UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor III Predictions (Reposted)

UFC 264 will likely be the largest pay-per-view event of the year. The card is headlined by the trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. The winner will move on to compete for the UFC Lightweight championship and forever be known the superior fighter of these two.

The write-up here will provide consideration for building lineups on both FanDuel and DraftKings. It details my betting strategy for each fight and a prediction of what kind of bout we see.

When building your lineups here are a few things to consider. Pricing differs for most fighters making some better value on one site over the other. Scoring is important as well. On FanDuel a first-round finish scores 5x the points as a decision, where on DraftKings it scores 3x as many. Grappling is also scored drastically different as FanDuel awards points for takedown defense and submission attempts. DraftKings neglects those two stats and instead values control time and reversals. This new year, DraftKings has also added a quick win bonus for victories in the first minute as well as scoring for non-significant strikes. Lastly, you will only want to take two fighters from the same fight if you think it goes into the late rounds and expect both to reach value. Optimal GPP builds very rarely stack the same fight but it can be a viable strategy in cash games.

Lastly, if you are in search of even more DFS content be sure to visit DailyPlayAction.com! This site is dedicated to providing expert daily fantasy coaching as well as tools to optimize your NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and PGA lineups. Check them out now if you play any FanDuel or DraftKings DFS.

Current Record

  • Anthony: 149-103-2 (Last Year 223-145-6)
  • Nick: 145-107-2 (Last Year 235-133-6)
  • GB: 137-115-2 (Last Year 216-152-6)

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 9:45 AM EST 7-10-2021

Early Prelims- Start 6:00pm EST

Alen Amedovski -130 (DK $9000, FD $18) vs Hu Yaozong +110 (DK $7200, FD $11)

  • Anthony: Our card opens with a middleweight bout between Alen Amedovski and Hu Yaozong. There is a reason this matchup is the first of the evening. Both fighters are 0-2 in the UFC and could find themselves cut from the promotion with a loss here. Amedovski is the more experienced of these two, capable of putting down opponents with his power but just as often getting clipped himself. His camp looked promising as while in the United States he trained alongside Alexander Gustafsson and Khamzat Chimaev at Xtreme Couture. I trust him just slightly more than Hu Yaozong who has not had his hand raised since 2016, fighting then on the Chinese regional scene. He is young and likely honed his skills during that absence but I see him struggling to keep up with Amedovski on the feet. I see no good reason to back this 3-2 professional, so Amedovski is my pick. Alen Amedovski by Round Two KO
  • Nick: This is a low-level matchup between two guys we haven’t seen fight in over a year. Both are coming off back-to-back losses and there’s a good chance whoever loses this one finds themself cut from the promotion. Yaozong Hu has fought at heavyweight in the past. He should have a lot of power now at this weight class, but his striking is far from technical and he really doesn’t have any singular standout skill. Since he’s still only 26 there is a good chance he improved a lot during his layoff, but it’s tough to get excited about him here. He was beaten badly in both of his previous UFC matchups. Amedovski hasn’t done much better than Yaozong. He is a small middleweight, which means Yaozong should certainly have a size and strength advantage here. I really have little to no confidence in this pick, but Amedovski’s experience and power advantages should carry him here. Yaozong will be bigger, but I’m not sure that will make up for his overall lack of experience. Alen Amedovski by Round Two KO
  • GB: Alen Amedovski by Round Two KO

Zhalgas Zhumagulov -300 (DK $9300, FD $22) vs Jerome Rivera +235 (DK $6900, FD $8)

  • Anthony: Next is a flyweight bout between Zhalgas Zhumagulov and Jerome Rivera. They each made UFC debuts in 2020 and have combined to go 0-5 in the promotion. The bad losses reside with Rivera who was finished twice, but those were suffered up weight at 135 and 145 pounds. He has a massive size advantage here at flyweight, boasting six inches of height and reach over Zhumagulov. It is going to be difficult for Rivera to keep pace on the feet, at least in terms of significant striking. Both fighters likely find success in the leg kick here which should prevent this turning into a wrestling match. We probably see the judge’s scorecards for this bout and based on value alone I will side with Rivera. He has a chance to win a fight on points by simply utilizing his size and keeping things at distance against Zhumagulov. I am not targeting either of these fighters for DFS purposes as I feel their ceilings are relatively low. Jerome Rivera by Decision
  • Nick: In all likelihood this is another “loser goes home” type of bout as both fighters here are coming off consecutive UFC losses. Zhalgas Zhumagulov has an outstanding gas tank. He brings a relentless pace to the octagon, but he sometimes coasts through fights or waits for opponents to come to him. I feel that Zhumagulov is getting a bit too much love here and I think it is based on his performances before he made it to the UFC. In his wins against Tyson Nam, Tagir Ulanbekov and Ali Bagautinov he never really looked dominant. In watching those fights, I can confidently say he could have just as easily been handed a loss in any of them without much controversy. This was especially true in the Ulanbekov fight, where he was mostly dominated the entire time yet somehow still gifted a victory. I am impressed by Zhalgas’ motor and strong chin, but he definitely feels a bit overrated by the betting market. Rivera is well rounded, but he has no real standout skill. He’s a gritty fighter that does a good job mixing in kicks, but it’s rare we see him find success against even decent level competition. Zhumagulov has never been submitted before, and he’s shown much better durability compared to Rivera. He should have a slight technical advantage no matter where this fight goes. It is not wise to invest heavily on either side here but I do see Zhumagulov getting the win. Zhalgas Zumagulov by Decision
  • GB: Zhalgas Zhumagulov by Decision

Brad Tavares -170 (DK $8600, FD $20) vs Omari Akhmedov +140 (DK $7600, FD $10)

  • Anthony: Here we have another middleweight bout featuring Brad Tavares and Omari Akhmedov. On the last Poirier vs McGregor card, we saw Tavares earn a big win over fellow The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Antonio Carlos Junior. He seems to always get by the mediocre competition at middleweight, but never the elite such as Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. Akhmedov falls right on the fringe of fighters Tavares should beat. He has won six of his last eight fights. The other two bouts were a draw with Marvin Vettori and a very close wrestling match against Chris Weidman. I imagine this is a back and forth decision when all is said and done. Akhmedov should be able to wrestle somebody like Tavares despite his 79 percent takedown defense. He is the stronger fighter, I just worry about his cardio as this fight goes late. The bet for me is Akhmedov, although I may hedge if he starts exceptionally well. I think he is an very strong DFS play for the price. Tavares is an excellent pay up on FanDuel as he defends several takedowns in a win. Omari Akhmedov by Decision
  • Nick: This is one of the tougher fights on the card to call and one I could definitely see going either way. Tavares is coming off a nice win over a large middleweight in Antonio Carlos Junior. He does a good job mixing in leg kicks to keep his opponents at range. He works well behind his jab and we’ve seen his chin tested on multiple occasions. Akhmedov is coming off a very nice win of his own, a triangle choke of Tom Breese. He leaned on his grappling advantage in that spot, a successful game plan that we have seen executed in most of his wins. Tavares has a very solid 79 percent takedown defense in spite of a few outlier performances against guys like Yoel Romero. Tavares is going to have a serious striking advantage here, but he’ll need to be careful not to leave himself open to Akhmedov’s underrated power. Akhmedov can be relentless in his approach, but he’ll need to be careful not to overexert himself and burn through his cardio. Each of these guys have holes in their game, but I feel like Tavares will manage to keep this fight on the feet long enough to sway the judges. Brad Tavares by Decision
  • GB: Brad Tavares by Round Three KO

Jennifer Maia -200 (DK $8800, FD $20) vs Jessica Eye +160 (DK $7400, FD $9)

  • Anthony: The early prelims close with a women’s flyweight bout between Jennifer Maia and Jessica Eye. I think Maia wins this fight, as a mid-level grappler should have no problem controlling Eye on the mat. We really see a basic style of striking from Eye, complimented by very standard wrestling takedowns. I do not think she poses much of a threat to Maia anywhere and when it comes to title contention, Maia’s path to a rematch is much clearer. She also has already beaten stronger opponents than Eye, the most recent being Joanne Calderwood. I could see Maia locking up a submission in this spot but she could even score well in a decision victory. She puts out good volume on the feet and likely stays ahead of Eye in most exchanges. I will have her in a few of my DraftKings builds. Jennifer Maia by Decision
  • Nick: Jennifer Maia makes her return here, coming off a tough loss as a Title Challenger to Valentina Shevchenko. She was completely outclassed in that spot, but she did have a few positive moments and even stole a round as a +1000 underdog. While she lost convincingly, she did look a lot better against the champ than anyone really expected. Maia throws a lot of volume as a striker and she is more than willing to eat shots to throw them. She has decent grappling ability as well, but she’s definitely more content fighting on the feet. Jessica Eye is a decent striker with solid footwork and defense. She does her best work grinding her opponents up against the cage, but her takedown defense has been a weakness in many of her recent matchups. If Eye can keep this fight mostly in the clinch she has a chance to pull away on the scorecards. That being said, I think it’s more likely we see Maia pick Eye apart at range. These girls match-up quite evenly statistically, but Eye seems a bit past her prime while Maia is still a top contender in this division. Jennifer Maia by Decision
  • GB: Jennifer Maia by Round Two Submission

Preliminary Card- Starts 8:00pm EST

Dricus Du Plessis -120 (DK $8200, FD $15) vs Trevin Giles +100 (DK $8000, FD $15)

  • Anthony: This is an exciting middleweight bout between Dricus Du Plessis and Trevin Giles. Both are extremely well-rounded fighters that have accrued a lot of wins and a lot of cage time, despite still being on the right side of 30 years old. Du Plessis had a solid UFC debut last fall, but looked a bit hesitant making the walk under so many bright lights. Now with a win under his belt I expect we see an even better performance from the tactician that dominated EFC and KSW for so long. Not only does he have very crisp kickboxing, but excellent offensive grappling and ring generalship. I see him overwhelming Giles on the feet in this matchup, and perhaps taking him to the mat as he pleases. The pressure boxing of Du Plessis will eventually stun Giles and I expect the bout to soon after be finished by additional punches or guillotine choke. The upside at his price makes Du Plessis one of my favorite DFS plays. Dricus Du Plessis by Round Two Submission
  • Nick: This is only Du Plessis’ second fight under the UFC banner, but he already has plenty of experience with a fairly impressive resume at 15-2. A former KSW Middleweight Champion, Du Plessis throws a ton of volume. He has a lot of power and great kickboxing, but he’s also effective on the mat with outstanding offensive grappling ability. Trevin Giles is primarily a boxer. He has a powerful jab and does a good job using it to set up his power shots. As effective as he is offensively, he sometimes gets overconfident and leaves his hands down. He has shown a susceptibility to counter shots, and his grappling is more of a weakness than a strength. It’s also notable that Trevin Giles trains part-time. He is a full-time police officer so it’s tough to expect him to be as prepared as Du Plessis will be in this one. Another reason I like Du Plessis here is that he has an excellent chin. Giles can cause a lot of damage with his combinations, but it’s unlikely he’s going to catch Du Plessis with something that ends this fight early. Given the fact Giles has solid technical ability on the feet, it wouldn’t shock me if he pulled off the upset on the scorecards. However, I’m siding with the strength and grappling advantages of Du Plessis. Both of Giles’ professional losses have come via submission, as have nine of Du Plessis’ fifteen professional wins. Giles has a solid 79 percent takedown defense, but he’s only faced a handful of credentialed grapplers at this level. I expect Du Plessis to eventually ground him and win via choke. Dricus Du Plessis by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Trevin Giles by Decision

Ilia Topuria -240 (DK $9100, FD $22) vs Ryan Hall +190 (DK $7100, FD $9)

  • Anthony: This should be an action-packed featherweight bout between Ryan Hall and Ilia Topuria. Hall has been away for quite some time, dealing with not only injuries but difficulty finding an opponent. He is viewed as too large a threat for many ranked fighters due to his proficiency on the mat. He is a true grappling ace. Nobody has ever been as good in the 50/50 position and Hall seems to effortlessly transition once bringing opponents to the mat. He needs to get a bit creative when it comes to securing takedowns due to a lack of wrestling and physical strength. Topuria is an excellent striker who can likely beat Hall in a stand-up battle. He has good grappling too, but there is absolutely no reason to test it against the likes of Ryan Hall. The 10-0 Topuria has an incredibly high ceiling, but I think we could see him get caught here. Hall is crafty, even while standing up, and at the very least he should survive long enough for a few submission attempts. That makes him worth the underdog shot in my opinion. Ryan Hall by Round One Submission
  • Nick: There is a good chance this ends up as one of the most entertaining fights on the card. Hall’s style is extremely awkward, but also extremely effective. He has a truly outstanding BJJ game, and when he’s on the feet he throws a wide range of kicks to keep his opponents at range. He dives and rolls at his opponents’ feet constantly in an attempt to engage in grappling exchanges. As talented as he is on the mat, his striking is certainly more of a weakness than a strength. Topuria comes into this fight with a lot of momentum. He is an aggressive striker who packs a lot of power in his punches. He throws extremely fast combinations and his overall explosiveness has many calling him a future top contender. As good of a striker as he is, Topuria is a blackbelt with seven of his nine wins coming via submission. While I don’t expect him to try to lean on that part of his game here, he should be adequate enough on the mat to limit the strengths of Hall. Topuria is the far better striker and I expect this fight to mostly stay on the feet. I’ll have a few shares of Hall just in case he pulls off that submission, but Topuria is the rightful favorite here. Ilia Topuria by Round Two KO
  • GB: Ilia Topuria by Round Two KO

Michel Pereira -170 (DK $8900, FD $19) vs Niko Price +140 (DK $7300, FD $14)

  • Anthony: Next is an exciting welterweight bout between Michel Pereira and Niko Price. These are two high action fighters that like to throw down and leave it all in the cage. Niko Price is really known as a brawler, relying on his hands in the pocket to hurt opponents and accrue most of his professional wins. The first half of his UFC tenure was far more impressive than the recent performances he has produced. His last four bouts resulted in two losses, one draw, and a win over now retired James Vick. Michel Pereira has been trending in the opposite direction, winning his previous two fights in rather dominant fashion. Not only did he manhandle Zelim Imadaev in their bout, but also very technically disarmed Khaos Williams during their December scrap. He is honing his skillset with every fight and that is scary given his size and physical strength at this weight class. Aside from all the spinning attacks and taunting, Pereira also has heavy hands and a very good clinch game. I see him overwhelming Price in this spot. Pereira is the younger fighter by four years yet has double the professional experience of his opponent. Michel Pereira by Round Three KO
  • Nick: By most accounts, this fight is must-see TV. Both of these guys like to stand and swing, they both have power and they’ve both shown time and time again that they can take a lot of damage. Pereira is like a video game character in the way he flips around the ring. He’s one of the most entertaining fighters to watch, but his Fight IQ is always in question. He likes to throw ridiculous looking spinning kicks and he’s been known to backflip onto his opponents for pretty much no reason. This can put an unnecessary dent in his gas tank, but he does have strong striking ability and he has shown a solid chin against decent competition. He looked a lot more reserved in his last fight, and it paid off with an impressive win over Khaos Williams. It’s tough to know what to expect from him here though. Price will likely have the power advantage and he has found most of his UFC success just standing and swinging. Both of these guys leave themselves open to hard shots so they are both live to win via finish here. I’ll definitely have shares of both for DFS purposes, but I’m siding with the slight power advantage of Price. He seems extremely focused in interviews and he appears to be in better shape than we’ve ever seen him before. Additionally, I have trouble backing Pereira here knowing he often favors theatrics over a logical gameplan. Niko Price by Round Three KO
  • GB: Michel Pereira by Decision

Max Griffin -200 (DK $8700, FD $21) vs Carlos Condit +160 (DK $7500, FD $10)

  • Anthony: The finally fight prior to the pay-per-view is a welterweight scrap between Max Griffin and Carlos Condit. These are two established fighters in the promotion, particularly Condit who makes his nineteenth walk to the octagon tonight. He looked to be the bigger fighter at weigh-ins and has strung together two rather impressive wins of late. In this bout, Griffin should have a slight edge in boxing range. He likely lands the harder shots than Condit which makes me worry a bit about this fight’s trajectory. However, The Natural Born Killer seems to have a lot of fight left in him. I could see Condit taking advantage of Griffin’s porous takedown defense to win rounds, or even fighting technically enough to keep things close on the feet. While Condit is also not great at stuffing takedowns, I feel he is the more likely fighter to shoot in this matchup. He is certainly more live than the price tag we are getting. I like him as an underdog here. Carlos Condit by Decision
  • Nick: First and foremost, I’ve been a fan of Condit’s for years. He is a celebrated veteran due to his relentlessness in the octagon and a willingness to pursue violence no matter who he’s squared-up against. He is well past his prime, but I feel like he still has enough dog in him to win matchups like this one. Griffin is a well-rounded fighter, but his greatest strength is his athleticism. He has a very large frame for a welterweight and has performed well against a variety of high level of competition. Griffin is coming off a pair of nice wins over Kenan Song and Rahmiz Brahimaj. This definitely represents a further step up in opponent for him here. Condit is a former Interim Champion. Throughout his career he’s been known as an extremely well-rounded fighter. He is an excellent striker with a serious BJJ game as well, but his terrible 39 percent takedown defense has always been an Achilles heel. Giffin averages nearly two takedowns per fifteen minutes. I expect him to find a takedown or two here, but Condit should be able to lean on his BJJ to either work for a submission or get back to his feet. He should have a serious technical advantage when this fight stays standing. My confidence is low in this one and there’s a decent chance my bias is showing, but I see Condit pulling off the upset. Carlos Condit by Decision
  • GB: Carlos Condit by Round Two KO

Main Card- Starts 10:00pm EST

Sean O’Malley -1000 (DK $9500, FD $23) vs Kris Moutinho +600 (DK $6700, FD $8)

  • Anthony: The main card opens with this bantamweight bout between Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho. The original opponent for O’Malley was a decent test in Louis Smolka, but he now draws a UFC debutant as the short notice replacement. Moutinho is a decent fighter who has a solid regional resume. I just do not see how he beats O’Malley in this spot. When it comes to pure striking there are very few in the world that can match Sugar Sean. I see him picking apart Moutinho, whether from the orthodox or southpaw stance. I think the speed and accuracy of O’Malley causes Moutinho to be overwhelmed in the very first round. On a slate lacking many quality pay up options, I will own a lot of Sean O’Malley on DraftKings and FanDuel. Tune in for what is likely another viral knockout here. Sean O’Malley by Round One KO
  • Nick: Sean O’Malley has a ridiculous amount of hype behind him right now. He has been winning convincingly with highlight reel knockouts, but most of them have come against mediocre competition. He has excellent striking ability and does an excellent job baiting his opponents with feints. O’Malley’s last three wins in the UFC have come via knockout. Moutinho is taking this fight on very short notice and based on his lack of top-level experience, he feels seriously outmatched here. When you watch Moutinho’s regional footage, he seems well-rounded. Unfortunately, most of that footage has come against mediocre competition. I do feel O’Malley is consistently over-priced, but in this match-up he should cruise to a convincing knockout win. He is a Cash play for DFS purposes on both sites and very likely to get this done inside the distance. Sean O’Malley by Round One KO
  • GB: I was looking forward to this fight until news broke about ten days ago that Smolka would be pulling out due to injury. Although the UFC has put forth what looks like a formidable opponent in Moutinho, it is hard to be excited about an upset here. To me it seems like the promotion’s way of keeping the Sugar Show hype train alive. I expect to see fantastic movement, striking, counterpunching and level adjustments from O’Malley as I always do. The kid is a deadly striker regardless of who is in front of him. Moutinho is coming off back-to-back wins in lesser promotions of CFFC and CES, but nothing near the fighting talent of O’Malley. Moutinho will need to come out hyper aggressive in search of a finish as we know O’Malley will settle in quickly and expose him if he doesn’t. Sean O’Malley by Round One KO

Irene Aldana -115 (DK $8300, FD $16) vs Yana Kunitskaya -105 (DK $7900, FD $13)

  • Anthony: Next we have a women’s bantamweight bout between Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya. The only fighter to come in heavy at yesterday’s weigh-in was Aldana who tipped the scales at 139.5 pounds. She looked very depleted and it is difficult to defend backing her if she is in fact compromised. While I believe she is the superior striker in this matchup, Kunitskaya could very easily control her on the mat. Aldana was lined close to even against Holly Holm and that proved to be brutally wrong. I believe the odds are way off for this matchup too. Kunitskaya has been on a tidy winning streak and I see her keeping that momentum here. Yana Kunitskaya by Decision
  • Nick: Kunitskaya has crisp boxing and pushes a solid pace, but her advantage in this match-up is definitely in the grappling department. Aldana is one of the more powerful punchers in this division. She has solid boxing ability, throws meaningful shots and her combinations are advanced in technique. Aldana missed weight by 4.5 pounds for this matchup. She looked terrible at weigh-ins and I really have trouble wanting to back her as a favorite here. I could see this fight going either way, but I prefer the value on Kunitskaya. She is a particularly appealing FanDuel play. She should be able to hang in the striking changes long enough to take this fight to the mat when she needs to. Another pick I’m not especially confident in, but I prefer Kunitskaya here. Yana Kunitskaya by Decision
  • GB: Next up in the women’s bantamweight division we have a bout between two top-5 fighters. Irene Aldana is a great boxer who has a nice mix of speed, power and timing. Holly Holm picked her apart in her last bout, and we saw Aldana with no answer for anything that came her way. Luckily, Kunitskaya does not pose such a threat from the standing position and Aldana should be able to out-box her. Kunitskaya is a well-rounded fighter but relies on her clinch work and grappling far more than her hands. She will look to nullify most of Aldana’s game plan in what should be an interesting bout between striker and grappler. If Aldana cannot find her rhythm early, it could be a long night for her with Kunitskaya forcing grappling exchanges. Yana Kunitskaya by Decision

Tai Tuivasa -140 (DK $8400, FD $17) vs Greg Hardy +115 (DK $7800, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The featured bout takes place at heavyweight between Greg Hardy and Tai Tuivasa. It is not the highest-level fight, but both guys have upside going forward in this division. Tuivasa is always down for a scrap and I liked what we saw out of him early in the UFC. As of late though, he has been fed two real cans that prevented him from really developing much as a mixed martial artist. The leg kicks are good, but his gameplan really does boil down to heavyweight brawler at the end of the day. Hardy is the bigger, stronger and harder hitting fighter in this matchup. In talking to media this week he disclosed being as heavy as 340 pounds at the start of fight camp. That indicates that he probably still lacks the gas tank to go fifteen minutes, but I doubt we see the scorecards in this one. A more patient Hardy should be looking for counters on Tuivasa here. I see him landing a big shot on the Australian before getting clipped too many times himself. Greg Hardy by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Greg Hardy is about as questionable of a character as there is in the UFC. He is a tough guy to cheer for, but there’s no denying his athleticism and speed as a heavyweight. Hardy has been spending a lot of time with a former champion Rashad Evans. For a guy who usually makes terrible decisions, I will give Hardy credit for surrounding himself with the right people. He’s still mostly mediocre though. There is nothing exciting about his overall game outside of his athleticism. He has decent boxing ability, but he doesn’t throw much volume. He is powerful, but he often telegraphs his bigger shots. Tuivasa has decent takedown defense, but once he is down he seems to have trouble getting back to his feet. Tuivasa’s cardio is questionable at best, but Hardy’s is downright terrible. He has a bad case of asthma and we’ve seen it cost him professionally on more than one occasion. This is a tough fight to call as both guys have glaring holes in their respective games. I expect Hardy to look solid early, but I expect his gas tank depletes just a bit faster than Tuivasa’s does. Tai Tuivasa by Round Two KO
  • GB: Two heavy hitters with poor gas tanks likely indicates that judge’s will not be needed here. Not a whole lot of analysis for this one knowing that bad heavyweights like this swing until one can connect. The further the fight goes after the first round, the less chance I see Hardy winning. He has shown repeatedly that he has the lungs of a newborn child, and I doubt that Hardy has improved his cardio enough to sustain his style. Tuivasa has the upper hand when it comes to explosiveness and I think he can utilize it well to land cleaner strikes on Hardy. I also trust Tuivasa’s conditioning more. Both are live, so I can see the appeal of spending down a bit on Hardy. However, I would much rather pay the extra salary to have Tuivasa in my lineups. Tai Tuivasa by Round Two KO

Stephen Thompson -165 (DK $8500, FD $18) vs Gilbert Burns +135 (DK $7700, FD $13)

  • Anthony: The co-main event should be an awesome fight at welterweight between Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson. The winner of this bout would be on the short list for a crack at the title, despite both having opportunities at gold already in their careers. Burns’ most recent loss was against Kamaru Usman in February. He actually had success early in that fight clipping the champion, but eventually he was outclassed on the feet as expected. Now we likely see him attempt to implement wrestling more, especially while facing this style fighter. If Burns can take this fight to the mat I have no doubt he advances position on Thompson and dominates the jiu jitsu side of things. That is the gameplan for just about every opponent of Wonderboy but we rarely see it work. The 38-year-old is extremely illusive. Thompson stays light on the feet and is constantly a moving target, making it difficult for opponents to grab him. His takedown defense has also held up well on the occasions he gets stuck in a single leg or body lock. I have gone back and forth on this fight and now find it my least confident pick on the card. It is always fun watching Wonderboy put on a clinic striking, but I do believe at some point he is pinned to the mat this evening. Burns needs to come out strong after his most recent performance and I think a submission is his only shot at getting the win. Gilbert Burns by Round One Submission
  • Nick: Stephen Thompson is still among the class of this division. He mostly fights in an open stance, using his excellent Karate style to throw off the timing of his opponents. He is light on his feet, constantly switches and generally does an excellent job circling away from danger. That will be a key for him in this spot against an powerful striker and excellent BJJ player in Gilbert Burns. Burns had a solid 2020 when he ran through a former champion in Tyron Woodley and former title contender in Demian Maia. He is coming off a tough loss in a Title Fight to Kamaru Usman where he was ultimately caught by a jab and then finished. Burns has underrated striking, but it really isn’t anywhere remotely close to the level of Thompson. He is likely to have a power advantage here and we have seen Thompson wobbled before, but the clearest path to victory is taking Thompson to the mat. Burns has decent entries, but Thompson has an excellent 78 percent takedown defense. I see Burns coming out strong here, but if he can’t end things early I expect Thompson to pick him apart at range. I’ll definitely have shares of both of these guys for DFS purposes, but I’m siding with the favorite to manage distance and stay out of harm’s way. Stephen Thompson by Decision
  • GB: Most will be tuning in for the main event, but I believe that this is the fight to watch. Burns is coming off a loss to Usman which was definitely tough for him as he did manage to put Usman is one of the worst spots we’ve seen him to date. He has really surprised me as of late, transitioning from a fantastic submission artist to someone who equally demands respect on the feet. This makes it hard for opponents to read as they concentrate on their takedown defense while usually leaving themselves open to stiff hands and steady combinations. Thompson, in my opinion, has his toughest competition to date in Burns. His elusiveness and ability to create combinations while maximizing distance is a thing of beauty and ultimately will be his recipe for success here. He is by far one of my favorite fighters to watch, but I am hesitant to see what happens here if Burns is able to keep the pressure on him or take him to the ground. I have a hard time picturing Thompson surviving on the mat, but he has show excellent takedown defense in the past. Stephen Thompson by Decision

Dustin Poirier -125 (DK $8100, FD $20) vs Conor McGregor +105 (DK $8100, FD $19)

  • Anthony: At last we arrive at the main event, the long awaited trilogy bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at lightweight. In their second meeting, I bought into the hype and picked McGregor to get his hand raised. He is a legend of the sport having held two titles simultaneously and marketing the UFC more than anyone else. Seeing him dusted rather easily by Poirier makes me feel a lot better about my pick this time around. While McGregor did land some hard shots on Poirier in their January tilt, the chin held up and the superior martial artist prevailed. Moving forward was the key to success and Poirier’s best combinations seem to land as he is on the attack. Poirier has tallied seven wins since the start of 2017 while McGregor has just one. That also came for McGregor against Donald Cerrone who has been winless through his last six bouts. With a wrestling, grappling, and size advantage I see Poirier taking this fight by grinding out another dominant win. The winner of the second matchup is successful more than 70 percent of the time in UFC trilogy bouts. I plan to split my exposures rather evenly while building lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel, but the bet for me is Poirier. Dustin Poirier by Round Three Submission
  • Nick: Anytime McGregor fights it is must-see TV. He is one of the best boxers to ever fight under the UFC banner and the first fighter to ever hold titles at multiple weight classes. He has outstanding power for a lightweight, and his counter-punching ability is amongst the best on the entire roster. McGregor is coming off a tough loss in his second fight with Dustin Poirier. He was picked apart by leg kicks in that one and ultimately left himself open to be tagged in close and finished. Four of McGregor’s last five wins have come via knockout. His one clear path to victory here is ending this fight early and it wouldn’t shock me at all if that is the outcome we see. If McGregor switches back to his karate stance here instead of fighting in a more traditional boxing stance, he should be able to avoid more of Poirier’s heavy leg kicks and establish a better flow than last time out. However, I see Poirier leaning on his wrestling advantage more here to grind on McGregor an test his cardio. We have seen Poirier time and time again start to come alive as a fight wears into the middle and late rounds. I see McGregor starting out strong, but Poirier’s chin once again holding up. From there, he should be able to lean on leg kicks and wrestling as needed to further disarm the Irishman. This is another fight in which you’ll want both sides if you’re playing multiple DFS lineups, but I’m siding with the favorite. Dustin Poirier by Round Three KO
  • GB: This is one of the most anticipated fights of the year and the trilogy clash between two fighters who hardly need any introductions. Poirier is a fantastic martial artist and this showed in the last outing. He was able to limit McGregor’s movement and negate most of his best weapons. While attacking the legs, Poirier took damage from Conor but it was not enough to seriously rock him. It will be interesting to see if McGregor can bounce-back in this spot after making adjustments to his gameplan. If he does not limit the calf damage or hasn’t improved his takedown defense, I can see Conor falling apart after the first round once again. McGregor is as lethal as they come in the UFC and has made a living in the sport showcasing his fantastic striking and the speed of his hands. However, if he isn’t prepared for a war of attrition with Poirier I believe this fight will end up like the last. The path to victory for Poirier seems more clear knowing that he’s the better all-around fighter, but all it takes from Conor is one left hand. Dustin Poirier by Round Three KO

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