UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 8/29/20

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 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 Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic, which will take place Saturday at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas.

MVP Considerations

Aleksandar Rakic ($23): Rakic earns his first UFC main event at light heavyweight on Saturday despite coming off a "loss." He was robbed in a decision where he outstruck Volkan Oezdemir in all three rounds, and he added a takedown and submission attempt along the way. That strong performance is what set him up to face Anthony "Lionheart" Smith, who is aptly named. His two miraculous submissions against Alex Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir -- in fights he was losing -- are what have prevented Smith from a four-fight losing skid.

Rakic has every statistical advantage, most notably his striking success rate (significant strikes landed minus strikes absorbed per minute). Rakic is tied for second on the card with a +2.76 striking success rate, while Lionheart is a dismal -1.38 strikes, which is the worst on the card. He outperformed Smith against mutual opponent Oezdemir, as well, which is why he is a comfortable -290 favorite to win this five-round main event and is a -120 favorite to do so inside the full distance.

Sean Brady ($20): Christian Aguilera has instilled fear in DFS players following his knockout of Anthony Ivy as a +180 underdog, but that was Ivy's UFC debut. Sean Brady has two successful UFC wins under his belt, which explains the Philadelphia's native's sizable favorite status, currently at -420 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Brady is the only real alternative to Rakic at MVP with so many fights projected to go all 15 minutes, and even with Brady as a slight underdog to finish inside the distance at +120, his mark of 3.00 takedowns per match indicates the wrestler's volume floor should be high. His 61% striking defense is solid enough to prevent an early power punch from Aguilera.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Neil Magny ($18): The Elevation Fight Team product is not always the most thrilling fantasy prospect, as evidenced by going to a decision in four of his last five, but Magny expects great things from himself this weekend. He said that the aggressiveness of Lawler "brings out the best in him," like it did against Hector Lombard and Kelvin Gastelum. Those two fights Magny referenced happen to be two of his best performances for fantasy MMA, as he put up 148 strikes and knocked out Lombard, and he scored six takedowns, 54 strikes, and a decision win against Gastelum.

With opponent Robbie Lawler ($14) likely to be popular in what figures to be a war, Magny may get overlooked as a decision machine as of late. His +430 odds to win inside the distance insist that Magny is likely to see the entire duration again Saturday, but perhaps he puts his legendary cardio on showcase against Lawler and his 4.16 strikes absorbed per minute. If forced to be a fantasy machine, Magny certainly has the gas tank to comply and throw plenty of punches and takedown attempts.

Ricardo Lamas ($18): Lamas is a traditional, "kill-or-be-killed" fighter who lends himself to fantasy-friendly matches -- for either him or his opponent. Five of Lamas's last six bouts ended early, and Lamas will have a great chance to end this one early as a sizable -320 favorite. The level of competition versus last-minute stand-in and UFC newcomer Bill Algeo is the reason, as all six of Lamas's UFC losses came to someone who at least has fought for a UFC title. Algeo has never fought in the UFC and lost his only fight near the promotion on Dana White's Contender Series. It has been since November 2016 since Lamas, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, secured a submission win, but Algeo will have to show incredible technical defense to avoid being that streak-buster.

Value Fighters

Alex Caceres ($13): Caceras was a live underdog against Giga Chikadze in this original, interesting bout but has spun the wheel through three different opponents this week due to Chikadze's exit. The wheel landed on Austin Springer, and the late replacement followed suit by missing weight by five pounds. While it is concerning that Springer's last opponent was Chikadze, and he submitted him, and that Caceras is in some danger on Saturday, he still is a -190 moneyline favorite at only $13 in FanDuel's player pool. Springer will need great grappling to compete with Caceras, as Caceras is an excellent featherweight striker with a +1.24 striking success rate. Caceras also just handed the first loss in his MMA career to Chase Hooper, denying him a submission, and Hooper is a stronger grappler than Springer.

Ion Cutelaba ($12): I called it "Cutelaba Island" on my podcast this week, because while no MMA media members agree, the odds on the bout between the Moldovan Cutelaba and the Russian Magomed Ankalaev do not make sense on paper. Cutelaba's statistically superior in every category, firing 5.29 significant strikes per minute, while Ankalaev has never fired more than 44 strikes in a UFC win thus far, which has led him to make his fantasy headway solely through knockouts. Cutelaba also wrestles (2.59 takedowns per match) a wide margin more than his opponent (0.68 takedowns per match).

Cutelaba was technically "knocked out" by Ankalaev on one of the worst stoppages in UFC history in February, which was immediately protested. That leads to a rematch here, where Cutelaba likely does not get as tricky about potentially being compromised. The average world ranking of Cutelaba's last four opponents, including Ankalaev, is 18.5, while the average of the Russian's foes is at a pedestrian 42.5. This is, in fact, a step up in competition for Ankalaev, and he should have his hands full with "The Hulk" despite being an inexplicable -405 favorite due to February's weird sequence of events.

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.