This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The biggest star in the sport today hopes to avenge a shocking loss in Saturday's main event from Las Vegas.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select five fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +1 PT
Takedown (TD): +2 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +2 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +3 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +25 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event – WelterweightNate Diaz (20-10-0) v. Conor McGregor (19-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Diaz ($9,200), McGregor ($10,400)
Vegas Odds: Diaz (-105), McGregor (-115)
Before I get into the breakdown of this fight, I just want to say that I don't like the idea of this ongoing McGregor/Diaz feud. The rematch will obviously make the UFC a boatload of money, but McGregor, as the featherweight champion, should be competing against the countless number of top contenders at 145 pounds. Conor defeated Jose Aldo for the belt last December, and a best-case scenario here would be a year in between featherweight championship fights for McGregor. That's simply unacceptable for one of the biggest stars in the sport.
I picked McGregor in the first fight between the two and I'm going back to the well once more. While I don't think McGregor took Diaz lightly in the first bout, I'm not sure he was truly prepared for the damage that Nate can inflict on the mat. Conor's strength is his standup game, and for the most part, he did just fine in the striking exchanges in the first bout. McGregor has an underrated chin, and since Diaz has just four KO wins in his career, it's highly unlikely that this bout is going to end due to a Diaz combination on the feet. Regardless of anything you think you saw in the first fight between the two, I would take McGregor over Diaz in a kickboxing match seven days a week.
Diaz's last two fights against McGregor and Michael Johnson were the two best performances of his career. He thoroughly dominated Johnson over the course of a 15-minute kickboxing match, and he fought to his strengths in the first McGregor fight. I fully expected Nate to fight like a lunatic and try to slug it out. He did that to some extent, although not as much as I thought he would. If he fights the rematch like he did the first bout, he has a shot.
For all the smack McGregor talks, all the crazy things he tweets, and all the stupid pictures he posts on Instagram, the guy is a world-class athlete who is as committed to training as any fighter in the sport. With a full training camp to prepare for Diaz, I have confidence that McGregor, under the tutelage of coach John Kavanagh, will come up with a game plan to get his revenge on Diaz.
THE PICK: McGregor
Co-Main Event – Light HeavyweightAnthony Johnson (21-5-0) v. Glover Teixeira (25-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson ($10,700), Teixeira ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (-210), Teixeira (+175)
While Jon Jones awaits a potential suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this fight will almost certainly determine the next contender for Daniel Cormier's UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Johnson has won 11 of his last 12 fights, with his only loss in that span coming against Cormier. As powerful a man as there is in the game today, Rumble has unparalleled one-punch knockout power. The list of 205-pounders that he has defeated in the last three years is remarkable: Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, Phil Davis, Little Nog, Jimi Manuwa, David Branch, etc.
Teixeira's title hopes seemed lost following back-to-back losses to Jones and Davis in 2014, but he has since run off three-straight wins against quality opposition (Rashad Evans, Patrick Cummins, Ovince Saint-Preux). The aforementioned defeats are Glover's only two losses in the last 11-plus years. While Teixeira doesn't quite have the power of Rumble, he has just as much thunder in his hands as any other 205-pounder. A terrific wrestler who has averaged 2.58 takedowns per fight over the course of his UFC career, Teixeira's success in this fight will be based upon his ability to keep Rumble off balance. There isn't a man on earth who can beat Johnson if they allow him to stand in front of them and tee off, and Glover certainly knows that.
Johnson has had cardio issues in the past, most notably late in the Cormier fight, and I would definitely take that into consideration the next time he fights in a five-round bout. This is a three-round contest, however, and I think he'll be fine. He's always been an underrated wrestler (his takedown defense for his UFC career is a solid 79 percent), which should negate Teixeira's biggest strength. Guys with big power are typically the ones that you want to take a shot on as an underdog, so Glover certainly qualifies here, but I think Rumble is the clear pick in this fight.
THE PICK: Johnson
WelterweightRick Story (19-8-0) v. Donald Cerrone (30-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Story ($9,400), Cerrone ($10,000)
Vegas Odds: Story (+145), Cerrone (-165)
Cowboy's 66-second loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in December's UFC Lightweight Championship fight takes some of the luster off the fact that he has been one of the best fighters in the world over the past several years. In the past 33 months, Cerrone has wins over Evan Dunham, Alex Oliveira, Benson Henderson, Edson Barboza and current UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. By the way, he has five other wins in addition to the five listed above. It's hard to break down Cerrone's performances because he excels is every area. He feels so comfortable in all aspects of the sport that he isn't forced to tailor his game plan to any one particular opponent.
No one ever talks about Story when they mention the top 170-pounders on the UFC roster, but this is a guy who has won three straight, including back-to-back wins over top-10 fighters Tarec Saffiedine and Gunnar Nelson. Story is as durable as they come, and although he's limited athletically, he's great wrestler and fights very smart. He doesn't try to do too much in the octagon and knows his limitations.
The issue for Story in this fight is that no one is as durable as Cerrone. A two-month training camp isn't going to impact Cowboy in the least, and Story's biggest strength (his wrestling), plays right into Cerrone's biggest strength (his submission game). This may be a good fight to avoid from a DraftKings perspective because two durable veterans like these two could easily go the distance, but there's little doubt in my mind that Cerrone wins.
THE PICK: Cerrone
BantamweightCody Garbrandt (9-0-0) v. Takeya Mizugaki (21-9-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Garbrandt ($10,300), Mizugaki ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Garbrandt (-550), Mizugaki (+425)
Fresh off his vicious KO win over the previously undefeated Thomas Almeida in May, I was pleasantly surprised that the UFC didn't do something stupid like giving Garbrandt an immediate title shot. Mizugaki is by no means an easy opponent, but I think Garbrandt is a better fighter. Garbrandt's aggressive striking style leads to him taking plenty of punishment on the feet, and I thought that would be an issue against the Brazilian, but he blitzed him from the opening bell in one of the most impressive performances of the year. "No Love" was a state wrestling champion in high school, so although all of the highlights of his young career are of the striking variety, he's a very good grappler as well.
Mizugaki defeated George Roop in his last fight in September, but prior to that he was totally overwhelmed in back-to-back losses against Aljamain Sterling and current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. The veteran gets a lot of publicity, but the truth of the matter is that outside of a pair of split decision wins against Bryan Caraway and Erik Perez, he has never beaten anyone of note in his entire career. Also, 15 of Mizugaki's 21 career wins have come via decision. The bottom here is that Mizugaki's peripherals would lead you to believe that he isn't as successful a fighter as his record would indicate.
Mizugaki has no clear path to victory in this fight. Unless Garbrandt shows up totally unprepared for a battle (which I highly doubt will happen with a Team Alpha Male product) or Mizugaki lands some fluky one-punch knockout, this should be an easy night at the office for Cody.
THE PICK: Garbrandt
WelterweightNeil Magny (18-5-0) v. Lorenz Larkin (17-5-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Magny ($10,500), Larkin ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Magny (-130), Larkin (+110)
This was originally supposed to be Magny v. Dong Hyun Kim, but the Stun Gun had to withdraw due to injury and Larkin took the fight on roughly six weeks notice.
A fighter who entered the UFC as nothing but roster depth when he made his debut with the company in February 2013, Magny has won 10 of his last 11 fights, plenty of which have come against quality opposition (Hector Lombard, Kelvin Gastelum, Erick Silva, Tim Means). Plenty of people, myself included, have underestimated Magny repeatedly. He's not a great athlete and he struggles against efficient grapplers. On the other hand, he continuously improves on a fight-by-fight basis and he is going to have an eight-inch reach advantage over Larkin.
Larkin, who is now fighting at welterweight, spent a decent portion of his career fighting at light heavyweight. He has had seemingly no issue cutting down to the 171-pound limit and has retained all of his trademark power. Lorenz is 3-1 since dropping down and the one setback came via split decision against Albert Tumenov in a fight that many people thought he won. Larkin was just another guy at middleweight, but he's a legitimate top-10 welterweight with potential for more.
Magny has defied the odds time and time again, but that run is going to come to an end sooner or later. I always say to bet on the great athletes in this sport, and Larkin is a far better athlete than Neil. While the Vegas odds are reasonable enough, the DK salaries for this fight seem ridiculous to me. Magny's recent body of work is beyond reproach, but he's facing an opponent who has far more power than he does. I will be inserting Larkin into every DK lineup that I fill out.
THE PICK: Larkin
WelterweightHyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1) v. Mike Perry (6-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lim ($11,100), Perry ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Lim (-340), Perry (+280)
THE PICK: Lim
WelterweightTim Means (25-7-1) v. Sabah Homasi (11-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Means ($10,900), Homasi ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Means (-450), Homasi (+360)
THE PICK: Means
Women's BantamweightRaquel Pennington (7-6-0) v. Elizabeth Phillips (5-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Pennington ($9,200), Phillips ($10,200)
Vegas Odds: Pennington (-265), Phillips (+225)
THE PICK: Pennington
FeatherweightArtem Lobov (12-12-1, 1NC) v. Chris Avila (5-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lobov ($10,800), Avila ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Lobov (-110), Avilia (-110)
THE PICK: Avila
Women's StrawweightRanda Markos (6-4-0) v. Cortney Casey (5-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Markos ($9,600), Casey ($9,800)
Vegas Odds: Markos (-135), Casey (+115)
THE PICK: Casey
WelterweightColby Covington (9-1-0) v. Max Griffin (12-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Covington ($11,300), Griffin ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Covington (-300), Griffith (+250)
THE PICK: Covington
MiddleweightAlberto Uda (9-1-0) v. Marvin Vettori (10-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Uda ($10,600), Vettori ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Uda (+145), Vettori (-165)
THE PICK: Vettori