UFC Fight Night 81 features a bantamweight title fight between TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz. Below are the studs and value plays for UFC Fight Night 81 to help fill out your DraftKings lineups:
Best Plays on the Card
TJ Dillashaw ($10,100) vs. Dominick Cruz
This fight pits the current bantamweight champion (Dillashaw) against the guy who has never lost in the division (Cruz).
Cruz was forced to vacate the bantamweight title because of injuries and has only fought once since 2011. He returned in September of 2014 and scored an impressive first-round TKO win over Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz is an aggressive fighter with tremendous defense. He attempts over 11 strikes per minute and has a 76 percent defense rate.
Dillashaw is even more active. He attempts 13 strikes per minute and connects 44 percent of the time. Like Cruz, Dillashaw is strong defensively, sporting a 68 percent defense rate.
Dillashaw has also never been taken down in the UFC, which could be a big factor in this matchup. Cruz is a good wrestler. One of Cruz’s strengths is mixing in takedowns with his striking but that will be tough to do against Dillashaw.
I really like Dillashaw here. Cruz is one of the most skilled fighters in bantamweight history. However, having fought just one minute over the last four years is going to be a big disadvantage versus a pressure fighter like Dillashaw.
Dillashaw has eight finishes in his last 10 fights. He should get another one Sunday night.
Ilir Latifi ($10,900) vs. Sean O’Connell
If you’re looking for a fight to end early, this is the fight to watch. Latifi is 3-1 in his last four fights. All of them have ended in the first round. O’Connell is 2-2 in his last four fights and three of those ended in stoppage; two in Round 1.
Latifi has a high salary but he also has one big advantage in this fight. If the fight goes to the ground, O’Connell will be in trouble. Latifi has a 60 percent takedown rate, while O’Connell has been taken down 50 percent of the time in his UFC fights. Latifi doesn’t just take his opponents down, he can do serious damage once he gets them to the mat. Latifi has strong ground and pound. Four of his 10 career wins have come by submission.
O’Connell is a solid striker. He throws an impressive 13 strikes per minute. Latifi is a power puncher. He’s not very accurate but when he connects, Latifi does serious damage. Eight of Latifi’s 10 wins have come by stoppage.
O’Connell has won two fights in a row but Latifi’s strength and ability to take him down is a big edge. O’Connell’s best way to win is to hope the fight goes three rounds and Latifi gasses out. On the other hand, Latifi has multiple ways he can finish O’Connell. He’s worth playing at the high salary.
Best Value Plays for the Price
Elvis Mutapcic ($9,400) vs. Francimar Barroso
Mutapcic is actually the favorite in this fight but has the lower DraftKings salary. Mutapcic is a comfortable -170 favorite at a lot of books but has the lower salary in this matchup by $600. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that’s pretty good value according to the oddsmakers.
Mutapcic is making his UFC debut, although he does have wins over Sam Alvey and Cezar Ferreira. He’s an aggressive striker who has won 12 of his 18 career fights by stoppage.
Barroso is now 35-years-old. He only attempts five strikes per minute and Barroso’s takedown rate is just 18 percent. Basically, Barroso is an older non-threatening fighter being matched up with an intriguing prospect making his UFC debut.
Mutapcic will almost certainly be highly-owned because his salary doesn’t line up with his Vegas odds. He’s still the best value play on the board. If Mutapcic doesn’t let nerves get the best of him in his first Octagon fight, he should easily dispose of Barroso.