UFC 201: Underdog Picks

July is certainly an action-packed month for the UFC and fight sports in general with MMA, boxing and kickboxing all representing in abundance. We’ve seen five UFC events already and we’re still not done. Saturday will mark the sixth and final card of the month, and boy does it have some great offerings.

We get everything from the return of flyweight crowd pleaser Ian McCall to a welterweight title bout between Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley that will headline the card. It’s one of those events that not only looks great on paper, it will likely deliver the best combat action money can buy. When you have a card with 12 great contests, there will always be a few athletes that will upset the balance, and that’s a great thing for those looking to make a winning fantasy team. I’ve selected four underdogs that I think will interrupt the status quo, so let’s get started with breaking down their fights.

Nikita Krylov $10,200 / Ed Herman $9200

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Krylov vs Barroso

Nikita Krylov has been a living breathing machine over the past 4 years (incidentally, that’s how long he’s been fighting). He’s logged 24 bouts in that span, with the last 7 being under the UFC banner. He’s got legit power, but where he really shines is his submission game. The thing is, it’s against less formidable competition than what Ed Herman has faced.

Herman, who’s returning to the light heavyweight division for the first time in more than 11 years, has faced some real killers in the sport. He even won a LHW title via UD over Glover Teixeira. He packs a lot of power and his submission game is fantastic. He’ll have the advantage with a much more polished skillset and an edge in experience, and we’ve all seen how these crafty veterans are showing the younger guys what over-confidence can cost.

Another factor to consider is wear and tear. Since July 2012 when Krylov’s pro career kicked off, he’s logged 24 fights to Herman’s 7. Now, only 2 of these made it out of the first round, win or lose, but just imagine the gym time that was put in for 24 contests, 7 of which were UFC caliber.

Ed Herman via TKO


Justin Scoggins $10,400 / Ian McCall $9000

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Borg vs Scoggins

Justin Scoggins is a great athlete with lots of potential, but getting past an iron-willed ultra-gritty guy like Ian McCall won’t be an easy task for him. Where Justin has great movement and timing, McCall will have crafty answers and plenty of “never quit” attitude that can frustrate even the calmest athlete. When you’re throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, and the guy in front of you is still pressing forward, it can be quite disheartening. The edge that Scoggins will have is in the striking, as Ian has had issues with his right hand over the last couple years.

McCall has been away for 18 months, but has used the time to really address his injuries. He’s always been a fighter that’s got a polished skillset in all areas, with good standup, excellent takedown defense and great grappling ability. He’s a determined fighter with experience on his side and has only lost to the very highest level of competition. Scoggins, on the other hand, has struggled when taking the next step up.

Ian McCall via Decision


Matt Brown $10,900 / Jake Ellenberger $8500

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Maia vs Brown

Matt Brown is a durable, gritty fighter that packs some power and has a capable ground game. Where he suffers is his submission defense. Of his 14 losses, 10 were via submission. That’s an area where a talented wrestler like Ellenberger can really make his bread and butter in this fight.

Ellenberger has struggled in his last 6 bouts, however he’s only losing to the top guys in the division: Robbie Lawler, Rory MacDonald, Kelvin Gastelum, Stephen Thompson and Tarec Saffiedine. He packs a massive amount of power and has a crushing top game that could make for a difficult night for Brown. If he can implement a similar plan to Demian Maia’s, we could see Jake back in the W column.

The X-factor to consider in this fight is the fact that Ellenberger is very likely in a “must win” situation. Generally, when guys are under that type of pressure, they go for broke. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that’s what we’ll be seeing here.

Jake Ellenberger via Decision


Robbie Lawler $10,600 / Tyron Woodley $9000

MMA: UFC 195-Lawler vs Condit

Robbie Lawler is the champion. He’s a beast. He’s got cardio for days. He’s the guy that you can’t break. Instead he breaks you. So where is the upset factor here? It is in the fact that he has gone just shy of 28 rounds in 2 years. Hard rounds. Wars. His last bout with Condit was a controversial win. It could be reasonably argued that Condit won that fight.

Robbie is living the greatest career resurgence in UFC history, and has proven to be a shining example of a perfect turnaround. That said, the wear and tear is definitely showing and with the kind of heat that Tyron Woodley throws, it isn’t a stretch to think his clock could be in for a cleaning.

Woodley has had the last 18 months off to get his cardio on point, rehab any nagging injuries, rejuvenate his mind and basically hone his excellent wrestling. He has a rocket of a right, and if it lands I don’t care who you are, you’re going down in a heap. The stand-up is where I think Tyron finds his victory.

Tyron Woodley 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.