Tonight, the UFC will take over Portland in the 96th installment of their Fight Night series. The bantamweights will be taking the lead in the headlining bout on a modest card that features plenty of up-and-coming talent, as well as some longtime staples.
There are a few fresh faces on the roster on the roster this time around in the form of Brandon Moreno, Joachim Christensen and Ketlen Vieira. While these three could be potential stunners, their records are a little too green to pin our upset thoughts on just yet.
The real action lies within four fighters that have already found their way into the Octagon in previous contests. I’ve selected this quartet as the likeliest to find underdog glory against their opponents. These four, in my opinion, present the best opportunity to rack up points for your fantasy teams.
Let’s get started.
Will Brooks $9,000 / Alex Oliveira $7,200
Will Brooks is a well-rounded fighter with a strong grappling base. What he lacks in his standup — mainly power — he more than makes up for with grindability. The TKOs he’s got on his nearly pristine record are accumulation finishes, and over the last three years, they come in the later rounds, after he’s outworked his opponent.
Oliveira, who will obviously be coming in with a massive size advantage, both in weight and in height, has a just barely competent ground game, mainly because his size allows him to power his opponents to the ground, but where he really shines is in his stand-up. He’s quick and he’s powerful, and that combination can mean the end for anyone. With a 76” reach, he’s great at countering from the outside, and on the inside, his short, crisp punches do real damage.
Brooks is a phenomenal athlete, but against the much larger, more powerful Oliveira, I’m pretty confident he sees his first loss inside the Octagon.
Oliveira via TKO
Hacran Dias $8,500 / Andre Fili $7,700
Hacran Dias is a very good fighter with sturdy leg kicks and great striking. He doesn’t carry much power, but he’s got good combinations and counters. He tends to get a little lackadaisical as the rounds wear on, and can see long stretches with only minimal activity. He has a bad habit of letting his opponents dictate the pace, and finds himself scrambling to make up for it.
Fili is a dynamic striker who’s willing to go for broke to get a finish. His leg kicks are dynamite (Gabriel Benitez can attest to that), and he’s got a cumulative effect with his punches, resulting in several TKOs on his record. His losses come when he steps up in competition, and with Dias, it’s going to be a proving ground for Andre. If he can set up his punches with one of those skull-jangling head kicks without falling prey to a submission, he’ll have this bout cinched.
Andre Fili via TKO
Walt Harris $8,800 / Shamil Abdurakhimov $7,400
Walt Harris is a gifted athlete who started his MMA journey when he was 27-years-old, and saw success early on, but has been a bit of a mixed bag since joining the UFC’s heavyweight roster. He’s 2-3, with his wins coming to regional level talent. He’s got legitimate power, but has no idea how to tuck his chin. He does have very good takedown defense, so it’s a likely scenario that this fight stays standing, as all heavyweight contests should.
Abdurakhimov is a beast. He’s deceptively quick and has a powerful jab that he throws with authority. He’s got an amazing clinch game and does extremely well fighting in a phone booth. He mixes in leg kicks well and has a very capable ground game.
Make no mistake, this will be a knockdown-drag-out fight until the gas tanks run dry, but I think it should see Abdurakhimov with the victory.
Abdurakhimov via TKO
Keita Nakamura $8,400 / Elizeu Zaleski $7,800
Nakamura is on his second stint in the UFC, and is finding much more success this time around. He’s got decent stand-up, but lacks real power in his hands. His kicks are another story, though. He’s got snazzy footwork and throws his opponents off with frequent changes in stance and a nice jab. His defensive skills are his Achilles heel, and this is where Zaleski will be able to pick him apart.
Zaleski has a very good striking game, and to my utter delight, goes to the body and the head. He has excellent power and great counter punching, and boasts an impressive 12 TKOS on his record. His weakness is his grappling, but if he can implement those knees in the clinch, he should be able to stop takedowns fairly easily.
Zaleski via TKO
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.