Saturday night’s UFC Nashville event will be the last card in April, so the promotion has made sure to put together some very intriguing match-ups, despite the lack of big names on the very modest bout sheet. This is what many would refer to as a “sleeper card.”
Headlined by Cub Swanson vs. Artem Lobov, UFC Fight Night 108 will see the return of “Raging” Al Iaquinta and the debut of women’s bantamweight prospect Cindy Dandois, as well as a plethora of familiar faces like Sam Alvey, Joe Lauzon and John Dodson. It’s definitely a card not to be missed.
Now, let’s get down to the reason you’re here—the predictions. This is an unusually well-matched card, so my work was well and truly cut out for me. There are some bold choices in here, but rest assured, I wrestled with them mightily before applying monitor ink to screen. Below are the four fighters I feel have the best potential to upset the favorites.
Alexis Davis $8900 / Cindy Dandois $7300
Alexis Davis is a very gifted grappler that would probably be best served at 125 pounds. Alas, there is no women’s flyweight division yet, so she must trudge on at bantamweight. She’s still a dangerous opponent, she just often finds herself at a distinct size disadvantage. Despite a lack of power, she tends to establish a good, effective kicking game.
Dandois is a big girl and a very competent grappler, herself. She has a great blast double, which should prove effective against Davis, who has less than stellar takedown defense. She’s also a solid striker with an active jab that has proven quite effective for her. Add grit and durability and you have the classic recipe for an upset.
Cindy Dandois via DEC
Hector Sandoval $8200 / Matt Schnell $8000
Sandoval is a Team Alpha Male prospect with great wrestling and submissions. That’s pretty much the standard fare for the Sacramento-based team, though. He utilizes constant forward pressure and sets up his takedowns with ease, but the problem with Sandoval is that he’s not the best striker and will be at a significant size advantage.
Schnell, on the other hand, is massive for 125 pounds (he will have a SIX-inch height and reach advantage) and he’s a terrific grappler. He has an evolving standup game that has found its way to a couple knockout victories, and his aggressive style and superiority in the scrambles will likely prove too much for Sandoval.
I fully expect Schnell to wear Sandoval out with relentless ground exchanges before submitting him with either an armbar or guillotine, both of which he is proficient at.
Matt Schnell via SUB
Dustin Ortiz $8600 / Brandon Moreno $7600
Dustin Ortiz is another powerhouse wrestler with a very smothering, lead blanket-style top game. He’s good in the clinch and works powerful knees and elbows with ease. He doesn’t have a great standup game, though, and against a talented striker like Moreno, that’s going to be a problem.
Moreno, aka the Piñata Maker’s Son, is a very bright prospect in a division that’s recently lost a significant portion of its roster. He’s got excellent, effective standup, good power and marvelous footwork. He’s still growing as a wrestler, but he’s excellent in scrambles and can defend himself well against the takedown.
This is a very close matchup, maybe the closest one on the card, despite the $1000 disparity the team pricing reflects, but Moreno has the better upside, in my humble opinion.
Brandon Moreno via DEC
Mike Perry $8400 / Jake Ellenberger $7800
Perry is a great athlete with speed, power and good positional control on the ground, even if he isn’t a particularly strong wrestler. He’s hyper-aggressive and pushes a forward-moving onslaught almost constantly. He has pretty good takedown defense for such a green fighter, but he’s not a fortress. Alan Jouban presented the blueprint for defeating Perry by controlling the distance with leg kicks and range striking.
Ellenberger has a superb blast double, excellent ground-and-pound, and fight-ending power. His distance management skills are crafted with great high kicks and a low kick that frequently creates problems for those across the cage from him. He’s also a very dangerous counter-striker with a wealth of craftiness and experience that should propel him to a victory over an opponent that almost seems custom designed for him.
Jake Ellenberger via (T)KO
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.