This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Coming off the high of the first-ever MMA Millionaire Maker, DraftKings continues to pump out big GPPs for MMA, even if the cards aren't necessarily the most critically-acclaimed. But before heading to Fight Island in July, the UFC still has some unfinished business in Vegas, with three more cards scheduled for the Apex Center this month.
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, including a $500,000 MMA Throwdown Special with $100,000 to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
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 - Women's Flyweight
Editor's Note: Eye missed weight by 0.25 pounds for this fight, but she'll surrender 25 percent of her fight purse to Calvillo, and the main event will proceed as planned.
Eye is somehow 4-1 in her past five fights dating back to January 2018. The one setback was a loss to Valentina Shevchenko in what was one of the most lopsided title fights in company history. Eye "rebounded" from the Shevchenko fight with a unanimous decision win over Viviane Araujo last December. Of course, Eye missed weight for that fight by more than five pounds and had to forfeit 30 percent of her purse to the Brazilian. Inside the Octagon, Eye is a one-dimensional brawler who pays little attention to her defense. That kind of mentality worked for years for a fighter like Justin Gaethje, but Eye – who has just three knockout wins in her career – doesn't possess the power in her hands to constantly threaten her opposition. Eye is tough enough and gritty enough to get by fringe opponents, but there's nothing in her background to suggest she's capable of making a legitimate run in any weight class.
Calvillo was scheduled to fight Claudia Gadelha in December before Gadelha withdrew due to injury. Marina Rodriguez stepped in, and she and Calvillo fought to a majority draw. I'm curious to see how Cynthia goes about this stark contrast in opponent. She's durable enough to stand and trade with Eye, but that's playing into Jessica's only potential path for winning this fight. Calvillo would be far better off going for constant takedowns in the hopes of making Eye defend herself on the mat (Eye's takedown defense is a mere 59 percent). Calvillo's best DK scoring days are when she can catch a submission, but it's worth noting Eye hasn't been submitted since prior to the UFC in 2011. Also, in the interest of fairness, it must be noted that Calvillo missed weight for two of her last three fights (hence moving up to flyweight from strawweight).
My contract says I have to pick a winner here. I'm lukewarm, at best, on both women but we've seen more than enough from Eye to know what kind of fighter she is. Perhaps Calvillo – who has all of ten professional fights under her belt – can make some necessary adjustments moving forward. I don't think she should be an underdog, but Eye has been perennially overrated since her arrival in the company.
THE PICK: Calvillo
Editor's Note: Roberson missed weight by 4.5 pounds for this fight, but he'll surrender 30 percent of his fight purse to Vettori, and the co-main event will proceed as planned.
This fight has a bit of a backstory behind it. Roberson and Vettori were scheduled to fight just last month on the card headlined by Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira. Roberson missed weight by 1.5 pounds and while Vettori agreed to fight a heavy opponent, the fight eventually fell apart. That led to Vettori finding Roberson in the lobby of the hotel the fighters were staying at and screaming at him. Of course, it was all captured on video. It should add some much-needed heat to what is certainly one of the better bouts on the card.
Vettori is sporting a 3-1-1 record in his past five fights dating back to June 2017. His only loss during that span came via split decision against current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. Israel is much better now than he was back in April 2018, but the fact Vettori was so competitive against one of the best fighters in the sport is highly encouraging. Born in Italy, Vettori is now hooked up with Rafael Cordeiro and the guys at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, California. Vettori is a durable mat specialist. He has very little power in his hands but his chin is solid – he's never been knocked out – and that lets him hang around if a fight remains on the feet. Eight of Vettori's 14 career wins are via submission.
Roberson was tabbed as a decent prospect upon entering the company in November 2017, but the results have been inconsistent. His record is fair (4-2), but he has struggled whenever tasked with facing some better competition. Roberson is athletic, but his physical skills don't match his production inside the Octagon. He looks like roster depth at this point, and I thought there was a decent chance he would develop into more than that. The weigh-in's are certainly worth keeping an eye on here. The first bout between the two was scheduled for just four weeks ago and it's imperative we see Roberson make the 186-pound middleweight limit without issue.
Roberson has one major issue in this fight, best I can tell. I alluded earlier to Vettori's exploits on the mat, and both of "Baby K"'s (that's Roberson) pro losses have come via submission. Combine that with Vettori's durability, and the Italian is the pick here. This isn't a deep card, so DraftKings players will have to make their stand somewhere. At least in this fight, we have had multiple quality looks at both men.
THE PICK: Vettori
It's crazy to think that Borg – who won't turn 27 years old until early next month – has been with the UFC for more than six years. He has had his ups and downs over that span. Borg fought for the UFC Featherweight Championship against Demetrious Johnson back in October 2017, and it has pretty much all been downhill from there. Borg is 2-3 in his past five fights, most recently dropping a split decision to Ricky Simon on the same Smith/Teixieira card I mentioned earlier. In other words, Borg just fought a month ago. Dvalishvili is hot. The Serra/Longo product has run off three-straight victories since dropping his first two UFC bouts. All three of the victories have come against mediocre competition ( Casey Kenney , Brad Katona , Terrion Ware ), but Merab brings an all-world trait to the table. He's an exceptional wrestler. The sample size is small, but Dvalishvili has averaged a whopping (and unsustainable) 7.8 takedowns per 15 minutes over the course of his first five UFC bouts. He's scored at least five takedowns in all five fights, including an even dozen in his most recent bout against Kenney. This has led to some other-worldly DraftKings scores, even in decisions, as he put up 131 fantasy points against Kenney. His 92 and 98 points in the two prior fights (both decisions) weren't bad either. He's the second-priciest fighter on the card for a reason, but one you almost have to consider in cash games. That's all a long way of saying Borg could be in serious trouble here. He has missed weight four times in his UFC career (once at bantamweight) and it's anyone's guess what kind of shape Borg will show up in for Friday's weigh-ins. Then we get to the fact Borg's takedown defense is an abysmal 46 percent. He's been in a dozen bouts with the UFC, so the sample size here is legitimate. One of these fighters in streaking while another is mired in a tailspin. This is an easy pick. I'm out on Borg until further notice. THE PICK: Dvalishvili
Editors's Update: Borg has withdrawn from this scheduled matchup due to personal reasons, and Combate Bantamweight Champion Gustavo Lopez has received the call to face Dvalishvili. Now, Dvalishvili is a favorite upwards of (-900) at the same price, making him an incredibly chalky DFS piece. He's tough to avoid/fade, especially in cash games, given his high-scoring tendencies and likelihood to win. There's an angle to fading him in large-field GPPs due to a high projected ownership, though it's not necessarily a strategy we'll recommend. The new fight info is below:
Few fighters in company history have been as inconsistent as Fili. A member of the UFC roster dating back to October 2013, Fili has never won more than two fights in a row with the company, in addition to having never lost back-to-back bouts. He will have to emerge victorious on Saturday or that latter stat will change. Fili is fresh off a unanimous decision loss to Sodiq Yusuff in January. Fili is a brawler. He has limited one-punch knockout power and instead relies on combinations and volume. Fili's greatest attribute is his size. There are very few fighters in the 145-pound division who stand 5-foot-11 but Fili's uber-aggressive style often tends to negate his potential size advantage.
Our exposure to Jourdain is small. This will be just his third fight with the company. Jourdain entered the company about a year ago and dropped a unanimous decision to Desmond Green. He rebounded with a Fight of the Night knockout victory over Doo Ho Choi in December. Jourdain has youth on his side. The Canadian won't turn 25 years of age until late November. Jourdain is plenty big (5-foot-9) for the division, but he's giving up five inches in reach in addition to two inches in height to Fili. It's a potential issue for a fighter who does his best work in the standup.
Fili has a track record, but as I mentioned earlier, it's wildly inconsistent. We've only seen Jourdain twice. I'd prefer to avoid this fight and probably would if there were several better options on the card, but that may not be possible. Fili's never lost two in a row and he's coming off a setback, so he's a lock, right? Either way, he's the pick. That being said, I do like Jourdain a bit more than several of the other underdogs on the card. He's a viable salary relief option with a chance to make some noise.
THE PICK: Fili
Jordan Espinosa (14-7-0, 1NC) v. Mark De La Rosa (11-4-0)
DK Salaries: Espinosa ($8,500), De La Rosa ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Espinosa (-165), De La Rosa (+145)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Espinosa