Get in the Cage: UFC Fight Night Sacramento Picks and Analysis
Hello everyone and welcome to yet another edition of Get in the Cage for DFS Datalytics. It has been a busy last couple of months and here the UFC has put together another stellar card for Fight Night this weekend in Sacramento. The main card for this weekend is stacked. We will see two young stars looking to make themselves household names, duke it out this weekend. Sage Northcutt will take on Mickey Gall, the man who stopped CM Punk in his tracks just a few months ago. In the main event, Paige VanZant will take on Michelle Waterson in a straw weight bout. The title picture and rankings will become much more clear after this fight. Let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s Get in the Cage!
Bojan Velickovic (14-3-1) vs Sultan Aliev (7-0) – Welterweight (170 lbs)
DK Salaries: Velickovic – $8,600 / Aliev – $7,600
Vegas Odds: Velickovic -155 / Aliev +135
Odds to Finish: -225 (o 1 ½)
Bojan Velickovic is 1-0-1 in his UFC career after his previous fight resulted in a draw with Michael Graves. Velickovic showed that he was a very solid grappler in his last fight. He was out-matched, however he held his own and was able to defend multiple submission attempts from Graves. His boxing is elite, however, I think it is a bit of a questionable mark. His strength mainly lies in his grappling and submissions. He has eight submission victories to his credit as opposed to just three KO/TKO victories. He has solid versatility with his submission as well, utilizing methods such as the guillotine, rear-naked choke, arm bar and heel hook. Velickovic has also never been finished in his professional career.
Sultan Aliev had a rough start to his UFC career, which occurred nearly two years ago. He was knocked out by Kenny Robertson in this first round while attempting a spinning back kick to the body. It was a lucky shot and unfortunate timing for Aliev that night, as he was met by Robertson’s left hand. It was right on the button too. He will certainly look to last longer this time around and hopefully have some better luck. Aliev is a knockout artist with 10 career KO/TKO victories in his 13 professional wins. It appears this will be a clash of styles here. Though, Aliev has very solid wrestling technique, as many of the Russians do, I believe Velickovic will have the advantage here. It should be a solid mix of both boxing and grappling here with this fight. I believe Velickovic will come away with a split decision victory after a hard fought fight.
Fight Prediction: Velickovic – Split Decision
Hector Sandoval (12-3) vs Fredy Serrano (3-1) – Flyweight (125 lbs)
DK Salaries: Sandoval – $8,100 / Serrano – $8,100
Vegas Odds: Sandoval -125 / Serrano +105
Odds to Finish: -165 (o 2 ½)
Fredy Serrano has been relatively impressive thus far with the UFC. Three of his four professional fights have come inside the octagon in fact. Serrano has collectively gone 2-1 in those fights. He could be 3-0 with his most recent lose coming by way of split decision, though Serrano overall, did not do much in that fight. Serrano is a Pan American medalist who’s wrestling skills are top notch. He has used his wrestling skills in order to succeed thus far in his MMA career. He has two KO/TKO victories, so he does pack power in his hands. His main issue is being active enough. Serrano often appears content to stay relatively inactive unless he senses danger. That is the main reason he lost his last fight. He has also struggled with controlling the distance in his fights.
Hector Sandoval will be making just his second UFC appearance this weekend. His first did not go as anticipated as he lost by a rear-naked choke in round one to Wilson Reis. Sandoval was taken down a total of three times in that round alone. Facing a highly skilled wrestler like his opponent this weekend, may not bode well for him. He has less than a 50 percent finishing rate in his professional career, which is for lack of a better word, boring. After being ousted quickly in his last fight, I don’t know if I will give him much of a chance this weekend. I would expect Serrano to look to get this fight to the ground early and often, as he has done in previous fights. Once Sandoval begins to wear down, I can see Serrano being relentless with his ground and pound en route to a TKO victory this weekend.
Fight Prediction: Serrano – Rd 3 TKO
#13 Eddie Wineland (22-11) vs #14 Takeya Mizugaki (21-10-2) – Bantamweight (135 lbs)
DK Salaries: Wineland – $8,800 / Mizugaki – $7,400
Vegas Odds: Wineland -225 / Mizugaki +185
Odds to Finish: -210 (o 1 ½)
This is a fight between two savvy veterans perhaps looking to make one last run at the title. Eddie Wineland is a former WEC champion with much experience under his belt. Wineland surprised most in his last bout, where he was able to knockout Frankie Saenz back in July. He hits extremely hard and has excellent foot work. With Wineland however, it is a bit of a gamble when drafting. Unless he is able to to record a knockout, he will likely not put up a high score on Draft Kings. He lands at rate of just 29 percent, which is pitiful to say the least. Wineland certainly has not been accurate in his time with the UFC. He is also primarily a stand-up fighter and will not record points for take downs and transitions. While Wineland can be impressive at times, being priced at $8,800 this weekend, I don’t know if it will be worth the risk.
Takeya Mizugaki is a fighter who has suffered some recent misfortune. He has merely won just a single fight in his last four. What is more baffling is that he was finished in all three of those losses, which includes two knockouts. Both men land at roughly the same rate per minute here. Mizugaki too, is a fighter that goes to decision often times. The past six bouts, which he has won, have all gone to the judges score cards. Mizugaki has faced fighters with solid power in their hands recently and has not fared well. His conditioning too, is a bit of question mark here. Wineland should have the advantage in that respect. I had said that Wineland would not be of value unless he can finish his opponent and here he can. If Wineland is able to connect for a couple of rounds, I can see this one ending early. Wineland certainly has the skills to finish Mizugaki this weekend.
Fight Prediction: Wineland – Rd 2 KO
Leslie Smith (8-7-1) vs Irene Aldana (7-2) – Women’s Bantamweight (135 lbs)
DK Salaries: Smith – $7,100 / Aldana – $9,100
Vegas Odds: Smith +255 / Aldana -310
Odds to Finish: -175 (o 2 ½)
Leslie Smith is merely 2-3 in the UFC. She has defeated the no name fighters in her division, however has not been able to take out the elite. We’ll give her a pass for her last effort, where she took on Cris Cyborg. Smith has not been impressive to me whatsoever in her time with the UFC. She has an almost .500 record in her career, which does not say much. She was dominated in every one of her losses in the UFC and it could be more of the same this weekend. She lands 35 percent of her strikes and defends just above 50 percent of the ones she faces. Smith has been has been finished due to strikes in two of her last three bouts, so I do not give her much of a shot with her opponent this weekend. It may be another short outing for Smith.
Irene Aldana will be making her UFC debut this weekend. Aldana has made a name for herself recently in Invicta FC, where she has recorded four finishes. She has been able to finish all seven of his professional victories, which include five KO/TKO’s as well as two submissions. Aldana has done so in the first round every time. She makes quick work of her opponents. Aldana has also been TKO’d twice herself. She is relentless with her striking and packs a lot of power in her hands. Opponents better watch out for her right hand. I believe that right hand will be the deciding factor this weekend. The last time Cyborg swarmed on Smith, it was the end of her night. I picture this fight ending in similar fashion. Expect another first round finish for Aldana this weekend. She could be a sneaky pick for your lineup as I’m sure not a lot of players know about her.
Fight Prediction: Aldana – Rd 1 TKO
Josh Emmett (10-0) vs Scott Holtzman (9-1) – Lightweight (155 lbs)
DK Salaries: Emmett – $8,700 / Holtzman – $7,500
Vegas Odds: Emmett -190 / Holtzman +165
Odds to Finish: -185 (o 2 ½)
Josh Emmett is an undefeated fighter about to participate in just his second UFC bout. He won his debut by split decision. Emmett looked impressive in his debut showcasing a solid right hand. He also likes to mix in head kicks at times. Overall, he showed very solid technique as well as head movement. Emmett will need to work on his accuracy a bit more for this one, as he only landed 36 percent of his strikes his first time around. He certainly looked confident and comfortable. He could have a bright future in the sport. His conditioning appeared to be on an elite level. Emmett will be a -190 favorite this weekend. He throws with intent to finish a fight and thus far he has finished five of his first ten fights (3 KO/TKO).
Scott Holtzman is 2-1 in his UFC career thus far. Holtzman can be a very evasive fighter when he wants to be, which could help him avoid some of those heavy shots from his opponent. He has been an accurate striker as well thus far, where he has landed 53 percent of his strikes. Many of those strikes are laded in the clinch. The clinch appears to be where Holtzman is most comfortable. He often times uses the clinch to set up his take downs. Emmett did not attempt a take down in his first fight, so he appears to favor the stand-up game. Holtzman may elect to get this fight to the ground. He has been able to take down each of his first three opponents. This should be a very solid and technical fight. Holtzman has been able to rack up at least 91.5 points in both of his wins. I think Holtzman can win this one and he is fairly cheap. He is certainly a decent 50/50 play this weekend.
Fight Prediction: Holtzman – Unanimous Decision
James Moontasri (9-4) vs Alex Morono (12-3) – Welterweight (170 lbs)
DK Salaries: Moontasri – $7,800 / Morono – $8,400
Vegas Odds: Moontasri -105 / Morono -115
Odds to Finish: -175 (o 1 ½)
James Moontasri is 2-3 since entering the UFC. He has been able to take down the lesser names of the division, though has yet to defeat an upper level fighter. Moontasri is comfortable in either stance and you will likely see him switch up his stances throughout the fight. His strength mainly lies in his striking with his Tae Kwon Do background. He was a two-time national champion in that respect. Moontasri has both a submission and knockout victory to his name in his time with the UFC. He is a very tough fighter and does not hesitate to engage. He has only been finished once in his career. Moontasri has held up against the cage for much of his last fight, which he eventually lost. He has been an accurate striker thus far landing nearly 50 percent of his attempts.
Alex Morono is an aggressive fighter who definitely enjoys to stand and trade. He, much like his opponent is a skilled Tae Kwon Do fighter. Morono has shown that he can be a bit wild at times, which he will have to be careful about. He has eight first round finishes in his career and has finished nine of his opponents to date. He defeated an experienced Kyle Noke in his debut, which is impressive. Morono also appeared to have some very solid conditioning in that fight as well. He likes to duck his head and throw bombs while he is on the feet. This is a tough fight to pick a winner and Vegas agrees. Both men are exceptionally talented mixed martial artists. I will tentatively side with Alex Morono. I believe he will be the more active in what should be a stand-up war. I’m not so sure I would use either when drafting, however.
Fight Prediction: Morono – Rd 3 TKO
Bryan Barberena (12-3) vs Colby Covington (10-1) – Welterweight (170 lbs)
DK Salaries: Barberena – $7,300 / Covington – $8,900
Vegas Odds: Barberena +300 / Covington -360
Odds to Finish: -210 (o 2 ½)
Here we have an interesting fight between two up and coming welterweights. Bryan Barberena and Colby Covington are two highly elite mixed martial artists in my opinion. The winner here should certainly receive a spot in the top 15. Barberena has 69 percent take down defense at the moment and he will need every bit of that in order to have success this weekend. He was able to land a 120 strikes in his last bout against. Barberena has thrown a total of 603 strikes in four fights with the UFC, so he constantly remains active while he is on the feet. He too, is very efficient with his striking. He has landed 50 percent of his strikes to date. Barberena was taken down a total of three times when he fought Jake Ellenberger, who is a solid wrestler. His opponent this weekend will be an even tougher match-up to defend.
Colby Covington is one of the best wrestlers in not only the welterweight division, but in all of the UFC today. He is an impressive 5-1 since entering the UFC with his only loss coming by way of submission to Warlley Alves, a man Barberena had beaten in his last fight actually. Covington has four finishes in the UFC. He is a grinder when he fights, often times looking for take downs and wearing out his opponents. His cardio is one of the best facets of his game. On three occasions Covington has landed five take downs in a fight. He has a 48 percent success rate with his take downs (21/44). Covington has dominated on the ground in his past two where he has landed 11 take downs and 18 transitions. Those are massive points on Draft Kings. I would expect this to be more of the same for Covington. A lot of take downs and transitions en route to victory. Covington will be a solid draft this weekend.
Fight Prediction: Covington – Unanimous Decision
Cole Miller (21-10) vs Mizuto Hirota (18-7-2) – Featherweight (145 lbs)
DK Salaries: Miller – $8,100 / Hirota – $8,100
Vegas Odds: Miller -105 / Hirota -115
Odds to Finish: -135 (o 2 ½)
Cole Miller is a veteran of the UFC and this will be his 20th fight with the company. Miller is 10-8 with one no contest in his UFC career. Miller is very much so a stand-up type fighter, however he has found himself on the ground for much of his cage time. He has very sub-par take down defense, which currently stands at just 43 percent. Seven of the eight fights that he has lost while inside the octagon, Miller has been taken down to the ground by his opponent. Miller will have a significant advantage this weekend in terms of both height and reach. Miller have a six inch height advantage and a seven inch height advantage this weekend. This could certainly pose problems for his opponent. Miller has not been an accurate striker thus far in the UFC overall.
Mizuto Hirota has managed to go win-less in his first three fights in the UFC, to which he has gone 0-2-1. This will be his first fight he as fought in in over a year. Hirota is a knockout artist and has recorded 10 knockouts thus far in his career. He may, however, have difficulty landing some of his strikes. Miller is much taller and lankier than is Hirota here. Hirota has only been finished once in his career, which is a promising stat. Vegas sees this fight as fairly even and so does Draft Kings. Both men are priced the same. I have a hard time believing this fight will be that close. I see it going the distance, however the size difference leads me to favor Miller here quite a bit. Miller has only scored over 100 points on Draft Kings once in recent bouts, and I would not expect anything overwhelming here either. I believe Miller should win by decision while utilizing his size and reach. However, I would avoid both of these fighters when drafting.
Fight Prediction: Miller – Unanimous Decision
Henrique da Silva (12-0) vs Paul Craig (8-0) – Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
DK Salaries: da Silva- $9,000 / Craig – $7,200
Vegas Odds: da Silva -225 / Craig +185
Odds to Finish: -115 (u 1 ½)
Henrique da Silva has been off to a tremendous start to his UFC career. da Silva is 2-0 in the UFC and 12-0 overall as we enter this weekend. All but one of his victories have come by way of knockout in no later than the second round. The one exception was in his previous bout, where he submitted Joachim Christensen by arm bar. He really exhibited his versatility and well-roundness in his last fight. da Silva has not wasted time receiving action since his debut. This will be his third fight since June. He has the power to knock out anyone in the division. Thus far, he has landed just under 60 percent of his strikes, which is a great stat to have. da Silva likes to constantly keep the pace in his fights and he will stalk his opponents. He utilizes both head and body shots to wear down his opponents. His conditioning could be a slight question mark this weekend.
Paul Craig is another undefeated fighter, whom will be making his debut with the UFC this weekend. Craig has gone no further than 48 seconds into the second round. He has submitted seven of his eight opponents early on in fights. Clearly, he does not like to waste time. He has made use of various types of chokes in which to finish off his opponents. Craig is vicious with his submissions from what I have been able to gather. He certainly has not faced anyone with the the talent of da Silva yet. Craig is a +185 underdog this weekend according to Vegas. He will also be one of the cheapest fighters on Draft Kings. I believe da Silva will be too much to soon for Craig who will likely need to expand his MMA horizons if he wants to have success here this weekend. I have not seen much tape on Craig, but I believe da Silva can finish him. Craig has not yet seen a man with the power and will to win as his opponent here.
Fight Prediction: da Silva – Rd 2 TKO
Alan Jouban (14-4) vs Mike Perry (9-0) – Welterweight (170 lbs)
DK Salaries: Jouban – $7,700 / Perry – $8,500
Vegas Odds: Jouban +110 / Perry -130
Odds to Finish: -115 (o 1 ½)
This will be a bout between two very skilled and heavy handed strikers that possess one punch knockout power. Alan Jouban has an impressive 5-2 record since entering the UFC. He has three KO/TKO victories thus far as well as three fight of the night performances. Jouban, much like his opponent is a stand-up fighter with superior boxing skills. He is a highly efficient striker, where he lands 53 percent of his attempts thrown. He and his opponent are very similar with their striking, however I think Jouban has a little bit more technique, which could be the difference maker in this fight. Jouban avoids about five percent more strikes than does his opponent. Jouban will also have a slight two inch height and reach advantage in his corner. Jouban showed off his excellent chin in his last bout against Belal Muhammad, which helped him win fight of the night honors.
Mike Perry will be making his third appearance for the UFC this weekend and his third since August. He certainly has wasted no time getting action inside the cage. Perry has impressed a great deal since his debut. He has two knockout victories already on his resume. In his last fight with Danny Roberts, Perry landed 90 strikes prior to knocking him out. That fight also marked the first time Perry had ever seen the third round of a fight. He has finished every one of his nine professional wins so far and will look to do so once again. Perry has shown off a nice top game in his time with the UFC, but is 100 percent a stand-up fighter. He has landed 46 percent of his strikes thrown thus far. This should be a good one with someone getting knocked out. Perry certainly packs more power, however, I think Jouban is the all-around better fighter, so I will side with him this weekend. He has been knocked out early before though, so Perry is more than worth a draft. Really depends on how the rest of your lineup flows.
Fight Prediction: Jouban – Rd 2 TKO
#7 Urijah Faber (33-10) vs Brad Pickett (26-12) – Bantamweight (135 lbs)
DK Salaries: Faber – $9,600 / Pickett – $6,000
Vegas Odds: Faber -450 / Pickett +360
Odds to Finish: -140 (o 2 ½)
These men are two of the biggest names in bantamweight history. Uriah Faber is certainly on the latter portion of his career. He has been able to defeat some of the biggest names in the sport. However, Faber has not been able to defeat the best the division has to offer in recent years. Faber’s number seven ranking in the division is a very accurate depiction of where he stands. He has what it takes to defeat most in the division except those who are ranked above him. His style simply does not allow for him to move up from there. Faber has lost three of his past four fights, all to very tough opponents. He has landed 40 percent of his strikes to date. Faber has not been as active as he once was either.
Brad Pickett is one of the toughest fighters in the UFC. This man is simply out there looking for a fight and to knockout his opponent. Pickett, much like Faber has hit a bit of a dry spell as of recent. He has just one victory in his last five fights and has not been able to put together consecutive wins since 2012. Regardless, Pickett is always entertaining to watch because he loves to stand, trade and throw bombs. Will he have the chance to do so this weekend facing Faber? Faber, I believe will get this fight to the ground and dominate at some point. I doubt he will want to stand with the likes of Pickett. Pickett has been finished three times in his last five losses (2 submission). Faber always wins by submission when he fights and should dominate on top for much of the fight. I believe he will be able to work out a submission at some point as Pickett begins to wear down.
Fight Prediction: Faber – Rd 3 Submission
Sage Northcutt (8-1) vs Mickey Gall (3-0) – Welterweight (170 lbs)
DK Salaries: Northcutt – $8,000 / Gall – $8,200
Vegas Odds: Northcutt +100 / Gall -120
Odds to Finish: -120 (u 1 ½)
This is an eye-opening fight from many standpoints. These are two up and coming welterweights whom have made names for themselves in a very short time. Sage Northcutt is just 20 years old and is 3-1 since entering the UFC. He possesses some of the best speed and conditioning in the UFC today. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been training since he was four years old. Northcutt is a fighter that always remains active. One of his few short comings thus far in the UFC has been his take down defense, which currently stands at a mere 46 percent. However, Northcutt has been able to do well off of his back when he has been taken down. He has landed 58 percent of his strikes thus far, which is highly impressive.
This fight is occuring this weekend because Northcutt’s opponent, Mickey Gall called him out after his last fight. Gall is most well known as the guy who fought CM Punk a few months back. Gall has just three fights in his professional career and has submitted every opponent in the first. He has not fought any tough competition, however, he has some serious skills and should not be taken lightly just because of his inexperience. Northcutt should undoubtedly be his toughest test to date. Gall actually hasn’t faced anyone with any serious talent thus far, so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. All three of his victories have come by way of the rear-naked choke. This is a tough fight to pick a winner between these two young and inexperienced fighters. Gall will likely look to get this fight to the ground early and dominate from there. I will side with Northcutt here, as I think he has the much better all-around game and has actually fought fighters with legitimate MMA experience.
Fight Prediction: Northcutt – Rd 3 Submission
#8 Paige VanZant (7-2), vs #12 Michelle Waterson (13-4) – Women’s Straw weight (115 lbs)
DK Salaries: VanZant – $8,300 / Waterson – $7,900
Vegas Odds: VanZant -115 / Waterson +105
Odds to Finish: -150 (o 4 ½)
Paige VanZant has what it takes to become a champion in the straw weight division. She is an impressive 3-1 thus far in her UFC career, with two finishes. Her only loss came to Rose Nanajunas just over a year ago. Namajunas is a top three fighter in the division in my opinion, so I was not surprised. VanZant is one of the more well-rounded fighters you will see at straw weight. VanZant remains active while on the feet and has some of the best conditioning in her division. She has excellent footwork to her credit as well. She ended her last fight with a head kick to Bec Rawlings at the start of the second, which really showed off her versatility inside the cage.
Michelle Waterson has not fought in nearly a year and half. This will also be just her second fight in the UFC. In her debut, she submitted Angela Magana in the third round by rear-naked choke. Her skill set for the most part lies in her ground game. Waterson has been able to pull out a submission in eight of her 13 professional bouts. She is an elite grappler as she showcased in her debut fight by throwing her opponent around, using judo and dominating on top. She was able to transition at will seemingly. She beat up her opponent from the mount position for much of the second round. If she is able to put together a similar performance this weekend, it could end up being a huge score on Draft Kings.
Waterson surely has not faced an opponent as well-rounded as VanZant, so it will be interesting to see how she deals with her style. Where this fight takes place for the most part will be the deciding factor in this one. If the fight remains on the feet, VanZant should certainly win. However, if Waterson is able to get this fight to the ground, we could see another defeat for VanZant. She was dominated by the much better wrestler, Namajunas last December and it could be more of the same if she is not able to keep the fight standing. No one has been able to get VanZant to the ground otherwise, but I have a feeling that Waterson may be able to do so. I believe VanZant has the much brighter future in the UFC, but I am going to have to go with my gut here on this one and say Waterson will be able to get VanZant down and win the fight by decision. If she is able to move about freely, it could be a huge score this weekend, especially in a five round fight.
Fight Prediction: Waterson – Split Decision