UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 59
The Ultimate Fighting Championship holds no short of a dozen mixed martial arts bouts nearly every Saturday with no real offseason. As one of the most unique sweats available, UFC daily fantasy is live on FanDuel.
The strategy behind this fantasy sport is intriguing. Given that two fighters face off against each other, and some fights end in seconds, choosing which side to back is crucial, and there is a wide range of outcomes. However, getting the winner fighter isn't all that matters. They've also got to land enough strikes, takedowns, or submission attempts to score points!
numberFire is always the best spot to prepare you for any UFC card. If you would rather bet on the fights, our betting guide is excellent for finding value on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I 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 Vegas 59: Santos vs. Hill, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas this weekend.
The trio of MVP candidates this weekend is the reason to partake in UFC daily fantasy.
Terrence McKinney ($23) sits as an absurd -1100 favorite over Erick Gonzalez. The UFC handed him a lopsided matchup to continue to build up the funny, athletic star that delivered the fastest knockout in lightweight history. Gonzalez was a step behind 37-year-old veteran Jim Miller in his debut loss via knockout, so color me skeptical he competes with McKinney towards the fringe of the rankings.
In the main event, Jamahal Hill ($22) is just a -310 favorite, but his salary is paying the piper for two potential extra rounds of volume. Hill's style is the perfect one to potentially benefit from them; his 7.06 significant strikes per minute on 51% accuracy is the gold standard for a light heavyweight at present.
While Hill has shown weakness in grappling, his opponent Thiago Santos (0.54 takedowns per 15 minutes) just isn't likely to develop that skillset at 38 years old.
Behind him, Michal Oleksiejczuk ($21) is another comfortable pick. He's a -670 favorite over Sam Alvey, who likely fights in UFC for the final time Saturday after an 0-7-1 skid. The durable veteran Alvey still hasn't been finished in four of his last six fights, so while Oleksiejczuk's pinnacle outcome is much lower than McKinney or Hill, he's arguably a safer proposition than either given Gonzalez is still fairly unknown himself.
These three sit in such quality positions compared to the field that it's hard to see one of them not emerging with the nuclear fantasy performance.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
On any other card, Vicente Luque ($19) is one of those default MVP candidates.
He's finished 13 UFC bouts with solid fantasy volume (3.66 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses). However, he'll run into defensive stalwart Geoff Neal ($13) this weekend. Both are viable options in a co-main event that should be a fun, back-and-forth striking affair.
After finishing another one-dimensional striker last time out, Serghei Spivac ($20) can do the same to Augusto Sakai. Sakai's last matchup with a wrestler was a fifth-round loss to Alistair Overeem where "The Reem" held him to the mat and showered elbows from top position. With a 60% takedown accuracy, Spivac is a more efficient wrestler than Overeem, and he's done it to top-five heavyweight contender Tai Tuivasa already.
Bryan Battle ($17) integrates onto UFC's normal roster for the first time on Saturday, but I still love his chances as a -310 favorite over Takashi Sato. Other than quick knockouts, Sato just hasn't been able to succeed at this level. He has a -1.88 striking success rate, and "Pooh Bear" has a +2.52 mark in the same category.
Averaging just 0.35 takedowns per 15 minutes historically, I don't think Sato can wrestle despite Battle's spotty 55% takedown defense.
Two other ladies with submission danger are present in this higher-salaried tier as well. Stephanie Egger ($16) and Juliana Miller ($16) have more upside to finish the fight and put up a memorable fantasy day, so pay the extra dollar in salary over their opponents.
There's no doubt this week's value tier is tough.
For starters, Neal's strong defense should keep him around for the full duration at $13. Neal's historical striking pace (4.63 significant strikes per minute) has been above average, too.
The highest upside belongs to Kamaru Usman's brother, Mohammed Usman ($11). Nepotism tends to cloud this sport, but Usman earned his way to this spot with two decision wins on The Ultimate Fighter 30. By all accounts, his opponent Zac Pauga should have the technical advantage, but Pauga is a light heavyweight by trade and much smaller. Usman's big right hand has finished two of his last three pro wins.
The best process play is Miranda Granger ($12). While I wouldn't straight pick her to win this fight over Cory McKenna, she's much more likely to finish it. Granger has finished six of her seven pro wins, and "Poppins" McKenna has just a 50% career finishing rate. This fight is -260 to go the full distance, so it's not overly likely it's fantasy-relevant.
Other than desperate swings at Priscilla Cachoeira ($14) finding another come-from-behind win, the cupboard is predictably bare in this area given the awesome favorites on this card.