UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 268
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 on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I also dove deeper into the slate on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Without further delay, let's break down UFC 268: Usman vs. Covington 2, taking place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday.
Kamaru Usman ($22): Usman is the default at MVP, personally. Beyond his five-round scheduled distance in his sixth welterweight title defense, Usman is a great per-minute fantasy scorer and getting better. He's up to 4.33 significant strikes per minute after his last knockout, and he's now finished three of his last four opponents. One of those opponents was this weekend's matchup, Colby Covington. Usman, though, is a sizable -310 favorite because Covington is primarily a wrestler, and Usman has never surrendered a UFC takedown attempt. That led to a 175-strike finish of the brash Covington last fight, and a similar -- if not better -- result would be far from a surprise.
Ian Garry ($22): The drop-off beyond Usman is palpable, but the fighter some are calling the second coming of Conor McGregor is not a bad second choice. Garry hails from Dublin, Ireland like "The Notorious" does, and he too enters UFC on a string of knockouts as a Cage Warriors FC champion from Europe. He has no UFC data, but the quick, explosive puncher saw an intentionally soft landing spot here with welterweight Jordan Williams. Williams has just a 35% striking defense, which is amongst the bevy of reasons Garry is -180 to win this fight inside the full distance. He should be relevant in fantasy so long as he does.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Shane Burgos ($19): Burgos' fight with Billy Quarantillo ($11) has been on the radar of UFC fans for months. Both of these featherweights are known for bloody, fast-paced scraps, and a fight together should result in the same outcome. Burgos (4.52 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) and Quarantillo (5.48) are third and second on the card, respectively, in terms of per-minute volume. The favorite Burgos is the win pick, personally. He will carry a five-inch reach advantage into this fight, and his 89% takedown defense will likely force Quarantillo to absorb the brunt of it at distance. That's not ideal for Billy Q's poor 43% striking defense, but the underdog has never been finished and should get his fair share of volume in as well.
Justin Gaethje ($18): One of the few fighters who can change my entire gameplan to a card is Gaethje's jaw-dropping volume. Against championship-level competition, Gaethje averages 7.46 significant strikes per minute on an astounding 59% accuracy. His 55% striking defense is better than he gets credit for, as well. A couple of eyebrow-raising moments for Michael Chandler in the UFC thus far don't erase his 49% striking defense, and those defensive liabilities against "The Highlight" are prime for a knockout. Gaethje is a -200 favorite and has knocked out all five of his UFC wins, so this is the place to be for fantasy.
Others to Consider: Melsik Baghdasaryan ($21), Alex Pereira ($20), Bobby Green ($19), Zhang Weili ($18)
Chris Curtis ($9): "The Action Man" gets his first UFC appearance after 34 pro fights at 34 years old. It seems fitting. His lone UFC-affiliated appearance on Dana White's Contender Series was a good one. Curtis averaged 7.23 significant strikes per minute on 70% accuracy. He has always been a strong striker in his career, and he should hold that edge over Phil Hawes. Hawes is primarily a wrestler, and Curtis knows that, so the question will be if he can stay on his feet. If he can, Hawes' -125 odds to finish this fight early seem lofty considering Curtis has only been finished twice in 34 pro fights and will have an advantage at distance.
John Allan ($9): It just so happens my two favorite underdogs are both $9 on FanDuel. It will make building lineups easier at least. As mentioned in my betting guide, John Allan's potential on the mat is not getting enough love in this last-minute bout with Dustin Jacoby. Jacoby likely won't just knock Allan out; Allan has never been knocked out in 19 pro fights. Therefore, Jacoby has just a 58% takedown defense, and Allan averages 1.91 takedowns per match with a crisp 71% accuracy. Allan offers 1.2 submission attempts per match historically, and his submission prop is now +3100 in a fight that should hit the mat. Sign me up.
Others to Consider: Marlon Vera ($16), Edmen Shahbazyan ($15), Chris Barnett ($14), CJ Vergara ($12), Billy Quarantillo ($11)