Fight Study (3/27/21)
This bantamweight contest features Thomas Almeida against Sean O’Malley from the UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. Both fighters are coming off of losses, and the oddsmakers have made O’Malley the biggest favorite of all fighters on Saturday. He will also carry the biggest salary on both DFS platforms. He is priced at $9,200 on DraftKings and $23 on Fanduel. Almeida comes in cheaply at $7,000 and $8 respectively. This fight is set for three rounds, however, current odds indicate a good probability this fight will end without reaching a decision as it is a -205 favorite to end inside the distance.
After starting his UFC career with 4 straight victories, Almeida became one of the the most highly hyped fighters in the division. Since then, however, he has gone 1-4 over his next 5 fights and has lost his last 3 fights. His last win came in November of 2016. Overall, he has a record of 22-4 with 17 wins by KO/TKO, 4 wins by submission and 1 win by decision. With 21 finishes to his credit, it is easy to understand the hype he had created. He is still not yet 30-years-old and there is plenty of time for him to right the ship. First he must contend with O’Malley who is a phenom in his own regard at the tender age of 26. To get a win on Saturday, Almeida must solve his opponent’s 4 inch height advantage and 2 inch reach advantage.
O’Malley is 12-1 overall with 8 wins by KO/TKO, 1 win by submission and 3 wins by decision. He has some of the most dangerous feet in the division and at only an inch shy of six feet tall, his leg reach (72 inches) is one of the longest the bantamweight division has ever seen. It is his kicks that have made him such a danger to opponents and without them he loses a great deal of his arsenal in the octagon. In March of 2018, O’Malley injured his right foot and did not return to the octagon for two years. Upon his return, O’Malley earned two first round wins over Jose Quinonez and Eddie Wineland, but lost in August of last year in his third fight after the injury. In that fight, he injured his right foot again. That injury cost him the fight. At his best, O’Malley is a very scary fighter, however, his injury history brings into question his durability and makes one wonder if it will take it’s toll on his confidence in kicking with that foot.
If O’Malley is fully recovered and is at his best, he is clearly the favorite against Almeida who seems to have lost his mojo. However, if his ability to use his right foot is limited at all or his confidence in it has diminished, his career in the UFC is in doubt. If his kicking threat is reduced, Almeida will be ready to exploit that and a rather large upset could be in the works. Recurring injuries like these have a way of getting into fighter’s heads, and if O’Malley is mentally compromised the results can be as bad as any physical impairment. I don’t have any reason to assume this is the case, but this is an issue to be wary of on Saturday. Almeida’s chances in this fight should not be overlooked.
Given his history of injuries, I believe cautious optimism is in order for O’Malley. He should get decent exposure in GPP contests, but a bit of restraint may be the best strategy here. His nosebleed salaries demand high scoring to bring value to lineups, and if he is compromised at all DFS players need to exercise some discretion. Conversely, Almeida may present an opportunity at a super low price. Again, use discretion, but consider a measured number of lineups for both sides of this fight in multi-entry contests. I believe O’Malley is ready to go or he wouldn’t be stepping into the octagon, but sometimes only battle testing an injury can really demonstrate a fighter’s readiness. This is a fight to approach cautiously in DFS contests.
For more Fight Study, be sure to keep your eye on FantasyCruncher.com leading up to UFC 260 on March 27.
UFC 260: FIGHT #3, Almeida vs O’Malley
For Fight Study on UFC 260: FIGHT #2, Luque vs Woodley, click HERE.
For Fight Study on UFC 260: FIGHT #4, Maverick vs Robertson, click HERE.