UFC 231 Card, Odds, Predictions And Draft Kings Picks
The first of two UFC pay-per-view events in December comes our way on Saturday from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. It’s UFC 231 and the card is stacked. There are two world titles on the line.
TORONTO, CANADA – DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Opponents Max Holloway and Brian Ortega face off during the UFC . [+] 231 Press Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway defends his title against Brian Ortega. In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko battles former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the vacant women’s flyweight belt.
Aside from the main event and co-main event, there are a total of nine ranked fighters scheduled to compete. Now everyone should pray for all of the fighters to make it through fight week so that everyone can compete safely, and so the MMA community can be treated to an excellent show.
I compiled the entire card with odds, predictions, DraftKings salaries and picks in the table below.
|Matchup||Weight Class||Odds||DraftKings Salary||Prediction||DraftKings Pick?|
|Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega||Featherweight||Holloway -192, Ortega +140||Holloway $8,300, Ortega $7,900||Ortega||Ortega|
|Valentina Shevchenko vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk||Flyweight||Shevchenko -280, Jedrzejczyk +220||Shevchenko $9,400, Jedrzejczyk $6,800||Shevchenko||Shevchenko|
|Jimi Manuwa vs Thiago Santos||Heavyweight||Manuwa +130, Santos -160||Manuwa $7,400, Santos $8,800||Santos|
|Alex Oliveira vs Gunnar Nelson||Welterweight||Oliveira -114, Nelson -114||Oliveira $7,800, Nelson $8,400||Oliveira||Oliveira|
|Hakeem Dawodu vs Kyle Bochniak||Featherweight||Dawodu -174, Bochniak +146||Dawodu $8,600, Bochniak $7,600||Bochniak||Bochniak|
|Claudia Gadelha vs Nina Ansaroff||Strawweight||Gadelha -362, Ansaroff +278||Gadelha $9,300, Ansaroff $6,900||Gadelha|
|Katlyn Chookagian vs Jessica Eye||Flyweight||Chookagian -253, Eye +197||Chookagian $8,700, Eye $7,500||Chookagian|
|Elias Theodorou vs Eryk Anders||Middleweight||Theodorou +102, Anders -127||Theodorou $8,200, Anders $8,000||Theodorou|
|Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Gilbert Burns||Lightweight||Aubin-Mercier +101, Burns -129||Aubin-Mercier $8,500, Burns $7,700||Burns||Burns|
|Devin Clark vs Aleksandar Rakic||Light Heavyweight||Clark +298, Rakic -382||Clark $6,700, Rakic $9,500||Rakic|
|Brad Katona vs Matthew Lopez||Bantamweight||Katona -208, Lopez +172||Katona $8,900, Lopez $7,300||Katona|
|Chad Laprise vs Dhiego Lima||Welterweight||Laprise -273, Dhiego +217||Laprise $9,100, Lima $7,100||Laprise|
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – APRIL 07: Devin Clark prepares to enter the Octagon before facing Mike . [+] Rodriguez in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 223 event inside Barclays Center on April 7, 2018 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Devin Clark is the biggest underdog on the card and he also has the lowest DK salary. I wouldn’t touch him on this card with a 10-foot pole. He is seemingly overmatched against an active, younger, well-rounded opponent in Aleksandar Rakic, and Clark rarely gets finishes. Even if he pulls the upset, the chances of one of his wins resulting in more than 70 fantasy points seem pretty slim. He’s only averaging 59 fantasy points per fight in the UFC. All my better judgment says don’t draft or bet on Clark on Saturday.
Must-Haves in DK
TORONTO, CANADA – DECEMBER 05: Brian Ortega interacts with fans and media during the UFC 231 Press . [+] Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) photo credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
I’m going to give away a bit of explanation for a later section, but the biggest must-have on this card is Ortega. He’s a slight underdog and he comes in at a tantalizing DK salary of $7,900. Because I’m sold on him winning and becoming the new featherweight champion, he’s the fighter you have to have in your lineup to win a contest.
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 06: Kyle Bochniak poses on the scale during the UFC 223 weigh-in inside at . [+] Barclays Center on April 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Ortega is just one of three underdogs I like on this card. Kyle Bochniak is as tough and gritty as they come. He’s facing the sometimes overexuberant Hakeem Dawodu. We’ve seen Dawodu thwarted in the past when he was expected to smash through an opponent when he was stopped by Danny Henry in March. Dawodu rebounded with a win over Austin Arnett in July, but I’m not sure I like this matchup for him.
Bochniak pushed the uber-talented Zabit Magomedsharipov earlier this year and he’s a grinder who can upset Dawodu.
I also like Elias Theodorou in what could be a pretty boring fight with Eryk Anders. The latter is a brawler, but Theodorou will use his fight IQ and wrestling to try and subdue Anders. In his most recent bouts, Anders has looked very beatable. This is a good matchup for Theodorou.
Potential Fight of the Night
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – SEPTEMBER 22: Alex Oliveira of Brazil celebrates after defeating Carlo Pedersoli . [+] in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Ibirapuera Gymnasium on September 22, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) photo credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
My early prediction for Fight of the Night is the Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira bout. Both men have a history of battling in some wars, more so Oliveira. I can see the two of them engaging in a scrap that generates a few standing ovations.
Why Ortega Beats Holloway
TORONTO, CANADA – DECEMBER 06: Brian Ortega interacts with media during the UFC 231 Open Workouts at . [+] the Scotiabank Arena on December 6, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) photo credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m picking Ortega to dethrone Holloway, and here are my reasons: I’m not convinced Holloway is 100 percent. I know UFC President Dana White has said he’s been cleared by medical staff, but only Holloway knows if he’s the same guy he was when he handed Jose Aldo back-to-back losses. Even if he was still on that level, I’m not sure he beats Ortega at his best.
Every time Ortega is in the Octagon he looks better. His striking has reached an elite level, which is evidenced by his stoppage win over Frankie Edgar. We already know about his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. I think he takes advantage of Holloway’s tendency to start slow, and he finds a way to win the title via submission.
He’s too well-rounded, healthy and hungry for Holloway at this stage of his career.
Why Shevchenko Beats Jedrzejczyk
TORONTO, CANADA – DECEMBER 05: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan interacts with fans and media . [+] during the UFC 231 Press Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) photo credit: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
In the co-main event, I’m going with Shevchenko. She’s a more well-rounded fighter, physically stronger and she’s competing in a weight class that fits her best. Jedrzejczyk is a marvelous striker, but Shevchenko has a notable Muay Thai skill level too. The major advantage comes in when and if this fight goes to the ground.
Shevchenko can be a smothering force from top position and the entire package will wear on Jedrzejczyk who is coming off two straight losses to Rose Namajunas.