This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
With two title fights and "The People's Main Event," UFC 238 was expected to be one of the better pay-per-view events of the year, and it lived up to expectations. Both fighters walking out of the cage with belts had overly impressive performances, and Tony Ferguson proved once again that he deserves a lightweight title shot. The following is a by-the-numbers recap that highlights the stats and milestones that stood out on the main card, with stats courtesy of UFCStats.com.
Rarely do fighters change up their tactics as much as Cejudo did after the first round. Moraes outlanded him 16 to five on significant strikes in the opening frame. Cejudo attempted only 22 significant strikes. He clearly made a concerted effort to increase his striking volume in the second round. He threw 84 significant strikes and landed 38 in the second. Moraes tried to keep pace and landed 31 significant strikes in his own right. However, that pace clearly gave him trouble and pushed the fight in Cejudo's favor. The third round turned into a wash. Cejudo outlanded Moraes 47 to 10 on significant strikes and finished the fight. His ability to land meaningful and significant strikes from the top position was essential to his success. 26 of his 90 landed significant strikes came on the ground and all in the decisive third round.
Cejudo finished with 98 points on DraftKings. He has always been a volume fighter, and his fights usually follow a fast pace. However, in his last two fights he has shown improved finishing skill, which should make him an even more interesting DFS pick going forward.
A popular opinion going into the fight was that Shevchenko was a class above Eye, and it certainly looked that way in the cage on Saturday. In the first round, she scored a pair of takedowns and three passes while dominating from the top position. The champion nearly finished via submission towards the end of the round. The second round was an entirely different story. She landed only two significant strikes, and one of them was a head kick that dropped Eye and finished the fight.
Even though Shevchenko landed only eight significant strikes, her decision to mix in her grappling early paid dividends for DFS players. She finished with 103 points on DraftKings, which was boosted by 19 points from takedowns and passes.
Following UFC 238, Ferguson's career significant strikes landed per minute (SLpM) rate stands at 5.81. While that is one of the highest rates for a ranked fighter, it does not really tell the whole story. Recently, Ferguson has been throwing with an even higher level of effective volume. That was certainly the case against Cerrone. In the 10 minute fight, he landed 104 significant strikes, which equates to 10.4 per minute. Cerrone landed his fair share of strikes at 68, but he simply could not keep up with the continual onslaught from Ferguson. If his next fight is for the UFC lightweight title, it will be interesting to see if he has to slow down his style due to the takedown prowess from Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Thanks to that volume, Ferguson finished with the second highest DraftKings score of the evening. He earned players 122 points, which was behind only Eddie Wineland (127) on the night.
Rivera had the significant strike advantage in all three rounds of this fight. However, Yan made a statement in the waning moments of the first two rounds. In both rounds, he caught Rivera against the cage and scored knockdowns. With more time, it is entirely possible that the fight would be stopped. Yan's ability to push forward and trap Rivera against the cage was a key part of his victory. Per motion tracking, Rivera controlled the center of the cage for only five percent of the fight time, while Yan held control of the center for 53 percent. Rivera had solid offense in the fight, but his footwork got him into trouble on the defensive end.
Yan did not land with a ton of volume in this fight. He finished with only 56 significant strikes. However, the fact that he was able to score the knockdowns really helped his DraftKings score. He finished with 86 points, which was still the third lowest total for a winning fighter on the night.
There really isn't too much to say about this fight. Neither fighter seemed to have the gas tank or striking technique to be effective. Ivanov did land a knockdown in a flurry at the end of the first round. However, there was not a lot of action in the fight. In the end, Ivanov outlanded Tuivasa 73 to 64 on significant strikes and took home a fair decision victory.
Even though the fight was nothing to write home about, Ivanov still came through with a solid score for DFS players. Despite being the underdog, he put up 86.5 points on DraftKings. It is common to pick heavyweights, because they can score quick knockouts. However, "Baga" has now gone to decision in three-straight UFC fights, and he has only two TKOs since 2011.