The UFC is back again on Saturday night, putting on their third show in one week, and DraftKings is offering multiple ways for mixed martial arts fans to get in on the action. DraftKings users can enter for their chance to win big prizes in Saturday’s fantasy MMA $500k Throwdown Special contest, which pays out a guaranteed $500,000, including $100k to first place. The action gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your lineups here: MMA $500K Throwdown Special [$100K to 1st]. In this article, I am looking at the fights that I think the winner has a chance to score big fantasy points and break the slate.
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Giga Chikadze ($7,000; -400) vs. Irwin Rivera ($7,000; +290)For the third time, a fight between Chikadze and Mike Davis has been cancelled. Davis had issues cutting weight, leading to him dropping out of the fight. With the UFC searching to keep the exciting kickboxer Chikadze on the card, the organization turned to Rivera, a local fighter from Titan FC, to fill the void. This has created a weird pricing situation on DraftKings. In an unprecedented situation, Chikadze has gone from the biggest underdog on the card to the largest favorite. With a -400 price tag, the odds imply Chikadze has an 80% chance to win the fight.
The pick here has to be Chikadze and he makes for one of the strongest DFS values I have ever seen on DK. For cash game purposes, he almost has to be in lineups due to the combination of being the fighter most likely to win and his price tag. For GPP, I would avoid Rivera, but there is a conversation to be had if Chikadze is a must play. Even though he should win, Chikadze has won each of his first two UFC fights, although he scored just 72.5 DKFP and 54 DKFP in those bouts. For this reason, I think Chikadze winning and not being in the optimal lineup is within the range of outcomes. If playing multiple lineups, there is reason to make lineups that don’t include Chikadze.
Prediction: Giga Chikadze by unanimous decision
Don’Tale Mayes ($8,400; -121) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento ($7,800; -106)What’s better than a sloppy heavyweight fight? Honestly, most things. For DraftKings purposes, I expect the winner of this fight to score pretty well. Both fighters are priced in the midrange and this fight has one of the strongest inside the distance props on the card. The prop here is -305 to end in a finish.
To be sure, we can’t count on either of these guys in a cash game. While the winner should score well, the chance of an early finish means the loser has a floor of nearly 0 points. This is also priced at nearly a pick’em at DK Sportsbook. This is likely to going to keep a lot of people away from rostering either of these fighters in tournaments. While I understand that fear, it might not be possible to win a GPP without one of these guys due to the likelihood that this fight ends in a finish.
What we have here is a striker vs. grappler matchup. If this fight stays on the feet, Mayes should win via knockout. Nascimento is a good submission grappler, so if this gets to the floor, I expect him to win via submission. When watching Mayes’ fights, he does not have good takedown defense and he ends up winding on his back at least once at some point during nearly all his fights. This fight getting to the ground once might be all it takes for Nascimento to end the fight. Both of these fighters warrant exposure in GPP, but I think Nascimento has the better chance to win and has the cheaper price tag.
Prediction: Rodrigo Nascimento by first round submission
Darren Elkins ($8,300; -121) vs. Nate Landwehr ($7,900; -104)Darren Elkins has earned his nickname “The Damage.” To me, it’s an odd thing to be proud of. He gets hit a lot, to the point that Elkins has gotten “The Damage” nickname tattooed on his body. While being able to absorb a lot of punishment isn’t necessarily the best fighting attribute to have, it does mean there’s potential for a lot of fantasy points. Elkins isn’t afraid to throw himself into the fire and Landwehr is a fighter who constantly moves forward and throws punches at a high volume.
From my above description, you would probably be thinking I expect Landwehr to land 100-plus significant strikes, but I am going in a slightly different direction here. As Landwehr generally marches forward recklessly, he leaves himself open to takedowns. He doesn’t have great takedown defense and Elkins is a decent grappler who we have seen land as many as seven takedowns in a fight. I think he should be able to avoid being knocked out due to his legendary chin and get Landwehr on his back when he overcommits to strikes. This should be a high-paced fight with Elkins having a sneaky amount of upside for tournaments. I think he wins a grappling based decision with potential for a submission.
Prediction: Darren Elkins by unanimous decision
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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