Saturday’s UFC 275 event features two title fights. The main event is a light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka. Teixeira is making his first title defense after a stunning upset win over Jan Błachowicz. All-world fighter Valentina Shevchenko is defending the women’s flyweight title against Taila Santos in the co-main event.
There is also a rematch between former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili. The first fight was a classic and ended in a close split-decision win for Weili.
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Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($7,400)
Jedrzejczyk is one of the best technical strikers in the entire sport. Jedrzejczyk is incredibly well-rounded, featuring a strong jab, strong kicking game and good combinations. She has excellent distance management, which is due in part to her excellent jab along with her movement. Jedrzejczyk’s weight distribution in her stance is usually on top of her center of gravity, which allows her to move in and out quickly and reduce the chances of getting hit clean with return fire. This shows up in Jedrzejczyk’s striking defense metrics. Jedrzejczyk is avoiding 65% of opponent significant strike attempts in her UFC fights, one of the best rates in the women’s division. Jedrzejczyk also has a very strong chin. She has only been knocked out once in 20 career fights, and she attributes the knockout loss to a bad weight cut.
Jedrzejczyk’s elite striking metrics also show up elsewhere. Jedrzejczyk is landing over six significant strikes per minute and posting an elite strikes landed to absorbed ratio of 2-to-1. Jedrzejczyk’s striking metrics are better than Weili’s, and she carried the technical advantage in striking on paper into their first fight.
In their first fight, Jedrzejczyk out-landed Weili in total significant strikes, 186 to 165. Jedrzejczyk out-landed Weili in significant strikes from distance, 171 to 158. Jedrzejczyk was also better defensively, avoiding 60% of Weili’s significant strike attempts, compared to a 49% rate for Weili. Jedrzejczyk finished the fight stronger, out-landing Weili in the final round, 46 to 37. Despite that, Weili was awarded a split-decision win, and Jedrzejczyk easily could have been awarded the decision.
The rematch looks primed to be another striking battle. Weili struggled to get Joanna to the ground in the first fight, landing only one successful takedown on eight attempts and recording just 1:14 of control time. Jedrzejczyk also has strong defensive grappling, stopping 81% of opponent takedown attempts. Jedrzejczyk also is able to quickly scramble back to her feet if she does get taken down.
Getting Jedrzejczyk at just $7,400 in a striking match could be huge value given her elite striking skills, and a case could be made that she should have won the first fight. Had Jedrzejczyk been given the judges’ nod, she would have finished with over 100 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP).
Glover Teixeira ($7,300)
Teixeira’s opponent, Jiri Prochazka, has only fought twice in the UFC. Prochazka has spent most of his recent career in the RIZIN promotion in Japan, and while he is coming off a quality win over Dominick Reyes, Prochazka’s quality of competition has not been nearly as strong as Teixeira’s.
Prochazka fights at a quick pace, landing over seven significant strikes per minute while absorbing six significant strikes per minute, two elevated numbers. Prochazka keeps his hands remarkably low, which makes him hittable when he closes the distance to throw strikes. Prochazka absorbing a ton of strikes could elevate Teixeira’s fantasy volume.
Prochazka was wobbled in his most recent fight by Dominick Reyes, which forced him to shoot for a takedown while he tried to shake the cobwebs out. Prochazka took a bad shot and ended up in a guillotine, but was able to eventually slide his head out. Prochazka also does not appear to have great defensive wrestling and was taken down in his last fight by Reyes on Reyes’ only takedown attempt.
Teixeira could easily connect through Prochazka’s nonexistent defense on the feet or record a takedown and end this fight on the ground. Prochazka does not have the elite distance management, speed and movement to compensate for such low hand placement. This also shows up in his rate stats, as he has avoided just 48% of opponent significant strike attempts. Prochazka also does not have an elite grappling background, and Teixeira—who is a black belt in BJJ—will have the advantage on the ground if the fight goes there.
Teixeira’s edge in UFC experience could also set him apart. Teixeira has fought in several main events, including two title fights, and will not be overwhelmed by the increased platform or spotlight.
Prochazka is dangerous, but has a lot of holes that can be exploited. Getting Teixeira at just $7,300, the fifth cheapest fighter on the slate, could be big value that pays off in tournament formats.
Stud to Pay Up For
Valentina Shevchenko ($9,600)
Shevchenko has dominated the women’s flyweight division, going a perfect 8-0 in flyweight fights, including 7-0 in flyweight title fights. As a result, Shevchenko enters this fight as a massive favorite on the moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook. Shevchenko being such a huge favorite makes her an incredibly safe fighter to build lineups around.
Shevchenko’s opponent, Taila Santos, has never been finished in her entire MMA career, which spans 20 fights. A long fight over five rounds could provide added time for Shevchenko to generate fantasy scoring as she cruises to a decision win. The last time Shevchenko went to decision in a five-round fight, she finished with 134 DKFP on the back of over 10 minutes of control time and nearly 250 strikes landed.
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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