UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 278
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 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2, taking place at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend.
**Editor's Note: Miranda Maverick ($22) and Shanna Young ($8) are off Saturday's card due to a Young illness. All other fighters made weight Friday.**
MVP is wide open this weekend. 8 of the 12 favorites have odds at -300 or shorter, so we should see some explosive scoring efforts in lopsided fights throughout the night.
When it comes to multiple-knockdown, first-round upside, I have to put Paulo Costa ($19) at the top of the list in the main event. Costa is the exact wrong fighter for 37-year-old Luke Rockhold at this stage of his career.
"Borrachinha" can be inefficient defensively (-0.17 striking success rate), but he's a powerful, all-offense striker averaging 6.85 significant strikes landed per minute. That's come on insane 59% accuracy. Rockhold has been knocked down (and out cold) twice in the last 32 punches he's faced. It seems like a disastrous combo for the former champion.
The largest favorite on the card is in this mix, too. Tyson Pedro ($22) holds -900 odds to win his fight, and it's easy to see why. His opponent, Harry Hunsucker, has been finished by every man on his resumé with a UFC appearance.
As a natural light heavyweight, he lacks some size that Hunsucker has. However, in his prime, his tricky ground game (1.30 submission attempts per 15 minutes) gave even the top 205'ers fits. He has already shown the power is still there with a knockout of Ike Villanueva in his return bout.
I'd be remiss to not mention Kamaru Usman ($23) as well. "The Nigerian Nightmare" is nearly a -500 favorite in the main event. Leon Edwards (2.26 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) just doesn't mount enough offense to think he'll be the threat that Gilbert Burns or Colby Covington wasn't.
In addition to the 10 extra minutes of fight time that Usman could get in the main event, he's also been a slam-dunk MVP option in his last five defenses. He's posted seven knockdowns and three knockouts in that time.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
You can honestly pluck some MVP candidates from the rest, too.
Miranda Maverick ($22) is as good as any of those three. She's a whopping -670 favorite over Shanna Young. Young's larger size is her one hope given she's posted just a 60% takedown defense at bantamweight, and Maverick (60% takedown accuracy) is one of the best wrestlers at 125.
Young's defense striking (43%) is even worse, so don't discount Maverick letting her hands talk instead -- just as she did in her UFC debut with a first-round doctor's stoppage.
You also have to love the prospects of Jared Gordon ($19) against 42-year-old Leo Santos. Gordon has struggled with lightweight size historically, but a dominant win over Joe Solecki squashed those concerns.
Gordon's offensive pace (4.03 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) has wilted other fighters without cardio issues. Santos has gassed in two straight late-round finishes, and it's not going to get better as he ages.
I also don't want to ignore Victor Altamirano ($18). The flyweight prospect got snubbed by the judges in his debut, but he's landed 5.97 significant strikes per minute on 57% accuracy across two UFC-affiliated appearances. He could post a nuclear fantasy day with Daniel Da Silva's poor striking defense (22%) on the other side.
In the mid-range, I'd straight pick Yanan Wu ($16) and Jose Aldo ($14) in lower-volume fights, too.
With so many heavy favorites, you have to reject at least a couple of them to form a tournament strategy.
Formulaically, Marcin Tybura ($10) made a ton of sense. I love Alexandr Romanov, who has mauled fighters left and right since his debut in 2020. However, Tybura's 82% takedown defense marks the best -- and most well-tested -- he'll have faced in UFC.
Romanov showed significant cardio issues and takedown defense woes against Juan Espino, and Tybura is a heavyweight that can give him resistance in those areas. Plus, Romanov's 43% striking defense is a knockout waiting to happen.
I also prefer Francisco Figueredo ($9) to his opponent given the salary difference. Figueredo, the brother of this division's champion, must have been fortunate that efficiency runs in the family. He's got exceptional marks in striking accuracy (60%), striking defense (63%), and takedown defense (82%).
Averaging just 2.51 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses, Figueredo's pace isn't ideal to target as a favorite. As a punt-level underdog, I'll roll the dice Amir Albazi may just have been feasting on poor competition to this point. His opponents have just a 3-6 record with the promotion overall.
Though he may not win, Luis Saldana ($10) is the best punt-level option in cash games. Sean Woodson (0.96% knockdown rate) just doesn't have a lot of power, and Saldana actually has a higher striking accuracy and striking defense in what should be a fun battle on the feet.
Ange Loosa ($13) and Jay Perrin ($13) are also a couple of intriguing fliers as slight underdogs given they were so badly outmatched in their UFC debuts. At a more appropriate level of competition, they could shine.