UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 12/19/20

Combat sports are one of America's longest-standing active sports to wager on. This was evident throughout the late 1900s as boxing took the sports world by storm. From Muhammed Ali to Mike Tyson, several stars were born, and Americans around the country placed bets on who would win boxing matches. Nowadays, with boxing much smaller than it was throughout the 1900s, mixed martial arts has taken the lead as America's favorite combat sport.

By far, the largest and most successful MMA organization in North America is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as UFC. The UFC lays claim to the best mixed martial artists in the world and is showcased on both cable and pay-per-view events every month. As one of the most unique DFS sweats available, UFC daily fantasy is now live on FanDuel.

numberFire is always your best place to prepare for the upcoming UFC card. To dive deeper into this week's card, also make sure to check out my thoughts on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

With those tools at our disposal, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal, which will take place on Saturday night from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas.

MVP Considerations

Tafon Nchukwi ($23): The UFC's calendar year closes out with a bit of a puzzle, as 21 of the 24 fighters still on the card have better than 2-to-1 (+200) odds to win their fight on Saturday. That means this card is loaded with close, competitive fights, and it also presents a lack of heavy favorites to target in the MVP spot. The highest-salaried fighter in the player pool is Nchukwi, and he fits the billing of a heavy favorite. He has card-best odds to win outright on the moneyline (-365) as well as inside the 15-minute distance (-190). It is easy to see why, as he has won all seven of his recorded MMA bouts by early knockout and is amazingly cutting 20 pounds down to middleweight for his UFC debut, where his power will likely be even more evident against smaller opposition. Nchukwi has plenty of question marks around him, but it is hard to deny someone with fairly short +175 odds to win by knockout in the very first round.

Geoff Neal ($19): Geoff "Handz of Steel" Neal is in a -110 odds pick'em right now with his opponent Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson to win the five-round main event of Saturday's card. However, one could argue Neal deserves to be a heavy favorite as a striker above any welterweight on Earth at the moment. Neal combines serious volume (6.04 significant strikes per minute) with power (a welterweight-best 2.25 knockdowns per 15 minutes) and defense (65% striking defense), which is a lethal combination that usually befits a UFC champion. He sees Thompson, a former title challenger whose best days are behind him, as the 37-year old has been knocked down in four of his last six fights, and none of those other fighters posted near the power threat that Neal has demonstrated thus far.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Jimmy Flick ($17): "The Brick" Jimmy Flick makes a second appearance in three weeks in the helper, but it is because his fight on December 5th never happened. It was cancelled due to a non-COVID related medical issue with his opponent Cody Durden, which leaves some ambiguity around Durden's health as the two now face off this weekend. Given that weigh-ins were completed, the fight appears ready to finally take place, and that is an exciting proposition for fans of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Flick is averaging 7.90 submission attempts per match through his UFC debut, and many of the transitions to create those attempts were jaw-dropping. Durden figures to give Flick the fight he craves, as the power wrestler (2.00 takedowns per match) figures to engage with the grappling specialist. Flick has the second-best odds on the card (+100) to win before the 15-minute fight is over.

Khaos Williams ($16): Before Khaos Williams' last fight on November 14th, despite mentioning him positively inside that week's helper, I tossed his statistics out of my model at large. His first fight against Alex Morono was a 30-second knockout that created a +20.00 striking success rate (significant strikes less strikes absorbed per minute), and I thought that could not possibly be indicative of his long-term sample. Well, he followed that up with a 33-second knockout of Abdul Razak-Alhassan, so it is quite possible that "Khaos" may just simply be aptly named. With that two-fight sample, he enters this card leading in both striking success rate (+12.63) and FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (9.47). He takes on Michel Pereira, who does present someone with more experience but has also been known to make plenty of mistakes inside the octagon, and a bad mistake could mean a third straight knockout for Michigan welterweight Williams.

Value Fighters

Deron Winn ($12): It is easy to see why the public at large is not a fan of betting on success with Deron Winn inside a UFC octagon, as Winn will be fighting at 195 pounds this weekend despite being just 5'6" tall. Including Antonio Arroyo this week, Winn has ceded at least six inches of height to every fighter he has faced in the UFC, but he is giving up only three inches of reach this weekend to Arroyo -- not even the largest reach gap on this card. That means Winn should still find an opportunity to box Arroyo, but his best path to victory may be using his low center of gravity to wrestle the Brazilian, as Arroyo has just a 45% takedown defense inside the UFC and has been taken down at least twice in every single fight. Given that Winn is primarily a wrestler to begin with (2.49 takedowns per match; fourth on this card), the stylistic matchup may favor the smaller man Saturday.

Rob Font ($11): Even through his meteoric rise through UFC's bantamweight division, Marlon Moraes has been someone to target against in fantasy because his peripherals were not lining up with his tallies in the win column. Moraes posts a card-worst 38% accuracy and has significant cardio issues from missing so often while throwing absolute power behind every punch. That has scored him some knockouts in the UFC, but Rob Font is third on this card in striking defense (63%), which is a recipe for plenty of swings and misses from Moraes. Font himself has done well to mount offense in both striking and grappling, as he is seventh on a pretty loaded card in FanDuel points per minute excluding bonuses (3.83). And while the public is leaning heavily on former title challenger Moraes, it may be Font who cashes as a slight +126 underdog.

Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.