DraftKings MMA: UFC 232 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC 232 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Despite a late location change, UFC 232 is one of the best pay-per-view cards of the year from top to bottom, headlined by a main event five years in the making. To end the year with a bang, DraftKings is offering a $50,000 top prize in the $10 Year-End Brawl, with $200,000 total guaranteed.

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.)

Moves Scoring
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

Scoring Notes
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 Heavyweight Championship

Jon Jones (23-1-0, 1NC) v. Alexander Gustafsson (18-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Jones ($9,100), Gustafsson ($7,100)
Vegas Odds:Jones (-265), Gustafsson (+245)
Odds to Finish: -105

A rematch more than five years in the making, Jones and Gustafsson will run back what was one of the greatest fights in UFC history. Jones won the first fight via unanimous decision, but it was a brutal, bloody war that could have gone either way. For a variety of reasons, Jones and Gus have both been relatively inactive since the first bout. Gustafsson has fought just five times since September 2013 while Jones has fought just four times.

Jones's issues have been well documented, from the USADA violations to the hit-and-run incident in New Mexico. Jones's actions outside of the cage are completely relevant and a concern moving forward because he doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt in the future. As far as his performances inside the octagon, however, Jones may very well be the best mixed martial artist of all time. Since the first fight against Gus, "Bones" has defeated Daniel Cormier twice (one of which was changed to a no-contest when Jones failed his post-fight drug test) in addition to decisioning Glover Teixeira and Ovince Saint Preux. I was at the Teixeira fight in person, believe me what I tell you that it was one of the most lopsided beatings that I have ever seen. Jones is an athletic freak who does his best work from the clinch. His long frame and insane 84-inch reach allow Jones to beat his opposition up while they are unable to return fire. I don't think it's possible for a shorter fighter such as Cormier to defeat him. It is going to take an opponent such as Gustafsson with a similar body type.

Gus has been the only opponent to date that had displayed a consistent ability to damage Jones offensively. The big Swede is two inches taller than Jones, although he is giving up five inches in reach. Gustafsson has legitimate power, exceptional cardio, and an iron chin. The only fighter to knock Gustafsson out to this point was Rumble Johnson. Gus is willing to fight aggressively – a must in any fight against Jones, because he has faith in his ability to eat a punch. Gustafsson's long frame is an asset here. Jones had trouble in the first fight between the two because he had never seen a fighter with a similar body type and somewhat similar offensive striking arsenal.

While there are obvious similarities' between the two men, the question is, what has ultimately changed in the last five years? Jones and Gus are both 31 years old and both should still be in their athletic prime. Jones's issues have hampered his ability to fight with regularity (he is looking at exactly 17 months on the sidelines when he steps into the cage on Saturday), but Gustafsson's multiple injury issues have resulted in his inactivity. While I was watching the first fight between the two, I remember thinking that you have to fight an almost perfect fight to beat Jones, and that Gus may very well have done it. Can he do it again? Sure, heck, Gus took Cormier to a split decision as well, but the odds of it happening twice aren't great. As I've said several times, there's a few fighters that I will be picking until they finally lose. Demetrious Johnson was one before he shockingly lost to Henry Cejudo and Jones is another. Gus is a live underdog, but the GOAT gets the call.


Co-Main Event - Women's Featherweight Championship

(C) Cris Cyborg (20-1-0, 1NC) v. Amanda Nunes (16-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cyborg ($9,200), Nunes ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Cyborg (-255), Nunes (+235)
Odds to Finish: -195

The UFC created the women's featherweight division with plans to make Cyborg it's unquestioned champion. It worked out just the way they wanted, but they underestimated how difficult it would be for the company to find viable challengers for her title. Now Nunes, who is the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, will move up ten pounds in her quest to become a two-division champion.

Five fights into her UFC career, Cyborg has been as dominant as advertised. She has four knockout wins and a unanimous decision win over Holly Holm (which only went the distance because of Holm's next-level toughness) under her belt. To give you an idea of how good Cyborg has been, she is landing over seven (7.02) significant strikes per minute while eating just 1.79 per 60 seconds. It's an absurd statistic and shows just how little competition there has been for the 33-year-old thus far. Cyborg's only loss came in her first professional fight in May 2005.

There are obviously plenty of reasons to believe that Nunes will have more success than any woman that has challenged Cyborg to this point. She is riding a seven-fight winning streak which includes three successful defenses of her UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship. Nunes's cardio has improved significantly over the past few years and her grappling game is underrated. Still, I'm skeptical that she has enough to beat Cyborg. In addition to moving up to an entirely new weight class, Nunes' biggest asset, her power, will be cancelled out by the power of Cyborg. Nunes hits hard, but there's no way she can match Cyborg punch-for-punch (no woman can).

Nunes is going to have to try to find a way to turn this into something other than a slugfest. It's going to be difficult because that is where she generally does her best work. A wrestling-based attack might be the way to go for Amanda, but Cyborg's takedown defense in her UFC run is a ridiculous 91.3 percent. The work Nunes has done to the past many years to turn herself into the second-best pound-for-pound female fighter in the planet is truly remarkable and $7000 is a reasonable price tag for a fighter with her abilities, but unfortunately she is facing the woman that occupies the number one spot on that list and it doesn't look like she's ready to relinquish the throne.

THE PICK: Cyborg


Carlos Condit (30-12-0) v. Michael Chiesa (14-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Condit ($7,200), Chiesa ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Condit (+155), Chiesa (-175)
Odds to Finish: -145

A loser of four fights in a row and without a victory in 3.5 years, this will almost certainly be the end for Condit (whether it's a release or retirement) if he comes up short against Chiesa. "The Natural Born Killer" has openly contemplated stepping away on multiple occasions in the past, only to return to action. Condit is simply unable to pressure his opposition like he did in his heyday. Part of that is likely due to the many injuries he has battled over the years and part of it is due to simple aging. Condit will turn 35 years old in April and he has a ton of MMA miles under his belt. He is also getting hit more than ever and has displayed no ability to right the ship when things start to go south.

After missing weight for the first time as a pro against Anthony Pettis in July, Chiesa will move up to welterweight for the first time in seven years. His 6-foot-1 frame was a massive advantage at 155 pounds, but Chiesa will now be fighting opponents who are just as big as he is. "Maverick" is in need of a victory after dropping back-to-back bouts to Pettis and Kevin Lee. Chiesa is a mat wizard who somehow doesn't have a knockout win in his entire career. This is the type of opponent that I think Condit would eat for lunch at his peak, but I'm not convinced he has enough gas left in the tank to take advantage of Chiesa's weaknesses.

I'm not enthused by Chiesa's future prospects at welterweight and I think he's overpriced here, but I'm legitimately worried that Condit might be done. His takedown defense is abysmal (37 percent) and Chiesa averages nearly three (2.87) takedowns per 15 minutes. If Chiesa is able to ragdoll his opponent to the mat with ease, Condit is finished. Give me Chiesa by decision.

THE PICK: Chiesa

Light Heavyweight

Ilir Latifi (14-5-0, 1NC) v. Corey Anderson (11-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Latifi ($8,900), Anderson ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Latifi (-155), Anderson (+135)
Odds to Finish: -115

I joke all the time that the UFC's light heavyweight division is nothing more than one big, extended tournament. It's the same half dozen or so guys (Latifi, Anderson, Gian Villante, Patrick Cummins, Misha Cirkunov, Jan Blachowicz, Ovince Saint Preux, etc.) who do nothing but fight each other and no one man is able to pull away from the pack. Latifi and Anderson will get another chance to separate themselves on Saturday.

Latifi has one loss in the past four years (5-1) and it came against Ryan Bader. The big Swede moves exceptionally well for such a powerful man and he is one of the strongest competitors in the division. Although Latifi's background is in wrestling, he has developed into a solid all-around fighter. He turned 35 years old in July, so he needs to make a run pretty soon.

Anderson is coming off back-to-back unanimous decision wins over Cummins and Glover Teixeira. Both were extremely impressive performances and bouts which Anderson won going away. It's concerning that six of his seven victories with the company have gone to the judge's scorecards. Anderson's underlying striking numbers are solid (4.55 significant strikes landed per minute, 2.2 absorbed), but it hasn't resulted in success on the feet. Instead, Anderson wins fights by smothering his opposition. He averages 5.48 takedowns per 15 minutes and does the vast majority of his striking damage on the mat.

Something will have to give in a fight in which both men's greatest strengths mirror one another. Latifi has never been taken down in his UFC career and I have a difficult time seeing Anderson winning a 15-minute kickboxing match. It's imperative that Anderson sticks with the takedown even if he comes up short on his first few attempts. Anderson is four inches taller and has a 5.5-inch reach advantage. Those numbers would lead to a significant edge in the striking game, but I'm not sure Anderson has the skill set to advantage of it. I like Latifi in a close contest.

THE PICK: Latifi


Chad Mendes (18-4-0) v. Alexander Volkanovski (19-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Mendes ($8,700), Volkanovski ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Mendes (-160), Volkanovski (+140)
Odds to Finish: +100

Fresh of a suspension due to a USADA violation and more than 2.5 years removed from a fight, Mendes returned to action in July and earned a $50,000 Performance of the Night Bonus for his knockout win over the underrated Myles Jury. "Money" looked as sharp as ever and he is going to need to be on top of his game once again when he faces the Volkanovski. Mendes keeps himself in terrific shape, but he turned 33 years old in May and he's fought just once (against Jury) in the past three years.

Volkanovski, a 30-year-old Aussie, is 5-0 in the UFC and has not lost since May 2013. He has a boatload of power and passable mat skills. He has a six-inch reach advantage on Mendes despite the fact the two men are the same height and as good as Mendes has been over the years, I think I prefer Volkanovski if this fight turns into an extended kickboxing match. He's younger and has been far more active of late.

The real question is whether or not Volkanovski will be able to handle Mendes's takedown attempts. Although his percentage landed isn't great (50 percent), Mendes averages north of four (4.09) successful takedowns per 15 minutes. If Volkanovski spends a good portion of this fight pinned to the mat, he's going to lose. I'm going to takes Mendes's track record over Volkanovski's long-term upside, but I'm not entirely confident in the pick. This fight seemingly has a lot of potential outcomes and I don't think we have a great read on where it is going to go.

THE PICK: Mendes

Other Bouts

Andrei Arlovski (27-17-0, 1NC) v. Walt Harris (11-7-0)
DK Salaries: Arlovski ($7,600), Harris ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Arlovski (+140), Harris (-160)
Odds to Finish: -180
THE PICK: Harris

Women's Featherweight
Cat Zingano (10-3-0) v. Megan Anderson (8-3-0)
DK Salaries: Zingano ($8,500), Anderson ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Zingano (-165), Anderson (+145)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Zingano

Douglas Silva De Andrade (25-2-0, 1NC) v. Peter Yan (10-1-0)
DK Salaries: Silva De Andrade ($6,900), Yan ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Silva De Andrade (+235), Yan (-275)
Odds to Finish: -130

B.J. Penn (16-12-0) v. Ryan Hall (6-1-0)
DK Salaries: Penn ($6,800), Hall ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Penn (+415), Hall (-525)
Odds to Finish: +145

Nathaniel Wood (14-3-0) v. Andre Ewell (13-4-0)
DK Salaries: Wood ($8,200), Ewell ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Wood (-115), Ewell (-105)
Odds to Finish: -135

Uriah Hall (13-9-0) v. Bevon Lewis (5-0-0)
DK Salaries: Hall ($8,300), Lewis ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Hall (-115), Lewis (-105)
Odds to Finish: -170

Curtis Millender (16-3-0) v. Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1)
DK Salaries: Millender ($8,800), Bahadurzada ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Millender (-145), Bahadurzada (+125)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Millender

Brian Kelleher (19-9-0) v. Montel Jackson (6-1-0)
DK Salaries: Kelleher ($7,800), Jackson ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Kelleher (+135), Jackson (-155)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Kelleher

Note: Odds last updated Monday (12/24) at 1:45 p.m. EST.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jon Litterine plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: JLitterine.
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Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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