UFC Vegas 5: Brunson vs Shahbazyan – 8.1.2020 – Staff Predictions, Picks, and DFS Analysis (FREE)

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Hello Daily Play Action! Welcome to our collaborative coverage of UFC Vegas 5: Brunson vs Shahbazyan. We make our return to Las Vegas tonight with a ten fight card after numerous substitutions yesterday. Our analysis will include a pick for every fight 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 advances (such as to half guard, to mount…) and reversals. 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.

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. If you are in search of a good website to tail any of our picks, I highly recommend using Bovada for their user-friendly format and awesome deposit bonuses!

Nick: 99-51-1    Anthony: 90-60-1    GB: 88-62-1

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 11:00 AM EST 8-1-2020

Preliminary Card- Starts 7:00pm EST

Chris Gutierrez -315 (DK $9200, FD $19) vs Cody Durden +245 (DK $7000, FD $11

  • Anthony: The card opens tonight with a bantamweight fight between Cody Durden and Chris Gutierrez. This feels like a bit too tough of a hill to climb for Durden who is stepping in to make his UFC debut. He has very persistent grappling and could pose some issues for Gutierrez here, but I do not see him finding any sort of finish. Gutierrez should be able to use a ton of leg kicks to hurt and slow down Durden and I see him winning this one on the judge’s scorecards. He is a good prospect to add to the UFC roster, but Durden is clearly outmatched here. Chris Gutierrez by Decision
  • Nick: Can Cody Durden check leg kicks? Probably not. Gutierrez used one of the better leg-kick games we’ve seen in this division to absolutely pick apart Vince Morales in his UFC debut. We haven’t seen much of him at the UFC level yet, but I’m comfortable backing Gutierrez here against a newcomer in Cody Durden who usually fights at 135 pounds. Durden’s one real path would be to work Gutierrez to the mat, but he’s really not big enough to overpower him. I see Guitierrez utilizing kicks to keep Durden at distance. If he gets taken down, he should find a way back to his feet. Durden is a bit of a live dog, but I think his odds are very slim. Chris Gutierrez by Decision.
  • GB: Chris Gutierrez by Decision

Jamall Emmers -375 (DK $7800, FD $12) vs Vincent Cachero +285 (DK $6900, FD $9)

  • Anthony: Second on the card is Jamall Emmers against Vincent Cachero at featherweight. We were scheduled to see Emmers face Timur Valiev here, but he now gets the short notice replacement instead. He is an absolute lock for me on both sites with his price not adjusted for the change of opponent. Emmers is going to be able to beat up Cachero here with relative ease. I expect him to look much bigger inside of the octagon and win this fight inside the distance. Jamall Emmers by Round One KO
  • Nick: Timur Valiev is one of the more intriguing prospects at featherweight and it’s unfortunate we won’t get to see him debut here. Cachero is filling in and after watching him face off against Emmers post weigh-in, I expect he’s significantly outmatched in this spot. Emmers will have a considerable height and reach advantage in this one. He’s an excellent striker who has won three of his last four fights via knockout.  Additionally, Cachero usually fights at 135 pounds so he’s moving up a weight-class to fight Emmers on short notice. There are questions surrounding Emmers’ fight IQ, but I don’t see Cachero as someone skilled enough to take advantage if he does make a mistake. I expect the striking ability combined with the size advantage for Emmers here to be enough to get it done. Jamall Emmers by Round Two KO
  • GB: Vincent Cachero by Decision

Nathan Maness -140 (DK $7200, FD $15) vs Johnny Munoz Jr. +110 (DK $7200, FD $10)

  • Anthony: The next fight on the card is a bantamweight bout between Nathan Maness and Johnny Munoz Jr. Ray Borg was scheduled to take on Maness but pulled out yesterday. While Munoz Jr. is certainly live here are indicated by the oddsmakers I would not be super interested in placing a bet for this fight. Maness may be at a grappling disadvantage here but has solid wrestling and much better striking than Munoz Jr. He has also been preparing for a similar style fighter in Ray Borg so I feel like he will be able to get the job done. Muhoz Jr. is at least worth a look on both sites for his low price tag. Nathan Maness by Decision
  • Nick: Johnny Munoz Jr. is coming into this one on short notice as a fill in for Ray Borg. We really haven’t seen much from either of these guys, but this is a classic striker vs grappler match-up. Maness has a clear advantage on the feet, while Munoz seems to outclass him on the mat with an extensive background in BJJ. This is a tough fight to call as neither fighter has really seen elite level competition to this point. Be careful as there are a lot of questions around this one. Since we don’t know much, I’ll pick based on style here. Johnny Munoz Jr. by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Johnny Munoz Jr. by Round Two KO

Jonathan Martinez -265 (DK $8600, FD $17) vs Frankie Saenz +205 (DK $7600, FD $14)

  • Anthony: This fight at bantamweight slides in as the featured prelim for the evening as Frankie Saenz steps into the octagon to face Jonathan Martinez. It is important to note that Martinez missed weight by a considerable amount yesterday coming in at 140.5 pounds. He looked drained on the scale even at that number, but I still favor him in this one. Saenz has a UFC career dating back to 2014 but to be honest he does not have a win on his resume that impresses me. He took a decision against Merab Dvalishvili sure but that is a fight the judges got wrong in my eyes. Martinez should be able to win a decision here tonight unless of course his cardio is compromised because of his botched cut. I would not recommend you bet on him, but I am happy to play him on either site. Jonathan Martinez by Decision
  • Nick: Jonathan Martinez lost a bad decision in his last fight. Saenz lost four of his last six and one of his two victories in that span was a split decision win against Merab Dvalishvili. The UFC has babied Martinez a bit to this point. He’s experienced, but he hasn’t really faced many opponents as experienced or heralded as Saenz. Saenz has solid grappling ability. His one clear path will be to take Martinez to the mat and control position. Martinez missed weigh-in, but he did by for pounds. When someone misses weight by this much, I’m less concerned about their weight cut. He should be able to use his size advantage to stay on the feet against a solid grappler in Saenz. Jonathan Martinez by Round Three KO
  • GB: Jonathan Martinez by Round One KO

Main Card- Starts 9:00pm EST

Kevin Holland -230 (DK $8900, FD $19) vs Trevin Giles +180 (DK $7300, FD $11)

  • Anthony: We open the main card with an absolute banger between Kevin Holland and Trevin Giles at middleweight. This should be a very fun fight as both guys usually put on entertaining bouts no matter what. I think you have to favor Holland here for a couple different reasons. It is a good matchup for him as he should have no problem finding his range against Giles in the small cage. I think that he has the better chin and if he is unable to drop Giles, he will at least be able to wear on him over the course of this fight. I anticipate a late TKO or perhaps choke from Holland to secure this one, but Giles is certainly more live than his price would indicate. Kevin Holland by Round Three Submission
  • Nick: Holland does an excellent job using his length to keep his opponents at a distance. He’s a well-rounded fighter with above average ability both on the feet and on the mat. Giles likes to apply pressure, but against a guy like Holland he’s going to have issues getting close enough to tag the much rangier Holland. Giles has a decent ground game, but Holland’s scrambling ability is likely too advanced for Giles to catch him in anything. On the other hand, if Holland can take down Giles, he should be able to find a way to his neck and score the submission victory with relative ease. This is one of my more confident picks on this card. Kevin Holland by Round Two Submission
  • GB: Kevin Holland by Decision

Gerald Meerschaert -160 (DK $8300, FD $17) vs Ed Herman +130 (DK $7900, FD $13)

  • Anthony: Next we have a light heavyweight bout between Ed Herman and Gerald Meershaert. I have to say that it makes sense money has come back on Herman throughout the weeks as Meerschaert was way too big a favorite for my liking here. Now with the odds closer I could speculate a bet on either guy, but much prefer the plus money with Herman. He will constantly pressure Meerschaert and in the smaller cage of the Apex I believe he will be able to find a knockout as well. Obviously with Meerschaert there is always a submission threat, but I think Herman will do just fine avoiding that. His past two losses by submission were to Jacare Souza in 2013 and Demian Maia in 2008. Ed Herman by Round Two KO
  • Nick: This is a tough one. These are two weathered fighters that have both taken a ton of damage in their careers. The difference for me though, is the fact that Meerschaert has never fought at 205 before. Herman is going to be the bigger fighter in this one which could be enough to snuff Meerschaert’s clearest path to victory – his grappling. If Meerschaert is unable to take Herman to the mat, Herman is very likely to land the harder and more significant strikes. This should be a close scrap that could get ugly if these guys start to gas late. Ed Herman by Decision
  • GB: Gerald Meerschaert by Round Two Submission

Lando Vannata -160 (DK $8200, FD $18) vs Bobby Green +130 (DK $8000, FD $12)

  • Anthony: Next on the main card is a rematch between Lando Vannata and Bobby Green at lightweight. The first fight between these two was scored a split draw but my scorecard marks it in favor of Vanatta. He throws some very creative strikes and will likely do enough to win rounds in this fight where Bobby Green may not. In his last fight against Clay Guida, Green really did not impress me. He had a very lackluster decision win there and I am just not comfortable pulling the trigger on him in this spot. This is a close fight though and honestly one of the tougher ones to pick. The prices for both are correct on DraftKings but Green is seriously under-priced on FanDuel and worth a look there. Lando Vannata by Decision
  • Nick: These guys fought to a draw back in 2017. Since then, Vannata has really changed his game from being hyper-aggressive to a more heady and conservative approach. While this change in styles could extend Vannata’s career, it makes it tougher for him to take over a fight and impose his will on opponents. Green looked decent against Clay Guida in his last bout, but it’s tough to get too excited about him based on that performance. He did what he had to do to win, but he never really looked dominant against a much older fighter in Guida. When these guys faced off on the scales, Green looked a lot more focused and thicker than Vannata. This should be an extremely close fight, but I’m leaning with the more active and stronger looking Green. Bobby Green by Decision
  • GB: Lando Vannata by Round Two KO

Vincente Luque -205 (DK $8800, FD $17) vs Randy Brown +165 (DK $7400, FD $15)

  • Anthony: At welterweight next is a great bout between Vincente Luque and Randy Brown. Both looked really impressive on the scales and I could see this one going either way. However, Luque is the favorite here for a reason. He has yet to look bad in a single UFC fight and should be able to knockout Randy Brown at some point in this one. Brown has decent grappling but is a bit too comfortable with his striking. If he is smart, he will try and avoid striking exchanges with Luque but I still see him getting clipped with a quick combination at some point in the standup. Luque is my favorite option to pay up for on this card on either site, but preferably FanDuel. Vincente Luque by Round One KO
  • Nick: Luque is a polished striker and he absolutely has the knockout power to end this one early. The one real knock on him is that he eats a ton of damage as he tries to pick apart his opponents. It could look ugly early in this one, but I don’t really see Brown as someone with enough power to take advantage of Luque’s defensive lapses. Brown will have a significant reach advantage, but Luque is willing to eat a few shots in order to close the distance. Additionally, if Luque needs to – he can fall back on his solid grappling/BJJ. Brown has a decent ground game, but he’s not on Luque’s level there either. Given the style Luque fights, there’s always some risk in backing him. I like him a lot here though, for DFS and otherwise. Vincente Luque by Round Two KO
  • GB: Vincente Luque by Round One KO

Joanne Calderwood -160 (DK $8700, FD $16) vs Jennifer Maia +130 (DK $7500, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The co-main event of the evening is a women’s flyweight bout between Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia. It is being billed as a title eliminator to decide who will get to face the champion Valentina Shevchenko. That is the one thing that really makes this pick easy for me. Calderwood was already offered a title shot by the UFC but needed to wait a bit before she could get it on account of Shevchenko’s injury. In my eyes, there is no reason she would accept another bout before a championship fight unless she knew it is one that she could win. It really is a good stylistic matchup for Calderwood who should stay active and keep range. I do not know if she is worth paying up for, but I am confident that she will be able to get the win here. Joanne Calderwood by Decision
  • Nick: Calderwood is well-rounded. She’s on the fast track to a title shot if she can get through Maia here and it feels like the UFC wouldn’t book her in this spot if they didn’t think she would win. Calderwood throws a lot of volume. She’s good in the clinch, and as long as this one stays on the feet, she should be able to control the pace here and deal enough damage to get passed Maia. Joanne Calerdwood by Decision
  • GB: Joanne Calderwood by Decision

Edmen Shahbazyan -360 (DK $9100, FD $20) vs Derek Brunson +270 (DK $7100, FD $13)

  • Anthony: We end our night with a great main event between Edmen Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson at middleweight. It is a closer fight than the odds would indicate but I am still siding with the favorite in Shahbazyan here. He really is the next big thing in the UFC after three straight first round knockouts, and now faces a real gatekeeper of the division. Brunson is very hittable and has suffered plenty of first round losses in the past. Facing such a finishing threat does not bode well for him. The one path to victory I see for Brunson is of course a knockout of his own or using some chain wrestling to get into favorable positions. I think instead this one stays standing though and we see Shahbazyan get a knockout win before the end of the second round. He is very expensive on both sites but worth the pay up for sure. Edmen Shahbazyan by Round One KO
  • Nick: This is only a three round main event, so keep that in mind when building your DFS lineups. Shabazyan is one of the more intriguing up-and-comers at middleweight. He’s only 22, but he’s shown elite level striking and a serious ability to finish fights early. While his striking seems to be his strength, Shabazyan is about as well-rounded of a fighter as you’ll find at his age. Shabazyan grew up training multiple facets of the MMA game and his grappling ability is a strength more than it is a weakness (he has a Brown Belt in BJJ under Renzo Gracie). Derek Brunson is an excellent defensive grappler, but he has trouble scoring takedowns. He’s likely to be outclassed by Shabazyan here on the feet and while he’s definitely the more experienced fighter, I’m not sure he’d be able to give Shabazyan too much trouble here on the mat either. This could be a closer bout than the odds will indicate, but I’m leaning with the favorite. If you’re playing a lot of line-ups, it’s worth hedging a bit on Brunson. Still, I’m going with the rising star here. Edmen Shahbazyan by Round Two KO
  • GB: Edmen Shahbazyan by Round One KO