UFC 249 Ferguson vs Gaethje *Update*

Saturday Morning Updates in Red

UFC 249 Ferguson vs Gaethje

Ok fight fans and all you degenerate gamblers looking for something to bet on. We have some real live action this week in the UFC. This is shaping up to be a very exciting cards with all but 4 fights favored to finish. The DFS landscape is shaping up to be pretty nice as well as prices on DK allow you to make some very attractive lineups. Ownership so far isnt all that surprising as the two fighters in the main event (Ferguson/Gaethje) are looking to be in the 40+ percent owned area which means most lineups will have one of the two fighters in it. We may see some lineups that have both fighters but I don’t think this is the type of fight where there is a strategic advantage to have both. Like I said lots of good fights fixing to finish early but surely we will see some of them go the distance. I do believe we have a few live underdogs that we can take some chances on. See next for strategy and how I go about building lineups and evaluating cards.

Strategy- I am not a single lineup guy for MMA. I play a minimum of ten lineups because of how volatile MMA is. One punch, one slip, one whatever can completely sink your lineup so I like to spread exposure all around and hedge but mostly focus on a few fights that I will build around. Notice how I said fights and not fighter. I never go all in on a fighter, as you shouldn’t either, but I will go all in on a fight but I will go heavier on one of the fighters. What were looking for is upside for the price. The biggest points boost comes from finishing early and we have a few on this card that can, so that’s what I look for first. I look for the fighters who have a realistic chance to finish early. Like I said before ANYONE can finish or be finished early from the one punch one slip aspect but its best to narrow down to the realistic fighters. Looking for fighters who finish isn’t the only aspect we need to look at. Significant Strikes (SS) and Takedowns (TD) are also a big factor in decision making. A lot of fighters can rack up a ton of SS and/or TD in a fight and grab a decision win and accrue a ton of points. DK basis their pricing on a fighters odds to win. Just because a guy is priced at 9300 doesn’t particularly mean you want them in your lineups because you will need a ton of points to cover that salary. Don’t just look and say hey this guy is the highest price I def need him. Another important thing to remember is to not worry about spending all the salary as you will find yourself creating bad lineups just to use up salary.

Updates-

So we found out that a fighter (Souza) tested positive last night for Covid. It just so happens that his opponent was one of my favorite underdogs of the card so I now had to adjust. Please read through and see changes.

Ownerships

Cejudo and Ferguson top the list at close to 50%

Gaethje low 40’s

Luque and a surprising Cruz coming in at mid 30’s—-Cruz makes sense now so see updates below

Pettis, Spann, Mitchell, Werdum, Hardy low 30’s

Stephens, Castro, Price, Oleinik, Rozenstruik, Alvey—-all 15% or below

All other fighters are mid 20’s

Biggest Favorites -200 or above (DK Sportsbook)

Spann- -420

Werdum- -335

Ngannou- -278

Luque- -265

Kattar- -250

Cejudo- -210

Hardy- -200

Biggest Fights to Finish inside the distance -200 or above(DK Sportsbook)

Ferguson/Gaethje- -530

Luque/Price- -455

Ngannou/Rozenstruik- -345

Werdum/Oleinik- -305

Hardy/Castro- -250

Spann/Alvey- -225

Biggest Under 1.5 rounds odds (DK Sportsbook)

Ngannou/Rozenstruik- -125

Luque/Price- -124

Picks and Analysis

Ferguson/Gaethje- I will have 100% of this fight and at the end you will see how I am splitting it up. I was super amped up to watch Ferguson/Khabib as I really felt Tony would end Khabibs streak but man this fight should be a fucking war. Over his last 4 fights Ferguson has really transformed into this pretty massive volume puncher. In three of his last 4 fights he averaged nearly 90 SS attempts per round. Before this current run of violence, we saw Tony more methodical and not throw so many punches but hes certainly transformed into a brawler and the angles he takes are pretty crazy.  Gaethje is just a down right nasty brawler and has some concrete fist. The guy can take a punch and recover but he inflicts a lot of pain and will just keep moving forward. He’s going to have to get inside of Tony’s 6-inch reach advantage early and inflict pain to stand a chance. He lands a ton of punches per minute but he absorbs about the same amount of punches as he gives which isn’t good against an assassin like Ferguson. Get ready for some nonstop pure violent action in this fight. I ultimately think Tony and his reach will be too much for Gaethje and I see him stopping him in under 3 rounds. Gaethje has a path and a shot here so I will certainly have a good amount of him as well. These two should be the highest owned on the slate at 40%+ and rightfully so. I’m splitting my exposure 65/35 in favor if Ferguson.

Cejudo/Cruz- What a weird fight as we see the return of former Bantamweight king Dominik Cruz after a nearly 3 ½ year layoff. Cruz has been riddled with injury after injury but given the state of the world with Covid and Aldo having to pull out of this Cejudo fight we see Cruz jump right back in with a title shot that I truly don’t think he deserves. I am always concerned about fighters coming back after such a long layoff. Cejudo has been on quite the streak as of late but has been acting like a weirdo on social media which is always concerning. Cejudo has a very impressive wrestling background and was a gold medal winner at the bejing games. This fight is interesting because Cruz has a height and reach advantage which is nothing new for Cejudo as he’s faced the same uphill battle in his most recent fights and has actually had some pretty stunning KO victories. Cruz really likes to go for takedowns but he will be highly unsuccessful against Cejudos excellent takedown defense, in fact he’s only been taken down once in his UFC career. I think Cejudo goes back to his wrestling pedigree in this fight and uses he’s low center of gravity to secure a ton of take downs and try to grind out a decision victory or a ground and pound TKO (even though Cruz has never been KO/TKO). Either way I will have a good amount of Cejudo at his price point and the potential of five rounds of SS and TD points on his way to a decision victory. Depending on how many lines your making it would be wise to grab a hedge or two of Cruz. Well what a difference and overnight makes. The Hall thing really messed up my lineups so I will end up having a good bit more if Cruz then I anticipated.

Luque/Price- So both of these guys are pure finishers, with that said Luque hasn’t been finished in 7 years and both his finish losses came via submissions which isn’t Price’s forte. Luque is a very polished fighter who stalks and doesn’t just tag you once but will hit you with a 3,4,5 punch, kick, or knee combo….he’s actually pretty filthy. Price is just a come at you straight forward fighter looking to land bombs but he gets himself in very bad positions which leave himself open for punishment. When I watched their first fight it was very interesting to see Price not push forward and stand on his back foot but I think a lot of that had to do with Luque coming in as a replacement on 11 days notice so Price was probably looking to feel him out. Once he got engaged he found himself in a bad position and ultimately choked out by Luque. Price put on a great show against a tough Geoff Neal and had some chances to put him away but again he got over aggressive and sloppy and ultimately was TKO’d. I see the same thing playing out here as Luque is a finisher and will punish him with some brutal combos as Price moves forward. I will have a very good amount of Luque this week but will sneak in a maybe one or two Price lines as the guy does have KO power but he’ll have to get a little lucky which I don’t really anticipate against a slick and polished fighter like Luque.

Ngannou/Rozenstruik- What happens when you get two of if not the biggest and hardest hitting heavyweights in the cage together? Usually disappointment. We saw this same exact match when Ngannou/Lewis fought. Both guys danced around for 3 rounds to very unexciting fight and a decision loss for Ngannou even though both fighters deserved to lose. There isn’t much to say about these two except that they just look to land that bomb or two to put their opponents to sleep. What we have seen from Ngannou though if he doesn’t land that shot early he gets very inactive just like with the Lewis fight. Francis will never be a volume striker as evident by his 126 attempted strike performance in a 5 round decision loss to champion Miocic. He landed some good shots but wasn’t able to put him to sleep and he practically labored around for 3 plus rounds. Rozenstruik is still fairly new to the fight game having only 10 total fights but he has devasting power (see his last second face destroying punch to Overeem). Rozenstruik went 5 full rounds with Overeem and threw consistently the entire fight so he has some endurance and has a chin as Overeem hit him with some decent shots. Overeem isnt anywhere near the power puncher Ngannou is but he showed to have a decent chin and stamina. Ngannou is a huge favorite but I truly think this fight is a lot closer than the odds say. I’m going out on a limb here but I think Rozenstruik survives the early onslaught from Ngannou and pulls off the big upset via KO in the third. This is another 100% exposure fight for me but it will be 60/40 in favor of Rozenstruik.

Hardy/De Castro- Once again the UFC is attempting to create buzz around Hardy. He’s big, quick, athletic, and has show some decent power but overall he isn’t that good of a fighter. I will say he held is own against a very good and high ranked Volkov in his last fight, which he took on short notice after fighting less than a month before. He will hold a 5 inch height and 6 inch reach advantage. We have seen him with the same physical attribute advantage against Sosoli and he couldn’t seem to take advantage. One thing I noticed is that he fights hunched over and seems to bring himself down to the level of shorter fighters. Volkov had a 2 inch height advantage in that fight but both fighters shared the same reach but the hunch style that Hardy has sets him back a bit so he was actually at a disadvantage against the taller fighter and Volkov was able to keep distance with leg kicks. Castro has a pretty nice kickboxing background which could help him in this fight if he decides to chop at Hardys legs like he did against Weeks, where he was a huge +625 underdog, and pulled off the upset victory with a devasting leg kick. Both of these guys are sloppy but both have devasting power. Castro is kind of all over the place with his movements and the scary thing about Hardy is that he will lunge forward and drop his left hand exposing his face which could prove troublesome after seeing what Castro did to Tafa with one right hand (more lucky then skillful). End of the day the UFC is really trying to turn Hardy into something and I think they are getting impatient with him and he knows it so I anticipate some quick violence out of the gate. With that said I believe Hardy comes out firing but damn would I not be surprised if Castro shocked the world and caught Hardy with some heat. I will have a good amount of Hardy but we certainly grab some Castro just because you never know with the big boys. I planned on having a good bit of Hardy already and with limited underdog options this week I will grab a little more Castro.

Werdum/Oleinik- I don’t really anticipate this fight to be fireworks as Oleiniks style really won’t allow it to be. Both of these guys have very good grappling chops but Werdum, being a 2nd degree black belt in BJJ gives him a pretty big edge. Oleinik is just basically looking to grind it out and catch his opponents slip up so he can grab some sort of body part he can try an rip off. Usually when you see two extremely high level grapplers go at it the fight usually stays on the feet and Oleinik just cant really hang there anymore. I do worry about the 2 year layoff for Werdum from his doping violation. I see Werdum finishing this via KO/TKO so I will have a very good amount of him. I’m really not interested at all in Oleinik but if you find yourself with a ton of Werdum a hedge is always smart. I can say that I will probably have zero Oleinik.

Kattar/Stephens- This is a pretty interesting fight. We have Stephens who has a lot of mileage on him and we’ve seen him start to decline pretty rapidly. On the other side of the cage we have Kattar who lost by decision against a very very good fighter in Zabit which he had an impressive showing. Before that he had two impressive first round KO/TKO victories. Neither guy is going to throw for volume but something that stood out to me was how Kattar allows his opponents to control the pace of the matchup so it will be up to Stephens to set the tempo as Kattar will be more then happy to sit back and keep range with his jab and stick him with power shots when they open up. Its tough to say which Stephens shows up as he’s been kind of tough to read over his last few fights. If Stephens can get inside it could be trouble for Kattar as he will absorb shots and although Stephens is declining he still has that power. We saw Fishgold hit Kattar with some pretty nasty shots but wasn’t able to put him away, if Stephens hits him with those shots it could be lights out. Fishgold got to ambitious and Kattar used very good counter striking to put him away…the same won’t happen with Stephens as he still has a high cage IQ and wont put himself out there like that. Kattar will have to hit Stephens with a nasty shot if he wants to finish him as Stephens isn’t that easy finish (1 KO defeat in 8 years). I see Kattar cruising to a convincing decision victory here. Kattar is looking to be pretty popular so I’ll have a taste in DFS but he wont be a major piece for me as the likely hood of this being low volume punching affair are highly likely and I will need a finish from Kattar or a ton of volume in a decision to pay off his salary. I will probably make one lineup with Stephens in it. I just like others more in that price range plus this fight will be determined by the pace that Stephens sets.

Hall/Souza- So the ownership projections I’m looking at have Souza being one of the higher owned fighters at around 30%.  Messing around with lineup construction I think a lot of people are just “falling” on him TBH. This is a fairly close fight. Souza has a distinct advantage in terms of grappling but has only secured 1 take down in his last 5 fights. He’s instead chosen to stand and trade punches. He’s getting older and is starting to take more punishment with his fighting style and that wont work out to well against Hall who is younger, faster, and holds a solid 7 inch reach advantage. Hall has KO capabilities so Souza will have to be careful with trading blows here. Another interesting dynamic here that I’ve only really read about for this fight on twitter verse and a couple other outlets is the fight camp for these fighters. Souza has said he’s been working out at home with his wife’s crossfit equipment while Hall has hunkered down living alone at his training facility to prepare. If what Souza says is true that gives Hall a pretty big advantage. I like Halls youth, speed, power, and focus to prevail in this matchup. I’ll have some Souza as well but will have way more Hall.

Mitchell/Rosa- This is a very interesting fight as both guys are very high level grapplers with Mitchell being a brown belt in BJJ but Rosa is a black belt in BJJ from one of the most prestigious schools on the planet. Mitchell comes in mid range priced and one of the highest projected owned fighters on the slate at mid 30%. I think a lot of that is because he is becoming a very well known name in the MMA community after pulling off the second twister finish in the UFC. To pull off a twister you must have a very high level grappling game and extremely high level cage IQ. Both guys prefer this fight on the ground so it will be interesting to see if it gets there as I noted earlier when you have two high level grapplers most times they tend to not force the issue and stay on the feet. I really don’t see it that way. It will be interesting has both fighters have a high submission finish rate but neither has been submitted. Rosa is certainly a solid fighter but his career has been kind of blah and Mitchells star is rising. The fight activity from Rosa is what’s troubling to me as he’s only fought 3 times in the last 4+ years where Mitchell has fought 8 times in the same time period. I think Mitchell builds off of his previous outing and grabs a decision win here. I will have a good amount of Mitchell but finishing Rosa wont be easy and Mitchell isnt exactly a volume striker so I will be under the field in regards to exposure.

Cerrone/Pettis- How can you not love Cowboy Cerrone? He’s just a solid dude who goes out and give it his all every fight. He is certainly on the downward spiral of his career but he has faced three extremely tough opponents in a row (Ferguson, Gaethje, and Mcgregor)….thats basically murderers row. I know Pettis beat Cerrone like a decade ago when Pettis was good but fact of the matter is that Pettis really isnt good anymore and hasn’t been for a while. He got a lot of hype after random superman punch KO victory of Thompson but other then that were looking at a guy who’s lost 8 of his last 12 fights. Cerrone certainly doesn’t have the best track record either losing 7 of his last 11 but the difference is he’s lost to some of the best in business (Mcgregor, Gaethje, Ferguson, Edwards, Till, Lawler, Masvidal). I mean those are some of if not the best fighters spread across two weight divisions. That’s always been the thing with Cerrone, he’s been able to beat the mid level fighters but always comes up short against premium competition. Pettis is in fact a mid level fighter. With that said Cerrone doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires left and I think this will be his last fight. I am really concerned over Cerrone’s last two fights as he’s just not been there and I truly think that Ferguson fight is what did it to him. Pettis always comes to fight and has more to lose then Cowboy. Both fighters are very solid strikers and have good grappling chops so we will more then likely see a finish here. I do think Cowboy is the better fighter but I just think Ferguson broke something in him that cant be fixed. I hate betting against Cowboy but I’m going with Pettis via KO/TKO. I’ll have a good amount of Pettis but will certainly have some Cowboy as well. With the Souza/Hall fight being cancelled I will end up with way more Pettis then I anticipated. I was already getting a lot of Pettis anyway but now I am forced to get more so I will make this a 100% exposure fight. If you read above you know that means one of these fighters will be in every lineup. Mainly because I will have a lot of Pettis so I want to hedge but I will need some underdog variance in my lineups and I do believe Cerrone has a chance to win here. 

Spann/Alvey- The first fight of the night….yuck! I’m truly not a big fan of picking a fighter from the first fight but Spann is the biggest favorite on the card, big odds to finish inside the distance, and should be fairly high owned. Alvey has been known to be pretty durable in his UFC career but on a three loss streak where two of them seen him suffer KO losses he is showing signs of deterioration. This kid Spann is an up and comer who is really taking it people and finishing people via TKO/KO but mostly submission. Alvey has a way of slowing fights down and lulling you to sleep to then catch you with that shot but it seems those days have past. He’s not going to bring pressure so it will be up to Spann to bring the noise in this matchup. I think Spann wins this but I’m not convinced Alvey allows him to finish him. If Spann was a big puncher I would buy the finish odds here but I don’t really see it. I think Spann wins and I will have a taste of him but not a whole lot. I’d rather spend up for Werdum in that price range.

Waterson/Esparza- I’m not going to waste time on this fight as I have zero interest in playing either of these ladies. Esparza is going to look to get this to the ground and she will succeed. This should be a fairly boring fight as neither fighter throws heavy hands or a lot of volume.  I see a lot of ground control from Esparza here in a decision victory. From a DFS perspective I may grab a share of each but I’m not going out of my way to get them into any lineups.

Review

Below you will find my ranks for fighters that will be a major focus of my lineups. I’m probably going to be pushing 20+ lineups so I will have exposure to almost every fighter as you should to depending on how many lines you make. This has the making of a pretty violent card and we could see a lot of early finishes but I’ve seen cards like this disappoint in the past. I truly dont see that happening here as Dana made a pretty specific card here as the UFC are the first real sport back and they dont want to disappoint. I’ve searched around to see how training camps are going and I didn’t find a whole lot except for the Souza thing. I imagine that the fighters are having pretty cautious camps and I dont anticipate a lot of sparring involved due to Covid. I anticipate a lot of violence!

Favored Fighters Ranks for DFS

1. Ferguson- Will have a lot of him

2. Luque-

3. Cejudo

4. Hardy

5. Werdum

6. Pettis- Lineup construction is giving me a lot of him

7. Ngannou

8. Mitchell

Underdog Ranks for DFS

1. Rozenstruik- will have a lot of him—-He is projected as the second lowest owned fighter on the slate. He’s risky but given his low ownership projections, third lowest salary, and KO ability it will allow us to create some very unique and sick lineups

2. Cruz- This is pretty scary for me but the underdogs are few and far between. Cruz is not easily finished so I can see this going the distance and Cruz is a very solid striker and the way lineup construction is going I’ll take a chance on a solid striker fighting for 5 rounds.

3. Gaethje- Every line I dont have Ferguson in I will have Gaethje in

4. Cerrone- I have Cerrone slightly ahead of Castro mostly because I think he is a little safer and he does share the same upside as both guys can end things early. By safer I mean if this fight happens to go the distance Cerrone is usually pretty active so he will get some points even in a loss.

5. Castro- I think him and Cerrone are kind of even in Rank. I have Cerrone slightly ahead as noted above. The fighting styles of these two heavyweights in screaming KO but if it goes the distance this style doesn’t typically yield a ton of points.

6. Price