This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
There's a crisp $75K up for grabs in this week's MMA hook, with several Knockout King qualifiers and the regular array of GPPs on DraftKings. Let's get a piece of it.
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 - WelterweightNeil Magny (21-7-0) v. Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Magny ($7,200), Ponzinibbio ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Magny (+240), Ponzinibbio (-280)
Odds to Finish: -260
Originally scheduled to face Alex Oliveira in Sao Paulo in late-September, the UFC pulled Magny from that fight in favor of this main event spot, while Ponzinibbio gets to headline a show in his native Argentina.
As has been the case for nearly five years, Magny continues to quietly go about his business. Sporting a 13-3 record dating back to February 2014, Neil's only loss in the last two-plus years came against perennial title contender Rafael dos Anjos. While Magny won't overwhelm anyone with his athleticism, he is competent in all areas of the sport and he has an extremely long frame (6-foot-3) for the welterweight division. Magny has elite cardio and excels at making in-fight adjustments. I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off here, but it hasn't happened yet and it may never.
Ponzinibbio is one of the most vicious strikers in the division. Riding a six-fight winning streak and without a loss in more than 3.5 years, "Gente Boa" is closing in on a title shot. The 32-year-old has six career submission wins, but he does his best work on the feet. If Ponzinibbio is able to get in tight against Magny and land with regularity, he should win. Santiago varies his striking attacks well and that should help negate the three-inch height and seven-inch reach edge that Magny has.
I was going to mix things up and pick Magny against Oliveira, but I can't pick him against Ponzinibbio. In addition to having the crowd behind him, Ponzinibbio possesses a fluidity in the striking game that Magny simply cannot match. Magny would be wise to try to use his cardio to extend this fight as long as possible. I don't think he will be blown out, but I also don't think he wins. Magny's entire appeal as an underdog comes from the fact he has won countless fights the past few years that he seemingly had no business being in – let alone emerging victorious.
THE PICK: Ponzinibbio
Co-Main Event - FeatherweightRicardo Lamas (18-7-0) v. Darren Elkins (25-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lamas ($8,700), Elkins ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Lamas (-210), Elkins (+175)
Odds to Finish: +170
One of the most underrated featherweights on the roster in recent memory, Lamas tries to avoid the first three-fight losing streak of his career when he steps into the Octagon against Elkins on Saturday. As good as Lamas has been for a long time, he has never been able to earn that career-defining victory, coming up short in fights against Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, and current UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway. His most recent fight was a split-decision loss to the tough Mirsad Bektic in June. Lamas is competent in all areas of the sport, but he turned 36 years old in May and his best days are behind him. He has enough natural ability to remain relevant for the foreseeable future, but the days of "The Bully" impacting the title picture are over.
On the heels of a six-fight win streak that included victories over several notable opponents (Bektic, Michael Johnson, Dennis Bermudez), Elkins no-showed his fight against Alexander Volkanovski in July, dropping a clear unanimous decision. It was a highly disappointing performance from a guy who had build up some capital with a string of strong efforts. Elkins has little power in his hands (the majority of his six KO wins came early in his career) and his footwork is poor. What he does bring to the table is next-level heart and toughness. The Indiana native will never give up, and he will capitalize if his opposition gives him an opening.
Lamas needs this one more than Elkins. "The Damage" has settled into his long-term role, but Ricardo still harbors visions of big fights at 145 pounds. I don't think he's going to get there, but he should have enough left in the tank to beat Elkins. Lamas has a significant edge in striking power and athleticism. Any victory for Elkins would likely be of the slow, grinding variety. It's not impossible, especially when you take into account Elkins' wrestling background and Lamas' poor takedown defense (47.3 percent), but I don't see it happening.
THE PICK: Lamas
BantamweightGuido Cannetti (8-3-0) v. Marlon Vera (11-5-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Cannetti ($7,000), Vera ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Cannetti (+265), Vera (-325)
Odds to Finish: -160
Cannetti will turn 39 years old next month, but Saturday will be just his fifth UFC appearance. He fought extremely sparingly during the early part of his career before joining the cast of TUF: Latin America in 2014. Cannetti generally accomplishes shockingly little on the feet and relies on his takedown attempts to win fights. If he can't get Vera to the mat with regularity, he will probably come up short on home soil.
This will be Vera's 10th fight with the UFC. His record is above .500 (5-4), but he has generally handled soft competition and struggled against an opposition that has any real ability. Vera is bigger than Cannetti and he needs to use that physicality edge to his advantage. "Chito" is a decent ground specialist who has struggled with takedown defense (70 percent) during his time with the company.
Cannetti's easiest path to victory is to attempt to grind out a decision. It won't be visually pleasing and it won't get the hometown crowd behind him, but the 38-year-old needs to do whatever is necessary to win. Vera is the far more naturally gifted fighter and he's certainly been in the Octagon against the better competition. Stuff like that matters when you are forced to construct a DraftKings lineup for a card that lacks depth.
THE PICK: Vera
Women's StrawweightPoliana Botelho (7-1-0) v. Cynthia Calvillo (6-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Botelho ($8,300), Calvillo ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Botelho (-155), Calvillo (+135)
Odds to Finish: -105
The 29-year-old Botelho has been extremely impressive in her first two UFC bouts. After taking an easy unanimous decision from the since-released Pearl Gonzalez last October, Botelho followed up that performance with a 33-second knockout win over Syuri Kondo in May. That was the fastest finish in the (brief) history of the division and Botelho is deservedly getting a slight step up in competition against Calvillo. Botelho has a long frame (5-foot-8) for the division and she is a strong striker. I don't see her as a future title contender or anything like that, but she's a legitimate prospect.
Calvillo suffered the first loss of her career against Carla Esparza last December before getting popped for marijuana during her post-fight drug test. After serving a brief USADA-mandated suspension, she returns on Saturday. Calvillo has some ability, but I have never been as high on the Team Alpha Male product as some others. I see a fighter with fairly limited athletic ability who gets by on grit and determination.
Calvillo's easiest path to victory with by via submission, but she's giving up so much size to Botelho that I'm not convinced she can get her to the mat despite the fact she is likely the better grappler of the two. The odds and DraftKings salaries seems about right in this instance and that makes Botelho a deserved (slight) favorite.
THE PICK: Botelho
Light HeavyweightKhalil Rountree Jr. (8-2-0, 1NC) v. Johnny Walker (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Rountree ($8,800), Walker ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Rountree (-230), Walker (+190)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Rountree
MiddleweightCezar Ferreira (14-6-0) v. Ian Heinisch (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Ferreira ($8,400), Heinisch ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Ferreira (-185), Heinisch (+165)
Odds to Finish: -265
THE PICK: Heinisch
WelterweightMichel Prazeres (25-2-0) v. Bartosz Fabinski (14-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Prazeres ($8,600), Fabinski ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Prazeres (-190), Fabinski (+165)
Odds to Finish: +240
THE PICK: Prazeres
FlyweightAlexandre Pantoja (19-3-0) v. Ulka Sasaki (20-5-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Pantoja ($9,300), Sasaki ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Pantoja (-360), Sasaki (+300)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Pantoja
FeatherweightHumberto Bandenay (14-5-0, 1NC) v. Austin Arnett (15-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bandenay ($8,900), Arnett ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Bandenay (-260), Arnett (+220)
Odds to Finish: -255
THE PICK: Bandenay
WelterweightLaureano Staropoli (7-1-0) v. Hector Aldana (4-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Staropoli ($8,200), Aldana ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Staropoli (-115), Aldana (-105)
Odds to Finish: -250
THE PICK: Aldana
LightweightDevin Powell (9-3-0) v. Jesus Pinedo (15-4-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Powell ($7,700), Pinedo ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Powell (+165), Pinedo (-195)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Pinedo
FeatherweightNad Narimani (11-2-0) v. Anderson Dos Santos (19-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Narimani ($9,100), Dos Santos ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Narimani (-320), Dos Santos (+260)
Odds to Finish: +155
THE PICK: Narimani