Here’s some advice for your gambling and fantasy needs for Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale event in Las Vegas, Nevada, headlined by UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson defending against Tim Elliott on FOX Sports 1.
UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson (24-2-1) vs. Tim Elliott (13-6-1)
Betting Odds: Johnson (-1100), Elliott (+700)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson- $10,200, Elliott- $5,400
Key Statistic: Johnson has scored finishes in five of his last seven fights
Analysis: The pound-for-pound best fighter in the world makes his ninth title defense when Johnson defends against Elliott, the TUF 24 winner. Johnson is the biggest betting favorite and has the highest fantasy salary on the card, which shows just how dominant he has been. He hasn’t been touched by anyone at 125 pounds, and it would be a monumental upset if Elliott were able to pull the win off. Elliott is solid on his feet, but Johnson represents a different kind of pace to the fight. Johnson is a fighter that excels in every aspect of the fight game, and he can knock opponents out, and submit them if he finds an opening. Elliott has been in the UFC before, and he’s only been finished once, but Johnson is by far the best opponent he has ever faced. A dirty and quick-paced fight gives Elliott a shot, but I see Johnson scoring a finish. Johnson is the clear bet in this fight. I expect him to have the highest draft rate in DraftKings line-ups, but with his high salary, he is an excellent choice, and would be my top target.
Joseph Benavidez (24-4) vs. Henry Cejudo (10-1)
Betting Odds: Benavidez (-200), Cejudo (+170)
DraftKings Salaries: Benavidez- $9,000, Cejudo- $7,200
Key Statistic: Cejudo has never been taken down in his career
Analysis: The co-main event of this card is the battle of the TUF 24 coaches, as the top flyweights behind Johnson, Benaviez and Cejudo, meet in the Octagon. Both men have only seen defeats at the hands of Johnson in their flyweight careers. Benavidez has won five straight fights entering this bout, and Cejudo is coming off his first career loss. Benavidez was taken down four times in his last fight by Zach Makovsky, and if that happens at the hands of Cejudo, it may be a long night for Benavidez. Benavidez is good at getting to his fight, but Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist, and he will be able to keep Benavidez planted. Benavidez is the better striker of the two, but Cejudo has power in his hands. No matter how bad Johnson made him look, Cejudo is better than that April performance. If you are looking for an underdog to bet on, Cejudo could squeak out a gritty decision. At his fantasy salary, he is definitely worth a hard look as he’s one of the cheapest options on the card. It’ll be a close fight, and there is money to be made on Cejudo in this fight.
Jake Ellenberger (31-11) vs. Jorge Masvidal (30-11)
Betting Odds: Ellenberger (+220), Masvidal (-260)
DraftKings Salaries: Ellenberger- $7,400, Masvidal- $8,800
Key Statistic: Ellenberger is 2-5 in his last seven fights
Analysis: This should be a barnburner in the welterweight division. You have a heavy-handed striker with good wrestling in Ellenberger, and a crisp and technical boxer in Masvidal. This fight depends on which version of both men show up, and both have a tendency of not fully showing up in fights. Ellenberger was on rocky ground in his career, but his power was back on full display when he knocked out Matt Brown in his last fight. Masvidal hasn’t been a big finisher lately in fights, but he pushes a quick pace, and his size is good for a welterweight. Ellenberger may look to wrestle if he is smart, but he tends to stand and trade with his foes. Masvidal has a quick jab and that may be tough for Ellenberger to get inside of. Both men have a lot of fight mileage on them, but Masvidal is more durable. Masvidal is a sizeable favorite on the betting odds, and he is the better bet of the two. They have a big discrepency in fantasy salaries, and Ellenberger’s power is hard to look past. Masvidal is tough to finish. Ellenberger may be the better fantasy play. He is worth looking at with his $7,400 salary.
Ion Cutelaba (12-2 1 NC) vs. Jared Cannonier (8-1)
Betting Odds: Cutelaba (-230), Cannonier (+190)
DraftKings Salaries: Cutelaba- $8,900, Cannonier- $7,300
Key Statistic: Cannonier’s first fight at light heavyweight after fighting at heavyweight
Analysis: Cutelaba and Cannonier don’t have big names in the UFC as they both have fought just twice for the organization. Both men are 1-1 in their UFC careers. However, many are expecting this to be a slugfest as we have two strong punchers with penchants for finishing fights. Cannonier has been fighting as a heavyweight his entire career and makes the move down to 205 pounds for the first time. He was a big heavyweight and that power should carry over. Cutelaba is an aggressive and heavy puncher, though, and he will go toe-to-toe with the bigger Cannonier. I really like Cannonier’s chances in this fight, and I think he is a good fighter to look at when making bets and setting fantasy line-ups. His $7,300 salary on DraftKings is very valuable, and you will need some underdogs in your line-up.
Sara McMann (9-3) vs. Alexis Davis (17-6)
Betting Odds: McMann (-170), Davis (+150)
DraftKings Salaries: McMann- $8,400, Davis- $7,800
Key Statistic: This is Davis’ first fight since UFC 186 on April 25, 2015
Analysis: McMann is gunning for her second straight win, while Davis returns to action for the first time in almost 18 months following a pregnancy and time away. That may be a disadvantage for Davis, but she is a high-level grappler who has had solid success inside the Octagon. McMann has been disappointing in her UFC run as she hasn’t lit the world on fire, and many of her wins in her career have been lackluster. She has to use her wrestling here, but also has to remember that Davis is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. McMann is very tentative on her feet and likes to keep distance while Davis is aggressive and looks to work in the clinch. Davis has a real good shot at scoring an upset on the oddsmakers’ cards, but I wouldn’t even call it an upset. She is a good betting option. I would keep away from McMann in your fantasy games as I don’t see her racking up very many points, and I don’t see a finish for her. Davis is a good value play, and I expect her to have a very solid draft rate in contests.
Brandon Moreno (12-3) vs. Ryan Benoit (9-4)
Betting Odds: Moreno (-135), Benoit (+115)
DraftKings Salaries: Moreno- $8,500, Benoit- $7,700
Key Statistic: Moreno has nine wins by submission
Analysis: Moreno shocked the world by coming in on short notice and submitting Louis Smolka in his UFC debut in October. He has a lot of momentum coming into this fight. Benoit has rotated wins-and-losses in his last seven fights, and hasn’t been able to find any consistency. History says Benoit is due for a loss, and Moreno is a tough match-up for him. Moreno has the size edge, and he is just more crafty in his overall attack. Moreno can be hit, but Benoit just doesn’t possess the knockout shot he will need. Moreno strings together his punches better, and his submission game is top-notch, having scored 75% of his career wins by submission. Moreno is the sure-fire bet in this fight, and he is a good option both when making straight bets and when picking fighters for fantasy line-ups. I think he will submit Benoit and maximize his potential for fantasy scoring.
Gray Maynard (12-5-1 1 NC) vs. Ryan Hall (5-1)
Betting Odds: Maynard (-110), Hall (-110)
DraftKings Salaries: Maynard- $8,100, Hall- $8,100
Key Statistic: Hall’s first fight in 357 days
Analysis: If I’m making a bet on this fight, I would strongly consider Hall. If I’m setting a fantasy line-up, I’d strong advise against taking Hall. That is a weird position. He can’t strike real good at all, but he is a strong grappler. Maynard is a power wrestler with a powerful right hand, but his best days are strongly behind him. He may keep it standing, but Hall may be able to get it down. I don’t see Hall submitting Maynard, but keeping him pinned on the mat and doing enough to win rounds. Maynard’s chin is gone, but I can’t see Hall knocking him out. I could see Maynard knocking him out if he can connect. I don’t like playing either man in fantasy contests, but I think Hall wins this fight.
Rob Font (12-2) vs. Matt Schnell (10-2)
Betting Odds: Font (-270), Schnell (+230)
DraftKings Salaries: Font- $8,700, Schnell- $7,500
Key Statistic: Schnell taking fight on short notice & moving up a weight class
Analysis: Schnell is stepping in on short notice to face the tough Font, and he is moving up to 135 pounds to make his UFC debut. Font has eight wins by finish in his career, and he has never been finished. Schnell has won seven straight fights and has eight wins by finish in his career. Despite fighting at 125 pounds, Schnell is the same size as Font and has a longer reach. Both men are technical on their feet and are talented. Font is primarily a striker while Schnell has a dangerous submission game. The short notice puts Schnell down in both the betting odds and fantasy salaries. He is a steal on both, and I strongly suggest utilizing his value.
Dong Hyun “Maestro” Kim (13-8-3) vs. Brendan O’Reilly (6-2 1 NC)
Betting Odds: Kim (-135), O’Reilly (+115)
DraftKings Salaries: Kim- $8,300, O’Reilly- $7,900
Key Statistic: Kim landing 4.57 significant strikes per minute
Analysis: This is an important fight for both as the loser could be cut from the roster. Kim has been in two exciting fights, but has lost both. He lands a lot of punches, though, and he is a brawler. O’Reilly likes to brawl, but that style got him knocked out by Alan Jouban. He is moving down a weight class, and lightweight suits him better. O’Reilly will be looking to shoot for the takedown as a brawl will favor Kim, but Kim has sneaky takedown defense. Kim will crack O’Reilly’s jaw and I see a stoppage with punches. Kim is really a value steal at his fantasy salary, and I’m surprised he isn’t a bigger betting favorite. He should get the win here.
Kailin Curran (4-3) vs. Jamie Moyle (3-1)
Betting Odds: Curran (-135), Moyle (+115)
DraftKings Salaries: Curran- $8,600, Moyle- $7,600
Key Statistic: Moyle last fought 447 days ago
Analysis: Curran finds herself in a must-win situation as she is just 1-3 in the UFC, while Moyle makes her UFC debut following a long layoff. Moyle is small at 5’1″ and Curran will look to exploit the small length advantage she will have. Curran likes to battle on the feet and she unloads with a lot of volume. I don’t see either woman finishing the other, which makes it hard to pick one for your fantasy line-ups. Curran is the better straight bet and I think she wins a close decision.
Elvis Mutapcic (15-4-1) vs. Anthony Smith (25-12)
Betting Odds: Mutapcic (-105), Smith (-115)
DraftKings Salaries: Mutapcic- $8,100, Smith- $8,100
Key Statistic: They were scheduled to fight earlier this year before late cancellation
Analysis: They were supposed to fight earlier this year outside of the UFC, and now they fight for their roster survival. Mutapcic is searching for his first UFC win and he desperately needs it. Smith is a big finisher, having won 22 fights by finish. However, eleven of his twelve losses have seen him finished, and Mutapcic is a finisher who has never been stopped. Smith has a size advantage, but Mutapcic has a power advantage. I like Mutapcic’s power to stop Smith, and while it is close in both odds and fantasy salaries, Mutapcic is the better play in this fight.
Josh Stansbury (8-2) vs. Devin Clark (6-1)
Betting Odds: Stansbury (-110), Clark (-110)
DraftKings Salaries: Stansbury- $8,000, Clark- $8,200
Key Statistic: Both men have been finished in all of their losses
Analysis: Both men are fighting a weight class above their natural weight class, and this is a must-win for Clark. Clark is the better athlete of the two, and he is more explosive on the feet and has a better wrestling game. Stansbury is a more patient fighter but that will likely get him in trouble here. Clark can make mistakes and pay for it, and he did in his last fight. I do like him better in this fight. It’s a pick ’em on the betting odds, and Clark is the better play. I do like him at his $8,200 salary in fantasy line-ups as I think he gets a knockout win.