UFC Vegas 38: Santos vs Walker – 10.2.2021 – Staff Predictions, Picks, and DFS Analysis (FREE)

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Hello Daily Play Action! Welcome to our collaborative coverage of UFC Vegas 38: Santos vs Walker. After a stacked pay-per-view last weekend, we return to the UFC Apex for a fun slate of fights today. 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: 212-154-4 (Last Year 223-145-6)
  • Nick: 216-150-4 (Last Year 235-133-6)
  • GB: 204-162-4 (Last Year 216-152-6)

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 9:45 AM EST 10-2-2021

Preliminary Card- Starts 4:00pm EST

Alejandro Perez -250 (DK $9100, FD $21) vs Johnny Eduardo +200 (DK $7100, FD $10)

  • Anthony: Our card opens with a bantamweight fight between Alejandro Perez and Johnny Eduardo. The 41-year-old Eduardo has not fought since 2018 but for some reason gets a return bout here. It is rare to see fighters so old at this weight class and that is because success is near impossible to find. I actually think Eduardo has a decent chance in this fight given his scrappy style. He is a threat no matter where the fight goes, but ultimately a much more talented Perez should get the job done. With two high pressure fighters going at it I am hammering the under in this matchup. One of these two, likely Perez, should find the finish inside of two rounds. Alejandro Perez by Round Two KO
  • Nick: We haven’t seen either of these guys fight in over two years so there are plenty of question marks coming into this matchup. Eduardo is now 41-years old, so there’s really no denying he’s in the twilight of his career as a bantamweight. He carried surprising power for his frame during his brief prime, but it’s tough to expect we see any of that here. Perez is coming off a brutal KO loss to Song Yadong, so it’s understandable that he’s been out of commission for a while. He has fought against a high level of competition during his UFC tenure and his greatest accomplishment is likely his win on The Ultimate Fighter Latin America. Perez should be able to mix in his grappling here but I also expect he’ll be too quick for Eduardo on the feet. I wouldn’t overinvest in Perez here as he has been out for so long, but he’s certainly the rightful favorite. Alejandro Perez by Decision
  • GB: Alejandro Perez by Round Two KO

Stephanie Egger -150 (DK $8200, FD $16) vs Shanna Young +125 (DK $8000, FD $15)

  • Anthony: Next we have a women’s bantamweight bout between Stephanie Egger and Shanna Young. Neither one of these athletes have been the most impressive as indicated by their placement low on the card. Young has a well-rounded skillset and seems rather athletically gifted. She would likely do better fighting in the UFC’s flyweight division and her easy weight cut may come back to bite her here. Egger is the much bigger and stronger of these two and I am expecting to see her win most of the grappling exchanges. She has a judo black belt and several finishes on her resume. It is likely we still see the judge’s scorecards here but I believe Egger has all the tools to win a matchup like this. Stephanie Egger by Decision
  • Nick: Egger’s resume in MMA leaves a lot to be desired, but she’s a decorated black belt in judo with a win over Ronda Rousey and several highly regarded judo tournament scalps to her name. She’s a strong grappler in the clinch, she does a good job grinding on her opponents up against the cage and most of her success comes in closing the distance and neutralizing her opponents’ offensive weapons. Shanna Young is coming off a tough debut loss to a high-level opponent in Macy Chiasson. She is strong and athletic with solid durability, but she really hasn’t found much success at this level. There’s also a narrative surrounding Young here that she just had a baby and hasn’t been training. Regardless, she possesses no real stand out skill outside of her athleticism. This is a low-level matchup and my confidence is low in this pick, but Egger seems to be the bigger and stronger fighter. Oftentimes in lower-level women’s MMA that’s enough of to score a win. Stephanie Egger by Decision
  • GB: Stephanie Egger by Decision

Douglas Silva De Andrade -285 (DK $9200, FD $20) vs Gaetano Pirrello +225 (DK $7000, FD $11)

  • Anthony: We stay in the bantamweight division next for this bout between Gaetano Pirrello and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Pirrello is now nine months removed from his UFC debut loss to Ricky Simon. He took that fight on short notice to earn his spot in the UFC, but I am not sure that Pirrello is ready for opponents at this level. He already has a resume peppered with losses and stoppages against some of the lesser-known names in European MMA. His counterpart Andrade has been a staple of this division for quite a while now. His losses are against some of the highest-level fighter there are including Rob Font, Petr Yan and featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov. I see Andrade winning this fight no matter where it goes, but likely boxing in Pirrello’s ears for the better part of fifteen minutes. Douglas Silva de Andrade by Decision
  • Nick: Andrade is a brawler with a lot of power in his strikes. He’s very athletic, but what stands out about him is his toughness and aggressive style. He likes to pressure his opponents early in fights and often overwhelms them by doing so. He’s athletic, but he ran into a far more athletic fighter in Lerone Murphy his last time out. He lost via decision as his gas tank started to deplete in the later rounds. Pirrello is coming off a loss in his UFC debut against Ricky Simon. He took that fight as a late replacement and was completely decimated by Simon’s wrestling heavy attack. Pirrello will be live for an upset if he can survive into the third round, as Andrade’s cardio certainly leaves a lot to be desired. However, it feels far more likely that he gets this done early, outclassing Pirrello considerably. Douglas Silva De Andrade by Round One KO
  • GB: Douglas Silva de Andrade by Round One KO

Devonte Smith -150 (DK $8700, FD $18) vs Jamie Mullarkey +125 (DK $7500, FD $12)

  • Anthony: This should be a very fun fight at lightweight between Devonte Smith and Jamie Mullarkey. These are two proven finishers who love to apply pressure and end their opponent’s night early. Mullarkey is the younger and taller athlete. He had a rather impressive run on the Australian regional scene before making his UFC debut. His most recent win was the first in the promotion as he knocked out Khama Worthy in under a minute. Mullarkey has very good hands, but likely does best in this fight by making things ugly. He has the superior wrestling and a far more proven gas tank than that of his opponent. Smith is a much larger threat to turn the lights out early but I think Mullarkey is the further developed and easier to trust fighter here. I think he should be a slight favorite in this fight but he remains the plus money underdog. Jamie Mullarkey by Decision
  • Nick: Devonte Smith has never had a fight go to decision. He’s a power puncher who almost always comes out firing. We never really seen his cardio tested due to his kill or be killed fighting style, but he’s a dangerous opponent for anyone given the power he can put out early. Mullarkey is mostly known for his war with Brad Riddell. A fight he ultimately lost, but also one where he was awarded Fight of the Night in a bout that primarily took place on the feet. He wore a lot more damage than Riddell did in that one, but he showed serious durability and an improvement in his counterstriking that we’d never really seen from him before. He was effective in most grappling exchanges and while he was swept and reversed at times, he did a good job staying out of serious trouble and getting back to his feet when he needed to. If Mullarkey is going to pull off the upset here, he’s going to need to lean on his grappling and use control time to tire out Smith. Smith is a far more dangerous striker, so it’s important that he doesn’t get baited into a firefight. I could really see this going either way and I’ll have exposure to both fighters for DFS purposes. However, I think Mullarkey’s wrestling and versatility will be enough to pull off the upset. Jamie Mullarkey by Decision
  • GB: Devonte Smith by Round Three KO

Karol Rosa -700 (DK $9300, FD $22) vs Bethe Correia +450 (DK $6900, FD $9)

  • Anthony: The other women’s bantamweight fight will be contested by Karol Rosa and Bethe Correia. This is the retirement bout for Correia who has had a rather up and down career. After starting out 8-0 as a professional, Correia would go on to lose five of her final eight fights. She is really just a brawler, and her gameplan boils down to high aggression and throwing heavy shots. Karol Rosa is the much cleaner and more technical striker. By simply staying composed and picking apart Correia on her way in, this should be a fight she dominates. Correia came in heavy on the scales and there is no reason to expect she her to pull out a win. I do not think she is nearly as invested in this sport as her 26-year-old opponent. Karol Rosa by Decision
  • Nick: Rosa has landed nearly ten strikes per minute in the UFC. She’s has the more advanced BJJ of the two fighters here, so she should be able to control this fight no matter where it goes. Bethe Correia has seen the tougher competition, but she is definitely on the back nine of her career. Correia is a tough and gritty fighter that is more than willing to eat strikes to close distance, but her power and speed has continued to drop off over the past few years of her career. Her willingness to eat strikes is going to be an issue here against such a high-volume striker like Rosa. The price has gotten a bit out of hand, but I’m siding with the favorite here. Karol Rosa by Decision
  • GB: Karol Rosa by Decision

Casey O’Neill -220 (DK $9000, FD $18) vs Antonina Shevchenko +175 (DK $7200, FD $11)

  • Anthony: Next we have a women’s flyweight bout between Antonina Shevchenko and the undefeated Casey O’Neill. A week after her sister’s successful title defense, Antonina Shevchenko is back in search of her fourth UFC victory. Andrea Lee got a dominant finish by triangle-armbar in Shevchenko’s most recent fight. The kickboxer has a clear deficiency on the mat and believe that will once again be the difference. O’Neill is a very talented striker but she has also proven capable of dominating fights on the mat. She has heavy top pressure and ground and pound to go with her BJJ purple belt. O’Neill should be able to win a close fight here with just a few grappling exchanges. On the feet she could certainly out strike Shevchenko, but that is a much more difficult path to victory. Casey O’Neill by Decision
  • Nick: Casey O’Neill has trained at excellent camps in Xtreme Couture and 10th Planet BJJ. She’s coming off back-to-back impressive wins, a knockout victory over a veteran Shana Dobson in her UFC debut and a convincing decision win as underdog against Lara Procopio. Her striking is certainly far from refined but she continues to show improvements in that facet of her game. Her most applaudable asset is her powerful wrestling base and her overall strength at 125 pounds. Antonina Shevchenko’s most notable attribute is that she’s the sister of UFC Champion, Valentina. If this fight stays on the feet, Shevchenko is likely to have the advantage. Fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai, she has outstanding striking ability. She’s nowhere near her sister Valentina’s level, but she’s the more polished kickboxer in comparison to her opponent. If this fight stays on the feet, I expect Shevchenko to start to pull away by causing the more noticeable damage. She has shown serious improvements in her grappling ability of late, but her clearest path to victory here would be to keep this standing. This is a close one for sure and the line has gotten too wide, but O’Neill should be able to eventually get things done on the mat. Casey O’Neill by Decision
  • GB: Karol Rosa by Decision

Joe Solecki -130 (DK $8300, FD $16) vs Jared Gordon +110 (DK $7900, FD $14)

  • Anthony: This should be a good lightweight contest between Joe Solecki and Jared Gordon. I really think Solecki puts together a good performance here this evening. The young prospect has already won three bouts to start his UFC career and I think the ceiling is rather high for him. He trains under John Salter and fights with an extremely similar style. I trust his defense standing and striking with Gordon for a portion of this bout but both men often look to bring things to the mat. Solecki shouldn’t have to work hard to initiate the grappling exchanges and I think Gordon eventually succumbs to his heavy top pressure here. We have seen Solecki improve in each fight and I think he continues to trend upwards. The odds should be much wider than this considering Solecki closed a near -250 favorite prior to beating Jim Miller. Joe Solecki by Round Two Submission
  • Nick: Solecki is an extremely well-rounded rising prospect who finds most of his success in grappling exchanges. He is a long and strong wrestler whose striking continues to show improvement. He’s coming off a signature win over a highly regarded vet in Jim Miller, he’s won six straight fights and he’s shown he has the skills both offensively and defensively to make some noise at 155 pounds. Gordon is extremely well rounded, but most of his success has come utilizing his wrestling. He’s unlikely to lean on that part of his game in this spot against the dangerous BJJ of Solecki, but while it’s not a major strength I expect he’s going to be the more effective striker of the two in this match-up. Gordon is definitely live for the upset here if he can keep this fight standing, but I see Solecki doing well enough on the feet to ground this fight when he needs to. Fairly close matchup, but I’m backing the youth and momentum of Solecki here. Joe Solecki by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Malcolm Gordon by Decision

Main Card- Starts 7:00pm EST

Alexander Hernandez -700 (DK $9400, FD $23) vs Mike Breeden +450 (DK $6800, FD $8)

  • Anthony: Alexander Hernandez will face off against UFC debutant Mike Breeden in this lightweight matchup. Breeden steps in on short notice for this fight after Hernandez’ original opponent Leonardo Santos withdrew. He is a solid prospect with a decent resume already established. He is a violent fighter but also rather technical, training out of Glory MMA and Fitness. While I believe he is solid and live against a rather volatile Hernandez, this does not seem like a bout he wins on such short notice. Hernandez is the more established professional yet still the younger and stronger of these two. The odds are getting out of hand but I see him overwhelming Breeden in the striking department. He should land the far more powerful strikes and eventually get the stoppage victory when Breeden’s cardio starts to fade. Alexander Hernandez by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Hernandez recently shifted camps to Factory X. He’s always had talent, but the shift in camps could be enough for him to improve his formerly questionable Fight IQ. His confidence was definitely too high coming into the UFC. He seems to finally have been humbled a bit, and I expect him to fight much more intelligently moving forward. He’s coming off an uninspiring decision loss to Thiago Moises, but he’s the biggest favorite card for a reason here. Breeden is taking this fight on short notice and he struggled to make weight. Nothing about his regional footage makes me think he’ll stick on the roster for long. Alexander Hernandez by Round One KO
  • GB: Alexander Hernandez by Round One KO

Krysztof Jotko -140 (DK $8600, FD $17) vs Misha Cirkunov +115 (DK $7600, FD $14)

  • Anthony: Next is a tough fight to call at middleweight between Krysztof Jotko and Misha Cirkunov. This is the debut at 185 pounds for Cirkunov after a career at light heavyweight. It is an interesting move, but likely one caused by Cirkunov feeling the power of true 205ers. His previous four losses all came by knockout in the very first round. Offensively he is talented with strong wrestling and very slick jiu jitsu. It just feels like an irresponsible choice betting on Cirkunov given his mediocrity on the feet. Jotko is a talented striker and after picking him to beat Strickland, there is no way I justify fading him here. He should be able to defend a few takedowns from Cirkunov and ultimately land clean strikes at range. Jotko is not a big power puncher but even he should be able to crack this very suspect chin. Krysztof Jotko by Round One KO
  • Nick: Krysztof Jotko is well-rounded, but he doesn’t seem to have any singular standout skill. He’s a decent grappler and his boxing is fairly crisp, but his volume is often low and he sometimes struggles as he waits for fights to come to him. Jotko is well-rounded, but in many ways this is a striker versus grappler match-up. Cirkunov heavily leans on his grappling as five of his last six wins have come by way of submission. Cirkunov’s striking is decent at best. He backs up when opponents can put volume on him, but as long as he can take fights to the ground he usually ends up in the win column. He has notable victories over Nikita Krylov, Jimmy Crute and Ion Cutelaba, all of whom I consider to be more talented than Jotko. If this fight stays standing I expect Jotko to have the technical advantage, but I expect Cirkunov to eventually find the takedown he needs to an upset. I’ll have both sides of this one for DFS as almost all of Cirkunov’s recent fights have ended in the first round. Misha Cirkunov by Round One Submission.
  • GB: Misha Cirkunov by Decision

Niko Price -210 (DK $8400, FD $19) vs Alex Oliveira +170 (DK $7800, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The featured bout is a welterweight scrap between Niko Price and Alex Cowboy Oliveira. This is a fight where Price desperately needs to find a win. He is 1-3-1 in his last five with the only victory coming against the now retired James Vick. We have still been getting high volume from Price on the feet, his defense has just looked more and more suspect in each appearance. He is not the most technically skilled fighter but does boast the aggression and confidence needed to finish his opponents. Cowboy has been stopped in the first round of two consecutive matchups. Lack of speed and strength is evident at this stage of Oliveira’s career. We would not see the BJJ black belt finished so easily if not for a divide in skill between him and his opponents. Price does not have the best grappling chops but I still think he outclasses Oliveira here. He should be able to find a finish with his hands against the aging Brazilian. Niko Price by Round Two KO
  • Nick: 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. Cowboy Oliveira is known as one of the more entertaining fighters in this division. He is extremely active when he’s in the cage and does an excellent job closing distance against a wide range of opponents. Oliveira is well-versed on the ground, but it is seeming more and more that he prefers to keep fights on the feet. Price will likely have the power advantage and he has found most of his UFC success just standing and swinging. He’s coming off a razor thin Decision loss to Michel Pereira, but he looked sharp in that spot – building momentum in the later rounds. This should be a fun match-up for however long it lasts, but I’m siding with the slight power and durability advantages of Price. He seems extremely focused in interviews and he appears to be in better shape than we’ve ever seen him before. Oliveira’s hyper-aggressiveness often leaves him vulnerable and in bad positions. Niko Price by Round Two KO
  • GB: Niko Price by Round Two KO

Kevin Holland -185 (DK $8500, FD $17) vs Kyle Daukaus +150 (DK $7700, FD $13)

  • Anthony: The co-main event is an interesting bout at middleweight between Kyle Daukaus and Kevin Holland. After securing five wins in 2020, Holland has had a rough start to 2021. He dropped consecutive five round decisions to Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson. It is not shocking that two of the divisions best grapplers were able to smother Holland, but now he gets tested by a wrestler outside the rankings. Daukaus can really impress people with his skills on the mat but lacks the physical strength to hold down Holland at this weight. I could see him giving Holland some problems while grappling, but while standing it should be Holland’s fight to lose. He is fast and powerful, utilizing his long limbs to really crack opponents. Daukaus has decent striking too, but his hands certainly do not compare to those of his older brother Chris. Wrestling and distance management are glaring weaknesses for Holland but I expect we see a much improved athlete here after six months off honing his skills. He should be able to keep this fight standing and hold on to his spot in the rankings. Neither are priority plays for me in DFS builds. Kevin Holland by Decision
  • Nick: Holland is one of the more exciting fighters in the UFC at middleweight. He talks constantly, both insulting and congratulating his opponents for the entire time he’s in the cage. He’s a rangy and creative striker with surprising power for his frame, but he has a clear hole in his game – his takedown defense. Holland is coming off losses to Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson. He was dominated via grappling in both of those spots. He struggled to stay standing where he’s at his best, and he didn’t show much urgency or ability in getting back to his feet once grounded. 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. This should be a very close matchup and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if it was awarded Fight of the Night. If Holland can keep this standing he should decimate Daukaus, but I’m not exactly confident in him doing so. Holland is the pick but I’d be hesitant to invest in him heavily here. Kevin Holland by Decision
  • GB: Kevin Holland by Round Two KO

Thiago Santos -155 (DK $8800, FD $20) vs Johnny Walker +130 (DK $7400, FD $16)

  • Anthony: This should be a fun light heavyweight main event between Thiago Santos and Johnny Walker. The exciting young prospect Walker hopes to move up the rankings and into title contention with a victory here. His four UFC victories have all come by first round stoppage, with each arguably more impressive than the last. Santos has lost three straight including a controversial title defeat while challenging Jon Jones. His explosiveness is not waning but it seems the volume has been. He has become less active in the octagon removed from serious ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus injuries. This should be the healthiest Santos looks since that Jones fight, but Walker remains the much younger fighter with far less physical wear. Walker also has a significant size and reach advantage which should allow him to win most striking exchanges. I like how aggressive Walker is and I see him disposing of Santos rather quickly here. His Fight IQ has continued to improve and I love the value on him in this spot. This is the first time since his UFC debut Walker is priced as the underdog. I will also have a few under bets. Both have knockout power and I see things getting decided inside of two rounds. Johnny Walker by Round One KO
  • Nick: Santos comes into this fight off consecutive losses to Alexsandar Rakic and Glover Teixeira. In spite of his recent struggles, he notably KO’d current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and came fairly close to beating Jon Jones at light heavyweight. To me, he’s still going to outclass Walker here in spite of his recent struggles. He was out grappled in both recent losses and Walker is unlikely to try a similar game plan here. Santos is still an extremely dangerous striker with knockout power in both his punches and his kicks. Walker was once considered a future title contender at 205. He’s extremely gifted in terms of athletic ability, but his Fight IQ leaves a lot to be desired. Prior to his recent win over Ryan Spann, Walker was coming off back-to-back losses. In both of those fights he came out overaggressive and eventually ended up paying for it. I expect him to come out firing here, but Santos’ experience should be the deciding factor here. I expect he either drops Walker with a counter shot early or weathers a first round storm to then drown Walker late. Thiago Santos by Round Two KO
  • GB: Thiago Santos by Round Two 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