This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
One of the next top contenders to face Demetrious Johnson may emerge from Saturday's event in Mexico City.
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:
(Please note that DraftKings has altered their scoring system. The new point values are listed below and the rosters will now expand from 5 to 6 fighters).
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 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 - FlyweightSergio Pettis (15-2-0) v. Brandon Moreno (14-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Pettis ($7,700), Moreno ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Pettis (+150), Moreno (-170)
Odds to Finish: -150
This should be an entertaining, fast-paced fight, although it won't do a whole heck of a lot for the casual MMA fan.
Pettis is working on a three-fight winning streak that includes a victory over former title challenger John Moraga in his last fight in January. Pettis, at age 23, is still learning the nuances of the sport. While he is an above average athlete with an impressive all-around game, Pettis doesn't overwhelm his opposition in any one particular area. All six of Pettis' UFC victories have come via decision. The only stoppage victories he has earned came during the early part of his career when he was fighting nobodies. This is an issue for me. You aren't going to be able to constantly grind out wins against the best opposition in the world. You eventually need to figure out a way to finish fights.
Moreno is riding an 11-fight winning streak including all three of his bouts inside the Octagon. A ground specialist that has racked up 10 submission wins in his career, Moreno is most comfortable when the fight is on the mat. Moreno does just enough on the feet to keep his opponents honest. It will never be a strength of his and he is going to be in trouble if he is forced into an extended kickboxing match.
The breakdown of this fight seems fairly straightforward. Pettis has more pop in his hands and will have the advantage in the stand-up exchanges. Moreno will have the edge if the fight is on the mat. Both fighters have significant room for improvement at age 23, but I have more confidence that Moreno will reach his ceiling as opposed to Pettis and that's why he is my pick. I have always found Pettis to be a bit overrated. Both men strike me as poor DK plays. Neither fighter seems likely to overwhelm the other – you can't count on a submission win for Moreno and you can't count on a stoppage win of any sorts for Pettis.
THE PICK: Moreno
Co-Main Event - Women's StrawweightRanda Markos (7-5-0) v. Alexa Grasso (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Markos ($7,900), Grasso ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Markos (+135), Grasso (-155)
Odds to Finish: +210
Markos earned the biggest win of her career in her last fight against Carla Esparza in February. Looking at a possible release if she lost, Markos did just enough to take a split decision. Markos has alternated wins and losses in her six fights with the company, but she has fought worse than her .500 record would indicate. She goes long stretches of time without landing any offense of note and she has very little power in her hands. In fact, she doesn't have a KO win in her entire MMA career.
The 24-year-old (on Wednesday) Grasso entered the UFC in February as an undefeated, highly-touted prospect before getting a wake-up call in a clear cut unanimous decision loss to Felice Herrig. She has an excellent chance to rebound here in her native Mexico. Grasso had a lot of trouble dealing with the brute strength of Herrig, but Markos is a completely different type of opponent. Grasso should be able to pepper Markos on the feet due to her advantage in both hand and foot speed. She is a better athlete than her opponent and she has more power. There is a lot to like about Grasso despite her loss to Herrig.
Markos' win over Esparza struck me as a fluke at the time and it still does today. She has no discernible skills that would lead you to believe that she can compete against the best fighters in the women's 115-pound division. When you add in the fact that Grasso is fighting in her home country, I think she makes for a clear pick and a smart DK play.
THE PICK: Grasso
MiddleweightSam Alvey (30-9-0, 1NC) v. Rashad Evans (24-6-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Alvey ($8,400), Evans ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Alvey (-145), Evans (+125)
Odds to Finish: +125
This will be the last stand for Evans, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. "Suga" has lost three fights in a row and his last victory came in November 2013 against Chael Sonnen. Evans has missed a ton of time since then due to injury and he turns 38 years old in November. Rashad's background is in wrestling, but he simply doesn't have the explosiveness or athleticism that he had in his prime and he can't get in position to land consistent takedowns. Part of that is due to the injuries and part is due to aging. This matchup however might be a best-case scenario for Evans in his second middleweight bout.
Alvey is 4-1 in his last five fights and even though he is coming off a loss, he continues to generally find a way to win fights that he has no business being in. "Smile N' Sam" is a great personality and entertaining as all heck, but he is a below-average athlete who swings for the bleachers constantly and does little else inside the cage. It's not quite fair to call Alvey a one-dimensional fighter. His takedown defense over the course of his career is exceptional (85 percent) and he does a decent job of putting together combinations. The issue in this fight is going to be that he is facing an opponent who, at least in his earlier years, would seemingly give Alvey all kinds of issues because of his athleticism.
Even if Evans isn't able to get Alvey to the mat on a consistent basis, the constant threat of the takedown should be enough to keep Alvey off balance on the feet. Now, because of Alvey's power, he can end the fight with one big shot and for that reason I think he is the better DK play, but I like Evans to win. "Suga" will probably retire if he loses and unlike many other aging fighters who are clearly finished, I think Rashad still has some gas left in the tank.
THE PICK: Evans
WelterweightAlan Jouban (15-5-0) v. Niko Price (9-0-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Jouban ($8,700), Price ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Jouban (-155), Price (+135)
Odds to Finish: -205
Jouban will be trying to bounce back from a quick submission loss at the hands of Gunnar Nelson in March. That setback snapped a three-fight winning streak for the 35-year-old. Jouban is an explosive striker who keeps himself in great shape. He is very good at putting together combinations and landing from all different angles. Jouban fights with a straightforward, no nonsense approach.
Price made his UFC debut in late December and has racked up stoppage victories in both of his fights with the company, although his KO win over Alex Morono in February was changed to a no-contest after Price tested positive for marijuana following the fight. We have seen very little from Price in his brief UFC career, but he has seven career first-round stoppage victories and he undoubtedly has pop in his hands. However getting in a brawl with Jouban isn't the best recipe for success.
This is a tricky fight in which to pick a winner. Jouban has the longer track record of consistency while Price has been the more impressive performer of late. Jouban is my pick because I think he is a bit more explosive in short spurts, but I acknowledge there is little separating the two and anything can happen in what figures to be a brawl.
THE PICK: Jouban
FeatherweightMartin Bravo (12-0-0) v. Humberto Bandenay (13-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Bravo ($9,200), Bandenay ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Bravo (-310), Bandenay (+255)
Odds to Finish: -115
THE PICK: Bravo
BantamweightAlejandro Perez (18-6-1) v. Andre Soukhamthath (11-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Perez ($8,100), Soukhamthath ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Perez (-115), Soukhamthath (-105)
Odds to Finish: +105
THE PICK: Perez
MiddleweightBradley Scott (12-4-0) v. Jack Hermansson (15-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Scott ($7,100), Hermansson ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Scott (+205), Hermansson (-265)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Hermansson
FlyweightDustin Ortiz (16-7-0) v. Hector Sandoval (14-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Ortiz ($8,800), Sandoval ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Ortiz (-250), Sandoval (+190)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Ortiz
BantamweightHenry Briones (19-6-1) v. Rani Yahya (23-9-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Briones ($7,300), Yahya ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Briones (+135), Yahya (-165)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Yahya
BantamweightJose Quinonez (6-2-0) v. Diego Rivas (7-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Quinonez ($8,200), Rivas ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Quinonez (-215), Rivas (+170)
Odds to Finish: -105
THE PICK: Rivas
FlyweightJoseph Morales (8-0-0) v. Roberto Sanchez (7-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Morales (8,100), Sanchez ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Morales (+115), Sanchez (-145)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Morales
LightweightAlvaro Herrera (9-4-0) v. Jordan Rinaldi (12-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Herrera ($7,200), Rinaldi ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Herrera (+180), Rinaldi (-240)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Rinaldi