UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 30
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. If you would rather bet the fights, Brandon Gdula's betting guide is a great place to find value on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, 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 Vegas 30: Gane vs. Volkov, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday.
Renato Moicano ($20): The small theme of this weekend's UFC card is former star veterans taking a step back in competition after unsuccessful results. Moicano fits that bill after knockout losses to Jose Aldo, Chan Sung Jung, and Rafael Fiziev, but Moicano slides all the way back to English prospect Jai Herbert for this fight. The stark contrast in both volume and efficiency is on display in this bout, with Moicano averaging 3.95 FanDuel points per minute (excluding bonuses) entering this fight, which is third-best on the card, while Herbert is dead last on the card at just 1.10 FanDuel points per minute. Herbert also landed just 30% of his significant strikes in a knockout loss to 41-year old Francisco Trinaldo, which makes this a golden opportunity for Moicano to staunch a struggling prospect and find traction in his new weight class.
Ciryl Gane ($20): Usually, a heavyweight main event is a test of two plodders looking to score a quick finish, but this athletic, technical main event should be fun. Both Gane and Alexander Volkov ($17) average more than 4.80 significant strikes per minute with a striking success rate north of +2.00. They have used that high pace and efficient striking to get to the top level of the crown jewel division. The nod toward Gane has to come from his wrestling, as Gane started his career as a wrestler, leaving his career-long mark of 1.13 takedowns per match still standing after three consecutive fights totally at distance. Volkov was dispensed of easily by Curtis Blaydes, who landed 14 of 25 takedown attempts on the lanky Russian, and Gane would be wise to take that same approach to keep "Drago" out of his comfort zone and where his weakness -- a 66% takedown defense -- lies.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Andre Fili ($21): Losses to ranked featherweights Sodiq Yusuff and Bryce Mitchell have set Fili back substantially from the title picture, but the talented Sacramento native likely deserves a tougher test than Daniel Pineda on Saturday. Pineda is coming off a loss to 37-year old Cub Swanson in which he was knocked down twice, but Pineda's defensive woes have continued into his second UFC run. Pineda holds just a 44% striking defense and 44% takedown defense through nine UFC appearances, the latter of which might be an avenue for "Touchy" Fili to exploit. Fili historically averages 2.15 takedowns per match, and he will be thrilled to face a matchup that allows him to use it once more. Fili is a -235 favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook, but given Pineda's defensive lapses, Fili's +175 number to win by early finish may have inherent value.
Marcin Prachnio ($19): Prachnio is a great example of why data is so powerful in small UFC samples. Prachnio was hammered by three straight knockout artists to begin his UFC career, but a defensive adjustment as a huge underdog against Khalil Rountree Jr. allowed him to not just survive but thrive. Prachnio defended 66% of Rountree's significant strike attempts to score the unanimous decision, and that boosted his UFC striking defense mark to 58% overall. That bodes well coming into this matchup with "Big" Ike Villanueva, who has struggled to hit light heavyweight opponents (40% striking accuracy) and avoid getting hit himself (37% striking defense; worst among all active UFC light heavyweights). Prachnio has notched 10 of his 14 pro wins by knockout but has none yet in UFC. Villanueva's overall struggles may help find a home for Prachnio's right hand to score the first.
Danilo Marques ($15): Kennedy Nzechukwu is an athletic freak at light heavyweight with his 6'5" frame and 83" reach, but he has been using those physical gifts more than his skill to arrive at this point. Nzechukwu has a -0.42 striking success rate and just a 48% striking defense for a man with his length, but none of that actually should come into play with his matchup of Danilo Marques. Marques is solely a grappling ace, averaging 4.83 takedowns and 1.20 submission attempts per match in two UFC wins. Nzechukwu has done well to stay in the domain in which he can win, recording a 78% takedown defense rate for his career, but it took just one landed takedown on 16 attempts for Paul Craig to find a submission from the mat, and Marques may not need more than a couple to demonstrate such a stark gap in grappling skill on the mat.
Timur Valiev ($10): The best fight environment on the card belongs to Raoni Barcelos ($21) and Valiev. Both Barcelos (4.48) and Valiev (4.39) are tops on this card in FanDuel points per minute (excluding bonuses), and their fight currently has implied odds of 65.5% to go the 15-minute distance. That leaves fantasy points to be had on both sides, and while Barcelos would be my pick to win this fight and deny Valiev a bonus, Valiev's lower salary addresses a severe need on a card with so many heavy favorites. Valiev's true scoring upside in UFC may not be known, as he absurdly averages 5.50 significant strikes per minute despite spending 52.2% of his UFC time thus far in mat control. So it will be fascinating to see the urgency he could fight with trailing a strong bantamweight like Barcelos.
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.