Here's some advice for who to pick in your DraftKings lineup for Saturday's UFC Fight Night 101 event in Melbourne, Australia, headlined by Robert Whittaker taking on Derek Brunson in a five-round middleweight bout on FOX Sports 1.
Top Target: Jake Matthews ($9,300)
Jake Matthews fights back on home soil in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 101 on Saturday night as he looks to rebound from a loss in his last fight. Matthews fought for the first time on American soil in his last bout, and it didn't quite go his way as he was finished with punches in the first round by Kevin Lee. Matthews returns to Australia, where he has gone 9-1 in ten fights. He takes on Andrew Holbrook, who is coming off of his first career loss at that same event Matthews lost at in July.
Holbrook won the first eleven fights of his career, with nine wins coming inside the first round. He didn't face the toughest competition outside of the UFC, and he could easily be 0-2 inside the Octagon as his debut UFC bout was a close split decision win. He is coming off of being stopped in just 34 seconds. Matthews is still a big-time prospect at 22-years-old, and he already has a wealth of experience with twelve career fights, six with the UFC. He has physical tools that make this an excellent match-up for him.
Holbrook has good submissions, but his wrestling game hasn't shown up in his two UFC fights, and his striking is well behind that of Matthews. Holbrook will need to show off his wrestling skill in this fight for him to be able to get the better of Matthews. Matthews had trouble getting up from the bottom when put there by Lee, but Lee is a superior wrestler. Matthews' skillset should guide him to a relatively easy win, and this is bounce back matchmaking for him. It's a matter of whether he gets a finish, and with him having the highest salary of all the fighters on the card, you better hope so.
I think he gets the finish as he has stopped better fighters in his career. He is way too talented to lose to Holbrook, and I see a first-round stoppage. I'm confident rolling with Matthews as my top play.
Value Target: Tyson Pedro ($7,500)
Tyson Pedro is making his UFC debut in his native Australia on Saturday night, and he gets a main card spot as he takes on Khalil Rountree in a light heavyweight bout. Pedro is in the UFC very early in his career as he is just 4-0, and three of those fights have taken place in 2016. All four of his wins have come by stoppage inside the first round, with all three this year coming by submission. He is a very good prospect, but he gets an opponent who is also a very good prospect, something that is needed at 205 pounds.
Rountree has just a little more experience than Pedro, but not much, as he is 4-1 in his career. He is coming off of his first career loss in his UFC debut, a decision loss to Andrew Sanchez in the finals of season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter. It was a very lackluster fight, and it was missing a lot of what made Rountree a top prospect as he headed into his stay in the TUF house. Rountree does have two official wins by knockout, and another while in the TUF house.
This could end up being quite the battle on the feet as both men are not shy about trading strikes. Pedro is a power house with excellent boxing and an excellent submission game if the stand-up starts getting out of his favor. Rountree fights as a southpaw and has been coached in the past by Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. That should be interesting as Pedro has a karate background. Conditioning is going to be a big factor as Rountree showed his gas tank isn't up to par in his fight with Sanchez, and Pedro is an unknown as he hasn't gone past 3:05 in his career. Rountree is going to have the edge in a clinch battle while Pedro will have an edge on the mat.
Rountree is the slight favorite in this one in the betting odds, and he has a clear edge in fantasy salaries. I'm not so sure Pedro deserves to be the underdog, and his $7,500 salary presents great value as he is a good bet to score a first-round stoppage. That all makes him an excellent choice for your line-up.
Target To Avoid: Ning Guangyou ($8,200)
Ning Guangyou is a slight favorite over Marlon Vera in a battle of bottom-level bantamweights in what could be a loser gets cut bout on Saturday night. This is a fight that has been delayed a couple of times as they were originally scheduled to fight on two separate occasions in August before issues with Guangyou ultimately postponed this fight to this card. Both men are looking to rebound from tough losses in their last fight, and this is a close fight on paper.
On the feet, Guangyou is more of a flat-footed boxer with okay power from a southpaw stance, and he throws with more volume. Vera mixes his strikes up more and will dazzle with some flying knee attacks, but he lacks the true finishing power in his fists. When it comes to the grappling department, Guangyou is a better wrestler, but Vera is better on the mat with submission attacks. He is also better in the scrambles. He has four wins by submission, and Guangyou has been submitted once in his short career.
Vera is the more aggressive fighter of the two. Both men are used to going 15 minutes, so conditioning shouldn't come into play too much. If it goes for the third round, Vera will likely be the fresher fighter. Neither fighter is all that impressive, and this fight is just to see which one can be kept around on the roster.
I think Vera gets the win, but it goes the distance. I would advise against having either man in your line-up, especially Guangyou as I don't see him getting the win.
Underdog Target: Robert Whittaker ($7,400)
Robert Whittaker goes into his first UFC main event on Saturday as a slight underdog by the oddsmakers, and an even bigger underdog in fantasy salaries. He takes on Derek Brunson in the headline spot, a fight that was moved up from the co-main event slot, meaning two more rounds have been added since they originally agreed to the fight. Both men are on impressive win streaks as each has won five straight. Brunson has finished his last four opponents while Whittaker has gone the distance in his last two, but has never found himself in danger.
This is going to be an interesting fight, and I'm glad it gets the main event treatment because it's a high-level fight. It is also one that is tough to predict the outcome. Brunson may be the more talented fighter at this stage, but he can be beaten. Whittaker is quite underrated at times but is not a fighter to overlook. On the feet, Whittaker is a better striker though Brunson may be more powerful. Brunson tends to use his length to fight at a distance, and that can hinder him at times as it makes his takedown attempts look very choreographed. Whittaker excels in counterpunching, and he is a very patient fighter while Brunson tends to lean on the aggressive side.
When it comes to wrestling, Brunson is vastly superior there, but Whittaker has solid takedown defense. Brunson excels in ground-and-pound, and Whittaker is going to have to prove he can get out from the bottom. He hasn't had to do that much yet at 185 pounds. Brunson tends to lunge when he strikes, and that is going to leave his chin open for a counter. Whittaker has heavy power. Brunson needs to get this fight in the clinch or on the ground as Whittaker will get stronger and find his openings. It's a tough fight to predict as either man can win this fight in spectacular fashion.
With Whittaker being such good value at his salary, he is a definite underdog target. Going 25 minutes can give you more scoring opportunities, though I think should he win, it is by finish in the later rounds.
Ryan Frederick: Jake Matthews ($9,300), Omari Akhmedov ($8,600), Ben Nguyen ($8,500), Jenel Lausa ($8,300), Tyson Pedro ($7,500), Robert Whittaker ($7,400)
In my line-up for this card, I have three fighters I mentioned above with Jake Matthews, Tyson Pedro and Robert Whittaker. Matthews is in a bounce back fight, and while it is a tough match-up, I see him dispatching Andrew Holbrook. Pedro is a solid prospect. Whittaker is in a fun main event that could go either way, but his salary is favorable. To round out my team, first I'm going with Omari Akhmedov. Akhmedov has just a 3-3 record in the UFC, but he is powerful. His opponent, Kyle Noke, has had his chin tested a lot. I like Akhmedov to score a finish.
Ben Nguyen is also on my team. He is a very solid flyweight fighter, and he makes his home in Australia these days. He needs a big bounce back, and while Geane Herrera is a tough opponent, Nguyen's slick submission game will give him fits. Jenel Lausa finishes out my team. He's making his UFC debut, but he has more experience than his opponent, Yao Zhikui. He is better on the feet and has a better ground game, and I like him to get the win.
Paul Fontaine: Derek Brunson ($8,800), Khalil Rountree ($8,700), Ben Nguyen ($8,500), Jenel Lausa ($8,300), Richard Walsh ($8,100), Kyle Noke ($7,600)
Derek Brunson is a punisher and I think he'll be looking to make a point in his first UFC main event. When he wins, he destroys and he'll do that Saturday night. Khalil Rountree should rebound from a disappointing UFC debut and dispatch of the debuting Tyson Pedro. Ben Nguyen is an awesome fighter and I'm looking for his bout to steal the show. He's one of the only guys in his division capable of first round stoppages every time out.
The debuting Jenel Lausa is on a 4-fight win streak and his opponent has even less experience than he does so I'm thinking he keeps that streak going on this show. The "other Filthy" Richard Walsh will be trying to impress fans in his home country I like him to score a slight upset over Canadian Jonathan Meunier. My last pick is the plucky Kyle Noke. He's always capable of a finish and his opponent Omari Akhmedov comes in on a two-fight losing streak. Look for the hometown hero to make good.
Peach Machine: Jake Matthews ($9,300), Alex Volkanovski ($9,200), Jon Tuck ($9,000), Robert Whittaker ($7,400), Jason Knight ($7,300), Dan Kelly ($7,100)
Whittaker is one of my favorite fighters. I really like him at 185. Brunson is really good, but this is a winnable fight for Whittaker, which he needs to keep moving up in the grid locked division. Jake Matthews is Australia's golden boy. Both Matthews and Holbrook are coming off losses. This should be a fun one, and I like Matthews to get the KO. Jon Tuck is from Guam. I love that island. He's gone win-lose for his last 7, and he lost last time, so he's definitely winning.
Jason Knight is a guy who I wouldn't normally pick, but I remember seeing him fight last time and thinking, "take him next time he fights." Or maybe it was "don't take him..." whatever. Dan Kelly is another Aussie fan fav. Dan is gonna be raring to go, and Camozzi is primed to lose. Volkanovski was the most expensive fighter left I could afford, so I took him.