UFC 208: Top Targets

TOMMY TOE HOLD FIGHTER PICKS


The UFC’s first pay-per-view of 2017 takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, February 11th. At stake in the main event is the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight title, as former bantamweight champion Holly Holm takes on dangerous Dutch kickboxer Germaine de Randamie. In the co-main event, MMA legend Anderson Silva looks to return to the win column against heavy-handed middleweight contender Derek Brunson.

Before the Octagon makes its way back to the Empire State, let’s take a closer look at some of the top fighters on this card who could rack up the points and score big for your DraftKings lineup(s).

Germaine de Randamie ($8,200) vs. Holly Holm ($8,000)

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Women’s Featherweights

de Randamie is making her return to featherweight for the first time since a two-fight stint in Strikeforce. The Dutch kickboxing standout and former world champion has UFC wins over Julie Kedzie, Larissa Pacheco, and Anna Elmose, but a TKO loss to champion Amanda Nunes. Holm was once a dominant force in women’s boxing, and was on top of the MMA world when she KO’d Ronda Rousey to become the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. It’s since been downhill for Holm, who dramatically lost to Miesha Tate in her first title defense, then lost a decision to Valentina Shevchenko.

Barring something completely unexpected, this will be a glorified kickboxing battle. The Rousey fight aside, Holm has struggled to implement her striking acumen in an MMA environment, and was definitively outstruck in the Shevchenko loss. de Randamie’s resume of wins is far inferior to Holm, but on paper, she’s more powerful, a vicious clinch fighter, has superior Muay Thai, and I think she’ll be the one wearing UFC gold by the end of the night.

Number of Note: 0. Zero of the three fighters de Randamie has beaten in the UFC is still with the promotion, and two of them retired. Beating Holm would be by far her biggest achievement.


Jacare Souza ($9,500) vs. Tim Boetsch ($6,700)

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Middleweights

Jacare has been one of the top middleweights in the world for years, but he’s yet to get that elusive UFC title shot. Following a close split decision loss to Yoel Romero, the decorated BJJ world champion rebounded with an opening round mauling of Vitor Belfort at UFC 198. Plans to rematch Luke Rockhold in November fell through due to a Rockhold injury. Boetsch has had his ups and downs throughout his UFC career, and currently “The Barbarian” is on his first winning streak since his 4-0 stretch from 2011-2012. After dropping three straight fights, Boetsch broke his losing skid with a TKO win over the late Josh Samman last July, then impressively KO’d veteran Rafael Natal at UFC 205 in November.

Boetsch is known for playing the role of spoiler (just ask Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard), but I don’t see what he has to offer for Jacare, short of a flash KO with his power and Jacare’s shaky chin. I otherwise fully expect Souza to school Boetsch on the ground, and either lock up a submission or get a ground-and-pound TKO stoppage from full mount.

Number of Note: 4. Boetsch’s last four losses have all been by stoppage, two by submission and two by knockout. Overall, he’s been finished in seven of his ten pro defeats.


Glover Teixeira ($8,700) vs. Jared Cannonier ($7,500)

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Light Heavyweights

Teixeira is hoping for a far better outcome than his last fight, a 13-second KO loss vs. Anthony Johnson. Before running into “Rumble,” the one-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger had won his previous three fights, including a vicious KO of former champion Rashad Evans. Cannonier’s UFC career started at heavyweight, with a loss to Shawn Jordan, and then a nice win vs. Cyril Asker. He made the decision to drop to light heavyweight after beating Asker, and his debut at 205 was a success, as he beat Ion Cutelaba in December.

The UFC wasted no time giving Cannonier a massive leap in competition, looking to see if he can be an instant contender, but I think this is a case of too much, too soon. The Brazilian is far more well-rounded and a finishing threat with his striking and his dangerous jiu-jitsu game. Teixeira has a high finishing rate, and I think he’ll add to his tally on Saturday.

Number of Note: 6. In his win over Ion Cutelaba, Jared Cannonier was taken down 6 times out of 7 attempts. Not a good sign when going up against Teixeira, who is a good wrestler and far more seasoned and skilled on the mat than Cutelaba.


Dustin Poirier ($9,300) vs. Jim Miller ($6,900)

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Lightweights

When “The Diamond” decided to return to the lightweight division in 2015, he went on an absolute tear, winning four straight fights, including a knockout over Bobby Green. His run towards a title shot came to a crashing halt last September, when Michael Johnson knocked him out cold in just 95 seconds. Miller has experienced his own career resurgence, having won three consecutive bouts for the first time since his seven-fight run from 2009-2011. The New Jersey native stopped Takanori Gomi at UFC 200, edged out Joe Lauzon in a thriller last August, and took apart an overweight Thiago Alves at UFC 205 in November.

This is a great fight. Poirier has great offensive striking and is a beast in the clinch. Miller has a great ground game and a nasty guillotine. Several years ago, I’d probably pick Miller, but I think Poirier’s multi-layered stand-up attacks will be too much for Miller to handle.

Number of Note: 5. Poirier’s last five finishes have all been by KO or TKO. Miller has only been KO’d once (by Donald Cerrone), but Poirier is arguably the best striker he’s faced since Cerrone.


Rick Glenn ($8,900) vs. Phillipe Nover ($7,300)

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Featherweights

“The Gladiator” is a former World Series of Fighting featherweight champion who made his UFC debut on short notice as a lightweight. While he lost a one-sided decision to Evan Dunham, he certainly gained fans with his entertaining style and valiant attempts to rally for the win. Nover was once famously hailed by Dana White in 2008 as someone who could be “the next Anderson Silva.” That claim obviously never materialized, and he found himself out of the UFC in 2010. The Brooklyn-native is now making his fourth appearance in his second stint inside the Octagon, and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Renan Barao, although he acquitted himself far better than I imagine most pre-fight observers felt he would.

Glenn is a high-volume striker with an 83% finishing rate in his 18 wins. He’s back at his normal weight class, and while Nover may have an edge as a grappler, he’s not a great offensive wrestler, and he’s not well-equipped to deal with Glenn’s powerful, pressuring style. The pick here for me is a late Glenn TKO, and he should rack up many significant strikes along the way.

Number of Note: 71. In Nover’s three fights since returning to the UFC (all decisions), he has landed only 71 significant strikes in 45 minutes of fighting. You don’t need me to tell you that’s excruciatingly low.

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mookiealexander) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.