This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
It's another big week on DraftKings, with this week's largest GPP (the $10 MMA Uppercut), paying out a total of $140,000 in total prize money, in addition to the regular favorites such as the $3 Strike, $4 Sprawl and $1 Jab.
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 - Women's Featherweight ChampionshipCris Cyborg (19-1-0, 1NC) v. Yana Kunitskaya (10-3-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Cyborg ($9,700), Kunitskaya ($6,500)
Vegas Odds: Cyborg (-1650), Kunitskaya (+1075)
Odds to Finish: -900
The UFC is attempting to build this one up as a champion v. champion matchup. Cyborg is the reigning UFC Featherweight Champion, while Kunitskaya is the reigning Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion. It sounds good in theory, but the truth of the matter is that the two women are on entirely different levels.
Cyborg's most recent bout was a successful defense against Holly Holm at the end of December. It wasn't the short, dominant effort that we have seen from her in the past, but it was a complete five-round dismantling of one of the most talented opponents she has faced to date. The UFC literally created this division for Cyborg and she hasn't disappointed with her performances. Much like the fact there is seemingly no one left to challenge Demetrious Johnson for the UFC Flyweight Championship, we are quickly approaching that territory with Cyborg. As a result, the UFC is forced to try to make creative fights such as this one.
Casual MMA fans aren't going to know a thing about the Russian challenger. She defeated Tonya Evinger for the Invicta title in November 2016 only to have the decision overturned due to a poor call by the referee. The two fought again just about a year ago and Evinger defeated Kunitskaya via submission. In comparison, Cyborg knocked out Evinger last July and the only reason that fight lasted until the third round was because Evinger is stupidly tough. Kunitskaya has seven career wins by knockout, and she walked away from the sport for nearly four years from June 2012 to March 2016.
Upsets happen all the time in this sport, but there is no logical reason whatsoever to believe that Kunitskaya has any chance of winning here. Her background is in striking, but does anyone think she has any chance of handling Cyborg in a kickboxing match? The Vegas odds are Rousey-eque and the smart money is on a quick, violent stoppage from Cyborg.
THE PICK: Cyborg
Co-Main Event - FeatherweightFrankie Edgar (21-5-1) v. Brian Ortega (13-0-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Edgar ($8,700), Ortega ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Edgar (-185), Ortega (+160)
Odds to Finish: +170
After his fight with UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway fell through for a second time (the first time Edgar was hurt, the second time it was Holloway), Edgar now finds himself in a must-win situation against a tough opponent if he wants another shot at UFC gold. The Answer has lost two times in the last five years, both of which have come against former champion Jose Aldo. For some reason Edgar matches up poorly with Aldo, but he smashes everyone else. He destroyed up-and-coming prospect Yair Rodriguez so badly last May that the doctor had to step in and call off the fight. Edgar turned 36 years old in October, but he has showed no signs of slowing down. His cardio is as strong as ever and he wins with his output. You simply aren't going to outwork The Answer.
I have been a long time supporter of Ortega and he continues to make me look good. He is one of the most talented submission specialists in the entire sport and it's crazy to think he just turned 27 years old a few weeks ago. Ortega's striking, while improved, is not the strength of his game. He is so good on the mat that if the rest of his game is only average, he has a chance to compete at a championship level. While he remains undefeated in his pro career, T-City has found himself behind on the scorecards in multiple fights, only to see him pull off some miraculous stoppage finishes to keep himself in the win column. His ability to dig deep to win is admirable, but a slow start against a poised veteran like Edgar isn't going to get the job done.
Ortega is really good and his submissions skills are better than anything Edgar brings to the table, but you can't put a price on experience and I wonder if this is too much, too quick for the youngster. Sure, wins over guys like Clay Guida and Cub Swanson are impressive, but defeating Edgar in the co-main event of a Pay-Per-View with a title shot on the line is another thing entirely.
THE PICK: Edgar
WelterweightSean O'Malley (9-0-0) v. Andre Soukhamthath (12-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: O'Malley ($8,000), Soukhamthath ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: O'Malley (+115), Soukhamthath (-135)
Odds to Finish: -150
This is a quality fight between two good, if relatively unknown bantamweights. O'Malley is a product of the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender's series (remember that wild Snoop Dogg call?). He made his official UFC debut in December en route to landing 143 total strikes and three takedowns in a unanimous decision win over Terrion Ware. O'Malley got better as the fight progressed, despite an up and down start. He is young enough (23) that it is reasonable to expect significant improvement moving forward, especially when you take into account that he trains with a quality team in the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona.
Soukhamthath, who will now be known as Andre for the purpose of this write up, is coming off a knockout win over Luke Sanders in December. Prior to that he had lost back-to-back split decisions. Andre spent the vast majority of his career fighting on the regional circuit in his native Rhode Island prior to joining the company. Although he has three career wins by submission, Andre is a pure striker. He doesn't have crazy power or anything like that but he does a nice job of stringing together combinations and keeping his opposition off balance. He signed a new contract with the UFC shortly after his win over Sanders.
This card is deep enough that I probably would have gone elsewhere in terms of this fight being on the main portion of a Pay-Per-View, but it should be a high-paced, exciting affair. While he has confidence in his striking, O'Malley's best chance of winning here is to try to quickly and repeatedly dump Andre on his back. He is the slightly bigger fighter and his game plan should be to try to grind Soukhamthath into dust. I'm picking O'Malley due to the slightly higher payoff, albeit with little confidence. I would avoid this pick'em fight if at all possible.
THE PICK: O'Malley
HeavyweightStefan Struve (32-9-0) v. Andrei Arlovski (26-15-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Struve ($8,800), Arlovski ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Struve (-225), Arlovski (+185)
Odds to Finish: -260
As I mentioned earlier, this is a deep, quality card, but this is a lousy fight and there is no way around it. We'll start with Arlovski because he's closer to the finish line than Struve. The Pit Bull snapped a 5-fight losing streak his last time out with a victory over Junior Albini in November. A loss would have certainly cost Arlovski his job and it's still possible that he will be let go if he no-shows on Saturday. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion turned 39 years old last month, and things can only get worse from here. He is a shell of his former self in terms of hand speed and foot movement, and it is at the point where all Arlovski does is throw wild bombs in hopes of randomly connecting to earn a stoppage win.
Struve hasn't exactly been killing it himself of late. He is 3-4 in his last seven fights and although he is theoretically young enough (30) that his physical skills shouldn't be deteriorating yet, he fights foolishly and has never been able to use his massive size to his advantage on any consistent basis. At 7-0, Struve should be standing far away from his opponents and throwing a ton of kicks. That game plan applies even more so in this fight against a guy in Arlovski that doesn't have the speed to overwhelm him. Struve will do a decent job of it here and there but he never sticks with that plan for very long. If he allows Arlovski to get inside without any resistance, then he deserves exactly what is coming to him.
I'm not crazy about either man (in case you couldn't tell) but I literally think Arlovski is 100 percent toast. You could probably count on one hand the amount of heavyweights on the UFC roster that I would pick him over at this point. Struve should be embarrassed if he loses this fight, despite the fact I have shockingly little confidence in his long-term potential as well.
THE PICK: Struve
Women's BantamweightCat Zingano (9-2-0) v. Ketlan Vieira (9-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Zingano ($7,900), Vieira ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Zingano (+130), Vieira (-150)
Odds to Finish: +145
Zingano returns Saturday after 20 months on the sidelines. Coming off back-to-back losses and without a win in nearly three and a half years, it's reasonable to wonder how much the 35-year-old has left in the tank in terms of both ability and desire. Cat's last win came against current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes way back at UFC 178. The fortunes for both women have changed since then. At her best, Zingano is a tough, physical fighter that has the upper-body strength to control a fight. She excels in ugly brawls although her striking is often times the furthest thing from technical.
The 26-year-old Vieira has begun her UFC career with three straight victories including a shocking submission win over Sara McMann her last time out in September. A black belt in both BJJ and judo, Vieira has four career wins by submission. Her game is pretty well rounded for a young woman with limited experience in the sport. The win over McMann was particularly impressive given much like Zingano, McMann relies on her brute strength to outmuscle her opponents.
I'm sure Zingano will show up in shape but other than that I really don't know what to expect from her after such a long time away from the sport. Given that and Vieira's inexperience, this fight has a wide range of outcomes and I one I think is best to avoid from a DraftKings perspective. I'm going to give Cat the benefit of the doubt in regards to her being ready to roll, but if she no-shows on Saturday, this will probably be the last time I pick her against any halfway decent opponent.
THE PICK: Zingano
Women's StrawweightAshley Yoder (5-3-0) v. Mackenzie Dern (5-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Yoder ($7,200), Dern ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Yoder (+260), Dern (-370)
Odds to Finish: -210
THE PICK: Dern
LightweightBeneil Dariush (14-3-1) v. Alexander Hernandez (8-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dariush ($9,200), Hernandez ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Dariush (-380), Hernandez (+315)
Odds to Finish: -170
THE PICK: Dariush
BantamweightJohn Dodson (20-9-0) v. Pedro Munhoz (15-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Dodson ($8,600), Munhoz ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Dodson (-155), Munhoz (+135)
Odds to Finish: +190
THE PICK: Dodson
MiddleweightC.B. Dollaway (17-9-0) v. Hector Lombard (34-8-1, 2NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Dollaway ($7,800), Lombard ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Dollaway (+135), Lombard (-155)
Odds to Finish: -215
THE PICK: Lombard
WelterweightMike Pyle (27-13-1) v. Zak Ottow (15-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Pyle ($7,300), Ottow ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Pyle (+195), Ottow (-235)
Odds to Finish: -245
THE PICK: Ottow
BantamweightBryan Caraway (21-8-0) v. Cody Stamann (16-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Caraway ($7,700), Stamann ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Caraway (+140), Stamann (-160)
Odds to Finish: +195
THE PICK: Caraway
Light HeavyweightJordan Johnson (8-0-0) v. Adam Milstead (8-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson ($9,100), Milstead ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (-280), Milstead (+240)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Johnson