The UFC returns to Canada this weekend for their next event on the FOX network as UFC On FOX 21 takes place on Saturday from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. The event is headlined by a five-round bout in the welterweight division as contenders Demian Maia and Carlos Condit do battle.
If you’re looking to score some money playing daily fantasy for Saturday night’s event, below is advice on some of the fighters featured on the card.
Anthony Pettis ($10,400)
After a long time competing as one of the best lightweights in the world, former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis is dropping to 145 pounds in an attempt to revitalize his career and make a run at becoming a champion in the featherweight division. Pettis is coming in having lost three straight fights, which may make him a weird choice as the top fantasy play to some readers. However, when Pettis is on top of his game, he is one of the best fighters in the world. He hasn’t been at the top of his game recently, for whatever reasons, and perhaps the move to 145 pounds is what he needs to get him going again.
For his debut in the weight class, Pettis will be taking on Charles Oliveira in the co-main event of Saturday night’s card. Oliveira is one of the most pure talented fighters in the division, but one who hasn’t quite put everything together yet and get him into true title contention status. He has been on the cusp for some time, but every time he has that match-up that could propel him into the spotlight, he falls. He is a fighter who wins fights he’s expected to win, and loses fights he’s expected to lose, and hasn’t won that big one that he was supposed to lose. Going by the betting odds and the salaries for fighters on this card, he’s expected to lose, so this is his shot at scoring an upset. Pettis is going to have to come right after Oliveira if he’s going to take this win. Oliveira tends to fold under pressure, and while he has shown solid striking, Pettis’ flashy style is much more dangerous.
I also don’t think Oliveira is on the same level that the fighters who have defeated Pettis are on. Pettis has nasty kicks, and if he adjusts to the weight cut quickly, he has the chance to make this a quick night. I like Pettis as the top play.
Carlos Condit ($10,000)
Carlos Condit came super close to becoming the new UFC Welterweight Champion in January, losing a very close decision to then-champion Robbie Lawler. There was lots of talk that Condit was going to retire following the bout, but Condit returns on Saturday night for the headline position when he takes on Demian Maia. Condit brushed off the retirement talk saying he still loves what he’s doing, and he’s among the best welterweights in the world.
His five-round bout with Maia is going to pit your classic match-up in striker against grappler. Condit also has conditioning that is very hard for 170-pounders to match, and he can go for 25 minutes without getting tired. In fact, the longer a fight goes, the more in rhythm Condit begins to get with his huge arsenal of strikes. His opponent, Maia, has only been in three five-round fights, and he is 1-2 in those bouts. He lost decisions to Anderson Silva and Jake Shields, and won a lackluster decision over Ryan LaFlare. Maia is solid for a couple of rounds, but he begins to fade as the fight wears on. He is the best jiu-jitsu practiconer in the welterweight division, and he will be looking to take Condit down early, and he likely will. Condit is good at scrambling to his feet, and Maia uses a lot of energy holding opponents down.
Condit is very tough to submit, and if he can avoid the early grappling onslaught from Maia, it will open his striking late. As Maia begins to fade, Condit will be coming on strong, and a later round stoppage is certainly in the cards. With the fight being five rounds, and the match-up being very close, Condit is a great value at his salary as he will rack up points with striking, and his chance at a later finish is very solid. He has the best value for his salary.
FIGHTER TO AVOID
Kevin Casey ($9,200)
Kevin Casey’s six-fight UFC career has been weird, to say the least. He holds just one win in that time, two losses, a no contest due to a drug test failure overturning his win, a no contest due to an eye poke in the first minute, and, most recently, the rare split draw. Casey finds his back against the wall when he steps inside the Octagon on Saturday night as he takes on Sam Alvey. Alvey is looking to score his second straight win after a quick submission win over Eric Spicely.
Alvey is fighting for the third time in as many months, and he looks to keep the momentum going. Alvey is a finisher as 20 of his 27 career wins have come by stoppage, with 17 coming by knockout. Casey will also be giving up some size to Alvey to go along with giving up the experience. Casey is a solid jiu-jitsu artist, with a black belt, but he has yet to show his grappling skills all that much inside the Octagon. He has preferred to stand and strike, and, well, that isn’t condusive to getting a win over Alvey. Alvey hits hard, and Casey doesn’t have a strong chin. He also leaves himself open to be countered on the feet with the hands, and since Alvey is more of a straight puncher than an overall striker, Casey won’t often find a leg to grab in a striking attack to take the fight to the mat.
Casey has his back against the wall, and this is going to be a tough fight for him to get the win. I’m expecting Alvey to finish Casey, and I’m willing to say that this is fight most likely to see a finish. Casey is the one fighter to avoid on this card.
Shane Campbell ($8,800)
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Shane Campbell will be making his fifth trip inside the Octagon on Saturday night, and he finds himself in a must-win situation. Campbell is just 1-3 in his first four UFC bouts and has lost two straight. He is coming into this fight after being submitted by Erik Koch in May in a fight where Campbell was winning early on the feet before succumbing to the grappling ability of Koch. Campbell will be taking on an opponent making his UFC debut in Felipe Silva, who enters the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record.
Silva has finished his opponents in six of those seven wins, with all of those wins coming in the first round. Silva is dangerous in that first round, but outside of that, his conditioning comes into play big time. He also has fought lower-level competition and Campbell is a big step up in competition with his experience. Campbell is a better striker on the feet as he has lots of professional kickboxing experience, and he is a much cleaner striker. Silva also doesn’t have the grappling credentials that both Koch and James Krause had when they took on Campbell in his last two fights.
Campbell is a sneaky play for an upset, and he has a low salary at just $8,800. Only two fighters have a lower salary than him. Silva’s undefeated record may scare people, but he is unproven on the big stage, and Campbell is a hard-nosed veteran. Campbell is your top underdog target.
WHO MIGHT SURPRISE
Paige VanZant ($10,800)
A Paige VanZant win wouldn’t be a surprise as she is one of the biggest betting favorites on the card and has the second-highest salary of all 22 fighters on the card. Many are expecting her to score the win when she makes her Octagon return taking on Bec Rawlings in one of the top fights on the card. Rawlings is a tough opponent and has won two straight fights, but VanZant is the more talented strawweight.
Both women are aggressive fighters though VanZant is a much more pressure fighter. She has also fought tougher competition, though she came up on the losing end in her last fight. She has a tremendous amount of heart that is matched only by her gas tank. VanZant doesn’t get tired, and Rawlings does as she carries a lot of size for a 115-pound fighter. Rawlings has good top control on the ground, but VanZant is crafty on the mat and is good at finding submissions. VanZant is also better on the feet of the two, and at just 22-years-old, the sky is still the limit for her. Rawlings is a good bounce back fight for VanZant as she is a tough test, but one that VanZant should be able to pass if she is going to be a title contender in the future.
A sneaky result here would be VanZant finding a submission after using a solid amount of ground-and-pound. She has done that before, and she is a scrappy fighter. She has a good chance at getting a finish, which even though her salary suggests might happen, it’s far from a guarantee. I think she finishes Rawlings, and that makes her a surprise play for those thinking she’ll just win by going the distance.
RYAN FREDERICK- Paige VanZant ($10,800), Anthony Pettis ($10,400), Carlos Condit ($10,000), Adam Hunter ($9,700), Jim Miller ($9,100)
I have Anthony Pettis as my top play above, and I’m going with him in my line-up. I truly feel he will finish Charles Oliveira and get himself back on track. Oliveira is a very talented fighter, but he has a lot of flaws and falters against stiff competition. Pettis is stiff competition. He is risky based on his past three fights, but I see him getting back into the win column. Paige VanZant is making her return and looking to make a statement that she is going to be a future title challenger, and I expect her to be aggressive and wear down Bec Rawlings and score a finish in the later stages of their fight.
Carlos Condit is in the main event and has an extra ten minutes to score points. I expect him and Demian Maia to go the distance, though Condit can score a late finish. I like him to win the main event, and to score a handful of extra points in the extra time. Adam Hunter is making his UFC debut opposite an opponent also making his UFC debut in Ryan Janes. Hunter is an aggressive fighter and a finisher, and a quick finish and win for him is what I’m confident will happen. The last fighter on my team is Jim Miller. He holds a win over Joe Lauzon already, and I think he has a style that will have the upper hand on Lauzon. I like him to win.
PAUL FONTAINE- Alessio Di Chirico ($11,000), Sam Alvey ($10,200), Carlos Condit ($10,000), Jeremy Kennedy ($9,800), Charles Oliveira ($9,000)
Di Chirico is a huge favorite despite losing his UFC debut in April. I believe that’s more due to the fact that his opponent Garreth McLellan is just not a very good fighter. I expect a quick finish for the Italian fighter here. Smilin’ Sam Alvey should knock out Kevin Casey in fairly short order. Casey has just never lived up to the potential he showed on The Ultimate Fighter and he could be gone from UFC after this one. I like Condit to keep the main event on the feet and pepper Maia with punches the entire fight. If he doesn’t finish him, he’ll land a ton of strikes in a five round fight and score points.
Jeremy Kennedy is unbeaten coming into his UFC debut and he’s facing a fellow Canadian fighting for the first time in the Octagon as well. Ricci has faced similar competition and lost 3 times so I like Kennedy here. My last pick is Charles Oliveira who I think will finally win a big fight. I think the cut to 145 is really going to hurt Anthony Pettis and I like Oliveira to win by submission as he has in most of his UFC fights.
PEACH MACHINE- Paige VanZant ($10,800), Joe Lauzon ($10,300), Carlos Condit ($10,000), Chad Laprise ($9,900), Charles Oliveira ($9,000)
Condit will whhhhip Maia if Maia is dumb enough to keep it standing. I believe he’s that dumb and that Condit is a superior fighter. Oliveira has a lot of potential and Tony Pettis hasn’t exactly looked good recently. Pettis jumped the shark when he lost the strap. Lauzon looked great pummeling Diego Sanchez, and I expect JoeLa to toss a beatin’ on Jimmy Miller. PVZ needs a win here and I’m hoping she’s got her act together since DWTS. I picked Laprise because his cost allowed me to get to exactly 50,000. This is week 2 of 9 consecutive. We didn’t do great last week, not in the money, but my picks did go 4-1. This should be at least another 4-1 outing.