We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC Vegas 32 in Las Vegas. This is legitimately one of the most excited that I have been for a non-PPV fight card. We have multiple matchups that should be a ton of fun and get to cap the night off with Cory Sandhagen versus TJ Dillashaw in what should be an absolute banger.
As always, I give my analysis and DraftKings strategy based on how I see each fight matchup playing out. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or in the MMA DFS discord with any questions that you have leading up until fight night on Saturday.
Hannah Goldy vs. Diana Belbita
Goldy, -195; Belbita, +160
Hannah Goldy is coming off a decision loss to Miranda Granger in her UFC debut in August of 2019. She is a former Dana White’s Contender Series winner and 5-1 professionally with four of her wins coming by decision. She is primarily a striker, and she is a physical specimen, as there are very few women in this division that can out muscle her. Despite being absolutely shredded, the power has not really translated outside of winning some clinch battles. She is more of a point fighter who is happy to circle around the outside and land leg kicks and swing hooks as her opponents close distance. She is still green with just six professional fights and coming off a two-year layoff, I expect to see some improvements out of her. Her opponent, Diana Belbita, is coming off a first-round submission loss to Liana Jojua in July of last year. Belbita is 0-2 in the UFC and is likely fighting for her job in this spot. She is not great in any area but will throw volume on the feet and look to mix in the wrestling, where she should have an advantage against Goldy if she can take her down. Additionally, she is going to be much bigger with a seven-inch reach advantage as well. I am not convinced that she knows how to use that reach advantage, but that is a noticeable difference. She will need to land takedowns to win minutes in this fight, and I would not be surprised if she was able to. This is very low level in terms of WMMA, but I would consider Belbita a live underdog with wrestling upside in a victory. More than likely, Goldy keeps the fight standing and wins a decision. Goldy by decision is the official pick, but I have a lot more interest in Belbita on DraftKings, as I would have no Goldy at all.
Sijara Eubanks vs. Elise Reed
Eubanks, -310; Reed, +255
Sijara Eubanks is coming off a decision loss to Pannie Kianzad in December and is now on a two-fight losing streak. She is a decent striker who will throw good volume and mix in her wrestling, as she averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes. On the mat, she has good top control and holds a black belt in BJJ. To beat Eubanks, you need to be physical enough to win the clinch battles and avoid takedowns. Additionally, you need to be able to outwork her on the feet or remain competitive until she fades later in the fight. That is all easier said than done, as she has landed at least one takedown in all but one of her UFC fights and has only been outlanded on the feet by Kianzad. Her opponent, Elise Reed, is just 4-0 professionally and making her UFC debut. She is primarily a striker with not many tools outside of a strong one-two combination from what I have seen on her regional tape. She did show good takedown defense against multiple opponents, but the level of competition is drastically worse than Eubanks. Lastly, she has repeatedly put herself in bad positions during scrambles, which gives me concern going up against a black belt like Eubanks. This is Eubanks fight to lose, but I think she gets the job done in this matchup. Eubanks by decision is the official pick, but she likely could submit Reed if she actually went for it.
Julio Arce vs. Andre Ewell
Arce, -200; Ewell, +170
Julio Arce is coming off nearly a two-year layoff after dropping a split decision to Hakeem Dawodu in November of 2019. He is a former Golden Gloves winner in boxing and trains out of Tiger Schulmann's in New York. He is a good kickboxer with sound striking defense and strong takedown defense. The concern with Arce is the long layoff along with his lack of initiative to get the fight to the ground, even in matchups where he has a distinct advantage there. His opponent, Andre Ewell, is coming off a decision loss to Chris Gutierrez in February. Ewell has never been someone who I am confident backing, as he is a one-dimensional striker with a clear leak in his ground game. While the fight plays out on the feet, Ewell can have some success, as he has a strong jab and nice one-two combination. However, that is basically all Ewell has, and Arce is much better defensively along with having a more diverse attack. Lastly, if Arce decides to grapple, then he likely looks like a sizable favorite in this matchup. Arce by decision is the official pick, but this fight is mostly a fade for me, as I am expecting it to be mostly striking scoring along with a decision, and we can do better with 13 fights on the card.
Adrian Yanez vs. Randy Costa
Yanez, -210; Costa, +175
Adrian Yanez is coming off a third-round knockout victory over Gustavo Lopez his last time out in March. He is a former Dana White’s Contender Series winner currently on a six-fight win streak and 2-0 in the UFC. He is an electric counter striker with sharp hands and legitimate knockout power. Eight of his 13 career wins have come by knockout and four of those came inside the first round. He also holds a black belt in BJJ, although we have yet to see much of his grappling since signing with the UFC. His opponent, Randy Costa, is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Journey Newsome last September. He is a knockout artist who is going to move forward and swing with all that he has until he knocks his opponent out or gasses out trying. He is 6-1 professionally with all six wins coming by first-round knockout. The one time he made it to the second round, he gassed out and was submitted by Brandon Davis in the second round in his UFC debut. While the fight plays out on the feet, I expect both guys to have success and land some big shots. Costa will be the aggressor moving forward and landing some big shots. However, Yanez is a fast counter striker and Costa is very hittable, which makes for a fun fight for as long as it lasts. Yanez will have a big grappling edge if the fight hits the mat, although I would not expect it to. Additionally, I favor Yanez's durability along with being more responsible defensively and having better cardio as well. He will need to avoid getting knocked out early but outside of that, he wins this fight and likely gets a stoppage himself. Yanez by knockout is the official pick, and this is a great fight to target on DraftKings, as the winner should score well.
Ian Heinisch vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Heinisch, -150; Imavov, +130
Ian Heinisch is coming off a decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum where he was largely dominated in the wrestling department, as he was taken down six times and controlled for half of the fight. He has faced some stiff competition in the UFC but regardless, he has lost three of his last four fights with his lone win during that span being a first-round knockout over Gerald Meerschaert. Heinisch is a fighter who is decent in all areas but not great in any, which are never really fighters that I want to be backing in most matchups. He has decent striking with OK power but does not throw much volume and hardly wrestles as much as he should. His opponent, Nassourdine Imavov, is coming off a decision loss to Phil Hawes his last time out in February. He is not someone I am very high on either but could give Heinisch problems in this fight. For starters, he is going to be much bigger and will hold a three-inch reach advantage as well. Phil Hawes was able to control him with his wrestling, but Hawes comes from a high-level wrestling background and is a physical freak, so I am not convinced that Heinisch can replicate that same game plan or if he will even attempt to do so. While the fight plays out on the feet, I expect Imavov to have a striking advantage, and I trust him to be more active as well. This should be a very close fight, but I lean with the underdog in Imavov and think he has more upside for DraftKings as well, but there are much better fights to target this week.
Brendan Allen vs. Punahele Soriano
Allen, -110; Soriano, -110
This matchup is bittersweet for me, as I have been a huge fan of both guys coming off their Dana White Contender Series victories. Brendan Allen most recently fought at UFC 261 where he submitted Karl Roberson in the first round back in April. He is a dangerous submission grappler and holds a black belt in BJJ. His striking is improving by leaps and bounds since training at Sanford MMA, but it is still clear that he is more comfortable in the grappling realm. He averages just under two takedowns per 15 minutes, but all of his fights have hit the ground at some point, and he is good at winning in the scrambles and transitions on the mat. His opponent, Punahele Soriano, is coming off a first-round knockout victory over Dusko Todorovic in January. He is 8-0 professionally with five wins coming by knockout, all of which came inside the first round. He is a heavy-handed southpaw who will look to land the kill shot and has had success doing so against nearly every opponent that he is faced. Allen is the toughest test to date, but he is still hittable on the feet, which leaves an opening for Soriano to meet his win condition – an early knockout. This is an excellent fight to target on DraftKings, as either guy is capable of finishing the fight early. I have to favor Allen for the ability to get the fight to the ground and win the grappling exchanges. However, Soriano hits like a mack truck and does have some wrestling background, which could help keep the fight standing and turn this into a boxing match. If Allen keeps it standing, then he likely pays the price but if he gets the fight where it needs to be, then he likely finds a submission. Allen by submission is the official pick, but you should be hedging this fight, as the winner should score very well.
Jordan Williams vs. Mickey Gall
Williams, -175; Gall, +155
Jordan Williams is coming off a decision loss to Nassourdine Imavov in his UFC debut in October. He is a former Dana White’s Contender Series winner with a 9-4 professional record and seven wins coming by knockout. I am not that impressed with Williams personally, but he does have some power on the feet and is willing to go for it, which is something that you cannot say about all fighters. The main concern for me with Williams is that he will be cutting down to 170 lbs. for the first time. This is the right weight class for him but because he has diabetes, he typically is unable to cut weight and fights at 185 lbs. For a guy that already had cardio concerns, adding a weight cut could be problematic, so it is definitely worth it to keep an eye out at the weigh-ins on Friday. His opponent, Mickey Gall, is coming off a decision loss to Mike Perry his last time out in June of 2020. Gall is difficult to root for, as he notoriously has bad cardio and poor fight IQ. He is more of a grappler with five of his six career wins coming by submission. He will have a grappling edge in this fight, but he is not a great wrestler and typically tires himself out quicker by expending too much energy trying to force a takedown. If the fight hits the mat, he should have a sizable advantage there but outside of that, it is tough to see him win minutes in this fight. Both guys have bad cardio and there are red flags everywhere on both sides, which makes for a risky fight to target. All things considered, I favor Williams slightly, as he should have a striking advantage, a bit more cardio and durability. Williams by second-round knockout is the official pick, but I would get exposure to both sides and not go crazy with this fight, as it has a wide range of outcomes.
Miranda Maverick vs. Maycee Barber
Maverick, -150; Barber, +122
Miranda Maverick is coming off an impressive decision victory over Gillian Robertson in March. She is 9-2 professionally with five wins coming by submission. This is a really fun fight, as both prospects should have a bright future in the UFC regardless of who wins this matchup. Maverick is a Muay Thai striker with solid kicks and elbows and holds a brown belt in BJJ. She has looked good through her two UFC fights, but this is a very different and more difficult matchup against Barber, who is coming off a decision loss to Alexa Grasso in February, which was her first fight back since ACL surgery. Barber looked to be in much better shape and her cardio was great, as she even won the third round against Grasso. I cannot help but feel there is a lot of recency bias baked into this line, as Barber is more experienced, more physical and much more powerful. Maverick should look to take the fight to the ground, but she is not overly aggressive with her wrestling, and I doubt she will be able to outmuscle Barber, who is more physical and should win more of the clinch battles. Both fighters are hittable on the feet, but Barber was noticeably better defensively against Grasso, which is encouraging. I expect both fighters to have moments on the feet and the mat if it goes there, but I favor the more physical Barber, who is more proven at this stage and should hold multiple advantages in this fight. She gets back in the win column here. Barber by knockout is the official pick, but Maverick has shown she can take a punch, so I would not be shocked at a decision either. I do not expect a ton of grappling in this fight, which makes it have a lower floor, but it should be fought at a high pace, and Barber is always live for an early finish, so she is my preferred DraftKings target as well.
Darrick Minner vs. Darren Elkins
Minner, -160; Elkins, +140
Darrick Minner is coming off a dominant performance over Charles Rosa that resulted in a decision victory in February. He is now on a two-fight win streak after dropping his UFC debut to Grant Dawson. Minner is a fun fighter, as he is notoriously known for being ultra-aggressive with grappling in pursuit of an early finish. Historically speaking, when he cannot get that early submission, he gasses out and typically gets finished himself. However, his cardio looked improved against Rosa and there is no doubt the camp change to Glory MMA is a credit to that. But expecting him to outwrestle Darren Elkins for three rounds here is a bit crazy to me. Elkins is coming off a decision victory over Eduardo Garagorri in November, which snapped a four-fight losing skid. Elkins is a total punching bag on the feet, but that is not much of a concern against the style of Minner. He also comes from a division II college wrestling background and is going to be the bigger fighter as well. Lastly, Elkins has shown great submission defense throughout his career. He has only been submitted by current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and even endured some tough spots against Ryan Hall and others. I could see both guys scoring points with takedowns and grappling exchanges, but I feel Elkins is the better minute winner despite being washed up and a punching bag. Elkins by decision is the official pick, but this is a good fight to target either way, as the winner should score well with multiple takedowns and control time.
Kyler Phillips vs. Raulian Paiva
Phillips, -275; Paiva, +235
Kyler Phillips most recently fought Song Yadong in March and won a unanimous decision. He is 9-1 professionally and currently on a four-fight win streak. Phillips is a powerful striker with five wins by knockout but is also a black belt in BJJ. He averages nearly three takedowns per 15 minutes and has shown a willingness to get the fight to the mat where he is at his best. His opponent, Raulian Paiva, is moving up to 135 lbs., as he missed weight again at flyweight before beating Zhalgas Zhumagulov to a decision victory last July. Paiva is someone who I have been higher on than the market in the past, but this is a very difficult matchup for him. While I expect him to have some success in the striking, Phillips is more powerful, and I expect him to land takedowns, which is the main factor in this matchup. Paiva has shown good first-level takedown defense at flyweight but still was taken down twice in his last fight and multiple times against Kai Kara-France and Rogerio Bontorin. Paiva is tempting as an underdog, as he typically makes fights competitive, but I see Phillips getting him down and dominating on the mat. Phillips by knockout is the official pick and he is a high upside play on DraftKings.
Aspen Ladd vs. Macy Chiasson
Ladd, -175; Chiasson, +155
Aspen Ladd has not fought since December of 2019 when she knocked out Yana Kunitskaya in the third round. She is 9-1 professionally with her only career loss coming by knockout against Germaine De Randamie after a brutal weight cut. She was suspended by the state of California to fight at this division, but the restriction was later lifted that year. Keep an eye on weigh-ins this week, but I would expect she has it more under control after taking some time to focus on it with the long layoff. In terms of her skill set, she is a difficult matchup for any opponent, as she has cardio for days and will throw in volume for as long as the fight lasts. She will also look to mix in some takedowns, as she averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has some aggressive ground and pound to go with it. Her opponent, Macy Chiasson, is coming off a unanimous decision over Marion Reneau in March and is currently on a two-fight win streak. I consider her the lesser version of Ladd, as she tries to implement a similar game plan but is less successful at executing it. She is, however, going to be much taller and longer with a six-inch reach advantage in this matchup. Her fighting style does not really use that length though, as she is typically more of a hold you in the clinch and lean you up against the cage type of fighter. It is difficult to see how she wins minutes here unless she is able to clinch battle Ladd for the majority of rounds, but I do not see it happening. Despite being shorter, Ladd is strong for the division and should be able to work her way out of those clinch positions and even get the better of them at times. I favor her striking at range and think she is more likely to land takedowns as well. Ladd by decision is the official pick, but there are better fights to target on this slate.
Cory Sandhagen vs. TJ Dillashaw
Sandhagen, -190; Dillashaw, +165
Cory Sandhagen is coming off what should be the knockout of the year in February when he dropped Frankie Edgar in the first round with a vicious flying knee. He has always been one of my favorite fighters since coming into the UFC but bias aside, he is legitimately the best striker in the bantamweight division for my money. He is tall and long for the division and unlike some fighters, he uses his length very well and is excellent at managing distance. He keeps a wild pace throughout his fights and has excellent cardio, landing just under seven significant strikes per minute. The biggest leak in Sandhagen’s game and really the only leak is that he cannot defend takedowns and regularly puts himself in bad positions on the mat. He holds a brown belt in BJJ and his submission game is good, but it is just the fact that you cannot put yourself in bad positions against legitimately good grapplers, and he paid that price against Aljamain Sterling, that being his only loss in the UFC. His opponent, TJ Dillashaw, is coming off a two-year USADA suspension after testing positive for steroids. He last fought in January of 2019 when he was knocked out in the first round by Henry Cejudo and relinquished the bantamweight title. Now at 35 years old and coming off a two-and-a-half-year layoff, there are many concerns that I have with Dillashaw, as it is tough to know exactly what to expect. When in his prime, he was simply one of the best in the division and some called him the best ever after defeating Cody Garbrandt for the second time in 2018. He has good striking with legitimate knockout power and good wrestling as well despite not showing it over his last few fights. He will have a clear wrestling advantage in this matchup, but that is really the only advantage that he will have. Sandhagen likely pieces him up on the feet and will have a significant durability advantage as well. Dillashaw has been knocked out twice in his career but regularly gets wobbled, which happened multiple times in both of the Garbrandt fights as well. He also is known for being a showman who will taunt and dance around the octagon with his hands down and if he does that against someone like Sandhagen, then he likely pays the price. Sandhagen simply has too many weapons while the fight plays out on the feet. It is possible Dillashaw comes in with a wrestle-heavy game plan and makes things interesting but with the striking disadvantage along with the EPO hangover and durability concern, I would be surprised. Sandhagen by knockout is the official pick and this should be a banger for as long as it lasts.
Jon Kelly is a savvy daily fantasy sports player with years of experience across all major sports. He has over a dozen GPP wins across multiple sports and is ranked in the top 100 in MMA on RG rankings. He is an MMA contributor to FadeTheNoise and owner of FightNumbers.com where he provides free resources for MMA DFS players and sports bettors.