DraftKings’ debut week in MMA was a momentous occasion for daily fantasy sports. Last time out, I managed to go 7-1 in my UFC 182 breakdown. I don’t know if I’ll get that lucky again, but I’m going to try.
This weekend, Ultimate Fight Night 59 is coming to Boston! Of course, when the UFC comes to Boston, it means a whole bunch of Irish fighters on the card. Some of these guys aren’t as well-known as the UFC’s last offering, so I’ll do my best to give you a breakdown of their styles. As always, hit me on Twitter @tchanpoker whether you love or hate the picks!
Conor McGregor ($12700) vs Dennis Siver ($7500)
The entire fight card’s raison d’etre is Conor McGregor. This fight was designed to give him an easy win, to set up a big-money title shot against 145-pound champion José Aldo. Meanwhile, Dennis Siver has no legitimate tools to beat him. The powerfully-built German is going to have tremendous difficulty finding the fleet-footed Irishman. Siver can’t outstrike McGregor at range and he might be able to take him down but almost certainly can’t hold him there. Expect this one to end early.
Prediction: Conor McGregor by KO/TKO
Donald Cerrone ($9500) vs Benson Henderson ($10400)
No, that’s not a mistake. Donald Cerrone is fighting again, for the second time in 15 days. Stepping in for an injured Eddie Alvarez, it’s hard to tell whether Cerrone is admirable or insane. Coming off a dominant win over Myles Jury, “Cowboy” finds himself this time against a man who has defeated him twice in Ben “Smooth” Henderson. But while Henderson has been inconsistent in recent outings, “Cowboy” has been on a tear, and that’s why these salaries are so close. Either way, expect this fight to go all three rounds – both men are tremendously tough to finish.
Prediction: Ben Henderson by decision
Louis Taylor ($7900) vs Uriah Hall ($12000)
Another injury replacement (for Costa Philippou), Louis Taylor steps off the Midwestern local circuit into the big show to take on Uriah Hall, best known for one of the most devastating wheel kick knockouts in television history. After an 0-2 start to his UFC career, Hall has started to put it together and show some of the killer instinct that made him a hot prospect. This is a bad matchup for Taylor. He has been stopped by strikes three times in his career, and is facing a man with superior weaponry.
Prediction: Uriah Hall by KO/TKO
Gleison Tibau ($10300) vs Norman Parke ($9700)
Remarkably, UFN59 will mark the 22nd time that Gleison Tibau has stepped inside the Octagon, a lightweight division record. The workmanlike Tibau is 13-8. He can usually be expected to go the distance, having done so in 7 of his last 9 fights. Parke has a tremendous 20-2 record with 16 stoppage wins to his credit, but many of those wins were against overmatched opposition in Ireland. Both men prefer the ground game, with Parke being a judo-based fighter and Tibau a BJJ stylist who has added impressive wrestling to his game over the years. The difference may be who is sharper on the feet. I expect Parke, buoyed by the Boston crowd, to edge out the decision.
Prediction: Norman Parke by decision
Cathal Pendred ($9300) vs Sean Spencer ($10700)
Cathal Pendred is coming off of a very close split decision win over Gasan Umalatov. Sean Spencer meanwhile, pulled out a clear decision over Paulo Thiago, who prior to that, lost to Umalatov. While this fight likely goes to decision, I feel Pendred is the more dynamic finisher here and the man who is capable of sustaining a somewhat higher work rate.
Prediction: Cathal Pendred by decision
John Howard ($9400) vs Lorenz Larkin ($10600)
Dropping down from 185 pounds, Lorenz Larkin brings a very large frame to the welterweight division, provided he can make the weight healthily. It’s a do-or-die move for Larkin, who has dropped three straight and is on the verge of getting his UFC walking papers. He’ll be locking up with another of the most powerful men at 170 pounds though, in Boston native John “Doomsday” Howard. Howard himself has last two straight and hopes to right the ship fighting at home.
Prediction: Lorenz Larkin by decision
Chris Wade ($11800) vs Lipeng Zhang ($8000)
Chris Wade is a hot 8-1 prospect fighting out of Long Island MMA. He’s been given a relatively easy test here against the 9-7-1 Lipeng Zhang, who has never beaten a UFC-caliber notable fighter. From a fantasy perspective, I like that Wade is willing to give up position to attack submissions, and he should reward those who can afford his hefty price tag.
Prediction: Chris Wade by submission
Shane Howell ($8600) vs Patrick Holohan ($11400)
This looks like another case where the Irish fighter is being set up to win. Eight of Patty Holohan’s wins have come via submission, and Shane Howell has been felled by submission in five of his eight losses. Tall and rangy for his weight class, Holohan also possesses a creative striking game with a lot of kicks and awkward punches from distance and trip takedowns inside the clinch. Meanwhile, in Howell’s debut against Ray Borg, he mostly showed that lacked the speed of a UFC-caliber 125-pound fighter.
Prediction: Patrick Holohan by submission
Frankie Perez ($9100) vs Johnny Case ($10900)
Clearly the second best-known “Frankie” in Ricardo Almeida’s stable, Frankie Perez is a short-notice replacement here against Johnny Case. Case’s original opponent fell out just prior to Christmas, so it’s unclear how prepared Perez is to make his UFC debut. However if he can drag his opponent to the ground, Perez is a legitimate threat to finish by submission or strikes. Case, however, has very impressive power for his frame and will likely use his standup game to dictate the pace of the fight.
Prediction: Johnny Case by decision
Sean Soriano ($9400) vs Charles Rosa ($10500)
Both men are coming off losses. In the case of Charles Rosa, his last defeat was a decision loss to the headliner, Dennis Siver. The “Boston Strangler” favors kicks on the feet and is also willing to aggressively dive for submissions. Meanwhile, Soriano likes to walk forward on the feet and fight at close range. Thus, Soriano may be the safer pick of the two, whereas you might choose Rosa if you want to get aggressive.
Prediction: Sean Soriano by decision
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