We are back for another exciting weekend of combat sports for UFC 42 in Las Vegas. Following an exciting PPV like last week is always tough, but we do have a few fun matchups this week.
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 Saturday.
Jung is coming off a decision victory over William Knight his last time out in April. He has not tasted defeat over his last 14 fights with the only blemish being a draw against Sam Alvey in October of last year. Jung is a legitimate knockout threat while the fight plays out on the feet as 10 of his 14 career wins have come by knockout and he has earned a knockdown in two of his last three fights. In his last fight, he showcased some wrestling skills as he took Knight down eight times on his way to victory.
The wrestling aspect should be key in this matchup as Nzechukwu notoriously struggles as a defensive grappler. He is coming off a third-round knockout victory over Danilo Marques in June.
Despite having a five-inch reach advantage, I do not see Nzechukwu winning the majority of striking exchanges as I expect Jung to close distance and land the more powerful shots. That, along with Jung’s ability to mix in the takedowns in this matchup make me favor him significantly as the better minute winner. Jung by decision is the official pick.
Diakiese is coming off a decision loss to Rafael Fiziev his last time out in July, which snapped a two-fight win streak for him. He is a dynamic striker although he does not throw enough volume at times which is concerning. However, it is his ability to mix in the takedowns which has me favoring him in this matchup.
Alves is coming off a decision loss to Damir Ismagulov in his UFC debut in May. Alves is a very powerful striker and opportunistic submission grappler but is more of a frontrunner and tends to fade away outside of the first round. Additionally, he will give up the takedowns willingly to chase a guillotine or play off his back and outside of finding a finish he is likely to be losing minutes.
Diakiese has landed a combined 13 takedowns over his last three decision victories, and I fully expect him to implement a wrestling gameplan here. Diakiese by decision is the official pick and this is a solid fight to target on DraftKings as Diakiese should land multiple takedowns and Alves is likely to finish early if he can pull off the upset.
Casey is coming off a split-decision loss to JJ Aldrich in March and is now on a two-fight losing streak. Casey has always been a fighter that is tough to trust. She has good technical boxing, but her defense is not great, and she has historically been one of the worst fighters in the UFC at defending takedowns. She is too willing to give up takedowns and chase low percentage submissions that cause her to wind up spending extended periods of time on her back and losing rounds.
Jojua is coming off a first-round TKO doctor stoppage against Miranda Maverick last October. She is primarily a grappler and armbar specialist but her striking has looked improved of late.
Casey will likely have her covered on the feet and is the more credentialed grappler as well, but Jojua should have a power advantage and Casey’s poor defense and lack of initiative tend to make every round look competitive. This fight likely has split-decision written all over it unless we see a meme submission on either side. Casey by split decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target on this slate.
Woodson got back in the win column in his last fight, which resulted in a split-decision victory over Youssef Zalal in June. Woodson is a technical striker with sharp boxing and will have a significant striking advantage over Collin Anglin in this matchup. Woodson has fast hands and throws a ton of volume while making it hard for his opponents to land anything significant in return. The way to beat Woodson is to wrestle him and expose his defensive grappling, which is a clear weakness in his game.
In theory, Anglin could potentially do that, but this is a massive step up in competition for him as he previously fought low-level regional talent before getting melted by Melsik Baghdasaryan in his last in July.
I think the most likely outcome is that Woodson boxes up Anglin for 15 minutes and wins a clear decision. However, I am still treating Anglin as a live underdog simply because Woodson’s ground game is a major concern and Anglin should come in here and try to wrestle him. Woodson by decision is the official pick but I will have more exposure to the underdog on DraftKings.
Baeza is fresh off his first professional loss as he dropped a decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio in June. He is 10-1 professionally with seven of his 10 wins coming by knockout. He is an exciting striker with nasty leg kicks and powerful counters. The biggest issue with Baeza is he does not move his head whatsoever and he will eat shots clean while fighting in the pocket. With that type of fighting style, it is only a matter of time until someone makes you pay.
Williams is coming off a decision victory over Matthew Semelsberger his last time out in June. Williams is known for his knockout power as well as six of his 12 career wins have come by knockout and five of which came inside the first round.
Outside of punching power, there is not much to Williams’ game and Baeza should have him covered wherever the fight goes. But due to the power on both sides and the questionable fight IQ from Baeza, I would not be surprised to see this turn into a firefight where either guy can get knocked out. Baeza by knockout is the official pick but I will have exposure to both sides with a small to moderate lean on Baeza.
Calvillo is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Jessica Andrade last September. She is currently on a two-fight losing streak and has been somewhat exposed of late. What I mean by that is when she is unable to implement her wrestling or uninterested in wrestling then she typically finds herself in very competitive striking exchanges. She has a good jab and solid footwork but that is basically it and she does not pack a ton of power in her punches either.
Lee is coming off a dominant performance over Antonina Shevchenko her last time out in May that resulted in a second-round submission victory. Lee has always been someone that I rate higher than the market and this should be a winnable matchup for her against Calvillo. Lee is a good boxer as well with a strong jab and should have the power advantage despite her poor defense. She is also going to have a five-inch reach advantage and is going to have a physicality advantage as well.
I think Lee is more likely to land takedowns and should have multiple advantages even in a competitive matchup like this. Lee by decision is the official pick.
Moises is coming off a main event fourth-round submission loss to Islam Makhachev in July that snapped a three-fight losing streak. He is primarily known for his grappling credentials, but his striking has looked much better since entering the UFC in 2018. He is very well-rounded and historically durable which makes him competitive in almost any matchup. The only issue I have with Moises is that he is too timid at times with his striking, so he does not throw enough volume and rarely wrestles for someone with a clear grappling edge in most matchups.
Alvarez is coming off a first-round submission last October and is now on a three-fight win streak. Alvarez is a grappler through and through as 16 of his 18 wins have come by submission including his last two fights. He is going to be the much bigger fighter with a seven-inch reach advantage although his striking is one-dimensional. Moises should be the more well-rounded fighter and better round winner by a clear margin.
Alvarez’ win condition is a submission against a black belt who has only been submitted by the best grappler at 155 pounds or landing a power shot against a guy that has never been knocked out. It makes it tough for us to expect him to win if you catch my drift. Moises by decision is the official pick but there are better fights to target this week.
Yadong is coming off a split-decision victory over Casey Kenney in August. He trains out of Team Alpha Male and is primarily a striker with explosive power and fast hands. His biggest weakness has always been his inability to stuff takedowns although he is usually good at working back to his feet after being taken down. He should not have to worry about takedowns much in this matchup against Arce.
Arce is coming off a second-round knockout over Andre Ewell in July. Arce comes from a strong striking background and should be the better technical boxer in this matchup. Neither fighter looks to land takedowns and I am expecting a competitive striking match.
I do not have a strong read as I feel the margins are thin here, but I slightly lean towards Arce as the cleaner striker with better defense. Arce by decision is the official pick.
Spencer is coming off a split-decision loss to Norma Dumont in May. I believe Spencer has been overrated since coming over to the UFC. She has a background in taekwondo and holds a black belt in BJJ. However, her leg kicking approach is not great for winning rounds outside of landing something heavy as she typically eats a lot of shots in return. Additionally, for being a good grappler, her wrestling is not good at all. In fact, she has one of the worst takedown rates in the UFC at just 10%.
Letson is making her UFC debut after a three-year layoff following her appearance on The Ultimate Fighter back in 2018, which she lost to Macy Chiasson. Letson is a southpaw striker with decent kicks and power, and three of her five career wins have come by knockout. She also holds a purple belt in BJJ but will be at a grappling disadvantage if this fight hits the mat and her best chance is to keep the fight standing as Spencer is not overwhelming anyone on the feet.
There are a ton of questions on the Letson side, but I would much rather have exposure to the underdog on DraftKings as she is very cheap and Spencer cannot pay off her price tag without a first round finish. Spencer by decision is the official pick but I consider Letson a live underdog in what should be a close fight.
Rothwell is coming off a second-round submission over Chris Barnett his last time out in May. Despite winning three of his last four fights, this version of Rothwell is not someone that I rate considerable high in terms of the heavyweight division. He has an awkward striking style and is generally not a good minute winner because he does not land a ton of volume and he tends to slow down as the fight goes on.
De Lima is coming off a dominant decision victory over Maurice Greene where he controlled him for nearly every second of the fight. De Lima is another fighter with cardio concerns and Rothwell should have the better gas tank if the fight last 15 minutes. But it is De Lima who should have the advantage striking especially early in the fight as he lands the more powerful shots and has the ability to hurt Rothwell with something as well.
De Lima has upside to finish early, but he is a risky play because if the finish does not materialize then he will likely gas out and Rothwell can edge the last two rounds. De Lima by knockout is the official pick and he is my preferred play on DraftKings as a Rothwell victory likely does not score well.
Holloway is coming off an exciting main event victory over Calvin Kattar where he landed an absurd 445 strikes over five rounds.
He is without question one of the greatest fighters the UFC has ever seen. He has three losses over his last 18 fights, and they came against current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (twice) and current lightweight champion Dustin Poirier. I think he shut down all questions on who the best boxer in the UFC is in his last fight against Kattar and he should have a striking advantage in this matchup against Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is coming off a two-year layoff after winning a decision over Jeremy Stephens in October of 2019. He is an exciting striker in his own right with flashy leg kicks and strong technique. But when it comes to this matchup, there are levels to this game.
Holloway will have the volume, cardio and durability advantage along with being the better pure striker as well. Holloway by decision is the official pick and he is a strong target on DraftKings this week.
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.