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UFC Fight Night 103 betting & DFS playbook: BJ Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez

Rodriguez vs Penn.png

Here's some advice for your gambling and fantasy needs for Sunday's UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Arizona, headlined by Yair Rodriguez taking on BJ Penn in a five-round featherweight bout on FOX Sports 1.

Yair Rodriguez (8-1) vs. BJ Penn (16-10-2)

  • Betting Odds: Rodriguez (-420), Penn (+335)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Rodriguez- $9,200, Penn- $7,000
  • Key Statistic: Penn last won in November 2010, Rodriguez had yet to make pro debut

Penn finally makes his return to the Octagon when he takes on Rodriguez who is looking to add the biggest win to his resume yet. Penn announced his intentions to return to competition over a year ago, but many snags came along the way. He is a former champ in two divisions and a member of the UFC Hall Of Fame, but training under the coaching of Greg Jackson reignited his passion to compete.

At his peak, Penn was arguably the most talented fighter to ever grace the Octagon. Rodriguez is one of the most talented fighters in the sport today, and he was coached by Jackson in the past, but this will be his second fight under a new training camp out of Chicago. Penn made a name of himself for his relentless speed and aggression in the past with excellent boxing and a strong submission game.

The older you get, the reflexes go, and Penn is now 38. He didn't look good when he last fought, and that was back in July 2014. He may be too old now to keep up with the speed and pace of Rodriguez. Rodriguez is flashy, but the longer the fight goes, the more he starts slowing down and making it a close fight on the scorecards. I do think this is a bad fight for Penn, but he's made a career of proving people wrong. He has the right coaching team behind him, and one familiar with Rodriguez.

However, I see this as Rodriguez' fight to lose. He is a heavy favorite and has the highest fantasy salary, but I still see him as great plays in both as his striking could finish Penn early.

Joe Lauzon (26-12) vs. Marcin Held (22-5)

  • Betting Odds: Lauzon (-110), Held (-110)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Lauzon- $8,500, Held- $7,700
  • Key Statistic: Lauzon and Held have a combined 30 wins by submission

Submission specialists clash in the co-main event as UFC veteran Lauzon welcomes Held to his second appearance inside the Octagon. Lauzon has been with the UFC since 2006, and should be around for as long as he wants to fight. He has racked up the most post-fight bonus awards in company history with 15, and is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. Held has 27 career fights at just 24 years of age, and it seems like his best is yet to come. He dropped a decision in his UFC debut to Diego Sanchez, and he doesn't get an easy second bout.

Both men have a big track record of scoring wins by submission as Lauzon has gotten 18 wins by submission while Held has twelve. They are different in their submission attacks as Lauzon is a more all-around submission artist while Held looks for leg locks. Lauzon has more power in his fists, and that could be a key factor in this one. Held has never been finished by punches, but he has a lot of fights for a young age and that chin is going to be tested eventually.

Lauzon also has better conditioning, and the edge in experience. They are even on the betting odds, but Lauzon is the better bet. Lauzon is also a good fantasy play at his $8,500 salary as I can see him finding a sneaky finish of Held.

Court McGee (18-5) vs. Ben Saunders (20-7-2)

  • Betting Odds: McGee (-105), Saunders (-115)
  • DraftKings Salaries: McGee- $7,800, Saunders- $8,400
  • Key Statistic: In 11 UFC bouts each, McGee has 22 takedowns, Saunders has 2

McGee and Saunders are looking to break into the rankings discussion when they meet in a solid welterweight bout. Saunders steps into the Octagon for the first time in a year after competing in one fight outside of the UFC while he was a free agent. McGee looks to score his second straight win after scoring a decision in his last fight. This is an interesting styles clash fight.

McGee goes after the takedown as he averages two per fight, but he shoots for them several times per fight. Saunders hasn't shown much of a solid takedown defense game, and he could find himself on his back a lot. Takedowns score points in both the fight and in fantasy, so McGee has the leg up there. Saunders also gets hit a lot as he leaves his chin out there, though McGee hasn't finished an opponent by strikes since before he was in the UFC. Saunders is durable and he has some flashy submissions, so he won't mind being taken down if it means he gets to hunt for those submissions.

Saunders also has more knockout wins on his record than he does submissions, though McGee has a solid chin. This fight is close on paper as evidenced by the betting odds. Both men would be solid bets as it will be a tough fight to score. McGee is behind on fantasy salaries, and I could see him scoring a lot of points due to takedowns. He is the better fantasy play and has great value.

John Moraga (16-5) vs. Sergio Pettis (14-2)

  • Betting Odds: Moraga (+130), Pettis (-150)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Moraga- $8,100, Pettis- $8,100
  • Key Statistic: Pettis has been finished in both of his losses

Two flyweights headed in different directions meet in the opening main card bout. Moraga is taking this fight on short notice as a replacement for Jussier Formiga, and he'll be looking to bounce back from two straight losses. Pettis is looking to score his third straight win. This is a perfect test to see where Pettis is going to go at 125 pounds. He has plenty of potential, but he has hindered himself and been stopped in both of his losses.

Moraga is the type of opponent who can capitalize on openings, and he can apply pressure when needed. Pettis is a very well-rounded fighter who has shown improvement in each fight, but he has been shown to lose focus in fights at times, and it has cost him. Moraga is a sharp boxer, and while he isn't much of a takedown threat, he is very dangerous on the mat. He is also sharp in the clinch and will go after his foes with elbows and dirty boxing. Pettis will be needing to utilize his footwork a lot in this one to keep Moraga from getting close, and that will be the difference.

They are close on the betting odds, and there is money that could be made on Moraga as he can find chances to score the win. I do like Pettis in this one though. For fantasy, they are even on salaries, and I see this one going the distance, so there are better plays on this card. If you're looking at one in this fight, I would recommend Moraga as he has the better finishing ability.

Frankie Saenz (11-4) vs. Augusto Mendes (5-1)

  • Betting Odds: Saenz (-165), Mendes (+145)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Saenz- $8,300, Mendes- $7,900
  • Key Statistic: Saenz has a 74% takedown defense percentage

Neither one of these fighters have had it easy lately. Saenz has lost two straight to former champions in Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland. Mendes lost his UFC debut to the new champion Cody Garbrandt, missing weight in the process, though he took it on short notice.

This could be a fight for a roster spot and both men will need a good showing. Saenz is the better fighter as he mixes his punches and takedowns well. Mendes is a reckless kickboxer who hasn't shown that he can deal with pressure from an opponent. Saenz lands a lot of strikes and will switch to the takedowns. He hasn't finished anyone in the UFC, but the power is there. Mendes has power, but he leaves himself open to being hit.

Seanz did get stopped in his last fight by Wineland, and he has left himself open to being hit. Mendes has the kind of power to finish Saenz. I like Saenz in this fight, and he is the play. I do think this one will find the winner scoring the finish.

Aleksei Oleinik (50-10-1) vs. Viktor Pesta (10-3)

  • Betting Odds: Oleinik (-140), Pesta (+120)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Oleinik- $8,600, Pesta- $7,600
  • Key Statistic: Oleinik has 41 wins by submission

There is a huge gap in experience between these two heavyweights, and this will be a curious bout. This will be Olenik's 62nd career fight, while it'll be the 14th for Pesta. Neither man land a lot of strikes, and this could be a boring styles clash.

Oleinik is a submission artist but he has heavy hands. Pesta has never been taken down in the UFC, and he has good takedowns. However, he has been knocked out in his last two fights, and Oleinik has some power, though he will be looking for submissions more. Oleinik has 41 wins by submission, so Pesta will need to be on the lookout.

I'm not expecting a particularly exciting fight, but I favor Oleinik big time in this fight, despite the fact he took this on late notice. Oleinik is a good bet to score a finish, so he will be the play to take in fantasy line-ups.

Tony Martin (10-3) vs. Alex White (11-2)

  • Betting Odds: Martin (-175), White (+155)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Martin- $8,900, White- $7,300
  • Key Statistic: White moves up a weight class on short notice

White is looking to score the upset as he moves up a weight class in taking a short notice fight against Martin. It has been a while since we have seen both men in action as Martin hasn't fought since last January, and White has been out of action since February.

Martin is going to have a slight reach advantage, but White throws with a lot of volume and is the better fighter on the feet. Martin is a better takedown artist, though he begins to slow the longer the fight goes. White keeps a solid pace throughout fights. I do expect Martin to be able to take the fight to the mat as he is a big lightweight and White will be giving up the size in going up a weight class.

Martin is the betting favorite due to that, and due to White coming in on short notice. White is a very live underdog and he has a good shot at scoring the upset, especially as the fight goes deep into the late minutes. He is more of a finisher. White is a very good play in fantasy at a low salary, and he has the tools to stop Martin late in the fight.

Devin Powell (8-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (6-0-1)

  • Betting Odds: Powell (+220), Klose (-260)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Powell- $7,200, Klose- $9,000
  • Key Statistic: Klose took fight on short notice

Both men are making their UFC debuts in this fight. Powell is coming in off of being signed after being on Dana White's "Looking For A Fight" show. Klose is coming into the fight on short notice as an injury replacement for Jordan Rinaldi. Powell has been fighting longer than Klose has, though Klose has fought more in the time since he made his pro debut.

Powell is more of a combination striker, but he has a lot of power in his strikes. Klose is more well-rounded and has a good takedown game to back him up. He is also a big lightweight so Powell will be giving up some size.

Despite taking the fight on short notice, Klose is the betting favorite and has the huge edge in fantasy salaries. Powell's power could come into play and makes him a solid underdog fantasy target. I don't expect this to go the distance, and I like Klose in this fight.

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (6-3) vs. Nina Ansaroff (6-5)

  • Betting Odds: Jones-Lybarger (+130), Ansaroff (-150)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Jones-Lybarger- $8,100, Ansaroff- $8,100
  • Key Statistic: Both are on two-fight losing skids

Two ladies looking to end their respective two-fight losing skids meet in the featured prelim on Fight Pass, and someone will be back in the win column. Both come from solid camps as Jones-Lybarger is with the MMA Lab team in Arizona, and Ansaroff comes from American Top Team.

This one likely stays on the feet. Jones-Lybarger is tall for the division at 5'7", and she throws a lot of volume in her striking. She isn't a hard hitter. Ansaroff is the harder hitter, and she has shown crisp combinations. Both are good defensive wrestlers, but I don't see this hitting the mat too much. Ansaroff is more diverse on her feet, and I see her getting the decision.

She is the better betting option. However, I wouldn't recommend having either lady in your fantasy line-ups as they have even salaries, and I don't see value in either.

Walt Harris (8-5) vs. Chase Sherman (9-2)

  • Betting Odds: Harris (-135), Sherman (+115)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Harris- $8,700, Sherman- $7,500
  • Key Statistic: Both have won all of their fights by knockout

Heavyweight knockout artists clash in prelim action as both are fighting for their UFC futures. Both men have won all of their career fights by knockout, and each man has lost by knockout in their careers.

Harris has a reach advantage of three inches in this fight, and that could play a difference. He is a pure striker whereas Sherman has some wrestling to rely on. Sherman has bad defense on his feet, though, and he eats a lot of punches. He is durable enough, but that is going to catch up to him against an opponent with a lot of power like Harris.

I like Harris in this fight to win by knockout. I would be confident having him in my fantasy line-ups.

Bojan Mihajlovic (10-4) vs. Joachim Christensen (13-4)

  • Betting Odds: Mihajlovic (+200), Christensen (-240)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Mihajlovic- $7,400, Christensen- $8,800
  • Key Statistic: Mihajlovic makes his debut at 205 pounds

Mihajlovic fought at heavyweight in his UFC debut, and he gave up a ton of size to Francis Ngannou, who dwarfed him and finished him quickly. He is moving down to light heavyweight for his second UFC bout, and he gets a tough for in Christensen, who is in search of his first UFC win.

Both men are solid strikers, but both are older fighters in the twilight of their careers. Mihajlovic is going to be giving up height and reach, and that will help a solid pocket striker like Christensen. Mihajlovic packs power, but so does Christensen, and Christensen can switch it to a grappling battle better. He also has very good submissions.

This is likely a loser gets cut fight, and I favor Christensen in this one. He is a solid betting favorite and a solid fantasy play as I see him scoring a finish.

Dmitrii Smoliakov (8-1) vs. Cyril Asker (7-2)

  • Betting Odds: Smoliakov (+105), Asker (-125)
  • DraftKings Salaries: Smoliakov- $8,200, Asker- $8,000
  • Key Statistic: Asker absorbs almost 10 strikes per minute

A low-level heavyweight bout with a job on the line opens the card in Phoenix. Asker is the slight betting favorite, and he is the better striker of the two. Smoliakov hits hard and has some decent wrestling to turn to, but Asker is good at defending takedowns. Smoliakov put on a really bad performance in his UFC debut loss while Asker put up more of a fight before being knocked out.

Asker can be hit but Smoliakov doesn't put together his punches all that well, and he showed a lack of finishing instinct in his UFC debut. Someone is likely going to sleep in this one, which could make for interesting fantasy plays. I like Asker in fantasy as he has a slightly lower salary, and I think he has the better chance to win.