Fantasy MMA

The UFC has put on two very entertaining events in the last week and still has one left to go in their triple play Saturday night. This is a very solid offering, especially the main card, where all five fights are compelling matchups that will see the winners likely make their way up the contender ladder in their respective divisions. The main event, a clash of heavyweight titans, features “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem taking on “The Big Ticket” Walt Harris. It’s a great card that will close out an action-packed, eight-day schedule.

There are six divisions represented on the bout sheet, so I’ve selected the targets for each of them. The categories are divided into “value” and “stud” and will receive a brief analysis along with the pricing DraftKings is offering for the athlete. Note: Not all divisions represented will automatically get a candidate for both categories. Some divisions only have one fight, so it’s not always in the cards to be able to nominate a value pick if it looks like there could be a blowout.


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Could Walt Harris win by KO this weekend?


Heavyweight

Stud

Walt Harris, $8,700—Walt Harris has quietly been moving through the heavyweight division, stopping Alexey Oleinik, Sergey Spivak and Daniel Spitz along the way. He possesses legitimate knockout power and moves very quickly, launching flying knees with devastating effect. His ground-and-pound is brutal, and he can handle himself fairly well in grappling exchanges. Overeem is still a dangerous opponent, but after 20 years in combat sports, the wear-and-tear is starting to show. This should be Walt’s biggest win to date.

Value

Alistair Overeem, $7,500—Alistair Overeem might be 40-years old, but the man is still a verified threat. He may have lost his last fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, but he was up on all the judges scorecards very comfortably before the bomb that split his lip in half landed. He’s crafty, heavy-handed and a very good grappler. Alistair is also a very technical striker, better than Harris, but his chin has begun to erode, which is why he’s not in the “stud” spot. But make no mistake, he’s as dangerous as they come, and has an excellent chance of winning this fight.


Strawweight

Stud

Claudia Gadelha, $9,100—Claudia Gadelha is a powerhouse with a great standup game and crafty grappling. She’s compact and ridiculously strong, able to power opponents to the ground with relative ease. Her aggression tends to see her fighting in a phonebooth frequently and sets the stage for those big takedowns. Angela Hill’s weakest facet is her ground game, so if this hits the canvas, the advantage is definitely with Gadelha.

Value

Angela Hill, $7,100—Angela Hill should not be this big of an underdog. She is on a three-fight win streak and has looked more impressive every time she’s in the octagon. Her striking game is top notch and her ground game, which she admits is her trouble area, has improved mightily in the last few years. The biggest boon to her skillset is her phenomenal cardio, and against Gadelha, who has a very suspect gas tank, that will come in very handy. Angela has been fighting for six years and has exhibited evolution in both her offense and defense. This is a very close contest and she has all the tools necessary to pull off the upset.


Featherweight

Stud

Edson Barboza, $8,500—Edson Barboza is one of the most revered strikers in MMA. His powerful kicks have separated several men from the win column and his boxing, especially his body punches, is outstanding. He’s had a bit of a rough spell over the last couple years, but his losses are to the top of the division (the split with Felder should have gone his way). The level of competition he’s faced is nothing short of stellar, and that is one of the biggest advantages he has outside of his size. The leg kick attack he will inevitably launch will put Ige to the test, and I’m not confident “Dynamite” will be able to withstand the assault.

Value

Marlon Vera, $7,300—Marlon Vera is another criminally underrated fighter, and his five-fight win streak, all by finish, is worth taking note of. Yadong Song is a fantastic striker, but he’s not as well rounded as Vera, and he isn’t as crafty either. That’s not to mention the durability of “Chito,” who has never been finished. The X-factor in this contest is that it’s being held at featherweight rather than 135 where these two normally reside. I wouldn’t think of counting Song out, but it would be absolute lunacy to not award the value title to Marlon.


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Middleweight

Stud

Eryk Anders, $7,600—Eryk Anders is a very athletically gifted fighter with power and speed. He’s strong and aggressive, having no trouble bulldozing opponents to the ground to work from the top. Anders went through a rough patch that lasted about eight months but has turned his fortunes around and is currently riding a two-fight win streak with his most recent victory being over Gerald Meerschaert. I won’t say Anders is absolutely a sure thing, but Jotko, even in his wins, has looked so bad lately. The Barriault fight was a hard watch, to say the least. Power and athleticism favor Eryk, making him the smart choice for this category.

Value

Anthony Hernandez, $8,000—Hernandez comes from the Contender Series where he had no problem finishing his opponent. He’s got a nasty guillotine, having notched four of his seven wins with it, and he has demonstrated the ability to learn from his mistakes, securing an immediate win after suffering his first and only loss. He’s a hot prospect and is absolutely worth taking a chance on.


Welterweight

Stud/Value

Matt Brown, $7,200—Matt Brown is pulling double duty as both the stud and the value, for several reasons. He’s a technical striker with devastating elbows in the clinch, and is also a wily, crafty veteran with plenty of tricks to confuse prospects like Baeza. This is Matt Brown’s house, and he’s been snatching victories from young pups for years. Yes, he has a soft midsection, and yes, he’s been on the wrong end of a submission occasionally, but Baeza isn’t some grappling ace, so that is of little concern. Miguel hasn’t faced high-level competition, and that lack of experience is probably the biggest advantage Brown will have over him.


Flyweight

Stud

Cortney Casey, $8,800—Cortney Casey is a much better fighter than her record would suggest. She’s been in some razor close, split-decision fights, at least one of which should have gone her way (see the Felice Herrig fight). She’s tough, durable and has very good grappling, along with serviceable striking. She is routinely the aggressor in her fights, often closing the distance to fight in the pocket. The biggest factor here is that Cortney is finally making the move up to 125, a weight she is likely better suited for. Mara has flashes of power, but against lesser competition than the level that Casey represents. Borella has also suffered losses every time she takes a step up in competition, and not close, competitive losses, either. This fight is Casey’s to lose.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) 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.