The UFC is wasting no time in getting the fight machine back on track, holding three events in an eight-day time frame after UFC 249 took place this past weekend. The second of the aforementioned events takes place at 6:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, the venue for all three cards.
UFC 249 was an excellent show with plenty of action, so that will be a hard act to follow, but there are some really compelling matchups on this Fight Night card that warrant some extra attention. Clearly, the main event is set to determine the title challenger pecking order once again, and the pairing of Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira is an excellent way to get the ball rolling at light heavyweight.
There are six divisions represented on the bout sheet, so I’ve selected the standouts 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 on the athlete. Note: Not all divisions represented on this card will 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.
Set your lineups here: MMA $400K Mid-Week Melee [$100K to 1st]
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Which fighters are you paying up for this Saturday?
StudSijara Eubanks, $9,200 — Eubanks admittedly is a mixed bag, holding a 4-4 record inside the octagon, but her strength of schedule has been significantly better than Sarah Moras’ and has netted her wins over Top 10 ranked opponents Roxanne Modafferi (twice) and Lauren Murphy. Moras has trouble with aggressive, strong fighters that are willing to close the distance and dictate the pace. She’s just not the striker that Eubanks is and will more than likely end up losing a decision to the 35-year-old powerhouse. This is the only women’s bout on the card, and I don’t feel it will be close enough to warrant calling Moras a value in light of Eubanks’ significantly better striking.
Stud/ValueRay Borg, $7,600—Borg is doing double duty on this card, serving as both stud and value. Ray has been in losing efforts four times in his career but has only been finished once, and that was by the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world at flyweight, one Demetrious Johnson. Only one of his losses is at bantamweight and he’s currently on a two-fight win streak, holding impressive wins over Jussier Formiga and Louis Smolka.
Ricky Simon, on the other hand, is riding a two-fight skid and has had some fight IQ dips that have seen him on the wrong end of a decision and even finished by an aging Urijah Faber. He has the tendency to go for broke in the pocket with little regard to defense. It’s a very close call, but Ray Borg’s more expansive skillset is what’s worth paying attention to here and will likely be the difference-maker against a strong but undisciplined striker like Simon.
StudDrew Dober, $8,300—Drew Dober has been looking absolutely sensational lately, racking up back-to-back wins over the highly touted Nasrat Haqparast and Polo Reyes before that. He carries legit knockout power and is hyper aggressive right out the gate. There is no “feeling out” period with him. He’s also got very good cardio, so going the distance won’t be an issue should that be how this contest ends up.
ValueMichael Johnson, $8,000—Michael Johnson has had a rough go of it over the last several years, claiming just three wins since 2016. The reason he’s a good value on this card is due to his strength of schedule. He holds wins over Dustin Poirier, Edson Barboza, Joe Lauzon, and Andre Fili, and he was the last person to beat Tony Ferguson before Ferguson’s loss at UFC 249. He gave Khabib Nurmagomedov one hell of a first round and still possesses excellent striking.
Thiago Moises just hasn’t faced the caliber of opponent that Johnson has and can only claim Kurt Holobaugh as his most prominent victory. He is also on a bit of a skid, so that also is reason to reconsider choosing him to build a solid lineup. Michael Johnson should have all the necessary tools and veteran savvy to keep this young wolf at bay.
DraftKings users can enter for their chance to win big prizes in Wednesday’s Mid-Week Melee contest, which pays out a guaranteed $400,000, including $100,000 to first place. The action gets underway at 6:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Set your lineups here: MMA $400K Mid-Week Melee [$100K to 1st].
MiddleweightEDITOR’S NOTE: Karl Roberson fell ill after his weight cut and his fight against Marvin Vettori tonight at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Teixeira is off, per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
StudOvince Saint Preux, $8,700—OSP is the stud here only because he’s the better athlete of all the heavyweights on the card. His physical condition is better, he has KO power, he has a very good wrestling base and has his legendary prowess with the Von Flue choke–or Von Preux choke, depending on how you attribute the naming of it since he’s finished four opponents with it to date. He’s got a laundry list of excellent names on his vanquished list including Corey Anderson, Tyson Pedro, Shogun Rua, and Nikita Krylov. He’s certainly slowing down as his career nears its inevitable end, but he has much more in his reserves than Ben Rothwell, who has not looked good since his return off a USADA suspension last year.
ValueChase Sherman, $8,400—I was tempted to not put a value pick for this division because at this end of the division, it really is any man’s fight. For both Sherman and Villanueva, their highest profile win is Rashad Coulter. Any step up in competition has seen both men stumble every time. Sherman has, however, fought a much better caliber of opponent than Ike has, and this, in addition to a four-fight win streak before his loss to Joey Beltran this past November, is what tipped the scales in his favor.
StudAnthony Smith, $9,000—Anthony Smith has just gotten better and better since making the move up to 205. Aside from his title bout with Jon Jones, he has had a fantastic run, finishing top contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Volkan Oezdemir along the way. He has very underrated grappling, and his striking has become much more polished. He has the height, reach and length to keep Teixeira at a distance of his choosing, and also has the youth advantage firmly on his side. That’s not to say Glover isn’t still a very dangerous man, but in this matchup, Smith is likely going to be the predator looking to make a meal of his opponent.
ValueGlover Teixeira, $7,200—Once again, I am pairing off the stud with the value pick in the same contest. Even if there had been more than one light heavyweight bout, I would’ve chosen Glover in this category. He’s a cagey old fox and owns a current three-fight win streak over Nikita Krylov, Ion Cutelaba and Karl Roberson. He’s a very dangerous ground-and-pound specialist, and has remarkable recovery abilities, as he’s been in serious trouble in two of those aforementioned fights (Krylov and Cutelaba). Once again, the gap in salaries could lull one into a sense of false security, but make no mistake, Glover Teixeira is still a very dangerous man with plenty of tools to get a win over Smith.
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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.