UFC 197: Jones vs Saint Preux- ‘Mighty Rusty’

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One Champion returned to the top of his division, to a degree, and the other reaffirmed his spot well clear of his would-be competition. UFC 197 was a pretty solid card, despite losing its marquee main event. I went 11-1 to run my overall record to a strong 30-6 record over the last 3 events, with the Bet Packs combining for a stellar 327 units won. Check out all the details below, plus my picks for who the UFC 197 winners will meet next.


Prelim Winners’ Future Fight
  • Kevin Lee continues to win fights, but with just one finish during his run he won’t be climbing up the card anytime soon. Lee versus Diego Ferreira works for me.
  • Marcus Rogerio De Lima is a dangerous dude and took care of business with his unappreciated submission game. Jan Blachowicz is coming off a win and would be a solid next fight for the Brazilian.
  • It took him four tries, but Walt Harris finally got UFC win #1 in a wild slugfest. Harris has potential despite his struggles and Daniel Omielanczuk would be a competitive next bout. -My only loss of the night.
  • Young and still undefeated, James Vick showcased his ever improving striking arsenal that goes along with a capable grappling attack. He still needs to clean up his defensive wrestling, but Alan Patrick would be a solid test.
  • It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a much-needed victory for the former champion Carla Esparza. I don’t want to see her rushed back against top competition, but she still needs a quality opponent. On TUF, Jo Jo Calderwood was the #2 see to Esparza’s #1- let them fight.
  • I questioned the decision and I picked Danny Roberts to win. I felt like he lost more of the exchange then he won, despite the strong finish. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is coming off a pretty fun fight and would make for an excellent pairing with the Brit.
  • This was exactly the type of fight I expected and Sergio Pettis had a strong opening two rounds against a capable and aggressive opponent. Pettis is starting to put some wins together and while he isn’t blowing the doors off of people he is winning. If the UFC wants to continue to bring him along slowly, Fredy Serrano would be an ideal next opponent.
Main Card  Future Fight
  • It would appear that the sky is the limited for Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez. He is getting better with every performance and adding this highlight reel finish to his resume helped propel him into the Top 15 of the division. Darren Elkins or Tatsuya Kawajiri are a pair of hard-nosed and experienced opponents that would test Yair for his first foray into the Top 15 of the division.
  • While it was a much more competitive fight than expected, Joe and Goldie were making it out to be much closer than it really was. Rafael Natal was landing some quality leg kicks, but Robert Whittaker was landing more and doing greater overall damage. Whittaker is still undefeated at Middleweight and on the cusp of facing the big boys of 185- he had been paired with Michael Bisping before, let’s get it done.
  • In the second of only two upsets on the entire card, picked by yours truly, Edson Barboza was both the busier and more impactful striker. This was a major win for Edson, who adds the biggest name to his record. For Anthony Pettis, the downward slide continues and while he has faced top competition during that time- he has to right the ship quickly or his time at the top of the division will be just a distance memory. Nate Diaz would be a suitable next opponent after the UFC 200 saga is settled.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T! It is time to give it to Demetrious Johnson if you already aren’t. He has finished 5 of his last 7 opponents while fighting at the highest level his division has to offer. What is left? Not much. There are a couple of options. Joseph Benavidez could get one last shot, but that is a hard sell at this point. I would be much more interested in another rematch, pitting the current Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz against DJ. I expect Cruz to handle Faber with relative ease. Whether or not Johnson leaves the title behind, the UFC should consider a tournament featuring their top 16 fighters, potentially with some qualifying bouts included. It could serve to either crown a new champ or create a buzz around the next title challenger. They won’t go this route, but I would certainly prefer it over the TUF alternative which is up in the air at this point.
  • He is back! Jon Jones returned to active duty and captured the Interim-Light Heavyweight title. Not that he gave a damn about it and he shouldn’t. Many are questioning his performance and for good reason. ‘Bones’ was certainly suffering from a little ring rust, but still dominated the fight start to finish. It was clear to me that he certainly could have finished OSP if he had focused more on his ground game. That being said, I think Jones was more interested in fighting a full 5 rounds to get back in the swing of things. He basically gained two fights worth of action after his long layoff. A quick finish wouldn’t have done him any good. There is talk that the power-lifting of Jones could have played a role in a bit of a slowdown, but I’m not that concerned. Do I think DC could have beaten him based on this performance? Possibly. That is who he fights next, no questions asked. At UFC 200 or in New York, Jones will need to be at his best to return/retain his title.
Final Thoughts

I’m still really looking forward to Jones vs DC 2 and if the medical suspension gets lifted and it goes down at UFC 200, I prefer it to Diaz/McGregor 2 as the headliner. It is almost refreshing to see that Jones isn’t entirely untouchable, in fact this performance creates even more intrigue heading into the rematch. Johnson is a machine and the Cruz fight present a huge opportunity to capitalize on is success at 125 pounds.

I went 11-1, my third consecutive strong showing, and second double-digit win total during that span. I could have easily won had three in a row had Machida and Makhachev not got pulled from the UFC on FOX 19 event. The Bet Pack produced in a big way, with another 100+ units in winnings. Check out the full lineup below. We get an extra week off before the next card and there are some loaded shows on the horizon!

Prediction Panel Member Ryan Underwood posted a very strong 10-2 record on the night and shares his thoughts on the events and several other hot topics in his post-fight Podcast. Make sure to check it out!


Parlay Header

Parlay #1 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 1: Yair Rodriguez -150 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: James Vick -172 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Robert Whittaker -270 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 4: Carla Esparza -180 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +462 Bet: 10 units
Payout: 46.18 units
Parlay #1
Selection 1: Edson Barboza +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Cody East -150 
Selection 3: Marcos Rogerio de Lima -129 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 4: Sergio Pettis -217 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +1041  x Bet: 7 units 
Payout: 72.87 units
Parlay #1
Selection 1: Jon Jones to Win by Submission +200 
Selection 2: Demetrious Johnson to Win by Decision -110 
Selection 3: Danny Roberts/Dominique Steele Total Rounds Under 2.5 -118 
Selection 4: James Vick -172 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +1573  x Bet: 7
Payout: 110.13 units
Parlay #1 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 1: Walt Harris/Cody East Total Rounds Under 1.5 -145 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Marcos Rogerio de Lima/ Clint Hester Total Rounds Under 1.5 -110 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Yair Rodriguez -150 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 4: Edson Barboza +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +1319  x Bet: 7 units
Payout: 92.35 units


Draftkings Line up

Fighter 1: Robert Whittaker $10700 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 2: Edson Barboza $8800 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 3: Sergio Pettis $10100 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 4: Marcos Rogerio de Lima $10000 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 5: Kevin Lee $10300 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Salary Remaining:
Fighter 1: Edson Barboza $8800 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 2: Carla Esparza $10200 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 3: Danny Roberts $10400 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 4: Cody East $9600
Fighter 5: James Vick $10900 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Salary Remaining: 
Bonus Team
Fighter 1: Demetrious Johnson $11000 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 2: Danny Roberts $10400 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 3: Marcos Rogerio de Lima $10000 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 4: Cody East $9600
Fighter 5: Andre Fili $8900 
Salary Remaining: 


Jon Jones -485 vs Ovince Saint Preux +501 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Jones has been out for a long time and the line is stacked too heavily in his favour to consider a play here. OSP got this spot for 2 reasons; a) he was willing to step in on short notice and b) Jones has beaten everyone else in the top 10 no named Rumble. Do I think OSP can win this fight? Possibly, but the scenario’s are minimal. Not enough to invest in. No Play on the side bet. We will be making a bet on this fight though, check the prop section.


Jones can produce points but there are 2 factors here that make him an unappealing play, in addition to the long layoff and concerns over the added weight changing him as a fighter. His price is massive, $11400 is a tonne of money and will compromise your other 4-spots. That by itself is enough to scare us away. Additionally, a lot of people will see Jones as an almost guaranteed 80 to 100 point man. Which it probably is. That means even if he scores 100 points, better than 75% of players will have him in their lineup. That’s not good, especially when you figure in the $9650 per player that is left over to fill your final 4 spots.  No Play.

Demetrious Johnson -385 vs Henry Cejudo +363 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

I would be more tempted to play DJ here then Jones. He pays better, has been more active, and I see his opponent as a little less dangerous. That being said I won’t touch him. A prop bet is certainly worth consideration though. More on that later. On a side note, I checked out a site that monitors MMA predictors and I saw a play posted by a Betting ‘Expert recommending a bet on a Jones/Johnson parlay. Seriously? Come on people.


Johnson isn’t going to be part of either Team Kamikaze or Overdrive, but I will toss him into my Bonus team. I just felt there was a third solid combination of players that needed to be posted so I added another lineup for this event. DJ has the ability to both score with volume or a finish here. He is costly at $11000, but there are some positives here. DJ is not known as a finisher, despite his recent track record. That is going to turn a lot of people of with such a hefty price tag. Considering Cejudo’s cardio history, I could seem him faltering badly in rounds 4 and 5 and getting finished. That will score you 40 for the late finish plus all the points that DJ has piled up leading to the stoppage. If you build a team with a big budget left over take Johnson over Jones everytime.

Anthony Pettis -170 vs Edson Barboza +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

So here is my one and only true upset pick of the night. I have never been an Anthony Pettis fan. Well, at least not a fan of his style. When he is doing well and winning he is great- he is a frontrunner. Unfortunately, if he can’t finish his opponent his style is a difficult one win a decision with. His output is low which makes it easier for less talented/flashy strikers to outwork him. He can work off his back if taken down, but if he can’t snatch a sub, it’s a bad spot. He is 2-4 in his last 6 decisions, with a split win over Stephens and a narrow decision victory over Henderson in the last ever WEC fight. Barboza is a very capable striker. More impactful and busier. He just needs to avoid getting caught, which can be easier said then done. I was impressed with how he fired back against Ferguson in a high paced fight. If he can carry a similar pace here he will give Pettis all sorts of trouble. I like Barboza to get the nod here in a decision. Still his chin is enough of a concern to back him off to the Silver Parlay.


At $8800, Edson is the cheapest option of all of the fighters I picked to win. He is a capable finisher, but I don’t anticipate him capping off ‘Showtime’. If he is going to produce here it will be through his volume. He averages 53.7 points her fight, but that of course includes fights where he has been defeated. I see him in the 65-75 point range which is a decent contribution from the lowest fighter on the pay grid. Additionally, his price frees up the money needed to target other more expensive options. I like him in both of my lineups for that reason.

Robert Whittaker -270 vs Rafael Natal +274 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Another heavy favourite here, but I am actually leaning towards playing Whittaker. Natal’s chin and cardio are his two biggest letdowns. He seems way too willing to rely on his striking instead of either mixing in his ground game or using it as the focal point of his attack. Natal will feast on that. He is the better striker, quicker man, and hits harder. Natal’s TDs, when he does shoot, are reactive. He is going to struggle to catch Whittaker moving forward on his strikes enough to set up his takedowns. Whittaker both disguises his offense well and doesn’t over commit when he throws. At this price, I have him in my Gold Parlay.


Whittaker as a pair of knockouts in his last 4 fights and Natal has a history of getting finished. If he stops Natal that will net you a big return. If not, Natal is quite hittable at his best and it gets easier as the fight goes. At $10700, he is about as far as I want to reach price-wise. I have him Whittaker  on team Kamikaze.

Yair Rodriguez -150 vs Andre Fili +138 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

This should be a fantastic scrap. Two very young and aggressive fighters with a lot talent. Fili keeps things a little simpler, but struggles at times to remain consistent. If he could improve his top position control he would be far more effective, but at the same time that might require him to scale back his aggression. Rodriguez is just too crafty for the mistakes that Fili has been prone to make over his UFC run. Yair’s movement and depth of offense is going to carry the day. The manner in which he turns TDAs from his opponent into offensive opportunities for himself is going to play huge in this fight. He is one of the better-paying favs on the card- Gold Package.


At $10500, Rodriguez is a very playable options. Unfortunately, I didn’t use him in any of my lineups. I did opt to throw Fili into my Bonus team. After filling the first 4 spots I had the choice of using Edson Barboza again or relying on a fighter I picked against. Diversification is the name of the game. Of everyone I picked against, I feel Fili gives you the best bang for your buck. Even if he loses he will be competitive and score 25-35 points. An upset would not be out of the question either compared to the rest of the options in this pay bracket outside of Barboza.

Sergio Pettis -217 vs Chris Kelades +206 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

I gave a lot of thought to playing Kelades. He has been defying the odds during his UFC tenure, why not stop now. Conversely, Pettis has been successful, but it still feels like he is underachieving. Kelades wins this fight if he can keep Sergio backing up and brawl with him from start to finish. He will have to capitalize on any mistake/ opportunity that Pettis hands him. If Pettis produces like he is capable of I expect him to out land Kelades and control some prolonged top position.  At just over -200, Pettis a playable option because there are  so many other heavy dogs that limit our choices. Kelades’s ability to outwork guys and keep pushing combined with Sergio’s periodic defensive lapses forces me to drop him to the 4-leg Silver parlay.


Welcome to the Team Kamikaze Serigo! I think we are getting some value here at $10100. Kelades’s willingness to stand and trade will help Pettis to pile up the striking totals. Also look for Pettis told score a 2-3 takedown, maybe more. He showed improved wrestling against Cariaso and against both Beal and Brog, Kelades was initiating takedown attempts, but ultimately getting put on his back. Sergio might be able to finish, but Kelades is a tough nut to crack. With several heavy favs, we have to keep our lineups spread out and Pettis gives us that option.

Danny Roberts -330 vs Dominique Steele +319 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

This fight should be pure violence, unfortunately the odds makers have recognized that Steele is most likely out-gunned here. Or at least defensively, he is vulnerable. There is a play to be made here, but it is certainly not the side bet. I will be looking at a couple of prop options here.


Despite being a heavy betting favourite and climbing, Roberts is a little more affordable as a Fantasy option. Steele has been knocked out 4-times in his career, while Roberts has stopped his opponent in 10 of his 12 wins. Roberts has just 4 opening round finishes, but all 4 of Steels losses have come in the first frame. That is a pretty impressive ratio on both sides when looking for a fighter to get the finish. As a result, Roberts is on both Team Overdrive and my Bonus lineup.

Carla Esparza -180 vs Juliana Lima +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

This is a scary fight, but we’re going to ride the wild ride. Carla is coming off a brutal beating, the loss of her title, a long layoff, and short notice. All of that aside, she has the skills to dominate this fight. Lima hasn’t been that impressive in her 2 wins, taking advantage of the mistakes of her opponents have made to gain top control and hold it. Despite appearing to have the edge on the feet, she hasn’t let it go. Esparza is by far the best wrestler she has ever face and I struggle to see her shutting the takedown down. Even if she can, Carla is still capable enough to outwork her on the feet as long as she isn’t too gun shy after JJ. In spite of all of the outside factors, unless Esparza lays a goose egg, this is her fight to win. I like the odds we are getting on a former champ that has a number of high-quality wins under her belt. I had to choose between Carla and Cody East and Carla is the more known commodity. Gold Parlay.


I also have Esparza on Team Overdrive. She scores points were her takedowns and she is an active striker, especially on the mat. I can see her piling up the points over a decision win or scoring a possible submission finish if she can work her way to Lima’s back. I’ve said this a couple of times, but with so many heavy favs we need to look elsewhere to find points. She is very affordable and most will shy away from her because of the rep that WMMA gets for going to decisions.  Unique points.

James Vick -172 vs Glaico Franca +160 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

This is a bit of a step up for Franca, but the odds don’t reflect that. He didn’t look that strong in his debut/TUF win, and was aided by an opponent that faded badly. Vick is a capable grappler and the better striker. He has superior cardio and uses a style that will push and wear out Franca. Vick is far from a perfect fighter, but short of him gifting a position to Franca and getting subbed, I don’t see Franca having the striking skills/ power to knock him out or the cardio/volume to grab the decision. This is Vick’s fight to win and I had him closer to -200 after watching film on both guys. Take the value, Vick completes my top play.


Vick is a costly fighter, but he is the type that won’t be at the top of most players lists like a Jones or an Anthony Pettis- that makes his points that much more valuable and makes it easier to spend money on him. Averaging over 80 points a fight he can produce with a finish or he can put together a strong 3 rounds and pile up the striking and grappling points. He joins team Overdrive.

Walt Harris +138 vs Cody East -150 

This fight shouldn’t last that long. Harris has the look of a monster, but he has been anything but. Against both Soa and Rosholt he had success early keeping the fight standing and fighting it where he wanted it to take place. Unfortunately, he wasn’t making those scenarios count and lost because of it. He lacks volume in his striking and doesn’t seem like he does well with getting hit. Both Soa and Krylov forced him to shut down once they started to attack. East’s striking looks decent and he should have a volume and cardio advantage. Despite all of the other issues outside of the cage, I think he is the play here. I considered him for my top bet, but with him as a debuting fighter he slides to the Silver parlay.


Not a surprise here that he is a must have. He is on both Team Overdrive and the Bonus team. I expect him to score a finish and an early one. He isn’t that expensive and in fact is the under dog at $9600. Take that and run with it.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima -129 vs Clint Hester +118 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Just like the fight above, I don’t expect this one to need the scorecards. Hester leaves a lot of openings despite coming from a boxing background and he has been stopped in 2 straight bouts. Now he moves up to face a fighter that was knocking guys out at Heavyweight. Lima is the type of fighter that is all forward, all aggression. Whether it be with his striking or his grappling. It was ill-advised for him to go so hard for the sub against Krylov, but I don’t see Hester having the skills to fend him off or turn it in his favour. Lima’s aggression, size, and power carry the day here in what should be an entertaining, but short lived slugfest. Still anything can happen when big guys let those mits go. Silver Parlay.


De Lima is not winning by decision, at least not in most scenarios. He comes to finish fights and I fully expect him to do that here. He can score the knockout or he has an underrated and dangerous submission game. Either one will do the trick and as a result he joins both Team Kamikaze and the bonus lineup.

Kevin Lee -370 vs Efrain Escudero +348 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Lee is coming off of a humbling loss and I hope it does just that. He is a little too confident for my liking and there have been times where it shows up in his performance and that is concerning. Why play with a fighter, especially when you don’t having finishing power and are forced to rely on the judges? He should take this fight relatively easily, but I won’t touch it. I might look at the total.


Lee is a sizable favourite, but the Fantasy line is not representing that. He most likely won’t finish Escudero, but he has the ability to put up volume strikes and score 3-4 takedowns. At just $10300, he is an affordable final pick for Team Kamikaze that should take the decision and produce 75-90 points. Most people will shy away because of his lack of finishing power, but he can still produce and he won’t be a popular pick. Good for us.


1. Demetrious Johnson -385 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

2. Jon Jones -485 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

3. Robert Whittaker -270 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

4. Kevin Lee -370 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

5. James Vick -172 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med


6. Danny Roberts -330 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

7. Yair Rodriguez -150 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

8. Sergio Pettis -217 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

9. Carla Esparza -180 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

10. Cody East -150 

11. Marcos Rogerio de Lima -129 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

12. Edson Barboza +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

1. Edson Barboza +164 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

2. Demetrious Johnson to Win by Decision -110 

3. Danny Roberts/Dominique Steele Total Rounds Under 2.5 -118 

4. Marcos Rogerio de Lima -129 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

5. Jon Jones to Win by Submission +200 

1. Juliana Lima +164-  There are a lot of issues that could impact Esparza’s performance. Hedge your bet with a small single bet.






Exclusive Bet Pack Information.


Prop Bets

Jon Jones to Win by Submission +200 

OSP does not have the cardio or the defensive wrestling to stay off his back for the entire fight or get off his back once taken down. The big question is, how does Jones finish him? A TKO is a real possibility, but when you look at JJ’s track record you have to lean towards a submission win. Prior to his TKO victory over Sonnen, he had earned 4 submission wins over his last 5 finishes. Look for Jones to control OSP, wear him down, and then attempt either an arm triangle or arm based sub from top position.

Demetrious Johnson to Win by Decision -110 

I certainly have some concern that Cejudo fades and DJ puts him away in the second half of the fight. He does have 4 finishes in his last 6 wins. Of those stoppages, 3 have come by submission. I am not sure DJ will be able to take and keep Cejudo down long enough to submit him, even when he gets tired. If he does put him on the mat, I look for Johnson to focus on position over submission, as taking the Gold Medalist down won’t be easy. Play the Decision.

Sergio Pettis/Chris Kelades

See Betting Scenario Section.

Danny Roberts/Dominique Steele Total Rounds Under 2.5 -118 

This could be the steal of the night. No pun intended. Steele has been knocked out 4 times, all in the first. His chin isn’t great and he is hittable. Roberts hits hard and has a capable submission game if they go to the mat. Not to mention, Steele is a capable finisher in his own right. He does have 7 decisions on record, but I struggle to see him surviving what Roberts can bring for a full 3-rounds. I really think we are getting an extra round and some value here.

James Vick/Glaico Franca Total Rounds Under 2.5 +130  

Vick’s forward pressure and volume are the key factors here. Franca’s cardio looked pretty poor in his debut against a fighter who wasn’t really engaging him that much. Vick is certainly capable of scoring an early finish, but I expect he will need a round to wear him down. Franca had a lot issues with fending off his opponent’s TDAs and gave up position on that mat. Vick knows how to finish if given the opportunity. Additionally, while he doesn’t have big knockout numbers, I see Franca struggling to deal with the volume and the damage piling up. Take the Under.

Walt Harris/Cody East Total Rounds Under 1.5 -145 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Harris has been stopped twice, but only 1-time in the opening round. I do not like how he deals with getting hit. In both of his stoppage losses he went down after the first real series of strikes that came his way. On the flip side of the coin, all 7 of his wins were 1st rounders. East has 7 opening round stoppages in his last 9 fights and his style of striking will play well with Harris’s lack of activity. Play the Under.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima/ Clint Hester 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

See Betting Scenario Section.

Kevin Lee/ Efrain Escudero 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

See Betting Scenario Section.