This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos, two former UFC champions, will fight for the possibility of another shot at UFC gold. Meanwhile, Josh Emmett steps in for Jose Aldo to take on Ricardo Lamas in a featherweight bout, all live and free on FOX (with prelims on FS1) this Saturday.
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.)
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 - WelterweightRobbie Lawler (28-11-0, 1NC) v. Rafael dos Anjos (27-9-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lawler ($8,100), dos Anjos ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Lawler (-105), dos Anjos (-115)
Odds to Finish: -160
A pair of former UFC champions battle here with a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship quite possibly on the line.
Fighting for the first time since he dropped his title to Tyron Woodley, Lawler rebounded to decision Donald Cerrone in July. It certainly wasn't Robbie's best effort, but it was a fight that he deserved to win. Lawler has been a professional for nearly 17 years and it's fair to wonder if all the wars that he has been in are starting to take a toll. Lawler is as tough as they come and still has insane power in his hands. The issue is that he is getting hit seemingly more than before – he was actually out-landed by Cerrone in terms of significant strikes in his last fight – and he is just a tad slow pulling the trigger on his combinations. It's not much or a huge noticeable difference, but it's there. Then again, the loss to Woodley has been Lawler's only setback since March 2014.
RDA moved up to welterweight in June and proceeded to defeat a pair of tough customers in Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny in a span of less than three months. Dos Anjos is very strong physically, but he's also very small for the division. The tradeoff is that his speed and quickness should be a major asset against bigger opponents. He is a power puncher (although not on the level of Lawler) and exactly one third of RDA's 27 career wins have come via submission. Dos Anjos is the better mat specialist of the two, but Lawler is an underrated wrestler and I think RDA may have an issue getting him to the mat given Lawler's size.
If you are of the belief that RDA will win this fight then you are confident that he can get inside against Lawler with regularity in order to outland his opponent. It may very well happen, but at the crux of this matchup is the fact that you have a fighter who spent the majority of his career at middleweight (Lawler) against a fighter that spent the majority of his career at lightweight (Dos Anjos). I'm picking Lawler, albeit with very little confidence. This one could go either way.
THE PICK: Lawler
Co-Main Event - FeatherweightRicardo Lamas (18-5-0) v. Josh Emmett (12-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lamas ($9,300), Emmett ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Lamas (-265), Emmett (+225)
Odds to Finish: -120
Originally scheduled to be Lamas v. Jose Aldo, Emmett is stepping in on late notice after Aldo got another shot at Max Holloway's UFC Featherweight Championship a couple weeks ago. It's a bad break for Lamas as he now finds himself in a fight in which he has very little to gain. Ricardo has exactly three losses in the past seven-plus years and they came against Holloway, Aldo, and perennial top contender Chad Mendes. The guy is still very good and he's still extremely underrated. Lamas is coming off a pair of stoppage wins over a pair of tough customers in Jason Knight and Charles Oliveira.
Late notice or not, Emmett has to feel as if he hit the lottery. He gets a shot at a legitimate top-five fighter just two fights removed from a split decision loss to Desmond Green. Emmett is tough and a strong wrestler, but he has never faced an opponent anywhere near the level of Lamas. Emmett's best chance of winning is to turn this into a boring, grinding, 15-minute snoozefest. Averaging more than two takedowns per fight in his UFC career, he has the requisite skill set to pull it off (or something similar at the very least), but I wouldn't bet on it happening.
I'm avoiding Emmett as a DraftKings play because I'm always worried when a fighter steps into the Octagon against a much more talented fighter than they have ever gone up against in the past. It generally ends poorly. The beauty of Lamas is how he flies under the radar. He does everything well, never beats himself and up until this point, he has only lost to the best of the best. This is a clear, straightforward pick. Lamas might not be on the level of a Holloway or an Aldo, but he is firmly entrenched on that next tier just a tad below the top fighters in the division.
THE PICK: Lamas
WelterweightSantiago Ponzinibbio (25-3-0) v. Mike Perry (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Ponzinibbio ($8,700), Perry ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Ponzinibbio (-185), Perry (+160)
Odds to Finish: -285
Coming off back-to-back KO wins that earned him $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses, Perry gets his greatest challenge to date in Ponzinibbio. The 26-year-old is a pure striker who fights with no regard for his own well-being. His fights, for better or worse, rarely see the final bell. Perry does have power. He has shown an ability to land deadly finishing shots out of nowhere. The issue in a fight against a talented opponent like Ponzinibbio is whether his defense will hold up.
Ponzinibbio has won five fights in a row and he is coming off his first main event appearance in the UFC in which he destroyed Gunnar Nelson in 82 seconds in July. The American Top Team product is proficient in all areas of the sport. It's Ponzinibbio's power (he has 14 career wins by knockout) that gets the most publicity, but he is a BJJ black belt and he also has six career wins by submission. He possesses an all-around game that Perry simply cannot match.
Given the aggressive nature of both men, I doubt this fight goes the distance. Perry's brash attitude will turn people off, but he is a talented striker. Yet in this case he is facing a guy that more than matches his power and has more ways to win a fight. I have little to no confidence in Perry's willingness to tailor his game plan to a particular opponent and I am a firm believer that you cannot win fights against quality fighters by going into the cage and brawling with no regard to defending yourself. The flip side is that Perry's aggressiveness makes him an attractive underdog play for DraftKings purposes, since he will be hunting for the finish. Perry has the power to win, but I don't like his chances in what figures to be an all-out war.
THE PICK: Ponzinibbio
Light HeavyweightGlover Teixeira (26-6-0) v. Misha Cirkunov (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Teixeira ($7,700), Cirkunov ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Teixeira (+135), Cirkunov (-155)
Odds to Finish: -180
Both coming off crushing defeats, Teixeira and Cirkunov are on the verge of falling out of the title race in the UFC's light heavyweight division. Teixeira was beaten from pillar to post by Alexander Gustafsson in May before finally mercifully being finished in Round 5. Glover struggled with the length of Gus and it got worse as the fight progressed. Teixeira is in excellent shape for a 37-year-old, but his movements have understandably slowed in recent fights. He is getting hit far too much and has been knocked out twice in his last three fights after being knocked out just once in his first 29 career contests. Glover should continue to be a well above average 205-pounder, but the days of him battling against the best in the world are likely over.
Cirkunov lasted all of 28 seconds against Volkan Oezdemir in May before a short shot to the side of his head messed up his equilibrium and ended Cirkunov's evening in an instant. A powerful wrestler that does much of his striking damage from top position, you can't help but think that things may have turned out differently in the Oezdemir fight if that one punch didn't land. Cirkunov has been a pro for more than seven years, but he didn't begin fighting anyone of note until he entered the UFC in June of last year. We will find out Saturday if the loss to Oezdemir was a fluke or a sign of things to come in regards to struggles for Cirkunov against better competition.
Glover is the crisper striker, but that isn't going to help him if Cirkunov plants him on his back repeatedly. Teixeira's career takedown defense isn't great (59 percent) and Cirkunov has averaged nearly five (4.8) takedowns per fight in his UFC career. Glover is also an accomplished mat wrestler, but Cirkunov is so big and strong that he is going to be difficult to buck if he's on top of you. Both fighters have a path to victory and there is little separating the two in my mind despite the difference in rankings. I think both are decent DraftKings plays in what is essentially a pick 'em for me, but I'm taking the younger, fresher Cirkunov for the win.
THE PICK: Cirkunov
Light HeavyweightJan Blachowicz (20-7-0) v. Jared Cannonier (10-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Blachowicz ($7,400), Cannonier ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Blachowicz (+170), Cannonier (-230)
Odds to Finish: +115
THE PICK: Cannonier
MiddleweightJulian Marquez (6-1-0) v. Darren Stewart (7-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Marquez ($9,100), Stewart ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Marquez (-270), Stewart (+190)
Odds to Finish: -275
THE PICK: Marquez
WelterweightChad Laprise (13-2-0) v. Galore Bofondo (5-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Laprise ($8,200), Bofondo ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Laprise (-150), Bofondo (+110)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Laprise
FlyweightTim Elliott (15-8-1) v. Pietro Menga (13-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Elliott ($9,000), Menga ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Elliott (-270), Menga (+190)
Odds to Finish: +135
THE PICK: Elliott
LightweightJohn Makdessi (14-6-0) v. Abel Trujillo (15-6-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Makdessi ($7,300), Trujillo ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Makdessi (+165), Trujillio (-215)
Odds to Finish: -155
THE PICK: Trujillo
MiddleweightAlessio Di Chirico (10-1-0) v. Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Di Chirico ($7,600), Bamgbose ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Di Chirico (-105), Bamgbose (-135)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Di Chirico
WelterweightJordan Mein (29-12-0) v. Erick Silva (19-8-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Mein ($8,400), Silva ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Mein (-155), Silva (+115)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Mein
WelterweightNordine Taleb (13-4-0) v. Danny Roberts (14-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Taleb ($8,300), Roberts ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Taleb (-155), Roberts (+115)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Roberts