The Octagon heads back to Canada this weekend, visiting the capital city of Canada for the first time for UFC Fight Night 89 in Ottawa, Ontario. The event is headlined by a pivotal bout in the welterweight division as Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson will do battle for five rounds. Below are our studs, value plays and fighters to avoid when setting your fantasy line-ups for Saturday’s event.
Steve Bosse ($10,700)
Steve Bosse is going to be one of our top plays for this Saturday’s card. He is a knockout artist, and his opponent, Sean O’Connell, has lost three of his five fights inside the Octagon, with two of those losses coming by knockout. O’Connell himself is a finisher, with nine knockout wins in his career, so this will likely be a battle of big swingers. I don’t expect it to go the distance as Bosse has only been out of the first round just three times in his professional career. Both of his losses have come by knockout, though, and it may make him a little bit of a risk.
With that said, some may look to avoid him just due to his large salary, but I don’t expect him to have much trouble with O’Connell. I’m confident in making Bosse our top play for this weekend, and a knockout win is what I expect to see on Saturday night.
Colby Covington ($10,400)
Colby Covington is coming off of his first career loss in his last fight when he was submitted quickly by Warlley Alves. Alves, despite losing his last fight himself, has shown to be a high-level fighter, and Covington isn’t quite ready for that level. He goes back down a notch on Saturday, fighting Jonathan Meunier, who is a late injury replacement for Alex Garcia. That should give Covington an edge as Meunier didn’t come onto the card until June 9, and he fought just a few weeks ago.
Covington is a good wrestler and very powerful at 170 pounds, and he has five submission wins in his career. I’m actually surprised his salary isn’t higher given the circumstances of this fight coming together, but that likely has to do with Meunier being 7-0 with seven finishes, including six in the first round. That may lead people to think Meunier is a good value pick, but I still like Covington to score a finish.
VALUE PLAYS —
Leandro Silva ($9,500)
In searching this card for some value, I’m finding it hard to find a lot of underdogs that are primed for upset victories as I expect a lot of the favorites, and higher-salaried fighters, to score the wins. I’m going with Leandro Silva as an underdog to score a win, but his salary is a little higher than most of our value plays. Silva is unbeaten in his last four fights and he is showing more confidence each time he steps inside the Octagon.
He is a quality lower-level lightweight in the UFC, and that is a good position to be in to build up yourself as a fighter. He is taking on Jason Saggo, who is 2-1 in the UFC, but is coming off an impressive win in March. Silva has fought tougher competition in the UFC, and he is a good submission artist, with ten of his 19 career wins coming by submission. I like Silva to score the win, whether by submission or decision, making him a good value pick.
Ion Cutelaba ($8,500)
This is a tough one as Ion Cutelaba is making his UFC debut against a very tough light heavyweight in Misha Cirkunov. Cirkunov is 2-0 with the UFC with both wins by finish, and it is a little surprising that he is getting another fighter making his UFC debut in Cutelaba. Cutelaba is coming into the UFC with an 11-1 career record, with all eleven wins coming by stoppage- nine knockouts and two submissions. Even more impressive is the fact that ten of those eleven wins have come in the first round.
His one loss was controversial as he was disqualified for punches to the back of the head in a fight he was dominating likely heading to finish. He is a tough opponent, and Cirkunov may be in a lot of trouble. Cutelaba has a very low salary, and Cirkunov has the second-highest salary on the card, so there is a lot of value in Cutelaba, and I think he is worth the risk.
FIGHTERS TO AVOID —
Ali Bagautinov ($10,800)
Ali Bagautinov’s salary is just too high for me to recommend having him on your roster for this card as there are several better options with lower salaries. I’m actually surprised that his salary is so high as he has lost two straight fights and didn’t look the same in his last bout after being out of action for over a year due to a drug suspension. His opponent, Geane Herrera, is making his third appearance inside the Octagon, with a 1-1 record so far.
He is coming off an impressive knockout win over Joby Sanchez in his last fight, and his debut fight was a decision loss to Ray Borg in a fight he had a lot of chances in. Herrera is a very good opponent for Bagautinov, and has the chance for an upset, which makes Bagautinov’s high salary even more puzzling. Avoid Bagautinov in this fight.
Joe Soto ($9,400)
Joe Soto is 0-3 in the UFC, so he finds himself in a must-win situation when he steps inside the Octagon on Saturday. Most fighters would be cut with that UFC record, but he gets more chances due to saving an event by stepping up at the last minute to fight T.J. Dillashaw for a championship in his UFC debut, but he still needs a win. Soto had a close loss in his last fight, and many thought he won that fight. He will be taking on Chris Beal on Saturday, another fighter in a must-win situation as Beal has lost his last two fights.
I expect both men to play it safe and not fight with a lot of reckless action, and it could make for a boring fight. I do think Soto is going to score the win, but not rack up a lot of points in the process. I would recommend avoiding Soto on Saturday.
RYAN FREDERICK- Steve Bosse ($10,700), Tamdan McCrory ($10,600), Colby Covington ($10,400), Stephen Thompson ($9,800), Ion Cutelaba ($8,500)
I feel pretty good about this line-up, though I think the same thing for every event and it doesn’t always work out. I like Steve Bosse to get a quick knockout win and score maximum points. Colby Covington is another I like to get a quick finish as he has a short-notice replacement opponent. I like Tamdan McCrory as he has looked impressive since returning to action and is coming off a very good submission win over Josh Samman, though he has a tough foe in Krzysztof Jotko on Saturday.
Ion Cutelaba is my hail mary play as he has a very low salary and has a very good chance at getting an upset win in his UFC debut. And I will be taking Stephen Thompson. I do think he will beat Rory MacDonald, but I also think it will be by decision. Going that extra two rounds opens up for more points scoring opportunites. I also think he may be a sneaky shot at getting a finish.
PAUL FONTAINE- Olivier Aubin-Mercier ($11,000), Steve Bosse ($10,700), Valerie Letourneau ($10,100), Patrick Cote ($9,200), Ion Cutelaba ($8,500)
Aubin-Mercier is a stud and a finisher. Fighting in his home country and close to his home town, I’m really liking him to have a star-making performance here. Bosse’s fight should be fun and he’s got the power to finish anyone in the division and his opponent O’Connell has been stopped in 2 of his 3 most recent losses. Letourneau is coming off a strong performance against Joanna Champion, lasting 5 rounds with the strawweight queen. She should have more power at flyweight and her opponent Calderwood has proven to be vulnerable to submissions as well.
Cote has been on the best run of his career and I think he’s got a huge size advantage over Cerrone, who usually competes at lightweight. Cote was not small at middleweight and he should have the power to stop Cerrone. My last pick is a bit of a gamble but Ion Cutelaba has scored stoppages in each of his 9 pro wins so I’m hoping for the same in his UFC debut.
PEACH MACHINE- Randa Markos ($10,500), Donald Cerrone ($10,200), Valerie Letourneau ($10,100), Stephen Thompson ($9,800), Sam Alvey ($9,100)
Another stellar lineup if I may say so my self, and I may… I like Thompson a lot here. McDonald in his first fight back after that terrible nose break may be a little gun shy. I’m betting Thompson capitalizes. Cerrone, in my book, way outclasses Cote. This is another easy pick. I like Randa Markos and Lybarger didn’t look good her last time out. Smilin Sam is my under dog pick. He’s always in it and has KO pop. Finally, I think Letourneau easily wins here. And her names is the same as that teacher in Florida who married her student… first.