UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 34
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 Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Gastelum, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Mark Madsen ($20): With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just wrapping up, "The Olympian" is a tremendous way to start a muddy, 12-fight slate lacking in heavy favorites. Madsen earned silver in Greco-Roman wrestling in 2016 and is a perfect 10-0 to start his MMA career behind his wrestling base. Madsen has gotten it done on the mat (as expected), averaging 8.33 takedowns per match across both wins to start his UFC career. Madsen's wrestling certainly sees a weird matchup in a good wrestler -- by MMA standards -- in Clay Guida, but Guida's 68% takedown defense means he may not be able to stop Madsen from getting to him to the mat, and Guida's 34% striking accuracy -- second-to-last on the card -- does not inspire much hope even if Guida keeps this one standing.
Bea Malecki ($19): For me, Malecki is a tier above even Madsen as the most favorite I'm most confident in. Even admitting she was not confident in her skills in her last fight, Malecki has now posted 6.78 significant strikes per minute with a razor-sharp 63% striking defense across the two UFC-affiliated appearances. That mark contributes to her 4.53 FanDuel points per minute, which is tops amongst all favorites on this topsy-turvy card. No one is sure what to expect from newcomer Josiane Nunes, who has never faced a fighter with a UFC appearance, but Malecki's seven-inch advantage in height and reach could be problematic for the entire bantamweight division, much less Nunes.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
William Knight ($22): Knight was thrown into the fire against UFC veteran Da-Un Jung in his last fight, failing to defend eight of Jung's nine takedown attempts in a blowout loss back in April. His matchup against Fabio Cherant is a different story. Cherant has been finished in both of his UFC losses -- by Aleksa Camur and Alonzo Menifield -- and his -5.73 striking success rate has not inspired much confidence along the way. Knight easily dispensed of Camur in his UFC debut, who easily dispensed of Cherant, and that is the general disposition for Knight as a -178 favorite in this fight on FanDuel Sportsbook. While Knight's defense still needs plenty of developing, his first-round upside will be present in any fight in his career due to his explosive power.
Jared Cannonier ($20): This weekend's main event is more interesting than it is fantasy relevant, but Cannonier gets the nod for me in a fight that certainly could factor into the slate by an early finish. Both Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum are in the bottom seven on this card in overall fantasy volume, but Cannonier at least enters on a streak of finishing three of his past four opponents, with the only exception the now title-challenging Robert Whittaker. Cannonier's drop to middleweight has saved his career. In middleweight, he has posted 4.13 significant strikes per minute at 52% accuracy, and that is combined with a 77% takedown defense, which is vastly improved over his 54% career-long mark. A more-skilled Cannonier -- combined with a six-inch reach advantage -- makes him a sturdy favorite over the inconsistent Gastelum.
Ignacio Bahamondes ($12): This week's value tier is as expected -- with the largest moneyline favorite on the card at just -188 on FanDuel Sportsbook -- but two names truly stand out from a fantasy perspective. The Chilean Bahamondes posted 7.91 significant strikes per minute in a brutal matchup against John Makdessi in his UFC debut, as Makdessi leads all active featherweights in striking defense (minimum two fights). That has his overall output at 4.75 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses, which stomps the overall activity of his opponent, Roosevelt Roberts, who is at just 2.88 in the same category. Roberts brings octagon experience to this fight, but this is the first time in his UFC career he will have to overcome a size disadvantage to the lanky Bahamondes. Short of walking into an early submission, Bahamondes seems primed to demonstrate his impressive striking once again.
Parker Porter ($8): The most active fighter per minute on this entire card is the minimum-salaried, 265-pound Parker Porter. No one fighting Saturday has topped Porter's clip of 5.64 FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses through his first two UFC fights, although most of that was posted in his war with Josh Parisian last November. Parisian, though, is a high-volume heavyweight with plenty of power who should have Porter ready for Chase Sherman, a guy who posts an impressive 6.00 significant strikes per minute in his own right. Sherman is just 3-6 in the UFC, so while his experience has contributed to this line, Porter is not actually behind in the quality win category entering this low-level heavyweight bout. Porter's salary opens up plenty of cap space.
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.