UFC 196 features a welterweight showdown between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz. Below are the studs and value plays for UFC 196 to help fill out your DraftKings lineups:
Best Plays on the Card
Conor McGregor ($11,000) vs. Nate Diaz
McGregor was originally scheduled to step up in weight to face lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. After Dos Anjos had to pull out with a foot injury, McGregor will now fight Diaz at welterweight.
Very few fighters can jump two weight classes and still be dominant. McGregor is a big featherweight and he trains at an elite level. Regardless, Diaz is used to fighting at a bigger weight and against bigger guys, while McGregor will have the edge in speed and quickness.
McGregor is coming off the 7 second destruction of Jose Aldo. Say what you want about McGregor but he’s not only a confident fighter, he’s a smart fighter. He trains smart and he does a great job of exploiting his opponent’s weaknesses. The same can’t be said for Diaz. Diaz is talented but he can fight sloppy at times. If he does that against McGregor, it will be a short night.
McGregor puts a lot of pressure on his opponents. He averages over 12 strikes per minute. McGregor is also a very good defensive fighter. He owns a 64 percent striking defense rate. Diaz is also a high-volume striker, averaging 10 strikes per minute. However, he’s easier to hit and McGregor’s criticism about his sloppy footwork is an accurate one.
McGregor is going to be highly owned but I don’t think Diaz is worth the fade. For all the middle fingers and brash talk, Diaz is 2-3 in his last five fights. He was knocked out by Josh Thompson and beaten easily by Benson Henderson and Dos Anjos. As a matter of fact, combined the Diaz brothers have just one good win over the last three and a half years (Nate over Michael Johnson).
Diaz does have a slight size advantage and a very good chin. Even if the fight goes the full five rounds though, McGregor will rack up a lot of fantasy points. I’ll call for Conor to take him out in Round 3.
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Vitor Miranda ($10,700) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes
I’m a big fan of Lex Luthor. I took Miranda as an underdog in his last fight and he delivered with a second-round knockout of Clint Hester.
Miranda is 2-1 in the UFC and 11-4 overall in his MMA career. He has 10 finishes and eight knockouts. Miranda doesn’t throw a ton of strikes but the ones he does have power behind them. Miranda is also an accomplished kickboxer, which makes him one of the more dangerous strikers in the middleweight division.
Guimaraes is 9-1-1 in his career. He’s active in both his striking and takedowns. Guimaraes averages 9.45 strikes per minutes and just fewer than 15 takedowns per 15 minutes. However, Guimaraes has been unsuccessful with his takedowns in the UFC. In his three UFC fights, Guimaraes has just a 13 percent takedown success rate. Shooting in for unsuccessful takedown attempts will give Miranda opportunities to connect with one of his lethal kicks.
Another reason to really like Miranda here is he’ll have a significant size advantage. Miranda has fought as a heavyweight, while Guimaraes has dropped down to welterweight. When you factor in Miranda’s edges in size, power and striking, it all adds up to an early finish win for Lex Luthor.
Best Values for the Price
Gian Villante ($9,200) vs. Ilir Latifi
I see this being a dead even fight that could go either way. I would have played whoever the underdog was here because it’s an even matchup that likely ends in a finish, so there’s some value.
Neither fighter throws a lot of strikes but they both have power and suspect chins. That’s a recipe for a short fight. Villante has 12 finishes in 14 career wins. He’s been finished three times in six losses. Latifi has nine finishes in 11 career wins. He’s been finished twice in four losses.
Both guys like to counter rather than push the pace. One reason for that is neither guy has a great gas tank. Cardio has been an issue for Villante in the past and Latifi’s thick physique can be a factor the deeper he goes into fights.
The likely outcome in this fight is one of these guys hitting the other with a big shot at some point. Villante has better defense but Latifi the slightly better chin. Villante also has a size advantage where his kickboxing skills could be a factor. In a close fight that’s pointing to a finish, Villante is worth playing at his reasonably low salary.