UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 256
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 most unique DFS sweats available, 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. To dive deeper into this week's card, also make sure to check out my thoughts on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With those tools at our disposal, let's break down UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno, which will take place on Saturday night from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.
Deiveson Figueredo ($23): The year 2020 has been enough to question your mental sanity by itself, but yes, Deiveson Figueredo is indeed headlining back-to-back UFC pay-per-view events for this first time in the promotion's history. The flyweight champion took very little damage last month with a quick submission of Alex Perez, and with top contender Brandon Moreno doing the same, this fight was a quick solution to a main event cancelled twice due to COVID-19. Figueredo is a fearsome fighter in a small package, as he leads all of UFC in "fight-ending sequences" (knockdowns plus submission attempts) per match at 3.80. His power and jiu-jitsu can end any fight at any time, especially given his precision with 55% striking accuracy and 50% takedown accuracy. He is an easy top choice at MVP in tandem with his card-best -180 odds to win his fight inside the full distance.
Ciryl Gane ($22): The two highest-salaried options in the FanDuel player pool are a strong tandem at MVP, and that includes the undefeated French heavyweight Ciryl Gane. Gane is only 6-0 as a professional and is fairly untested, but he has established himself already as heavyweight's top boxer. Gane's +3.03 striking success rate is best amongst UFC heavyweights, and his striking efficiency above expectation is +21.67% to the average heavyweight as a result of his precise distance striking. A top-level wrestler or grappler may give Gane serious issues, but Junior Dos Santos figures to wrestle (0.31 takedowns per match) and grapple (0.1 submission attempts per match) very little if his 22-fight sample is any indication. In a de facto boxing match, Gane is a justified -450 favorite on the moneyline to comfortably hand former champion Dos Santos his fourth straight loss.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Chase Hooper ($21): One bad performance can severely impact expectations and popularity in a sport with samples as small as UFC, and Chase Hooper is receiving some negative energy as a result of a poor striking performance -- even from opponent Peter Barrett, who is a +300 underdog to someone he seems to respect so little. The difference is that Hooper's last opponent, Alex Caceres, is a solid, veteran striker with a +1.24 striking success rate in the UFC, and Barrett most definitely is not. Barrett holds a +0.10 striking success rate and dreadful 33% striking defense in two UFC bouts, which explains why Hooper is projected to get back on track in a big way. Any specific outcome bet in UFC at favored odds comes with great respect from oddsmakers, and that is no different with Hooper's -125 odds to win by submission on Saturday.
Tony Ferguson ($18): As one of UFC's most popular fighters, Ferguson returns to the octagon Saturday for the first time since a surprising loss to Justin Gaethje in their interim lightweight championship fight in May. Ferguson ran into a buzzsaw that night, as Gaethje landed 72% of his strikes on Ferguson, whose 59% striking defense (including that performance) is well above the UFC average. He figures to fare better on the feet Saturday against Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira. Oliveira lands just 51% of his strikes on average, and he is much more of a submission threat, as 19 of his 29 professional wins have come by submission. If Ferguson's 75% takedown defense can keep this fight standing, he figures to significantly outbox Oliveira, which is a key component in his fairly short +115 odds to win this fight inside the 15-minute duration.
Billy Quarantillo ($15): There is no doubt that Billy Quarantillo lights up a stat sheet, but that is also accompanied by a 3-0 start inside the UFC. More specifically, Quarantillo leads this card -- and would several others -- in significant strikes per minute (7.71), striking accuracy (71%), and FanDuel points per minute excluding any bonuses (5.99). He takes on Canadian Gavin Tucker, who is coming off a new career high with 88 significant strikes and 4 submission attempts, which should help this fight be a shootout. Both sides of this fight are in play due to its -166 odds to see the entire 15 minutes, but the large gap in efficiency favors "Billy Q." Quarantillo is landing 71% of his strikes in his career, with Tucker connecting just 39% of the time.
Virna Jandiroba ($12): Strength-versus-strength fights in UFC largely make their competitors turn to a second pitch. Both Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba are multi-year Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, and that strength on both sides mean that deciding their pivotal ranked match at strawweight may come down to who has a better backup plan to score points. Both Dern and Jandiroba have negative striking success rates, but Jandiroba is certainly more efficient (45%) than Dern (33%) in terms of striking accuracy. A secondary way Jandiroba may score points is wrestling offensively, as she averages a card-best 4.57 takedowns per match, and Dern has failed to defend either of the two takedown attempts she has faced so far. Especially given the $7 drop in salary on FanDuel, Jandiroba projects to have more tools in her belt to win rounds if historical trends hold, as neither of these Brazilians have been finished early in their professional careers.
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.