This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC heads to Santiago, Chile on Saturday, where it will look to showcase one of their brightest prospects on the roster.
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 - WelterweightDemian Maia (25-8-0) v. Kamaru Usman (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Maia ($6,700), Usman ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Maia (+540), Usman (-660)
Odds to Finish: -215
Maia accepted this fight on three weeks notice after Santiago Ponzinibbio was forced to withdraw due to injury, and it may be a decision that the 40-year-old Brazilian comes to regret.
Sporting a 7-0 record in the UFC and having not been tested in the least in any of his fights with the company, Usman gets his first significant challenge on Saturday in Santiago. The Nigerian Nightmare has looked the part of a dominant welterweight. He averages five takedowns per fight and he has exhibited incredible explosiveness. Usman rarely gets hit (1.57 significant strikes per minute) because he spends virtually every fight he is in dominating his opponent from one position or another. Usman turned 31 years old last week, so the UFC needs to start pushing him in order to see what they truly have here.
Theoretically, Maia's ground game would figure to play against an opponent that is comfortable spending a significant portion of his bouts on the mat, but Maia is going to be giving away so much athleticism to Usman that I seriously doubt he will be able to get into position to implement those world-class submission skills. After a recent seven-fight winning streak, Maia has suffered back-to-back setbacks at the hands of UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and top contender Colby Covington. Maia has struggled in the past, but he had a particularly difficult time handling the athleticism of Woodley and Covington. Usman moves as well as those two (at the very minimum) and I don't see how Maia will be able to make up that difference.
This seems like a good deal for Usman. Maia is a much bigger "name" than Ponzinibbio, and it's a fight that favors Usman stylistically. While I'm still not 100 percent convinced that Usman is quite on the levels of guys such as Woodley, Covington and Rafael dos Anjos, I would be both surprised and concerned if he doesn't beat Maia. Considering Maia accepted this fight on short notice and everyone and their mother has refused to fight Usman in the past, there's no way Demian is sent packing even if he no-shows on Saturday. That still doesn't make him much of a value play as a massive underdog.
THE PICK: Usman
Co-Main Event - Women's StrawweightAlexa Grasso (10-1-0) v. Tatiana Suarez (6-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Grasso ($6,900), Suarez ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Grasso (+600), Suarez (-750)
Odds to Finish: +175
This will be Grasso's fourth appearance in her year and a half with the company. She has proven to be a fluid, competent striker during her brief run, but Grasso's takedown defense has been suspect and it doesn't help that this will be her first bout since undergoing minor knee surgery in the fall. Grasso also missed weight her last time out. Her greatest struggles have come against powerful fighters that have shown an ability to outmuscle her.
Suarez won Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter by submitting Amanda Cooper, and she then easily took a decision from Viviane Pereira in her first official fight with the company in November. A wrestler by trade, Suarez stood a good chance of cracking the 2012 United States Olympic team had she not injured her neck. The work Suarez does on the feet is nothing more than a front to try to set up her takedown attempts. Suarez won't turn 28 years old until December, so if she can improve her striking to even average, she has a boatload of potential.
Grasso has potential, but this looks like a bad matchup for her. Surely Grasso knows that her best chance of winning this fight is to keep it standing, but I don't like her chances of staying off of her back. I think there is just too big of a gap in the grappling between the two women for Grasso to overcome. Give me Suarez by unanimous decision.
THE PICK: Suarez
Light HeavyweightJared Cannonier (10-3-0) v. Dominick Reyes (8-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cannonier ($7,200), Reyes ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Cannonier (+205), Reyes (-255)
Odds to Finish: -140
After beginning his UFC career at heavyweight, Cannonier dropped down to 205 pounds in December 2016 and has gone 2-2 since the move. He has some pop in his hands, a decent all-around game and is durable, but when all is said and done, Cannonier hasn't proven to be much more than solid roster depth in his six fights with the company. The lack of depth in the UFC's light heavyweight division has kept Cannonier relevant for longer than he has deserved.
Since his debut in late June 2017, Reyes has racked up a pair of first round wins: a knockout of Joachim Christensen and a submission win over Jeremy Kimball. Cannonier certainly has his flaws, but he's considerably better than Christensen and Kimball, and he should make for the toughest task of Reyes' young career. Standing 6-foot-4, Reyes is tall for the division and he will have a five-inch reach advantage over Cannonier. He should be able to pepper his opponent with plenty of leg kicks from the outside and control the pace of the fight.
Reyes' long-term potential remains a mystery, but the UFC's light heavyweight division needs all the decent prospects that it can find and Reyes, at least to this point, looks like a good one. He's a clear pick to emerge victorious, although I'd hold off spending any significant portion of my DraftKings budget on him until we seem him perform well against better competition. A $9,000 price tag is reasonable for a (-255) favorite, but there's a bit of risk involved that might make me hesitatant in cash games.
THE PICK: Reyes
WelterweightVicente Luque (12-6-1) v. Chad Laprise (14-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Luque ($8,800), Laprise ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Luque (-210), Laprise (+175)
Odds to Finish: -160
Luque has rattled off five victories in his last six appearances, with the only setback coming against the underrated Leon Edwards last March. Born in New Jersey and training out of Brazil, Luque has generally faced subpar competition in his UFC career. A fight against Laprise should be a good test for the 26-year-old. Luque often looks uncomfortable while striking, but he has a strong submission game. His challenge on Saturday will be dealing with the brute strength of Laprise in order to get him into potentially compromising positions on the mat.
Riding the best streak of his career, Laprise has earned three straight knockout victories, two of which have come in Round 1. Always known as a striker that relied on volume more than power, Laprise has suddenly found some finishing ability at age 31. I'm not particularly optimistic that it's going to continue, but he has at least put himself in position to earn some bigger fights.
Luque and Laprise are similar fighters in the sense that they have limited ceilings. It's difficult to see either of the two men really making a push in the UFC's welterweight division. Luque's slight size advantage and the fact Laprise struggles to defend himself on the feet is cancelled out by the fact Luque struggles to put combinations together. I'm going to take Laprise given his cheaper salary and the bigger payoff, but this might be a good fight to try to avoid from a DraftKings perspective.
THE PICK: Laprise
BantamweightDiego Rivas (7-1-0) v. Guido Cannetti (7-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Rivas ($8,600), Cannetti ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Rivas (-170), Cannetti (+140)
Odds to Finish: -135
THE PICK: Rivas
Women's FlyweightVeronica Macedo (5-1-1) v. Andrea Lee (8-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Macedo ($7,000), Lee ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Macedo (+245), Lee (-315)
Odds to Finish: -115 (Pick'em)
THE PICK: Lee
WelterweightZak Cummings (21-5-0) v. Michel Prazeres (24-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cummings ($8,400), Prazeres ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Cummings (-190), Prazeres (+150)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Prazeres
FlyweightBrandon Moreno (14-4-0) v. Alexandre Pantoja (18-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Moreno ($8,000), Pantoja ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Moreno (+105), Pantoja (-125)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Pantoja
Women's StrawweightPoliana Botelho (5-1-0) v. Syuri Kondo (6-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Botelho ($8,700), Kondo ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Botelho (-165), Kondo (+135)
Odds to Finish: +155
THE PICK: Botelho
FeatherweightGabriel Benitez (20-7-0) v. Humberto Bandenay (14-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Benitez ($8,500), Bandenay ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Benitez (-225), Bandenay (+175)
Odds to Finish: -150
THE PICK: Benitez
FeatherweightEnrique Barzola (15-3-1) v. Brandon Davis (9-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Barzola ($8,900), Davis ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Barzola (-210), Davis (+190)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Barzola
BantamweightHenry Briones (19-7-1) v. Frankie Saenz (12-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Briones ($7,100), Saenz ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Briones (+260), Saenz (-330)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Saenz
LightweightClaudio Puelles (8-2-0) v. Felipe Silva (8-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Puelles ($6,800), Silva ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Puelles (+260), Silva (-320)
Odds to Finish: -280
THE PICK: Silva