This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
Saturday's 14-fight main card features quite a few wrestlers and heavy favorites, but which fighters should perspective owners back to ensure a profitable night? We'll take a look at all options on this week's MMA Mashup, which covers play across five different platforms. This week's recommendations include an oft-finished light heavyweight and a late replacement who should be able to take the fight to his opponent.
Without further ado, let's get to it
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Emily Whitmire ($8,500)
The UFC may have finally found the perfect opponent for Whitmire: someone who won't attempt to grapple with her. While she possesses a competent wrestling and submission game in her own right, all four of "Spitfire's" professional losses have come via tap out. Hannah Goldy has never attempted a submission in the Octagon, which should allow Emily to dictate terms on the ground. It should also be noted that Whitmire is a decent combination counterpuncher and Goldy tends to crash the pocket with her head on the centerline.
Carlston Harris ($7,300)
It can be difficult to watch Harris as he lunges forward desperately looking for body locks, but the 34-year-old tends to make it work, as evidenced by the fact that he has won eight of his last nine fights. Impa Kasanganay is far from a comfortable striker and shouldn't find the same success if he attempts to simply out-physical Harris the way he did with Sasha Palatnikov. It's clear what Harris wants to do in the cage, but he is long and can throw with power when he needs to. This adds an extra dimension to his game that has caught opponents by surprise in the past.
Tony Gravely ($9,200)
Gravely has bounced back nicely after a submission loss to Brett Johns in his UFC debut in January, racking up dominant wins over Geraldo de Freitas and Anthony Birchak in back-to-back fights. The 29-year-old is one of a few lock-down wrestlers that can be found on this slate, as evidenced by the 16 takedowns he has logged in his first three UFC fights. He has secured at least four minutes of control time in each of those contests. Nate Maness' slick technical boxing and power make him a threat in any bout, but it's hard to feel good about his win over Luke Sanders, as he was frequently swinging from his heels while backed up against the fence. Gravely's pressure should allow him to completely control the center of the Octagon, resulting in more takedowns and top control.
Arman Tsarukyan ($9,600)
Tsarukyan has shown us he can do it all. The Russian fighter showcases powerful and creative combination striking on the feet and had the cardio to take down Matt Frevola 10 times without slowing down. Christos Giagos has used a power wrestling game to notch an impressive 4-1 record in the UFC but is notorious for gassing out in fights and tends to look a bit wooden in prolonged striking exchanges. This should spell trouble for Giagos, as Tsarukyan will look to weaponize his pace and pressure to take over the fight down the stretch.
Mandy Bohm ($8,000)
Much like Whitmire, Ariane Lipski hasn't found an answer for fighters who want to have a wrestling match. The "Queen of Violence" has lost her last two bouts via ground and pound, as opponents have found that the path of least residence is to climb to a dominant position and start hammering away. Bohm has used her physicality well en route to an undefeated record, doing damage via the Thai clinch and on the mat. Lipski is always dangerous for as long as a fight stays standing, but I expect Bohm to control the range and take away the space Lipski needs to be successful.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Erin Blanchfield ($22)
Sarah Alpar is at her best when she is making fights ugly, but "Too Sweet" didn't have much success getting the fight to the ground in her organizational debut against Jessica-Rose Clark, connecting on just two of her 11 takedown attempts. Blanchfield has proven difficult to take down during her time in Invicta and will be aggressive with her striking after forcing Alpar to stand with her.
Montel Jackson ($22)
A 66 percent takedown defense rate may not seem like something to celebrate, but we should point out that Jackson has fought both Ricky Simon and Brett Johns, two of the most active wrestlers in the division. Enter JP Buys, who will look to be methodical in his approach, but should struggle with the length and size of someone like "Quik." We have watched Jackson employ a wrestle-heavy attack in the UFC but he really seemed to come into his own during his last fight with Jesse Strader, scoring two knockdowns and stopping the fight with strikes in the first round.
Brandon Jenkins ($9)
Jenkins will come into this fight on less than a week's notice after Dakota Bush tested positive for COVID-19. While he can be a bit too passive at times, Jenkins' leg kicks and combination punching should be enough to outwork Zhu Rong, whose UFC debut against Kazula Vargas was notable only for how inactive the Chinese fighter was throughout the bout. Jenkins is more than happy to take the center of the Octagon when his opponent allows, and I think Jenkins will be the one pressuring for the majority of the contest.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Mike Rodriguez – 2.1x Multiplier
Rodriguez can't seem to get out of his own way in the Octagon, having been finished in three of his last four fights. Despite his troubles (and nickname) "Slow" has quick hands and can put combinations together with power. Tafon Nchukwi is also a powerful striker but seems very mechanical in his movements, which has resulted in the Cameroonian fighter absorbing nearly 4.5 strikes per minute in his three UFC fights. Rodriguez will bring a five-inch reach advantage into this matchup and should be able to use his jab to keep Nchukwi at the end of his punches.
Pannie Kianzad – 2.1 x Multiplier
Kianzad has put together a four-fight win streak in the UFC on the strength of sharp, technical boxing, speed, and enough physicality to not be bullied by opponents who would try to take her down. Raquel Pennington likely has more power, but Kianzad's quickness should allow her to stay a step ahead of "Rocky" throughout the contest.
Heili Alateng – 2.05 Multiplier
Aletang's patient, counter-punching style didn't fare well against the body kicks and movement of Casey Kenney but should play just fine against the more linear, lunging attacks of Gustavo Lopez. Lopez throws with power and will look to push the action, which should give Alateng the opportunity to land big shots while the 32-year-old is on his way in. Alateng should also be able to time reactive takedowns in order to relieve the pressure and make Lopez reconsider his entries.
Plays to Consider on Prize Picks
Anthony Smith OVER 10 Minutes of Fight Time and Joaquin Buckley UNDER 7.5 minutes of Fight Time.
Both Smith and Ryan Spann are committed finishers, but we have seen each fighter take their time to work into a fight. I expect a feeling-out process for much of the first round, with "Lionheart" being durable enough to withstand the big shots Spann may throw out early.
Buckley has only had one of his four UFC fights go past the 7.5-minute mark, and while Antonio Arroyo has been to decision quite a bit in the organization, that mainly has to do with the Brazilian facing opponents who look to take him down. We are likely to get a standup war for as long as this one lasts, which should result in an early night for one of the competitors.
Bets to Consider
Devin Clark wins via decision (+225)
There is every chance that one of these heavy hitters sparks the other in the first few minutes of the bout. If that doesn't happen, however, then I trust Clark to carry his skill set and energy into the later rounds. "Brown Bear" is no stranger to gutting out victories, while Cutelaba flagged hard against Dustin Jacoby to turn a surefire victory into a split draw. We've seen Cutelaba bested by wrestlers in the past and Clark should be able to hold him down long enough to take the sting out of those shots.