Saturday morning, the UFC will host its first fight card in nearly a month, and despite the modest appearance of the bout sheet, there are some interesting matchups worth watching. The main event is a clash of heavyweight titans featuring the tallest man on the roster, Stefan Struve, taking on the Russian machine that once defeated Rocky Balboa, Alexander “Drago” Volkov.
Of particular interest is Siyar Bahadurzada’s return to action, as well as Marion Reneau’s, but one of the contests that really has my attention is Francimar Barroso vs. Aleksander Rakic, not because Barroso is particularly interesting, but because he seems to have become the litmus test by which rising prospects are measured. The rest of the card isn’t exactly a stellar offering, but it’s more than serviceable after a long drought.
As always, I have selected four fighters that I feel have a good shot at upsetting the favorites. These four underdogs might just provide a points windfall for your DraftKings teams. Let’s get started:
Andrew Holbrook $8,800 / Thibault Gouti $7,400
Holbrook is a battle-tested grappler who’s got nine submission wins under his belt, most of which come within the first round. He works a good takedown to set up his sub attempts, but his Achilles’ heel happens to be a very soft chin.
Gouti isn’t as accomplished on the ground as his opponent, but he does have a crisp jab and more than enough power to leave Holbrook lying prone on the canvas. If he can keep the fight standing, he wins this.
Thibault Gouti via (T)KO
Zabit Magomedsheripov $9,300 / Mike Santiago $6,900
Zabit is a legit prospect that fights out of the same camp as Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza under the excellent tutelage of Mark Henry. He’s a massive featherweight at 6’2” and comes into this contest on an eight-fight win streak, seven of those wins coming inside the distance.
Santiago was recently featured on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he scored a savage knockout and an UFC contract. He’s a journeyman with a lot of experience and plenty of grit. It’s a long shot, but one that will pay dividends if he pulls off the upset.
Mike Santiago via (T)KO
Aleksander Rakic $8,500 / Francimar Barroso $7,700
The Austrian Rakic has an excellent Muay Thai striking base with plenty of power and capable wrestling. He’s fast and instinctive and hyper-aggressive. That aggression against a slow, methodical grinder like Barroso could spell disaster by way of a slow, steady smothering by the Brazilian.
Barroso has the uncanny ability to make any fight seem like it’s taking place under water, much to the chagrin of action-hungry fans. Once he’s comfortably within range, he drags his opponent to the ground and stays very heavy — think of a lead blanket — from top position. This is a tall order for Francimar, but it’s one he has a very good chance of handling.
Francimar Barroso via DEC
Leon Edwards $9,000 / Bryan Barberena $7,200
Great Britain’s Leon Edwards is a flashy striker with plenty of power and speed. He’s explosive and dynamic and not afraid to stand in the pocket and brawl. He’s on a three-fight win streak heading into this fight, but still beatable, especially on the ground where Barberena shines.
Bryan Barberena is durable and gritty on the feet, but his grappling and wrestling are where his success is firmly rooted. Perennially underrated, he’s played spoiler to the favorite on more than one occasion. As a matter of fact, when I think of an underdog I’d consistently choose, Barberena is the first name that comes to mind.
Bryan Barberena via SUB
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.