UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 68

Blagoy Ivanov and Derrick Lewis once shared the octagon, but they're fighting separate foes this week. Should we roster either on FanDuel, and who should we consider at MVP?

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.

Let's break down UFC Vegas 68: Lewis vs. Spivac, taking place at the UFC Apex facility early Sunday morning.

MVP Considerations

This week's card is filled with debutants from UFC's Road to the UFC campaign in Asia, so there are just a few spots where we have legitimate, useful data.

One of those data points is Japan's Tatsuro Taira ($23), who is the largest moneyline favorite on the card (-1600 on FanDuel Sportsbook) by a country mile. It makes sense; we've seen Taira dominate two flyweight bouts with stellar efficiency given a +2.10 striking success rate (SSR). The lone quibble with him is his pace so far since 3.79 FanDuel points per minute (excl. bonuses) is just modest, but at -240 to find an early finish, it likely won't matter.

The rescheduled main event is my next stop. Serghei Spivac ($21), so long as he avoids a patented "Black Beast" hammer, should be in a position to dominate and finish Derrick Lewis. Spivac's excellent wrestling (4.09 takedowns per 15 minutes with 63% accuracy) should mow through the former title challenger's flimsy 55% takedown defense.

I will take a swing at upside with a newcomer here, though. That's Rinya Nakamura ($22), who blasted his way to two finishes on the campaign. The frantic finishes were nice, but it's really his 62% striking defense and 100% takedown defense that provides hope that he's a bonafide UFC contender. He draws Toshiomi Kazama, who barely squeaked by a decision in his only appearance with a poor 47% striking defense.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Though I'm not sure of their finishing potential to score on FanDuel, I discussed on Covering the Spread what great spots Ji-Yeon Kim ($20) and Junyong Park ($18) are in this weekend.

They definitely carry some upside to score at least. Both average north of 4.85 significant strikes landed per minute, and Park -- the slower-paced of the two -- has curiously short odds (+165) to find a finish given that he has just one in seven UFC appearances.

In the co-main event, Da Woon Jung ($19) is another UFC veteran worth a look. His 88% takedown defense is likely the key to the fight. Devin Clark hasn't won any of his 14 UFC appearances in which he didn't score a takedown, and Clark's also been finished in six of his seven UFC losses. Jung arguably deserves MVP love.

Off a long layoff, UFC Hall of Famer (for his fight with Cub Swanson) Doohoo Choi ($17) has a soft landing spot in his return. Canada's Kyle Nelson is 1-4 in UFC, and three of the losses were by finish. Nelson's card-worst -2.05 SSR has come with almost no upside (2.70 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) thus far.

Value Fighters

I'm excited to see if my model can deliver on a couple of these value plays I've never seen fight before. It'll be a real test of our statistical might.

One is Jeka Saragih ($15), who is an easy process play for the closest fight on the card with Anshul Jubli. I've never seen either fight, and I have no idea about the level of competition to this point, but the dollar discount in salary behind Saragih's +1.93 SSR to Jubli's -0.20 SSR feels like a gift.

Another is SeungGuk Choi ($13). Choi's offense (2.18 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) left a lot to be desired on the campaign, but his 61% striking defense and 90% takedown defense were both incredibly strong. He'll be a UFC winner if it translates to the big stage. Using his defense, his SSR (+0.30) is still higher than that of favorite HyunSung Park (0.00).

The final newcomer I'm looking to back is Yi Zha ($11). Admittedly, this is the riskiest of the three. He could get swallowed whole by JeongYeong Lee, who leads the card in FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (10.30). However, during those crazy firefights in which Lee posted stellar numbers, he had an abysmal 40% striking defense and 50% takedown defense, and Zha is -- allegedly -- his toughest test to date.

We've got a couple of other UFC vets down here, too. One is the sluggish Blagoy Ivanov ($14). His projected slog with Marcin Tybura is -190 to go the distance, and I can't see Ivanov getting finished by the benign Tybura when he hasn't been in six UFC starts. He's a floor play.

Adam Fugitt ($10) might come with a higher ceiling. Fugitt actually extended superstar prospect Michael Morales to the third round in his UFC debut as a +500 underdog. Japan's Yusaku Kinoshita is making his UFC debut on the other side, and he'll be at a six-inch disadvantage in reach to the larger Fugitt. Fugitt landed 5.74 significant strikes per minute on Morales, so I think he's got sneaky upside to dominate this bout.