UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 5/16/20
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 first sports to return with compliance of social distancing, UFC daily fantasy is now live on FanDuel.
numberFire is always your best place to prepare for the upcoming UFC card. In addition to this helper, Barry Cohen has you covered with a betting guide for his favorite wagers on Saturday night's card. Jim Sannes also has an analytical preview of the upcoming UFC Fight Night, including fight win percentages, striking numbers per minute, and FanDuel points per minute. Jim and I also sat down on The Heat Check Fantasy Podcast to keep learning UFC DFS and preview this slate on FanDuel.
With those tools at our disposal, let's break down the UFC Fight Night slate scheduled for Saturday night in Jacksonville, FL:
Walt Harris ($22): How things changed at the top of this slate early on Friday morning. Mike Davis ($21) pulled out of his fight against Giga Chikadze ($11), and that has dramatically changed this slate. Davis was well worth MVP consideration coming off a 139-significant-strike bruising of Thomas Gifford, and he was primed to beat up his Georgian (not the state) opponent, Chikadze. Obviously, make sure Mike Davis is out of your lineup, and with him out, that turns us to two marquee options at the top of the slate.
This first is Walt Harris, who is the -158 favorite in the main event Saturday and a true-to-form heavyweight knockout artist -- 13 career wins and 13 career knockouts. That is why he is currently -110 on FanDuel Sportsbook to knock out Overeem. Nearly minus money odds to knockout your opponent would warrant MVP consideration on its own, but Harris also brings great motivation in his first trip back to the octagon after the tragedy surrounding his daughter in 2019. I wouldn't bet against that in a vacuum, but especially not attached to these two hammer fists. Harris will be rightfully popular in the MVP slot on this slate.
Miguel Baeza ($20): The Miami product was sparkling in his UFC debut as he battered Hector Aldana on the way to the rare knockout by leg kick. That's right -- by a kick to the leg. It just goes to show how huge his power is for 170 pounds. Normally, Baeza as a distance striker likes to minimize damage and pick his spots, which is not always conducive to scoring well in fantasy. Enter Matt Brown, a wild man who hasn't seen a decision since 2015. Brown is a fan favorite because of this aggressive style, and just like in NBA DFS, Brown's frantic pace could raise Baeza's pace in this matchup. Unfortunately for Brown, he's outmatched as a striker when throwing with that volume, which should bode well for Baeza to have plentiful opportunities to finish this one.
Other High-Priced Fighters
Edson Barboza ($17): Barboza has faced a murderer's row in his last five UFC fights and lost four of them. He's lost to both sides of the upcoming 155-pound title fight (Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje) and two other top-10 opponents (Kevin Lee and Paul Felder). Maybe that is why Barboza decided now was the time to drop to the 145-pound weight class, but he faces another tall task. "Dynamite" Dan Ige won't be a pushover as he's won his last five fights, but he's nowhere near the championship caliber competition Barboza has faced.
This fight has "Fight of the Night" potential for strike volume and has an argument for stacking. But Barboza is ultimately one of the most decorated kickboxers in UFC, and Ige has a reach disadvantage, will have to crack Barboza's 80% takedown defense to wrestle, and will be facing his toughest opponent yet in UFC. Therefore, Barboza is my favorite option in a weaker middle tier.
Anthony Hernandez ($16): Hernandez's statistics are off the charts for his MMA career, albeit against weaker competition. At 5.23 strikes per minute and 5.48 takedowns per match, the NorCal product can beat an opponent in several ways, but only one thing remains consistent -- volume. That makes for promising fantasy prospects against Kevin Holland in a match that will be dictated by pace. If Hernandez can control the pace, this fight will have tons of volume, and Hernandez may score his sixth career finish after piling up fantasy points. If Holland can stay at distance outside, Hernandez will likely be limited in an ugly decision.
The youngest fighter on the card (26) and arguably the most exciting, Hernandez will certainly be trying to create a brand for himself in this marquee spot with big ratings expected again, so I expect he will try to assert that notorious pace from start to finish.
Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira ($15): This is card definitely does not lack value options with realistic chances of winning. As mentioned, Giga Chikadze is now favored in his new fight, and Courtney Casey ($14) is also favored to win her fight. Both are priced under the median. Obviously those fighters deserve plenty of exposure being able to secure a win bonus at a small price tag. However, let's touch on two fighters who still remain betting underdogs, and the first is Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira.
The fight between he and Dontale Mayes ($17) should not last long. Nascimento has finished all seven of his MMA fights, and only two of Mayes' 10 career bouts have gone to decision. Mayes is a knockout artist still finding his form in many aspects, which is why he was dominated by the wrestling of Ciryl Gane in his UFC debut. That bodes for trouble against Nascimento, who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist. Nascimento will be looking for an opening to wrestle and hunt a submission. Mayes showed very little opposition to just that strategy in his last bout. I would have exposure to both sides of such an explosive fight, but the cheaper fighter seems to have a clearer path to victory. And while this is not a betting guide, Nascimento's +200 odds to finish by submission looks like a great value.
Angela Hill ($12): Angela Hill's UFC career is now virtually unrecognizable compared to the 2015 version of her that was kicked out of UFC for underperforming. She's won four of her last five fights and has been the most active fighter in all of UFC with eight starts since the beginning of 2018. She has returned from her Invicta tour with a "bully boxing" mentality to wear down opponents with supreme volume, and that shows in her 5.74 strikes per minute. This is the biggest fight of her career as she would be ranked for the first time if she gets a win.
On the other side is Claudia Gadelha, who had title aspirations at flyweight before but has struggled mightily in her last four fights. Once known for her finishing ability, she has four straight decisions and lost two of them to Nina Ansaroff and Jessica Andrade. The knock during her struggles has been conditioning, which seems like a terrible matchup against the hyperactive Hill. Hill will likely be under-owned now with so many favorites priced cheap, but "Overkill" should not be forgotten as an option down here.
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.