Fight Study (9/4/21)
The UFC’s middleweight division will be featured on Saturday when the division’s 7th ranked contender, Darren Till, faces the 5th ranked contender, Derek Brunson, in the Main Event of Fight Night 191. Both men are looking to work their way toward a title fight with a win here. Till is the betting favorite of the two, and he is also the more expensive DFS play with a salary of $8,800 on DraftKings and $21 on Fanduel. Brunson is available for $7,400 and $15 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight is scheduled for 5 rounds of MMA action, but current odds suggest this one ends sooner as a -205 favorite to end before reaching a decision.
Till has a career record of 18-3-1 with 10 wins by KO/TKO, 2 wins by submission, and 6 wins by decision. He has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, however. Since the start of 2018, he is 2-3 with an average of just 30.4 FPPF (DraftKings scoring). He fought primarily as a welterweight but moved up to 185 lb. for his last two fights. He is 1-1 in his new weight class after winning a split decision over Kelvin Gastelum in 2019 and losing to Robert Whittaker in 2020. After starting his career with a record of 17-0-1, he seems to have lost his confidence after tasting his first defeat back in September of 2018. If he loses to Brunson, he is likely to lose his ranking in the division.
Brunson has a professional record of 22-7 with 12 wins by KO/TKO, 3 wins by submission, and 7 wins by decision. He is currently on a 4 fight win streak and has already notched a win in 2021 with a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Holland in March. In each win over that span, Brunson was the betting underdog, and he is the underdog again on Saturday. Also, over that span, he scored 16 takedowns while averaging 103.6 FPPF (DraftKings scoring). It would seem that increasing the wrestling in his game has contributed to his current win streak. Brunson will also have a 1-inch height advantage as well as a 2.5-inch reach advantage over Till on Saturday.
Against Whittaker, Till defended 13 takedown attempts – allowing 2 of them. Although Whittaker was unsuccessful in finishing his takedowns, he was able to neutralize Till’s offense with strong wrestling. It also opened things up for Whittaker’s striking. Whittaker threw 157 strikes to Till’s 99, and he landed 69 significant strikes to Till’s 41. Brunson stands taller than Whittaker and has a much longer reach. If Brunson is able to keep Till off-balance with his wrestling, his striking will come easily for him. Given his advantage in length, Brunson should be able to keep at a distance on his feet, while shooting for takedowns if Till tries to step inside his reach. Brunson should be able to control Till with his length and with his wrestling.
In DFS contests, I have little love for Till in this matchup. He is trending downward and has averaged just over 30 FPPF since the start of 2018. Whittaker exposed his weaknesses and Brunson is very capable of executing a similar game plan. I believe Till’s confidence has been shaken, and I like Brunson to get the upset in this fight. In DFS contests, Brunson is going to get a lot of exposure for my money in all formats and on both platforms. Till could be worth minimal exposure in multi-entry contests, but for my money I will lean toward fading him entirely. Brunson has been disrespected by the oddsmakers in this fight, and I like him to win this one with relative ease. If this were 2017, I would make this fight a close one, but Till is not the fighter he once was and the path to victory is an obvious one for Brunson.
That’s all for this edition of Fight Study. Good luck with your lineups! For more advice on DFS contests for MMA, click HERE.