UFC 194 is a stacked card that features one of the organizations biggest fights ever for the featherweight title between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. Below are the studs and value plays for UFC 194 to help fill out your DraftKings lineups:
Best Plays on the Card
Max Holloway ($10,900) vs. Jeremy Stephens
Stephens had lost two fights in a row before upsetting Dennis Bermudez his last time out. Now he faces a big step up in completion against Holloway.
Stephens is one of the biggest punchers in the featherweight division. He can end any fight with one shot, so he’s always a dangerous opponent. Beyond that though, I see Holloway outclassing Stephens in every area.
Holloway throws a lot of strikes and lands 5.67 of them per minute. Stephens is a tough guy and he showed that in his fight against Bermudez. However, when Stephens has stepped up in class and taken on more talented fighters like Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira, he has come up short.
Stephens has only been knocked out once in 35 career fights. Holloway has six finishes during his seven-fight winning streak, so something has to give Saturday night. Stephens is 4-5 in his last nine fights. He gutted out a tough win over Bermudez but Holloway is a different animal. As long as Holloway doesn’t get caught, he should dominate this fight.
Demian Maia ($10,100) vs. Gunnar Nelson
I love taking Nelson as an underdog because of his elite ground game. However, there’s an elite ground game and then there’s Demian Maia.
Maia put on a Brazilian jiu-jitsu clinic in his last win over Neil Magny. Maia has now won three fights in a row and his jiu-jitsu is at a level that has rarely been seen in the Octagon. If Maia gets his hands on an opponent, the round is basically over.
Nelson is an excellent wrestler but that plays right into Maia’s hands. Nelson’s best course of action is to keep this fight standing. No fighter on the planet wants to go to the ground with Maia. Right now that’s like rolling around with a boa constrictor.
Nelson is an excellent submission artist and I’ll continue to play him in the future, especially when he’s undervalued. However, this is just a terrible matchup for him. Fans might not want to see Maia is the title picture because of his style but this fight sets up for him to be there with another win.
Conor McGregor ($9,900) vs. Jose Aldo
I feel like because this fight is so big I should make a pick. As I stated when McGregor fought Mendes, I wasn’t one of the people who thought Mendes was a tougher opponent than Aldo. I fully expected McGregor to finish him.
I see this as an even fight. It’s too elite strikers squaring off. Aldo’s victims read like the who’s who of the MMA elite. McGregor is a lightning rod for criticism but he easily disposed of both Mendes and Max Holloway.
McGregor is big for a featherweight and he lands over five strikes per minute. That’s extremely dangerous for opponents considering McGregor’s incredible power. Aldo will combat that with his cat-like quickness and elite defense. Not to mention his punishing leg kicks. It’s going to be a fascinating chess match.
I could see either guy winning this fight but if I have to pick one defining factor it is McGregor’s ability to throw punches from all different angles. Mendes was able to rock Aldo a couple of times in their last fight. If McGregor rocks him, it’s going to be lights out.
Both of these fighters have reasonable salaries because of McGregor’s popularity he’ll likely be highly owned. I certainly can’t criticize anyone who wants to take Aldo. The guy hasn’t lost in a decade. However, I’ll take McGregor to end Aldo’s impressive streak in a fight I believe will live up to the hype.
Best Value Plays for the Price
Yoel Romero ($9,200) vs. Jacare Souza
Romero is worth a shot here with his low salary. This looks to be a pretty even fight with Souza having the advantage on the ground and Romero having the advantage if turns into a striking battle.
Obviously Romero doesn’t want to go to the ground with Jacare. He’s one of the most accomplished submission specialists in MMA. Sixteen of Souza’s 22 career wins have come by submission.
Romero does have a takedown defense rate of 71 percent but he hasn’t faced anyone like Jacare. Romero will need to keep his distance and try to make Souza box with him. Romero connects on 56 percent of his strikes and has knocked out nine of 11 opponents. He has serious power.
Romero is also a world class wrestler but he’s unlikely to use his grappling skills against Jacare. If he can keep this fight standing and make it a striking battle, Romero has a good chance to win even though that’s a big “if” against Jacare.
This is another great matchup on a stacked card. Romero’s salary offers nice value in what I think is a fight that could go either way. I like him as a low-cost option to roster with some of higher salary fighters.
Luke Rockhold ($9,400) vs. Chris Weidman
This would be a top level main event on any other card. Both of these guys are in their prime and neither has many holes in their game.
There’s not a lot to say here other than there’s value in taking the underdog. These two guys are almost dead even. Weidman has an advantage with his wrestling but it’s not a huge one. Other than that, this is about as even a fight as you’ll find across the board.
These are two studs facing off and I like taking Rockhold at a lower salary, especially if you play multiple lineups. I think he has a good chance to win and even if he doesn’t, Rockhold should score a good amount of fantasy points.