The injury bug has infested the UFC again, with the two biggest fights on the card scratched. Joseph Duffy — the last man to beat Conor McGregor — suffered a concussion and had to withdraw, and the much-anticipated Stipe Miocic vs. Ben Rothwell fight was also cancelled. Let’s break down what’s left of UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Duffy.
Paddy Holohan ($9600) vs Louis Smolka ($9800)
Holohan vs. Smolka is the new main event, and it shouldn’t disappoint. Holohan could feel enormous pressure being thrust into the spotlight in front of his home crowd, or it could propel him to an even greater performance. Pride and heart are the intangibles that throw all metrics out the window. Smolka does land more significant strikes and is a slight favorite. But Holohan has an excellent ground game and Smolka has only defended 27% of takedown attempts. This fight will get to the ground and Holohan will get the submission win.
Pick: Holohan by submission
Norman Parke ($10800) vs Reza Madadi ($8600)
Welcome back, Reza Madadi. It’s been over two years since his last fight, a submission win over Michael Johnson. For his return Madadi gets Norman Parke in front of his home fans in Ireland. Parke has heavy hands, but Medadi is a ground specialist that averages almost five takedowns per 15 minutes, and completes them at a 60% clip. Parke has a lot of submission wins, but they were all back on the regional circuit. Look for Medadi to submit Parke and spoil Stormin’ Norman’s hometown love fest.
Pick: Medadi by submission
Darren Till ($9300) vs Nicolas Dalby ($10100)
Someone’s 0 has got to go. 14-0 Nicholas Dalby takes on 13-0 Darren Till in an intriguing matchup. It’s also my second upset special of the card. Dalby is an excellent fighter, but Till is more explosive and has a better chance at finishing the fight. For that reason alone I will be rolling with Till because finishes are the key to placing in Draft Kings MMA tourneys.
Pick: Till by KO/TKO
Stevie Ray ($11000) vs Mickael Lebout ($8400)
If you’ve seen Ray fight, you were no doubt impressed with his performances. He’s scored KO wins in both of his UFC fights, throwing and landing strikes at a feverish pace. Ray averages 5.5 significant strikes per minute, landing them at a 60% accuracy rate. He’s certainly made me a believer, and I think he’ll make quick work of Lebout. The price tag to add him to your lineup is high, but the return will be worth it.
Pick: Ray by KO/TKO
Neil Seery ($10000) vs Jon Delos Reyes ($9400)
Seery is the picture of the hard-nosed, gritty vet that gets it done with his heart and skills. He’s been to decision in all four of his UFC fights, so you can see where I’ll go with this. Delos Reyes eats a lot of strikes, and Seery will do enough to win, but it won’t translate into a lot of fantasy points. Meanwhile, a loss for Delos Reyes will likely get him his walking papers from the UFC.
Pick: Seery by decision
Aisling Daly ($9900) vs Ericka Almeida ($9500)
Daly has improved much since we first saw her in the states in Bellator. She has become a very well-rounded fighter, and she has one of the best chins in the strawweight division. Almeida is a submission wiz, but Daly is likely too savvy to get caught. Look for Daly to win the striking the battle, winning the rounds but going to the judges scorecards. I’ll be staying away from this one since decision wins don’t make you money.
Pick: Daly by decision
Krzysztof Jotko ($9700) vs Scott Askham ($9700)
Incredibly even matchup with Jotko and Askham. Both have limited UFC experience, both are southpaws and statistically speaking are just about the same. The difference is Askham is more of a finisher than Jotko. So if you play this fight, Askham has the higher percentage of finishes, especially recently. If Askham gets the KO, it will be great value for just $9700. I’ll have Askham in some of my lineups, but not all. He’s not at all a lock to win, but I like him enough to play him.
Pick: Askham by KO/TKO
Cathal Pendred ($8800) vs Tom Breese ($10600)
Salaries don’t lie here. Breese is an up and comer and Pendred, in my opinion, is a plodder with marginal skills. This is a bad matchup for him, and the Englishman Breese is going to choke him unconscious.
Pick: Breese by submission
Darren Elkins ($10200) vs Rob Whiteford ($9200)
My guess is a lot of fans are sleeping on Elkins, but he’s still a top-15 featherweight and Rob Whiteford will see why. Elkins frustrates opponents and his wrestling is good enough to somewhat nullify the striking game of Whiteford. It won’t be pretty, but Elkins will grind out a decision win against Whiteford. That said, neither fighter lights up the scoreboard points-wise, and decision wins won’t help you score the big money win.
Pick: Elkins by decision
Garreth McLellen ($8900) vs Bubba Bush ($10500)
In a recent interview Bush said of his opponent, “He fights the way I do — I just believe I can do it better.” He ain’t lying. Bush is very well-rounded, and he is outstanding on the ground in both wrestling and jiu jitsu. McLellen was taken down ten times in his UFC debut, but that won’t happen here. Because after the first or second takedown, Bush will win by armbar or rear naked choke.
Pick: Bush by submission