UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 5/1/21

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: Reyes vs. Prochazka, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday.

MVP Considerations

Merab Dvalishvili ($23): "The Machine" struggled from a fantasy perspective against John Dodson last July, when Dvalishvili secured only 2 of 20 takedown attempts on Dodson, who owns a career-long 82% takedown defense. With Cody Stamann, this weekend's foe, at 80%, normally there would be reason for concern, but Stamann's rate drops to 64% when you exclude a strange 23-for-24 takedown performance against Bryan Caraway in 2018. Dvalishvili is not one to overthink in fantasy MMA, however, as averaging 186 strike attempts and 18 takedown attempts per fight, Dvalishvili's cardio and willingness to score points are too outrageous to ignore. He could be on his way to another outstanding performance inside the bantamweight rankings on Saturday.

Sean Strickland ($22): After missing nearly two years after a motorcycle accident, Sean Strickland has wasted no time making a surge back up the rankings at middleweight. Strickland has averaged exactly 100 significant strikes in two blowout wins over Jack Marshman and Brendan Allen, and that largely has landed on his striking defense, which now sits at a razor-sharp 66%. Strickland is now up to a career-long 5.09 significant strikes per minute at a +1.32 striking success rate, with opponent Krzysztof Jotko entering this weekend at just 2.98 significant strikes per minute at a +1.08 success rate. In what figures to be a striking match, Strickland is the higher volume fighter who is also superior defensively, and it has him as a rightful -265 favorite.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Andreas Michailidis ($20): KB Bhullar landed just 2 strikes in 142 seconds before succumbing to the pressure of Tom Breese in his UFC debut, and Greek fighter Michailidis is not an easy second test. Michailidis also lost his UFC debut but graded out far better with a +1.00 striking success rate, 53% striking accuracy, and 63% striking defense -- all better than average. Especially considering the perceived power advantage inside Michailidis' -135 odds to win inside the distance, there is not much hope for Bhullar and his -8.82 striking success rate. As a result of many of the COVID-19 cancellations of 2020, there are several fighters below UFC caliber receiving an owed second chance for stepping in late to save a UFC bout. Bhullar is one of them, and he will have an uphill climb to make good on his.

Jiri Prochazka ($19): The most competitive UFC main event of 2021 might take place this weekend. There is a thin margin in striking peripherals and betting odds between Prochazka, who is a slight -130 favorite, and Dominick Reyes as a +110 underdog. Prochazka was outstruck in his UFC debut against Volkan Oezdemir, but Prochazka found a power shot in the second round to close the show, and his 55% striking defense proved that Oezdemir was pouring on volume more so than efficiency. In a much larger sample, the deep concern with Reyes is his 49% striking defense. That was exploited by Jon Jones, who landed 62% of his strikes on Reyes, and Jan Blachowicz, who finished him. Prochazka profiles to have some of the most technical power at all of light heavyweight, and defensive woes are the last thing one should carry into a fight with "Denisa."

Value Fighters

Cub Swanson ($13): When it comes to formulating a FanDuel strategy, this close co-main event is far from close. Giga Chikadze averages just 3.45 significant strikes per minute despite facing last-minute, overmatched replacements in three of his last five fights. Swanson is a well-rounded veteran who does require a solid performance to beat, as Cub can beat you on the feet (4.64 significant strikes per minute at a +1.00 success rate), wrestling (1.09 takedowns per match), or even with an occasional submission (0.50 attempts per match). Against the relatively untested Chikadze, the Georgian is the side to back both in betting and in fantasy.

Luana Carolina ($9): From a fantasy perspective, Carolina is an interesting roll of the dice. In three career UFC appearances, her 6.29 significant strikes per minute is third-best on this card, and her 2.4 submission attempts per match are tops on the card. Even though Carolina did fire two submission attempts in her last fights, Ariane Lipski got the best of her with a brutal knee submission that required surgery. Assuming the 100% recovery she has boasted about this weekend, Carolina makes for an interesting matchup against Poliana Botelho. Botelho is seen as the superior striker, but her pace (3.00 significant strikes per minute) and striking success rate (-0.08) indicate otherwise. She is relatively untested, but with Jonathan Pearce off the card, she appears to have the highest upside of fighters with a salary under $12.

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.