Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card has had a substantial overhaul at the top, losing the original main event between Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev. That fight will now serve as the co-main event for UFC 272 on March 5. Instead, Saturday’s card is now headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Jamahal Hill and Johnny Walker.
The main card gets started at 7:00 p.m. ET with a potential firefight between Joaquin Buckley and Abdul Razak Alhassan. Both Buckley and Alhassan have big striking power and this fight is highly likely to feature a knockout, as DraftKings Sportsbook has given the Exact Method of Victory: KO/TKO/DQ -330 odds for this fight. The main event between Hill and Walker is also expected to end in a knockout, carrying -400 odds.
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Betting Splits for UFC Fight Night: Walker vs. Hill
Value Play: Abdul Razak Alhassan ($7,900)
Something of note for this fight is that Alhassan recently changed fight camps, switching to Elevation Fight Team, which is one of the better camps in the sport and features fighters such as Justin Gaethje, Cory Sandhagen, Neil Magny, and Curtis Blaydes. UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman also trained with Team Elevation to prepare for his title fight against Gilbert Burns, and Alhassan said that Usman was the one that suggested he switch camps. This is a strong move for Alhassan’s career and the move to Elevation could help Alhassan’s cardio, which has been an issue for him in the past.
Alhassan’s opponent, Joaquin Buckley, has also been in the news recently regarding his fight camp, but not for good reasons. Buckley is having viral self-defense trainer Dale Brown in his corner for this fight. Brown is infamous on social media for showcasing self-defense tactics that do not appear to be effective in real-life situations. This makes you wonder how seriously Buckley is taking his training for this fight.
As far as this matchup goes, Alhassan is an explosive striker who has several highlight-reel knockouts, including a head kick KO in his most recent fight. Buckley does not display great striking defense and has been knocked out in two of his five UFC fights, with one of those knockouts coming from a head kick. A first-round KO win for Alhassan is realistic given Alhassan’s power and Buckley’s questionable defense, which gives Alhassan fantasy upside. Alhassan has scored over 120 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) four times and peaked at 150 DKFP, which is the type of upside he carries in this fight. The move to Elevation could also prolong Alhassan’s window for success if his cardio has improved training with a strong team in Colorado.
DraftKings Sportsbook bet to consider: Abdul Razak Alhassan To Win By KO/TKO/DQ (+250)
Stud to Pay Up For: Jonathan Pearce ($9,300)
At -365 on the Moneyline, Pearce is the biggest favorite on this slate due in part to a late opponent switch. Christian Rodriguez, Pearce’s opponent, has taken the fight on extremely short notice. Fighters who take fights on short notice are usually at a substantial disadvantage due to a lack of preparation time, which can lead to stamina and timing issues. Rodriguez is also fairly inexperienced and his only UFC experience is on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Pearce has excellent rate stats for fantasy scoring, landing about seven significant strikes per minute and averaging a ridiculous seven takedowns per 15 minutes, the most on the slate. Pearce also has a bigger frame. Pearce is five inches taller and Rodriguez has been fighting down a weight class at bantamweight, so Pearce should also come in with the size advantage, which may aid his quest for takedowns.
Pearce’s heavy striking and grappling volume has led him to score over 120 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) in each of his last two fights, and he carries big fantasy upside.
Main Event Preview: Jamahal Hill vs. Johnny Walker
- Moneyline: -255
- % Handle: 51%
- % Bets: 60%
- Moneyline: +205
- % Handle: 49%
- % Bets: 40%
Betting Splits Provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Total Fight Significant Strikes Landed
- Over 49.5 (-105)
- Under 49.5 (-120)
- KO/TKO/DQ: -400
- Decision: +300
- Submission: +800
- Draw: +5000
Both Hill and Walker are tall and lengthy. Hill stands 6’4 with a 79-inch reach, while Walker stands 6’6 with a massive 82-inch reach. Walker’s 82-inch reach is one of the longest in the entire UFC and allows him to land strikes from distances opponents are not used to. Walker will be the lengthiest opponent Hill has faced in the UFC.
Neither of these fighters really go for takedowns. Hill has not attempted a single takedown in six UFC fights, while Walker has not attempted a takedown in any of his last seven UFC fights. Because of the lack of offensive grappling, DraftKings Sportsbook has set the fight prop of Total Fight Takedowns Landed to 0.5, with the over getting +400 odds and no takedowns getting -550 odds.
Hill compensates for a lack of grappling volume with a ton of striking volume. Hill is landing about 7.5 significant strikes per minute, second-most on the slate. Walker’s striking volume has been much less, landing about 3.5 significant strikes per minute, but he makes up for it with power. All of Walker’s last four wins have been by KO/TKO.
Hill’s strikes landed to absorbed ratio is excellent at more than 2:1. Walker has also landed more strikes than he has absorbed, although his ratio is not nearly as good.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.
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