UFC 259 DraftKings Picks
With three championship title fights at UFC 259, this card is shaping up to be one of the best in the history of mixed martial arts. Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya fighting out of New Zealand is moving up a weight class to compete for the light heavyweight title currently held by Jan Blachowicz. Two of Adesanya’s City Kickboxing teammates also join him on the card, with veteran Kai Kara-France taking on Brazilian Rogerio Bontorin and Carlos Ulberg making his UFC debut against Nigerian Kennedy Nzechukwu. The Eagles MMA team captained by Khabib Nurmagomedov also has two fighters competing on Saturday, Askar Askarov and Islam Makhachev.
UFC 259 DraftKings Picks
Islam Makhachev – $9,400
The 14th ranked lightweight is riding a six-fight win streak and should make that seven after he handles American Drew Dober in the Octagon this weekend. Dober looked highly impressive during his last fight against Alexander Hernandez, with a second round KO victory, earning him a fight against a ranked opponent such as Makhachev. However, I am much less confident in Dober after watching Hernandez struggle against Thiago Moises last weekend, losing all three rounds as a big betting favorite. Makhachev recently dominated both Davi Ramos and Arman Tsarukyan, two fighters I think would beat Dober. I predict a submission victory by Makhachev, who should have no issues taking down Dober and dominating with his tremendous ground game arsenal.
Israel Adesanya – $9,200
I love that Adesanya weighed in at 201 pounds, which should be a great weight to compete against the current lightweight champ at 205. Title fights consist of five roundsm which means more potential DraftKings points. The 38-year-old Blachowicz out of Poland has won four fights in a row with the previous two the most impressive. His last fight against Dominick Reyes might have been the best performance of his career, dominating a fighter who arguably beat Jon Jones earlier that year. However, while watching that fight something looked very off with Reyes – he was timid and unusually patient, and the Polish fighter took full advantage. If this fight stays on the feet, Adesanya will knock Blachowicz out. He is just too quick and intelligent of a striker. My only worry is if Blachowicz decides to mix in some wrestling, which he is known to do despite not attempting a takedown in his last four fights.
Petr Yan – $8,400
Similar with the Adesanya bout, the bantamweight title fight will be five, rounds which means more DraftKings points to be earned. Without question, Sterling’s UFC resume is better than Yan’s, and momentum could not be higher after his dominating submission victory over second ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen in June 2020. But because of all that, I love Yan in this spot even more. Capitalizing on the Sterling hype and drafting Yan at $8,400 is an absolute steal. If Yan can hold his own in the wrestling department, which I think he will, he is a much more well-rounded fighter and takes care of Sterling to retain the title.
Dominick Cruz – $8,100
UFC legend Dominick Cruz returns to the Octagon for the first time since his defeat in the title fight against Henry Cejudo last May. Although I believe Casey Kenney is an outstanding fighter, he has never faced an opponent with as much experience and knowledge as Cruz. I also loved Cruz’s comments in the pre-fight press conference, offering absolute respect to Kenney as a fighter and what he has been able to accomplish in his respective career. My only worry taking Cruz here is if he were to underestimate Kenney and falter in preparation. With the extra motivation coming off his controversial stoppage against Cejudo, I think Cruz gets the job done here in a throwback performance to his younger championship days.
Kyler Phillips – $7,400
The 25-year-old American fighting out of MMA Lab in Arizona has yet to compete against a top fighter like fellow young killer Song Yadong. Incredibly, Yadong has not lost a fight since 2016 and has racked up 21 total fights despite being only 23 years old. As per usual DraftKings, I need to make a couple upset predictions. I agreed with the general UFC community that Marlon Vera was robbed of a victory against Yadong by the judges in May 2020. Additionally, Phillips has the black belt skillset to make a fighter like Yadong uncomfortable. I am banking on Phillips to rack up the takedowns and control time on his way to the biggest victory of his career.
Kennedy Nzechukwu – $7,200
Despite the lowest draft price in my lineup, Nzechukwu is my favorite pick on the card. Simply, the wrong fighter is favored in this matchup. Carlos Ulberg’s close relationship with Adesanya at City Kickboxing and dominating performance on the Dana White Contender Series last November has put his stock much higher than it should be, especially for someone who has yet to make their UFC debut. Nzechukwu defeated Darko Stosic in 2019, and looked great against formidable fighter Paul Craig prior to getting put in a triangle choke and tapping with 40 seconds left in the fight. I could have this prediction completely backwards, but I think Nzechukwu wins this fight against Ulberg.