UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 62
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.
Let's break down UFC Vegas 62: Grasso vs. Araujo, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday.
It ain't comfortable up here this week.
Pete Rodriguez ($23) is everything you'd want in an MVP candidate except one key area. He's a -770 favorite, and he's -400 to win inside the distance. There's just a tiny bit of risk that he's got only five pro bouts, and he was blitzed out of his UFC debut -- although it was by the sensational Jack Della Maddalena.
The UFC career for Mike Jackson -- Rodriguez's opponent -- is just a mirage. He was brought in by UFC to be a "winnable" matchup for former WWE star CM Punk, and he dispensed Punk easily. Jackson took years between that bout and his true UFC debut against Dean Barry in April. He was getting destroyed by the inexperienced Barry before taking a win via disqualification due to an eye poke. He, not Rodriguez, is the reason to play Pete at MVP.
However, if you're looking for a bit more substance, Victor Henry ($21) at least has a win in the column. He dismantled Raoni Barcelos (6-2 in UFC) in his UFC debut in a shocking upset. He landed 12.07 significant strikes per minute on the defensive stalwart.
The 35-year-old is no prospect, and he's arguably taking an easier fight this week against 40-year-old Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao is on a four-fight skid, and three losses have come via finish. Barcelos had never been battered like that prior to Henry, but we've seen it happen to Assuncao quite a bit recently.
The final name I'd toss in here is Joanderson Brito ($21). Brito might be a bit overvalued after a fortunate KO win over Andre Fili. The rest of his UFC tenure has been middling, posting just a +0.51 striking success rate.
Still, Brito has a late-notice opponent here in Lucas Alexander. Alexander's lone regional foe with a UFC appearance is Jacob Kilburn. Kilburn went 0-2 in UFC and has lost five straight. Alexander's two regional losses have come via submission, and Brito has five pro submissions. He's +340 to score one in this matchup -- for those interested.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
It's slim pickings at the top outside of those three.
I still like Tatsuro Taira ($20) enough. The 22-year-old phenom from Japan did everything but find a finish in his debut, posting a dominant +3.20 striking success rate and attempting three submissions. He's just got a tough matchup with CJ Vergara ($11), and Vergara hasn't been an easy out for anyone.
Vergara has 30 minutes in the tank against Ode Osbourne and Kleydson Rodrigues, so his 55% striking accuracy, 52% striking defense, and 80% takedown defense hold some weight. The MVP candidates are in squash matches.
The lone remaining high-salaried fighter I'd even turn to is Dusko Todorovic ($18). Todorovic will battle Jordan Wright in a war of first-round finishers, which is why this fight is a laughable -260 to be stopped before halfway.
Todorovic's 47% striking defense isn't good, but Wright's 36% mark is awful. Todorovic also has faced better competition with wins over Michel Pereira and Maki Pitolo. Wright's UFC wins are just 3-9 with the promotion otherwise, so he's largely crushed cans.
I'll concentrate a ton of popularity on these five guys to mix and match a loaded value tier.
I referenced my largest bet of the year in my betting guide, so I'd be remiss to not lead with it here. I feel tremendous about Misha Cirkunov ($12) in DFS, too.
Cirkunov has analytical advantages over Alonzo Menifield everywhere -- as mentioned in the betting piece. His recent competition has also been worlds better. The lone reason Menifield is expected to win is via knockout (+105 odds), but Menifield hasn't knocked down another 205-pounder since the COVID break. This fight is also -410 to be stopped early, so Cirkunov will be fantasy-relevant if he wins.
Speaking of advantages everywhere analytically, Viviane Araujo ($10) is a world-class value play in the main event. She's particularly a better grappler, which could be key to matching Alexa Grasso's so-so 60% takedown defense. Araujo has a reputation for getting tired, but there's very little risk at this punt-level salary with five rounds to work, and oddsmakers are expecting she'll see all five.
Cub Swanson ($11) is the third low-salary fighter I could see both winning and making a splash in DFS. He's coming off a knockout of the durable Darren Elkins and is dropping weight here to bantamweight. His power could be huge at 135. Swanson's striking success rate is higher (+1.01) than Jonathan Martinez's (+0.95), but the gap between these two when grappling could be enormous.
There are plenty of other win picks I'm making in this value tier, including Jakob Malkoun ($15), Sam Hughes ($14), and Brandon Davis ($14), but all are likely to deploy a wrestling-heavy approach that could be a bust in terms of scoring fantasy points.