UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC on ABC 1
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. If you would rather bet the fights outright on FanDuel Sportsbook, Barry Cohen has you covered with his betting guide. 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: Holloway vs. Kattar, taking place live in Abu Dhabi on "Fight Island" on Saturday.
Santiago Ponzinibbio ($23): The UFC returns to FanDuel this weekend with a star-studded allotment of options in the high-salary tier. "The Argentine Dagger" Ponzinibbio was once lurking in the title picture at welterweight, but injuries and illness have kept him from the octagon since November 2018. On Saturday, he returns in what is universally seen as a step back in competition versus Jiangling Li, which is the thought behind his card-best -310 odds to win the fight. Ponzinibbio is well-rounded, but his striking may be his most dangerous facet, as he combines 4.27 significant strikes per minute with legitimate knockdown power. He has seven knockdowns in his last seven fights. His -110 odds to win early imply a 50/50 chance that Ponzinibbio closes the show early and returns to the welterweight rankings.
Joaquin Buckley ($22): Buckley shares the same 50/50 odds for an early night as Ponzinibbio does, but he comes at a $1 dollar discount in salary. The salary reduction may be justified, as Buckley is very much a one-trick pony in the UFC. He is a knockout striker, but he combines that with really poor 38% efficiency. He may struggle to find range on Alessio Di Chirico, who posts a solid 62% striking defense. But Buckley has shown it takes quite literally just one punch, as he has a 4.16% knockdown rate in his last two fights. Saturday will be important for Buckley against weak competition -- with Di Chirico entering this bout on a three-fight losing skid -- as he continues to extend his UFC sample beyond just the highlight knockout of 2020.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Dusko Todorovic ($19): Matchmaking in the UFC can drastically alter the course of a prospect's career, and occasionally two will be matched up to amplify that effect. That is definitively the case at middleweight, as undefeateds Dusko Todorovic (10-0) and Punahele Soriano (7-0) will battle. Whenever an undefeated fighter is projected to lose like Soriano, who is $12 on FanDuel, there will be natural popularity to the idea he does not, but Todorovic has the more complete package. In addition to two-inch advantages in both height and reach, Todorovic's +2.79 striking success rate is tops on this card, and he owns a card-best rate of 8.04 significant strikes per minute, as well. He will look to continue his success by cashing as a -170 favorite.
Calvin Kattar ($18): It is strange to be three recommendations in and not have touched the main event, but this weekend's main bout is viable on both sides in tournaments. Kattar and Max Holloway are certain to engage in a high-volume boxing match, and Kattar has two significant historical advantages over the former title challenger Holloway -- who many believe should be a larger favorite. Kattar will have a three-inch reach advantage in a boxing match as well as historical power, with three knockdowns in his last five fights. Holloway does not have a single knockdown in his last five fights, and he has a -0.22 striking success rate in his last four fights. With Holloway's knockdown issues himself and his durable chin that has never been finished, this five-rounder has a 62.3% implied probability to see the entire distance, giving both fighters a chance to rack up fantasy points.
Joselyne Edwards ($11): Edwards may or may not hold to her current underdog status before fight time on Saturday, as she has surged to the slightest of underdog (+102) in her fight with UFC veteran Yanan Wu. The Panamanian is an athletic freak for women's bantamweight, and it has allowed her to pile up eight wins by early finish in her nine career professional victories. She makes her UFC debut against Wu, who is 1-2 in the UFC with pedestrian offensive tools, as evidenced by her fairly low clip of 3.18 FanDuel points per minute. Edwards may prove to be too raw for a UFC veteran at this stage, but her upside is certainly far greater between the two, and that should attract great popularity in all formats.
Justin Tafa ($11): There is an old adage in MMA betting that goes -- "in a bad heavyweight fight, the value is on the underdog, as it just depends on who lands first." There is no long-term data behind that, but the colloquialism just might ring true this weekend as Justin Tafa meets Carlos Felipe. Tafa is a process play, as Felipe has not showcased the elite upside necessary to justify his $20 salary. Felipe's striking success is rate is just +0.04 in a 30-minute sample, and that grades well behind Tafa's +1.21 mark -- albeit just in a four-minute sample. Tafa also has a knockdown in those four minutes, with Felipe having none in his 30, and that indicates a significant power advantage with Tafa, the underdog. The New Zealand heavyweight should be less popular than Edwards and Soriano at comparable salaries, as well.
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.