UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 255
Combat sports are one of America's longest-standing active sports to wager on. This was evident throughout the late 1900s as boxing took the sports world by storm. From Muhammed Ali to Mike Tyson, several stars were born, and Americans around the country placed bets on who would win boxing matches. Nowadays, with boxing much smaller than it was throughout the 1900s, mixed martial arts has taken the lead as America's favorite combat sport.
By far, the largest and most successful MMA organization in North America is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as UFC. The UFC lays claim to the best mixed martial artists in the world and is showcased on both cable and pay-per-view events every month. As one of the first sports to return with compliance of social distancing, UFC daily fantasy is now live on FanDuel.
numberFire is always your best place to prepare for the upcoming UFC card. In addition to this DFS helper, if you would rather bet the fights outright on FanDuel Sportsbook, Barry Cohen has you covered with his betting guide to find where to place sharp money on Saturday’s fights. To dive deeper into this week's card, also make sure to check out my thoughts on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With those tools at our disposal, let's break down UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez, which will take place on Saturday night from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.
Valentina Shevchenko ($23): Valentina Shevchenko will look for her fourth flyweight title defense on Saturday, and she sits as the widest UFC favorite of the year on FanDuel Sportsbook at -1500. Shevchenko's incredible odds to defend the belt -- including -210 to do so inside the distance -- come from a significant gap in level of competition, as opponent Jennifer Maia has lost to both Katlyn Chookagian and Liz Carmouche. Shevchenko dominated both, which lends to the belief she is likely to do the same to Maia. Maia will be hard pressed to mount any offense at all via striking, with her poor 38% striking accuracy against Shevchenko's iron-clad 63% striking defense. The grappling specialist would need a miracle submission to dethrone "Bullet" Shevchenko, who has never been submitted in her career, and owns seven submission wins herself. Consider me skeptical on the biggest upset in UFC history happening Saturday.
Deiveson Figueiredo ($21): One of the meanest fighters in all of UFC is the tiny, 5'5" Figueiredo, as "Deus De Guerra" used the splitting open of a cut to open the fight-winning submission attempt to win his flyweight championship back in July. His first defense comes tonight against late-notice opponent Alex Perez, who replaces former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Perez is a solid fighter in his own right, with a +1.58 striking success rate, but he has accrued that while still holding no wins against current top-10 flyweight fighters. Figueiredo's danger is encapsulated in his fight-ending ability, as his 5.23% knockdown rate is second only to heavyweight Francis Ngannou, and he combines that with 2.9 submission attempts per match. He is the largest favorite to end his fight early Saturday (-240) and could score plenty of fantasy points doing so.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Kyle Daukaus ($20): Perhaps overlooked with just +105 odds to win his fight inside the distance, Kyle Daukaus may still be a value at $20 on FanDuel. Daukaus has won by submission in eight of his 10 professional fights, and both of his other fights have gone to a decision with a combined six submission attempts. A clear path to a win condition is valuable in daily fantasy, and that is Daukaus, who can secure multiple submission attempts and an early stoppage. On short notice, he took top-20 middleweight Brendan Allen to a split-decision loss, which is why he is a heavy -295 favorite over Dustin Stoltzfus, the 108th-ranked middleweight. If Stoltzfus fails to starch Daukaus with one-punch -- which Allen could not -- the Philadelphia product may make it look very easy grappling on the mat.
Cynthia Calvillo ($19): Grappling could be the theme of the evening, as 19 of 24 fighters on the card have a submission win within the last three years. That applies to Cynthia Calvillo. Her last submission win was in November 2018, but she averages a healthy 1.26 submission attempts per match. She will likely get the opportunity against Katlyn Chookagian, who posts the worst takedown defense in the UFC's flyweight division at 48%, and she allowed two takedowns on her way to getting knocked out by Jessica Andrade in August. Chookagian has never been submitted professionally, but she is projected to be on the mat for large portions of the fight against Calvillo, who can mount attempts from there. For that reason, Calvillo at +700 to win by submission may be one of the best value bets on the card.
Brandon Royval ($14): Factory-X product Brandon Royval has been aggressive and explosive in his first two fights -- all you could hope for from an underdog. Royval has entered the UFC's flyweight title conversation on the back of two straights win by submission, posting two knockdowns and three submission attempts in those fights. Royval's aggressiveness may get the best of him one day, but Brandon Moreno does not present one-shot mistake punishment on the surface. Moreno has gone to a decision in five straight fights and has only two knockdowns in seven contests. Moreno is a title-caliber fighter who may find a decision in this bout, but the aggressiveness and fantasy upside lies with Royval.
Ariane Lipski ($12): Upside is also the case for Ariane Lipski, who -- as the moneyline underdog (+136) -- actually has better odds to finish this fight than the favored Antonina Shevchenko (-162). Lipski's +470 odds to end this early come from a result of her surprising kneebar submission of Luana Carolina in her last fight. Antonina Shevchenko's +550 odds to win inside the distance are a result of her never winning a fight by knockout in the UFC, and she is unlikely to outgrapple the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Antonina Shevchenko's last fight was an embarrassing loss, as she surrendered four takedowns and three submission attempts to Katlyn Chookagian -- far from the caliber of grappler she will face Saturday. Lipski's card-worst 31% striking accuracy may make this bout hard to watch at times, but she can close the show quickly if she can get this to the mat.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.