UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 258
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 most unique DFS sweats available, UFC daily fantasy is now live on FanDuel.
numberFire is always your best place to prepare for the upcoming UFC card. If you would rather bet the fights outright on FanDuel Sportsbook, Barry Cohen has thoughts on where to put sharp money in his betting guide. For even more in-depth coverage into this weekend's card, make sure to also 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 258: Usman vs. Burns, which is taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Kamaru Usman ($21): A dominant champion in a five-round main event is exactly what the doctor ordered for a unanimous first MVP choice. As is the case in any title fight, many believe Gilbert Burns -- who is a world-class mixed martial artist -- is going to win the 170-pound belt on Saturday, but Kamaru Usman's resume is tough to bet against. Usman now has defended the belt three times and scored at least 94 significant strikes in all fights. "The Nigerian Nightmare" has a +2.27 striking success rate, which he combines with a wrestling base that has netted him 3.38 takedowns per 15 minutes inside the UFC. Many are picking Burns on the strength of his grappling, but Usman fought black belts Demian Maia and Rafael Dos Anjos and survived 10 rounds against both -- and amassed 12 combined takedowns on them.
Ricky Simon ($20): Simon's card-best 7.07 takedowns per 15 minutes makes him an MVP staple in any advantageous matchup, and that clips means that his 6-0 record against unranked UFC opponents is no surprise. His opponent this weekend, Brian Kelleher, fits the unranked bill, and this will be an interesting matchup for Simon because Kelleher is relatively untested in the wrestling department. The most takedown attempts Kelleher faced was against wrestler Cody Stamann, and Keller surrendered two takedowns on four attempts. With this fight currently at 66.7% implied odds to go the entire distance, Simon could have 15 full minutes to take down Kelleher and add to his UFC totals.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Chris Gutierrez ($17): After a one-fight sabbatical to face a wrestler, Chris Gutierrez returns to the striking game against Andre Ewell, whose card-worst 0.17 takedowns per match indicate he would prefer this fight stay on the feet. And, with Ewell enjoying a seven-inch reach advantage, he would appear on the surface to have a significant edge -- but not against Gutierrez. Gutierrez has hard leg kicks for a bantamweight, and his ability to mix levels has led to a sparkling +2.12 striking success rate in UFC. The last time Gutierrez saw a lanky striker, he landed 36 leg kicks on Vince Morales to the point a doctor stopped the fight, and that is likely his plan to neutralize the heavy leg of Ewell, as well.
Miranda Maverick ($17): With only -150 odds to win on the moneyline and even further inside-the-distance odds than opponent Gillian Robertson, Maverick likely will not carry the popularity she should. The women's flyweight prospect won by first-round doctor's stoppage in her debut last November, which was her sixth early finish in her eight pro wins. Maverick has card-best numbers in significant strikes per minute (9.80) and striking success rate (3.80), and that should lead to a big edge striking against Robertson, who posts just a -0.05 striking success rate. Maverick had four submission wins in Invicta FC, so she is not totally out of her element on the ground, either.
Philip Rowe ($14): Rowe versus Gabe Green is an early favorite for "Fight of the Night," as both are averaging more than 8.00 significant strikes per minute with striking defense ratings worse than 50%. Plenty of punches will be thrown and landed, which makes it hard to not favor the larger Rowe, who will have a five-inch height and seven-inch reach advantage. Both Rowe and Green have just one fight in the UFC, but Rowe's striking efficiency (67%) was much higher than Green's (43%) in his debut. Coming at a discount in salary, makes Rowe the preferable side in what is sure to be a banger.
Anthony Hernandez ($9): The recommendation to play Anthony "Fluffy" Hernandez is not for the faint of heart. Hernandez is the second-biggest underdog on the card (+320) despite having the two wins that opponent Rodolfo Vieira can't match in terms of official world ranking. Vieira is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who has locked up middleweights with his 2.40 submission attempts per match. But the question remains -- can Vieira get Hernandez on the ground? Hernandez's 85% takedown defense is tops on this card, and as the much better athlete, he can win if this fight stays standing for all three rounds due to Vieira's -0.33 striking success rate. Vieira has also cardio concerns entering this fight, as just two of his seven pro bouts have gone beyond the first round. Hernandez may not win, but there is value in tournaments in going with him. He is second on the card in FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (5.43).
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.