UFC on Fox 18 features a light heavyweight matchup between title contenders Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader. Below are the studs and value plays for UFC on Fox 18 to help fill out your DraftKings lineups:
Best Plays on the Card
Sage Northcutt ($11,000) vs. Bryan Barberena
Northcutt was a good play when he was facing the undefeated Andrew Holbrook. After Holbrook had to bow out with an injury, Northcutt now gets Barberena.
Barberena is an aggressive fighter who has gone 1-1 in the UFC. He attempts over 11 strikes per minute and has eight knockouts in thirteen career fights.
The problem Barberena faces in this matchup is his aggressive style is going to work against him. As I’ve said in his previous two UFC fights, Northcutt is an elite prospect. He’s a perfect 7-0 with all seven of those victories coming by finish.
Northcutt is a dominant striker. He connects at a 72 percent rate. Northcutt was taken down twice by Cody Pfister in his last fight. However, Barberena is more of a striker than a wrestler, so that shouldn’t come into play in this matchup.
Barberena had just over a week to prepare for this fight. He’s no pushover but Northcutt’s striking and versatility should be too much for him. Look for Northcutt to get his third straight finish in the UFC.
Jimmie Rivera ($10,200) vs. Iuri Alcantara
This is a matchup between two hot fighters.
Rivera has won 17 fights in a row. Alcantara is 4-1 in his last five fights. The difference is Rivera has shown more power of late.
Rivera has won three of his last four fights by knockout. He’s displayed an aggressive style so far in his first two UFC fights. Through four rounds in the UFC, Rivera is averaging 16 strikes attempted per minute. He applies much more pressure than he did earlier in his career, which is why Rivera is finishing more fights.
Alcantara has finished 25 of 39 career fights but only two of those finishes have come since he joined the UFC. Alcantara attempts just over five strikes per minute. He’s a flashy fighter but he doesn’t have much power or throw with a lot of volume. Alcantara is dangerous on the ground with 12 submissions in 32 career wins.
I really like Rivera in this fight. Alcantara is a talented fighter but I think Rivera’s pressure is going to cause him problems in this matchup. Alcantara has a lot of finishes but he hasn’t been nearly as dangerous in the UFC. I’m going with Rivera to score an impressive win.
Best Value Plays for the Price
Ben Rothwell ($9,300) vs. Josh Barnett
This may not be the most anticipated matchup ever but on the bright side of the combined 85 fights between the two, 70 have ended inside the distance.
This is a pretty even matchup all the way around. Both fighters are solid in the striking department but Rothwell has more power with 20 career knockouts. Both fighters are good on the ground but Barnett has an edge there with 20 career submission wins.
Rothwell has won three fights in a row with finishes over Brandon Vera, Alistair Overeem and Matt Mitrione. I haven’t been impressed with Barnett in his last two fights against Travis Browne and Roy Nelson. I like Rothwell at this price. If he can stay off the mat, Rothwell has a good shot at picking up the win.
Jake Ellenberger ($8,800) vs. Tarec Saffiedine
I have to roll the dice with Ellenberger at his low salary. He’s just 1-5 in his last five fights but a lot of that has to do with level of competition.
Ellenberger’s last five losses have come against Stephen Thompson, Kelvin Gastelum, Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald. Obviously losses are losses but that’s a pretty daunting slate Ellenberger has faced since 2013. Saffiedine is no cupcake but he’s a much more even matchup for Ellenberger than guys like Lawler and MacDonald.
The other reason to like Ellenberger here is Saffiedine has shown very little knockout power. Only one of his 15 career wins has come by knockout. Saffiedine does have five wins by submission but nine of his victories have come by decision. He’s also only fought twice since 2013. When you combine lack of knockout power and inactivity, Saffiedine isn’t the most dangerous opponent in the world.
Ellenberger may be done but the fact is he’s been more active and faced much stiffer competition than Saffiedine over the last two years. I’ll take a shot with Ellenberger as one of the biggest underdogs on the card.