On Saturday, May 11, UFC 237 goes down in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the main event, strawweight champion Rose Namajunas defends her title against Brazil’s own Jessica Andrade, in a rare instance of a fighter going to enemy territory for a title defense. The co-main event pits the great, ex-middleweight champion Anderson Silva ($7,500) against rising contender Jared Cannonier ($8,700), who’s a former heavyweight. Lest we forget that former featherweight king Jose Aldo ($8,400) returns to action against the surging Alex Volkanovski ($7,800).
This isn’t exactly a star-studded pay-per-view, but it’s one that’s filled with evenly matched showdowns with plenty of potential to be entertaining. Before UFC 237 kicks off, let’s take a brief look at some of the night’s competitors who could produce high scores for your DraftKings teams.
Rose Namajunas ($7,900) vs. Jessica Andrade ($8,300)
Namajunas famously captured strawweight gold 18 months ago, when she pulled off a shocking KO of Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217. An immediate rematch was booked, and in a back-and-forth battle, Namajunas won a unanimous decision. After more than a year out recovering from an injury, she now takes on the dangerous Andrade. This is the second title fight of her career, having previously come up short vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2017. Since that defeat she’s been phenomenal, winning decisions against Claudia Gadelha and Tecia Torres, then knocking out fellow ex-title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz (the last woman to beat Namajunas) at UFC 228 last September.
This is very much a toss-up, which you love to see for title bouts. Andrade is in her home country, she has absurd physical strength, strong cardio and serious knockout power. Namajunas is the vastly superior technical fighter with better footwork (something Andrade hasn’t dealt well within her losses), and she has a highly formidable submission game. If Andrade can’t win this early, I think Namajunas pulls away late and wins a very entertaining, high-energy decision. It’s also hard to ignore that $7,900 value for a champion as offensively gifted as her.
Number of Note: 6. Of Namajunas’ eight career wins, six have come by way of submission. Andrade has been submitted twice in her six losses.
Ryan Spann ($8,800) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira ($7,400)
Spann is riding a five-fight winning streak, having been knocked out by Karl Roberson on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. He earned another spot on the show the following year, submitting Emiliano Sordi in 26 seconds to get a UFC contract. In his UFC debut, he won a unanimous decision over Ryan Spann. “Lil’ Nog” is a legend of the sport but he’s clearly in the twilight of his career. Injuries have played a major part in his lack of fights throughout his UFC career, but the 42-year-old did prevail last September against Sam Alvey.
This is a good test to see how far Spann has come along. He is a fast starter but has had a tendency to fade. Nogueira has so much wear and tear on his body that even though he did beat Alvey, eating power shots early could spell doom. Spann still has to be careful given Nogueira has the boxing and punching power to put him away, but I have to go with the youth and athleticism of Spann to get him the W.
Number of Note: 13. Ryan Spann has 15 wins to his name, with 13 of them coming by stoppage. All of those stoppage wins have occurred in the opening round.
Irene Aldana ($9,200) vs. Bethe Correia ($7,000)
Aldana was a prospect who thrived in Invicta FC. She even fought for the Invicta title, ultimately losing to Tonya Evinger by TKO. The Mexican has had issues in the UFC, dropping her first two fights to Leslie Smith and Katlyn Chookagian, but she’s rebounded by beating Talita Bernardo and Lucie Pudilova. Correia is a former UFC title challenger who hasn’t fought in two years due to injuries. She was KO’d by a Holly Holm head kick in her most recent bout, and her last win was a split decision over Jessica Eye in 2016.
Correia is very willing to give Aldana the fight she wants. Aldana is taller, has a longer reach, has better boxing, and while her defense isn’t anything impressive, the same can be said for Correia. Add in Correia’s lack of power and this should be an emphatic Aldana win.
Number of Note: 95. In her four UFC appearances, Aldana is averaging approximately 95 significant strikes per fight. She landed 119 in her triumph over Pudilova.
Raoni Barcelos ($9,600) vs. Carlos Huachin ($6,600)
Barcelos is a name to watch in the UFC’s stacked men’s bantamweight division. The 32-year-old has won his last six bouts, including stoppage wins inside the Octagon over Kurt Holobaugh and Chris Gutierrez. Originally scheduled to face Said Nurmagomedov, Barcelos instead will take on newcomer Carlos Huachin. The Peruvian is 10-3-1 who has won all of his fights by stoppage, albeit exclusively on the regional scene.
On paper, this is a mismatch. Barcelos relies primarily on his striking despite having great jiu-jitsu, but the main point is that he can win both on the feet and on the mat. Huachin has fought middling-to-low level opposition throughout his career, and there’s nothing to suggest he can pull off the upset. Barcelos should win convincingly and I doubt he’ll require the judges’ scorecards.
Number of Note: 3. Only three of Huachin’s 10 wins have come against opponents with a winning record.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mookiealexander) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.