UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Las Vegas

Former bantamweight champion Petr Yan returns to the octagon this weekend, but which fighter might be an even better choice for the MVP spot on FanDuel?

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, my betting guide is excellent for finding value on Saturday's card. I also dove deeper into this card on this week's Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

Let's break down UFC Las Vegas: Yan vs. Dvalishvili, taking place at The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

MVP Considerations

The largest favorite on this card by a mile is Mario Bautista ($22). I'm not sure how he didn't draw the highest salary, but I'll take it.

Bautista is -1200 to win and -460 to finish this fight inside the distance, and it's likely because he's facing 43-year-old Guido Cannetti. Cannetti has taken advantage of two one-dimensional foes to form a winning streak, but Bautista is one of the division's brightest prospects with equal acumen for striking and grappling. He's held a +1.69 striking success rate (SSR) and added 2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes on stellar 66% efficiency.

Of course, I'm leaving out the highest-salaried guy of the three, Petr Yan ($23). I'd hand Yan the silver medal in the main event. After all, he's also -280 to win the five-rounder, but it could be a bit of an ugly grind. Merab Dvalishvili's wrestling-heavy-if-not-only attack has left fights behind in terms of FanDuel points before.

Yan's 90% takedown defense is championship-tested, and he's held each of the last three to try multiple attempts on him to a takedown accuracy below 18%. If that comes to fruition, Merab will likely post several empty takedown attempts, muting the upside of both fighters. Yan could still post 100-plus significant strikes, but he'd need the first pro knockout of Dvalishvili to pay off his hefty tag.

As low as Yan's scoring potential could be, JJ Aldrich ($20) is undoubtedly worse. Her fight is -186 to go the entire distance, but if Aldrich can score multiple takedowns on Ariane Lipski as she did top-five contender Erin Blanchfield, she'll still have a shot to win in DFS-relevant fashion. The last three fighters with a knockdown or takedown of Lipski won their fight by knockout before the start of the third.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

In the first fight on the card, I feel no choice but to back Carlston Harris ($20). Outside of a setback against the top-five-ranked Shavkat Rakhmonov, Harris has a +1.96 SSR to Jared Gooden's -2.43 SSR. With both takedown defenses above 75%, it's hard not to favor the better striker. On short notice, Gooden also missed weight by seven pounds.

Sedrique Dumas ($18) might have more upside than all five mentioned, but the debutant is still a bit of a risk. His sensational, chaotic finish on Dana White's Contender Series has left him at an absurd rate of 15.56 FanDuel points per minute (excl. bonuses) entering this one. That likely won't stick, but that's a boatload of offense into Josh Fremd's horrific 36% striking defense and 26% takedown defense.

I would hear both sides of an argument between Alexandr Romanov ($17) and Alexander Volkov, but I'll take the wrestler and favorite. Volkov's first-round loss via submission last year is wildly concerning when the Moldovan, Romanov, has wrestled with insane volume (5.18 takedowns per 15) and accuracy (62%) so far. He's a perfect 5-0 in Las Vegas with his only UFC loss at altitude in Utah.

Englishman Davey Grant ($16) has finished three straight wins, and he's a worthy favorite over 40-year-old Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao's elite striking defense (67%) makes him a tough cookie to crumble, but it's happened more recently. Three of Assuncao's last four defeats came via an early finish, and the Brazilian's 0.33% knockdown rate just isn't the scary threat needed to punish Grant's inconsistent striking D (56%).

I'd also lean toward Sweden's Anton Turkalj ($16) for a win pick. He landed 11 takedowns on the Contender Series before getting fed to Jailton Almeida as a +540 underdog in his official UFC debut. His opponent, debutant Vitor Petrino, was knocked down during his trial effort, and Petrino's 66% takedown defense just doesn't appear solid enough to hold back the sticky wrestler.

Value Fighters

Victor Henry defended just 3 of 5 takedowns from the aforementioned Raphael Assuncao, so Tony Gravely ($14) absolutely has a shot to do damage there. Assuncao's takedown accuracy is 38% versus Gravely's at 47%, and Gravely averages 12.4 attempts per 15 minutes. Henry appears to lack the escape hatch needed here with no knockdowns recorded in 236 significant strikes landed with UFC so far.

Two weeks after his canceled main event, Ryan Spann ($13) is back and still facing Nikita Krylov. It wasn't Spann that pulled out with an illness, so we shouldn't have concerns going back to him. He's $2 lower in salary now and tasked with a three-round fight, but Spann hasn't seen a second round in five straight fights. His danger striking (3.34% knockdown rate) or grappling (1.8 submission attempts per 15 minutes) is everpresent.

I'm still selling flyweight's Bruno Silva, who has finished two straight opponents that are 0-5 in UFC. Tyson Nam ($12) is a three-time UFC winner, including last summer in San Diego over Ode Osbourne. Nam's never been taken down with UFC or professionally submitted, so good luck to Silva, who would have to crack through Nam's 64% striking defense at a three-inch reach disadvantage if that holds.

I spoke on Covering the Spread as to why I love Lukasz Brzeski ($11) to win this weekend, but the primary reason is that he's a really great, technical striker for a heavyweight. He boasts a card-best +3.08 SSR and attempts 14.9 significant strikes per minute. He'll have a cardio edge over most heavyweights, but I think he's quietly got the edge when grappling Karl Williams despite Williams' reputation. He's got two regional wins by submission to Williams' zero.

Finally, Jonathan Martinez ($11) is an awesome dart in a duel with fellow striker Said Nurmagomedov. With efficiency numbers fairly close here, it's worth remembering where those came from. Five of Nurmagomedov's eight opponents averaged north of 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. They were wrestlers, and Martinez has beaten four straight fighters averaging less than half a takedown per 15. With an edge in striking experience, "The Dragon" should keep things close -- if not win.