It’s not surprise that DraftKings.com is holding their biggest ever UFC fantasy contest for UFC 189, which has been touted to break UFC PPV records this weekend. DraftKings is running a $3 entry contest with $75,000 in total prizes and $20,000 to the winner. This is the biggest prize every awarded in fantasy MMA for a buy-in as low as $3.
Below I will look at every fight on the card, giving the DraftKings price for each fight. I’ll then give my pick with 1-3 stars (3 stars being the best value in my opinion). I will also add in the betting odds if I am personally placing a bet on either fighter. This could be a fairly long article, but we have a lot to get through.
I’m going to be at the MGM Grand watching this card live from VIP seats I won through DraftKings.com! If anyone is going to be there, drop me a line. Maybe we can meet up for a beer.
Mendes vs McGregor
- Conor McGregor $10,100***
- Chad Mendes $9,600*
I’m going to be including the odds to finish the fight in a lot of these little write-ups because that is a huge factor in the DraftKings scoring. A 1st round win is worth 100 points, while a decision win is only worth 25. Finishes in the other rounds are worth somewhere in between. You can see the full MMA scoring here.
In order to win the $20,000 you’re going to need a good chunk of your fighters to have finishes (and fast finishes at that). For this reason I generally like to go with fighters who have the weapons to finish fights and have shown it in the past.
For this reason I like McGregor here. He has finished 4 of his 5 UFC fights and 3 of those were in the first round. I think he can catch Mendes in this fight in either the first or second round. McGregor has odds of 1.741 to finish the fight, which shows that the $10,100 price tag is well worth it.
Mendes also has a lot of power in his hands, but I don’t see him getting the better of the stand-up exchanges in this fight. I like McGregor, but I gave Mendes 1 star too, because at $9600 he’s actually not a bad pick either. He’s been given odds of 4.39 to finish the fight. He does have power in his hands and seeing as this is a 5 round fight if it does go late he will have those extra rounds to pick up points.
I got my bet in on McGregor last week at odds of 1.70, but now the best I can find is 1.59 at Bet365.com. I expect these odds to continue to shorten as McGregor continues to show his confidence heading to fight night.
MacDonald vs Lawler
- Rory MacDonald $10,300**
- Robbie Lawler $9,100
The next generation of Canadian Welterweight Champ will be crowned this Saturday in Vegas. In my opinion Rory is by far the top fighter in the Welterweight Division and I expect him to start his reign at the top by taking the belt from Robbie this Saturday.
The reason I only have MacDonald at 2 stars is because he might not finish the fight and if he does it likely won’t come early in the fight. He likes to measure out his opponents early before really landing his attacks. That said I see Rory absolutely dominating this fight and picking up a lot of significant strike points on the way to a potential knockout. Once again, even if it does go to a decision he has those extra 2 rounds to pick up points or get a potential late knockout so these 5-round fights are safer plays than the typical 3-rounders and the fighters salaries still add up to $19400 like all of the fights.
Rory has odds of 3.00 to win inside distance, while Lawler has odds of 6.05.
I also put down a big bet on Rory at odds of 1.58 to win the fight. The best odds I see for him now are 1.57 @ Bet365.com, and I would still recommend getting on that price.
Stephens vs Bermudez
- Jeremy Stephens $9,000*
- Dennis Bermudez $10,400
When making your DraftKings lineup you’re going to have to take a couple underdogs in order to be able to take some favourites. The average salary you’ll have to go with is $10,000, so our pick from the two title fights would already mean we need some lower priced guys with value.
I see Stephens as a decent option at $9000. His odds to win inside the distance are 4.15, which is great for a $9000 price tag. He’s actually being given better inside the distance odds than Bermudez in this fight. Bermudez is favoured to win, but the way he will fight he won’t rack up a ton of points, so steer clear of him at $10,400.
Stephens is the type of guy you want at a cheap price. Someone who is an underdog in the fight, but has the ability to finish and pick you up points.
Nelson vs Thatch
- Gunnar Nelson $9,200***
- Brandon Thatch $10,200*
I’m a big Gunnar Nelson fan, so when I saw he was an underdog in this fight and only $9200 I knew he would be on a lot of my lineups.
Gunnar has been given odds of 3.55 to finish the fight, which are great odds for a $9200 fighter.
Thatch at $10,200 isn’t a horrible play either because his odds of finishing inside the distance are 2.51. Now, I don’t think he’s going to do that. I think Gunnar will win this fight, so the $9200 is a great price in my books, but if you like Thatch and think he could finish the $10,200 isn’t horrible.
Gunnar is coming off a split decision loss to Rick Story and I am convinced he will be back with a vengeance to win this fight and vault up the Welterweight rankings. I got my money in on Gunnar at odds of 2.58 last week, but that line has shortened to 2.50 @ Bodog.eu. I still like him at the price though, as SportsInteraction.com has him at 2.45 and Bet365 at 2.40.
Almeida vs Pickett
- Thomas Almeida $11,200**
- Brad Pickett $8,200
It’s a big price to pay, but I’ve given Almeida 2 stars here. His odds to finish the fight are 1.57, which is the best of any fighter on the card. He should definitely win the fight, but you will need him to finish, and finish early, for the $11,200 to be worth it here.
Means vs Brown
- Tim Means $8,900
- Matt Brown $10,500***
Brown lost his last 2 fights, but both were decision losses to Lawler & Hendricks, 2 of the best fighters at Welterweight. Now he will get another fighter he can beat and I expect a knockout. Brown had finished his previous 5 fights and he has odds of 2.65 to finish this fight. Those are good odds for a price tag of $10,500. I’m giving Brown the benefit of the doubt in saying that he’s still got it and those last two losses were just against superior fighters.
Betting Play: Matt Brown 1.53 @ Bet365.com
Garcia vs Swick
- Alex Garcia $10,900**
- Mike Swick $8,500
Mike Swick hasn’t fought since getting knocked out by Matt Brown in December of 2012. That’s 2.5 years away from the sport. I think he’s just going to be back in time to get knocked out again. I would definitely not take Swick in this spot, but Garcia might be a decent pick depending on if you think he can finish. His odds to finish inside the distance are 1.667, which are great odds, but it’s really up to how much you think Swick has in the tank. I don’t think he has much.
Howard vs Pendred
- John Howard $9,400*
- Cathal Pendred $10,000
Pendred has been getting the job done in his UFC fights, but he’s not one who is going to get you a lot of points with a knockout so I can’t see you justifying taking him at $10,000 if you want to win a contest. He’s averaging just 60.8 fantasy points and those are all from wins, which shows he would only be a decent play in 50/50 cash games. Not ones where you are trying to take down $20k.
Howard on the other hand does have a bit of finishing power. He’s lost 3 in a row, but he did use to finish fights back in his career. His odds of finishing Pendred are 4.08, but this fight is likely to go to a decision. I still have Howard on some lineups because you need fighters in the $9000 range and he does have a chance to finish a Cathal Pendred who doesn’t have many weapons.
Garbrandt vs Briones
- Cody Garbrandt $11,000**
- Henry Briones $8,400
Garbrandt is another expensive fighter with a good chance for a knockout. His odds to finish are 1.625 and I fully expect the young man to do so. I suggest choosing between him, Garcia and Almeida on each lineup you do because it will be very difficult to have more than one of these fighters on a lineup without also taking fighters who are extremely likely to lose.
Seery vs Smolka
- Neil Seery $9,500
- Louis Smolka $9,900**
Smolka has odds to finish this fight of 3.65, as opposed to Seery’s odds of 5.38. I like the young 23 year old Hawaiian to beat the 35 year old Irishman in this one. Smolka’s career is on the incline, while Seery is moving in the opposite direction.
Betting Play: Louis Smolka 1.90 @ Bet365.com
Cedeno vs Pfister
- Yosdenis Cedeno $10,400
- Cody Pfister $9,000
I’ve stayed away from this fight personally because I don’t know much about the fighters. Cedeno’s odds of 2.79 to finish may mean he’s a decent price at $10,400, but Pfister’s youth means he could be ready for a breakout fight. I personally am just steering clear of this initial fight. There’s plenty of value elsewhere on this card. I’d rather take Stephens at $9000 than Pfister and I’d rather take McGregor at $10100, Rory at $10300 or Brown at $10500 than Cedeno here.
So there you have it.
That’s my break down of each fight as they relate to the price of each fighter at DraftKings.com.
I’m likely going to be dropping $30 for 10 lineups in the $75,000 guaranteed Haymaker contest in the hopes of winning $2000. You can now probably tell how some of my lineups look, but I’m ok with us splitting the $20,000 top prize :).
Click here to pick your lineup…. Good luck!