UFC Fight Night 74 features an exciting featherweight clash between Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira. The winner will put his name in the mix for a title shot in the near future. Below are my studs and value plays to help fill out your DraftKings lineups:
Best Plays on the Card
Misha Cirkunov ($11,100) vs. Daniel Jolly
I liked Cirkunov (9-2, 0-0 UFC) when he was facing Sean O’ Connell. Now O’Connell is out with an injury and Jolly (5-0, 0-0 UFC) is in as a late replacement, so I like Cirkunov even more for the price.
Cirkunov is making his UFC debut but he trains at Xtreme Couture and he comes in riding a four-fight winning streak. Cirkunov scored a first-round TKO win over UFC veteran Rodney Wallace earlier this year and seven of his nine wins have come by stoppage.
Jolly is undefeated but he hasn’t fought in over a year and now he’s taking this fight on 10 days’ notice. He’s only fought three times since the start of 2013.
Cirkunov comes into the UFC hot. He’s finished his last five fights in the first round (4 submissions, 1 TKO). Now he gets a perfect opponent in Jolly who has been inactive and is taking the fight on short notice.
Cirkunov will probably be heavily owned because of the circumstances but I like him to win his UFC debut in impressive fashion by finishing Jolly early. This is my favorite play on the card.
Max Holloway ($10,600) vs. Charles Oliveira
I wanted to take Oliveira (20-4, 8-4-1 UFC) as a value play given his low salary but the more I broke this fight down, the more I liked Holloway (13-3, 9-3 UFC).
Holloway has been so impressive recently that during his six-fight winning streak he has 206 more strikes than his opponents. Holloway is clearly the better striker in this fight but Oliveira will have the advantage if it goes to the ground.
There’s no denying Oliveira’s submission skills. Twelve of his 20 wins have come by submission but Holloway has good takedown defense (78 percent) and he lands 5.64 strikes per minute.
Normally in a fight like I’ll take a shot on the guy with the lower salary. However, I do that when I think that fighter represents value and I don’t believe his opponent is the clear play. Oliveira will have a high ownership percentage because of his low salary but that strategy is going to backfire in this matchup.
After back-to-back decision losses to Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor in 2013, the 23-year-old Holloway turned the corner and has been on a tear. I look for that to continue on Saturday night with another impressive win over Oliveira.
Maryna Moroz ($10,500) vs. Valerie Letourneau
I’ve seen Letourneau (7-3, 2-0 UFC) fight twice in the UFC and I haven’t been overly impressed with her either time.
She’s coming off a decision win over Jessica Rakoczy in a fight I thought she won but was pretty even most of the way. Rakoczy is now 1-4 and not a top quality fighter. Letourneau displays some decent striking but overall, I just haven’t seen much from her.
Moroz (6-0, 1-0 UFC) made her UFC debut by steamrolling Joanne Calderwood. Some are calling that a fluke because Calderwood said she wasn’t herself for that fight but I don’t really buy into that theory.
One of the reasons Calderwood wasn’t herself was because of Moroz. Moroz went right after Calderwood, took her down and submitted her with an armbar. It was an extremely impressive performance. There was nothing fluky about it.
Letourneau fights at a high pace and she has only been taken down once in her two UFC fights. However, her takedown defense is going to be tested big-time against Moroz. Neither of her first two UFC opponents were good grapplers, while Moroz has won five of her six career fights by submission. She’s had no problem taking anyone down.
For me, this comes down to Moroz being the much better fighter. She dismantled Calderwood and has finished all six of her opponents. Five of those finishes have come in the first round. It’s hard to call all of that a fluke. I like her to get another stoppage win over Letourneau.
Best Value Plays for the Price
Nikita Krylov ($9,500) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
This is an interesting matchup between two exciting fighters but I’m giving a slight edge to Krylov (18-4, 3-2 UFC).
This fight has a good chance to end in the first round, so if you play multiple cards, it’s not a bad idea to use both guys.
Out of their 38 combined career fights, 31 have ended in the first round. Again, if you’re going to play a couple of different cards, those are great odds of getting the 100 point bonus if you take both fighters.
Another reason this fight will likely end early is because it features two strikers that don’t care much about taking their opponents to the ground. Rogerio de Lima (13-2-1, 2-0 UFC) has yet to attempt a takedown in his two UFC fights and Krylov has attempted one takedown in five UFC appearances.
There are a couple of reasons I give Krylov an advantage in this fight. If the fight does happen to go to the ground, he has 11 submissions on his resume, so he’ll have the edge there.
Krylov is also a more accurate striker. He connects on over 64 percent of his strikes and Rogerio de Lima absorbs 5.54 strikes per minutes. I think that’s going to be a big factor in what has a chance to turn into a brawl.
This should be one of the most entertaining fights on the card, that’s why it’s not a bad idea to play each guy. However, I see Krylov having the edge in more areas, so I’m predicting “Al Capone” gets the knockout win.
Neil Magny ($9,000) vs. Erick Silva
I took Magny against Demian Maia earlier this month at UFC 190 and he rewarded me with a whopping zero points. I must be a glutton for punishment because I’m coming back for more.
Here’s the thing about Magny’s performance versus Maia: You almost have to throw it away. I’ve been watching MMA since the early 90s and Maia put on one of the greatest displays of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I’ve ever seen that night. If anything, I give Magny at least some credit for lasting the first round without getting submitted.
Magny had almost 40 percent ownership at UFC 190, so people will remember his goose egg and likely fade him this time but I think Magny has a chance to pull off the upset. Obviously Magny has to improve his submission defense. He’s been submitted in three of his four losses and that’s a major concern against Silva, who specializes in submitting his opponents.
Silva isn’t nearly the grappler Maia is though. Even after being dominated by Maia, Magny still prevents 68 percent of takedowns. Maia just made it look easy.
Silva is only successful on 37 percent of his takedown attempts, so Magny will have an easier time using his 6-inch reach advantage and keeping his distance in this matchup.
Silva has been knocked out in his last two losses and Magny can strike. Silva can certainly win this fight by submission or decision but I Magny has a chance to keep it standing and out-strike him as well.
For the price, Magny is worth a shot if you need a cheaper option to fill out your roster. Silva is a better matchup for him than Maia. I’ll guarantee he scores more points than the last time I picked him.
Tony Sims ($8,600) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
If you’re searching for a guy with a low salary who has a puncher’s chance to fill out your lineup card, Sims (12-2, 1-0 UFC) isn’t a bad play.
Sims won his UFC debut with a first-round knockout of Steve Montgomery. He’s won 10 of his 12 fights by knockout. Sims also has eight first-round stoppages, so he has the ability to end fights early.
Sims will have a slight advantage if this fight stays standing. Aubin-Mercier (6-1, 2-1 UFC) is a solid striker but Sims has the edge in power. If this fight goes to the ground though, it will be all Aubin-Mercier.
Aubin-Mercier has won all of his fights by submission. One way to control power is to grind out your opponent on the ground and there’s a good chance that’s how this fight plays out if Sims doesn’t end it early.
If I had to predict the outcome of this fight I would say Aubin-Mercier by decision but I think Sims has a much better chance to pull the upset than his salary indicates. He could get controlled on the ground but on the other hand Sims’ power could be a problem for Aubin-Mercier, so I feel Sims is worth playing at his price.
Sims has the third lowest salary on the card behind only Jolly and Shane Campbell. That’s why I have him down as a value play. I think Sims has a much better chance of pulling an upset than either of those two if you’re looking for a bargain basement play.