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What I Learned – UFC Fight Island 3: Whittaker vs Till Betting & DFS Preview

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We’ve now reached the final leg of the four-card Fight Island schedule before the UFC heads back to the APEX in Las Vegas. Saturday night, the UFC hosts UFC Fight Night: Whittaker vs. Till live from Abu Dhabi, a fifteen fight card headlined by middleweights No. 1 Robert Whittaker (20-5) taking on No. 5 Darren Till (18-2-1) where the winner should be in a spot to lobby for that next crack at the title. Co-headlining the event will be the third meeting between MMA legends #15 Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (26-11-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-9), a fight where we will see two battle-tested warriors well past their prime, looking to snag another win almost 20 years into their careers.There are 15 fights scheduled on the night for the first time since UFC 2, dating back to 1994. The entire card will be live and free on ESPN, with the prelims kicking off at 5 pm ET, followed by the main card at 8 pm ET.UFC Fight Island 3 DetailsDATE: SATURDAY 07/25/2020BROADCAST: ESPNVENUE: UFC Fight IslandLOCATION: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates# of MATCHES: 15MAIN CARDMIDDLEWEIGHT 185 LBS#1 ROBERT WHITTAKER 20-5 VS #5 DARREN TILL 18-2-1LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205 LBS#15 MAURICIO RUA 26-11-1 VS ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA 23-9 HEAVYWEIGHT 265 LBS#14 FABRICIO WERDUM 23-9-1 VS #7 ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON 18-6WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT 115 LBS#7 CARLA ESPARZA 16-6 VS #9 MARINA RODRIGUEZ 12-0-2LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT 205 LBSPAUL CRAIG 12-4-1 VS GADZHIRURAD ANTIGULOV 20-6WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBSALEX OLIVEIRA 21-8-1 VS PETER SOBOTTA 17-6-1WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBSKHAMAZAT CHIMAEV 7-0 VS RHYS MCKEE 10-2-1PRELIMSLIGHTWEIGHT 155 LBSFRANCISCO TRINALDO 25-7 VS JAI HERBERT 10-1WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBSNICOLAS DALBY 18-3-1 VS JESSE RONSON 21-10HEAVYWEIGHT 265 LBSTOM ASPINALL 7-2 VS JAKE COLLIER 11-4FEATHERWEIGHT 145 LBSMOVSAR EVLOEV 12-0 VS MIKE GRUNDY 12-1HEAVYWEIGHT 265 LBSTANNER BOSER 18-6-1 VS RAPHAEL PESSOA 10-1WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT 135 LBS#13 BETHE CORREIA 11-4-1 VS PANNIE KIANZAD 12-5WELTERWEIGHT 170 LBSRAMAZAN EMEEV 18-4 VS NIKLAS STOLZE 12-3BANTAMWEIGHT 135 LBSNATHANIEL WOOD 16-4 VS JOHN CASTANEDA 17-4MAIN EVENT PREDICTION #1 ROBERT WHITTAKER 20-5 VS #5 DARREN TILL 18-2-1We have a great main event in store as the two top-five middleweights clash with the winner leaving placed very well to get that next title shot in the division potentially. Former champ, Robert Whittaker, is back after taking about 10 months away from the sport, which now has him rejuvenated and motivated to get back to the title he lost last October to current champ Israel Adesanya. Before losing the belt, Whittaker had rattled off nine wins in a row against some big names. His schedule and results have kept him a staple in the pound for pound rankings. Standing across from him will be Darren Till, making the walk yet again at 185 after defeating Kelvin Gastelum last November, which was his first fight in the division since 2014. Yes, Till is 10-0 at this weight, but only made the walk at middleweight once in the big leagues, and that fight was debatable. Till has been vocal about getting a title shot with a win on Saturday, but can he get the job done against the former champ? Bettors continue to think so. Till has moved about 22 cents since opening lines came out, taking him from a +138 underdog to as low as -110 pre-weigh-ins at William Hill. I love the line move as I am siding with Robert Whittaker here. Till is an amazing fighter, one where I don’t think we’ve seen his ceiling yet, but Whittaker will be a tough matchup here. Now although Till is 2-2 in his last four fights, he could be easily 0-4. Back in 2018, many believe he was gifted some hometown cooking against Stephen Thompson, in a match in front of Till’s own Liverpool crowd. After stealing a close one, Till went on to get finished by Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal in back to back fights, resulting in a move up in weight to 185. In his first match at middleweight, Till faced Kelvin Gastelum, where he edged out Gastelum via split decision, again in a fight where many thought he lost, where fight stats would also support the Gastelum side. So now he faces a rested and re-motivated former champ Robert Whittaker. Even though Whittaker has a wrestling base, validated as he qualified for the Commonwealth Games, and won the 213lb Australian National Wrestling Championship, he typically liked to stand with his opponent.Looking into this matchup, Whittaker lands almost double the strikes on average compared to Till, and also has a positive striking differential, while Till gets hit more than he lands. Not helping Till here, will be the fact that he tends to drop or hold his left hand low, which will open up opportunities for Whittaker both with the right hand and with kicks he’s known to mix in. Case in point, Whittaker is 3-0 against southpaws. Now, Till does have power and has a reputation as a finisher, yet looking at his UFC record, he only has two finishes. Whittaker is battle-tested as well, as we’ve seen him take Yoel Romero’s and other’s best shots, and continue to move forward. Till has never landed more than 50 significant strikes in a UFC fight, while Whittaker typically lands well beyond that if his opponent can hang around. Even if Till can withstand the pressure from Whittaker, the volume should be visibly there to avoid making this one debatable. PREDICTION: ROBERT WHITTAKER -110OTHER WAGERS#15 MAURICIO RUA 26-11-1 VS ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA 23-9 At 44 years of age, Nogueira has confirmed that this will be his final walk to the octagon. After going 2-4 in his last six fights, Nogueira is getting a third fight against Shogun Rua, the foe that has beaten him twice before, with their first matchup dating back to 2005. Nogueira has lost via KO/TKO in three of his last four losses, and even though both are chinny at this point in their career, Rua probably has a slight durability edge here as he’s only been KO’d once since 2014. I expect Nogueira to give an honest effort here, while I also expect both to come out old school and swinging. If either guy gets in trouble, I actually wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see the ref jump in sooner than the norm. I’m going to double dip here as I expect fireworks, and I don’t hate Rua’s 81% KO/TKO rate.PREDICTION: MAURICIO RUA via KO/TKO +170, RUA/NOGUEIRA UNDER 1.5 ROUNDS +100#7 CARLA ESPARZA 16-6 VS #9 MARINA RODRIGUEZ 12-0-2Is it me, or has it looked like Esparza hasn’t gone to her grappling as of late? If she wants to take this one, she’s going to have to get this one to the mat and control for the majority of the fight. It also seems that the Fight Island matches haven’t let fights stay on the mat, or at a standstill, and are quicker to stand up the fighters or reset the fight off the cage. Either way, Esparza controlling from the top will be her only way to victory against Rodriguez. Rodriguez has above average takedown defense and strikes at an impressive 5.60 SLpM rate. Even with her getting taken down three times against Calvillo, she didn’t lose the fight due to her volume and ability to land. While Esparza has gone to the decision in eight of her last nine, Rodriguez has as well in seven of her last eight. I’ll side with the undefeated fighter here that lands well over double the shots her opponent does on average. Just avoid those takedowns and get us to the final bell.PREDICTION: MARINA RODRIGUEZ -175 (look at via DEC +100)NICOLAS DALBY 18-3-1 VS JESSE RONSON 21-10Jesse Ronson makes his return to the UFC after going 1-2 in his last three fights. Are they calling anyone up these days? In his last run in the organization, he went 0-3, though against a tough schedule in Kevin Lee, Francisco Trinaldo, and Michel Prazeres. All three resulted in split decisions, but at the end of the day, it was 0-3. After that stint, he went 7-3 in the regional scene before getting the call to fight in the PFL, where he went 0-2. With 10 losses now on his record, he gets the call and is matched up against a very tough Nicolas Dalby. Dalby is coming off an impressive win against Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira back in September, a win that now makes it all five of his fights in the UFC going to the decision, win, lose or draw. With a 1-5 record outside of Canada, Ronson has only been finished three times in 31 fights, so should have the durability to hang around and make this a fight, though it truly is Dalby’s fight to lose. PREDICTION: NICOLAS DALBY via DEC +125TOM ASPINALL 7-2 VS JAKE COLLIER 11-4So Jake Collier, a true middleweight, is moving up to heavyweight? Very odd matchmaking here. Tom Aspinall, a training partner of Darren Till, has faced low-level opponents, but is very skilled and comes out quick looking to finish. Though 7-2, one of his defeats is similar to Jon Jones’ only loss, a DQ via 12-6 elbows against an opponent, he was about to finish. His other defeat was in a fight he was winning, and he got caught in a heel hook forcing the submission. Before going pro, Aspinall went 6-0 as an amateur, with all but one win via first-round finish. Feels like a setup fight to introduce us to Aspinall here.PREDICTION: TOM ASPINALL -220 (look at via ITD +110)POTENTIAL UNDERDOGS TO WATCHJai Herbert +138 & Raphael Pessoa +210FULL MAIN CARD & PRELIM PREDICTIONSROBERT WHITTAKER defeats DARREN TILL MAURICIO RUA defeats ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRAALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON defeats FABRICIO WERDUMMARINA RODRIGUEZ defeats CARLA ESPARZAGADZHIRURAD ANTIGULOV defeats PAUL CRAIGALEX OLIVEIRA defeats PETER SOBOTTAKHAMAZAT CHIMAEV defeats RHYS MCKEEJAI HERBERT defeats FRANCISCO TRINALDONICOLAS DALBY defeats JESSE RONSONTOM ASPINALL defeats JAKE COLLIERMOVSAR EVLOEV defeats MIKE GRUNDYRAPHAEL PESSOA defeats TANNER BOSERPANNIE KIANZAD defeats BETHE CORREIARAMAZAN EMEEV defeats NIKLAS STOLZENATHANIEL WOOD defeats JOHN CASTANEDAUFC FIGHT ISLAND 3 BET SUMMARYROBERT WHITTAKER -110MAURICIO RUA via KO/TKO +170RUA/NOGUEIRA UNDER 1.5 ROUNDS +100MARINA RODRIGUEZ -175 (look at via DEC +100)NICOLAS DALBY via DEC +125TOM ASPINALL -220 (look at via ITD +110)JAI HERBERT +138 **PENDINGRAPHAEL PESSOA +210 **PENDINGLast event prediction recap: 7-5Last event wagers recap: 3-2Fight card predictions overall: 217-117-6 (65%)Targeted matchups (wagers): 83-33-2 (72%) Avg. odds -108UFC FIGHT ISLAND 3 DFS Plays & DFS StrategiesChoose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most of the weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.Don’t get excited and rush a pick based on stats, consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in even more, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high percentage of submission victories matched with Fighter B, with a high percentage of submission losses.As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC Fight Night. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents and watch your points rack up quickly. Here’s my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.UFC Fight Island 3 Final RecommendationsFighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above) Take a look at the main event with the five rounds to work. I like Whittaker.Top-tier fighters to build around include Chimaev (if you can fit him) Aspinall, Rua.Mid-tier fighter considerations are Whittaker, Rodriguez.Live Dogs are Herbert and possibly Sobotta.

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