia $8,400
Jorge Masvidal is all the rage right now, and for good reason. He’s one of, if not the best natural boxer on the roster, has a very underrated ground game, great cardio and a keen eye for defense. He hardly ever takes damage in his fights and has found a way to train and fight without sustaining injuries.
So, where is his weakness? To be honest, this is the fight I agonized over the most. Jorge is such a true mixed martial artist, in every sense of those three words. He’s well-rounded enough and seasoned enough to give anyone at welterweight problems.
Demian Maia has also really tightened up his overall MMA game. His striking has improved leaps and bounds and we all know he’s “kinda” good on the ground. Who am I fooling here??!! He’s the human version of an anaconda, and if the fight ends up on the mat, even with Masvidal’s own impressive grappling, Maia will likely win the majority of those exchanges.
This was the toughest fight for me to call, but I went with Maia.
Maia via SUB
Frankie Edgar $8,600 / Yair Rodriguez $7,600
Frankie Edgar has been at the top of the precision striking game for a while, and he has marvelous wrestling, to boot. His cardio is always on point, likely due to keeping his walking weight very close to his fighting weight, a habit many other fighters could benefit from. He keeps a very high pace and has excellent footwork.
Yair Rodriguez has been getting quite the marketing push from the UFC lately, and with good reason. He’s a good looking, young prospect who is consistently getting better, and the perfect person to help launch the UFC’s new Latin America deal with FOX. He’s got great striking, a devastating high-kick (ask Andre Fili about that) and an underrated ground game.
Yair Rodriguez is everything I like to see in an underdog. A win over Edgar would be huge for him, and I think he gets it.
Yair Rodriguez via DEC
Krzysztof Jotko $8,700 / David Branch $7,500
Krzysztof Jotko Has been on an absolute tear, winning his last five, and with only one blemish on his pristine record. He’s got a tremendous ground game, and does a good job of grinding his opponents down. His fights aren’t pretty, but he’s effective, and that’s what counts. His striking… well, let’s just say he strikes.
David Branch last fought in the octagon six years ago, but in the time since, he’s captured gold in two divisions simultaneously (Yes, he did it before Conor McGregor did and he defended BOTH belts, too!) with the World Series of Fighting. He’s an experienced fighter, and like Jotko, has an outstanding ground game. He’s also a grinder, using top position to mount effective ground-and-pound attacks. He does good work in close quarters, landing hard knees from the clinch, as well as some good ol’ dirty boxing. He’s become quite proficient at submitting his opponents with a variety of chokes, so don’t be surprised if Jotko ends up asleep. I know I won’t be.
David Branch via SUB
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.