UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 265
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 bets 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 265: Gane vs. Lewis, taking place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on Saturday night.
Ciryl Gane ($23): With steep -400 odds and a powerful puncher on the other side, DFS may be the best way to gain financial exposure to a Ciryl Gane win on Saturday night. Gane seems like a value against Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis in the main event in a battle truly between skill and power. The undefeated Gane has powered through UFC's best heavyweights with a middleweight-like 5.13 significant strikes per minute and has been incredibly skilled defensively with a 63% striking defense. Lewis is a man built on one-shot knockout power, and he has used that fear to still find wins despite just a 43% striking defense and 54% takedown defense. But those woes are ones that Gane has shown he can exploit either at distance or by wrestling. The main event is a simple one to handicap -- does Derrick Lewis knock out Ciryl Gane? If that answer is "no," the Frenchman more likely than not sets up a date with current champion Francis Ngannou.
Rafael Fiziev ($22): Gane is not a safe MVP candidate, and neither is Rafael Fiziev on a 13-fight card where that security just does not exist. Fiziev is one of UFC's hottest prospects who cannot find an equal-ranked fight because of his danger and technical skill, and that is how he meets Bobby "King" Green as a substantial -320 favorite. With respect to Green's incredibly strong 3.83 FanDuel points per minute and 63% striking defense, it came against a far lower level of competition than he sees in Kyrgyzstan's Fiziev on Saturday. The last ranked striker that Green faced was Dustin Poirier, and Poirier knocked down Green twice before ultimately finishing him. Fiziev likely needs to do the same to continue to move up the rankings in such a lopsided matchup, but his +165 odds to win inside-the-distance on FanDuel Sportsbook imply it is entirely possible.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Alonzo Menifield ($21): At just 2.28 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses, the inactive Menifield has a similar offensive profile to fellow knockout artist and headliner Derrick Lewis. The difference between the two is that Menifield's grappling defense has allowed him to stay throwing punches on his feet, as his 85% takedown defense is sixth-best on this card. Menifield is a priority in this spot because of his matchup with Ed "Short Fuse" Herman, who has arguably the weakest three-fight winning streak in UFC at the moment. Herman has a -32 striking differential in his last three wins, and respective striking defense marks in that span were 33%, 49%, and a career-worst 29% against Mike Rodriguez in his last fight. Allowing that many punches through to your face against "Atomic" Alonzo Menifield seems like a recipe for disaster.
Casey Kenney ($18): Kenney's showdown with Song Yadong is one of the most competitive fights on a card littered with them, but paying the premium for access to Kenney in this spot seems well worth it. Kenney's 4.81 significant strikes per minute and 1.10 takedowns per match seem fine in a vacuum, but they are even better considering Kenney's sample is muddy after mounting just 47 total strikes while being taken down 12 times by Merab Dvalishvilli in February 2020. Kenney appears to have worked on that concern, stuffing 11 of the last 13 takedown attempts he has faced, and that is enough to give him a green light in this matchup where he is -- against better competition -- historically just slightly more active and efficient than Yadong in all three phases of MMA.
Angela Hill ($12): Predictability in MMA DFS is a beautiful thing, and the matchup between Hill and Tecia Torres appears to be fairly easy to visualize. Their fight has a 77.9% implied probability from FanDuel Sportsbook to see the entire 15-minute distance, and both average less than 0.70 takedowns per match with poor efficiency numbers. Therefore, in a striking match projected to go the distance, Hill becomes a crown jewel value play in this spot. Hill is one of the best distance strikers on the entire card, landing 5.66 significant strikes per minute with a 50% accuracy and 64% defense mark. With Torres behind in all three categories, Hill should be the more volumous, efficient striker -- with a four-inch reach advantage -- in a great fight.
Odé Osbourne ($11): Manel Kape made the decision to deploy Osbourne easier on Friday, as Kape missed weight by three pounds, raising significant concerns about the flyweight's shape entering a do-or-die moment for his UFC contract. That is terrifying on its own for Kape, but Odé Osbourne's activity should be, as well. Osbourne's wild pace, which has him 2nd-best on the card in FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (3.87), has earned him two knockouts thus far, and Kape's main concern has not been his efficiency, but rather his volume, as he ranks 9th-worst in that same category (2.60). Osbourne is physically larger with a five-inch reach advantage, as well, which makes for plenty of reasons to back the underdog Osbourne over "Starboy" in this spot.
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.