UFC 189 MMA DFS picks
The much anticipated UFC 189 is finally here, and while it is slightly less exciting since Jose Aldo had to withdraw from the main event against Conor McGregor due to a rib injury, the card will still be exciting. Anytime the Irishman McGregor is fighting it is exciting because he is such a showman. There are two classes of fans, too – those who want to see him continue to dominate – and those who want to see someone shut him up.
Chad Mendes steps in for Aldo, and he is obviously no slouch. Vegas has installed Mendes, who is actually ranked slightly ahead of McGregor, as a slight underdog in this battle of contenders trying to claw their way to the top of the featherweight heap. This fight will go a long way toward breaking the logjam. You have Aldo, Mendes, Frankie Edgar, McGregor and Ricardo Lamas all inside the Top 5 in the featherweight division, and really it is difficult to pick a winner when any two fight on a given night.
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(Kountermove.com salaries in parentheses) (all times ET).
Thomas Almeida ($5,200 vs. Brad Pickett): Almeida puts his 18-0 record on the line against Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett, who is going to need a lot more than one punch if he is to pull off the unthinkable. Vegas has Almeida (-900) installed as the biggest favorite, approaching as high as four figures at some shops. In other words, this bout will see Pickett getting pounded early and often. Pickett is on the tail end of a lengthy career, going 6-6 over his past 12 bouts. The veteran won’t be able to keep up against an up-and-comer like Almeida, who will use a combination of punches, elbows and knees to soften up Pickett early. Don’t forget Almeida’s devastating kicks, either. Just ask Yves Jabouin, who is likely still icing down his ribs after a first-round KO/TKO at UFC 186.
Cody Garbrandt ($5,500 vs. Henry Briones): Garbrandt is an overwhelming favorite for this one, as he puts his unblemished UFC record on the line in Vegas. The Mexican-born Briones won his debut at UFC 180, but he’ll find a much more hostile crowd outside of his native land. Garbrandt is a hard puncher who has posted six knockouts in six bouts as a pro, including his debut at UFC 182 when he made quick work of Marcus Brimage. Briones has never tasted defeat as a pro, but that will change in this one against the knockout machine of Garbrandt. He is an elite prospect who will move up the ranks with a quick KO early in this match. If it lasts longer than two rounds it will be a shocker.
PLENTY OF UPSIDE
Dennis Bermudez ($5,300 vs. Jeremy Stephens): ‘The Menace’ is coming off a guillotine choke loss to Ricardo Lamas last time out at UFC 180, but there’s really no shame in that. It derailed Bermudez’s ascension up the featherweight rankings board, stalling him at No. 6, peering at the likes of Aldo, McGregor, etc. He should take out all of his aggression on Stephens, who limps in on a two-bout losing streak with unanimous decision setbacks to Charles Oliveira at The Ultimate Fight 20, and Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 44. Stephens has a fight history littered with the who’s who of featherweights, as well as some notable lightweights before he stepped down in class. However, most of those marquee battles have ended with an ‘L’, and his bout against Bermudez will be no different.
Alex Garcia ($4,800 vs. Mike Swick): By all indications from Garcia’s DFS salary, this one looks like a toss-up. However, Vegas has Garcia (-450) installed as the third-largest favorite on the UFC 189 card, making him an excellent DFS selection. Garcia (knee) is returning from a lengthy layoff after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his UFC Fight Night 49 bout against Neil Magny, which ended in a split-decision loss. Yeah, you read that correctly. He fought the final two rounds on a torn ACL. Talk about toughness. It’s been an 11-month layoff, but he is ready to unload on Swick, who is a knockout specialist. The wait has been even longer for Swick, who last fought on UFC on FOX 5 Dec. 8, 2012. In fact, Swick has fought just twice since 2010 due to undisclosed health issues, making Garcia’s layoff look minimal in comparison. Look for Garcia to take care of the now 36-year-old Swick in rather short order.
Cody Pfister ($4,100 vs. Yosdenis Cedeno): Cedeno hasn’t really impressed over his past three bouts. He has come up on the short end in two of the matches, with ‘Pink Panther’ suffering a unanimous decision loss at UFC Fight Night 54 against Chad Laprise. If not for a doctor’s stoppage against Jerrod Sanders a UFC Fight Night 45, Cedeno’s past three bouts wouldn’t be that impressive at all. Pfister lost his UFC debut on Valentine’s Day against James Moontasri, getting choked out in the second round. Still, there is value here against Cedeno, who hasn’t looked all that good lately. Including Pfister will allow you to pick up four sure-fire favorites and your evening will come down to Pfister’s ground-game ability, which has been 50-50. He has six career bouts determined by submission, with all three wins and all three losses via rear-naked choke. It’s a good indicator that this one will have the same fate, so look for this one to end on the ground up against the fence.