DraftKings MMA: UFC 218 Preview
DraftKings MMA: UFC 218 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.


While Jose Aldo and Max Holloway already met in Rio de Janeiro this summer, Aldo has been given a second chance against the current UFC Featherweight Champion after Frankie Edgar sustained an injury that forced his withdrawal from UFC 218. Meanwhile, Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou battle it out for what could end up being a UFC heavyweight title shot. These matchups and more hit the Octagon in Detroit this weekend.

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 six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:

(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)

Moves Scoring
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

Scoring Notes
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 - Featherweight Championship

(C) Max Holloway (18-3-0) v. Jose Aldo (26-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Holloway ($9,300), Aldo ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Holloway (-310), Aldo (+255)
Odds to Finish: -160

An injury to Frankie Edgar ended up being a huge break for Aldo as he now gets a second shot at Holloway and the undisputed UFC Featherweight Championship in a span of six months. The two men just fought in June, a fight in which Holloway won via TKO in Round 3. Aldo did ok early before Holloway turned up the heat and eventually pulled away. The Edgar matchup would have been a better fight for no other reason than there was no reason to run back Holloway v. Aldo so quickly, but this figures to be another high-level bout.

Now 26 years old (this coming Monday), Holloway has won 11 fights in a row including victories over Aldo, Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson and others. Not only has Holloway defeated all of those opponents, he has done so with ease. He has rarely been challenged and it has been a truly dominating run. Max continues to improve every time we see him and he has shown no signs of slowing down. While not a true power puncher, he excels at landing difficult combinations from all sorts of odd angles.  He is also a strong enough wrestler and mat specialist to keep his opponents honest.

After not losing for more than a decade, Aldo has now suffered setbacks in two of his last three fights. There is no shame in falling to Holloway and Conor McGregor, but Aldo suffering two losses in a 16-month span would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago. He turned 31 years old in September, so I refuse to believe that his world class tools have suddenly evaporated. Most likely, it was nothing more than Aldo finding himself up against two of the better pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I planned on picking Aldo over Lamas (his originally scheduled opponent two weeks from now) but I see no reason to think this fight will go any differently than the first; yet $6,900 is a disturbingly low salary for a fighter of Aldo's pedigree. Owners that make multiple lineups should seriously consider using him at least once at that price.

While I am confident that Aldo is at least as good of a mixed martial artist as Holloway is, I have far more confidence in Holloway's gas tank and ability to be effective late in a five-round fight. If this thing is close late in Round 4 and into Round 5, Holloway should have a substantial edge. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Aldo won, but he deserves to be a pretty hefty underdog; Holloway has been that good over the past four years.

THE PICK: Holloway

Co-Main Event - Heavyweight

Alistair Overeem (43-15-0, 1NC) v. Francis Ngannou (10-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Overeem ($7,100), Ngannou ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Overeem (+205), Ngannou (-245)
Odds to Finish: -350

My guess is the winner of this fight is next in line for Stipe Miocic's UFC Heayvweight Championship. Ngannou was originally scheduled to face Junior dos Santos at UFC 215 in September, but after JDS was flagged for a potential USADA violation, Ngannou was yanked from the card and instead gets Overeem on Saturday.

While "The Reem" has lost just once in the past three-plus years, the setback was the only fight that mattered -- his shot at UFC gold against Miocic last September. Overeem has rebounded to defeat Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum since then. That's all well and good, but he is stepping into the cage here against quite possibly the scariest guy in the entire company in Ngannou. Reem doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. He may get another title shot if he is able to defeat Ngannou, although that is easier said than done. Overeem still has crazy power but he still gets hit too much. If you get hit too much by Ngannou, you go to sleep.

"The Predator" is undefeated (5-0) in the UFC and he has earned stoppage victories in each fight. A freak athlete that has made remarkable progress in his four years as a professional, Ngannou has by far the highest ceiling in the division. In fact, at age 31 and having improved every single time we've seen him, Ngannou has one of the highest ceilings in the entire sport. I see no reason whatsoever to believe that anything we have seen thus far from him is a fluke. I think the odds are better than 50/50 than Ngannou is UFC Heavyweight Champion a year from now. I'm all in.

I don't know how Overeem (or anyone else on the roster) can handle the explosiveness of Ngannou, especially when you take into account that "The Reem" tends to get hit too much to begin with. I think's it's going to take a one-punch knockout to beat him. That can certainly happen in a division in which every single competitor is massive and has power, but it's impossible to predict when it will actually happen. I think he is one of the sport's next big superstars.

THE PICK: Ngannou

Flyweight

Henry Cejudo (11-2-0) v. Sergio Pettis (16-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cejudo ($9,200), Pettis ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Cejudo (-255), Pettis (+215)
Odds to Finish: -245

This fight was supposed to go down at UFC 211 in May. Cejudo was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury and the two men will run it back on Saturday.

The entire world knows that the UFC flyweight division belongs to Demetrious Johnson and that everyone else is playing for second place. Both Cejudo and Pettis are part of that second tier that is vying for a chance (to lose) against Johnson. Coming off the first two losses of his professional career, Cejudo rebounded to obliterate Wilson Reis in September. It was a flawless effort in which Cejudo showed off vastly improved striking. The guy won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling, so it's obvious that his grappling game is strong. If the striking advancements he displayed in the Reis fight were legitimate, Cejudo MIGHT possess the all-around game to give "Mighty Mouse" a run for his money. Cejudo was dominated by Johnson in April 2016, but he wasn't ready for prime time then.

Pettis is somehow just 24 years old. This will be his tenth UFC fight and sporting a 7-2 record with the company, he has shown more good than bad. I have admittedly never been as high on Pettis as others. I think he's an above-average flyweight, but I never saw a guy with an extremely high ceiling. Of course, he is young enough to make rapid improvements. The biggest knock on Pettis is a lack of finishing ability. All seven of his UFC wins have come via decision. A win is a win, but eventually you are going to have to stop your opposition.

Sergio will probably do enough to keep this fight close and there is value there at $7,000, but I don't think he wins. I'm also not crazy enough to pick Cejudo over Johnson, even with some advancements in his striking game, but I am willing to listen to an argument that he is the second-best flyweight in the world. He has one world-class trait and even getting to solid average in all the other areas of the sport should be enough to keep him near the top of the division.

THE PICK: Cejudo

Lightweight

Eddie Alvarez (28-5-0, 1NC) v. Justin Gaethje (18-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alvarez ($7,500), Gaethje ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Alvarez (+155), Gaethje (-175)
Odds to Finish: -210

I would be totally shocked if this was anything other than a total all-out brawl. I would also be shocked if it wasn't a contender for Fight of the Night between two guys who coached against each other on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Alvarez hasn't won a fight since he obliterated Rafael dos Anjos for the UFC Lightweight Championship in July 2016. He dropped the title to Conor McGregor and his last fight against Dustin Poirier ended in a no-contest. Alvarez is tough as hell. He won his company debut against Gilbert Melendez despite fighting nearly the entire contest with one eye completely swollen shut. He is also an underrated wrestler despite the fact he fights like a fool a majority of the time. Engaging Gaethje in a brawl is the worst thing you can do and Alvarez deserves whatever is coming to him if he foolishly goes down that road.

Gaethje took a pretty good pounding in his own right from Michael Johnson in his UFC debut in July. Yet as has always been the case in his professional career, he somehow survived and figured out a way to win. Johnson played right into Gaethje's hands and he paid for. Gaethje has proven time and time again that he can absorb an insane amount of punishment. He has a wrestling background but since he refuses to use it, it might as well not exist. I have said time and time again that the good times are going to end for Gaethje in the very near future and I am sticking by that statement. You can only engage in these wars for so long before you end up with the short end of the stick. "The Highlight" is a one-dimensional brawler. He's an excellent one-dimensional brawler, but a one-dimensional brawler nonetheless.

Alvarez has already publicly stated that he is preparing for a war which basically eliminates the fact that he attempts to go about this in an educated way. He is going to get in there and the adrenaline will start pumping. He will try to knock Gaethje out and that's exactly what Gaethje wants. I'm picking Eddie because I'm both shocked by his low salary and the fact that Gaethje can only roll the dice for so long before he's out, but I acknowledge that this fight figures to be tailor-made for his brawling style. I doubt these two see the final bell.

THE PICK: Alvarez

Women's Strawweight

Michelle Waterson (14-5-0) v. Tecia Torres (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Waterson ($7,600), Torres ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Waterson (+170), Torres (-200)
Odds to Finish: +190

This is perhaps the most underrated fight on the card between two women who aren't all that far off from earning a shot at the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship.

Waterson would have almost certainly earned her title shot had she not been submitted by current champion Rose Namajunas in April. She had won both her UFC contests prior to that loss. A ground specialist herself, Waterson has nine career wins by submission and is the former Invicta Atomweight (105 pounds) Champion. Waterson is quick and athletic, although she tends to spend relatively little time standing and trading if at all possible. She doesn't land much on the feet (2.65 significant strikes per minute) and she doesn't get hit much (1.78 significant strikes per minute). She is going to have a slight size advantage over Torres, who at 5-foot-1 is one of the smallest fighters in the division.

"The Tiny Tornado" is 5-1 in the UFC and her only loss also came against Namajunas. Torres picked up her first stoppage win and earned a Performance of the Night bonus for her submission win over Juliana Lima her last time out in July. At her best, Torres throws lightning-quick combinations that include a ton of kicks. Because she is so short it is imperative that she fire and get out of Dodge because her limbs aren't long enough for her to stand at distance and hit her opponent. Torres is going to have a speed advantage for as long as this remains a kickboxing match.

The ultimate issue is how will Torres handle what I imagine will be constant pressure from "The Karate Hottie"? Waterson has averaged nearly three (2.82) takedowns per fight and she is connecting at a 100 percent clip. Torres' takedown defense, while a respectable 69 percent, isn't the strength of her game. This fight looks like a pick 'em to me but the odds markers obviously disagree. Waterson is my pick given the potential return on your investment and the fact that I think she has the well-rounded game to keep a pure striker like Torres off balance.

THE PICK: Waterson

Other Bouts

Lightweight

Charles Oliveira (22-7-0, 1NC) v. Paul Felder (14-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Oliveira ($7,700), Felder ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Oliveira (+115), Felder (-155)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Oliveira

Welterweight

Alex Oliveira (17-3-1, 2NC) v. Yancy Medeiros (14-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Oliveira ($8,900), Medeiros ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Oliveira (-210), Medeiros (+160)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Oliveira

Lightweight

David Teymur (6-1-0) v. Drakkar Klose (8-0-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Teymur ($8,400), Klose ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Teymur (-170), Klose (+130)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Teymur

Women's Strawweight

Felice Herrig (13-6-0) v. Cortney Casey (7-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Herrig ($8,300), Casey ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Herrig (-170), Casey (+130)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Herrig

Welterweight

Sabah Homasi (11-6-0) v. Abdul Razak Alhassan (7-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Homasi ($7,200), Alhassan ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Homasi (+185), Alhassan (-265)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Alhassan

Light Heavyweight

Jeremy Kimball (15-6-0) v. Dominick Reyes (7-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Kimball ($6,800), Reyes ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Kimball (+285), Reyes (-405)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Reyes

Heavyweight

Justin Willis (5-1-0) v. Allen Crowder (9-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Willis ($8,800), Crowder ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Willis (-230), Crowder (+170)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Willis

Women's Strawweight

Amanda Cooper (3-3-0) v. Angela Magana (11-8-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cooper ($9,100), Magana ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Cooper (-350), Magana (+250)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Cooper

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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