What’s up Scout Army! You ready to get down on some fights?! Man… what a weekend of sports we have on deck! Things definitely get cookin’ Friday night (yes Friday, not Saturday…..Friday) with the UFC 207 PPV coming from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The UFC always delivers with its end of year card, and we have another banger in store. The main card will be on pay-per-view, and the prelims on FS1 and Fight Pass. Two titles matches are on the card, headlined by women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (13-4, 6-1 UFC) taking on the returning Ronda Rousey (12-1, 6-1 UFC) (you may or may not have heard of her before). The co-main event features the men’s 135 champ Dominick Cruz (22-1, 5-0 UFC) taking on the unbeaten challenger Cody Garbrandt (10-0, 5-0 UFC). Eight other scraps fill the card with all fighters looking to make a statement of their own as we head into the new year. Keep reading and we will break em’ all down.
Some quick notes about the main card.
Nunes vs Rousey:
- Nunes is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, three of which via stoppage.
- Nunes has five first round finishes which has her second most overall in combined UFC/Strikeforce divisional history, behind only Rousey (7).
- Five of Nunes’ six UFC victories are via first-round stoppage.
- Rousey is making her return after 13 months away from the octagon.
- Rousey has seven arm bar wins and is tied with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the most in UFC/Strikeforce/Pride/WEC combined history.
- Rousey is the only fighter in history to earn an Olympic medal and a UFC championship.
- Rousey has a 14-second submission win over Cat Zingano, and a 16-second knockout of Alexis Davis.
Cruz vs Garbrandt:
- Cruz is riding a career-high 13-fight winning streak, and hasn’t lost in over ten years.
- Cruz is not known for finishes. 14 of his 22 career wins have gone the distance.
- Cruz owns the record for the most total strikes in a UFC/WEC bantamweight contest, when he landed 243 total strikes against Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53.
- Cruz defends 72.1 percent of opponent significant strike attempts, the highest rate among all active fighters.
- Garbrandt has a four-fight winning streak, which is the second active longest streak behind only Cruz.
- The opposite of Cruz, Garbrandt is known for finishes. He’s earned nine of his 10 victories via knockout.
Dillashaw vs Lineker:
- Dillashaw has nine wins in UFC bantamweight competition, second most behind Faber (10).
- Dillashaw is tied (Faber) for most stoppages in bantamweight history with six.
- Dillashaw is the only fighter to land 100 significant strikes or more in five consecutive fights.
- Lineker is 10-1 in his last 11 UFC appearances.
- Lineker has scored three knockdowns in two different fights. Only two others have done that as well and they are Anderson Silva and Conor McGregor.
- Lineker has missed weight on five occasions, yet made it for this fight.
Kim vs Saffiedine:
- Kim’s last four victories have come via stoppage.
- Saffiedine was the final welterweight champ over at Strikeforce before before joining the UFC.
Smolka vs Borg:
- Smolka is coming off a shocking loss to big underdog Brandon Moreno. Before that he was 11-1, but many saw him as 12-0, due to a controversial split decision loss to Chris Cariaso which many believed he won.
- Smolka has 15 submission attempts in the flyweight division, which are most in divisional history.
- Of Borg’s nine wins, six are via submission. He holds the fastest submission stoppage in division history.
- Borg missed weight for this fight by 3.5 lbs, and will be giving up 30% of his purse to Smolka.
Before we get started with breakdowns, as always, here’s my tips to consider as you build your lineup.
As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC 207. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are at in MMA DFS. Take a quick glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual match-ups here in just a few.
Now, two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns in DFS scoring. They get off on their opponents, watch your points rack up quick. Here’s my Offensive Output Meter for UFC 207. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Friday night.
Match-up time. Let’s roll.
Rousey ($8400) vs. Nunes ($8000)
Tricky one here and I love it. Rousey has been away for about 13 months since being knocked out cold by former champ Holly Holm. She thought she’d never lose. Many thought she’d never lose. She had a 14 second submission win over Cat Zingano, who TKO’d Nunes herself. She had a 16 second KO win over Alexis Davis, who also TKO’d Nunes herself. Yes, Rousey still has Edmond Tarverdyan in her corner, which audio (and more) has proven him as one of, if not the worst coaches ever. But he was there before her loss as well. Rousey is a 4th degree black belt in Judo, and as you know won Bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games. If she gets back to “mixed martial arts” and doesn’t just stand and trade with the uber-aggressive striker in Nunes, she should be able to put her away on the mat. Rousey has shown us that she likes to test herself and beat her opponents by their biggest strength. She can’t do that here. Nunes has the striking ability to put Rousey away again, and quick. She has a handful of first round stoppages, but has shown us either a gas tank like a weed eater, or some adrenaline dump issues. Nunes is a power striker, but offensive in that matter. Here’s what I mean. Holm confused Rousey with ALL counterstriking, and eventually took her out of her game. In all other Rousey fights we’ve seen the offensive opponents that try and control the fight against Rousey, and that’s where she takes over, if she hasn’t gone all Nintendo Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, or Ric Flair figure four stylin’ n profilin’ on her opponent already. Remember, Nunes is an in your face offensive fighter. Whether middle of the octagon or pinned against the cage, usually a judo throw is on deck and Rousey is in control in a matter of seconds. When that happens (see the top of my offensive output meter) The major factor will be can Rousey avoid the big shot to the chin before taking control? Another big factor here is the mystery of where Rousey’s head is at. This sport is big time mental. She’s been able to shut down pretty much all media obligations during the entire fight week (which is a first) so she can sustain all that energy for Friday night. I’ve seen some say she will retire and she just isn’t into it anymore. But for me, she’s put in way too much work for this camp (have you seen the shape she’s in?), has stated she’s not done breaking records, and I think frankly she knows she’s better than what we saw against Holm. She wants to prove it. Ronda tweeted after the TV weigh ins, “Looking forward to proving you all right tomorrow. It’s going to be the happiest New Year ever. #FearTheReturn” Show us what’s up Ronda.
Garbrandt ($7700) vs. Cruz ($8700)
In the breakdown above, I talked about the mental game. It holds so much weight in fighting, and Cruz has already won that match up. Garbrandt is all over the place mentally. He’s about to learn a big lesson and it will only make him better. Here’s the deal. We get it. Cody Garbrandt puts people to sleep with his fists. He’s 10-0 with 9 KO’s. If you look at his record, he really hasn’t come close to fighting the level of talent that the champ has. It’s true, Cruz has pretty much cleaned out the entire Team Alpha Male camp. This is their last hope. You know Garbrandt is going to come out fast. He’s going to try and clip Cruz and shock the world. Is it possible? This is fighting. We’ve seen it happen. But we have to go with what we know already. Cruz gets hit less than any other active fighter in any weight class. See the stats I provided in the bullets above. Also, Garbrandt is not invincible. He’s been put to sleep (and quick) before his UFC days. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vSBOzo6oMo
Cruz on the other hand has fought some top tier opponents his entire career and has never been KO’d. As I think about this fight, its Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez. Many thought Canelo was the guy to beat Floyd, and Floyd made him look bad. We could definitely see something very similar Friday night. Dominick “Money Mayweather” Cruz via unanimous victory over Cody “Canelo” Garbrandt.
Lineker ($7400) vs Dillashaw ($8800)
Everyone is on TJ Dillashaw. The guy can be a great DFS play solely on his output. I mentioned above Dillashaw is the only fighter to land 100 significant strikes or more in five consecutive fights. That’s some points in DFS. You also gotta fit in some dogs in this game and I’ll take the one here. Lineker made weight. (not a typo my friends) But seriously, Lineker made weight! He’s just coming off of a huge victory against John Dodson, who’s quick and moves fast like Dillashaw himself. Speaking of Dodson and Dillashaw, don’t forget. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLHFDn8-hwQ Dodson TKO’d Dillashaw. MMA math here? Lineker > Dodson > Dillashaw. When you have output like TJ, eventually you open yourself up, and I think Lineker can land at some point and hurt TJ just as Dodson did. Going with a risk with a potential big reward here.
Kim ($8500) vs. Saffiedine ($7700)
Should be a good fight here. Saffiedine is a striking machine. He’s also black belt in both BJJ and Karate. As you can see statistically, he’s double the striking output of Kim, but also gets hit twice as much. At some point, Kim will look to muscle a takedown and score. Even though Saffiedine hasn’t been taken down in his last two fights, I believe we will see one or more here from Kim. Saffiedine doesn’t match the power of Kim, and even though we may not see a stoppage (Saffiedine only stopped once in 21 fights), Kim should at least be able to do his best MTV’s Bully Beatdown and cruise to his third win in a row.
Borg ($7900) vs. Smolka ($8300)
Now Louis Smolka. If he wasn’t already highly motivated to get this win and prove he’s a title contender after that upset loss he took last fight, now his opponent Borg comes in almost four pounds over the weight limit for this fight. Smolka’s gotta be smokin’! He accepted the fight and will get 30% of Borg’s purse due to the missed weight. Now a situation we have here. Smolka put in the work, went through the cut and didn’t look too hot on the scale. Borg just didn’t put in the effort and didn’t cut like Smolka did. This should give him a definite edge in the fight physically. Smolka should look to land shots and leverage his size advantage while stuffing takedowns. Borg will want to land takedowns and expose Smolka’s 35% TD defense. From what I’ve seen though, is that is part of Smolka’s odd game plan at times. He lures his opponent in and looks as if he’s in a bad spot, and then out of nowhere, he reverses everything and locks on whatever submission he wants. Borg has that sub game though too, so this fight, Smolka’s gotta be smart, and you know he will after that last loss. I’m in his corner but will not play either fighter in DFS.
Hendricks ($8000) vs. Magny ($8200)
It was seriously painful to watch this week Hendricks had. The guy just cannot fight anymore at 170. Watch a few minutes of this and see just how brutal these weight cuts are on these guys. Fast forward to 2 minutes in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGPIW2f3mtw In the end, Hendricks missed weight by 2.5 pounds and was in rough shape on the scale. I’m actually surprised this fight is happening. Magny needs to overwhelm Hendricks with tons of output while leveraging his reach advantage. If he can stay away from the takedowns and wrestling, he’s got this one, and Hendricks will either walk away from the sport, or take a serious look at fighting at 185 for whoever will have him. The betting line has flipped. Hendricks opened at -130 and is now at +130.
Carlos Junior ($8100) vs. Vettori ($8100)
Carlos Junior’s nickname is “shoe face.” How do you not pick him? No really. This should be a solid match up. Both guys love the submission game, and Vettori has a slight edge with striking. Now Carlos Junior should have the edge in wrestling, and if he controls, he should grind out the victory. I like Vettori’s chance though of catching him with strikes, and possibly winning via stoppage.
Garcia ($8600) vs. Pyle ($7600)
Mike Pyle’s contract was over with his fight against TJ Waldburger. He talked a bunch about retiring but then he won and resigned just like that. Since doing so, he’s gone 1-3 and has been finished twice, last being via KO in the first round. At 41, he’s gotta be close to hanging them up, and this could be the one. Alex Garcia once looked like the next top prospect, but got beat across three rounds in his last fight against Sean Strickland, who eventually TKO’d him in the 3rd. Garcia trains at Tristar with some of the best (google Georges St. Pierre and stuff), and this looks to me like a solid rebound fight for the much younger and much stronger athlete. Look for Garcia to take this one to the mat and score with some ground and pound. Garcia’s power has the edge over Pyle’s suspect chin here. A TKO finish could be in store and Mike Pyle could be cut from the organization just as his mullet was.
Thatch ($9000) vs. Price ($7200)
Niko Price. The only debuting fighter on the card. He twice refused to shake Thatch’s hand at the weigh ins. Manners Niko, manners. A number of bettors are taking a close look at this guy and his 8-0 record with seven finishes. Matter of fact, Thatch opened at -380 and has been brought down to -140. Lots of money coming in on the newcomer. Take warning on that. Reviewing his opponents, you find some tomato can records. I decided to pull up some fight tape like I do and saw some of these cans actually landing on Niko. Now insert Brandon Thatch, who thrives for this stand up and swing thing. If this guy lands like I saw these others, it’s over. Price will look to make a quick statement as he always does, and I expect both to come out super aggressive. Fireworks fellas. Fireworks. Thatch is coming off of three straight losses, all via submission, but this matchup is more up his alley. Thatch via TKO for me.
Means ($8400) vs. Oliveira ($7800)
This fight should get the crowd going with ease. It should get few more to the venue at least to get those beer sales rolling. The dirty bird vs the cowboy. Both guys look for the knockout and move forward and will take shots to keep doing so. Means will be the more well-rounded fighter, and should display more accurate boxing along the way. Oliveira looks to land that one big punch at times, and tends to get wild. I expect a back and forth scrap most likely going to a decision. Cowboy could sneak a win here. He’s actually the betting favorite at -135 as I type this in comparison to his $7800 DK price. Might fight some value here? Definitely more value than those $10 beers.
From a betting picks perspective, 50 bettors I discuss fights with selected who they thought would straight up win the fight. The stats are as follows:
Aside from my betting picks, here are some bets and props I am already on:
Rousey wins ITD -135
Lineker wins via TKO/KO +500
Vettori wins ITD +351
I’ll be around all night watching as you do. Hit me up if you have any questions or want some added thoughts. @Y2CASEY on Twitter. Cash em #ScoutArmy.