UFC Vegas 34: Cannonier vs Gastelum – 8.21.2021 – Staff Predictions, Picks, and DFS Analysis (FREE)

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Hello Daily Play Action! Welcome to our collaborative coverage of UFC Vegas 34: Cannonier vs Gastelum. After a week off, we make our return to the UFC Apex for a stacked slate of fights. 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.

Lastly, if you are in search of even more combat sports content be sure to visit RingwormMMA.com! This site is dedicated to providing MMA, boxing and gambling content to fight fans around the world.

Current Record

  • Anthony: 176-131-3 (Last Year 223-145-6)
  • Nick: 177-130-3 (Last Year 235-133-6)
  • GB: 169-138-2 (Last Year 216-152-6)

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 10:00 AM EST 8-21-2021

Preliminary Card- Starts 7:00pm EST

Ramiz Brahimaj -145 (DK $8500, FD $17) vs Sasha Palatnikov +120 (DK $7700, FD $13)

  • Anthony: The card opens with a welterweight bout between Ramiz Brahimaj and Sasha Palatnikov. Brahimaj is one of Sayif Saud’s pupils at Fortis MMA. He has excellent jiu jistu and his striking should be improving each fight as he hones more weapons. While he did get his ears boxed in (quite literally) by Max Griffin, Brahimaj still has a bright future ahead of him. Palatnikov was submitted in his last fight by a far less credentialed grappler than Brahimaj. While cardio was clearly a factor, I am rather confident that Brahimaj can sink in a choke if Impa Kasanganay found himself able to. Palatnikov is the more dangerous striker with a wide arsenal of kicks and counters but I see him fighting off his back at some point here today. While it is a close fight, I have to take Brahimaj at odds this appealing. Ramiz Brahimaj by Round Two Submission
  • Nick: Ramiz Brahimaj is coming off a hard fought loss via TKO to Max Griffin in his UFC debut. He is a technically sound striker, but he made the mistake of standing and trading for too long against a powerful puncher in Griffin. He ultimately had his ear torn off his head in that fight, but he had his moments and certainly showed he belongs at this level. Palatnikov is fighting out of an excellent camp in Syndicate MMA, but he’s only been there briefly. He has decent footwork and pushes a good pace but seems very willing to get into striking exchanges. In spite of his defensive flaws, he’s going to want to stand and trade here. He’s shown some grappling ability but Brahimaj is an advanced BJJ brown belt and likely to outclass him if this fight hits the mat. This is a somewhat difficult matchup to call as both guys are still fairly inexperienced at the UFC level. I expect Brahimaj to learn from the mistakes he made in his last fight. He should be able to lean on his grappling here to score his first UFC win. Ramiz Brahimaj by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Sasha Palatnikov by Round Two KO

Roosevelt Roberts -150 (DK $8400, FD $18) vs Ignacio Bahamondes +125 (DK $7800, FD $12)

  • Anthony: Next up is a lightweight scrap between Roosevelt Roberts and Ignacio Bahamondes. Neither of these fighter’s have the brightest future ahead at lightweight but they are known for putting on enjoyable performances. Bahamondes is just 23 years old but has already amassed a deeper professional resume than Roberts. He is a rather cerebral striker who can put a lot of volume on opponents, he just often eats shots in the process. While Roberts is one of the bigger fighters at 155 pounds, he lacks that advantage here against the 6’3 Bahamondes. I see Bahamondes staying ahead on the striking numbers for most of this bout. He will need to keep Roberts at range as the submission threat is certainly there. I do not see why anyone would bet on Roberts after his previous two losses though. Bahamondes is a very game opponent and I do not know if Roberts is up to the task of fighting hard for fifteen minutes. I see this one ending inside the distance and the underdog getting his hand raised. Ignacio Bahamondes by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Roosevelt Roberts was once a highly regarded prospect, but he’s coming off a pair of ugly submission losses to Kevin Croom and Jim Miller. He is a decent wrestler with solid striking ability on the feet, but his lack of Fight IQ and general overconfidence have seemingly been holding him back. Bahamondes has a loose striking style. He does a good job mixing kicks into his combinations, effectively damaging his opponents at range and in close. He has surprising power for his frame, but he often leaves his head on the centerline and as a result he tends to take a lot of damage in exchanges. Both of these guys are rangy strikers, but Bahamondes should have a slight advantage when this fight is standing. That being said, I’m confident in Roberts mixing in his grappling to neutralize Bahamondes here. While Roberts has had issues with superior grapplers, Bahamondes doesn’t fit into that category. Two of Bahamondes’ four professional losses have come via submission. This fight will be close as long as it’s standing, but I’m not sure how long that’s the case. Roosevelt Roberts by Decision
  • GB: Roosevelt Roberts by Decision

William Knight -175 (DK $9400, FD $22) vs Fabio Cherant +145 (DK $6800, FD $10)

  • Anthony: Here we have a light heavyweight bout between William Knight and Fabio Cherant. The former LFA Champion Cherant is very talented with heavy hands. However, he has fallen short thus far whenever he takes on further developed opponents. His loss to Menifield was understandable as he took that fight on short notice to punch his ticket to the promotion. It is however concerning that Cherant was submitted so quickly there. Knight is a very good grappler and he can likely control Cherant on the mat here being so physically strong. He learned the value of top position the hard way in his last bout, so I expect Knight to prioritize his grappling offense more here today. Similar to Cherant he has heavy hands and could certainly cause damage on the feet as well. The winner of this bout is likely an optimal DFS play as it is expected to be decided in under two rounds. Knight should get the win here by submission or ground and pound. William Knight by Round One KO
  • Nick: William Knight is built like a linebacker. He’s short for the division, but he carries a ton of muscle. He has an extremely powerful base with decent grappling ability and KO power on the feet. Many of Knight’s knockout victories have come after he was losing or behind on the scorecards. He is more than willing to put himself in difficult positions in order to throw and land that knockout punch. He does a decent job stringing together powerful combinations and he’s shown continuous improvement on the feet. As well-rounded as he is, he’s coming off an ugly loss to Da Un Jung. He was outclassed pretty much everywhere in that spot, so it’s tough to get too excited to back him here even though he feels like the rightful favorite. Fabio Cherant was added to the roster as a late notice replacement against Alonzo Menifield. He was dominated in that fight, but it’s tough to get too hard on him there given the fact it came on such short notice. When standing, Cherant throws primarily out of the southpaw stance. He does a good job managing distance, but he sometimes overexerts himself and leaves himself open to counters. Like Knight, he has true knockout power. However, he’s raw in his ability and more one dimensional than Knight. I expect Knight to utilize a grappling heavy attack in this spot. Cherant could have a slight advantage on the feet here, but Knight’s grappling advantage feels far more significant. We’ve seen Cherant find success on the mat on the regional scene, but he’s never faced a wrestler with the size or strength of Knight. William Knight by Round Two KO
  • GB: William Knight by Round Two KO

Bea Malecki -165 (DK $8600, FD $19) vs Josiane Nunes +135 (DK $7600, FD $11)

  • Anthony: This women’s bantamweight fight should be very interesting as Bea Malecki fights Josiane Nunes. There is a bit of hype surrounding Malecki who is a credentialled Muay Thai fighter, but she is a mere 2-0 as a mixed martial artist. Coming from Fortis MMA I really am not concerned about her development, I just worry some UFC opponents may prove to be too much too soon. Nunes makes her promotional debut here and seems to be the more well-rounded of these two. I would not be surprised to see her find success but Malecki has a serious size advantage over her. With a seven-inch gap in height and reach, I am siding with Malecki. The judges would likely favor her attacks too if this were to go to a decision. Bea Malecki by Decision
  • Nick: Bea Malecki is a Muay Thai striker with some of the longer reach on the roster at bantamweight. She’s going to have a 7-inch advantage in this spot against one of the shortest girls in the division in Josiane Nunes. The most glaring knock on Malecki’s chances here is just her overall lack of experience. She’s only 2-0 professionally in MMA, but she has fought for years as a former World Champion on the Muay Thai circuit. Nunes will be making her UFC debut here. She comes into the promotion at a healthy 7-1, but she’s only found success against a questionable level of competition. Like Malecki, she’s also a Muay Thai striker. She has pretty fast hands and works well in the clinch, but I’m not sure she can overcome the dramatic size and reach disadvantage here. In a fight likely to take place standing, I’m not sure she has enough ability to close range on Malecki. Nunes is tough and she’s not going to be an easy out, but I’m siding with the favorite. Bea Malecki by Decision
  • GB: Bea Malecki by Decision

Brian Kelleher -185 (DK $9000, FD $21) vs Domingo Pilarte +150 (DK $7200, FD $9)

  • Anthony: Next should be a good bantamweight scrap between Brian Kelleher and Domingo Pilarte. It has been a six-month layoff for the veteran Kelleher but that is longer than what fans have become accustomed to. Pilarte has been out much longer and will need to be much improved to win here. There is not a lot of good I can say about Pilarte’s most recent loss, but his fight prior against Felipe Colares was very close. Despite being knocked down early Pilarte was able to have a very competitive second round and an extremely dominant third. I could see him beating Kelleher by simply staying at range and outworking him on the feet, but he does need to be weary of Kelleher’s booming right hand. While he is at a grappling disadvantage, being much larger than Kelleher will certainly have its benefits on the mat. Stuffing and potentially reversing takedowns is the key for Pilarte here. It is a underdog bet I likely won’t be placing, but I do prefer that side to laying the juice with Kelleher. I do not think his guillotine choke will be an effective weapon against an opponent of Pilarte’s size. Domingo Pilarte by Decision
  • Nick: Kelleher’s greatest strengths are his knockout power and his outstanding guillotine choke. While he can put opponents away with his hands, he’s over-aggressive at times and as a result he leaves himself open to counter-shots. He’s fun to watch because he’s willing to take damage, but against advanced strikers he often finds himself on the wrong end of exchanges. Pilarte is decent on the feet, but Kelleher should have a significant power advantage when this fight is standing. If he feels he’s falling behind in striking exchanges, he should be able to lean on his grappling to control position and keep control of where this fight goes. Pilarte has decent BJJ, but he struggles off his back. I don’t want to overinvest here as there’s a chance Pilarte made dramatic improvements during his time off. Regardless, Kelleher feels like the rightful favorite. He should outclass Pilarte no matter where this one goes. Kelleher has more than tripled the number of professional fights for Pilarte. He’s the more powerful striker and, thanks to that guillotine, the more dangerous grappler if this fight were to hit the mat. Brian Kelleher by Round One KO
  • GB: Brian Kelleher by Round One KO

Luis Saldana -125 (DK $8300, FD $16) vs Austin Lingo +105 (DK $7900, FD $14)

  • Anthony: The featured prelim is a featherweight bout between Luis Saldana and Austin Lingo. These are two fighters who likely stand and strike for fifteen minutes. Austin Lingo has good forward pressure and often lands powerful strikes on opponents. However, his finishes have primarily come against low level competition. The fighter with superior footwork and technical striking is quite clearly Saldana. He has a wider arsenal of tools to choose from, including very strong kicks from both stances. Lingo may pressure forward in this bout but I see Saldana countering well and landing the more significant strikes. It is a close fight to call but at near even odds I like Saldana quite a bit. He has the upside to find a finish but I am not expecting one in this spot. The more crisp strikes should come from Saldana and I think in terms of volume he stays well ahead. Luis Saldana by Decision
  • Nick: Luis Saldana is a well-rounded fighter who is usually quite aggressive. He is most comfortable striking at range, usually throwing a diverse range of powerful combinations. He’s decent on the mat, but most of his success comes just standing and swinging. Lingo is primarily a striker but fairly-well rounded with decent cardio and solid defensive grappling. He is fighting out of a hot camp in Fortis MMA. He is likely the better grappler in this match-up, but also is more than comfortable to stand and strike. I’m not confident he looks for takedowns here. Lingo should have a power advantage, but he is more of a brawler. I expect Saldana to lean on his superior footwork and head movement to pick Lingo apart at range. Like Saldana, Lingo throws strong combinations and if he can find an opening, he’s live here for an upset. Luis Saldana by Decision.
  • GB: Austin Lingo by Round Three KO

Main Card- Starts 10:00pm EST

Alexandre Pantoja -175 (DK $8900, FD $19) vs Brandon Royval +145 (DK $7300, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The main card opens with a banger at flyweight between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval. In his most recent bout, Royval lost to current champion Brandon Moreno after dislocating his shoulder. He was getting beat early in that fight but it is a shame we did not get to see it decided more definitively. Royval has been developing very well as a striker but has his bread buttered in the grappling department. Eight of his professional wins have come by way of submission. While I love his well-roundedness, I fear that the submission is Royval’s only path to victory here. Pantoja has never been finished in his extensive pro career and with a black belt of his own, I find it hard to believe he gets choked out. He is the more powerful and illusive striker of these two and holds a clear advantage over Royval on the feet. I think he stays ahead of Royval for the most part here. He is a very appealing DFS option, as if Royval to hedge solely given his price tag. Alexandre Pantoja by Decision
  • Nick: Alexandre Pantoja is elite pretty much everywhere. He’s outstanding on the ground and his striking is crisp and explosive. He’s coming off a solid win over Manel Kape, but he’ll need another win here to reestablish himself as a top contender at fyweight. While he’s definitely above average on the mat, his striking is his greatest strength. He carries a lot of power for a 125 pounder. Royval is one of the more aggressive fighters there is on the roster. He starts fights like he’s shot out of a cannon. He is well-rounded with a solid chin and coming off a tough loss to current champion Brandon Moreno. Royval looked good early in that fight, but his shoulder popped out of its socket and the fight was called shortly thereafter. Pantoja should have an advantage here when this fight is standing, but Royval is the far more dangerous grappler. Eight of Royval’s twelve professional wins have come by way of submission. I understand why Alexandre Pantoja is the favorite here as he’s shown more at this level. Still, I like the value and the upside of Royval here. This could absolutely go either way and I want shares of both guys for DFS. Still, I’m siding with the underdog to win this in a scramble. Brandon Royval by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Brandon Royval by Round Two Submission

Vince Pichel -115 (DK $8200, FD $15) vs Austin Hubbard -105 (DK $8000, FD $16)

  • Anthony: This should be an excellent lightweight bout between Austin Hubbard and Vince Pichel. It has been tough predicting Hubbard fights as they often end up being rather one sided. He has dominated some weak competition but seems to fall short when facing more experienced opponents. Foes with a grappling advantage have also caused Hubbard some issues, and Pichel could certainly follow that blueprint to outwork him on the mat here. Pichel is sharp all-around though. Out striking Hubbard on the feet should not be a massive task either. While I usually worry backing a fighter of his age, the cardio and chin have continued passing the eye test for me. He is a very fun fighter to watch and I believe the more game of these two. I have to fade Hubbard until I see him pass a gatekeeper in this division like Pichel. Vince Pichel by Decision
  • Nick: Each of Hubbard’s last three losses came against some of the more talented grapplers in the division. They include Davi Ramos a seasoned BJJ practitioner, Mark O. Madsen and rising star Joe Solecki. He’s coming off a solid win over newcomer Dakota Bush, but this fight against Pichel will likely prove to be a much more difficult task. Vince Pichel is a well-rounded veteran, coming off an impressive win over another respected veteran in Jim Miller. Pichel is getting up there in age, but he only fights once a year. This means he isn’t as damaged as some of the other fighters this long in the tooth. It feels like Pichel’s grappling advantage here should be enough to get this done. Hubbard is decent on the feet, but Pichel will likely have the power advantage standing. I expect he’ll be able to strike effectively enough to find the openings he needs for takedowns. No matter where this fight goes, I like the value on Pichel here. Vince Pichel by Decision
  • GB: Austin Hubbard by Round Two KO

Trevin Jones -150 (DK $8800, FD $18) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov +125 (DK $7400, FD $12)

  • Anthony: Next is a bantamweight bout between Trevin Jones and Saidyokub Kakhramonov. After three consecutive cancellations, Jones draws Kakhramonov on four days’ notice. The fighter from Uzbekistan came in heavy on the scales but that is understandable with this bout just being announced on Tuesday. Kakhramonov has a rather impressive resume and some standout skills the UFC clearly likes. While the potential is certainly there, this does not seem like the fight he secures a UFC victory. Jones has been on a tear as of late, securing finishes in four straight fights. He has incredible power for a bantamweight and offensive striking that causes issues for opponents. There is a threat of Kakhramonov wrestling Jones here but I do not think his cardio would hold doing so after a frantic weight cut. Jones should eventually land a knockout shot in this bout and I am all over him at this price tag. Trevin Jones by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Trevin Jones is extremely athletic and one of the more powerful strikers at Bantamweight. He does a good job mixing in kicks into his combinations, and he’s been surprisingly impressive and effective since he’s made his debut. He won via knockout in both of his UFC matchups. Those wins came as a heavy underdog; +400 against Timur Valiev, and +190 against Mario Bautista. Saidyokub Kakhramonov will be making his debut here. He’s fairly advanced for a debutant, with decent striking on the feet and advanced grappling. Kakhramonov looked surprisingly good in his PFL matchup with Usman Nurmagomedov. While Nurmagomedov is widely considered a top prospect, Kakhramonov definitely showed he’s capable of competing at this level. If he had a full camp, I would consider Kakhtamanov here. However, taking this fight on very short notice I’m siding with the power of Jones. I expect this fight is close early, but Jones will find Kakhramonov’s chin whenever he starts to fade. Trevin Jones by Round One KO
  • GB: Trevin Jones by Decision

Chase Sherman -200 (DK $9200, FD $23) vs Parker Porter +160 (DK $7000, FD $8)

  • Anthony: This is a low-level heavyweight bout between Chase Sherman and Parker Porter. While Porter redeemed himself well with a win in his most recent bout, it was extremely underwhelming. The forward pressure and cage control that worked against Josh Parisian is not going to be as simple against Sherman. While Sherman has had an up and down career, there is no denying his willingness to fight. He will likely be the more aggressive striker, committing to heavier punches than those of Porter. I believe him to be technical enough on the feet to find a finish here. He is the superior athlete and far more agile than his adversary here. Chase Sherman by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Based on interviews leading up to this match-up, it seems like Porter is coming out of the best camp in his career. There’s really nothing that redeeming about him on film but he does have power in his strikes and surprising gas tank given his visible lack of athleticism. Sherman is a powerful striker and fast for the division. He’s coming off a tough loss to Andrei Arlovski. He never really got going in that spot, but Porter is certainly a considerable step down in level of competition. If Porter can make this ugly, it wouldn’t shock me to see him pull of an upset here. However, I expect Sherman to learn from his Arlovski loss and come out aggressive here. His athleticism should be a bit too much for Porter to handle. My confidence is fairly low here given that neither of these guys are high level. Still, Sherman seems to be the rightful favorite. Chase Sherman by Round Two KO
  • GB: Chase Sherman by Round Three KO

Mark O. Madsen -155 (DK $9100, FD $20) vs Clay Guida +130 (DK $7100, FD $11)

  • Anthony: The co-main event is a lightweight bout between Mark O. Madsen and Clay Guida. It has been over a year since Madsen’s last fight but he looked to be in incredible shape at weigh-ins yesterday. The Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler is undefeated in mixed martial arts. His style has proven to be a very tough one to combat as the wrestling keeps opponents frustrated on the mat or fighting back to their feet. He landed eight of twelve takedowns against Austin Hubbard and will usually average that dozen attempts per fifteen minutes. While Guida is a respected veteran and true gangster in the fight game, he is well past his prime. He usually fights with forward pressure but against an opponent like Madsen that could cause a lot of openings for the takedown. Guida still has good hands, but Madsen’s striking is improving fast and he can easily outclass Guida on the mat here. The Olympian has a chance at finding a finish here but my prediction is instead a very dominant decision. Mark O. Madsen by Decision
  • Nick: Mark O. Madsen is a Olympic Silver Medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. He’s a powerful and effective chain grappler. He does an excellent job timing his entries for takedowns, and his striking seems to improve every time we see him in the ring. Guida is a legend of the game but he’s far past his prime. He is known for his fast-paced aggressive and high-pressure style, but he’s certainly lost a lot of the explosiveness he had back when he was a legitimate contender. Madsen is going to want to lean on his wrestling here, but Guida is a formidable grappler. I still expect he should be able to impose his will early, but he’ll have to be careful not to burn through his gas tank. Madsen isn’t much younger than Guida, and we’ve seen his cardio deplete in many of his fights to this point. He recently changed to an excellent camp in Fight Ready, so we should see considerable improvements here. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Guida pulled off another upset, but Mark O. Madsen should be able to put his wrestling on display here. Mark O. Madsen by Decision
  • GB: Mark O. Madsen by Decision

Jared Cannonier -145 (DK $8700, FD $20) vs Kelvin Gastelum +120 (DK $7500, FD $17)

  • Anthony: We finally arrive at the middleweight main event between Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum. These are two very high-level contenders that absolutely deserve their top ten rankings. Cannonier was already on the verge of a title shot but lost for the first time at 185 pounds to Robert Whittaker last fall. The former champion followed up that performance with a win over Kelvin Gastelum this spring. Cannonier has a well-developed striking repertoire with kicks and attacks from both stances. However, he often relies on sheer power to get his hand raised. Loading up did not work on someone as elusive as Whittaker, and I could see it being an issue here too with an opponent as durable as Gastelum. The best work for Gastelum will likely be done in close, boxing with Cannonier in tight quarters. He is undersized and needs to be careful at the end of Cannonier’s punches. I could see him getting caught in an early exchange but if the chin continues to hold, he wears down Cannonier as the fight progresses. The wrestling of Gastelum could also be effective in taking away Cannonier’s best weapons. I think he continues to pressure forward for as long as he needs to here, making him an attractive play as an underdog. A near weight miss may deplete Gastelum’s cardio a bit, but he still has one of the best gas tanks in the division. Kelvin Gastelum by Decision
  • Nick: Prior to his recent win over a declining Ian Heinisch, Gastelum was coming off three losses, In spite of his recent struggles he’s still considered a contender in this division, mostly as he has shown flashes of greatness in the past. His war with current champion Israel Adesanya is considered by many as one of the best fights of the past few years. Gastelum has outstanding hand speed, impressive cardio and his boxing is at a tremendously high level. Both fighters are primarily strikers, and both guys are more than happy to stand in the pocket and swing. Cannonier’s greatest strength is his powerful striking. As a former heavyweight, he has serious power at 185 and if he can find a shot to land he’s capable of putting almost anyone to sleep. As powerful as Cannonier is, it’s definitely notable that Gastelum has never been KO’d before. Both fighters in this matchup were recently picked apart by number one contender and former middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker. That being said, Gastelum seemed to have a bit more success comparatively speaking. Cannonier is going to be dangerous early here. However, if Gastelum can stay striking at range there’s a good chance he can weaponize his cardio in later rounds. This could go either way, but I feel like Gastelum has more paths to victory. He usually wins via KO and Gastelum has proven to have one of the stronger chins in the division. Kelvin Gastelum by Decision
  • GB: Jared Cannonier by Round Four KO

*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