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Ultimate Fighting Championship 209: Fantasy MMA DFS Preview

Despite the night's headliners being pulled off the fight card for medical reasons, MMA DFS Expert Casey Olson still provides you with picks and analysis on each of the 11 fights taking place on Saturday night!

Well..to say UFC 209 took a knockout blow before the card even began is an understatement.  The people’s main event, Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson was scrapped as “The Eagle” became ill during weight cutting, forcing physicians to clip his wings, ruling him out of the night’s interim lightweight title fight.  With the co-main fight pulled, the card still has 11 fights, and some great DFS salaries, to build some cashing lineups on Saturday night.

Some quick around some of the night’s key fights:

Thompson (-145) vs. Woodley (+125):

  • Of all the fighters on the card, Woodley brings the highest knockdown rate at over 12%
  • Woodley defends 68.8% of all opponent’s significant strike attempts in welterweight competition.
  • Thompson has five KO victories since 2012, giving him second most in the division.

Evans (-220) vs Kelly (+200):

  • This will be Evans first fight at middleweight in his UFC career.  (Dropping down from LHW)
  • Evans is on a two fight losing streak and hasn’t won since 2013.
  • Evans has the most takedowns in UFC LHW history with 50.
  • Kelly defends 65.8% of significant strikes, the second highest rate behind the champ Michael Bisping.

Vannata (-375) vs Teymur (+335):

  • Vannata is the second highest favorite on the card at almost a 4:1 favorite.
  • Vannata has won via stoppage in eight of his nine career victories
  • Teymur has knocked down both UFC opponents he’s faced and has earned 80% of his victories via knockout.

Overeem (-125) vs Hunt (+115):

  • Reem has won 37 of his 41 career victories via stoppage.
  • Reem lands 73.9% of his significant strike attempts, which is the highest rate in HW history.
  • Reem’s 10 KO losses are the most of any active fighter on the UFC’s entire roster.
  • Hunt lands 86.4% of his strikes to his opponent’s head, giving him the largest proportion of head strikes in the UFC’s heavyweight history.
  • At 42, Hunt will be the oldest fighter on the entire card.

Before building your lineup, let’s recap how the scoring works over at DraftKings:

Breakdown Time

As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC 209.  As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are at in MMA DFS. Take a quick glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual match-ups here in just a few. 

Now, two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents, watch your points rack up quick.  Here’s my Offensive Output Meter for UFC 209. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday night. 

Round notes to consider for points and finishes:

    • Thompson (-150) vs Woodley (+130) is scheduled for 5 rounds (rack up some points)
    • O/U’s set at 1.5 rounds (odds makers see potential for fight finishes):
      • U1.5 (+173) Vannata (-375) vs Teymur (+335)
      • U1.5 (-108) Overeem (-125) vs Hunt (+115)
      • U1.5 (+245) Bektic (-800) vs Elkins (+550)
      • U1.5 (-142) Godbeer (-140) vs Spitz (+130)
      • U1.5 (-155) Craig (+115) vs Pedro (-135)
      • U1.5 (+157) Morales (-130) vs Soukhamthath (+120)

Match-up time. Let’s roll.

*The name in bold is the fighter I predict to win each matchup.

Thompson ($8400) vs. Woodley ($7800)

The champ is getting no respect here as we re-run their fight of the night draw from New York in November.  We just watched these two go at it at UFC 205, and many could argue that Woodley defended.  In the first scrap, Woodley landed 43% of his significant strikes, compared to 26% from Wonderboy, he had the only takedown of the fight, and knocked down Thompson, nearly submitting him.  Now obviously Thompson went back to the gym and made some adjustments, but does anyone think Woodley doesn’t want to put a fork in the debate as well?  While Thompson will look to be a technical machine, scoring and winning rounds, you know Woodley will be looking for the kill.  At this price, I like the champ and his odds of possibly giving Thompson his first loss before the final bell.  Shout outs to Zack Morris, I mean Sage Northcutt for the time spent in camp with Woodley for this fight.  

Vannata ($9300) vs. Teymur ($6900)

So Vannata almost pulled off the upset of the year when he wobbled Ferguson coming in on very short notice, and just stretched John Makdessi in one round with a beautiful spinning wheel kick.  The guy has some hype behind him.  Now I hope we don’t get caught speeding by taking him, but we need to consider the strength of schedule between the two.  Teymur, a solid striker himself, has knocked out his last four opponents, including Jason Novelli and Martin Svensson in the UFC.  Novelli and Svensson are not comparable opponents to Ferguson and Makdessi.   In this matchup, I see Teymur being an easy read for Vannata.  Vannata may take some shots but should be able to get off some unorthodox wide range of tools in the standup.  Vannata not my favorite roster at this price.

Evans ($9000) vs. Kelly ($7200)

Nope, not doing it.  Not jumping on the Dan Kelly judo hype train.  In 14 fights, Kelly has only fought outside of Australia twice, and both times he looked rough.  On top of that, he’s been KO’d in under a minute via the slow motion wizardry of Smilin’ Sam Alvey.  To me, this has the making of the fighting rebirth of Rashad Evans at this new weight class.  This fight to me should look very similar to Rashad’s matchup with Chael Sonnen in 2013, where he TKO’d him in one round.  More athletic?  Rashad.  More power?  Rashad.  Former champ?  Rashad.  Looked good at weigh ins?  Rashad.

Calvillo ($8100) vs Cooper ($8100)

No DFS love for these chicks.  I bolded one name for the sake of selecting my “pick.”  Cooper can strike I guess but isn’t a finisher.  Calvillo can defend and will bring some great takedown/grappling to the octagon.  Calvillo via a boring decision?

Hunt ($7900) vs. Overeem ($8300)

I love this fight.  Two former K-1 Grand Prix champs head to head.   You saw earlier that this fight has -108 odds leaning to the under 1.5 rounds.  I’m a big Mark Hunt fan, so I’ll be biased.  A good chin is overrated when facing Hunt.  He is the master of the walk-off finish.  Coupling that with the fact (which I stated above) that Overeem has more KO losses than anyone on the roster, I love the chances of Hunt landing that one shot at some point. Reem will most likely look good to start, but Hunt will close in for the kill at some point.  He just needs to avoid the kicks and knees along the way. Remember Overeem’s last fight before getting KO’d in the first round?

Tybura ($8800) vs Henrique ($7400)

Henrique could shock us here.  The guy is strong and has rattled off two consecutive submission victories since getting put to sleep by our favorite DFS rock star Francis Nganou.  But Tybura is tough to take down.  I see this as Henrique’s kryptonite with this matchup.  Tybura keeps it standing and exposes the 54% striking defense while producing almost double the output.  

Bektic ($9600) vs. Elkins ($6600)

OK hold up, first… Did Darren Elkins lose a bet?  The Damage?  Yeah, the damage has already been done.

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

At -750, Bektic is the betting favorite on the entire card.  Now I do believe that line is a tad high, but Bektic will be the stronger, more physical force in this fight.  Elkins has greatly improved his joining up with Team Alpha Male.  He’s a grinder and loves to control on the ground.  This will be tough to do though with Bektic.   You can’t out grapple a grappler like Bektic.  4.14 TD’s AVG/15 min.   Bektic should be able to out power Elkins and eventually cruise to victory.  Maybe a tattoo side bet in the works?

Alcantara ($8600) vs. Sanders ($7600)

Now I’m not the price expert, but I feel like DK got this matchup backward.  I see a spot here with some value at $7600 with Sanders.  11-0, and coming out of MMA Lab I believe, the 31-year-old Sanders isn’t the 38-year-old vet Pickett, that Alcantara disposed of in his last go.  Alcantara should leverage his reach advantage, but Sanders should eventually turn the momentum in his favor, and score.  *Sanders is coming back from surgery but it shouldn’t be an issue.

Godbeer ($8700) vs. Spitz ($7500)

Remember the Godbeer U1.5 is at -142.   Godbeer is -101 to finish the fight and has won via finish in all his victories, never going to a decision, win or lose.  Spitz is 5-0 and has never beat anyone with a winning record.

Pedro ($8200) vs. Craig ($8000)

Both guys impressive their last go, but Craig seemed to be the more composed fighter in the octagon.  I could see some panic from Pedro against Rountree until he was able to lock on the submission.  Rountree wasn’t mentally there himself, so Pedro won the lottery that night.  I think Craig takes some shots but shows his toughness, and Pedro’s nerves begin to show.  Pedro will be the better wrestler as well, but Craig has the skillset to sink in some nasty offense from the bottom.

Morales ($8500) vs. Soukhamthath ($7700)

This fight should get things poppin’ on the night.  Morales is out to prove he should stick around, while Soukhamthath just got called up to the big leagues.  Soukhamthath you will see likes to strike, and he will look to tee off while landing some brutal Muay Thai.  I expect a TKO/KO finish, or at worst case a decision victory.

CORE WORTHY (Snag a couple)

          • Godbeer $8700
          • Vannata $9300
          • Evans  $9000
          • Bektic  $9600

VALUE PLAYS: (Under $8100)

          • Woodley $7800
          • Hunt $7900
          • Sanders $7600
          • Soukhamthath $7700

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