UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 252
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 have 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 DFS helper, if you would rather bet the fights outright on FanDuel Sportsbook, Barry Cohen has you covered with his betting guide to find where to place sharp money on Saturday’s fights. I also dove much deeper into this card on the Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast earlier this week for a more comprehensive preview of this weekend's event.
With those tools at our disposal, let's break down UFC 252, which will take place Saturday at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Daniel Cormier ($19): Arguably the best main event of 2020, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier's trilogy at heavyweight concludes Saturday. With the series tied at 1-1, this deciding fight will settle who is the most accomplished heavyweight in UFC history. When deciding on the side to back, Cormier has proved himself to be the stronger fighter in each of the first two contests for a majority of both fights. He knocked out Miocic in Round 1 in their first fight, and he outstruck his opponent with 182 significant strikes with a remarkable 68% accuracy in their second fight, compared to only 123 for Miocic. Cormier ran out of energy in the fourth round, which ended up getting him finished, but he likely leaves the body slams and ridiculous pace at home for the third bout. He was ahead three rounds to none on each scorecard before getting knocked out, so if Cormier can see the end of this fight, he likely beats Miocic on Saturday -- save for any crazy adjustments or changes. Both of these fighters should produce plenty of volume and are viable in all formats.
Merab Dvalishvili ($18): "The Machine" Dvalishvili is FanDuel's all-time highest scorer, with 197.7 FanDuel points out of the MVP slot during his June fight against Gustavo Lopez. He posted 13 takedowns in that fight, tying his personal best, but has at least five in each of his first six UFC contests. Dvalishvili is strangely a fantasy benefit, as his submission skills and top game are not quite strong enough yet to keep his opponents on the ground, but it means he uses his freakish strength at bantamweight to take down opponents over and over. He sees his smallest opponent yet -- by body mass index -- in John Dodson on Saturday, whose title contention window came at 10 pounds lighter than bantamweight. Dodson is small against normal bantamweights, which does not bode well for "The Magic Man" to stay on his feet against such a powerful wrestling force. Dvalishvili's volume and FanDuel points total should be secure in an MVP spot, even with only +550 odds to finish this fight inside the full distance.
Other High-Priced Fighters
Herbert Burns ($19): Burns is the best prospect to finish his fight early on Saturday, currently with -210 odds on FanDuel Sportsbook to win inside the distance by knockout or submission. And the reason is clear, as this matchup on paper is relatively non-competitive. Burns is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and has had no trouble using it inside the UFC, taking down opponents (4.59 takedowns per match) and constantly assaulting them with submission attempts (6.89 submission attempts per match). That profiles for trouble for Daniel Pineda, whom is making his first UFC appearance since 2014, and his 3-4 record with a 48% takedown defense proves he had trouble staying on his feet. This fight was moved to the main card despite being a mismatch as Burns is a potential UFC star and likely takes a gigantic leap toward stardom with another quick win on Saturday.
Virna Jandiroba ($17): The fight between Virna Jandiroba and Felice Herrig is a slightly more competitive version of Burns's fight. Jandiroba makes no secret about her similar Brazilian jiu-jitsu style, taking down opponents (4.26 takedowns per match) and trying to secure a finish (2.10 submission attempts per match). The difference is that -- unlike Pineda -- Herrig has been at least competent defending takedowns in the UFC at 76%. That means this fight definitely has a better chance to see the full distance than Burns/Pineda, and it is currently at -180 to see all 15 minutes on FanDuel Sportsbook, which limits the fantasy upside. However, the "Lil Bulldog" Herrig offers very little on the feet, as her -1.20 striking success rate is second-worst on this card, leaving her very little options to compete with Jandiroba to score points on the feet or on the mat.
Junior Dos Santos ($15): It was a little surprising to see the UFC veteran as a slight underdog to Jarzinho "Bigi Boy" Rozenstruik, but he is still coming back as +112 'dog as of Friday afternoon on FanDuel Sportsbook. The style of this fight is clearly defined. Rozenstruik has never offered on a takedown or submission attempt in the UFC, and Dos Santos does not look to wrestle (0.33 takedowns per match) or use his jiu-jitsu (0.20 submission attempts per match) often, either, but at least has done so before. That may means he is slightly more well-rounded, but this likely stays a boxing match, where JDS has the advantage, as well. His 1.53 striking success rate is the seventh-best mark on this card, whereas Rozenstruik sits at a 0.63 striking success rate as the more expensive favorite. Dos Santos is also only four years older despite having already fought in 21 UFC fights, so these fighters are both in the same window of their career. This fight is currently -350 to end early, so optimal construction would be roster one of these fighters. I prefer the cheaper veteran.
Chris Daukaus ($14): While there are no guarantees in mixed martial arts, especially at heavyweight, Chris Daukaus is a slam-dunk play inside the daily fantasy environment. Daukaus and Parker Porter are in a fight deemed incredibly close on FanDuel Sportsbook. Porter is the slightest -124 favorite, and Daukaus the slight underdog at +106. Given this fight is currently -210 to end by knockout, one of these fighters is likely to secure one, and they have equal odds to do so. Porter and Daukaus both are at +180 to win by knockout, so in a fight believed to be ending early that is a virtual coin flip, Daukaus at $3 cheaper makes sense from a DFS perspective, especially in a card with so few quality underdogs. With fewer underdogs possessing fantasy potential, paying for the talented Sean O'Malley ($21) in a tough matchup is certainly difficult to do and may not be optimal in tournaments.
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.