UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC San Antonio

Marlon Vera's style has led to large performances for his opponents on FanDuel historically. Can Cory Sandhagen be the latest beneficiary, and which other fighters should we target on FanDuel?

The Ultimate Fighting Championship holds around 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 includes my favorite value spots 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 San Antonio: Vera vs. Sandhagen, taking place at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday.

MVP Considerations

In 41 professional fights, Daniel Pineda has seen the judges exactly zero times.

As a result, Tucker Lutz ($21), positioned as a card-best -265 favorite over Pineda, is a pretty easy guy to love at MVP when hunting an early finish. Lutz's last fight with Pat Sabatini showed some holes in his wrestling, but his 70% takedown defense has held fine against other less-accomplished wrestlers.

In his first three UFC fights, Lutz posted at least 95 significant strikes or 4 takedowns. That, combined with an early finish, would be a leader in the clubhouse for optimal MVP.

In the main event, many love the prospects for Marlon "Chito" Vera, but Cory Sandhagen ($22) is the moderate favorite for a reason. As evidenced by a -0.73 striking success rate (SSR), Vera can take minutes and rounds off while studying his opponent, and he's ceded huge fantasy scores doing so. Rob Font landed 271 significant strikes on Chito.

At 6.15 significant strikes landed per minute, Sandhagen can absolutely deliver pace to an opponent willing to get hit. Vera hasn't shot a takedown in three fights, but Sandhagen's takedown defense has been exceptional lately, too. He's stopped 22 of the last 28 attempts he's faced.

Finally, CJ Vergara ($20) appears to have a clear-as-day path to a monstrous score if his 73% takedown defense holds. He's the latest to draw the defensively challenged Daniel Lacerda da Silva. Lacerda's 26% striking defense is wretched, and he's been finished by the eighth minute in all three of his prior UFC appearances.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

After a wild fight in San Diego last year, Nate Landwehr ($19) draws another fantasy-friendly environment this weekend in San Antonio.

He'll battle fellow striker Austin Lingo ($11) in a fight that should have plenty of fantasy points. Lingo hasn't really faced someone like Landwehr to this point. Nate the Train's 6.37 significant strikes landed per minute have come with excellent 51% accuracy, and he's added 1.30 takedowns per 15 minutes on even better accuracy (66%).

His two UFC losses have come via crazy flying knee attacks, but he's yet to be stood in front of and beaten by a conventional boxer like Lingo.

Manel Kape ($19) is another ascending fighter worth a look. Kape busted through David Dvorak's steady defense for a dominant win last December, and he's the latest to draw the ambiguous challenge of Alex Perez. Due to injuries and illnesses, Perez has had less than four minutes of octagon time since July 2020.

Perez's skill isn't really certain at this point. His six UFC wins have come over guys that are 1-6 with the promotion since the start of 2020. He's been humiliated in both recent losses, and Kape's massive power (1.67% knockdown rate) is another recipe for disaster.

Veteran Steven Peterson ($16) is another dart for a potential win bonus. Peterson's key advantage could be his submission volume (0.80 attempts per 15 minutes) against Lucas Alexander, who has been submitted in all three of his pro losses.

Value Fighters

If Trevin Giles ($15) can't get this one done, he's probably not long for UFC.

Giles (2.27 FanDuel points per minute excl. bonuses) has never been confused for "Mr. Excitement", but his experience and size as a former middleweight should bully him past regional grappler Preston Parsons. Parsons' gaudy numbers are largely due to a blowout win over a natural lightweight in 2022. Parsons was knocked out swiftly by Daniel Rodriguez, who is the only UFC winner he's faced before Giles.

Victor Altamirano ($14) has been a fantasy force in his first three bouts, posting 7.04 significant strikes per minute on lethal 60% accuracy. I'll take his large advantage in octagon experience over Vinicius Salvador in a high-paced battle of flyweight prospects.

Though Chidi Njokuani's UFC record is 2-1, it hasn't come free of adversity. He was controlled for over three minutes by Dusko Todorovic before finding a miraculous elbow in close, and Gregory Rodrigues needed just one takedown to knock him out via ground-and-pound. Grappling ace Albert Duraev ($12) could present significant problems in a stylistic clash for the ages. I trust Duraev's striking defense (65%) to keep him safe until he finds an opening.

Oddsmakers aren't expecting an early finish in the fights of Andrea Lee ($11) or Yana Santos ($8), but both have modest chances to prevail as the winner for punt-level salaries. After all, women's divisions are more prone to upsets than any single men's division.