UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 257
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. If you would rather bet the fights outright on FanDuel Sportsbook, Barry Cohen has you covered with his betting guide. 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 257: Poirier vs. McGregor 2, taking place live in Abu Dhabi on "Fight Island" on Saturday.
Movsar Evloev ($23): Evloev represents the card's largest favorite as he's at -500 odds to defeat Nik Lentz on Saturday. The Russian prospect is receiving 96% of the money on FanDuel Sportsbook, per oddsFire, even at that steep price. Evloev's floor is tremendous between his odds of victory and his production -- even in only decisions to this point. Evloev has landed at least 70 significant strikes or 4 takedowns in each of his first three UFC appearances, and he could pile up takedowns on Nik Lentz, who defends them at a poor 45% clip. I have questioned Evloev's ceiling in the past, but his high floor is worth something on a card that could be wild.
Dustin Poirier ($18): The definition of "trusting the data" is this weekend's main event. All of the narratives around Conor McGregor this weekend have him a whopping -325 favorite in the main event and an even better -210 to win inside the five-round distance, but the resume comparison is on "The Diamond" Poirier's side. McGregor has one fight at 155 pounds -- and two total -- since 2016, and his one win was a flash knockout of Donald Cerrone, who is 0-4-1 in his last five bouts. In that span, Poirier is 6-1 against the top lightweight contenders in the world. His great peripheral numbers include a rate of 5.57 significant strikes per minute (second on this card) and 4.36 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (also second). McGregor's return is cause for celebration, but Poirier is an elite mixed martial artist, as well -- with better peripheral numbers -- and will likely come at a fraction of the popularity for tournaments.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Khalil Rountree Jr. ($22): Rountree's +0.16 striking success rate and 1.87 FanDuel points per minute are not usually a consideration at such a high salary, but his matchup is the best on the entire card. Poland's Marcin Prachnio has been knocked out in the first round in each of his first three fights with a horrific 40% striking defense along the way. Rountree is certainly exploitable in other matchups -- especially considering his 46% takedown defense -- but Prachnio has not survived long enough to secure a takedown in three tours of duty. The trust with Rountree's abilities is not there to justify use at MVP on FanDuel, but his -195 odds to win inside the distance demonstrate how quickly "War Horse" could leave the octagon victorious.
Dan Hooker ($19): As far as the best fight environment beyond the main event, there is no argument beyond Hooker and Michael Chandler ($18) in the lightweight co-main event. New Zealand's Hooker has turned into a volume monster in his last three fights, posting at least 98 significant strikes and going 2-1 with a close loss to Poirier. Chandler, the former Bellator champion, makes his long-anticipated UFC debut, and he is an explosive, efficient wrestler (41% takedown efficiency) who should look to take the lanky Hooker to the ground and control him. Hooker's takedown defense has stood well at 79% across 15 fights, so if this fight stays standing, Hooker and his four-inch reach advantage are a justified -132 favorite.
Joanne Calderwood ($15): "JoJo" was far from kind to my bankroll last August when she took Jennifer Maia's bait to the ground and was quickly submitted. That is certainly the weakness of the Scottish flyweight, as her 55% takedown defense and three submission losses indicate that she does not perform well when the fight hits the mat. Luckily, Jessica Eye lands a card-worst 0.40 takedowns per match, so in what profiles to be a fight staying on the feet, Calderwood will be at home. She is one of the best boxers in women's MMA, as she averages 6.17 significant strikes per minute at a solid +1.86 success rate. She will be a far more efficient boxer than Eye, who owns a card-worst 36% striking accuracy, and that should mean a rebound is in store for Calderwood.
Marina Rodriguez ($9): Rodriguez's distant +270 odds make sense entering this fight without context, as her opponent Amanda Ribas has a card-best striking success rate (+3.07 strikes per minute) and card-best 73% striking defense. However, all four Ribas victories to start her UFC career have come against grapplers, as evidence by the net -0.06 striking success rate of her opponents thus far. Ribas has been an honors student in pre-algebra, but Rodriguez represents a calculus-level challenge in the UFC's 115-pound division as a striker. She actually pushes a higher pace than Ribas (5.04 significant strikes per minute) and lands at a higher accuracy (50%) despite facing top-10 competition since March 2019. Ribas may still pass her exam, but the step up in challenge makes Marina Rodriguez worth a roll of the dice at such a low salary.
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.