On Saturday night, the UFC will put on another Fight Night card on ESPN+ at the UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The light heavyweights will be on display in the main event—a three-rounder this time out, thanks to the fight being a late replacement for the scrapped Magomedsharipov-Rodriguez fight that was originally set to headline the event. With Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic both ranking in the top 10, we can get some clarity as to which 205ers start lining up for contendership now that the belt is going to be awarded to the winner of the Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Błachowicz fight. These are exciting times for the division, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things shake out this weekend. The rest of the card is a solid offering, with the most notable matchup being the Robbie Lawler vs. Neil Magny fight.
Let’s look at the facts and figures so we can attempt to determine the fighters that live up to their DraftKings price tags and the ones that are exceptional bargains in DraftKings contests on Saturday.
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Aleksandar Rakic ($8,700)
Aleksandar Rakic is a knockout machine with the added benefit of having a very good wrestling game. He’s a volume striker who will put a pace on the slower Anthony Smith ($7,500), all while racking up plenty of stiff jabs, hooks and kicks. Along with his more than capable wrestling comes excellent counter-wrestling and takedown defense. If Smith is looking to get this fight to the ground, he’ll have to work very hard to get it there, short of a knockdown. There’s also a distinct cardio advantage that Rakic will carry in this fight, as “Lionheart” has been experiencing dips in his stamina for several years. Anthony Smith can absolutely snag the victory here—he’s a prolific knockout artist and a legitimate submission threat—but the pricing is more than justified in this contest, especially when you consider how much damage he took in the Teixeira fight.
Alexa Grasso ($9,100)
I am not a fan of the pricing gap being so wide in this fight, I just want to get that out there from Jump Street. That said, I do favor Grasso in this contest because of her outstanding boxing. She is a fast volume striker with great footwork who happens to be making her flyweight debut against an aggressive striker with nowhere near the high-level experience nor technical prowess she possesses. Ji Yeon Kim ($7,100) has defensive issues that Grasso should be able to capitalize on, and should the fight end up on the ground, I’d favor Alexa there as well since Ji Yeon is not a ground fighter and has never even attempted a takedown before. If Grasso ends up having trouble with Kim, we would probably need to re-evaluate where her ceiling lies.
Sean Brady ($9,300)
Again, we have a huge pricing disparity, and in this pandemic era, the new fighters being ushered in are putting up surprising results. Christian Aguilera ($6,900) has had a UFC fight already, but it was a 59-second TKO, so we have a limited set of stats to work from. Fortunately, the regional promotions he’s fought for—LFA, BAMMA, KOTC—all have easily researched footage, so we can get a reasonable idea of how well he will stack up against the undefeated Sean Brady. While I always start pumping the brakes when I see a $2,400 price gap, I can certainly understand why Brady is the decided favorite. With the wrestling acumen he possesses, the flashes of power and the composure he’s displayed in fights against higher level competition, he’s already ahead of the curve.
Robbie Lawler ($7,600)
“Ruthless” has been knocking people out and taking names for nearly 20 years. With 20 knockouts from 28 wins, it’s hard to look past that power, and even if we haven’t seen a finish in a while, we certainly saw that power on display when he faced Ben Askren in March of last year, nearly finishing “Funky” before Herb Dean controversially stopped the fight. Robbie is aggressive and likes to fight in the clinch where he can launch hard knees, uppercuts and an occasional kitchen sink. He has underrated takedown defense and solid wrestling, even against vaunted grapplers. If he can get active and stay active early on with his jab and combinations, if he can start chopping down Neil Magny’s ($8,600) legs early, he has a real shot at winning this.
Ion Cutelaba ($7,200)
Ion Cutelaba is a knockout artist with plenty of volume and aggression—way too much aggression for any one man—which is likely why he’s nicknamed “The Hulk.” Even though his first fight against Magomed Ankalaev ($9,100) ended in under a minute, it was plain to see that Ion’s pace was off to a blazing start, as it is in all his fights. He goes from 0 to 100 in half a second flat and will keep swinging until he simply can’t anymore. His fight with Jared Cannonier showed him eating a lot of punishment but returning fire until the end, even though it’d lost a lot of the pop and sting it had earlier on in the fight. That kind of grit and intestinal fortitude is a great attribute to have in the fight game, I just wish his came with a touch more stamina. That said, Cutelaba has the power to end this fight early and deserves a second look at this price.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19 and his fight tonight vs. Magomed Ankalaev has been canceled.
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