UFC on ESPN+ 3: Blachowicz vs Santos
Saturday, 23rd, 2019 11:00 am EST
This is one of those fun afternoon UFC cards where all it’s finished before dinner. We have some significant values you need to be aware of and more value may present itself soon. Jan Blachowicz is priced at $7.7K but his fight with Santos in the main event is now a pick em. Additionally, Damir Hadzovic is now the favorite in his fight and he is priced at $7.4K on DraftKings. Cash game lines will start with the main event stack (Santos/Blachowicz) and Hadzovic this week so you essentially have those three spots locked in already in cash. Blachowicz and Hadzovic will be very popular in all formats.
The Main Event: Jan Blachowicz $7.7K vs Thiago Santos $8.5K
This is a five-round fight and for that reason alone, both of these guys are GPP plays and the cash game stack is highly recommended, being many of Blachowicz’s fights go into the later rounds and end in decisions.
Let’s discuss Jan Blachowicz first. Jan is a disciplined striker. He is skilled and technical. He lands 3.64 significant strikes per minute. He will need to be good defensively because Santos will have the speed advantage both on the feet and with his hand speed. Jan can slow the pace with his grappling which includes a 1.59 takedown average per fight, and he is a BJJ black belt so he holds the advantage on the ground. He will look to take this fight deep into the championship rounds and work a decision or work his BJJ game. This will essentially be a home crowd for Jan being he is from Poland and it’s a train ride away to Prague.
Santos is a highlight waiting to happen. His speed and athleticism make him fun to watch and his power is evident with some of his KO/TKO finishes. He has been submitted a few times, which is why he’ll want to keep this fight on the feet, where his hand speed advantage comes into play. Santos only has two fights at LHW and neither has seen the scorecards. His gas tank at LHW doesn’t seem to be an issue, considering the Anders fight was physically exhausting. I am picking Santos to win this fight, but I would go with a 60-40% split in favor of Santos in multi GPP lineups.
The Co-Main Event: Marcos Rogerio de Lima $8.4K vs Stefan Struve $7.8K
This is a low volume GPP fight for me. Be aware, there is significant line value on Struve as he is now the favorite. Both guys are capable of finishing, but de Lima was in a fight very similar to this vs Wieczorek in his last fight and he only scored 68 points. I expect him to have the same game plan vs Struve in this fight. He has the punching power to get the knockout and can secure a few takedowns and work some ground and pound.
Stefan Struve has been disappointing recently. He is 7-foot-tall and doesn’t fight behind his jab. He throws heavy kicks, but his opponents are often outside of that range or crowding him to avoid the damage. Struve has been put on his back often in his last few fights and can’t get up; instead, he works his BJJ submission game from his back. Struve has lost three straight fights so this could be his last opportunity for a win, or he could end up getting cut. I’d stay away in cash games, but you can sprinkle both guys in GPPs. My pick to win is de Lima via decision.
Sneaky GPP Fight: Polo Reyes $8.8K vs Damir Hadzovic $7.4K
I had this fight pegged as a sneaky GPP fight and I was on Polo Reyes to win this fight after tape study. Both of these guys are strikers and have not shown any interest in taking this to the ground. They have entered the pocket and exchanged in previous fights, so I expect to see that happen here as the fight moves along. In my tape study, I noticed Hadzovic tends to throw single strikes and doesn’t enter his striking range looking to put combinations together. Polo Reyes, on the other hand, will throw two- and three-punch combinations. He also is willing to exchange in the pocket with guys such as James Vick, who knocked him out, and Matt Frevola, who Reyes was able to finish in the first round.
My pick to win is Polo Reyes based on his volume and accumulated damage over three rounds. The issue we need to be aware of is that the odds flipped and Hadzovic is now the favorite at -120. He will be very popular, and I get the feeling something is going on, possibly an undisclosed injury or injury in training. I advise you to pay close attention to the line movement and I will inform you in the TQE UFC Discord chat if I hear anything. This line movement just doesn’t make sense to me. Both guys are GPP plays.
Sneaky GPP Fight: Michal Oleksiejczuk $8.9K vs Gian Villante $7.3K
This is going to be another fight that will play out mostly on the feet. Oleksiejczuk has one fight in the UFC but put on a very impressive pace on short notice. I expect him to bring that pressure again, which is why this fight can finish. Oleksiejczuk will force Villante to exchange early and often as he walks forward with his barrage of kicks and punches. Villante will have a chance to counter with his power, so he is worth a few plays in GPPs this week. Oleksiejczuk did shoot for a few single leg takedowns so he has that in his arsenal also. I like both sides of this fight is GPPs. My pick to win is Oleksiejczuk by late finish. His pace will wear out Villante if he doesn’t clip him.
Sneaky GPP Fight: Magomed Ankalaev $9.1K vs Klidson Abreu $7.1K
I am staying away from Ankalaev in cash because I think Abreu is very dangerous early in this fight. I expect Ankalaev to have more in the gas tank in Round 3 and secure the win if it gets that far but the first and second rounds are going to be interesting. Ankalaev had a hype train behind his first UFC fight vs Paul Craig and he was on his way to a decision win before Craig locked in a submission in the closing seconds of the fight. Abreu is a better BJJ player than Paul Craig and has more power in his strikes also. Abreu is 14-2 and both of his loses are by third-round KO/TKO, where he appears to gas and drop his hands in striking exchanges. Abreu is my favorite low priced GPP play. He is coming in on short notice and has a legit chance to finish this fight. Both guys are GPP plays for me, but I will be more heavily on Abreu.
Sneaky GPP Fight: Gillian Robertson $8.6K vs Veronica Macedo $7.6K
This fight is interesting from a GPP perspective. Both girls have submission upside if they choose to roll. I expect Macedo to be the better striker with her flashy kicking game, being she is a black belt in Taekwondo and a brown belt in karate. She also has a brown belt in BJJ but has given up a significant size and strength advantage to her previous opponents. Robertson has shown the tendency to want the fight on the ground which could play into Macedo’s wheelhouse. Both girls are GPP possibilities for the submission upside but Macedo is priced right to be higher owned.
Top Tier Leans ($9.4K-$8.7K):
- Petr Yan $9.3K – I am a big fan of Petr Yan and he has scored well in his previous UFC fights, but Yan is only a low volume GPP play for me here. Dodson’s style does not lead me to believe that Yan will get the finish or score well on DraftKings. I am fading Dodson, even in a win, he won’t score well. Fading this fight is a good strategy also.
- Chris Fishgold $9K – Fishgold is a cash play and GPP play in this matchup. He will push a pace, get takedowns, and wear out his opponent Daniel Teymur. Teymur swings bombs early and that is my only concern if he catches Fishgold but I’m all over Fishgold in all formats. He’s finished 14 of 17 fights and is a submission specialist.
- Michel Prazeres $9.4K – Prazeres has the skill to win this fight everywhere it goes. From a DraftKings perspective, the concern is if Prazeres doesn’t finish the fight he won’t pay off his price. We need a finish and I think he can get the sub. He’s a safe play for the win and I will have no problem with him in cash or any GPP format.
- Damir Ismagulov $9.2K – Damir is a great play in both cash and GPPs. He has the striking advantage and grappling advantage. He is constantly putting pressure on his opponent and keeps good range. His opponent is a submission specialist so there is a risk, but I’m on Damir here. Alvarez has a long submission friendly frame, so he makes for a low volume GPP option if you are playing a bunch of lineups.
Mid-Tier Leans ($8.6K-$7.6K):
- Lucie Pudilova $7.9K – She is the only fighter from the Czech Republic, home cooking is a real thing!!! That’s the narrative, but I have a bet on her, and I like her to win this fight. Pudilova is very tough and she gets mean once she gets hit. Carmouche is going to need to secure takedowns to win this fight and she can do that. Pudilova is the better, more violent striker and she fights behind her jab. I want to see Pudilova step forward with an elbow down the middle when Carmouche swings wildly to close the distance for a body lock trip. Once Carmouche gets the fight to the ground, she isn’t very active. I will be playing a few Pudilova lineups.
- Dwight Grant $8K – This fight is priced right. It’s a 50/50 fight for the win. The DFS issue we need to be aware of is that Grant has the finishing ability and I think Pedersoli’s path to victory is a low volume striking decision. I won’t be playing Pedersoli, but I will take a few plays of Grant, who needs to be more aggressive than his first UFC fight vs Zak Ottow. Pedersoli will be more aggressive than Ottow, which can play into Grant’s counter punching style. Grant in GPPs is a play I will be on a bit.
Bottom Tier Leans ($7.5K-$6.8K): We have plenty of plays here: Hadzovic, Villante, and Abreu are all in line for a possible finish. In you are playing a ton of lines, I would sprinkle in Teymur and Alvarez also, as they can finish if the opportunity presents itself.
- Diego Ferreira $7.5K- This is a tough matchup. I think it should be lined closer. We can get Ferreira at a great price here. He may be the better striker and he has finishing potential with his world class BJJ attack. His opponent, Khabilov, has a path to victory if he holds his own in the striking exchanges and secures a few takedowns while avoiding the submission. But again, this fight is lined too wide and Ferreira is a live dog. I can see him as a cash option and GPP play here.