UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 9/5/20
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: Overeem vs Sakai, which will take place Saturday at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Alistair Overeem ($22): This weekend's main event is back at heavyweight, which usually undercuts the five-round volume normally expected from a main event. But this fight between Alistair Overeem and Augusto Sakai is at -290 to finish inside the 25-minute distance, so there will be plenty of fantasy points to be had. Sakai absolutely has the striking volume advantage thus far in his career (5.45 significant strikes per minute), but it has come at reduced accuracy (46%) against lesser competition.
That competition level, in which Sakai's four previous UFC opponents have only a 19-22 record inside the octagon, is why Overeem is a -170 -- and rising -- favorite in the main event. Overeem turned away ranked heavyweight Walt Harris in a similar "gatekeeper" type of match, with Overeem being the highest-ranked opponent Sakai has ever seen. Given that Sakai does not wrestle (just 0.19 takedowns per 15 minutes) and has never fired a submission attempt in the UFC, this boxing match will likely test the youth and volume of Sakai against the precision and patience of Overeem. The latter wins a vast majority of the time in MMA.
Bartosz Fabinski ($18): In a stacked higher salary tier, Polish wrestler Fabinski may be the standout option of them all in the featured preliminary bout. Fabinski's 7.17 takedowns per 15 minutes leads this card and would lead several others. He was caught in a guillotine choke in the first round against Michel Prazeres and is not the first wrestler to make that mistake, but he had three straight decision wins with at least six takedowns in his three UFC appearances before that defeat. This matchup is interesting given that, in his UFC debut, Andre Muniz, Fabinski's opponent, stopped only one of three takedown attempts and will now see one of the strongest wrestlers middleweight has to offer. Volume and security are the cases for Fabinski at MVP on Saturday, and he is a -166 moneyline favorite.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Hunter Azure ($21): Azure checks a ton of boxes as an MVP candidate as the second-most expensive player in the pool. His striking success rate (+2.74 strikes per minute) and submission attempts per 15 minutes (1.90) are both tops on this card, and Azure is an incredibly secure -230 favorite in his bout against Canadian Cole Smith. Smith, however, is the reason why Azure is a risky proposition in the multiplier spot on FanDuel. Smith's 1.91 FanDuel points per minute (excluding all win bonuses) is the lowest of any fighter entering their bout in the entire six-month duration of FanDuel's UFC contests, and it is because of his smothering, standing grappling. Azure is the better fighter and certainly the more enticing fantasy target of the two, but Smith provides too much volume risk to place Azure in MVP spots outside of tournaments.
Alexander Romanov ($17): "King Kong" should be a great addition to the UFC's heavyweight roster. He becomes the third Moldovan UFC fighter on Saturday, which might make it per capita the "MMA Capital of the World." Regardless, Romanov's UFC debut is long anticipated because of his brutal terror of a run in Moldova, where he went 11-0 with 11 finishes. Romanov has knockout power and some really terrifying neck cranks at his disposal, which explains his place as the best current odds on this card (-105) to finish their respective opponent by knockout or submission. Worth noting, as well, is that his opponent, Marcos Rogerio De Lima, has only a 36% takedown defense in 10 UFC appearances. If Romanov can translate his wrestling and submission skills from the Eagle Fighting Championship, De Lima may be in trouble early in this bout.
Jalin Turner ($14): Jalin Turner has been one of lightweight's most interesting prospects since 2018 because of his massive frame for a man who weighs so little. His 6'3" height and 77" reach are both tops on the entire 155-pound roster, and he has some incredibly interesting skill behind it. Turner has a strong 2.04 striking success rate in his four UFC fights so far, and surprisingly, he has 1.80 submission attempts for 15 minutes, too, for a fighter who prefers to box. Turner's opponent, Thiago Moises. has had moments of cringeworthy volume hunting submissions inside the octagon, and that is reflected in a his low 2.68 significant strikes per minute marker. For fantasy, Turner makes sense in every category, and the line movement in this fight only helps his case, as Turner is just a +136 underdog right now despite once being as high as +165 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Montana De La Rosa ($9): This value play is not for the faint of heart. Even if it means staying away from the main event, going no lower than Turner at $14 is likely optimal in cash and single-entry tournaments, as one (and possibly two) of the better value plays is off the slate with Sijara Eubanks now unable to face Karol Rosa. Both of those fighters were top five in FanDuel points per minute on the card, and they were each at a salary lower than $15. However, if you must go below Turner, De La Rosa is likely the most interesting spot.
This fight is being previewed as a Viviane Araujo striking showcase, but Araujo has not been an elite striker to this point inside the UFC. She has a -0.69 striking success rate in three fights thus far, which is actually lower than Montana De La Rosa's (-0.50), although Araujo has been facing higher-ranked fighters. De La Rosa's danger comes from her submission game, as she's fired at least one legitimate attempt in each UFC fight. With so many heavy favorites worth rostering, simply targeting the least assured favorite is not a bad strategy to manufacture value on the slate.
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.