On Saturday, UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland will kick off from the APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card features a plethora of mid-tier fights with a high-level contender bout sitting in the headliner position. Derek Brunson is riding a three-fight win streak while Kevin Holland is currently on a five-fight run, and while this is certainly not a title eliminator, it is a very important fight to set up the linear order in the top end of the division.
The main event is bolstered by several fun fights, especially Kenan Song vs. Max Griffin. That bout has “fun factory” in its DNA. We’ve unfortunately lost a few athletes from the card, but all told, the undercard looks perfectly serviceable and will likely deliver plenty of action-packed entertainment. The UFC has become quite adept at setting up unassuming events that end up being total bangers. I’ve completely abandoned the notion of judging a card by its bout sheet. Just like that box of chocolates Forrest Gump talked about, you never know what you’re going to get.
We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Each category will feature the standout fighter for his/her achievements in said category. Let’s get started!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Gregor Gillespie-Brad Riddell bout has been pulled from tonight’s UFC Fight Night card due to COVID-19 protocols.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC Fight Night fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $400K in guaranteed prizes, including $100,000 to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $400K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].
Cheyanne Buys, $9,100
Cheyanne Buys bears the unique distinction of being just the second woman in UFC history to fight on the same card as her husband (Montana De La Rosa being the first). She is a true volume striker with an average of 6.13 strikes landed per minute while only absorbing 2.33 in that same time frame—a testament to her good defense. Her numbers aren’t artificially inflated, either, and are based off a full 15 minutes of fight time. Buys is what I like to describe as a natural fighter. She’s well-rounded, has excellent fight IQ, and while she’s not a devastating finisher, she is a very good fighter who knows how to get the win. Her opponent, Montserrat Ruiz, has a dangerous grappling game, one that Buys should take very seriously. This is an excellent bout featuring two promising newcomers.
Kevin Holland, $8,400
Both Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson share the same amount of knockouts with 12 a piece, but I chose Holland for this category because he’s the more recently prolific knockout artist. Holland also maintains a very busy work rate, treading near the edge of volume striking, but not quite there. He packs a serious amount of power, and it’s legitimate, one-punch knockout power, too. Holland fights from the orthodox stance and averages a respectable 4.74 strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.77 in that same period. Both he and Brunson are capable grapplers, but he’ll definitely want to stay off the mat, as Brunson is a strong wrestler with outstanding takedown defense. While Brunson is still a dangerous threat, he’s getting long in the tooth and tends to have complete lapses in decision-making. The potential for advancement to the inner sanctum of contendership will certainly be the reward for this high-octane fight.
Grant Dawson, $8,600
Grant Dawson is a fantastic grappler with real submission chops. The holder of 11 submissions tops the card with the most taps to his credit. That’s not to say his opponent, the also lethal grappling god Leonardo Santos, won’t pose an equal threat on the ground, but lately, Santos has been using a rocket of a right hand to score his finishes. Dawson doesn’t have a fully stable striking game yet, but he clearly evolves from fight to fight. What he does exceptionally well is wrestle. His takedown average per 15-minute fight is 4.17 and he clocks in with an impressive 2.1 submission average, as well. Santos has more weapons at his disposal, but he also has Father Time creeping up on him, and at 41 years of age, there’s a limited window of opportunity for him to gain traction in the division to possibly advance himself into the rankings. This is another excellent bit of matchmaking.
Max Griffin, $8,500
Max Griffin vs. Kenan Song is going to be a banger. There is absolutely no question in my mind about that. Both men pack quite a wallop and both are willing to abandon any semblance of defense to stand and bang in the pocket. The advantage Song has is his cardio. Unlike Griffin, who tends to peter out towards the end of the second round, we’ve not really seen Song suffer under the weight of flagging stamina. And this is not an isolated instance, either. It’s a known issue that has shown up a few times in Griffin’s fights. With as hard as Song hits, Max will want to have his gas tank in order, or this could end up being another loss for him.
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