UFC on ESPN 34 – April 16, 2022: Belal Muhammad vs Vicente Luque

Fight Study (4/16/22)

A title shot may be in the works for one of these welterweights when the division’s 6th ranked contender, Belal Muhammad, faces the 5th ranked contender, Vicente Luque, in Vegas on Saturday. Both men are on win streaks, but it is Luque who is favored to win this rematch (Luque won the first fight between these two in November of 2016), and he will be the more expensive play in DFS contests. Those looking to roster him may do so for $8,500 on DraftKings and $21 on Fanduel. Muhammad is available for $7,700 and $16 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight has been scheduled for 5 rounds of fight action, however, current odds make this fight a -150 favorite to conclude before reaching a decision.

Muhammad has a professional record of 20-3 with 1 no-contest decision. In his 20 wins, 4 have come by KO/TKO, 1 by submission, and 15 by decision. He is undefeated over his last 7 fights with 6 wins and a no-contest decision over that span. Of his 3 losses, 1 came at the hands of Luque when Muhammad lost by KO 79 seconds into the first round. It is fair to say that Muhammad is a better fighter now, but his striking has not caught up with Luque. To win, he will need to grapple, primarily in the clinch where he does some of his best work. On the ground, Luque’s submission game is very dangerous, and Muhammad will have to avoid anything less than a dominant position on the mat. To get there, however, he will have to contend with a 3.5-inch reach disadvantage against one of the best strikers in the UFC.

Luque has a professional record of 21-7-1 with 11 wins by KO/TKO, 8 wins by submission, and 2 wins by decision. He has won 4 straight coming into this fight, with finishes in each of those fights. He has consecutive first-round submission wins in his last two fights. This shows that he has an excellent ground game to pair with one of the best sets of hands in the welterweight division. In over 5 years to date, he has only lost once – a decision loss to Stephen Thompson (possibly the only fighter in the division with striking superior to Luque) in November of 2019. He has both speed and power in his hands, and his pressure is relentless. Since joining the UFC, he has 8 first-round finishes, and in victory, Luque has 19 finishes to just 2 decision wins. Luque is currently +105 to win inside the distance on Saturday.

Muhammad likes to keep his opponents in front of him, pressed up against the cage. He uses his striking to corral fighters into position, and then he initiates a clinch where he dominates them. This has been his M.O. for some time, and he usually earns decisions this way. Luque is not the kind of fighter this will work against. Luque applies pressure straight ahead, and won’t be easily caught in a clinch. Muhammad will need to move and present a moving target for Luque. I expect that Luque will bring his usual pressure and that Muhammad will be simply outmatched on their feet. Muhammad has a solid chin, but with 5 rounds inside the octagon with Luque, that chin will be tested to the max. As was the case in the first iteration of this matchup, I anticipate Luque will get the best of Muhammad and score a finish.

In DFS contests, Luque’s price tag on DraftKings makes him my favorite play on that platform. I think he is entirely playable on Fanduel as well, but as the 11th highest salary on DraftKings (compared to 3rd on Fanduel), his value there is tremendous. The current odds on this fight look way off in my opinion, and I believe Luque wins this fight easily. He is the superior striker with a longer reach, and he has already proven he has what it takes to finish Muhammad. Muhammad is a possible fade here, but I would consider using him sparingly in 150-max contests. Luque is worth heavy exposure due in part to his second-best scoring average of all fighters on Saturday. I like this fight to end inside of 2.5 rounds with Luque scoring the finish.

That’s all for this edition of Fight Study. Good luck with your lineups! For more advice on DFS contests for MMA, click HERE.

About Rob

Since getting out of the casino business, Rob has been playing DFS regularly with a focus on MMA and the NFL. He now lives in Denver, CO.

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