DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 9 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 9 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

An all-time great looks to make one final push in the heavyweight division as the UFC heads back to the APEX in Vegas for more fights this weekend. 

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 the $350k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:

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 - Heavyweight

Alistair Overeem (46-18-0, 1NC) v. Augusto Sakai (15-1-1)
DK Salaries: Overeem ($8,800), Sakai ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Overeem (-150), Sakai (+125)
Odds to Finish: -270

Now 40 years of age, Overeem is coming off an impressive knockout win over Walt Harris in May. I figured Overeem would struggle with the speed and explosiveness of Harris, but he did an excellent job of closing the distance and limiting Harris' offensive chances. I remain highly concerned about Overeem's chin, but he still very clearly retains much of the power he possessed in his heyday. "The Reem" has won three of his past four dating back to November 2018, with all three of those victories coming via knockout. The days of Overeem competing against the best heavyweights in the world have long since passed, but he remains a threat inside the Octagon.

A product of Dana White's Contender Series: Brazil, Sakai has won his first four UFC fights, with two coming via knockout (Marcin Tybura, Chase Sherman) and two via split decision (Blagoy Ivanov, Andrei Arlovski). Sakai is a pure, one-dimensional power puncher. He frequently goes to the body, something I thing will be key in this fight given the fact Overeem is the slightly bigger man. I'm concerned about Sakai's all-around game, but I don't expect that to be an issue here given the fact Overeem figures to be more than content to engage Sakai in the kickboxing match he is mostly certainly seeking.

The age differential is one of two big story lines here. Overeem is almost 11 years to the day older than Sakai. Second is the fact significant durability concerns remain regarding Overeem despite his recent run of relative success. Sakai has never been knocked out, and I believe he has the edge in that department. That's a huge deal in a fight in which both men figure to be firing from the bleachers with every single shot. 

I ultimately cannot get past the massive gap in salaries between the two, in addition to Overeem's durability issues. All things considered, I would probably take Reem straight up, but there is absolutely no way there is a $1400 gap between these two guys, and that means Sakai provides far too much value to pass up.

THE PICK: Sakai
 

Co-Main Event - Women's Bantamweight

Sijara Eubanks (6-4-0) v. Karoline Rosa (13-3-0)
DK Salaries: Eubanks ($7,700), Rosa ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Eubanks (+110), Rosa (-130)
Odds to Finish: +160

Going nowhere and seemingly on the verge of being cut, Eubanks almost certainly saved her job with a unanimous decision victory over Sarah Moras in May. The level of competition she was going up against was very poor, but Eubanks did what was necessary in order to emerge victorious. It's extremely difficult to get excited about Eubanks moving forward despite the win. She has very little power in her hands and no ground game to speak off. She's also 35 years old. Maybe she can pull another slight upset and get by Rosa, but it's nearly impossible to believe Eubanks will go on any sort of real "run." She may have had a shot at flyweight with size and strength advantages over nearly every opponent, but after being unable to make the weight consistently, she's fared much worse at 135.

Rosa arrived in the UFC almost exactly a year ago and has since taken decisions from Lara Procopio (split) and Vanessa Melo (unanimous). The Brazilian wasn't viewed as much of a prospect upon joining the company, but at least she has youth on her side. Rosa won't turn 26 years of age until late December. The sample size is small, but Rosa has the look of a reckless brawler who is willing to eat a strike in order to land two of her own. That type of strategy never works over the long term but can be effective against lower-tier fighters.

This entire card is thin, but I still might try to avoid this fight if at all possible. Eubanks should have an advantage with her wrestling, while I would give the edge to Rosa in a brawl. The potential outcomes here would appear to be all over the place, and that worries me. Ultimately, I think you have to go with the unknown here. We know what Eubanks is, while Rosa has the ability to improve a bit given her youth. 

THE PICK: Rosa
 

Lightweight

Thiago Moises (13-4-0) v. Jalin Turner (9-5-0)
DK Salaries: Moises ($9,000), Turner ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Moises (-165), Turner (+145)
Odds to Finish: -210

Turner has been up and down in his UFC career, alternating wins and losses in his first four fights. I haven't been overly impressed with what I've seen thus far, but he does have three things going for him. First, is youth. Turner turned just 25 years of age this past May. Second, is power. Eight of his nine wins are via knockout. Third, and most importantly, is size. Turner is 6-foot-3, and it's nearly impossible to find a fighter that size who can make the 156-pound lightweight limit. Turner has fought as high as welterweight in the past, and his height alone makes him highly intriguing.

Like Turner, Moises has alternated wins and losses in his first four UFC bouts. He last fought in May, submitting veteran Michael Johnson with a heel hook early in Round 2. Moises has a few knockout wins on his resume, but he makes his living on the mat. He tends to be fairly conservative on the feet, and I imagine the Brazilian will do whatever is necessary to limit the kickboxing exchanges between the two men given the massive size edge Turner holds.

Turner is five inches taller and owns a whopping seven-inch edge in the reach department. If this does end up on the feet, Moises needs to fight in tight because Turner possesses the length to hammer him with kicks from the outside and not absorb damage in return. 

This is a nice little bout featuring two products of Dana White's Contender Series. I'm fascinated by Turner's size and believe that alone puts him in the conversation as a DraftKings underdog play, but I think Moises is clearly the better all-around mixed martial artist here. If that's enough to emerge victorious, remains to be seen. 

THE PICK: Moises
 

Light Heavyweight

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield
DK Salaries: Saint Preux (TBD), Menifield (TBD)
Vegas Odds: Saint Preux (+110), Menifield (-130)
Odds to Finish: -245

Editor's Note: DraftKings has yet to add this fight to the player pool, as its status remains up in the air. This is a fight that was supposed to happen two weeks ago (Aug. 22), but it was cancelled on fight day after Saint-Preux tested positive for COVID-19. Now, the two have to weigh in again, and OSP presumably needs a negative test, before this matchup can proceed as planned.

This is last call for OSP at age 37. Sporting a 1-3 record in his past four fights, Saint Preux moved up to heavyweight to challenge Ben Rothwell this past May. He lost via split decision, a highly concerning result given OSP's sheer athleticism in addition to Rothwell's inability to move his feet. OSP has always been an above-average athlete – he played Division I college football – and a below-average mixed martial artist. Virtually all the success he has had in the sport is due to his athleticism as opposed to any technical improvements he has made over the years. That, combined with the fact he is now at an age when his athleticism is expected to deteriorate, leaves his future quite bleak.  

A product of Dana White's Contender Series, Menifield knocked out Dashawn Boatwright in eight seconds on the show and followed that up with knockout wins over Vinicius Alves Moreira and Paul Craig to begin his UFC run. Menifield seemed to be in position to make a legitimate run at light heavyweight before dropping a unanimous decision to Devin Clark in early June. Menifield entered that fight as a (-330) favorite and still found a way to lose. Our exposure to Menifield has been small. He has just ten pro fights under his belt and has never fought anyone particularly good. Even a deteriorating OSP would be by far the best guy Menifield has seen to date.  

This is an interesting fight. Menifield has a big-time edge in both the explosiveness and power department, but OSP is a world-class athlete with an underrated submission game. He also has a massive edge in terms of experience. Saint Preux is three inches taller and owns a four-inch edge in the reach department. Both are significant factors when taking into account virtually all of Menifield's offense comes via strikes. I'm going to take OSP as a slight underdog. I am by no means confident about the pick, but the value is definitely there. GPP players will have to at least consider Menifield, though, as he has one of the best first-round knockout props on the entire card.

THE PICK: Saint Preux
 

Other Fights

Welterweight
Michel Pereira (23-11-0, 2NC) v. Zelim Imadaev (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Pereira ($8,200), Imadaev ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Pereira (-115), Imadaev (-105)
Odds to Finish: -190
THE PICK: Imadaev

Women's Flyweight
Viviane Araujo (8-2-0) v. Montana De La Rosa (11-5-0)
DK Salaries: Araujo ($8,900), De La Rosa ($7,3000
Vegas Odds: Araujo (-170), De La Rosa (+150)
Odds to Finish: +165
THE PICK: Araujo

Middleweight
Andre Muniz (19-4-0) v. Bartosz Fabinski (15-3-0)
DK Salaries: Muniz ($7,600), Fabinski ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Muniz (+125), Fabinski (-165)
Odds to Finish: +115
THE PICK: Fabinski

Heavyweight
Alexander Romanov (11-0-0) v. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1)
DK Salaries: Romanov ($8,400), Rogerio de Lima ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Romanov (-125), Rogerio de Lima (+105)
Odds to Finish: -565
THE PICK: Rogerio de Lima

Bantamweight
Cole Smith (7-1-0) v. Hunter Azure (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Smith ($7,100), Azure ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Smith (+185), Azure (-225)
Odds to Finish: +165
THE PICK: Azure

Featherweight
Brian Kelleher (21-11-0) vs. Kevin Natividad
DK Salaries: Kelleher (TBD), Natividad (TBD)
Vegas Odds: Kelleher (-225), Natividad (+185)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Kelleher

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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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