UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: UFC Vegas 32
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 the best spot to get you ready for any UFC card. If you would rather bet the fights, my betting guide is a great place to find value bets on Saturday's card. In addition to this primer, I also dove deeper into this slate on this week's UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Without further delay, let's break down UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, NV on Saturday night.
Sijara Eubanks ($23): Eubanks is the higher-floor, lower-ceiling option of a clear two-headed monster of MVP candidates on this weekend's card. Eubanks (-355) is the largest moneyline favorite as she's taking on UFC newcomer Elise Reed in her return to UFC's flyweight division, and Eubanks has fought as much as 20 pounds heavier than the smaller Reed throughout their professional careers. That should give Eubanks a significant strength advantage that she did not have amidst a rocky 2-4 stretch that she is currently riding in the UFC. But Eubanks' peripheral striking success rate (+0.83) and FanDuel points per minute (3.60) tells a tale that she held her own amidst far tougher competition than the UFC rookie should present Saturday.
Kyler Phillips ($22): The UFC sample on Phillips is smaller, so there is some risk in this spot. But Phillips' matchup still provides plenty of a ceiling as the other key MVP option. Phillips dispensed of ranked bantamweight Song Yadong with three key takedowns to help overcome a -8 striking differential in March, but Phillips' striking success rate of +2.28 overall indicates better days are ahead when not facing such a high-level striker. Raulian Paiva may represent that, as Paiva is moving up 10 pounds to bantamweight after a less-than-successful run at flyweight that saw him knocked out and out-struck in his final two fights. Phillips is a -290 favorite as the proven bantamweight commodity, and at 4.48 FanDuel points per minute in his career with above-average marks in all three dimensions of MMA, he has tremendous potential in DFS.
Other High-Salaried Fighters
Miranda Maverick ($18): The 24-year-old Maverick is in what many are pointing to as the must-see fight of Saturday versus 23-year old Maycee Barber that could go a long way in determining the hierarchy of title challengers at women's flyweight. Maverick gets the nod for me, however, as she has been essentially flawless in her first two UFC fights. Maverick has the top striking success rate on the card (+3.15), and her impressive domination of wrestling specialist Gillian Robertson -- when she scored 4:40 of control time and three takedowns -- is what sets her up with this ranked matchup. The only question mark for Maverick entering this fight as a -188 favorite is her submission skills at the UFC level, but regression could be coming for her in that department, as she entered UFC by winning five of seven fights by early submission.
TJ Dillashaw ($17): The former undisputed bantamweight champion returns to a five-round main event following a two-year absence due to a drug suspension, and his test will be tough out of the gate. Dillashaw is +160 underdog to Cory Sandhagen following Sandhagen's highlight knockouts of 2020, but Sandhagen's statistical profile still has the largest red flag entering this fight. Sandhagen has just a 30% takedown defense as a lanky striker, and at 1.68 takedowns per match, Dillashaw has shown the ability to exploit that against multiple opponents. In a must-win situation, Dillashaw may deploy a conservative, sensible gameplan to control Sandhagen on the mat if "The Sandman" has not corrected his fatal flaw.
Nassourdine Imavov ($13): Like many handicapping this fight, my first instinct was that former ranked middleweight Ian Heinisch should dispense of Imavov -- who is just 1-1 so far in his UFC career -- fairly comfortably. However, Heinisch's inability to mount offense (2.69 FanDuel points per minute) not only limits his fantasy upside, it also should allow Imavov to have plenty of moments. Imavov's 59% striking defense and +2.03 striking success rate demonstrates great defense and efficiency, and with Heinisch not consistently active on offense, in all likelihood, that will allow Imavov some chances. In a fight projected to be fought on the ground, Imavov has been far more aggressive trying to end a fight on the mat (2.00 submission attempts per match) than Heinisch (0.80) has, and that is a successful recipe for a high-upside value play.
Randy Costa ($9): Adrian Yanez is the highly touted prospect in this fight with Costa, but perhaps after Saturday, the question might end up becoming why the roles were not reversed. Costa's 7.88 significant strikes per minute is tops on the entire card, and it has not been throwing caution to the wind, as Costa's 57% striking defense is even higher than Yanez's personal mark of 55%. Costa will also enjoy three inches of reach on Yanez in what profiles to be a striking match, as neither fighter has attempted a takedown in their limited UFC sample. Yanez has been a phenomenal DFS play in his first two fights, but a huge step up in competition places plenty of value on his opponent in their bout.
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.