UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 279

Nate Diaz's new fight should be a wild one for daily fantasy. Which other fighters can we build around on FanDuel for Saturday's slate?

The Ultimate Fighting Championship holds no short of a dozen mixed martial arts bouts nearly every weekend with no real offseason. As one of the most unique sweats available, UFC daily fantasy is live on FanDuel.

The strategy behind this fantasy sport is intriguing. Given that two fighters face off against each other, and some fights end in seconds, choosing which side to back is crucial, and there is a wide range of outcomes. However, getting the winning fighter isn't all that matters. They've also got to land enough strikes, takedowns, or submission attempts to score points!

numberFire is always the best spot to prepare you for any UFC card. If you would rather bet on the fights, our betting guide is excellent for finding value on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I 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 279: Diaz vs. Ferguson, taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday.

**Editor's Note**

This slate was changed from the initial publishing due to the reshuffling of key fights detailed here. All contests from the prior slate have been voided. This helper was rewritten based on the new slate.

MVP Considerations

This section was all about Khamzat Chimaev ($23) this morning, but he was undone at the hands of...none other than Khamzat Chimaev.

Chimaev missed weight by 7.5 pounds on Friday, so he lost his cakewalk matchup with Nate Diaz ($15). Per ESPN, Chimaev now will battle Kevin Holland ($9) after everyone signed on the dotted line in a timely fashion.

Holland's 52% takedown defense is nearly as poor as Diaz's (41%), but the biggest difference is power. Holland has two straight finishes with three total knockdowns, so now Chimaev will face far more fight-ending danger in return. He's still a sure bet to pile up takedowns and is still a -520 favorite in his new matchup. It's also five rounds, which adds to his floor.

If that situation -- rightfully -- scares you, Jailton Almeida ($22) is a safer place to turn. He's a -800 favorite, and he's notched two first-round wins in his first two appearances. While he's also in a mismatch that is incredibly likely to be a stoppage win, Almeida's 12% striking defense is worryingly low, and opponent Anton Turkalj can wrestle a little. Tukalji notched 11 takedowns in his lone UFC-affiliated appearance, so it wouldn't surprise me if he could hang with Almeida for a while.

Personally, the better alternative is Jake Collier ($21) on style alone. If Almeida can't secure a finish, his grappling-heavy style may lead to a poor fantasy effort. Collier is a high-paced striker (5.67 significant strikes landed per minute) that will get to tee off on Chris Barnett's 37% striking defense, which leads to a super high floor.

Collier isn't a particularly powerful heavyweight, so he's definitely less likely to close the show with a knockout than either Chimaev or Almeida. However, don't discount his ability to be the second UFC fighter in four tries to submit Barnett. He did that to Chase Sherman earlier in 2022.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

This card got better thanks to Chimaev's unprofessionalism.

Tony Ferguson ($20) now will fight Diaz in a five-round main event where defense is optional. Ferguson, though, has significant advantages in striking defense (58%) and takedown defense (66%). He should dictate the action and could be an MVP consideration, but Diaz will get his licks in as well. This is a near pick 'em on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Other than that, I really like Irene Aldana ($17) as a flex play. She's knocked out her opponent in two straight wins, and she'll draw Macy Chiasson's weak striking defense (46%) this weekend. Chiasson's best moments in UFC have come wrestling, and Aldana has some of the best takedown defense (84%) in her division.

Up 10 pounds in weight from there, Norma Dumont ($20) should have a massive skill advantage over Danyelle Wolf, who is just 1-0 professionally. Wolf is a longtime United States boxer, but her MMA debut was pretty poor. She landed just 28% of her strikes on Dana White's Contender Series. Dumont (+1.48 striking success rate) has been a beast on the feet since her debut.

Daniel Rodriguez ($16) now has a wonderful matchup with Li Jingliang. Rodriguez originally was set to draw Holland -- a super efficient striker. Now, Rodriguez (and his +2.67 striking success rate) should have a huge advantage on the feet, and his 76% takedown defense should let him keep it.

In two of the closer fights on the card, I'd take Jamie Pickett ($15) and Darian Weeks ($16) to rebound with wins against less-experienced fighters, but their path to scoring fantasy points isn't very obvious.

Value Fighters

Value got a bit easier to find through Friday's mayhem.

Despite Holland's aforementioned takedown issues, I truly don't mind shots at him -- even at this favored salary. Holland has elite power, and Chimaev's 41% striking defense is terrible. Chimaev also missed weight for a reason; something's likely wrong. Holland could be a huge asset in tournaments if he pulls the upset at a near-zero draft percentage.

After that, Julian Erosa ($11) seems to be worth a dart, too. Erosa has taken down and submitted a pair of lanky strikers (Sean Woodson and Charles Jourdain) in his return tour of duty, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him do it to Hakeem Dawodu. Dawodu's 60% takedown defense has been leaky at times, and more importantly, Dawodu has just a 0.17% knockdown rate.

Without much power from "Mean" Hakeem, Erosa could hang in this fight until the final bell -- something many underdogs won't do. Dawodu also missed weight Friday.

I don't mind swipes at striker Chad Anheliger ($13) given his massive 2.60% knockdown rate so far. All five of Anheliger's pro losses have come via submission, so it inspires confidence in him that his opponent, Alatengheili, has never offered an official UFC attempt.

Elise Reed ($14) is also down here with a massive experience edge, but target her sparingly given the fight is -240 to go the entire distance.