UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 259
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 the best spot to get you ready for any UFC card. In addition to this helper, Brandon Gdula's betting guide breaks down where you should be placing your sharp dollars on Saturday's bouts. I also dove deeper into this weekend's card on the latest UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Without further delay, let's break down UFC 259: Adesanya vs. Blachowicz, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday night.
Amanda Nunes ($23): This loaded 15-fight card has a record-tying three title fights, and with six fighters in a boosted five-round environment, it would be a pretty substantial upset for the optimal MVP to come outside of one of the title bouts. Nunes is a -1300 favorite on Saturday, which is by far the largest on the card, so she will carry tremendous popularity at MVP, but remarkably, it likely will still not be as high as it should be on merit. Nunes has not lost in more than six years thanks in large part to dominant power with a +1.97 striking success rate as well as the ability to wrestle (2.53 takedowns per match) when she needs to change it up. Megan Anderson is just 3-2 in the UFC with a -1.12 striking success rate and a 53% takedown defense, so the New Zealander is very much here on the basis of being "next in line" instead of on merit.
Israel Adesanya ($21): The main event is all about the "The Last Stylebender" making his move from middleweight to light heavyweight in hopes of a second weight division championship. Adesanya's statistical profile does not tell the entire story, as he is a one-trick pony as a striker, but Adesanya has outclassed his past few opponents to the tune of seven knockdowns across his last four fights. Adesanya may have decided it was the right time to jump up in weight because he wanted to challenge Jan Blachowicz, who does not have the peripherals of your average champion. Blachowicz averages just 3.49 significant strikes per minute and 2.60 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses, which are both bottom-10 clips on this card. "The Polish Hammer" is a tough one to finish, but Adesanya possesses 100 wins striking worldwide, so Blachowicz will have a tough time surprising him on the feet.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Islam Makhachev ($22): On a normal card without so many five-round bouts, Makhachev would be an MVP candidate. The protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov has outwrestled all challengers thus far to the tune of 3.40 takedowns per match, but the most impressive thing may be his efficiency, which is a remarkable 68% -- easily tops on this card. Makhachev is a -355 moneyline favorite against Drew Dober, who defends just 58% of incoming takedown attempts. Dober will certainly be hunting for his third straight knockout, but Makhachev has not lost or been knocked down since 2015. Dober has also been submitted inside the UFC four times, which may open the door on the mat for Makhachev's third UFC win by submission.
Aljamain Sterling ($17): The best fight environment on the card is the five-round title clash at bantamweight between Sterling and Petr Yan ($19). Sterling and Yan are both inside the top 10 in FanDuel points per minute on this card in a razor-close fight. Yan has a volume edge on the feet (6.32 significant strikes per minute), but Sterling has been more active on the mat (1.89 takedowns per match). Sterling is my pick in this great fight for fantasy for two reasons. The first is his four-inch reach advantage, and the other is strength of schedule. Yan's 540 strength of schedule metric is just .520, while Sterling has fought more top-level fighters, which is reflected in his .760 score.
Dominick Cruz ($14): It might be easy to classify Cruz as struggling due to his 2-2 record in his last four matches, but it is worth noting that this is his first non-title fight since 2014. He drops all the way from a title fight last May to a unranked Casey Kenney here, which is a precipitous fall for someone who has run the bantamweight division for several years. Cruz's wizardry comes down to his elite movement, which is reflected in his 73% striking defense, and his level changes have also put him at 3.05 takedowns per match in a long career. Kenney has historically defended takedowns at only 56%, so that must improve against a top-shelf opponent like Cruz or his night could be a long one.
Kyler Phillips ($12): Phillips is a +132 underdog because of a perception of a huge step up in competition to the ranked Song Yadong on Saturday, but Phillips has shown no signs of weakness against his competition thus far. Phillips is in the top five on the card in significant strikes per minute (6.28), striking success rate (+4.28), and FanDuel points per minute (5.12). As an underdog, his pace and volume is at least enticing if he proves to have the chops to take on ranked competition. Phillips also has six finishes in eight pro wins, whereas Yadong has gone to a decision in three of his past four bouts. With such experienced, popular options at the top end of the salary pool, taking a chance on Phillips' upside can make for easy leverage in tournaments.
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.