Fight Study – October 10, 2020
The number four ranked bantamweight contender, Cory Sandhagen, faces the number one ranked bantamweight contender, Marlon Moraes, in a fight that figures to earn a title shot for the victor. Moraes is likely feeling slighted after Petr Yan and Jose Aldo were both given a chance at the title vacated by Henry Cejudo before Moraes despite his being the top ranked contender. Additionally, he is the underdog in this fight and I expect he will have a chip on his shoulder for this matchup on Saturday. As the favorite, Sandhagen is the higher priced fighter on both DraftKings and Fanduel. He is priced at $8,200 and $21 respectively on the two platforms. Moraes is priced at $8,000 and $19. This fight is scheduled for five rounds, but the odds suggest it won’t go the full 25 minutes as the fight is a -205 favorite to end before reaching the judges’ scorecards.
Sandhagen is coming off of a loss to Aljamain Sterling where he was submitted inside of 90 seconds. It was his first loss in seven fights and his record in the UFC is currently at 5-1. Sandhagen is a tall bantamweight and will have a five inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage on Moraes. Understandably, he will be looking to strike from distance against Moraes who has knockout power inside the pocket and a very accomplished submission game. If Sandhagen can maintain distance, however, he should run away with this fight. That will be no easy task against a fighter of Moraes’ caliber.
Moraes is 23-6 overall and 5-2 in the UFC. In his 23 victories, he has 16 finishes with 10 wins by KO/TKO and 6 wins by submission. Over his last 20 fights he has only lost to Raphael Assuncao (by split decision) and Henry Cejudo (by TKO). Over his last five fights he has three first round finishes (two by KO and one by submssion). At age 32 Moraes is in his fighting prime and he will be looking to get a shot at the current champion, Petr Yan, with a victory on Saturday. Moraes is one of the strongest, hardest hitting bantamweights in the UFC and he has a strong submission game to pair with his standup.
Sandhagen’s strategy is pretty clear in this fight. He will look to maintain distance and leverage his height and reach advantages. Moraes will be the one who will be forced to pressure Sandhagen. If he can work himself into range, Moraes can trade with the best of them. He may have to absorb some punishment to accomplish this, however. His chin is up to the task as Moraes has just one loss by KO/TKO (to then champ Cejudo) dating back to 2008. Once inside the pocket, Moraes will be a danger to score a KO and to execute takedowns to initiate his submission game. Sandhagen is a solid grappler, but figures to have the lesser ground game of the two.
In DFS contests, this fight figures to be high scoring for the winner. Over five rounds, a decision loss may still come with a decent score and this fight does present some opportunity to roster both fighters in the same lineup, but double dipping this fight is very risky given it is a favorite to end inside the distance. Both fighters are worthy of exposure in GPP contests, but for my money I will be giving Moraes more lineups. He is cheaper and I think this fight is even closer than the odds would indicate. Both fighters are also playable in cash lineups. Given the near average pricing of both fighters on DraftKings, this fight has much more value there then on Fanduel where both fighters are priced well above average. However, with the additional rounds available to accumulate scoring, this fight should figure into GPP strategy on all formats.