Welcome to this week’s JaguarDFS' MMA Breakdown for this Saturday’s UFC 264: McGregor vs. Poirier 3. Every week, Louis will be going over his top UFC DFS selections. The analysis and research done for this article is specifically geared towards daily fantasy success, not conventional gambling. For example, a fighter could be a heavy favorite but may not be in a position to reach daily fantasy point value. This upcoming Saturday (7/10) Conor McGregor will face off for the third time against Dustin Poirier. DraftKings has a $1,000,000 prize pool for their “MMA 1M 264 Special '' with first place taking home $200,000. FanDuel has $40,000 going to first place in their “UFC Octagon” GPP tournament. This contest carries a $200,000 prize pool. There’s no time to waste, let’s get started.
Alen Amedovski DK: $9,000 FD: $18 (-140) vs. Hu Yaozong DK:$7,200 FD: $11 (+120)
Amedovski is the most talented fighter that Yaozong will have fought come Saturday. Yaozong has dropped from heavyweight to light-heavyweight and now to middleweight, This makes this fight the most mysterious on fight the card. Yaozong has yet to be KO’d in five professional fights. Amedovski’s path to victory is clear. Although all of his wins are by knockout, his advantages lie in his speed and agility. Knocking out Yaozong won’t be easy. Amedovski has a 2-inch reach advantage. One punch is not going to take out Yaozong, he’s going to need to be peppered with jabs over three rounds. Can Amedovski stay disciplined and strategically avoid Yaozong’s power? Yes, I think he can.
My Pick: Alen Amedovski
Zahlgas Zhumagulov DK: $9,300 FD: $22 (-360) vs. Jerome Rivera DK: $6,900 FD: $8 (+280)
Here comes my first upset pick of the slate. Zhumagulov is 5’4 and will be looking to knock out Rivera. Rivera has shown to have a vulnerable chin. If Zhumagulov successfully encroaches Rivera’s space, he can knock him out. The thing is, Jerome has a significant height advantage over Zhumagulov. Jerome Rivera is 5’10 with long limbs. Entering Rivera’s space will be tough. Zhumagulov will have to withstand a barrage of kicks and jabs all capable of series damage.
My Pick: Jerome Rivera
Omari Akhmedov DK: $7,600 FD: $10 (+135) vs. Brad Tavaras DK: $8,600 FD: $ 20 (-160)
DFS Fade: Brad Tavaras
Brad Tavares showed major improvements in his takedown defense. He had a 46% TD Def rate but in his last fight he shut down 11 of 12 takedown attempts by Carlos Junior. Taking down Tavares will be an extremely tough task for Akhmedov. Akhmedov has only surpassed 100 DK FP twice over 10 professional fights. His salary is $7,600 on DraftKings and even when you look at his wins, his point totals rarely surpass 73 DK FP. Tavares is averaging a 3.04 significant strikes landed per minute while Akhmedov is landing 2.95. Despite his new TD Def skills, Tavares is at risk of not reaching DFS value, win or lose. I’m going to pick Tavares to win the fight but for a salary of $8,600, I don’t believe he’s is worth the salary. This fight is a DFS fade for me.
My Pick: Brad Tavares
Jennifer Maia DK: $8,800 For: $20 (-200) vs. Jessica Eye DK: $7,400 FD: $9 (+170)
Eye is the more agile fighter with 2-inches in height and has a 2-inch reach advantage. Maia has incredible strength and should be able to over power Eye. The advantages for each of these fighters are clear. In nine career losses, Eye has only been finished twice (1 KO & 1 submission). I predict that this fight will be her third time getting finished inside the distance.
My Pick: Jennifer Maia
Trevin Giles (-110) DK: $8,000 FD: $15 vs. Dricus Du Plessis DK: $8,000 FD: $15 (-110)
Trevin Giles is not a daily fantasy scorer but at his salary, I don’t hate him. Giles averages 66.5 DFS points per fight over seven career fights. Giles is quick and elusive. He’s patient and waits for his spot to strike. Great for fighting, not so great for DFS scoring. Du Plessis has a unique style of covering up while throwing jabs and kicks with force. He seems to have solid power in his jabs, hooks, and kicks while taking very little damage. Giles will approach the fight slowly and strategically. Giles is my pick here and maybe with some luck, he can reach daily fantasy value.
My Pick: Trevin Giles
Ryan Hall DK: $7,100 FD: $9 (+190) vs. Ilia Topuria DK: $9,100 FD: $22 (-230)
Hall is a BJJ specialist and the most elusive fighter on the card. The 35 year old is actually a sneaky play on this card. Hall might not score well but at salaries of $7,100 and $9 on DraftKings and FanDuel, you don’t need much to reach value. Hall has eight wins by knockout, three by submission, and three by decision. Topuria has 10 wins, no losses, (seven wins by submission, and one by decision). Topuria’s style is aggressive and slightly reckless which plays right into Hall’s hand. Chasing down Hall can make you susceptible to counter strikes. I foresee Topuria having serious problems chasing down Ryan Hall. Another upset call.
My Pick: Ryan Hall
Niko Price DK: $7,300 FD: $14 (+140) vs. Michel Pereira DK: $8,900 FD: $19 (-165)
After being suspended for a positive marijuana test which had his draw against Donald Cerrone switched to a no contest, look for Niko Price to come out with vengeance. According to oddsmakers, Pereira is expected to win this fight but we’ve all seen what Price can do. At a salary of $8,900 Pereira’s normal point totals just won’t cut it. Price is almost my selection by default. Considering this matchup is not expected to go the distance, you’re going to want to pick one side or the other. This is a fight that you need to have exposure to. Niko Price is going to be my selection.
My Pick: Niko Price
Carlos Condit DK: $7,500 FD: $10 (+160) vs. Max Griffin DK: $8,700 FD: $21 (-190)
Carlos is yet another fighter on this card that I am concerned with in terms of daily fantasy scoring. Over his career in the UFC, he has only averaged 72.2 DK FPPF. Max Griffin is not a fighter you’re going to be able to do the bare minimum against (which is what Carlos seems to do). Griffin will be able to take down Condit. Griffin averages 1.60 TD per fight at a 61% accuracy rate. This will be a problem for Condit. Over his career, Condit has a 39 % defensive takedown rate but as of late, that number has gotten worse. For this reason, Max Griffin is one of my top selections on this card. Confidently roster Griffin at $8,700.
My Pick: Max Griffin
Sean O’Malley DK: $9,500 FD: $23 (-800) vs. Kris Moutinho DK: N/A FD: $8 (+500)
Sean O’Malley will be the most popular fighter on this card. He’s priced at $9,500 on Draftkings Sean O’Malley has averaged 78.9 fantasy points per fight, O’Malley averages 6.31 significant strikes landed per minute. He’s accurate landing 65 % of his strikes and averages .79 takedowns per fight at 50 % accuracy. O’Malley looks to continue a new win streak starting with his next fight against Kris Moutinho. Moutinho is replacing Louis Smolka who withdraw from this fight. Kris will be making his UFC debut. This seems to be a replacement about to get thrown to the wolves (or wolf in this case). O’Malley is priced as if he’s going up against Smolka, but now that he is facing a replacement, a $9,500 salary is way too cheap for the matchup he’s about to have. Easy pick, lock him in.
My Pick: Sean O’Malley
Irene Aldana DK: $8,300 FD: $16 (-120) vs. Yana Kunitskaya DK: $7,900 FD: $13 (+100)
FULL FIGHT DFS FADE
Let me start by saying that I am fading this fight completely. Aldana does not score well when she wins. She has a tough opponent in Kunitskaya. Aldana most recently lost against Holly Holm. She only accumulated 69 significant strikes in this loss. At a salary of $8,300, Irene Aldana is not a viable play for me on this card. While she has significant wins over Vieira and Melo, her points per fight average are low at 64.9 and her salary is high in the $8,000 range. Aldana averages .23 takedowns per fight at a 50% accuracy rate. She has an 84% defensive takedown rate while landing 5.52 significant strikes per minute. Aldana’s point totals in victories are 96, 78, 79, 80, 110. At a salary of $8,300, even with the single 110 effort, Irene does not become worth her salary. Now that doesn’t mean she isn’t a viable GPP play; it would just be more of a shot in the dark than a play with statistical backing.
Note: If you’re trying to decide whether or not a salary is appropriate, look at the other fighters in that range and ask yourself, do they have the same floor? And do they have the same upside? At a salary of $8,300, you have the choice to go down to either fighter in the main event. Now, if I said to you, would you rather roster Aldana or McGregor/Poirier, what is your answer to that? The answer is clear that investing in one of the fighters from a five-round main event is better for your lineup. Aldana is only favored by -120 and has a realistic point total of around 65. This is how you assess salaries for UFC DFS.
Kunitskaya is +100 yet her salary is at $7,900 on DraftKings and $13 on FanDuel. Yana is only receiving 2.62 strikes per minute (which is low). Considering her salary, there’s value here but not much. Her win totals include 92, 109, 82, & 119 but this has been because of her ability to take down her opponent. As I mentioned, Aldana doesn’t get taken down often with an 84% defensive takedown rate. This fight will be low scoring, with many takedown attempts by Kunitskaya and I expect most of them to be successfully shut down by Aldana. This is a full-fight fade.
My Pick: Yana Kunitskaya
Tai Tuivasa DK: $8,400 FD: $17 (-135) vs. Greg Hardy DK: $7,800 FD: $12 (+135)
Former NFL player Greg Hardy has his first fight of 2021. He’s matching up against fellow heavy-weight Tai Tuivasa. Hardy most recently lost to Tybura by knockout over two rounds. While Hardy is athletic, his UFC abilities have yet to impress me against elite competition. In his career, he’s landing 4.83 significant strikes per minute at a 50% accuracy rate. He has an 80% take-down defense percentage while only averaging .21 take-downs per fight. Every fight he has in the UFC, he’s improving. He’s an athlete and that’s what athletes do, excel physically. The question is, can he beat Tuivasa? Tai is on a two-fight-win streak, knocking out both Struve and Hunsucker in the first round. His most recent loss was in 2019 against Spivac. He was submitted in the second round. Tai averages 4.38 strikes landed per minute and has a 50% strike accuracy percentage. Tuivasa’s takedown defense is at 46% but hasn’t needed any of this recently with two first-round knockouts. Of Greg Hardy‘s three losses, one has been by knockout. In Hardy‘s seven professional wins, six have been by knockout. Tuivasa has only been knocked out once while 10 of his 11 wins have been by KO/TKO. This fight is seemingly going to be a first-round brawl. Power vs. Power. Tai by knockout has the best odds at +160. Greg Hardy by knockout comes in next at +250. Invest in daily fantasy exposure to both. Somewhat of a pick'em here.
My Pick: Tai Tuivasa
Gilbert Burns DK: $7,700 FD: $13 (+135) vs. Stephen Thompson DK: $8,500 FD: $19 (-160)
Stephen Thompson last fought against Neil, winning a five-round main event with 171 significant strikes. Wonderboy Thompson is one of the most prolific and unique strikers in the UFC. He has a litany of various kicks and punches he will throw at you without slowing down. Gilbert Burns is coming off of a title fight loss to Usman on February 13th, 2021. He lost in three rounds by knockout and that’s exactly how I believe Burns will lose to Thompson this Saturday. Burnes has been knocked out twice in his professional career, most recently by Usman and once by Dan Hooker. Burnes not only needs to keep up with Thompson’s various striking abilities but also the speed at which he throws these strikes. Burns’ path to victory is through taking down Thompson but Thompson has a 78% defensive takedown rate. While maintaining great takedown defense, He lands 4.24 significant strikes per minute at an accuracy of 43%. Burnes averages 2.08 takedowns per fight while landing 3.22 strikes per minute. Gilbert Burns is a full fade for me this Saturday. Wonderboy can knock you out in so many different ways and that’s exactly what I expect him to do. Thompson still has sights set on the belt and I believe he will have a chance at some point to contest for it but for now, he must first get past Gilbert Burnes. With a bad matchup and low salaries of $7,700 and $13, Burnes simply does not make my list.
My Pick: Stephen Thompson
Dustin Poirier DK: $8,100 FD: $20 (-125) vs. Conor McGregor DK: $8,100 FD: $19 (+105)
Everything about this fight screams advantage Poirier to me. Poirier is coming off of a win against McGregor in January of 2021. He knocked him out in two rounds totaling 48 significant strikes, one takedown, and one knockdown. Before fighting McGregor, Dustin fought Dan Hooker over five rounds, getting the decision with 153 significant strikes. Losing to Nurmagomedov over three rounds by submission was disappointing but was not concerning. Before that, he fought Hollway and Álvarez as well as Pettis. Poirier has fought the best of the best and I expect him to continue his current wave of success by knocking out McGregor sooner than he did in their second bout on January 23, 2021. We don’t know how McGregor has been training, I’m not gonna make any assumptions. McGregor averages 5.32 significant strikes landed per minute at 49% accuracy. His striking defense is at 54% which is high. His takedown defense is at 67% while his takedown average is at .70 at a 55% accuracy rate. Dustin’s averaging 5.59 significant strikes landed per minute but his takedown average is 1.47 at a 36% accuracy rate. Poirier defends takedowns at a 61% rate with a submission average of 1.3. This is his path to victory. Poirier will be able to take down McGregor and threaten through submissions & ground and pound. Poirier averages 85.1 FPPF while Conor McGregor averages 93.9. McGregor tends to perform in his wins. He totaled 133 points against Cerrone, 116 points against Alverez, and 135 points against Diaz. The problem is, I don’t think he will win. In his losses, McGregor is averaging 26.3 DK FPPF - not good.
My Pick: Dustin Poirier