UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 31

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. If you would rather bet the fights, Brandon Gdula's betting guide is a great place to find value on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I also dove deeper into this slate on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

Without further delay, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Moises, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday night.

MVP Considerations

Daniel Rodriguez ($20): The top five favorites on this card all average in excess of 4.33 FanDuel points per minute, and the next highest favorite averages just 3.10. Therefore, there is extremely concentrated upside in the top tier of fighters on this slate, and that lends itself to a "stars and scrubs" approach in most builds this weekend.

Rodriguez gets the gold medal amongst the five options, as he sees UFC newcomer Preston Parsons in his debut. Rodriguez has a 61.5% implied probability to finish this fight via his odds on FanDuel Sportsbook, and it likely is because his high volume (at a card-best 7.87 significant strikes per minute) has worn down experienced welterweights, much less a regional fighter. "D-Rod" is in another favorable matchup to notch his sixth win in seven UFC-affiliated fights.

Amanda Lemos ($22): UFC does not script fights like professional wrestling, but they certainly book fights with a hopeful winner in mind. That appears to be the case with Lemos, who is 3-1 with two finishes in her young UFC career, yet she was paired with the untested Montserrat Conejo in this spot. Lemos is a -520 favorite on the moneyline due to her significant gap in striking, as she has averaged 6.21 significant strikes per minute at a stellar 64% accuracy.

Against a fellow unproven rookie in Cheyanne Buys, Conejo only mustered 1.00 significant strikes per minute on 36% accuracy in an ugly match where Conejo won with a dominant, yet inactive, headlock position for over nine minutes of the fight.

Lemos is not a black belt, but she is an accomplished enough grappler to escape a headlock, and if she can avoid the ugliness of Conejo's style, she should use her four-inch reach advantage to tee off on someone not nearly on par in the striking department.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Islam Makhachev ($23): The prodigy of UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov will likely be a popular MVP candidate with 89.1% implied odds to win, but Makhachev's upside leaves enough room to be desired to leave on the bench at MVP this weekend. Makhachev is phenomenal but does average just 2.92 FanDuel points per minute due to plenty of inactive control time, and even against lower level fighters, he has failed to eclipse 80 FanDuel points in five of his nine fights.

With Thiago Moises posting a -100 striking differential in his four fights entering this main event spotlight, he is a deserved distant underdog, but his grappling-heavy style (1.20 submissions per match) also should pace the scoring activity down in this bout as well. While his floor is phenomenal and a must in cash games, Makhachev is just a great utility piece in tournaments.

Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira ($21): The only fighter with higher implied odds than Daniel Rodriguez to win his fight early is Nascimento, who boasts a 66.1% implied probability to finish Frenchman Alan Baudot before the final bell. Nascimento makes no secret about his submission-heavy arsenal, as he leads this card in submission attempts per match (2.70), but he will be looking to improve the 42% striking defense that ailed him against Chris Daukaus and led to his first career UFC loss.

While his striking is too concerning to use at MVP, Nascimento still has definitive, glaring first-round finish upside, and that cannot be ignored when considering him amongst the other strong favorites.

Value Fighters

Billy Quarantillo ($16): The harsh reality of MMA DFS is that, while the top of the salary pool may be excellent, the bottom then becomes brutal. Quarantillo's $16 salary is higher than his +154 odds would usually place him, and that is because the Tampa native has been an offensive force in UFC. Quarantillo takes the mantle in FanDuel points per minute at 5.33.

His defense -- especially with just a 42% striking defense -- is an issue that created his first loss to Gavin Tucker in December, but with his opponent Gabriel Benitez landing just 38% of strikes himself, the featherweight may be able to win a shootout on cardio and heart alone.

Malcolm Gordon ($9): It is easy to dismiss Gordon entering this week following being finished in his first two UFC fights, but Amir Albazi and Sumuaerji have become ranked flyweights after leaving other opponents in the dust as they did Malcolm Gordon. Gordon gets a final chance at a UFC win against Francisco Figueredo in their fight Saturday, and while Figueredo won his UFC debut, it was against the 0-4 Jerome Rivera that was embarrassingly submitted while standing last weekend.

That gap in competition leads this to believe this is anyone's fight, and Gordon tops the punting tier in theoretical upside, as he avoids one of the top-five favorites and has also finished 10 of his 12 pro fights before entering UFC.

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.