UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 35
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, our betting guide is a great place to find value bets 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: Barboza vs. Chikadze, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Makhmud Muradov ($23): Last week's card featured no favorites at larger than -200. This card is an entirely different story, with the strongest favorite at -650 on FanDuel Sportsbook in Makhmud Muradov. Those odds are a reflection of Muradov, who has been sensational at light heavyweight with a +2.40 striking success rate en route to three straight wins. Opponent Gerald Meerschaert has been sliding in the opposite direction. He has been finished in two of his last three fights, and his striking defense has dipped to just 32% in that sample. Meerschaert will have to penetrate Muradov's 100% takedown defense thus far to get this fight to the ground and find a submission, and therefore the expectation is that Muradov keeps it standing until "GM3" leaves another opening for a knockout punch.
Edson Barboza ($19): Universally, this main event is seen as a closely contested battle, but Barboza is the fairly significant lean for me on the factors of experience and overall striking performance. Since both Barboza and Giga Chikadze each offer fewer than 0.5 takedowns and 0.2 submission attempts per match, striking will be the theme of this bout. Barboza has been a far busier featherweight striking-wise. Since dropping to 145 pounds, Barboza has averaged 5.12 significant strikes per minute, with Chikadze at just 3.33 historically in the weight-class. Barboza should take the lead and be confident in this striking exchange, especially considering he has faced eight current UFC ranked fighters, compared to none for Chikadze.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Andre Petroski ($22): The interesting dynamic of this weekend's slate is the lack of data on several fighters who competed on the UFC's reality show The Ultimate Fighter -- including Petroski. Throughout the show, Petroski -- a wrestler -- was the consensus top option to win the competition, and he was ahead in his semifinal against Bryan Battle with four takedowns and two submission attempts before Petroski became extremely exhausted and lost. Awarded a UFC contract anyway, he makes his debut against his teammate on the show, Michael Gillmore -- who was a late addition to the show, performed poorly, but received a trial contract anyway. For DFS, Petroski is a card-best -270 to end this fight early (73% implied odds) and will likely do so by submission. Those odds cannot be ignored, although the lack of data makes it difficult to trust Petroski at MVP.
Mana Martinez ($20): Martinez joins Muradov and Petroski with minus-money odds to win their fight early by finish, with "ManaBoi" at -140 to do so over Guido Cannetti. Martinez is absolutely the riskiest of the three, as he ran blindly into a submission loss in his only UFC-affiliated appearance, but with eight knockouts in eight pro wins, he is exactly the type of target one would hope for in DFS. Martinez sees Guido Cannetti in this matchup, and the 41-year old Cannetti has struggled with his durability in the back half of his career. He has been finished in his last four losses and knocked down in three of those events. Even with Martinez missing weight by four pounds, he still profiles to have significant athletic advantages in this fight.
Daniel Rodriguez ($15): Normally, late injury replacements are not fighters we want to target. However, "D-Rod" likely signed this bout with Kevin Lee for a reason. Lee is an accomplished lightweight wrestler moving up to welterweight for this fight, and Rodriguez has the ability to defeat wrestlers in any weight-class. Rodriguez posts a card-best 8.07 significant strikes per minute on a solid 48% accuracy, and he should have no problem separating from Lee -- who posted just 3.90 per minute on 42% accuracy against lightweights -- on the feet. Rodriguez's key to victory is his 83% takedown defense, as "The Motown Phenom" Lee's best work comes on the mat. If Rodriguez is able to avoid Lee's primary weapon, he could pile up points with the judges as well as three FanDuel points per takedown defense.
Darren Stewart ($12): Stewart is as far down as one could go into the value tier and feel comfortable, as the remaining underdogs -- some of whom are in treacherous positions against the favorites mentioned above -- on the card are all +186 or greater to win. Stewart, though, is absolutely live at this salary against Dustin Jacoby, largely due to Jacoby's recent defensive concerns. Jacoby was taken down nine times by Ion Cutelaba, and at 1.56 takedowns per match, Stewart has been able to take advantage of those weaknesses in his career. Jacoby was also knocked down twice by Maxim Grishin, and by all accounts, "The Dentist" Stewart has plenty of power behind his dental-themed nickname. With Jacoby occupying the same salary tier as so many solid favorites, the wise thing to do may be to roster Stewart for either of his high-upside win conditions.
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.