UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC 280
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 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev, taking place at the Ethiad Arena in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
There's one dominant favorite on this card, and he's the best MVP candidate by a mile.
Mohammad Mokaev ($23) is a -1600 favorite over Malcolm Gordon, who we've seen submitted and knocked out in a matter of minutes by prior foes. Mokaev is also no average foe; the undefeated English prospect has posted a card-best 5.34 FanDuel points per minute (excl. bonuses) in two dominant wins.
While Mokaev is seemingly a free square based on his win equity, it's possible he doesn't post the best fantasy day. He had just 99.8 FanDuel points in a decision last time out. In this case, we can open up exposure to Karol Rosa ($21) and Manon Fiorot ($19).
Rosa's spot is phenomenal. Lina Lansberg (26% takedown accuracy) can't wrestle, so the 10:27 in control time that Rosa ceded in her only UFC loss doesn't seem likely to be an issue here. Instead, Rosa's +2.20 striking success rate should have its way with Lansberg's poor -1.15 mark. Lansberg's striking defense (46%) is poor, as well, so don't write off a knockout.
As for Fiorot, she's seeing a step up in competition to top flyweight contender Katlyn Chookagian, but it's not actually a spot with many risks. Chookagian has gone to a decision in 13 of her 15 UFC bouts, and the two exceptions were losses by knockout.
Without much power, Fiorot should dominate these exchanges on a per-minute basis. Her 70% striking defense is exceptional, and Chookagian's 35% striking accuracy is a key issue for her on the feet.
The two ladies don't have quite the finishing potential that Mokaev does, but both average north of 6.60 significant strikes landed per minute. They can pay off in a decision, too.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
I certainly don't mind Petr Yan ($22) at MVP, but my model believes Sean O'Malley ($14) is going to win as a giant underdog. The salaries on this fight are way up for a three-round fight -- for good reason.
Both Yan and O'Malley are strikers averaging north of 5.40 significant strikes per minute, and while Yan -- the former champion -- certainly has the edge in pedigree, O'Malley has significant advantages in striking success rate (card-best +4.27), striking accuracy (62%), and striking defense (64%). This should be a great tilt.
Another stackable fight is the bantamweight co-main for the title. Aljamain Sterling ($18) and TJ Dillashaw ($16) both carry higher salaries because of the five-round duration of their fight, but it's not even a sure thing like O'Malley-Yan. There could be plenty of grappling, but I prefer Dillashaw, who has scored a knockout in all five of his title wins.
The other high-salaried fighter to note is Caio Borrahlo ($17). Borrahlo is a hard sell when you look at two straight sub-55-FanDuel-point performances, but his grappling skills are tremendous. Scoring more than 10 minutes of control time for a third straight fight could lead to a submission against Makhmud Muradov, who just allowed one to Gerald Meerschaert in his last bout.
You'll notice I left a certain someone out.
With -480 odds to see an early finish in the Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira ($13) bout, you won't want to stack it. Instead, you'll probably want to pick your favorite in all formats, and I prefer Oliveira. Makhachev's elite wrestling will put him into a precarious position against the UFC's all-time submission leader, and Oliveira's hands (three knockdowns in the last three fights) are also dangerous. I don't know how he's the underdog.
Salaries are down across the board to account for the lack of value on this card, but AJ Dobson ($11) is as low as I'll go. Dobson hasn't gotten a chance to show it after a debut with wrestling ace Jakob Malkoun, but he can wrestle, too. Dobson has a 50% takedown accuracy, and his opponent, Armen Petrosyan, has a dreadful 30% takedown defense. Dobson should win outright if he avoids a knockout.
Sean Brady ($14) and Belal Muhammad are the same salary in their close bout, but Brady has been more productive on FanDuel (3.93 points per minute, excl. bonuses) and has finished two of his five UFC bouts. Belal, with decisions in 12 of his last 13 fights, just doesn't have a lot of upside.
I'd also throw in Volkan Oezdemir ($13). "No Time" has three UFC knockouts, and opponent Nikita Krylov (43% striking defense) is a ripe candidate for another.