UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 6/5/21
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.
numberFire is always the best spot to get you ready for any UFC card. In addition to this primer, Brandon Gdula's betting guide breaks down where you should be placing your sharp dollars on Saturday's bouts. I also dove deeper into this slate on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Without further delay, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Sakai, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Mason Jones ($23): With the main event projected to end so early, this weekend's 14-fight card almost feels like it has no main event from a fantasy perspective, so the door wide open at MVP on FanDuel. At $23, Jones is the highest-salaried fighter in the player pool, and that will naturally lead to MVP popularity, but he appears to be well worth it. Jones is tops on Saturday's card of all 28 fighters at 7.80 significant strikes per minute, but with just a 37% accuracy, that only begins to tell the story of how much volume the Wales native throws when striking. The matchup for him against Alan Patrick is as favorable as it gets striking-wise, as Patrick averages only 1.79 significant strikes per minute with a 43% striking defense. If Jones can stay on his feet and defend enough of Patrick's takedown attempts, he will have plenty of opportunities to score on a poor striker. And the extra FanDuel points for takedown attempt defenses is worth noting in this matchup.
Manon Fiorot ($18): It is somewhat disappointing that Fiorot will now be immensely popular as a -650 favorite against last-minute stand-in Tabatha Ricci, as Fiorot was scheduled to be in a not-as-obvious great spot against UFC veteran Maryna Moroz. Fiorot was essentially perfect in her UFC debut against Victoria Leonardo, facing no real danger en route to collecting a +3.94 striking success rate and defending all takedowns. Fiorot's power for women's flyweight was much of the reason for UFC signing her before her debut, and the excellent technique she showed was an added bonus. Ricci is making this debut on four days notice and is moving up from 115 to 125 pounds to fight one of the class' brightest prospects -- which seems like an impossible task and should greatly shift popularity Fiorot's way. Fiorot is a viable MVP but will likely be chalky.
Author's Note: Updating a previous note, FanDuel has confirmed Manon Fiorot WILL earn fantasy points on this slate despite her opponent change. She was marked out of the player pool temporarily after this article was published.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Augusto Sakai ($17): There is a 73.7% implied probability that the main event at heavyweight does not go the distance, which takes away a lot of the value for its high-salaried participants. But Sakai is the one I'm targeting inside a tricky main event. Both Sakai and Jairzinho "Bigi Boi" Rozenstruik have combined to secure just one UFC takedown and zero submission attempts, so this fight will play out amongst two strikers. Sakai has historically been the more efficient, higher-volume striker of the two. Sakai has posted a 5.32 significant strikes per minute rate in the UFC with a fine 50% striking defense. Rozenstruik has been below average in both categories with marks of 3.14 and 39%, respectively, in comparison. Sakai would be wise to use Ciryl Gane's strategy of staying at range and engaging safely against Rozenstruik, as Rozenstruik has never shown the ability to win a UFC fight that he did not finish by early knockout.
Roman Dolidze ($16): With only five of the 14 underdogs favored by my model, I am peppering this mid-range when building lineups this weekend. Dolidze helps fulfill that strategy, coming off a terrible split-decision loss to Trevin Giles that many felt he won. Dolidze is seen as the grappler in this matchup with Laureano Staropoli as the striker, and Dolidze's strong 1.75 takedowns per match and 2.2 submission attempts per match both verify that claim, but Dolidze has a better chance striking than conventional wisdom says in this fight. Dolidze has posted a +1.23 striking success rate in 3 UFC fights compared to Staropoli's -0.18 rate. When you add in Staropoli's poor 57% takedown defense rate, Dolidze has a realistic path to upside in this clash in all three phases of mixed martial arts.
Youssef Zalal ($11): UFC samples are so small that data can be incredibly dirty, and that is absolutely the case behind Sean Woodson's 77% takedown defense rate entering this weekend. Kyle "Crash" Bochniak was a low-skill, high-volume UFC fighter that crashed into Woodson for a sloppy, 1-for-15 takedown effort in Boston in 2019, but Woodson has failed to defend 6 of 11 takedown attempts against his other two opponents, and that put him into incredibly hot water in his debut against Terence McKinney, and it ended his night via a D'Arce choke to Julian Erosa in his last fight. At 2.40 takedowns per match, Youssef Zalal is equally capable of getting Woodson to the mat where he is weakest, and if Zalal's 64% striking defense keeps him from taking a beating before it happens, Zalal has a golden opportunity to cash in as a +152 underdog in this battle of prospects.
Kamuela Kirk ($9): My model loves Kamuela Kirk per dollar of salary above any fighter in 2021 so far, so I cannot avoid putting him in the helper despite the official recommendation being a "strong tournament punt play" personally. Kirk actually won the first round of his only UFC-affiliated matchup against three-time UFC winner Billy Quarantillo, but Quarantillo poured on a fountain of strikes to come from behind and knock Kirk out in Round 2. Still, in that fight, Kirk showed great offensive volume at 5.32 significant strikes per minute and 2.89 takedowns per match, and against the incredibly volume Makwan Amirkhani (1.42 significant strikes per minute), Kirk could be leading the dance often in this fight. Amirkhani does his best work on the ground, but Kirk has a great chance to keep him uncomfortable if his 100% takedown defense and record of never being submitted professionally both hold through Saturday.
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.