UFC Fight Night 80 MMA DFS Picks
The UFC heads to The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Fight Night 80, with the main event featuring Paige VanZant and Rose Namajunas in a woman’s strawweight bout.
It’s a rare mid-week card, and part of a three-day MMA schedule which also features the UFC TUF 22 Finale in Las Vegas Friday, and then UFC 194 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas.
The first card of the three-day event is rather entertaining, as teen phenom Sage Northcutt is back in action. He faces Cody Pfister, and he is heavily favored to continue his ascension. VanZant is out to prove she is not just a pretty face, while Michael Chiesa and Jim Miller should be a knockdown, drag out fight. We’ll also see the Argentine Santiago Ponzinibbio again, as he looks to rebound against Andreas Stahl.
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Elias Theodorou ($5,400 vs. Thiago Santos): The Canadian Theodorou is a heavy favorite (-250) over Santos, who has an iron fist. If Theodorou wants to keep his record unblemished he will need to keep Santos at a distance, avoid the knockout. Three of Theodorou’s past four wins have come via KO/TKO, and he is 11-0 in his career. If Theodorou can get Santos on the mat early and often, it could be a quick bout as he avoids the strikes which Santos has made a career. ‘The Spartan’ is the dominant wrestler in this bout, and he’ll show it with a win before the end of Round 2.
Tim Means ($5,200 vs. John Howard): ‘The Dirty Bird’ looks to rebound after being choked out at the end of Round 1 at UFC 189 against Matt Brown. Means will need to protect against the knockout, as Howard is an above-average puncher who also is proficient at takedowns. However, Means is pretty dangerous as a striker himself, and he can knock out an opponent a number of ways. Look for Means to try and work over Howard against the fence with devastating elbows and knees, tenderizing his opponent before getting him on the ground and choking Howard out.
PLENTY OF UPSIDE
Antonio Carlos Jr. ($4,800 vs. Kevin Casey): Carlos Junior is a tremendous grappler, and if he can get Casey onto the ground you can look for a submission before it goes to the judges for a decision. The thing with ACJ is you’re going to want him to finish this quickly, because if the two go toe-to-toe, Casey is powerful and a better boxer and could work him over if they’re both upright for long periods of time. There aren’t a ton of slam-dunk plays on this card, and the ones who are automatics will cost you heavily. You’ll need to take some chances, and the key to a winning DFS lineup will be coin-flip bout wins like this one.
Zubaira Tukhugov ($4,900 vs. Phillipe Nover): Tukhugov is a lot more certain of a DFS option than Carlos Junior above. The Russian, nicknamed ‘Warrior’, enters on an eight-bout winning streak, with four KO/TKOs. His last win came Oct. 4, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 53, and it was a first-round win over Ernest Chavez. Nover made a splash at The Ultimate Fighter, reaching the finals in the eighth season. However, this is a huge step up in competition and he won’t be able to handle Tukhugov, who is a superior fighter in every aspect.
Michael Chiesa ($4,700 vs. Jim Miller): The lightweight Chiesa is looking for a signature win to get into the Top 15 rankings at the 155-pound level. He is tremendous at submissions, and if he can get Miller on the ground it will be a quick night. Miller picked up a split-decision victory last time out, stopping a two-bout slide. Chiesa is more physical than the smallish Miller, and he’ll be able to push him around and have his way. At this DFS price level Chiesa is a strong play. Look for Chiesa to work over Miller with a series of elbows and knees against the fence before taking him down and finishing him on the ground with a guillotine choke by the end of Round 2.