DraftKings MMA is here! And the first DraftKings MMA contest is a doozy – it’s the highly anticipated UFC 182. Everyone I know is excited for what a lot of people consider the biggest threat of Jon Jones’ title reign, the undefeated Olympian, Daniel Cormier.
As a die-hard MMA student and fan who’s been in the gambling business for my entire adult life, I’m honored to be given the opportunity to provide DraftKings’ first ever MMA preview. And I’d love to hear your comments – so whether you think I’m out to lunch or right on the money, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @tchanpoker.
Now, let’s get to the fights!
Jon Jones ($11700) vs Daniel Cormier ($9600)
The much-hyped main event of UFC 182 should deliver expectations. Jones has been a medium-to-huge favorite in every fight since he’s taken the light-heavyweight title – until now. Both men are tremendously durable – not only has either ever been stopped (or legitimately defeated, for that matter), neither has ever been dazed or hurt. If Jones finishes, it will likely be a submission in one of the later rounds. Cormier’s path to a big finish is a knockout with the overhand right against his taller opponent. However, I do think both fighters are defensively savvy enough to go all five rounds and I do not expect a finish in this fight. Regardless of who wins, fighters are both safe bets to score a number of fantasy points.
Prediction: Jon Jones by decision
Donald Cerrone ($11000) vs Myles Jury ($8800)
Cerrone has been on a tear of late, with a tremendous five wins in 11 months, surpassing all other UFC fighters during that period. Even more impressively, he finished 4 of those opponents. However, the 15-0 Myles Jury is a serious threat and a possible value pick here. I think it’s more likely that Cerrone can finish Jury than vice versa – Cerrone is absurdly tough, having been stopped only twice in a 32-fight career – but Jury could easily pull out a decision on the scorecards. If he does that, he’ll also have accumulated enough fantasy points to make a healthy score.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone by decision
Nate Marquardt ($10500) vs Brad Tavares ($9300)
Like the fight above, I expect a striking-based fight here which will probably go the distance. But Marquardt has shown the tendency of late to either finish or be finished, with only one decision in his last five fights. So there’s a temptation to take Tavares – however, the problem here is that Tavares himself does not have a high finish rate against top-level opponents. In 10 UFC appearances, he’s gone to decision 8 times. Marquardt has a bit more fantasy upside here since he is a proven power striker and submission artist, but I can see Tavares grinding out a decision.
Prediction: Brad Tavares by decision
Kyoji Horiguchi ($12000) vs Louis Gaudinot ($7900)
Horiguchi is being touted as a future champion of the flyweight division. He chains his combinations together like a machine gun and possesses shocking knockout power for a smaller fighter. Gaudinot does have a sneaky and underrated submission game, but it’s his only real path to victory, and it’s not very likely.
Prediction: Kyoji Horiguchi by KO/TKO
Hector Lombard ($12100) vs Josh Burkman ($7700)
Why is Hector Lombard the most expensive fighter on the card for UFC 182? Well, if you’ve ever seen him fight, you know why. Ferocious power leading to 26 finishes in 34 career wins. And of late, actually improved cardio for that massive frame. Burkman has never been knocked out in a 37-fight career, but he’s also never faced a hitter like “Lightning” Lombard. It’s tempting to take Burkman at that bargain price, but even if he does see the final bell, I can’t see how he wins here.
Prediction: Hector Lombard by KO/TKO
Danny Castillo ($10900) vs Paul Felder ($9000)
Felder is taking the fight on short notice after capturing a win back in October. The short turnaround indicates he’s likely in shape and ready. With 6 finishes in 9 fighters, Felder is a tempting pick at the low price of $9000. But Castillo is a savvy veteran with good ring generalship and he’s unlikely to be caught off-guard. Either man is a reasonable pick here in a close fight, depending on your roster space.
Prediction: Danny Castillo by decision
Marcus Brimage ($11100) vs Cody Garbrandt ($8700)
Brimage is the known quantity here as Garbrandt is making his UFC debut. However, the newcomer has the bigger upside. In five professional fights, Garbrandt is perfect – five knockouts. Granted that this hasn’t come against UFC calibre opposition, but it still shows that he looks to finish. Brimage has not shown real consistency in the UFC so pick him at your own risk.
Prediction: Cody Garbrandt by KO/TKO
Shawn Jordan ($11000) vs Jared Cannonier ($8900)
Cannonier is another new addition to the UFC roster with a couple solid wins on the regional circuit. However, when Shawn Jordan he wins, he wins big. He has finished 15 of his 16 career wins. Both men have short and powerful builds for the weight class (Cannonier 5’11” 244 lbs, Jordan 6’0” 251 lbs) so expect someone to get hurt. Jordan may take the safe path and work is ground game against the less experienced Cannonier.
Prediction: Shawn Jordan by TKO
Evan Dunham ($11800) vs Rodrigo Damm ($8000)
This would seem to be a battle of old cowboys fading off into the sunset. They have combined for five consecutive losses. I do expect Dunham to get a lot of takedowns and significant strikes in this fight. The question is whether or not he will be able to get advances against a BJJ champion. Damm does hold 4 KO losses, so it’s certainly possible that Dunham gets the finish, but a decision is more likely.
Prediction: Evan Dunham by decision