The UFC event this week includes a bout to unify the Heavyweight division. Cain Velasquez faces Fabricio Verdum in a unification bout and sees Velasquez return from a long injury layoff to face the man who won the interim title in his absence. This card has some other intriguing matchups on it, although to be honest most of them pale in comparison to the main event. From a fantasy perspective picking will be tough as there aren’t a huge amount of fights to target, but many live underdogs. I think you’ll see some surprises on this card and some low owned fantasy plays that pay off big time.
In my analysis I’ve looked at the main event, some decent plays amoung the favorites and a couple underdogs you can use to fill out your fantasy rosters. This fight card is wide open and it’s going to be hard to predict where the quick finishes and big fantasy points will come from. I’d recommend taking some chances on lower owned fighters this week for fantasy purposes as there are some underdogs who have a chance to come through with big wins.
Cain Velasquez (-500) v Fabricio Werdum (+420)
DraftKings: 11900 v 7500
Kountermove: 5800 v 4400
While Velasquez is a huge favourite and fighting in his home country this fight still carries plenty of intrigue. Verdum is a great submission artist and has improved his stand up over the course of his career. He’s also improved his wrestling and takedown defense which will be a huge factor for him in this fight. His last couple fights have shown him pull off some amazing finishes/victories and he’s well deserving of the interim title belt. However, there’s zero doubt that Velasquez should be a favourite here. Even with his injury layoff Cain is simply the best heavyweight in the UFC. He puts so much pressure on his opponents with his great takedowns, his speed in the pocket and cardio that he’s almost impossible to stop. Still, even though I think Velasquez deserves to be a huge favourite I can’t help but think Werdum might make a better fantasy play. He’s vastly underrated by most fans, is coming into this event in arguably the best form he’s ever shown, and has nothing to lose. If Cain were not coming off a long layoff and been riddled with injuries I would probably have said Werdum has no shot. But I do think he has a shot, and I think he could end up being a huge fantasy play. Werdum will be extremely low owned for fantasy and a perfect gpp play on both Kountermove and DraftKings. I’d use him as a gpp play and hope to reap some serious benefits.
Odds to win: -1030
From a betting perspective this is one of the biggest lines I have ever seen on a fight card. Cejudo enters this fight as a -1030 favourite and quite honestly I think he probably deserves it. Cejudo is a former Olympic gold medallist who has shown some unreal athleticism and surprisingly good striking in his first two UFC bouts. He’s going up against a decent UFC fighter in Camus but not someone who I expect will be able to match his athleticism. Even though Cejudo’s last two fights have gone to a decision I think given the fact that he’s fighting in Mexico, and that a win could mean a title shot in the near future, means he will really be looking to put on a show and stop this fight early. I think he finishes this fight quick and will be big for fantasy.
Odds to win: -400
Case is the favourite in what should be a very entertaining fight this weekend with Frank Trevino. Both fighters are good strikers and I expect most of this fight will occur on the feet. But I think Case holds an advantage almost everywhere. He’s bigger, more well-rounded in his striking and a much better grappler/wrestler. I think there’s a good chance Case can land you a finish in this fight and he’s one of the favourites I’ll be targeting this weekend.
Odds to win: -150
Montano is another Mexican fighter who will be fighting in front of his home crowd. However, regardless of where this fight was taking place I think I’d still favour Montano. Montano is a straight ahead striker who likes to put a lot of pressure on his opponent and essentially turn fights into brawls. Pendred is a wrestler/grappler whose last few fights have been ugly, and even though he’s won three in a row he wasn’t deserving of a win in at least one of those fights. I don’t think Pendred is going to be able to slow Montano down and I think he’s going to be exposed by Montano’s aggression. Vegas has this as the most unlikely fight on the card to reach the judges, and that tells me they expect a Montano win by stoppage of KO, so do I.
Odds to win: +150
Alvarez is going to be involved in a very highly and hotly contested striking battle with Gilbert Melendez. I think this is probably going to be the fight of the night and most people are already proclaiming it has fight of the year potential. Both fighters have excellent stand up games with Alvarez being the better boxer and Melendez just being a more dynamic striker. I think it’s probably smart to target both sides of this fight because these fighters are very evenly matched. However, I think the odds are a little big on Melendez and I really like the fantasy pricing discount you get with Alvarez (especially on DraftKings). There will be a lot of strikes thrown in this bout which means one and possibly both men will end up with large fantasy scores. I like Alvarez as a nice cheap option to fill out your teams with.
Odds to win: +187
Rodriguez is a really nice looking young fighter who recently won his season of TUF. He’s facing a very good competitor this weekend on Rosa who deserves to be the favourite in this matchup. However, I don’t think Rodriguez is a huge underdog in this fight, although a lot depends on how much he’s developed since his last bout. I am more betting on potential here, but I think it’s possibly we see a big jump from Rodriguez in this fight. He’ll be fighting in his home country which will hopefully give him a boost as well. I like him as a cheap gpp only option this week and someone you can use to fill out your fantasy rosters.