This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
A main event that was originally scheduled to be Glover Teixiera v. Jimi Manuwa, Santos is in for Teixiera (shoulder) and Anders is in for Manuwa (hamstring) on six days' notice.
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 - Light HeavyweightThiago Santos (18-6-0) v. Eryk Anders (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Santos ($8,600), Anders ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Santos (-145), Anders (+125)
Odds to Finish: -475
A former Division I football player at the University of Alabama, Anders is 3-1 in his brief run with the company, and he deserved a better fate in the lone setback, a split-decision loss to Lyoto Machida in February. As one would expect, Anders is a dynamic athlete and highly explosive. He moves very well and has legitimate power. He is still learning the finer points of the sport, but the 31-year-old has potential given the limited amount of MMA miles on his body.
Santos will be fighting for the second time in just six weeks. Known as one of the more active fighters on the roster, the Brazilian in 5-1 in his last five fights dating back to February 2017. Included in that mix is a knockout win over rising star Anthony Smith. While he is giving up a ton of athleticism to Anders, Santos is the better all-around mixed martial artist and he will have the crowd behind him. While he often scores highlight reel knockouts, Santos wins with placement and by throwing plenty of kicks.
This is a tough pick. Santos has faced the much better competition of the two, and he has the advantage of a slightly longer camp. Anders has the strength to overwhelm Santos from in tight, but his striking defense is shaky at times. When two fighters this evenly-matched have a $1,000 salary discrepancy, I'm taking fighter that will provide you with a better payoff, and this case, it's Anders.
THE PICK: Anders
Co-Main Event - Light HeavyweightSam Alvey (33-10-0, 1NC) v. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (22-8-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alvey ($9,200), Nogueira ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Alvey (-325), Nogueira (+265)
Odds to Finish: -180
Fresh off a split-decision win over Gian Villante in June that he likely deserved to lose, Alvey once again finds himself up against a well-known opponent. "Smile 'N Sam" is somehow 7-2 in his last nine fights dating back to July 2016. He continues to have trouble with any fighter that refuses to engage him in a brawl, but Alvey does a nice job of drawing his opposition into his type of fight. The power in his hands is more than legitimate, but he's a well below-average athlete who doesn't move his feet and has no grappling game to speak off. Alvey is certainly entertaining, and the lack of depth in the division will keep him relevant, but he's not a great fighter.
Between a neck injury and a potential USADA violation that later turned out to be false, it will have been nearly 22 months between fights by the time Little Nog steps into the Octagon on Saturday. Why Nog, who has lost three of his last four fights, wants to continue fighting at age 42 is anyone's guess, but this is actually a decent matchup for him. Nog has been knocked out just three times in 30 career fights, although two of them have come in his last four bouts. If his chin is starting to evaporate, he's all but finished, but he's the far more accomplished ground specialist of the two and Alvey isn't the type of opponent that will overwhelm an aging Little Nog with athleticism.
Alvey's fights are extremely difficult to predict. He can look totally lost for the vast majority of a bout and then land one big punch and score a knockout. I'm worried that Nog might be done and I'm especially worried about all the time on the sidelines, but he at least has a path to victory. Alvey is the pick, but without a ton of confidence. I wouldn't recommend very high exposure at that DraftKings salary.
THE PICK: Alvey
BantamweightRenan Barao (36-6-0, 1NC) v. Andre Ewell (13-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Barao ($8,500), Ewell ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Barao (-130), Ewell (+110)
Odds to Finish: +125
For those wondering, yes, this is the same Renan Barao that went 32 fights without a loss from May 2005 to May 2014 and was former UFC Bantamweight Champion. And yes, he is now fighting someone name "Andre Ewell" on the heels of a run in which he has gone 2-5 in his last seven fights. Barao's back-to-back losses to TJ Dillashaw have all but ended his career. Sure, he has been able to beat up fringe fighters since then, but he has been dominated every single time he has faced a legitimate opponent. Barao is just 31 years old, and I have a tough time believing that his recent struggles are anything other than mental.
A 30-year-old regional fighter from California without a notable win under his belt, Ewell is being fed to Barao in hopes of getting the former champ back on track. There's nothing in Ewell's background that would lead you to believe that he is either deserving of this opportunity or ready for such a chance. It's a win-win situation for a fighter who will be a total unknown when he steps into the cage in Sao Paulo.
The UFC is handing Barao the ultimate layup here. If he isn't able to handle Ewell, then the company needs to cut their loses and give him his walking papers. I'd be afraid to use Barao as a DraftKings favorite given what we have seen from him the past few years, but he still should win this fight easily. The old Barao at even 65-70 percent would beat Ewell without issue, and if he can't summon the resources to put together an impressive performance in this one (on home turf), then the UFC has no reason to keep him around.
THE PICK: Barao
LightweightFrancisco Trinaldo (22-6-0) v. Evan Dunham (18-7-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Trinaldo ($8,900), Dunham ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Trinaldo (-250), Dunham (+210)
Odds to Finish: +150
This is an underrated fight, albeit one that will have no immediate impact on the UFC Flyweight Championship conversation.
Set to turn 37 years old in December and now 26 fights deep into his professional career, Dunham has announced that Saturday will be the last bout of his career. Assuming that holds up, Dunham deserves credit for stepping aside when he still has some gas left in the tank. His 53-second knockout loss to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in April aside, Dunham has been pretty good over the past three years. His mark of 4-1-1 in his last six bouts is impressive, and he remains one of the toughest and grittiest fighters on the roster.
A shocking seven-fight win streak from September 2014 to September 2016 earned Trinaldo a significant step up in competition his last few fights. The results (losses to Kevin Lee and James Vick and a win over Jim Miller) haven't been great, but Trinaldo could lose every fight for the remainder of his UFC tenure and he would still be considered an overachiever. A former Brazilian Kickboxing Champion, Trinaldo has legitimate power and he's the very definition of durable. He's never been knocked out in his professional career and excels in the type of brawl that Dunham is likely to throw his way.
Trinaldo is bigger and stronger, while Dunham is the better wrestler. I like Dunham's all-around game, but he has always been a guy that gets hit too much on the feet and Trinaldo has enough pop in his hands to turn his lights out. Add in the fact the fight is taking place in Brazil, and Trinaldo is my pick. That being said, I don't see a ton of separation between the two and Dunham would certainly be a reasonable pick as a road underdog.
THE PICK: Trinaldo
WelterweightAlex Oliveira (18-4-1, 2NC) v. Carlo Pedersoli (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Oliveira ($9,300), Pedersoli ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Oliveira (-400), Pedersoli (+325)
Odds to Finish: -170
THE PICK: Oliveira
Women's StrawweightRanda Markos (8-7-0) v. Marina Rodriguez (9-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Markos ($8,000), Rodriguez ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Markos (-105), Rodriguez (-115)
Odds to Finish: +205
THE PICK: Rodriguez
LightweightCharles Oliveira (23-8-0, 1NC) v. Christos Giagos (15-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Oliveira ($9,400), Giagos ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Oliveira (-370), Giagos (+310)
Odds to Finish: -300
THE PICK: Oliveira
Light HeavyweightLuis Henrique (10-4-0, 1NC) v. Ryan Spann (10-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Henrique ($7,500), Spann ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Henrique (+165), Spann (-190)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Spann
HeavyweightAugusto Sakai (10-1-0) v. Chase Sherman (11-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Sakai ($8,800), Sherman ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Sakai (-265), Sherman (+225)
Odds to Finish: -300
THE PICK: Sakai
WelterweightSergio Moraes (13-4-1) v. Ben Saunders (22-9-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Moraes ($9,100), Saunders ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Moraes (-300), Saunders (+250)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Saunders
Women's FlyweightMayra Silva (4-0-0) v. Gillian Robertson (5-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Silva ($7,900), Robertson ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Silva (+105), Robertson (-125)
Odds to Finish: -150
THE PICK: Silva
MiddleweightThales Leites (27-9-0) v. Hector Lombard (34-9-1, 2NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Leites ($7,800), Lombard ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Leites (+105), Lombard (-125)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Lombard
WelterweightElizeu Zaleski dos Santos (19-5-0) v. Luigi Vendramini (8-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Zaleski dos Santos ($9,500), Vendramini ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Zaleski dos Santos (-470), Vendramini (+375)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Zaleski dos Santos
Women's StrawweightLivinha Renata Souza (11-1-0) v. Alex Chambers (5-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Souza ($9,600), Chambers ($6,600)
Vegas Odds: LSouza (-800), Chambers (+550)
Odds to Finish: -260
THE PICK: Souza