UFC 197 features the return of Jon Jones and a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo. Below are the studs and value plays for UFC 197 to help fill out your DraftKings lineups.
Best Plays on the Card
Jon Jones ($11,400) vs. Ovince Saint Preux
I began watching MMA at UFC 3 and Jones is the most overall talented fighter I’ve seen in the Octagon. Daniel Cormier is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Jones is so good that he not only beat Cormier at less than 100 percent mentally, he made his nemesis cry after the fight.
Jones and Cormier were supposed to face off in the rematch at UFC 197, but Cormier had to bow out because of an injury. As talented as Jones is, I was torn in that matchup. Jones has been out for over a year and Cormier is at the top of his game right now. I was waiting to see the salaries before making a call, but the fight never happened. When it was announced Jones would be fighting Saint Preux, everything changed.
Jones is a vastly more talented fighter than Glover Teixeira, and Teixeira manhandled Saint Preux. Teixeira took Saint Preux down with ease and completely dominated him in the standup. Ryan Bader also destroyed Saint Preux with his wrestling. Those were Saint Preux’s two showcase fights and each time he was manhandled. What do you think is going to happen when Jones gets a hold of him?
Jones has only had one close fight in the UFC against Alexander Gustafsson. This won’t be his second one. Jones will dominate Saint Preux from the opening bell.
Demetrious Johnson ($11,000) vs. Henry Cejudo
If you don’t feel comfortable building your rosters around Jones, Johnson is just as strong an option.
Mighty Mouse has won nine fights in a row and all have been in dominant fashion. Cejudo is being thrown into the fire because Johnson doesn’t have anyone to fight right now, and he needs an opponent. Cejudo is a good fighter, but in reality, he’s still a couple of fights away from this matchup. Johnson is going to totally outclass him.
Cejudo is 4-0 in the UFC and 10-0 overall, but he is coming off an uninspiring split-decision win over Jussier Formiga. He does have strong defensive statistics. Cejudo has never been taken down in the UFC and has an impressive 74 percent striking defense rate. However, those numbers don’t mean much when facing Johnson. He’s simply on another level.
Johnson is a valuable DFS play in a five-round fight even when he doesn’t get a finish because he’s so active. Mighty Mouse lands over 50 percent of his strikes and has shown the ability to take down any fighter in the flyweight division.
Johnson has finished four of his last six opponents. This fight is a mismatch. I expect a stoppage win from Johnson, but even if the fight goes the distance, he should rack up over 100 DKFP.
Best Value Plays for the Price
Edson Barboza ($8,800) vs. Anthony Pettis
I love Barboza as an underdog play in this matchup.
Pettis is coming off two straight losses. He lost a split-decision to Eddie Alvarez his last time out after getting dominated by Rafael dos Anjos. That’s not why I’m high on Barboza though. This matchup just sets up well for him.
Pettis likes to force the pace, and Barboza is a lethal counter-striker. Pettis can also run into trouble when his wrestling gets neutralized. Barboza comes in with an 83 percent takedown defense rate, and he does a good job of keeping distance so he can unleash his punishing leg kicks.
Both of these fighters are active strikers with knockout power. Pettis has stopped seven of his 18 opponents. He also has eight submission wins. Barboza has 10 knockouts in 16 career fights. Taking into account Barboza’s strong takedown defense, this fight should stay standing. Given the aggressive styles and knockout power of the two fighters, there’s a good chance of this one ending inside the distance.
I’m not as down on Pettis as some. This fight comes down to matchups for me, and I see it favoring Barboza. For the price, he has a better than average chance to win this fight by stoppage.