Dana White’s Contender Series 41 Preview, Odds, and Betting Analysis

Dana Whites' Contender Series - MMA Cage - Hand Holding Money

We’re on for another week of fight finishers at DWCS 41. This card is headlined by Lukasz Sudolski vs Igor Poterya, with an average finishing ratio of 74%. I’m most excited for Kuniev, the Dagestani champion that could be the Heavyweight answer to Khabib. Among the favorites, we dive deep into the much-awaited debut of Chris Duncan, the 7-0 striker with a 100% finishing ratio.

These bouts are taking place on September 28th, 2021 at UFC Apex. We’re picking apart the stats, fight history, fighting style, and payouts for all five fights. First, our main event between Sudolski and Poterya.

Light Heavyweight – Lukasz Sudolski vs Igor Poterya

Lukasz Sudolski Igor Poterya
-200 Odds +170
28 Age 25
6’4″ Height 6’3″
8-0 Record 19-2
1 / 5, 80% Submissions / TKO, Finish % 6 / 8, 66%

Since the opening odds, Lukasz is +7% and Igor -10%. This indicates changes in fighter confidence and the spread of bets placed by the public on each fighter. Oddsmakers for this fight want to make Lukasz a more attractive bet.

  • Lukasz Sudolski is an undefeated striker from the Berserker team, a massive school with satellite locations and fighters all over Poland. The UFC’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz is one of the primary BJJ coaches employed there.
  • Igor Poterya is from the Legat school in the Caucasus and is one of only two registered fighters. However, his Instagram profile shows him traveling to different gyms, training everywhere from Extreme Couture to Aurum Pro Club in Ukraine.

The quality of the fighters they’ve faced is varying. Igor has fought twelve fighters with no record at all, indicating they were making their debut versus Igor, or with losing records. This accounts for 57.1% of all wins from Igor.

Lukasz appeared as a ​​-400 favorite against Joachim Christensen on March 26th, 2021. Neither fighter has a history of fight odds outside of this bout.

Lukasz has fought only one fighter at a debut, and one fighter with a losing record. Even the losing record fighter, Michal Gutowski, has beaten some other decent prospects and simply takes hard fights.

Early in Igor’s career, he took losses in 2015 and 2017. Evgeniy Vyatoha is no longer active but went on to go 5-3, beating no other major competitors. Vadim Shabadash now fights for ACA, a Russian MMA organization. He has lost all bouts, but did defeat two undefeated fighters ( 3-0 and 6-0 ) at the M-1 Challenge in 2018, 2019.

It’s clear to me that Lukasz is the favorite on paper in every regard. He’s overcome tougher fighters, hasn’t lost, is more physically imposing, and has the better finishing percentage.

In reviewing their fight tape:

Lukasz sports straight punches, and a decent jab. That’s more than we can say for many light heavyweights. He uses trips and bumps in the clench, does not gas out easily, and has shown that when taken down his BJJ is adequate to threaten finishes and create stand-up opportunities.

Lukasz shows few weaknesses, but clenching in ranges that he should be blocking punches, and over-aggression against grounded opponents are among them.

Igor Poterya has almost no MMA footage available online. What I am able to find isn’t certainly Igor. We’ll have to go off his stat sheet alone.

A $0.50 per dollar return on an undefeated fighter is tough to beat, especially considering the opponent is untested. I’m assuming they found Igor through a gym recommendation rather than a scout, so we have to assume he’s talented on the mat. Still, I’m fairly confident in Lukasz.

I pick Lukasz Sudolski -200

Lightweight – Manuel Gaxhja vs Chris Duncan

Manuel Gaxhja Chris Duncan
+270 Odds -330
24 Age 26
5’8″ Height 5’10”
7-0 Record 7-0
2 / 2, 57.1% Submissions / TKO, Finish % 1 / 6, 100%

Since the opening odds, Manuel is +9% and Duncan is -15%.

We have to step back and look at the fighters’ records and fight performances before addressing the absurd 100% finishing rate of Chris Duncan so we can place our bet objectively. Of course, this should be considered but shouldn’t be the only factor we base our bet on.

  • Manuel Gaxhja is from the KOPS Gym in the Netherlands. It’s the same gym as UFC and Bellator fighters Gregor Mousasi and Costello van Steenis. He’s been with the gym since his first win and is in good company for both striking and grappling.
  • Chris Duncan is in MXP fitness in Scotland, a gym where he is the only major fighter. He’s worked the past month with 4 Corner Boxing, a gym that produces several K-1 athletes.

Manuel has fought for regional competitions in Albania and Greece. His opponent pool has been four fighters making their fight debut, and two fighters with losing records. For some of these fighters it was their first and only bout, for others it was their last bout in records of less than five fights.

Chris Duncan has won three fights for Bellator and won the regional Ultimate Fight League Championship for lightweight. He does have one amateur loss, way back in 2014. Including his amateur record, he is on a 14 fight winning streak.

There are fighters that Chris fought as an amateur with more pedigree than any of Manuel’s opponents.

Chris has appeared as the favorite twice, a -135 against Will Currie in Caged Warriors and a -220 against Lamik Fertado of Bellator. No fight odds history has been recorded for Manuel.

Chris Duncan pays out $0.30 per dollar wagered and seems like a sure bet. I’ll be looking for a parlay with my other most confident pick on the card.

I pick Chris Duncan at -330

Middleweight – Aaron Jeffery vs Caio Borralho

Aaron Jeffery Caio Borralho
-140 Odds +120
28 Age 18
6’2″ Height 6’1″
10-2 Record 8-1
1 / 7, 66.7% Submissions / TKO, Finish % 3 / 1, 44.5%

Since the opening odds, Aaron is +58% and Caio is -39%, indicating a strong loss in confidence for an Aaron Jeffery win.

  • Aaron Jeffery is a well-rounded striker out of Niagra Top Team, home of DWCS winner Jasmine Jasudavicius. He’s considered #6 of unsigned pro middleweights in the US.
  • Ciao Borralho is a BJJ black belt fighting out of Combat Club. It’s unclear if this is Combat Club Brazil or Florida. For this fight, he’s been at Roninjutsu Martial Arts in Nevada.

Aaron is on a four-fight win streak after an RNC submission loss to the now UFC signed 17-4 Brendan Allen at their DWCS meet in July 2019. Aaron’s recent competition includes serving up Andre Petroski his only MMA loss in LFA and a decision win over 10-3 Collin Huckbody in March of 2021. His odds versus Petroski were -215 and he was a +500 underdog against Allen. He’s also met up with Sean Brady, a now 14-0 UFC welterweight way back in 2015.

Caio is on a seven-fight winning streak. His recent three-fight run in Future MMA has put him up against two undefeated fighters whom he beat by decision, and 6-3 Otavio Sagas. Caio has no fight odds history. His one loss to Joao Carvalho was in 2015 in a time before Caio appears to have developed a style of any kind, similar to the Aaron vs Brady fight.

Caio hunts for the submission, but would rather knock opponents down with strikes than work for takedowns.

Fighting Style:

Caio has an almost Taekwondo stance. He bounces in a bladed striking position, blending long shifting strikes and kicks from way outside. He’s fast. His laser accuracy reminds me of a young Lyoto Machida.

Jeffery sports classic boxing and a solid right cross. He occasionally blends the leg kick, but I doubt it will play a major role as Jeffery threw it only twice against his only other BJJ black belt opponent Bruno Asis as a means of avoiding the takedown.

What changed my mind on this fight was the Petroski bout. Petroski had success against Aaron using retreat and re-enter style striking and Aaron had no answer. It wasn’t until the clench exchanges that Aaron landed some beautiful defensive elbows that turned the tide of the fight.

Aaron Jeffery can be submitted and I think his striking isn’t where Caio’s is. I see a submission or decision win for Ciao. I do believe Jeffery has the experience advantage and has fought more talented athletes. This is a step in the right direction for Borralho.

I pick Ciao Borralho at +145

Lightweight – Lucas Almeida vs Daniel Zellhuber

Lucas Almeida Daniel Zellhuber
+165 Odds -190
30 Age 22
5’11” Height 6’1″
12-0 Record 11-0
3 / 7, 80% Submissions / TKO, Finish % 2 / 7, 81.8%

Since the opening odds Lucas is +58% and Daniel is -40%.

Lucas Almeida is fighting out of Herman Gutierrez Team, the former home of several UFC alumni and over thirty active fighters. He’s primarily fought for Brazilian organizations Jungle Fight and Max Fight.

Daniel Zellhuber trains under Raul Romero, a striking centered coach from Mexico. He’s fought for Mexican organizations like LUX and Combate. His performances there make him the #7 lightweight in Mexico.

Fight Record:

Lucas’s record consists of three fighters making a debut and four with losing records, one of them as recent as three fights ago in 2018. His last two have included a win over 11-3 Nicco Coccucio and 13-6 Bruno Tavares, who recently lost a tough bout to Thiago Silva. His TKO win over ​​Guilherme Miranda showed that he can manage high-level BJJ. Lucas was taken down early in the fight and found a way to scramble to his feet.

Daniel’s last win was over a fighter making their pro debut. He’s defeated one undefeated fighter who is now on a four-fight losing streak. In recent bouts, Daniel faced Alexander Barahona, a fighter of the same affiliation as UFC’s Augusto Montaño.

It’s clear Lucas has faced tougher opponents. However, Zellhuber has been far more active. He’s faced two opponent’s in 2020 and one earlier this year. Lucas Almeida hasn’t fought since 2019. It’s great for a fighter’s body, recovering from small injuries and hopefully making gains in conditioning and technique. There isn’t a way to tell how things like ring rust or time spent not training during the past twenty-three months of inactivity will affect Almeida.

Lucas has great forward pressure and good pacing. He won a five-round title fight causing the opponent to simply quit in the fifth. His hands sit low and he takes shots from less experienced strikers. He’s also very easy to bully. Many fighters press him to the fence early. His wrestling seems scrambly and inconsistent, though his cage takedown defense is on par.

Daniel Zellhuber is lanky and kicks from the outside. His Muay Thai clench is useful because of his height.

Where most fighters need to worry about uppercuts and overhands, Zellhuber is often out of range with a 6’1’’ frame. Zellhuber will often start to lose fights to pressure fighters. He was being outpointed each moment of the fight against Salvador Izar until a fight-changing knee was landed by Zellhuber late in the second round.

This is tough to call. I’m looking closely at their strengths and weaknesses:

Daniel Zellhuber Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Long arms and legs for a lightweight
  • Durable, young, and willing to exchange
  • Gets taken down often, relies too heavily on closed guard BJJ
  • Unrefined defensive striking, little to no head movement
  • $0.53 per dollar wagered payout
  • Undefeated Muay Thai Record
  • Brown Belt in BJJ

Lucas Almeida Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Professional kickboxing bouts, high striking acumen
  • Forward moving aggression
  • Reduced effectiveness in the clench
  • Quality wrestling against the cage, poor wrestling in the open
  • Proven submission defense
  • $1.65 per dollar wagered payout
  • Brown Belt in BJJ

The risk-reward ratio for Lucas isn’t compelling for me. I have to be willing to bet he’s been training consistently for two years without any evidence, which is tough to do for a mid-level fighter, as they’re often still working full time alongside their road to the top.

I pick Daniel Zellhuber -190

Heavyweight – Rizvan Kuniev vs Edivan Santos

Rizvan Kuniev Edivan Santos
-250 Odds +210
28 Age 29
6’4″ Height 6’4″
10-2-1 Record 12-2
1 / 4, 38.4% Submissions / TKO, Finish % 2 / 7, 64%

Since the opening odds, Kuniev is -19% and Edivan is +18%.

Kuniev fights out of the Dagestani team Gorets FT. He’s in the company of fighters like the UFC’s Ramazan Emeev and formerly Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Edivan Santos fights out of Espaço Religião da Luta, a relatively unknown Brazilian mma school.

Kuniev has primarily fought for smaller Russian organizations like Eagles Nest and Gorilla Fighting Championship. His quality of opponent varies wildly, from fighters making a debut to Shamil Absomov, the heavyweight champion of GFC after the Battle on the Volga tournament.

In his last bout, Rizvan Kuniev finished 11-4 Vladimir Dayneko with strikes in the first round.

Edivan is on a ten-fight win streak against fighters that have losing records and debuts. Only three fighters had winning records and all three had less than four fights. Two of these ten wins were against Davi Lucas, fighting him when Davi was 0-8 and 0-10. These bouts are clearly for lack of opponent and a hope of beefing up a record for attention from bigger shows.

Edivan’s fight versus Kerrison Baby was ruled a no contest, though it was the most competitive fight Edivan has had since his last loss.

Kuniev has an 11-2 amateur record and is currently on an eight-fight win streak. His losses include Darko Stosic, who went 1-3 in UFC and then went on to win three straight for KSW. He was a classic Gorets style wrestler with heavy pressure and intense ground and pound but has evolved into a striker who enjoys a full stack of MMA skills, sporting a decent jab and accurate head kicks from outside the pocket.

It’s clear to me that Kuniev has a serious experience advantage. He’s fought fighters far better than Edivan, and shows technical ability far beyond knocking out first-time fighters.

Kuniev’s last win over Vladimir Dayneko made him the EFC heavyweight champion, causing a corner retirement by Dayneko at the end of round three. He won every exchange and all fifteen minutes of the fight until that point against a game competitor with wins over other Gorets fighters and the UFC’s Anthony Hamilton.

Edivan’s most impressive win is Thiago Florino, a 5-3 Brazilian who has no high profile wins but is an athlete and fight finisher.

I pick Rizvan Kuniev -250

Best Parlay for DWCS 41

My blend of most confident bets includes:

PARLAY

  • Fighter Odds
  • Rizvan Kuniev -250
  • Ciao Borralho +145
  • Chris Duncan -330

This parlay offers $3.46 per dollar wagered, an increase of $1.21 per dollar wagered in betting each fight individually.

Thanks for joining us in another fight analysis, and as always leave a comment below for something you’d like to see covered next time. Enjoy the fights and good luck!

Place Your Bets Now!

Jacob Clark / Author

Jacob Clark had a 15 year career as a professional MMA fighter, coach, and Greg Jackson’s alum. Now, TikTok’s 12th most important BJJ influencer is bringing his sports and betting knowledge to you here at TheSportsGeek. He spends his time cooking vietnamese food and playing D&D with his family. You can meet him at jiu-jitsu open mats all over Indiana.

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