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DraftKings MMA: UFC Saitama Preview
DraftKings MMA: UFC Saitama Preview

The UFC will return to Saitama, Japan for the first time since 2015 for a rare Friday night card. RotoWire MMA Analyst Jon Litterine makes his picks and breaks down the top bouts.

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Benson Henderson    Bellator    Lightweight
Henderson lost to Patricky Freire via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

Henderson's fighting style seems to always lead to controversial decisions. On some occasions, Henderson is the benefactor, and other times, he is the victim. This fight was not a robbery, but a case could be made for either fighter winning. It would be too harsh to call Henderson's run in Bellator a disaster, but he has failed to live up to expectations. After four fights, he has suffered three losses. His only victory during the stretch came when Patricio Freire was injured in the middle of the fight. It is true that Henderson has faced tough opposition, but his days in the title picture appear to be over.
Patricky Freire    Bellator    Lightweight
Freire defeated Benson Henderson via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

It might not have been the most exciting fight, but in the end Freire picked up perhaps the biggest victory of his career. He defended Henderson's takedowns well, and, in the eyes of the judges, did better work along the cage to take the decision. This performance might have been enough to earn a lightweight title shot. Champion Brent Primus will defend the belt against Michael Chandler in the near future. If Primus is able to successfully defend the belt, Freire could get a shot. However, Chandler already owns a pair of victories over Freire.
Lorenz Larkin    Bellator    Welterweight
Larkin lost to Paul Daley via TKO (punches) at 2:40 of Round 2 at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

When Larkin left the UFC and signed with Bellator many penciled him in as the future welterweight champion. After two fights, he is still looking for his first win in the promotion. After falling in his debut against welterweight champion Douglas Lima, Larkin dropped another fight here against Daley. Larkin looked solid in the first round. He used his kicking arsenal to score from the outside. However, in the second round, Daley landed with a spinning backfist and a left hook that finished the fight. Larkin has faced some of the toughest that Bellator has to offer. His next fight will likely be against a much more manageable opponent.
Paul Daley    Bellator    Welterweight
Daley defeated Lorenz Larkin via TKO (punches) at 2:40 of Round 2 at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

Anyone who fights Daley knows that they need to look out for the left hook, but it continues to finish fights over and over. Larkin took the first round in this fight. He was more active on the outside and scored with leg kicks and straight punches. The second round was another story. Daley appear to figure out the distance and go to work. He landed a spinning backfist and followed up with a left hook. Larkin was clearly hurt. Daley pounced on his opponent and finished the fight. Daley improves to 40-15-2 overall and 7-1 in Bellator. He might have done enough to earn a fight against the winner of the upcoming welterweight title fight between Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald.
Javy Ayala    Bellator    Heavyweight
Ayala lost to Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28) at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

After picking up an upset victory over Sergei Kharitonov in his last fight, Ayala was looking to shock another MMA veteran here. He put a scare into Nelson with some hard striking, but he simply could not handle the wrestling and grappling. He spent large chunks of this fight on the ground and eating strikes. Ayala has made it clear that he belongs in the Bellator heavyweight division. However, it is also clear that he will struggle against higher level fighters.
Roy Nelson    Bellator    Heavyweight
Nelson defeated Javy Ayala via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28) at Bellator 183 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.

Fantasy Analysis

In his Bellator debut, Nelson probably had more trouble with Ayala than many expected. However, he was still able to pick up the win. Ayala was in the driver's seat on the feet, but he had no answers for the ground game of "Big Country." Nelson scored takedowns in all three rounds. In the third round, he spent most of the time in side control and peppered Ayala with strikes. Nelson has a new lease on life in the shallow Bellator heavyweight division. He has clearly slowed down as a fighter, but a few more wins like this could put him in position to fight for a title.
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