UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 2/20/21

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.

Without further delay, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Lewis, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday night.

MVP Considerations

Curtis Blaydes ($23): At long last, Blaydes and Derrick Lewis meet at heavyweight to settle their ranks in the growing list of contenders. This bout was initially scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend of 2020, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19. As was the case then, the wrestling ace Blaydes is a whopping -450 favorite (and -180 inside the full distance) to defeat "The Black Beast" Lewis, and it comes down to a fairly simple formula. Blaydes leads this card at 6.98 takedowns per match, and Lewis has historically defended takedowns poorly at a 52% clip. And Lewis' career-long back issues seem to have that number trending in the wrong direction. Blaydes profiles to spend a majority of time in control of this fight if he can avoid the one-punch power that has saved Lewis before.

Tom Aspinall ($22): There is a dramatic drop in MVP candidates behind Blaydes, but England heavyweight Aspinall figures to have the highest floor of all of them. Aspinall is a -255 favorite in the featured prelim against the 42-year-old Andrei Arlovski, coming off two consecutive knockouts to begin his UFC career. He leads the entire card at 11.14 significant strikes per minute with sparkling 74% efficiency, although Arlovski is certainly his highest-credentialed foe to date. Aspinall's aggression will be key to his scoring potential on FanDuel, because Arlovski has been knocked out 10 times in his UFC career, but Arlovski has lulled four of his past five opponents into clumsy decisions, limiting them to just 35.7 significant strikes on average in his last seven fights.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Chris Daukaus ($20): Out of respect for opponent Aleksei Oleinik's submission game, Daukaus is just slightly too risky for heavy MVP consideration despite his sparkling 9.58 significant strikes per minute and +6.13 striking success rate through two UFC fights. Daukaus' fast boxing makes him a challenge for any heavyweight -- especially the slow-footed Oleinik, who has been knocked out in four of his last eight fights. Other than Daukaus' Brazilian jiu-jitsu being totally untested in UFC thus far, as he has faced zero takedown or submission attempts, Daukaus is a -190 favorite to pass his third straight test inside the octagon. This fight is primed for fantasy action, as it has a 90.5% implied probability from its odds to end before the full 15-minute distance.

Drako Rodriguez ($19): Rodriguez and Aiemann Zahabi were set to face off on 2020's final card in December, but COVID-19 had other plans for Zahabi. They now meet in February, and Rodriguez is a high-profile target again in an excellent matchup. "The Great Drakolini" carries a card-high 6.30 submission attempts per match into this fight with Zahabi, who has never attempted a submission himself and owns a -1.16 striking success rate even if he keeps this fight away from Rodriguez's proverbial wheelhouse. Given how many different boxes he checks, Rodriguez seems like value at just -196 odds to win this fight outright, and he also has scoring upside for FanDuel.

Value Fighters

Jared Gordon ($14): It is somewhat strange to see the UFC veteran Gordon listed as an underdog against Danny Chavez, but Chavez's impressive win over TJ Brown last August has apparently held well with sportsbooks. However, in a larger sample against tougher competition, Gordon is the one with advantages over Chavez in significant strikes per minute (5.50), striking success rate (+2.20), and FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (4.52). The only concern for Gordon would be his 62% takedown defense against Chavez, who showcased 4.00 takedowns per match in his first showing. But some of that rate might be Gordon inviting wrestling exchanges, as no opponent in seven tries has landed more takedowns than Gordon himself.

Darrick Minner ($10): At 3.15 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses, Charles Rosa offers little upside even if he extinguishes Minner in their fight Saturday. However, Minner is a submission specialist (4.50 attempts per match) with a game-plan that includes scoring upside on FanDuel, and that makes for an easy side to back in daily fantasy. Minner has been submitted twice himself in UFC, but he likely faces little danger from Charles Rosa (0.9 attempts per match) in grappling prowess. Rosa's 45% takedown defense is cause for concern against a grappler looking to get this fight to ground quickly, and Minner has shown adept wrestling thus far with 1.50 takedowns secured per match. When in doubt, back the upside of Minner in a fight that surprisingly found Saturday night's main card.

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.