The UFC is in Houston, Texas on Feb. 8 for a championship doubleheader pay-per-view event. Headlining UFC 247 is all-time great (and all-time controversial) light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against the unbeaten Dominick Reyes. The co-main event features dominant women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko versus heavy underdog Katlyn Chookagian.
Much like last month’s UFC 246, outside of the championship fights, this is not a card filled with name value or many fights that will be relevant to the title picture, but there are some fun scraps on paper. Before Saturday night approaches, let’s take a brief look at some of the fighters on UFC 247 who could produce high scores for your DraftKings lineups.
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Jon Jones ($9,400) vs. Dominick Reyes ($6,800) – Light HeavyweightsIt was not exactly a scintillating 2019 for “Bones”. Yes, he did beat Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos in successful title defenses, but the Smith fight was not particularly exciting and he was a bit fortunate to have gotten the decision against a severely hobbled Santos. Of course, prior to his comparatively underwhelming 2019 was a thorough dismantling of rival Alexander Gustafsson, scoring a third-round TKO, reminding everyone he’s the undisputed king of 205 lbs. Reyes was an intriguing prospect on the regional scene and has been almost flawless in the UFC. With notable wins over Jared Cannonier, Ovince Saint Preux and Volkan Oezdemir, Reyes’ title shot was secured after a vicious first-round KO of former middleweight champ Chris Weidman.
The sharp counterstriking and athleticism for Reyes makes this somewhat intriguing, but unless we are witnessing the end of Jon’s prime, he’s just going to be too much for him. It’s extremely unlikely that Reyes will outwrestle or out grapple Jones, and Jon can win the striking matchup just on volume alone (to make up for lack of power). Jones’ clinch work, coupled with his body and leg attacks at range can hamper and tire out his opponents as the fight progresses. Reyes has a small but legitimate chance to pull off the upset, but it’s hard to go against the champ.
Number of Note: 142. Jones has out-landed his last three opponents by a combined 142 significant strikes (243 to 101). In his entire 21-fight UFC career, Jon has never been out-landed in a fight.
Mirsad Bektic ($8,300) vs. Dan Ige ($7,900) – FeatherweightsBektic entered the UFC as someone who had aspirations of being a title contender as a highly-touted prospect. After a 4-0 start, he suffered a shocking comeback TKO loss against Darren Elkins for the first defeat of his career. Bektic bounced back nicely with wins over Godofredo Pepey and Ricardo Lamas, but was blasted by Josh Emmett in his last bout. Ige is on the rise, having won four consecutive fights inside the Octagon. He got a performance bonus for his submission of Danny Henry last March, then the Hawaiian followed that up with an impressive decision over Kevin Aguilar.
This is not an easy fight to call. Bektic’s chin is a major question mark at this point, and Ige is an aggressive striker with good wrestling and grappling. Mirsad is the more powerful boxer and the stronger wrestler, and Ige will certainly have to worry about Bektic’s body shots. I lean towards Bektic getting the victory in what should be a sneaky contender for Fight of the Night.
Number of Note: 17. Bektic has completed 17 takedowns through eight UFC fights, and he’s yet to be taken down inside the Octagon.
Derrick Lewis ($9,000) vs. Ilir Latifi ($7,200) – Heavyweights“The Black Beast” is a fan favorite, both for his personality and ability to end a fight at any given moment with his ridiculous knockout power. He had to go the distance in his most recent outing, getting past Blagoy Ivanov by split decision at UFC 244. That snapped a two-fight losing skid for Lewis, who memorably earned a title shot in 2018, coming up short against then-champion Daniel Cormier. Latifi is better known for his time at light heavyweight, where he went from unknown to a fringe contender. The Swede is hoping that he can change his fortunes for the better by changing weight classes, as he’s coming off a lopsided KO defeat to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Fight Night in Uruguay.
This is a comical physical mismatch. Latifi is only 5’10” and Lewis is one of the biggest heavyweights in the division. Ilir is powerful but low volume, and he’s been finished by strikes quite a few times. Lewis hits extremely hard and even if you take him down, he’s not easy to keep there. The pick is, quite comfortably, a Derrick Lewis KO and then a wacky post-fight interview.
Number of Note: 18. Lewis has 21 career wins, and 18 of those have come by knockout. Latifi has been knocked out four times in seven losses.
Alex Morono ($9,100) vs. Khaos Williams ($7,100) – WelterweightsMorono has appeared to hit his stride after a fairly inconsistent start to his UFC tenure. The Texas native has won three straight, more recently prevailing against the tough Max Griffin at UFC Tampa. He also took Fight of the Night honors for his decision victory over Song Kenan. Williams is making his UFC debut after a 9-1 record on the regional scene. The only notable opponent he’s beaten is former Bellator fighter Jeremie Holloway, and he’s coming in on short notice for the injured Dhiego Lima.
While Morono can be prone to getting into wild brawls, he should have a pretty substantial advantage over Williams. Morono can set a pace that “Khaos” Williams is unlikely to match, especially on late notice, and he’ll be able to wear him down and possibly stop him towards the latter stages. I see Alex picking up a fourth win in a row, this time in front of his home fans.
Number of Note: 204. Morono has landed 204 significant strikes during his three-fight winning streak, with one knockdown scored and one finish by TKO against Zak Ottow.
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