Drake's Takes:  UFC Fight Night Smith vs. Spann

Drake's Takes: UFC Fight Night Smith vs. Spann

This article is part of our Drake's Takes series.

Emily Whitmire (4-4-0) v. Hannah Goldy (5-2-0)

- Whitmire is a low-volume striker with quick movement and good level changes. She has fast hands and uses powerful jabs and crosses to move in and trip for a takedown. She struggles with big pressure and being back up causing her to immediately go to her grappling to get her out of trouble. "Spitfire" Whitmire has good trips and single legs and does well at finding submissions. She has issues with control and keeping herself in a dominant position for long periods, instead looking to clinch up or chain takedowns together.

-  Goldy is as strong as they come in the division. She has powerful, technical striking and good movement. She allows her opponent to walk into her counters and then throws a flurry of combos with punches and kicks to push them back. Hannah "24k" Goldy's  defense when the fight is on the feet is good, but she has shown deficiencies being taken down and controlled. She tends to stay on her back and work from there. In her last fight, she fought with a fiery intensity, working her own takedowns in, but she eventually would succumb to the volume of her opponent.

DFS Perspective:  I think the UFC is trying to get Goldy a much-needed win here and this is a smash spot for her. She should be able to completely overpower Whitmire and control where this fight goes at all times. I think she will also put out a tremendous output of strikes comparatively and win by decision, if not a finish.

My Pick:  Goldy

Gustavo Lopez (12-6-0) v. Heili Alateng (14-8-0, 1NC)

- Lopez is a well-rounded fighter with a knack for finishing fights early. His striking is much improved and is aided by his excellent movement and footwork. He uses a hook-jab combo mixing in feints to bait and counter. His defense can be lacking, particularly when being backed up he will keep his hands low. The ex-Combate Global champ has a great ground and submission game and has excellent takedowns. He is dangerous when postured up in top control and can sneak in chokes and guillotines when his opponent tries to get up. 

-  Alateng had a nice four-fight win streak laid to rest with a tough decision loss and looks to start another here. He has quick hands and throws a nice one-two followed by looping hooks and kicks. He pushes the pace and pressures forward. He has some nasty knees and elbows in the clinch. The Mongolian Knight will bull rush for takedowns and can get them against the cage or in the center with singles and doubles. He has excellent wrestling and control on the mat. His ground and pound can end things early once he works to control.

DFS Perspective:  I think Lopez is live for a knockout upset which would hit good value for GPP's. Alateng has yet to score well in his two decision victories and if he wins, I think it will be the same case here. He can no issue racking up takedowns but does not throw much volume behind them and has not had a submission in some time. He could find a knockout if he can work to top and score well from that. 

My Pick:  Lopez

Impa Kasanganay (9-1-0) v. Carlston Harris (16-4-0)

- Kasanganay got back on track with a second-round submission victory on the heels of the highlight-reel spinning back kick he ate the fight prior. He fights with forward pressure with nice jabs and hard low kicks. He has quick movement and will slip in and out baiting counters. The Sanford MMA product works great in the clinch throwing big knees and has excellent takedowns against the cage. He controls fighters very well and when they attempt to get up, he hangs on and racks up control time. 

-  Harris was impressive in his UFC debut in May with a fantastic Anaconda Choke in the first round. He showed impressive speed and wrestling in that fight. His striking, though it still needs work, is decent. He fights at range behind an accurate jab and a jab-hook combo. He will also throw hard round to kicks to the head and low kicks to the calves. Carlston thrives on the mat with excellent grappling and wrestling. He has great clinch control and can snag body lock takedowns against the cage or single legs in the open. He passes guard well and has nice ground and pound in top control. He also has an affinity for chokes and will likely attempt them throughout the fight.

DFS Perspective:  This is a dog-or-pass fight for me. Kasanganay has not been all that impressive altogether and without a finish, I do not think he scores well. Against a polished grappler like Harris, I am not sure he works his way to another submission here. I like Harris to push the tempo, run up some volume, snags some takedowns and hunt viciously for a sub, earning him a spot in the optimal.

My Pick:  Harris

Erin Blanchfield (6-1-0) v. Sarah Alpar (9-5-0)

- Blanchfield is a high-volume, pressure striker with a well-rounded overall game. She fights at a high pace from the bell and does not stop throwing. She has power in her strikes and even more in her kicks. She throws a very nice jab followed up by a looping overhand to the head. Her leg kicks are strong, and her round kicks to the head are powerful. Erin has shown great clinch work and a good takedown game. She immediately passes guard into a mount and hunts for various submissions. She is likely to be successful in the UFC and this is a good starting point for her. 

-  Alpar makes her way back for her second UFC hoping to lock up her first win. She is a bit of a stalker, walking forward throwing multiple jabs to the head and hooks to the body. She works well in the clinch with knees and elbows, but overall does not throw a ton of volume. "Too Sweet" Alpar has decent grappling and wrestling as well. She formulates good trips and takedowns out of the clinch but does not have the best control on the mat.

DFS Perspective:  Blanchfield is getting her shot in the UFC and is a huge favorite here. I think she pushes the pace for the entire fight and eventually wins by finish. At her price, an early finish and volume will be needed to hit the optimal, but I would not put it past her to get it done. She is an exciting young prospect, and everyone should be watching her in this fight.

My Pick:  Blanchfield

Montel Jackson (10-2-0) v. JP Buys (9-3-0)

- Jackson bounced back in a big way with a first round knockout last timeout and looks to be a heavy favorite coming into this fight. He is a great striker with incredible speed and movement. He is technical and wields big power in both of his hands. His Octagon control is excellent, as he will cut the ring off and dart in and out with punches and kicks and works even better when pressuring forward. Furthermore, Montel is a fantastic wrestler. His clinch work is deadly, and from there he can mix in body locks and slams. Working on the mat, he can posture up and rain down ground and pound or hunt for a submission.

-  Buys is moving up a weight class and taking this fight on short notice, hoping to grab his first UFC win. He is a rangy striker with good ring control and movement. He likes to switch stances, throw quick kicks and pounce forward with jabs and strong overhands. In his debut, he showed horrible striking defense, so keeping at distance will be his ticket to success on the feet. The two-division title holder in EFC is also a good grappler. He is strong in the clinch and can take down his opponent in multiple ways. On the mat, he is hyper-aggressive hunting for submissions and is keen on chokes and triangles.

DFS Perspective:  This is a tough matchup for Buys and aside from a fancy submission, I do not see how he wins this. Jackson is going to be better everywhere this goes. He will have a speed, IQ and power advantage. Both guys are good on the mat, but given how aggressive Buys can be, I think it only hurts him. Buys was torched in his debut, and Jackson has as much or more power here. A quick finish could be in order delivering a huge score even at his price.

My Pick:  Jackson

Zhu Rong (17-4-0) v. Brandon Jenkins (15-7-0)

- Rong is a great striker with big power and is hungry for his first UFC win. He has a good jab and strong overhand hook. He likes to pressure forward and is not afraid to brawl. His volume tends to lack at times, but he makes up for it with big power shows and takedowns. The 21-year-old prospect has great takedowns and control on the mat. He passes guard well and rains down deadly ground and pound in top control. He is also excellent at finding chokes from the front or back.

-  Jenkins is a highly entertaining debutant for the UFC and will look to make a win. He is a flashy striker who uses a lot of stance switches to close distance quickly and throw big kicks. He has a nice straight cross combo and good movement around the ring. The product of Syndicate MMA does not offer much in the way of a ground game and does not shoot for takedowns. He does good work in the clinch but can be taken down and controlled for periods of time. 

DFS Perspective:  I feel like Jenkins gets his bell rung in this one. He is a flashy fighter, and I think he has had more luck than most with some of his knockouts. Neither guy has fought huge names, but I think Zhu at 21 has more experience and has fought the better competition.  Look for Zhu to find his power stroke early and end it quickly.

My Pick:  Rong

Pannie Kianzad (16-5-0) v. Raquel Pennington (11-9-0)

- Kianzad rolls in on a four-fight win steak and seems to improve each time out. She is a boxer with good striking and quick hands. She throws a nice jab and sets herself up with good counter opportunities. Her combos are solid and often followed up with kicks. She can be hittable at times, but she has a good chin and will stay in brawling. The ex-Cage Warriors champ has decent grappling but prefers to keep the fight upright where her volume can take over. She does good work in the clinch with deadly knees and elbows.

-  Pennington is a veteran fighter in the UFC looking to extend her win streak to two with a big win here. She is a good striker with quick one-twos and leg kicks. She likes to keep the fight at range until she can explode forward and throw multiple strikes at once. The ex-title contender does not attempt many takedowns, and when she does it, is more to change the pace up a little bit. She does not control well on the mat but does have some submissions on her resume.

DFS Perspective:  I think this is going to be a high-volume striking match that could result in a big scoring decision. Neither lady fights much on the mat and I think the pace that Pannie puts out either drives Raquel to match her or fizzle out quickly. 

My Pick:  Kianzad

Mike Rodriguez (11-6-0, 1NC) v. Tafon Nchukwi (5-1-0)

- Rodriguez has his back up against the wall, having one once in the last four, and he needs a win here to stay relevant. He is a rangy striker with deadly kicks. He has hard, quick straights up the middle and follows them up with heavy hooks. His kicks are super powerful and what make his game. He will use low kicks to the attack the legs and huge round kicks and knees to attack the head and body. The Boston native is incredibly strong in the clinch and has many knockouts there. He does not shoot for takedowns but has good takedown defense and scrambling. 

-  Nchukwi suffered his first professional loss last time out and will look to get his power stroke going to get back in the win column. He has massive power with low volume but picks his shots well and waits for the time to strike. He does not throw many combos, instead looking for the kill shot each time. He has a nasty jab and big front kick. He will walk fighters down with his hands high and strike with big right leg kicks to the head and body. "Da Don" Nchukwi is not much of a ground artist, preferring the fight stay on the feet. He has great takedown defense and scrambling when taken down.

DFS Perspective:  I think this will be an explosive match that needs to be in your lineups. Both guys have huge power and can end it quickly. Tafon is live with Rodriguez's usual bad striking defense. Rodriguez is my preferred play, though. I think he throws with more volume, and if he can get this fight into the Muay Thai Plum clinch, watch how fast it ends.

My Pick:  Rodriguez

Nikolas Motta (12-3-0) v. Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1, 1NC)

- Motta is coming off a thrilling win on the contender series and making his anticipated debut in the UFC. He is a bit of a wild striker with massive power in his hands. He throws a quick jab and blitzes forward with hook after hook to the head and body. He will also mix in heavy leg kicks to the head and body. The Brazil native does not appear to go for takedowns but has great takedown defense. He has been controlled in past fights, but his scrambling looks much improved. 

-  VanCamp is also making his UFC debut and is an exciting submission wizard. His striking is decent. He has a good jab-to-hook combo and throws heavy kicks and knees to the head and body. He will allow his opponent to walk him down, switch stances and then look for a quick trip or takedown. A champion in multiple other associations including Chosen Few, he has gotten there with his vicious submission game. He has excellent, and multiple forms of, takedowns and immediately hunts for the submission. He has great control and does not stop looking for that finish.

DFS Perspective:  After watching tape on these guys, I am really loving the value on DK that can come from them. Motta has impressive power and could catch VanCamp when he moves in for a takedown, but he will have issues keeping the fight on the feet. I can see VanCamp having his way with takedowns, control and an eventual submission here. Load one into your lineup for cash and GPP and call it a day.

My Pick:  Vancamp

Nate Maness (13-1-0) v. Tony Gravely (21-6-0)

- Maness is a solid boxer with a well-rounded game. He is a rangy striker with a great hook and better jab. He has nice kicks that he mixes in with his combinations and controls the ring well. He does have issues with defense and tends to eat more than he puts out due to his low volume. The former HR MMA champ has a good submission game that is set up by good takedowns. He can sometimes struggle with control and allow opponents to get back up or get taken down himself.

-  Gravely was remarkable in his Round 2 knockout last time out and will look to keep it rolling here. He uses quick footwork and movement to set up striking exchanges and level changes that allow him to explode forward for takedowns. He has a nice jab-hook combination that he mixes in with feints to help create those level changes. The American Top Team product shines on the mat and will look to get it there early and often. He will shoot for singles, doubles or slams and then chain wrestle to keep control. In top control, he has massive ground and pound that has resulted in multiple knockout victories. He also has several submissions wins from various chokes. 

DFS Perspective:  Maness will have an advantage on the feet and will likely need to keep it there or craft a submission in order to win this one. Gravely will be better just about everywhere and be able to dictate where this fight goes. I see him chaining multiple takedowns and finding a way to finish this fight early for good value. 

My Pick:  Gravely

Joaquin Buckley (12-4-0) v. Antonio Arroyo (9-4-0)

- Buckley is fresh off an early knockout loss looking to get back to his own highlight-reel knockouts. He is a forward pressure striker with heavy overhands and looping hooks. Once in the pocket, he lets his hands fly, dishing out a ton of hard volume. He will dip in and out, throwing out massive round kicks and big low kicks. He explodes quickly but leaves himself open to big shots because of it. The Missouri native does not shoot for takedowns and does not offer much on the ground at all. He can be taken down and controlled but is strong in the clinch and hard to move. 

-  Arroyo started off with two wins in the UFC but has dropped the last two and needs to find start working back to where he has the advantage. He has good striking and great power. He throws a real nice jab and looping hook combo. He will mix in some kicks to the head and body and change levels to set up his takedowns. The Brazilian has a great ground game to go with his powerful striking. He has good takedowns in the clinch and in the open. He maintains good control on the mat, can throw hard ground-and-pound or find a choke for a finish. 

DFS Perspective:  If Arroyo gets back to his wrestling and shoots for takedowns from the beginning, I think he gets the upset here. He could also catch Buckley with his big power and knock him out. Both would result in big value for the dog. Buckley is becoming known for his highlight reel knockouts but has also been knocked out twice since entering the UFC. He will need to avoid the power and takedowns in order to win and needs an early finish to hit value. 

My Pick:  Arroyo

Arman Tsarukyan (16-2-0) v. Christos Giagos (19-8-0)

- Tsarukyan finds himself in the top 15 for the first time and looks to continue his climb with another big win. He is a technical striker with excellent precision. He fights at range with amazing footwork, moving in and out throwing jab-hook or jab-uppercut combinations. He throws nasty calf kicks and has great counters when being pressured. The freestyle wrestler out of Russia is more known for his terrific grappling. He has great single and double leg takedowns and has shown good control on the mat. On top, he can rain down nasty ground and pound for an early finish. He will also wear fighters out and eventually submit them.

-  Giagos is making his tenth fight in the UFC and looking to extend his win streak to three. He is a solid striker with quick movement and footwork. He pressures forward with a great jab and uses a hook-uppercut combo to follow. He does tend to tire and slow down early. The Blackhouse MMA product has a wrestling background and uses good level changes to set up his takedowns. He does not offer the best control on the mat, instead changing takedowns together working for a dominate position.

DFS Perspective:  Tsarukyan will be better everywhere this goes and should be able to ragdoll Giagos. Aside from a lucky knockout shot for Giagos, I do not see how he wins this. In his past fights, he has been able to rack up takedowns and control time, but Tsarukyan has amazing takedown defense, and he will have a hard time getting him to the mat. Tsarukyan is the most expensive on the slate and would require an early finish to hit value.

My Pick:  Tsarukyan

Ariane Lipski (13-7-0) v. Mandy Bohm (7-0-0, 1NC)

- Lipski comes in on a two-fight knockout losing streak and needs to right the ship quickly. She is a power puncher with a good one-two and big counter hook. She loves to sit back and bait her opponent in and then throw that counter followed by her own combo. She will also mix in elbows and kicks to all parts of the body. Her defense has been an issue and she has been too hittable with little head movement. The "Queen of Violence" has improving grappling, but it is not where it needs to be. She is not good at takedowns, is taken down herself easily and allows herself to be controlled for long periods of time.

-  Bohm is fresh off a win at Bellator 247 in Italy and will be making her well-deserved UFC debut. She is an aggressive, volume striker with a fast jab and a nasty overhand. She continually pressures forward, throwing a left overhand-left hook combo, mixing in low and round kicks driving her opponent to the cage where she can throw nasty elbows in the clinch. The "Monster" out of Germany also appears to have an excellent ground game. She has fast single and double leg takedowns, as well as body locks. She passes guard well and can mount for ground-and-pound or take the back and hunt for a choke.

DFS Perspective:  This is a tough fight to predict. Lipski struggles against higher level competition but does very well against lower. Given that it is Bohm's debut, we do not know what kind of level she brings in. From her tape, she looks good and will certainly give Lipski a hard time on the ground. If Bohm's game plan is to get this fight to the mat and control Lipski, then I think she wins, and potentially by finish. If Lipski is going to get back on track, she needs to keep this fight on the feet and work her power and volume. 

My Pick:  Bohm

Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1, 1NC) v. Devin Clark (12-5-0)

- Cutelaba pulled a draw last time out and had dropped three of his last four prior to that, so he needs to get back in the win column. He is well-rounded fighter who is extremely light on his feet. He darts around the ring, switching stances and offering small flurries of jabs and hooks. His strikes are full of power, and he adds in heavy leg kicks to the body to slow his opponent. He will mix in knees and spinning back fists, change levels and shoot for takedowns. "The Hulk" does not have the best control on the mat, so he chains takedowns together working to get a better position and keep hold on the ground. In top control, he is extremely deadly and can finish a fight very quickly.

-  Clark has had an up-and-down stint in the UFC and is fresh off a submission loss in his last fight. He is a good all-around fighter with no particular weakness. He is a technical striker with lower volume. He has an excellent jab-cross combo and controls the ring well with his movement and size. He also sports heavy leg kicks to all parts of the body. "Brown Bear" Clark is an excellent grappler/wrestler and has great takedowns. He can work them in the open ring or in the clinch against the cage. His mat control eventually leads to destructive ground-and-pound or submission finish.

DFS Perspective:  This fight is close. Both guys have good takedown defense. Cutelaba has a huge advantage in the first round with his pressure and pace. After the first, the advantage will start to swing towards Clark. Either guy could end up with a finish and score well, particularly Clark. A decision likely leads to a lower score here. 

My Pick:  Cutelaba

Anthony Smith (35-16-0) v. Ryan Spann (21-6-0)

- Smith is climbing back towards a title shot on the heels of two consecutive finishes. A long-time veteran of the sport, he is a powerful technical striker with a penchant for finishes. He is a patient counter striker with a fantastic one-two and heavy leg kicks. He is tough in the clinch and will throw deadly knees and elbows, as well as change levels to work in takedowns. The FactoryX product has developed a much better understanding and defense of takedowns and overall defense, pushing him to be more successful in his second stint in the UFC. He is an excellent scrambler and does well to reverse control and find submissions. 

-  Spann continues to impress and improve as he climbs the ladder in the light heavyweight division in the UFC. He is a forward pressure striker and uses a powerful jab-hook-uppercut combo to work inside the pocket. Once in the pocket, he unleashes a flurry of wild strikes while eating some as well. A strong fighter out of Fortis MMA, "Superman" is a superior grappler. He has good takedowns and strong ground-and-pound in top control. He also has deadly guillotines and can lay them on hard at any point he feels he can snap on them.

DFS Perspective:  This should be a great main event. Spann is continuing his rise in the rankings with his great power and ground game. He has the tools here to get an upset finish and crush value. I think that Smith's experience and IQ carries him here though. He also wields a lot of power, and I think he catches Spann with a big counter as he pressures in the pocket. An early finish would be needed for Smith to hit value.

My Pick:  Smith

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Drake Burden plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Dburdz, DraftKings: Dburdz.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Drake Burden
Drake is a proven DFS winner with multiple four-figure paydays under his belt. He took an interest to writing MMA during the pandemic and is active in various Discords and other social media communities.
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