UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 65
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. I also dove deeper into this weekend's slate on The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Let's break down UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs. Spivac, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
There's an MVP candidate in a tier of his own on this slate. It's Jack Della Maddalena ($22).
Della Maddalena has ballooned to a -650 favorite, and no one else on this slate is clear of -220. It'd be one thing to potentially fade JDM on style or scoring potential, but unfortunately, he checks every box there, too.
Coming off handing Ramazan Emeev (and his sporty 65% striking defense) his first UFC loss by knockout, Della Maddalena has an arguably easier opponent this week with Danny "Hot Chocolate" Roberts. Roberts' 51% striking defense and -0.19 striking success rate don't provide much hope against Della Maddalena's 65% defense and +3.56 rate.
When pivoting in tournaments, anything is a risk. The next-best options are Sergei Spivac ($23) and Charles Johnson ($18).
Spivac's lone concern is Derrick Lewis' mammoth right hand -- which is a real one. Other than that, he should eat Lewis alive on the feet (+0.83 striking success rate to Lewis' +0.00) or wrestling. "The Polar Bear" averages 4.09 takedowns per 15 minutes on stellar 63% accuracy, and Derrick's 55% takedown defense has wilted before.
As for Johnson, he's more of a speculative play. He was roughed up by superstar prospect Mohamed Mokaev in his debut, but Zhalgas Zhumagulov (-0.73 striking success rate) will be a different story. I was wholly encouraged by Johnson's 54% striking accuracy and 58% striking defense in that lopsided fight, and he defended more takedowns from Mokaev (14) than he allowed (12).
Other High-Salaried Fighters
My favorite fight for dual-sided fantasy points isn't what you might think. I think it's the heavyweight clash between Waldo Cortes-Acosta ($21) and Chase Sherman ($9).
On a card with poor favorites, I'm still willing to fire on Cortes-Acosta even with my model picking Sherman based on their previous level of competition. At the end of the day, both of these big boys average north of 6.00 significant strikes per minute on striking accuracy at 45% or better. They're two of the best strikers at heavyweight already, and both have been reliably durable. Waldo, of course, is still undefeated.
As for winners, Brady Hiestand ($19) is a guy I'm willing to make a stand with -- pun intended. Hiestand covered the spread as a dog in The Ultimate Fighter 29 finale against Ricky Turcios. He landed six takedowns on solid 54% efficiency. Considering his opponent, Fernie Garcia, has defended just 60% of his historical attempts, Brady is a surprise -- but deserved -- favorite to get his first UFC win.
Plus, I think Miles Johns ($18) gets his hand raised this weekend. Johns has struggled with consistency, but all in all, his +0.96 striking success rate, 51% striking accuracy, and 69% striking defense are all good-to-great for this division. He's getting Vince Morales, who has an uninspiring -0.09 striking success rate himself.
This is a card where I've got 7 of the 12 current underdogs projected to win outright. It makes daily fantasy tricky -- except down here.
Outside of Sherman in that potentially wild bout, Ion Cutelaba ($10) is my favorite value play on the card. Not only has Cutelaba historically scored well (4.64 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses; third-best on this card), but he's facing just his second unranked foe in his last nine bouts. The last was a dominant, eight-takedown win over Devin Clark.
There are levels to this game, and I see Cutelaba on a different plane than the favored Kennedy Nzechukwu, who just snapped a two-fight unranked skid. That same theory also lends me to Jennifer Maia ($10), who is facing her lowest-ranked opponent in six fights against Maryna Moroz.
Moroz's 52% striking defense and 47% takedown defense are both incredibly concerning for this leap in competition, but I'll admit, I'm not sure about Maia in fantasy; this fight is hovering at -360 to go all 15 minutes.
In a fight without much overall skill, Vanessa Demopolous ($15) has one discernable skill. Her grappling (1.3 submission attempts per 15 minutes) is solid, and Maria Oliveira's 46% takedown defense is shaky at best.
An interesting dart is Tereza Bleda ($11). She is massive for women's flyweight at 5'9", and she dominated her appearance on Dana White's Contender Series with a +2.73 striking success rate. I think the 20-year-old uses her size to maul the former strawweight, Natalia Silva.
This card should be wild because I haven't even mentioned Andre Fialho ($15) or Kevin Natividad ($14), and both are dropping back in terms of competition level with a combined 18 career knockouts in 25 pro wins. It would not surprise me at all if the perfect lineup left some salary on the table.