It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve been able to really sink our teeth into a UFC card at DraftKings.com. UFC 192 was held way back on October 3rd, and although there have been two Fight Night cards since this big event, they both (especially the Ireland card) left a lot to be desired for UFC fans. With this long wait finally over you can see why I’m so excited for this Saturday’s PPV event.
UFC 192 was actually very disappointing for me because an error on the side of DraftKings resulted in every contest being cancelled due to DK allowing lineups to be edited for 15 minutes after the first fight had begun. Considering I had Sage Northcutt (1st round TKO) and Albert Tumenov (1st round TKO) as my corner pieces of every single one of my DK lineups (you can see they were my main two bolded picks in the UFC 192 article here) it definitely hurt when I couldn’t cash with these lineups.
Namajunas who also finished in the first round was a 2 star pick, and Derrick Lewis who finished his fight was in half of my lineups due to me splitting Lewis and Pesta, which I often do with heavyweight fights that will likely be finished by one fighter or the other. It still hurts, but I’ve moved on. The one positive from that experience is that DraftKings should not ever make that same mistake again.
This week DraftKings.com is running a $125,000 prize pool contest with a $3 entry fee. They also have a variety of other size contests, the the $3 one is the most popular.
In this article I’m going to rate every fighter on the card on a scale of 0-3 stars based on how much value I see in them based on their DraftKings.com price tag and their ability to put up big points. These ratings are for the GPP lineups, where you’re really looking for guys who can finish fights, which is how you score the big points at DK (more DraftKings MMA strategy here). If I give them 0 stars they won’t be making it into any of my lineups.
Rousey vs Holm
- Ronda Rousey $11,400***
- Holly Holm $8,000
Ronda Rousey has finished her last 4 UFC title fights in a combined 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Correia was a very easy fight for Rousey and I think Holm will be just as easy if not easier. You can basically guarantee yourself a first round finish in this fight and because of the danger that Holm’s boxing could present I don’t expect Rousey to want to allow the fight to go any longer than it needs to. This is as close to a guaranteed finish you can ask for and I will be paying up to Rousey in 90% of my lineups.
Holly Holm has only 2 UFC fights under her belt and neither were particularly impressive as she won via two decisions (1 split) before being handed this title fight.
Jedrezejczyk vs Letourneau
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk $11,300***
- Valerie Letourneau $8,100
JJ is close to as dominant a Women’s Champ as Rousey these days, except for the fact it takes her a bit longer to finish her fights. That said, her two wins in the UFC were never in doubt en route to TKO finishes in both.
Valerie Letourneau beat Maryna Moroz, who the UFC likely would have given the title shot to, in her last fight and with the division fairly weak at this time, she was given the title shot. I think she will stand with JJ for a couple rounds potentially, but she will be getting picked apart by the superior striking speed of JJ the entire time. Even if Jedrzejczyk takes a few rounds to finish this fight she will be racking up significant strike points, which still makes her a great play.
I’m going to try to fit both the women champions in my lineups when possible.
Hunt vs Silva
- Mark Hunt $10,500***
- Antonio Silva $8,900***
Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva had an absolute war in Australia a couple years ago. That fight ended in a draw, so it’s not surprise these two were booked once again. Mark Hunt is coming off two TKO finishes to Werdum and Miocic, so you have to worry about his chin seeing as he’s now been finished in 3 fights in the last 2.5 years.
That said, Antonio Silva no longer has the best chin in the sport either. He did get a KO victory over Soa Palelei in his last fight in August, but he was knocked out in the first round of his two previous fights against Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski. That said, both of those guys really took big steps forward in reestablishing themselves in the heavyweight division, so these losses perhaps aren’t as bad as they seem.
One thing is for sure in this fight. I can’t possibly see it going the distance once again, even though it is only a 3 rounder this time around. I will have either Hunt or Silva in almost all of my lineups and because value from lower priced guys seems hard to come by on this card I will probably have more Silva even though I do give a slight edge to Hunt in this fight.
Whittaker vs Hall
- Robert Whittaker $9,600*
- Urijah Hall $9,800**
Uriah Hall seems to have finally figured out that with his skill set he should not be leaving fights up to the judges. Since joining the UFC with a fight against Kelvin Gastelum at the TUF Finale in April of 2013, Hall has racked up a 5-3 record. Of those 5 wins he has 4 TKO finishes (3 in round 1) and 1 decision win. And every single one of his losses came as a split decision loss, with the one against Natal especially considered a steal by many. Hall really does have the skill to perform at the top of this division as he recently showed against Gegard Mousasi and a win against Robert Whittaker on the road will do more to cement him as a top fighter in the Middleweight division.
Whittaker is no slouch himself though with finishes over Brad Tavares and Clint Hester in his last two fights. He has performed very well in Australia and New Zealand, with each of his last 3 fights coming on his home continent. It was when he traveled to the USA early in his UFC career that he lost to Court McGee (split decision) and Stephen Thompson via TKO. Stephen Thompson is one of the best fighters in the division though in my opinion, so I still have Whittaker very high in my personal opinion of him.
I give the edge to Hall here, but being in one of Whittaker’s home countries will help the underdog. At these prices I think either man is a decent play, but I will likely have a bit more of Hall in my lineups. The only man to have finished Hall in his MMA career was Chris Weidman when both were up and comers, so that shows that Hall is a very difficult finish, which is why I won’t be putting too much Whittaker in my lineups.
Rosholt vs Struve
- Jared Rosholt $9,500*
- Stefan Struve $9,900**
In the opening fight of the main card we have another heavyweight tilt, but one that doesn’t have the same feel of a sure thing finish that the Hunt vs Silva fight does. I’m leaning towards Struve in this fight simply because Rosholt has not been fighting the upper echelon of fighters in the UFC in his career, while Struve has only been up against the best for the last few years.
That said, Struve has shown that he can get caught and finished if a big punch is landed. Considering Rosholt has won 4 of his last 5 wins via decision, I’m not quite as nervous that Struve will be finished in this fight. If I can fit him in, I will definitely have Struve in a few lineups and look for him to get a KO on Rosholt like Derrick Lewis and Oleksiy Oliynyk have done before him.
Matthews vs Arreola
- Jake Matthews $11,000*
- Akbarh Arreola $8,300
At just 21 years of age Jake Matthews looks to be in a great spot here. The UFC loves to line their young up and coming fighters up for success if they see a future for them to become a star and I think that’s what the UFC is hoping in regards to Jake Matthews.
Jake Matthews is a strong defensive fighter that doesn’t take much damage, so I’m not going to be touching Arreola at all, who lost to Trinaldo in his last fight. There is a good chance this fight ends with a submission because both men have the ability to finish the fight on the ground.
I might throw some Matthews into some lineups, but at this price I think it makes more sense to look elsewhere.
Sobotta vs Noke
- Peter Sobotta $10,200*
- Kyle Noke $9,200
Peter Sobotta has impressed in his second shot with the UFC, winning his last two fights convincingly. In his first shot with the UFC in 2009-2010, Sobotta lost 3 straight fights, but he fought his way back to the show with 5 straight first round submission victories via rear-naked choke. He then beat Pawlak via decision and followed it up with a rear-naked choke win over Steve Kennedy in his last UFC fight.
At 35, Kyle Noke looks like he may be in the twilight of his UFC career. He’s lost 3 of his last 5 fights and he’s only fought twice in the last 3 years. He did get a split decision win in his last fight, but I don’t expect a win out of Noke in this one. I don’t think this is the correct spot to pay down.
Villante vs Perosh
- Gian Villante $10,900**
- Anthony Perosh $8,500*
Gian Villante is a big favourite heading into this fight. 5Dimes.eu has him listed with odds of 1.413 to finish this fight inside distance (71% chance). I think the majority of this percentage comes from Anthony Perosh not often going to decision. Perosh has gone to decision only once in his recent 9 fight stint in the UFC. At 43 years old Perosh is old, but he does still have some finishing ability and if he catches Villante with a big punch or a submission I could see the home town old man getting this win.
Villante has lost 3 of his last 6 fights, so it’s not like he’s unstoppable or even on that great of a streak with his last fight being a KO loss to Tom Lawlor. At $8,500 Perosh might be a decent spot to pay down to allow yourself to get the two ladies into your lineup.
Martinez vs Vaculik
- Danny Martinez $9,700*
- Richie Vaculik $9,700
Martinez is currently on a 3 fight losing streak, which makes this fight extremely important for the American. He actually really needs to look for a finish in order to ensure that he isn’t cut from the UFC.
Vaculik is 1-2 in the UFC, so this could be an equally important fight for the Australian. I could see these guys coming out throwing, but I personally like to stay away from 125 lb fights unless there is some great value, and here I just don’t really see it. If he works in my lineups I might grab a bit of Danny Martinez.
Kelly vs Montgomery
- Dan Kelly $9,000*
- Steve Montgomery $10,400**
Steve Montgomery from the American Top Team fits into that up-and-coming fighter category that the UFC likes to protect to allow them to build up wins. I think this is exactly one of those spots with Montgomery up against Dan Kelly, who is a 38 year old Aussie fighter known for his submissions from his Olympic judo background. If Montgomery can avoid the submissions I think the young American will get his first win in the Octagon.
That said, I also don’t mind paying down for Dan Kelly because at that price I think he’s a decent punt for a finish against a less experienced fighter. The oddsmakers are giving Kelly a 23% chance to finish and if he catches Montgomery, he could be a steal fighting at home.
Zafir vs Moontasri
- Anton Zafir $8,800*
- James Moontasri $10,600*
These preliminary fights are always very tough to figure out. Is Anton Zafir just an Australian they signed for this one fight to bring in some hometown fans, or is he a legitimate threat. He’s won 5 straight fights in small regional cards and seems like he can finish, but the jump up to a legitimate UFC fighter may be too much for the Australian.
At $8,800 he might be a steal or Moontasri might be great value at $10,600 if he proves to be in another league. This one you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
Nguyen vs Benoit
- Ben Nguyen $10,000
- Ryan Benoit $9,400*
I like Benoit in this fight because he allows me to pay down to a price that I know I will need in some lineups and I find him better value than a lot of the other fighters in this price range. He’s given odds of 3.75 (27%) to finish this fight and 2.25 to get the win. He just finished Sergio Pettis, who is considered one of the top fighters in the flyweight division. Every single win in his MMA career has been a finish, so he definitely gives you a chance to kick off the card with some big points.
Nguyen is also riding a great streak, but his strength of competition isn’t quite as strong as Benoit’s, so it’s hard to know what we will get out of Nguyen. If this is a coin flip fight I think taking the $600 with Benoit will allow you to do more with your lineup.
So you can see I will be trying to get Rousey in as many lineups as possible, while also working JJ in to as many as I can. I will have either Hunt or Silva in each lineup as well and then sprinkle in the other fighters I see value with to round out my lineups.
Ready to set your lineups? Click here to enter the $3 UFC 193 contest at DraftKings.com.
If you’re interested in betting on any of these fights straight up I suggest checking out the odds at Bet365.com.