UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – 5.8.2021 – Staff Predictions, Picks, and DFS Analysis (FREE)

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Hello Daily Play Action! Welcome to our collaborative coverage of UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson. We are back at the UFC Apex for what looks to be an unusual slate of fights, but a fun one nonetheless. Our analysis includes a pick for every bout from Anthony Marro, Nicholas Marro and GB. We also feature write-ups that will provide consideration for building lineups on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

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.

As coverage continues, we will keep our Daily Play Action records up to date. Be sure to check out our reasoning though as records will not reflect confidence, we will be picking all fights regardless of if we are betting on them. I highly recommend using Bovada for their user-friendly format and awesome deposit bonuses if you want to bet on any of these picks!

If you are looking for even more UFC content, be sure to also check out Daily Play Action on YouTube where we have begun streaming breakdowns of most cards.

Current Record

  • Anthony: 102-67-2 (Last Year 223-145-6)
  • Nick: 101-68-2 (Last Year 235-133-6)
  • GB: 90-79-2 (Last Year 216-152-6)

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 9:45 AM EST 5-8-2021

Preliminary Card- Starts 6:00pm EST

Carlston Harris -185 (DK $8600, FD $18) vs Christian Aguilera +150 (DK $7600, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The card opens with a welterweight bout between Carlston Harris and Christian Aguilera. I was first introduced to Harris on Dana White’s Lookin’ For a Fight. He had a massive win on UAE Warriors against the then 17-1 Saygid Izagakhmaev. It is rare for Dana to give these opportunities to guys at age 33 like him, but the performance was excellent and his roots in Guyana make him an attractive draw for the South American audience. This is a great matchup for him against another older prospect in Aguilera. He has a significant size advantage and gained steam as the favorite this week. I think he is the clear pick in this fight having showed far superior skill in the cage than his opponent. I am betting him here and think he is likely to get the finish against the rather frail Aguilera. Five of his seven losses have come by finish. Carlston Harris by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Harris is 33-years old, but he’s making his UFC debut here. He’s coming off a huge upset victory over Saygid Izagakhmaev at UAE Warriors 15. He seems to be fairly well rounded with a solid chin, impressive cardio and a powerful enough wrestling base to give an opponent like Aguilera some trouble. Christian Aguilera has shown decent grappling ability at the regional level, but it’s extremely unlikely he’s able to match Harris’ strength in that department here today. Aguilera will have the more technical boxing here, but I expect Harris to ground him with relative ease. As long as Harris doesn’t stand and trade with Aguilera, this feels like his fight to lose. Don’t overinvest in this match-up because it is fairly low-level, but I expect Harris to lean on his grappling advantage to secure a win in his debut. Carlston Harris by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Carlston Harris by Decision

Tafon Nchukwi -140 (DK $8500, FD $17) vs Jun Yong Park +115 (DK $7700, FD $14)

  • Anthony: Next is a middleweight bout between Tafon Nchukwi and Jun Yong Park. I am not entirely sure what to make of this fight but Nchukwi is certainly the more imposing of these two middleweights. He is going to land the far more damaging shots on Jun Young Park. Cardio is always a concern for the former heavyweight, but he seems to at least have to gas tank to stay upright and continue move forward against opponents. There are also images circling of the Korean dealing with staph infection on his chest. The bandage covering the effected area at weigh-ins leads me to believe that story to be true. If he is at all compromised it becomes difficult to trust him in late fight or grappling exchanges he would usually be favored. Nchukwi is difficult to feel confident in but I think he gets the win here. Tafon Nchukwi by Decision
  • Nick: Nchukwi is only 5-0 professionally with four of those wins coming by knockout. In spite of this, he’s already a very developed striker as a former Muay Thai champion. Park has decent striking ability, but he’s likely going to rely on his grappling here to avoid taking too much damage from Nchukwi. We saw in Park’s fight against John Phillips that he’s more than willing to wrestle if he thinks he has the advantage on the mat. It’s also notable for this match-up that Park has never been KO’d. With Nchukwi’s clearest path to victory being clouded in this matchup, I’m siding with the underdog. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Nchukwi got it done here, but Park’s grappling ability should be just good enough to keep this fight where he wants it. That, and his “iron” chin. Jun Yong Park by Decision
  • GB: Jun Yong Park by Decision

Ludovit Klein -265 (DK $9400, FD $23) vs Mike Trizano +210 (DK $6800, FD $8)

  • Anthony: This featherweight bout should produce fireworks as Ludovit Klein takes on Mike Trizano. Klein made a huge splash last fall as he knocked out Shane Young in the first round with a fantastic head kick. His last three wins have come from a head kick knockout, something he throws with ease out of the southpaw stance. He has excellent hands to accompany the weapons on his lower extremities and moves around the octagon well, finding the range quickly versus each opponent. I see him really piecing up Trizano in this bout and eventually cracking him with something that puts him down. Klein to score a knockdown here is something I would bet on. Even if Trizano is capable of fighting his way to a decision I see Klein paying off his price tag in most circumstances here. Trizano is certainly a live dog but I see Klein being the far more technical fighter on the feet. Trizano lacks the real takedown threat to intimidate me here so I will be confidently backing the Slovak as a heavy favorite. Ludovit Klein by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Klein is extremely advanced for a 25-year old. He has decent grappling, but the precision and power behind his strikes is something to behold. He does a good job using feints to court his opponent’s into powerful shots. Klein is coming off four-straight knockout victories, including a massive KO in his debut over City Kickboxing’s Shane Young. Trizano is a former TUF Winner, but he hasn’t fought since 2019. He’s most comfortable on the feet, but against a technical powerhouse in Klein it seems likely he’s going to be outmatched here. I don’t want to go overboard on Klein as we really haven’t seen him tested at this level. However, I’m buying in on the hype here. Trizano is a game opponent, but I don’t expect his ends well for him. Klein is one of the more exciting featherweight prospects in the UFC. Ludovit Klein by Round One KO
  • GB: Ludovit Klein by Round Two KO

Kyle Daukaus -130 (DK $8300, FD $16) vs Phil Hawes +110 (DK $7900, FD $14)

  • Anthony: To close out the prelims is one of the night’s best fights, taking place at middleweight between Kyle Daukaus and Phil Hawes. The Daukaus brothers are rising the UFC rankings and I see serious potential for both in the coming years. Daukaus has the frame of a much heavier fighter and several inches on his opponent here. He is a very talented grappler who has shown fast hands and ever improving striking inside of the octagon. He and Chris are extremely similar and their high output and excellent cardio has overwhelmed many of opponents before. Hawes has been on a tidy win streak so I understand why the odds here are close. He has the power to end fights with a single punch but is at a clear technical disadvantage here, in my opinion. Seeing him overwhelmed by the pressure of Julian Marquez is still fresh in my memory and I see a similar game plan paying dividends for Daukaus here. He should be able to outwork Hawes or beat him down for a stoppage victory. Kyle Daukaus by Round Three KO
  • Nick: Phil Hawes is well-rounded, but his greatest strength is his knockout power. Seven of his ten professional victories have come by way of KO. He’s a capable grappler but in most match-ups he’d absolutely prefer to stay on the feet. We’ve seen in many of Hawes’ fights that his massive frame seems to be a lot to carry for a full fifteen minutes. He seems to always gas out late in fights if he can’t finish his opponents early and I’m not confident in him correcting that hole in his game here. Kyle Daukaus’ striking is still far from technical, but he is well-versed enough to stand and trade when he needs to. His greatest strength is his offensive grappling as a BJJ black belt, but so far in the UFC I’ve been most impressed by his chin, cardio and overall grit. Daukaus is really a terrible match-up for Hawes because he does a good job wearing on opponents and putting it on late. Hawes is live for an early knockout here, but I expect Daukaus to lean on his grappling to stay out of trouble and take the fight over as it wears on. I’ll have shares of both fighters for DFS since Hawes would score extremely well if he can find that KO. However, Daukaus is my pick. I expect him to weaponize his cardio on his way to another win under the UFC banner. Kyle Daukaus by Round Three Submission
  • GB: Kyle Daukaus by Round Three Submission

Main Card- Starts 8:00pm EST

Amanda Ribas -200 (DK $8800, FD $19) vs Angela Hill +160 (DK $7400, FD $11)

  • Anthony: The main card opens at strawweight with a fight between Angela Hill and Amanda Ribas. It is certainly a clash of styles as the striking oriented Hill faces the grappling ace Ribas. Striking got the better of Ribas in her most recent bout, a loss to this card’s headliner Marina Rodriguez. She was knocked out rather quickly in the second round and absorbed numerous unnecessary shots prior to the stoppage. I worry about her durability here on the feet against a rather good stand-up fighter, but on the mat she should dominate Hill who has struggled with grapplers her entire career. If anybody gets a finish in this fight it will likely be Ribas by submission. Hill does not possess the same power that Rodriguez does hence her price here as a small underdog. She is much older than the prospect Ribas and I think it will be a challenge for her to win this fight given the takedowns she likely absorbs. I am less confident in Ribas after seeing her last performance but still believe she is the value side of this particular matchup. Amanda Ribas by Decision
  • Nick: No matter how you slice it, this is a classic striker versus grappler match-up. Amanda Ribas has excellent offensive grappling as a BJJ blackbelt. Hill is a seasoned high volume striker most comfortable in the clinch. Ribas is coming off an ugly KO loss to card headliner, Marina Rodriguez. She leaned on her grappling to win the first round, but Rodriguez caught her with a combination and turned her lights out early in the second. Hill is coming off a loss to the other card headliner, Michelle Waterson. It was an extremely close fight but Waterson managed to lean on her grappling just enough to win over the judges. This fight essentially comes down to Hill’s ability to keep things on the feet. If these girls stand and trade, she’s definitely live to pull off the upset. However, in interviews leading up to this fight Ribas seems to know her clearest path to victory. I expect her to relentlessly pursue takedowns against HIll until she finds either finds a submission or wins over the judges on the scorecards. Hill isn’t as powerful as some of the other strikers in the division, but she’s far more technical than Ribas on the feet. It wouldn’t shock me if Hill can keep this standing long enough to pull off the upset. However, that seems like the less likely outcome. Amanda Ribas by Decision
  • GB: Angela Hill by Round Two KO

Gregor Gillespie -170 (DK $8900, FD $21) vs Carlos Diego Ferreira +140 (DK $7300, FD $10)

  • Anthony: Next is a fight between Gregor Gillespie and Carlos Diego Ferreira. Yesterday we saw Diego Ferreira weigh in over the limit for this lightweight bout at 160.5 pounds. He did not look much bigger than Gillespie at weigh-ins but certainly had a difficult cut in preparation for this fight. He is an extremely talented, well-rounded fighter that has put together a solid UFC resume. However, Diego Ferreira lacks the quality wins on his resume that make me confident he could beat somebody like Gillespie. There are still some clear holes in Gillespie’s striking, as evidenced by Kevin Lee in his most recent knockout loss. However, after a significant hiatus I expect Gillespie to look better on the feet. He should utilize his exceptional wrestling to keep the majority of this fight on the mat though, and if that is the case I expect him to win with relative easy. Diego Ferreira can certainly defend a few takedowns, but Gillespie should be able to apply even heavier pressure than usual against an opponent more likely to gas being overweight. It is unlikely he finishes this bout inside of the distance, but I very much like Gillespie in DFS today given his upside with takedowns and control time. Gregor Gillespie by Decision
  • Nick: This is an extremely intriguing stylistic match-up between two dangerous fighters at lightweight. Gregor Gillespie was on an absolute tear before he ran into an ugly head-kick KO against Kevin Lee back in 2019. In spite of that, he is still one of the more talented and decorated wrestlers in the UFC. Gillespie is a pressure wrestler who has outstanding grappling ability. He does an great job scoring takedowns against a wide range of opponents. Ferreira is one of the more decorated BJJ blackbelts in the UFC. He’s more than competent on the feet, but his offensive grappling ability is definitely his greatest strength. Seven of his seventeen professional victories have come by way of submission. A good portion of this fight will almost certainly take place on the mat, so the question becomes whether or not Gillespie can stay out of trouble against a highly talented BJJ player in Ferreira. I was initially going to back Ferreira here, but he looked terrible at weigh-ins. He missed weight by nearly five pounds and he was visibly struggling when stepping off the scale. If Ferreira’s cardio doesn’t hold up here, he’s going to struggle in a big way against a wrestler like Gillespie. I could absolutely see this going either way, but I’m siding with the favorite. Gregor Gillespie by Decision
  • GB: Gregor Gillespie by Decision

Marcos Rogerio de Lima -200 (DK $9100, FD $21) vs Maurice Greene +160 (DK $7100, FD $9)

  • Anthony: On one of the weakest cards in a while, we have a very ugly heavyweight bout scheduled between Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Maurice Greene. It is not going to be a pretty fight regardless of what happens but as both opponents are very volatile and lack much durability. Maurice Greene has been finished in his last three losses and nearly lost to Gian Villante as well before pulling off a submission late in the fight. He is not a very high caliber fighter and is a lot less experienced than his opponent despite just a one-year age gap. Rogerio de Lima has ballooned up from a light heavyweight to now 258 pounds. It is clearly bad weight that he has added and seeing him at weigh-ins yesterday certainly made me more worried about my pick here. He still has power to knockout opponents and is serviceable on the mat, but usually for no more than five minutes. He will need a quick finish in order to beat Greene prior to gassing, and I think he does just that given the suspect chin of the underdog. I could see the Crochet Boss taking over late in this fight and getting himself a finish of his own, but Rogerio de Lima is the pick based on the first-round flurry I am expecting we see. Marcos Rogerio de Lima by Round One KO
  • Nick: Greene is a gritty fighter with a solid ground game for a guy his size, but he has a very low Fight IQ and his cardio always seems to hold him back. In most of his wins, he finds a way to get the fight to the mat. Five of his ten professional victories have come by way of submission. He’s decent on the feet, but he often finds himself on the wrong end of exchanges against more technical strikers. Marcos Rogerio de Lima is huge, even for a heavyweight. He throws powerful strikes with 13 of his 17 Professional wins coming via KO. He always seems to come out strong, but as his fights wear on it’s very rare that his cardio holds up for the better part of fifteen minutes. There’s a common thread between these two fighters in that most of their UFC wins have come against opponents that are no longer with the promotion. Neither guy is likely to make any noise in this division, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see either cut if they can’t pull off the win in this spot. This is really a coin flip fight, but I expect de Lima’s pressure early to be a bit too much for Greene here. This is definitely a spot worth hedging for DFS, but I’m siding with the favorite. Marcos Rogerio de Lima by Round One KO
  • GB: Marcos Rogerio de Lima by Round Two KO

Geoff Neal -200 (DK $9000, FD $20) vs Neil Magny +160 (DK $7200, FD $13)

  • Anthony: The best fight on the card takes place here at welterweight between Geoff Neal and Neil Magny. The battle of the Neils will be hotly contested as these two ranked fighters square off in what should be a war. Neal throws with a lot of power and is coming off a loss to Wonderboy Thompson that ended a seven-fight winning streak. Prior to that he had been mowing through high level opponents. Magny is similarly coming off a loss in a five round main event from Abu Dhabi against Michael Chiesa. Both fought very tough opponents that are nothing like the challenge they face today. Magny will likely be able to implement his pressure grappling and clinch heavy style against Neal with less threat of losing position. Neal has good takedown defense but nowhere near the grappling of Chiesa or Magny. He will need to win this fight standing but at range it will be a challenge for him to close the distance on Magny. We have seen Magny knocked out before and Geoff Neal could certainly drop him in this bout, but I believe Magny has all the advantages aside from power on the feet. His endurance is far superior to that of Neal training at elevation and I see him winning a decision convincingly here. It is not a pick I am confident in but he remains my only real underdog play on this card. Neil Magny by Decision
  • Nick: Geoff Neal fights out of an excellent camp in Fortis MMA. He’s still developing, but he already has notable wins over Mike Perry, Niko Price and Belal Muhammad. He has some of the best power in this division and if he continues to improve, he has a legitimate shot at eventually challenging for a title. He’s coming off a loss to Stephen Thompson, but it’s tough to get too down on him for that one as Thompson is widely considered one of the top contenders in the division. Neil Magny is a rangy striker who also does well in the clinch. However, he’s unlikely to lean on the striking aspects of his game in this spot against the dangerous Neal. Neal has an outstanding 92 percent takedown defense in the UFC. Magny may have some success clinching and pushing Neal against the cage, but I don’t think he’ll have pressure to keep safe for fifteen minutes. Geoff Neal by Round Two KO
  • GB: Neil Magny by Decision

Donald Cerrone -200 (DK $8400, FD $22) vs Alex Morono +160 (DK $7800, FD $10)

  • Anthony: After a wild week, Donald Cerrone has locked in a fight here in the co-main event against Alex Morono. His original opponent Diego Sanchez was forced to withdraw and now as a result he gets to face The Great White on just a week notice. Cowboy has overcome far worse odds than this before and should be in excellent shape for a barn burner here at welterweight. It is difficult to bet him in this spot given the inflated odds and 0-4-1 streak that he is on, but Morono is a significant step down in competition than the murderers Cerrone has been facing. He had plenty of time to recover since his last scrap and has the size advantage over Morono here. It is a fight he should win thanks to his superior striking, but Cerrone is not what he once was at this point of his career. It becomes tougher to trust his chin with every passing day, but luckily the path for Morono is going to be in the wrestling rather than the striking department. He could work his way to a decision over Cowboy with a lot of grappling and top pressure and I would not be surprised. I just think Cerrone has very few wins left in the UFC but this is one of the few opponents left he keeps competitive with. He is a viable play on both sites but I will have just as much exposure to Morono given his upside. Donald Cerrone by Decision
  • Nick: Cerrone is the better grappler, the better wrestler and the more polished striker in this match-up. The issue though is that it seems he has mostly abandoned his skills in favor of putting on a show in recent fights. My hope here is that coming off four losses and draw, he’s going to do what it takes to get back in the win column. If he loses this fight, it seems extremely likely that this is his last bout with the UFC. Morono’s chin is also a bit of a question-mark here, as he was knocked out cold in the first round against Khaos Williams back in 2020. He lost handily in a decision his last time out to Anthony Pettis, but he was coming off a really nice win over Rhys McKee prior to that. He did well in the Pettis scrap, but he was essentially outclassed everywhere the fight went. Morono’s sheer toughness should give him a shot here, but I’m expecting this fight to look extremely similar to Morono’s loss to Pettis. He’s going to have a chance to capitalize if Cerrone makes a mistake but that feels extremely unlikely. The price on Cerrone is favorable pretty much everywhere. I’m happy to back him once more. Donald Cerrone by Decision
  • GB: Donald Cerrone by Round One KO

Marina Rodriguez -220 (DK $9200, FD $20) vs Michelle Waterson +175 (DK $7000, FD $14)

  • Anthony: Why on earth this is the main event I do not know, but Marina Rodriguez will be fighting Michelle Waterson at flyweight for five rounds. It will more than likely be a fight that goes to decision as has been the case in the past seven scraps for Waterson. The former 105er makes her 125-pound debut here, despite being undersized already against most strawweights. I could see her wrestling being a problem for Rodriguez but just not at this weight. Rodriguez looked excellent in her most recent fight against Amanda Ribas and has the striking to pick apart Waterson on the feet. Her 84 percent takedown defense should keep this fight upright and result in an easy victory for the Brazilian. There is potential for her to finish Waterson in this spot with her power and due to the fact Waterson will be carrying weight that she is not accustomed to. It will more than likely be a rather boring, twenty-five-minute affair though. Her price feels too high to warrant much exposure on either site, but especially DraftKings. Marina Rodriguez by Decision
  • Nick: This is a high-level women’s match-up between two of the division’s more interesting contenders. Rodriguez is a powerful Muay Thai striker. She’s found success against a high level of competition and she’s coming off a signature KO victory over a highly regarded prospect in Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez is excellent in the clinch, and she lands more than five significant strikes per minute. Waterson is coming off an impressive win of her own over a surging Angela Hill. She really upped her volume in that fight, but she’s going to need to lean on her grappling to secure a win here against a far more dangerous striker in Rodriguez. Waterson will have an experience advantage here, but it seems her career might be on the downturn while Rodriguez’s seems to be headed in the opposite direction. Waterson throws clean and measured strikes, but she often throws out of her opponent’s range. Rodriguez is the far more aggressive and dangerous striker here, so as long as this fight stays on the feet this feels like her fight to lose. If Waterson can effectively utilize her grappling she could pull out a win on the scorecards. However, it’s a five round fight and I just don’t see her keeping Rodriguez down for long. The price is a bit too high on Rodriguez in this spot, but she does seem to be the rightful favorite. Marina Rodriguez by Decision
  • GB: Marina Rodriguez by Decision

*Anthony, Nick and GB play on both FanDuel and DraftKings, and although they express their opinions, they may also implement other plays and strategies without notice