UFN 96: Lineker vs Dodson- ”Throwing Bombs and Taking Names”

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A fight filled night of fights filled the arena for UFC Fight Night 96 in Portland, Oregon. John Dodson and John Lineker beat each other’s faces in for 5-rounds before going to a split decision. Alex Oliveira picked up the biggest win of his career and immediately dumped all over it, and upsets (7), stoppages (5), and split decisions (4) were all over the place. Let’s take a look at my Top 5 takeaways from UFC Portland.

#5. Upset Alert: Fili tops Dias

Nova Uniao’s Hacran Dias couldn’t grind his way to another close decision win. Instead, Andre Fili of rival camp Team Alpha Male, routinely scored on the feet, hurt Dias on multiple occasions, and even executed a perfect counter throw to floor his adversary late in round 2. The win for Fili continues to show a shift away from top position control routinely trumping damage done on the feet. Dias was able to hold Fili on the mat on multiple occasions, but he simply didn’t do enough with the superior position.

#4. Nate Marquardt KO’s McCrory

Just when it seems like Nate Marquart is done in the UFC, he pulls off another massive victory. “The Great” was finding success early with his takedowns, but spent the majority of the time on the defensive once they hit the ground. As Joe Rogan pointed out in the Dollaway win; one of the last aspects of an older fighter to go is their power- that held true again tonight. McCory has now been knocked out in back to back fights, so another UFC outing might not be in the cards.

#3. Short Notice? No Problem!

In addition to Andre Fili picking up a win as an injury replace, a pair of UFC newcomers stepped up to plate and knocked it out of the park. Zak Ottow defeated long-time veteran Josh Burkman via split decision is a close but uneventful bout. Considering his current struggles, this type of loss could end Burkman run inside the Octagon.

Louis Smolka lost out on a huge fight with Sergio Pettis and then saw his 4-fight winning streak and Top 10 spot in the rankings evaporate in just under half a round. Brandon Moreno came out very aggressive and Smolka seemed almost complacent to his early grappling advances. When Louis attempted to make his move to a better position, Moreno jumped on a guillotine and choked him out. The 22-yeard old TUF 24 alumni probably won’t jump into the Top 10 with the win, but he certainly made some early waves. Smolka is young, but he will need to put some work in to reestablish himself in the division.

#2. An Ugly Win

A win is a win, but Alex Oliveira’s post-fight antics combined with his inability to make weight certainly left a bad taste in the mouth of many on Saturday night. In the cage, “Cowboy” did an excellent job of shutting down the grappling reliant attack of former Bellator champion Will Brooks. Oliveira suggested after the fight that he would return to Welterweight for his next fight. Brooks was compromised by an injured rib that probably lead to the finish, but he certainly will take a couple big steps back in is pursuit of title contention.

#1. You Can’t Beat What You Can’t Catch…Or can you?

John Lineker built his name as a destroyer of worlds, with face melting power capable of ending anyone’s night if he can connect. John Dodson is known for being one of the more elusive fighters in the division, difficult to catch and even harder to hit. On Saturday night, when those two forces came together- it was Lineker who got the last laugh. While he was unable to stop “The Magician”, he did throw more volume and press forward enough to earn a split decision win over a surprised Dodson. The fight really could have gone either way, with both men having their high points. This is another example of offense trumping defense. In the post-fight, Lineker called out Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz for his shot at the title. While many will still point to the “you can’t hit what you can’t catch” mantra to deflate the Brazilian’s chances- this fight certainly helped to show that Lineker can handle the type of fighter that is unwilling to sit down and throw hammers until someone falls over. I would like to see Lineker take on TJ Dillashaw next, if they do opt to pair Cruz and Garbrandt up for the next title fight at 135 pounds.

Final Thoughts

This was a tough card to handicap, with so many debuting fighter or at least many with limited Octagon experience. Despite going 6-6, I am not nearly as disappointed in my performance. There were seven underdogs that came through and several other near pick’em fights that could have gone either way. The Nakamura loss was a killer, crippling my Gold Parlays. He was dominant early, but couldn’t do enough to secure a second round. Yet again we are left with 4 Parlays falling 1-leg short. But on the positive side; 3 of the top 4 value Bets cashed including my #1 play on Lineker and my prop bets had a nice return as well. The parlays are just a small part of the Bet Pack, but it would be nice to get them producing on a consistent basis. The clock is already ticking down the hours and minutes until UFC 204 kicks off, no time to waste.


Parlay Header

Parlay #1- Lower Risk
Selection 1:  John Lineker +113 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2:  Keita Nakamura -124 
Price: +284 Bet: 12 units
Payout: 34.17 units
Parlay #2- Higher Risk
Selection 1:  John Lineker +113 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Keita Nakamura -124 
Selection 3: Ion Cutelaba -152 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +538 Bet: 8 units
Payout: 48.41 units
Parlay #1- Lower Risk
Selection 1: Louis Smolka to Win Inside the Distance -185 
Selection 2: Joachim Christensen +125 
Selection 3: Kelly Faszholz -111 
Price: +559  x Bet: 8 units
Payout: 44.71 units
Parlay #1- Higher Risk
Selection 1: Andre Fili +165 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Shamil Abdurakimov -122 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Louis Smolka to Win Inside the Distance -185 
Price: +643  x Bet: 7 units 
Payout: 45 units
Parlay #1
Selection 1: Alex Oliveira +265 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 2: Keita Nakamura to Win by Submission +255 
Selection 3: Nate Marquardt/Tamdan McCrory Total Rounds Under 1.5 -115 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +2322  x Bet: 5 units
Payout: 116.12 units
Parlay #1
Selection 1: John Dodson/John Lineker Total Rounds Under 2.5 +110 
Selection 2: Ion Cutelaba -152 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Selection 3: Joachim Christensen +125 
Selection 4: Andre Fili +165 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Price: +1967  x Bet: 6 units 
Payout: 118.55 units


Draftkings Line up

Draftkings Lineup
Fighter 1: John Lineker $8100 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 2: Louis Smolka $9400 
Fighter 3: Joachim Christensen $70000 
Fighter 4: Keita Nakamura $8400 
Fighter 5: Tamdan McCrory $8200 
Fighter 6: Kelly Faszholz $8600 
Salary Remaining:
Potential Subs
Fighter 1: Shamil Abdurakimov $7400 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med
Fighter 2: Ion Cutelaba $8700 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med


John Dodson -118 vs John Lineker +113 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

We finish the night off with what will most likely be my #1 value bet. Lineker hits like a monster, but most people will point to Dodson’s speed and subsequent elusivness to counter that power. That won’t be the case here. Dodson is fast- no questions there. That speed makes up for a lack of technical acumen, specifically a jab. He looks awesome when he stops guys, but people start to talk about off-performances when he goes the distance. Lineker has an iron chin and Dodson’s record in decisions is pretty weak for an elite fighter Excluding MM, both Makovsky and Elliott gave him all sorts of issues. Makovsky was tagging him over and over as he came in and if Lineker hits him, it will be an entirely different story. Look for JL to crack him, hurt him, and start to pile up the damage. The power that Lineker launches, especially to the body, will slow Dodson down. Even if we don’t get a knockout, Lineker is going to dictate the pace and that will weigh heavier with the judges then what Dodson will offer. I will be presenting a pair of Gold Parlays- Lineker is in both of them.


With the changes to the Fantasy MMA, 6 players per team, I am going to post just a single team with a couple of potential subs if you are looking to diversify. Lineker makes the team. The guy has massive stopping power and over 5-rounds he should be able to land with regularity and pile up the output point. Dodson has given up some big striking totals over 3-round fights and DJ lit him up over 5. I expect a finish and with so many people backing Dodson, Linker is a perfect play to score big points while his opponent puts up a goose egg.


Alex Oliveira +265 vs Will Brooks -275 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

I was on Brooks originally here, but every time I looked at a scenario in this fight I preferred what Oliveira offer. He is far more active when standing at range, with more power, and a longer reach. He also works a lot in the clinch and keeps pushing forward. That is an area that both Pearson and Dave Jansen were having a lot of success in against Brooks. Oliveira leaves a lot of openings defensively that Brooks could exploit. If Ill Will opts to use his wrestling he could grind this fight out for a full 3-rounds. I favour Oliveira’s aggression, power, and pace to edge this fight out. Still going to be a tough fight- Bronze Parlay.

*Update: Oliveira missed weight by 5.5 pounds, but the fight is still on. Missing by that much will add to his size advantage and suggests that he didn’t drain himself too much trying to get down to the limit in the final hour. His value increased, which I like that much more.


No Play here.

Joshua Burkman -225 vs Zak Ottow +211 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Nothing here. I don’t trust Burkman in this fight and while Ottow is short notice debutant- he has the grappling game to edge this fight out. This is a good bout to stay far away from.


See Above.

Brandon Moreno +389 vs Louis Smolka -400 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Playing a side bet here isn’t really an option. Smolka should win this fight, but laying this type of chalk is hardly worth the risk. I will pass here, but I certainly will take a long look at a prop bet.


While not a realistic betting option, Smolka is another must-have player for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, with multiple Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight fights on the card- the Flyweights are going to be keyed on by the vast majority of players. That should help create a unique point scoring opportunity. Just as important, Smolka finishes fights! The guy has finished better opposition than what his current opponent represents. I expect to him end this fight quickly. If they do go the full 5-rounds Smolka carries a torrid pace full of strikes, takedowns, and position advancement. There are new point values for MMA and Smolka is going to put them to the test!

Joachim Christensen +125 vs Luis Henrique da Silva -122 

This fight could be awful fun and a little (read as a lot) on the sloppy side. When LHDS is unable to get his opponent out of there quickly, he turns to the Homer Simpson approach to fighting- let my opponent hit me until they fall down. The other scenario is that he dishes out his own damage during the onslaught and his foe is unable to hold up as well as he does. Or a combination of both- damage and exhaustion. Christensen has never been finished and has a heck of a lot more experience in longer fights than LHDS does. I like Christensen to start strong and keep coming. He will score points early that will either lead to a finish or create a scenario where the Brazilian can’t win a decision. I don’t like backing a fighter that is as sloppy both on the feet and on the mat as LHDS is.  Despite the fact that Christensen is debuting, he will fall into the Silver section as part of my higher risk Silver parlay.


I also have him on my DK team. He is cheap at just $7000 and could potentially finish his foe, who was dropped in his last fight. Christensen’s aggressive striking and LHDS’s porous defense should equate to a big score. Additionally, “who the F is Joachim Christensen?”- will be a popular statement by most players. This fight will either be a pass or a play on the Brazilian who has finished everyone he has faced.

Andre Fili +165 vs Hacran Dias -172 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Dias has a clear path to victory, but he seems to be 100% committed to avoiding his wrestling game at all cost- unless provoked. His vertical output is just not good enough on its own. He has to augment it with takedowns and Fili’s counter wrestling is pretty decent. Fili is the much longer and rangier fighter with a more complete striking attack. He also hits harder. I expect to see him do enough damage on the feet that his opponent isn’t able to close the gap with takedowns. Fili gets the biggest win of his career against an opponent that elects not to fight to his strengths. Silver Section.


No Play here. Fili has good finishing numbers and could stop Dias, but I think there are better Fantasy options available.

Shamil Abdurakimov -122 vs Walt Harris +109 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Opinions are split on this fight. Some people feel that the lack of a strong wrestling game on  Abdurakimov’s part opens the door for Harris to beat him. I feel it is the opposite scenario, with Abdurakimov ‘s volume striking as the key to his victory. Harris hits hard, but he tends to let his opponent outwork him. East was putting up some good numbers before Harris cracked him and scored the stoppage. You can’t rely on that at this level to win you fights consistently. Look for Abdurakimov to outwork him start to finish. The key will be getting out of the opening round for Shamil and maintaining his pace against a fighter that has never scored a victory after the 5-minute mark. At LHW, one punch can change a fight- but I like the many punches of Abdurakimov to get it done. Silver Section.


The Big Russian didn’t make my top 6, but he is a valid sub if you want to mix him in in place of Christensen. He can finish and Harris has been stopped twice. If they do go deeper, the output for Shamil will be decent over 15-minutes. Not earth-shattering, but decent. I like to stay away from HWs and LHWs when there are similarily priced options with finishing potential in a lighter weight class.

Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos +130 vs Keita Nakamura -124

I really like Nakamura here. He didn’t start all that well in each of his last 2 fights, but Zaleski is a bit of a slow starter too. It will be all about the takedowns in this fight. Zaleski can’t defend them and Nakamura is very strong once he scores them. Whether Keita submits him or scores multiple takedowns and prolonged top control on route to a decision win- he should control this fight start to finish. Zaleski relied on his power to overcome his defensive grappling issues, but “K-Taro” is pretty darn durable and can do his own damage on the feet. When he is standing, I expect to see Zaleski’s offense stunted by the TD threat. Gold Play.


Nakamura knows how to finish and should be in position to do so on multiple occasions. He doesn’t come off as a big hitter, so the average player might not pay a tonne of attention to him. If he can’t get the stoppage, he throws a lot and the takedowns will add up at 5 points apiece. I have him in my top 6.


Nate Marquardt +196 vs Tamdan McCrory -199 

McCrory lost a little bit of steam with such a surprising knockout against a guy that hasn’t really shown much knockout power. That being said, Marquardt is trending down and McCrory is fighter I would consider on the rise. Tamdan is aggressive and does a nice job of pushing the pace. He has power in his strikes and should be able to pile up the damage against a fighter with a badly faded chin. I am still a little concerned that the aggression of McCrory could walk him into a big right hand from Nate or a possible submission on the mat, but those are longshot scenarios that I wouldn’t bank on. McCrory at -199 isn’t a fighter I am willing to risk a lot on, but he could figure into my Bronze play as either a side or prop bet if the price is right.


I have McCrory in my Fantasy lineup. He finishes fights and Marquardt can be finished. It is pretty linear logic, but it works. If they don’t end this fight early, Nate tends to turn into a bit of a punching bag in the second half which should produce points as well. I am banking on the finish here.

Ion Cutelaba -152 vs Jonathan Wilson +143 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Wilson’s leaky regional record came back to haunt him in his last fight. If he is unable to smash his opponent quickly, he doesn’t have the experience to deal with adversity or the cardio to remain effective in a longer fight. Cutelaba didn’t come from the most battle tested background either, but he faired much better in his debut against a much better opponent than anyone Wilson has thrown down with. Cutelaba is aggressive on the feet and showed that despite his early finish rate, he can still be dangerous in a longer fight. He has pop and should be the quicker fighter here. If Ion doesn’t put the stamp on Wilson early, look for him to open up and finish him a little later in the fight once he begins to slow down. I will be using Cutelaba in my Risk- Gold Parlay.


Cutelaba is a solid alternative pick. I expect a finish and it will probably come in round 1, no later than round 2. The problem is he is pricey at $8700 and with his high finishing rate, people will consider playing him here. On my team, you could consider subbing him in for Faszholz if you want to forgo the possibility of scoring unique points with a lesser picked fighter.

Cody East +206 vs Curtis Blaydes -220 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Blaydes isn’t high on my priority list here. I could see East using his wrestling in reverse and taking a decision by boxing him up for 3-rounds. Curtis took a lot of damage in his last fight and didn’t go down, so I’m not sure East can finish him. If he does, it would have to be through accumulation. More likely Blaydes either catches him on the feet or takes him down for a decision or stoppage victory. Blaydes is still a little green, so its either a No Play or a Bronze parlay inclusion at most.


We could be looking at a stoppage, but I think this fight is better left off. Heavyweights by default will get a greater inclusion.

Kelly Faszholz -111 vs Ketlen Vieira +103 

Vieira is an undefeated fighter that is debuting while taking a step up in competition. Faszholz made her debut already and did it against a very capable opponent with roughly 3 weeks to prep. Her performance was pretty solid and could have been a win or at least a draw had she got to the bell. I expect a better performance out of Kelly against a more appropriate opponent based on the current point of her career. Her volume striking should push a fighter that is normally able to run over her opposition quickly. It shows up in the second half of the fight. We are getting a solid line here, I like her in my Silver section.


I took Faszholz to beat Murphy in her debut and I think she finishes Vieira here. With 4 pro fights, a debut where she was finished, and the fact that she is a 115 pound female fighter- most people won’t be lining up to play her. I think the potential for a finish here is great and her volume striking will score points. She could also pick up a few 5-point takedowns. I question why Vieira wasn’t on the Brazil card one week earlier if they feel she is going to be solid bet to this fight. That might be an indicator of the concerns that the UFC has for her winning this fight.


1. Louis Smolka -400 

2. John Lineker +113 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

3. Keita Nakamura -124 

4. Tamdan McCrory -199 

5. Shamil Abdurakimov -122 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med


6. Andre Fili +165 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

7. Joshua Burkman -225 

8. Joachim Christensen +125

9. Ion Cutelaba -152 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

10. Kelly Faszholz -111 

11. Curtis Blaydes -220 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

12.  Alex Oliveira +265 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

1. John Lineker +113 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

2. Andre Fili +165 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

3. Joachim Christensen +125 

4. Alex Oliveira +265 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

5. Keita Nakamura -124 

1. Cody East +206:  If East can stay vertical he can win this fight, but that is a big IF. He might be worth considering as a small single bet to create some extra cash for betting later in the card.






Exclusive Bet Pack Information.

Prop Bets


John Dodson/John Lineker Total Rounds Under 2.5 +110 

This is a hard prop to overlook and if it hits and you didn’t play it, that is even tougher. Both men have significant stopping power, but it is Lineker that I am expecting to cash this bet with. Dodson has never been knocked out, but he can be hit and if Lineker can hit you, he can knockout you out. Normally, we get 1.5 rounds when dealing with “Hands of Stone”, but with a 5-round fight they have added an extra round and it is still plus money. The failed weight cut does nothing to change my opinion. Bet accordingly.

Louis Smolka to Win Inside the Distance -185 

I considered taking Smolka by submission, but I think this is the safer bet. Smolka carries an unreal pace and is quietly becoming a division darkhorse. Whether Smolka pounds him out or pounds on him and then submits him, I can’t see a short notice replacement surviving a full 3-rounds with him. I think this is a solid play that will get a look in some of my upper echelon plays.

Joachim Christensen/Luis Henrique da Silva 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

See the Betting Scenario Section.

Shamil Abdurakimov/Walt Harris Total Rounds Over 1.5 -115 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

Backing HWs to go over 1.5 rounds is risky, but considering this line is sitting somewhere between -110 and -118- the books are telling us that this fight has a much better chance to go Over than a normal HW fight. Abdurakimov has 6 decisions on his record, but overall he has gone over the total 9 times. Over his last 9 fights, he has gone to the 3rd round in 7 of them. This coincides with a step up in competition. Harris is the more dangerous 1-punch finisher,  but he still has a trio of bouts to go over the total- 2 in the UFC. This fight could easily be done before Buffer sits down, but I look for these guys to trade on the feet without really committing to anything massive. It is a risk, but considering I have Shamil to win this fight and has the longer average fight time- it is a calculated risk.

Keita Nakamura to Win by Submission +255 

I expected this play to be posted somewhere around +185- I love the value we are getting here. Nakamura has 18 wins by submission, accounting for 56% of his wins. Zaleski has been submitted twice, both by RNC- the signature submission of “K-Taro”. His TDD has looked pretty suspect and if Nakamura gets him down, he should be in a position to lock in the sub. I considered playing the Under 1.5 to keep Zaleski’s finishing skills involved, but he tends to be a slow starter so he might not be able to grab the finish until later. Nakamura gets it to the floor and gets the sub.

Nate Marquardt/Tamdan McCrory Total Rounds Under 1.5 -115 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

McCrory is very aggressive, which can both create opportunities to finish and get finished. Nate can crack and if you give him the opportunity, he can tap you out. More likely is that McCrory pushes Marquardt, hits him with some big strikes and overwhelms him for the finish. Either way, I like the Under.

Ion Cutelaba/Jonathan Wilson Total Rounds Under 1.5 -120 

Of a combined 21 fights, 16 have ended inside the opening round- 15 wins. Both of their debuts went over the 1.5 total, but this matchup is a more appropriate bout for both men- especially Cutelaba. I expect both guys to come out motivated to get back on track after tough debuts, Cutelaba is the more active striker and I expect he will be able to overwhelm Wilson. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this fight go a little deeper then expected, but the way these guys throw the Under is the play.

Cody East/Curtis Blaydes 12379140591570510706dholler_ok_svg_med

See the Betting Scenario Section.

Kelly Faszholz/Ketlen Vieira 

See the Betting Scenario Section.