UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC London

Iceland's Gunnar Nelson is the largest favorite on the card this week in his first octagon appearance since 2019. Who else stands out in daily fantasy?

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, our betting guide is a great place to find value on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I also dove deeper into the slate on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

Without further delay, let's break down UFC London: Volkov vs. Aspinall, taking place from the O2 Arena in London, England on Saturday.

MVP Considerations

Paddy Pimblett ($23): With Conor McGregor largely out of the title picture, "Paddy the Baddy" is UFC's latest brash U.K. star. Pimblett supported his controversial personality with some real skill in his UFC debut. Though defense wasn't his priority, Pimblett leads all fighters on this card in FanDuel points per minute (6.38) and striking success rate (+4.98) following a first-round finish of Luigi Vendramini. That was on the feet, but Pimblett likely exploits his opponent, Kazula Vargas, on the mat this weekend. Vargas has just a 25% takedown defense, and 7 of Paddy's 17 pro wins have come via submission.

Ilia Topuria ($22): Topuria is just a -560 favorite compared to Pimblett at -590, but the lengthier sample on Topuria's foe, Jai Herbert, makes this even more of a certainty, personally. Unlike Pimblett, Topuria has excelled in four UFC appearances on defense; he's got a 64% striking defense and 100% takedown defense. Herbert hasn't landed much offense on any opposing fighter (1.31 FanDuel points per minute), and his defensive metrics are a green-light target for Topuria. Notably, Topuria averages a card-best 3.4 submission attempts per 15 minutes, and Herbert was submitted in his second appearance and holds just a 30% takedown defense overall.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Gunnar Nelson ($21): The third of this weekend's "big three" is Nelson making his first UFC appearance since 2019. At -620 on UFC odds, Nelson is actually the largest favorite on the card. The Icelandic grappler has the perfect recipe for a first-round finish. Takashi Sato has ceded a submission in every UFC fight in which he's faced an attempt, and Nelson's 0.9 submission attempts per match imply he'll have a chance. Both Pimblett and Topuria add more through their striking than Nelson, so he's not as secure to find per-minute FanDuel points. He's still a tremendous flex play at a lower salary than both.

Molly McCann ($18): "Meatball" Molly has not suffered a pro defeat yet in which her opponent failed to land a takedown. Considering Luana Carolina has just one empty attempt in five UFC-affiliated appearances, the Liverpool native could enjoy quite the homecoming. McCann has eclipsed 100 significant strikes in four of her seven UFC starts, and she breezes past her opponent with 5.67 significant strikes landed per minute on 49% accuracy. Carolina's 48% striking defense -- against lesser competition -- is a real concern against McCann despite holding a seven-inch edge in reach.

Others to Consider: Sergei Pavlovich ($20), Tom Aspinall ($18), Mike Grundy ($17), Alexander Volkov ($16)

Value Fighters

Jack Shore ($15): The Welsh fighter is a perfect 15-0 in his pro career, yet he's a slight +100 underdog in his home area. Timur Valiev scored a high-profile win over Raoni Barcelos last time out, and that's likely the reason he's a slight favorite. Still, Valiev has just a 50% takedown defense in three UFC appearances, and that is where "Tank" shines. Shore averages 4.47 takedowns per 15 minutes on solid 41% efficiency. With limited value, Valiev and Shore is a crucial decision in this closely-lined fight, but given Shore has never been finished professional, he -- not Valiev -- may be the only one of the two carrying high upside in fantasy.

Paul Craig ($13): Are we really doing this again? "Bearjew" has finished three straight opponents as the betting underdog, and he's a +142 'dog to Nikita Krylov this weekend. The path for Craig in this fight is obvious. Of Krylov's last 12 pro appearances, 7 were decided by submission -- and Krylov has been on the losing end of the last two. Craig has arguably the best jiu-jitsu at light heavyweight; he averages 1.9 submission attempts per 15 minutes. Krylov would do well to keep Craig (2.59 significant strikes landed per minute) at distance, but it's easier said than done. In Craig's last five fights, at least 60% of each has been spent in a controlled grappling environment.

Others to Consider: Dan Hooker ($14), Elise Reed ($12), Cody Durden ($10)