This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
After a disastrous Fight Week in Brooklyn for UFC 223, the UFC has a full 14 fights lined up for the Glendale card, giving DraftKings players plenty of paths to choose from.
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 - LightweightDustin Poirier (22-5-0, 1NC) v. Justin Gaethje (18-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Poirier ($8,400), Gaethje ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Poirier (-145), Gaethje (+115)
Odds to Finish: -485
Stop me if you have heard this one before, but this figures to be another hard-hitting, violent war between two of the most exciting fighters on the roster.
We'll begin with Gaethje, who is coming off the first loss of his career (to Eddie Alvarez) in December. That fight was all we expected to be and more, but Gaethje's luck finally ran out. Don't get me wrong, he had Alvarez hurt badly on multiple occasions, and Alvarez's next-level toughness was the only reason Gaethje didn't win, but it was proof that you aren't going to win every time out if you blatantly disregard defending yourself. Alvarez hit The Highlight Reel with 155 significant strikes in that fight, and it's fair to wonder when all this damage Gaethje has absorbed over the years will start to have an impact on his future performance, because it will happen.
Poirier moved up to lightweight following a loss to Conor McGregor in September 2014, and he has run off a record of 6-1 (1NC) in the three-plus years. Poirier's aggressive style mimics that of Gaethje, but The Diamond will at least vary his attacks and try to defend himself. The same can not be said of his opponent. Poirier got lost in the shuffle at featherweight but he has a new lease on life at 155 pounds. He looks healthier with the extra 10 pounds on his frame, and his power still plays in the higher weight class. Poirier also has six career wins by submission and is an underrated wrestler. Gaethje can wrestle also, but since he refuses to do so, he might as well not have the ability at all.
If a UFC fighter lands or absorbs five or more significant strikes per minute, that is considered an extremely high number. Through his two UFC bouts, Gaethje has landed 9.5 strikes per minute and absorbed 10.3 per minute!!!!! I'm sorry, but that type of effort level and damage is going to manifest itself somewhere down the line. Give me the guy that actually defends himself now and then.
THE PICK: Poirier
Co-Main Event - WelterweightCarlos Condit (30-11-0) v. Alex Oliveira (17-4-1, 2NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Condit ($7,500), Oliveira ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Condit (+175), Oliveira (-210)
Odds to Finish: +120
Oliveira is in for Matt Brown after Brown suffered a torn ACL recently. He figures to provide a stiffer test for Condit than The Immortal One.
On the surface, it appears as if Condit has some gas left in the tank despite the fact he is riding a 3-fight losing streak and hasn't been victorious in more than two and a half years. His loss to Neil Magny at the end of December was particularly concerning. Condit appeared to enter the fight with no physical limitations but he struggled with landing regularly against an opponent that isn't known as one of the better athletes in the division. It's entirely possible that Condit's reflexes are starting to slow after years of brutal fights. Against Magny, Condit looked nothing like the guy that took Robbie Lawler to a split decision in a title fight at UFC 195 in January 2016.
Oliveira was 4-0 (1NC) in his previous five fights before he was knocked out by Yancy Medeiros in in early December. While the Brazilian has spent a decent portion of his career fighting at lightweight, his future is at 170 pounds. Oliveira's striking is unconventional, but his power is legitimate. He has 11 career wins via knockout and Condit isn't moving anywhere near as well as he did in his hey day.
I advise avoiding this fight if at all possible. I'm going to give Condit the benefit of the doubt once last time, but if he burns me again, I'm done. Oliveira accepted the bout on less than two weeks notice and has had weight cutting issues in the past, Condit has openly contemplated retirement on numerous occasions and looks like a shell of his former self. Look elsewhere.
THE PICK: Condit
Women's StrawweightMichelle Waterson (14-6-0) v. Cortney Casey (7-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Waterson ($7,900), Casey ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Waterson (+105), Casey (-125)
Odds to Finish: +180
Coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in her career, the 32-year-old Waterson needs to win this one if she wants to remotely remain in the title conversation. The Karate Hottie was submitted by UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas last April before being picked apart on the feet by Tecia Torres in her last fight in early December. There is little doubt that Waterson looked better when she was fighting at atomweight (105 pounds) as opposed to strawweight (115 pounds) but she is talented enough, particularly on the mat, to win her fair share of fights in the UFC. This would seemingly be a good matchup for Waterson to get back on track.
Casey's career record is barely over .500 and her UFC record is actually below .500 (3-4) but she has performed far better during her nearly three years with the company than anyone could have possibly imagined. She's gritty, she's tough, and she doesn't beat herself. Casey has a real idea of how to fight, even if she doesn't have the natural athletic ability of some of the women she is facing. Casey's struggles have predictably escalated as the quality of competition she faces has risen.
Casey has fought a bunch of solid opponents (Claudia Gadelha, Felice Herrig, Joanne Calderwood, etc.) so I highly doubt she is going to be overwhelmed by the task of going up against Waterson, but I just don't think she has enough ability to defeat her. My guess is that she lasts the entire 15 minutes but Waterson takes a clear decision. I'm shocked Waterson's DraftKings salary is so low. She's an exceptional value play.
THE PICK: Waterson
FlyweightWilson Reis (22-8-0) v. John Moraga (18-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Reis ($8,600), Moraga ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Reis (-130), Moraga (+110)
Odds to Finish: +170
Reis' back-to-back losses to UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson and top contender Henry Cejudo have suddenly left him in a vulnerable spot in the UFC's 125-pound division. Reis is 5-1 in his last six fights in bouts against anyone other than those two, but his inability to win a big fight has plagued him throughout his career. Reis is a submission specialist whose most effective tool is his brute strength. He has the ability to outmuscle almost any man in the division, effectively giving him an average of more 4.5 takedowns per fight throughout the course of his UFC career. He tends to accomplish little while standing, but that is due to the fact he generally attempts to get his fights to the ground.
Moraga has entered gatekeeper status at age 33, although he is still a capable fighter. His career has been marred by inconsistency. His record with the company is 7-5, although he is coming off back-to-back wins over Ashkan Mokhtarian and Magomed Bibulatov. Moraga is your classic gritty, determined veteran. He rarely beats himself and he has no apparent weaknesses. An Arizona native, he should get a boost fighting in front of family and friends.
Both fighters are without a doubt on the back nine of their respective career. Moraga tends to fight pretty well off of his back but I don't see how he will be able to handle the upper-body strength of Reis. Moraga's career takedown defense is abysmal (42 percent) and I can see Reis grinding him into submission for 15 minutes. It won't be visually pleasing and this doesn't figure to be a fight in which either man does a whole heck of a lot from a DK perspective. Try to avoid using both fighters if at all possible.
THE PICK: Reis
MiddleweightIsrael Adesanya (12-0-0) v. Marvin Vettori (12-3-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Adesanya ($9,100), Vettori ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Adesanya (-260), Vettori (+230)
Odds to Finish: -180
THE PICK: Adesanya
MiddleweightTim Boetsch (21-11-0) v. Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Boetsch ($7,200), Carlos Junior ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Boetsch (+225), Carlos Junior (-265)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Carlos Junior
WelterweightMuslim Salikhov (12-2-0) v. Ricky Rainey (13-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Salikhov ($8,900), Rainey ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Salikhov (-185), Rainey (+160)
Odds to Finish: -125
THE PICK: Salikhov
MiddleweightKrzysztof Jotko (19-3-0) v. Brad Tavares (16-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Jotko ($7,400), Tavares ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Jotko (+120), Tavares (-140)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Jotko
LightweightGilbert Burns (12-2-0) v. Dan Moret (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Burns ($9,400), Moret ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Burns (-610), Moret (+455)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Burns
Women's FlyweightShana Dobson (3-1-0) v. Lauren Mueller (4-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dobson ($8,100), Mueller ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Dobson (-110), Mueller (-110)
Odds to Finish: +185
THE PICK: Mueller
WelterweightDhiego Lima (14-6-0) v. Yushin Okami (34-11-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lima ($8,000), Okami ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Lima (-115), Okami (-105)
Odds to Finish: +135
THE PICK: Okami
HeavyweightArjan Singh Bhullar (7-0-0) v. Adam Wieczorek (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bhullar ($9,200), Wieczorek ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Bhullar (-400), Wieczorek (+325)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Bhullar
BantamweightMatthew Lopez (10-2-0) v. Alejandro Perez (20-6-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Lopez ($8,500), Perez ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Lopez (-130), Perez (+110)
Odds to Finish: +130
THE PICK: Lopez
BantamweightLuke Sanders (11-2-0) v. Patrick Williams (8-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Sanders ($9,300), Williams ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Sanders (-460), Williams (+365)
Odds to Finish: -280
THE PICK: Sanders