UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 9/19/20
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 took a deeper dive into this weekend's card on The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast earlier this week.
With those tools at our disposal, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley, which will take place Saturday at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Mirsad Bektic ($22): This wild 14-fight card will inevitably lead to some shocking upsets across the board, but one of them will not be at the expense of Mirsad Bektic. Bektic, who is Tapology's 15th-ranked featherweight in MMA across the world, was already in for a mismatch against original opponent Eduardo Garagorri, who is ranked 99th in the world. But a positive test for COVID-19 now has him facing Damon Jackson, who is ranked 134th. Jackson is returning to the UFC for the first time since 2016, when he went 0-3 with just a 60% takedown defense, and that could be problematic against a strong wrestler like Bektic, whose 3.32 takedowns per match is one of the strongest in the featherweight division. There are sexier MVP options, and that could keep Bektic -- the -525 favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook -- at a lower MVP popularity than he should be.
Kevin Holland ($20): This pick of Holland as an MVP candidate is less about him but more about the other options on the card. Colby Covington ($23) will be a popular MVP pick as a high-volume fighter with a projected five-round fight to use said volume, and Khamzat Chimaev ($21) will be popular, as well, given that he has absorbed just one strike in two fights in the UFC. Covington, in the main event, is worth discussing, but as I detailed on the podcast this week, I am greatly concerned about the leap in competition for the talkative Chimaev -- and so is UFC welterweight Ben Askren. Kevin Holland, however, is in a spot we don't need to worry about.
Holland has passed through the summer of 2020 with flying colors, scoring two knockouts and eclipsing 120 FanDuel points in both of his fights. He faces Darren "The Dentist" Stewart on Saturday. This is Holland's toughest test of 2020 thus far, but he is absolutely the side to back in this fight when it comes to DFS. His clip of +1.96 significant strikes per minute ranks in the top five on this card, and he has a newly minted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, so he can submit Stewart if this fight hits the mat. Stewart, on the other hand, has gone to a decision in four of his last five bouts, and his only finish came against Maki Pitolo, who is now 1-3 in the UFC. Holland is -260 to win on Saturday.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Tyron Woodley ($17): The main event has plenty of backstory in terms of political views and social justice, and that may slightly impact the normal fantasy trajectory of this fight. Tyron Woodley has a tremendous toolkit at 170 pounds given that he has electric knockout power -- which earned him five knockouts in his first eight UFC fights -- as well as an All-American background in wrestling. He has simply been averse to using his wrestling. That may change on Saturday with experts expecting the toxic Colby Covington, who has been critical of social justice issues publicly, to bring action and volume out of Tyron Woodley.
On paper, Covington's 4.14 significant strikes per minute and 4.91 takedowns per match mean that in a volume fight that goes to a decision, Covington is likely the winner. The question becomes if Woodley can make Covington his sixth UFC finish, and there is an argument for it. Covington has largely avoided knockout power to this point in the UFC as he has fought only one opponent with a knockout since 2015. That was champion Kamaru Usman, and Usman did end up turning the lights out for "Chaos" Covington. Woodley could be the second if he comes forward early, and the winner of this fight likely sees another title opportunity in the next year against Usman.
Mayra Bueno Silva ($17): Matchups are key in daily fantasy, and none come better in the women's flyweight division than Mara Romero Borella. Romero Borella is just 2-4 in the UFC and has failed to eclipse 30 strikes in five of those six bouts, which means she has very little offense to put Marya Bueno Silva in danger in their matchup in the preliminary fights on Saturday. Bueno Silva came out of the gates quickly in the UFC with two first-round submissions, but perhaps she was matched against too good of an opponent as a result, as she handily lost her last decision to Maryna Moroz. She has a great chance to get back on track in this fight, as Romero Borella's last bout was a submission loss in May, and as a result, Bueno Silva has the lowest submission odds on the entire card at +200 to submit her opponent before the full distance.
Donald Cerrone ($15): The judges likely can catch their breath during the co-main event on Saturday, as their scorecards probably won't be needed. Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone has avoided a decision in five of his last seven fights, and his opponent, Niko "The Hybrid" Price, has avoided a decision in all 11 of his UFC fights, which is presumed to be a UFC record. This welterweight battle is -260 to be finished inside the full distance on Saturday, meaning one of the two should be a primary focus in a cash lineup, and there should be exposure to both sides in tournaments.
When determining who to back, Cerrone is a lower salary than Price ($17) but is the stronger fighter statistically. Cerrone's +0.06 striking success rate is a positive, whereas Price has a -1.14 striking success rate, meaning he takes 1.14 more strikes per minute than he dishes out. Cerrone is therefore a better boxer, with more takedown and submission attempts per match, as well, but Price has a raw power advantage. Cerrone is not lacking in the department, either, so I'm expecting skill and experience to outlast physicality, resulting in the UFC Hall of Famer "Cowboy" winding up in the win column for the first time in five fights.
Sarah Alpar ($12): For many, the playable underdogs are few and far between on this card, but between Alpar and Gerald Meerschaert ($8), there are decent options with not only a chance to win but a shot to finish their opponent. Alpar has done just that in two of her last three professional MMA fights, including her debut on Dana White's Contender Series to earn her UFC contract. Alpar likely is the side with a better fantasy ceiling in her fight with Jessica-Rose Clark, as Clark would have failed to eclipse 63 FanDuel points in each of her last three fights -- and all of those are wins. Alpar, however, can likely do some damage on the mat with a clip of 3.79 takedowns per match, especially given that Clark has defended a pedestrian 62% of takedown attempts in four UFC fights.
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.