DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 14 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 14 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

In for Islam Makhachev on all of five days' notice, Paul Felder was due to broadcast this event for ESPN. Instead, he's now fighting a former lightweight champion in the main event. 

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 $350,000 MMA Throwdown with $100,000 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 - Lightweight

Paul Felder (17-5-0) v. Rafael dos Anjos (29-13-0)
DK Salaries: Felder ($7,400), Dos Anjos ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Felder (+170), Dos Anjos (-200)
Odds to Finish: +135

Set to turn 36 years old next week and with just one victory in his past five fights dating back to December 2017, this is last call for dos Anjos. RDA has been trending in the wrong direction for quite some time. Dos Anjos spent the early portion of his career at lightweight before jumping up to welterweight in mid-2017. It was a move that started out well but has gone completely off the rails of late. I imagine RDA will look considerably more comfortable at 155 pounds, but the damage may have already been done given his advanced age. I doubt a late-notice opponent change is a positive for RDA at this stage of his career. 

An offensive innovator who is constantly looking to push the pace on the feet, Felder is 2-2 in his past four bouts dating back to July 2018. One of the victories, and both of the losses, came via split decision. Felder is undoubtedly one of the better lightweights in the world, but I never viewed him as a true contender at 155 pounds. That being said, he does have victories over the likes of Edson Barboza and Charles Oliveira on his resume, so he's clearly capable.

Breaking this fight down from a technical standpoint was difficult. Dos Anjos is clearly the better grappler and wrestler, while Felder is three inches taller and much better at stringing together combinations. I'm interested to see if Felder can stay off of his back. His takedown defense is a mediocre 61 percent, and RDA lands nearly two (1.82) takedowns per 15 minutes. 

The odds and DraftKings salaries for this fight seem extremely strange to me. I can only assume that Felder is being significantly undervalued because he took this fight on such short notice. I was leaning towards picking him outright, and the massive value he provides just reinforced my thinking. 

Perhaps RDA can use his wrestling to grind out a decision, but I need to see him beat someone of note before believing it could potentially happen. Outside of a possible contrarian play, he provides virtually zero value at his inflated price tag, even if you think he's going to win.

THE PICK: Felder
 

Bantamweight

Louis Smolka (16-7-0) v. Jose Quinonez (9-4-0)
DK Salaries: Smolka ($8,400), Quinonez ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Smolka (-140), Quinonez (+120)
Odds to Finish: +115

This will be Smolka's 15th UFC bout over the course of two different tours of duty with the company. He spent the entirety of his first run from January 2014 to December 2017 at flyweight before being released and returning to the company as a bantamweight back in November 2018. Smolka has alternated stoppage wins and losses in his four fights since coming back, with victories over Su Mudaerji and Ryan McDonald, and losses to Casey Kenney and Matt Schnell. The fact Smolka has struggled against the better competition in Kenney and Schnell is concerning. One of the Smolka's greatest attractions at flyweight was his size. He's 5-foot-9, and while that's also big for the bantamweight division, it's not as pronounced. 

Quinonez began his UFC run with four victories in his first five fights. It's been a much rougher ride of late, with stoppage defeats in two of his past three bouts. Like Smolka, Quinonez has been totally overwhelmed when the competition level standing across from him has risen. Quinonez's biggest issue has been his inability to generate any significant offense over the course of his career. He has just three stoppage victories. His best bet is probably to try to get this fight to the mat, as Quinonez has averaged 2.58 takedowns per 15 minutes.

Smolka is probably the slightly better fighter, but I don't think there's any significant gap between these two men. Quinonez makes for a reasonable enough underdog play, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm worried about his ability to generate consistent offense. He's going to have a significant problem catching up on the judges' scorecards if he stumbles out of the gate. His margin for error is exceedingly small, and it's difficult to rely on a fighter like that. 

THE PICK: Smolka
 

Catchweight (195 pounds)

Brendan Allen (15-3-0) v. Sean Strickland (21-3-0)
DK Salaries: Allen ($7,900), Strickland ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Allen (-110), Strickland (-120)
Odds to Finish: +125

This fight came together extremely quickly. Allen was due to face Ian Heinisch on last week's Santos/Teixiera card but never ended up stepping into the Octagon after latter was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

Strickland fought two weeks ago on the card headlined by Anderson Silva and Uriah Hall, defeating Jack Marshman via unanimous decision. That was Strickland's first fight in over two years, so it's not the least bit surprising to see him get back into the Octagon quickly. Strickland's two-year layoff was the result of a motorcycle accident. His future is up in the air given all the time he has missed, but Strickland is still just 29 years old, and his only three UFC defeats have come against UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. There's no guarantee Strickland will continue to progress, but the guy clearly has talent.

A long time member of the LFA roster and product of Dana White's Contender Series, Allen is a perfect 3-0 with the UFC. Included in there are a pair of stoppage wins over a couple underrated opponents in Kevin Holland (submission) and Tom Breese (TKO). Allen has a respectable all-around game, in addition to excellent size for the division at 6-foot-2. He also won't turn 25 years of age until late-December. He's so young that the outcome of this fight ultimately has little bearing on his future. 

Strickland just fought and Allen was due to fight, so I doubt the fact this fight came together on short notice impacts its potential outcome much one way or the other. In the end, I'm going to go with the modest salary relief Allen provides. I'm also slightly worried about Strickland's inactivity. Allen is much, much better than Marshman, and asking a fighter who hadn't fought in over two years to fight twice in just a couple weeks is a big request. I think this will be a close, competitive fight.

THE PICK: Allen 
 

Women's Strawweight

Ashley Yoder (7-6-0) v. Miranda Granger (7-1-0)
DK Salaries: Yoder ($8,000), Granger ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Granger (-135), Yoder (+115)
Odds to Finish: +220

A loser of back-to-back fights and with just two victories in seven UFC bouts, Yoder is likely fighting for her job on Saturday. She's performed a tad bit better than that record would indicate, with a pair of those losses coming via split decision. All seven of Yoder's UFC bouts have seen the final bell. Yoder has an excellent frame for the division (5-foot-7), but Granger is one of the rare competitors who is able to match her in the height department. Yoder is also respectable on the mat, but her completely inability to threaten her opposition on the feet has essentially turned Yoder into a one-dimensional submission specialist. 

Granger began her UFC run in August 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over Hannah Goldy before suffering a first-round submission defeat the hands of Amanda Lemos last December. Like Yoder, Granger generates virtually all of her offense from her submission game. I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw in either the Goldy or Lemos fight, but the sample size here is obviously very small. 

The one major difference between these two women is the level of competition they have faced. Granger has never faced anyone of note, while Yoder has been in the Octagon against the likes of Mackenzie Dern, Angela Hill, Livinha Souza and Randa Markos. It's not much to hang your hat on, but it's the only single area in which there appears to be a significant gap between the two women. 

I'd probably fade this fight if at all possible, as the range of outcomes appears to be vast. If forced to pick, I'll go with Granger simply because of Yoder's inability to stop her opposition. It's difficult to count on a win if you continue to rely on the judges to give you the decision.

THE PICK: Granger
 

Other Fights

Welterweight
Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-2-0) v. Khaos Williams (10-1-0)
DK Salaries: Alhassan ($9,100), Williams ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Alhassan (-235), Williams (+195)
Odds to Finish: -565
THE PICK: Alhassan

Middleweight
Julian Marquez (7-2-0) v. Saparbek Safarov (9-3-0)
DK Salaries: Marquez ($9,400), Safarov ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Marquez (-290), Safarov (+245)
Odds to Finish: -400
THE PICK: Marquez 

Middleweight
Eryk Anders (13-5-0) v. Antonio Arroyo (9-3-0)
DK Salaries: Anders ($8,500), Arroyo ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Anders (-140), Arroyo (+120)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: Arroyo

Women's Strawweight
Kay Hansen (7-3-0) v. Cory McKenna (5-1-0)
DK Salaries: Hansen ($9,000), McKenna ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Hansen (-140), McKenna (+120)
Odds to Finish: +185
THE PICK: Hansen

Welterweight
Alex Morono (17-6-0, 1NC) v. Rhys McKee (10-3-1)
DK Salaries: Morono ($8,900), McKee ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Morono (-185), McKee (+160)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Morono

Women's Strawweight
Randa Markos (10-10-1) v. Kanako Murata (11-1-0)
DK Salaries: Markos ($7,600), Murata ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Markos (+145), Murata (-165)
Odds to Finish: +225
THE PICK: Murata 

Bantamweight
Geraldo de Freitas (12-5-0) v. Tony Gravely (19-6-0)
DK Salaries: de Freitas ($7,500), Gravely ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: de Freitas (+150), Gravely (-170)
Odds to Finish: +155
THE PICK: Gravely

Heavyweight
Don'Tale Mayes (7-4-0) v. Roque Martinez (15-6-2)
DK Salaries: Mayes ($9,000), Martinez ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Mayes (-220), Martinez (+180)
Odds to Finish: -310
THE PICK: Mayes

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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