The UFC makes its debut in Long Island this weekend with UFC on FOX 25, which takes place Saturday evening at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. A large number of the top fighters in New York will get to fight in front of their home fans, which should make for an exciting night of fights, and of course, an enjoyable time playing DraftKings.
Here are my top-10 fighters for UFC on FOX 25.
1. Chase Sherman ($8,900)
My top pick for this weekend’s card is Sherman, who fights Damian Grabowski on the prelims. Sherman lost his first two UFC fights but with his back up against the wall delivered a “Fight of the Night” winning performance against Rashad Coulter, picking up his first UFC win via TKO. Sherman is a big, strong and athletic heavyweight with big knockout power and a solid chin. At 27 he keeps improving and he’s a popular fighter on social media who the UFC could see star potential in. Sherman should be able to stop Grabowski’s takedowns, keep the fight standing, and eventually knock him out, likely in the first round.
2. Kelvin Gastelum ($8,400)
The main event is a five-round middleweight bout between Gastelum and Chris Weidman, and I believe Gastelum will win this fight. Since moving up to middleweight he’s looked incredible, with highlight-reel knockouts over Vitor Belfort and Tim Kennedy in his last two outings. He’s only 25 and he keeps getting better every fight. I think Gastelum’s speed is going to be the difference here, and I see him eventually stopping Weidman with strikes within the course of five rounds.
3. Shane Burgos ($8,700)
A featherweight bout between Burgos and Godofredo Pepey should prove to be exciting for as long as it lasts, but I don’t think it lasts long as I see Burgos knocking Pepey out early in this fight. Burgos is an undefeated stud who is well-rounded and showed in his last fight against Charles Rosa how much knockout power he has. He also has solid wrestling. I think Burgos takes Pepey down and finishes him with ground-and-pound.
4. Gian Villante ($8,100)
In light heavyweight action, Villante fights Patrick Cummins, and I’m taking Villante to win this fight. Both men are the definition of mediocre, but Villante has a better chin and is the better striker. Cummins has been knocked out four times in the UFC and at age 36, I don’t see his chin getting any better. Look for Villante to knock Cummins out early in this fight.
5. Brian Kelleher ($9,200)
In a bantamweight bout between two fighters coming off of highlight-reel finishes, Kelleher takes on Marlon Vera. In his UFC debut, Kelleher submitted Iuri Alcantara while Vera recently knocked out Brad Pickett, so both fighters have a lot of momentum coming into this one. Having said that, I like Kelleher here. I think the win over Alcantara shows just how dangerous he is on the ground and he also has some underrated striking. He also has more experience and has generally fought a higher-level of competition than Vera. I think Vera is a bit overrated while I think Kelleher has been flying under the radar for quite some time. I’m going with Kelleher here, and I think he can win this fight by submission.
6. Jimmie Rivera ($8,300)
A bantamweight bout that could easily be “Fight of the Night” sees Rivera take on Thomas Almeida. Rivera is 20-1 and 4-0 in the UFC while Almeida is 22-1 and 5-1 in the UFC. Both fighters are amazing talents, but I think this matchup favors Rivera. The reason I like him here is because he’s a more technical striker with much better defense. In what should be a striking-based bout, I like Rivera to out work Almeida and land a ton of significant strikes, and possibly even knock him out.
7. Chris Wade ($8,600)
In lightweight action, Wade takes on Frankie Perez in a rematch, and I like Wade to once again win. The first time these two fought Wade took home a split decision victory, and while both men have improved since that fight, I think Wade has improved way more. He’s a really good wrestler with an improving ability to finish fights, and while he has lost his last two fights I still believe in Wade. I’m looking for Wade to dominate Perez with his takedowns and maybe submit him.
8. Timothy Johnson ($9,000)
In heavyweight action, Johnson takes on UFC newcomer Junior Albini, and I’m going with the veteran Johnson in this fight. With a 3-2 UFC record so far, Johnson has shown he’s a competitive fighter at this level of the sport, and he has shown improvement from fight to fight. He’s also a massive heavyweight. Albini has a solid record on paper, but he hasn’t fought anyone of note and he’s suffered losses in the past against unknown opponents. I think Johnson is going to deliver Albini a rude welcome to the UFC, and either win a decision or finish him late.
9. Darren Elkins ($7,500)
Once again everyone is counting out Elkins, who fights Dennis Bermudez in a featherweight co-main event. The grinder Elkins is almost always the underdog and yet this is a fighter with a tremendous 11-4 record in the UFC, including his current four-fight win streak. His recent win streak includes a brutal third-round TKO comeback victory over Mirsad Bektic in his last fight, a bout that displayed Elkins’ improvements in his striking. Elkins has more momentum coming into this fight and despite Bermudez’s athletic advantage, I think Elkins can once again and find a way to grind Bermudez out for a close decision, or maybe even stop him late.
10. Eryk Anders ($7,400)
Making his UFC debut on this card will be former collegiate football player Anders, who takes on Brazilian-born New York native Rafael Natal in a middleweight bout on the prelims. Although he doesn’t have as much experience compared to Natal, I still like Anders in this fight. He’s the younger fighter by seven years (29 to 34), he’s more athletic and he has more finishing ability. Natal is a tricky fighter and can surprise at times but his chin is terrible and he’s coming off of a brutal KO loss to Tim Boestch, his third knockout loss in the UFC. I think Anders can get to Natal’s chin and knock him out, so at this cheap price, he’s well worth considering when filling out your roster.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is MMAdamMartin) 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.