BJ Penn will make a much anticipated return to the octagon this weekend against one of the top, young contenders in the UFC featherweight division, Yair Rodriguez. Rodriguez has yet to taste defeat while in the UFC. Can the former UFC lightweight champion of the world still compete against the young guns? Also on this card, in the co-main event, knock out artist and UFC veteran, Joe Lauzon will take on an up and coming Marcin Held in a battle to see who is perhaps deserving of a top 15 ranking within a stacked lightweight division. There will also be a few heavyweight collisions this evening, so this card is bound to set off fire works. Let’s win some money on Draft Kings in the process. Let’s Get in the Cage! Good luck to everyone this weekend.
Dmitrii Smoliakov (8-1) vs Cyril Asker (7-2) – Heavyweight (265 lbs)
DK Salaries: Smoliakov – $8,200 / Asker – $8,000
Vegas Odds: Smoliakov +100 / Asker -120
Odds to Finish: -120 (u 1 ½)
Dmitrii Smoliakov is making his second appearance inside the octagon this weekend. He fought Luis Henrique in his first bout, where he was unable to get much of anything going. Smoliakov would eventually be submitted in round two. This was his first professional loss. His background is in freestyle wrestling, however, he was dominated in the grappling game. He did not appear ready to fight a UFC caliber talent. Smoliakov’s conditioning will be a big question mark here for me. He will really need to work on everything in order to improve. If this fight goes past the first, I don’t know if Smoliakov’s conditioning will hold up. He packs a lot of power in his fist’s and certainly has the skills to finish, as he has done in all eight of his professional victories.
Cyril Asker too will be participating in just his second bout in the UFC. Much like his opponent, his debut did not go as planned. He was knocked out in the first round to heavy-handed Jared Cannonier. Asker has been known in the past for his chin, however it did not help him back in April. He was hit right on the button. Asker has five first round finishes to his name. He has won decisions before, so has shown that he can go the distance and win a fight. His opponent has not yet done so. One thing that is a little worrisome to me, is that Asker has been finished twice in his young career, which includes one submission as well as the KO in his last fight. However, I believe Asker will have the advantage here with his conditioning. Both of these men will be worth drafts due to this being a heavyweight bout. Asker is a slight favorite according to Vegas, though is cheaper on Draft Kings. I will side with Asker’s chin and conditioning here to record a finish.
Fight Prediction: Asker – Rd 2 TKO
Bojan Mihajlovic (10-4) vs Joachim Christensen (13-4) – Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)
DK Salaries: Mihajlovic – $7,400 / Christensen – $8,800
Vegas Odds: Mihajlovic +195 / Christensen -235
Odds to Finish: -155 (o 1 ½)
Both of these men here will be making their respective second appearances in the UFC as well. Bojan Mihajlovic will be moving down a weight class from his debut fight earlier this year. He will now be competing as a light heavyweight as he was too small to have true success in the heavyweight division. He appeared to be very tentative, which is understandable for his first time in the big leagues. It was a questionable stoppage, but Mihajlovic was finished by TKO early in round one. I believe he was intelligently defending himself. Prior to that, he was not beaten in nearly nine years. Of his six finishes, all were ended in first round. He will be a fairly significant underdog this weekend according to Vegas.
Joachim Christensen also will look to rebound from his first performance in the UFC. He will have some significant advantages against Mihajlovic including both height and reach. Christensen will have a four inch height advantage as well as a three inch advantage in terms of reach. He looked skilled in the clinch and knew how to defend himself properly when held against the cage. Despite being submitted in the second round, Christensen impressed against an elite striker and showed that he is one himself. He was able to knock down Henrique da Silva in the second round.
Mihajlovic should have a distinct advantage in terms of strength, however, from a conditioning stand point, Christensen should be the overall benefactor. In just two rounds, Christensen threw a total of 124 strikes, while landing 50. He remained active and I believe that will aid in his victory this weekend. Christensen could pull out a finish in the later rounds, as his opponent begins to tire, however, I see this one going the distance. Christensen should be a solid draft pick this weekend.
Fight Prediction: Christensen – Unanimous Decision