UFC on ESPN 1: N’Gannou vs Velasquez
Sunday, February 17th, 2019 5:30 pm EST
I am finding this UFC card extremely difficult. There is already lots of line value so keep an eye out for how close some of these lines get. Early line value exposes the chalk plays of the card. Chalk plays will be highly owned in both tournaments and cash games.
The Main Event: Cain Velasquez $9K vs Francis N’Gannou $7.2K
I have been back and forth on this fight all week. I suggest playing both guys in GPPs and the cash stack is safe if you choose to play it. On the TQE MMA Podcast, Tyler said he would be speaking to a friend of his who has first-hand knowledge of Cain’s camp. The simple message is that Cain has been training very well and the video people have been passing around saying Cain looks slow was taped over a year ago.
My view on this fight is that Cain is going to pressure forward and initiate the exchanges, which is what Francis N’Gannou needs. I would like to see Francis take a page out of James Vick’s book and stay on the outside and counterstrike when Cain closes the distance. Cain’s pace is going to get the best of N’Gannou as the fight moves along. Cain is now 36 years old and hasn’t fought in 30 months so that pace may have an effect on him also.
I decided to get off the fence and take a stand, I am picking Francis N’Gannou by first-round KO/TKO. Francis will be in 16 of my 20 GPP lineups.
The Co-Main Event: James Vick $8K vs Paul Felder $8.2K
This line has flipped, and James Vick is now the favorite. Vick likes to fight off the outside ring. He is very long and uses his length advantage to keep distance. Paul Felder is going to need to get inside and exchange with Vick. I think he will have success getting inside and will be able to work the clinch to get Vick down. This fight can be played pretty evenly in GPPs, but you can also leave it out of some lineups. This fight is evenly matched so unless you have a strong take, I would look elsewhere in cash. My pick is Felder, and this is my pick for sneaky GPP fight.
GPP Fight: Alex Caceres $6.9K vs Kron Gracie $9.3K
When your last name is Gracie, you are expected to get a win via submission. Caceres needs to keep this on the feet and strike from distance. Being this is Kron’s first UFC fight and his striking isn’t totally proven, you can take a shot on Caceres in GPPs, but I fully expect Kron to win via submission when he is able to get this fight to the ground. Official pick is Kron via submission.
GPP Fight: Manny Bermudez $9.1K vs Benito Lopez $7.1K
Official weigh-ins just finished, and Bermudez missed weight by four pounds, weighing in at 140 pounds for this fight. I think this is a strategic miss. Bermudez will be the heavier fighter on fight night by a big margin. In an interview I watched this week, he said he entered the ring in his last fight at 160 pounds. This fight was scheduled at 135 pounds and him not making weight tells me he will have that weight advantage again. Lopez will be highly owned himself because he is the better striker. Bermudez is a great GPP play for the submission upside in Rounds 1 or 2 resulting in a high score on DraftKings. Lopez is also a good play being he is the better striker and can get a KO/TKO or decision win and will pay off his price. My pick is Bermudez via submission.
Top Tier Leans ($9.4K-$8.7K):
- Cynthia Calvillo $9.2K – You can argue that Calvillo should be undefeated at this point. She has a clear advantage on the ground and should look to take this fight there as soon as she can. Casey is tough and has a mean streak, but she is 8-6 with a 25% takedown defense. She also doesn’t look for takedowns at all. Casey is a high-level BJJ black belt, but I haven’t seen her interested in using those skills often enough. I see merit in playing both of these girls in GPPs but I will be more on Calvillo in GPPs and will consider her for cash games.
- Vicente Luque $9.4K – I am a big fan of Luque overall and in this fight. I am not a fan of his price because I can see two paths of victory for Luque: early KO/TKO or decision. That decision win possibility is concerning for the GPP score. He is very expensive and will need to do a lot of damage in three rounds to score well in a decision win. Barberena is very tough and can last three rounds of getting beat up by Luque. Consider Luque in cash and all GPP formats.
- Luke Sanders $8.7K – Luke Sanders finds ways to lose fights that he is ahead on the scorecards. Lucky for him he is fighting a shot Renan Barao who can be finished by the power of Luke Sanders. Barao missed weight again for this fight but I don’t think it matters much. Sanders is a multi-entry GPP option.
Mid Tier Leans ($8.6K-$7.7K):
- Nik Lentz $7.7K – Lentz is a UFC veteran, well-rounded fighter, and you are getting a nice underdog price on him. At 34 years old, he is actually the younger fighter and has fought much better competition. He also has an opportunistic guillotine choke and a good wrestling game. Holtzman was a big underdog in his last fight and surprised many with his takedown defense. Holtzman has lost to the best two fighters he has faced and usually goes to a decision, so let’s take three rounds of Nik Lentz and that skillset. I can see Lentz in all GPP formats and cash.
Bottom Tier Leans ($7.5K-$6.8K):
- Andre Fili $7.4K – We are getting a great DK price on Andre Fili here. Jury is coming off a knockout loss to Fili’s teammate at Team Alpha Male, Chad Mendes. This fight should have been lined much closer and the odds have closed up after DraftKings prices dropped. I expect much of this fight to play out on the feet and Fili does throw a higher volume. Fili has the wrestling advantage, but Jury has a black belt in BJJ, so he won’t want to stay on the ground long. I like Fili in cash and GPPs.
- Emily Whitmire $7.6K – There is significant odds value on Whitmire at this point. Based on the tape I’ve watched this makes sense because Albu has a gas tank issue. I fully expect Albu to win round 1. Being we expect Albu to gas let’s give Whitmire Round 3. So, the winner could be whoever pulls out Round 2. It’s probably a coin flip for one of these girls to win the last two minutes of Round 2 to win this fight. I was surprised that Albu weighed in at 114.5 pounds for this fight. I think she took her cardio preparation better and we’ll see a better gas tank here. But we can’t ignore the odds value. I suggest either play Whitmire for the odds value or fade her completely.