RotoWire Staff Picks: UFC 221
RotoWire Staff Picks: UFC 221

This article is part of our RotoWire Staff Picks series.

The UFC's middleweight division is, simply put, a mess. To bring it full circle, it's probably best looked at in timeline form:

  • June 2016 - Michael Bisping defeats Luke Rockhold for the title.
  • October 2016 - Michael Bisping makes first title defense against Dan Henderson.
  • July 2017 - With Bisping on the shelf due to injury, the UFC creates an interim belt, which is won by Robert Whittaker, who defeated Yoel Romero. Whittaker sustains a serious knee injury during that fight.
  • November 2017 - Georges St-Pierre returns to MMA, and defeats Bisping for the middleweight belt. Days later, he vacates the title, and Robert Whittaker is crowned champion.
  • December 2017 - Whittaker is booked for a title defense against Luke Rockhold.
  • January 2018 - Whittaker withdraws from aforementioned matchup. Rockhold is re-booked against Yoel Romero for another interim title.

So here we are. It all starts and ends with Luke Rockhold, but even after Saturday, we still won't have a true champion. Regardless, there's a promising card with some intriguing underdog bets. Check out how the RotoWire MMA Staff believes it will play out.

If you're looking for a fantasy-specific breakdown of these fights on DraftKings, click here for Jon Litterine's UFC 221 preview.

MATCHUP WEIGHT CLASS JON EVAN JAKE
Luke Rockhold (-145) vs.
Yoel Romero (+135)
Interim Middleweight
Championship
RomeroRockholdRockhold
Curtis Blaydes (-165) vs.
Mark Hunt (+145)
HeavyweightBlaydesBlaydesHunt
Cyril Asker (+255) vs.
Tai Tuivasa (-310)
HeavyweightTuivasaTuivasaTuivasa
Jake Matthews (+145) vs.
Li Jingliang (-165)
WelterweightMatthewsMatthewsMatthews
Saparbek Safarov (+240) vs.
Tyson Pedro (-280)
Light HeavyweightPedroPedroPedro
RECORD 5-0 4-1 3-2
OVERALL (since UFC 200) 65-41 60-46 66-40
PERCENTAGE .613 .566 .622
 
MATCHUP WEIGHT CLASS RICHARD CHRIS
Luke Rockhold (-145) vs.
Yoel Romero (+135)
Interim Middleweight
Championship
RockholdRomero
Curtis Blaydes (-165) vs.
Mark Hunt (+145)
HeavyweightBlaydesHunt
Cyril Asker (+255) vs.
Tai Tuivasa (-310)
HeavyweightTuivasaAsker
Jake Matthews (+145) vs.
Li Jingliang (-165)
WelterweightJingliangJingliang
Saparbek Safarov (+240) vs.
Tyson Pedro (-280)
Light HeavyweightPedroPedro
RECORD 3-2 2-3
OVERALL (since UFC 200) 46-31 25-21
PERCENTAGE .597 .543


All odds taken from BestFightOdds.com on the afternoon of February 8.

THE PLAYERS

Jon Litterine: RotoWire lead MMA beat writer and scribe for our weekly DrafKings preview. Lead analyst on the RotoWire MMA Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @JonLitterine.
Evan Dahl: Pens our bi-weekly MMA Barometer column. Follow him on Twitter at @RealEvanDahl.
Jake Letarski: MMA and NCAA Hoops Senior Editor. Sirius XM contributor. Host of the RotoWire MMA Podcast, RotoWire Fantasy Football Podcast and RotoWire DFS Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @JakeSki52.
Richard Mann: Richard is a stats-based analyst that has appeared on ESPN MMA via Fightmetric. He handles event recaps in our Fight Stat Wrap column, and maintains his own, data-driven MMA blog at StrikescoreMMA.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardAMann.
Chris Olson: Contributor at RotoWire for DFS Baseball, as well as MMA fight recaps. Follow him on Twitter at @RealChrisOlson.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Evan Dahl
Evan Dahl is a law student who has been a die-hard MMA fan for over a decade. Outside of MMA, he roots for the Broncos, Brewers and Bucks.
Jacob Letarski
RotoWire Editor for College Basketball and MMA. Frequent podcaster, plus radio and video guest. Follow Jake on Twitter at @JakeSki52.
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.
Richard Mann
Richard is a statistical MMA analyst that has appeared on ESPN MMA via Fightmetric.
Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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