This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
Last time, we had so much fun that they let us back in the door for the second installment of The MMA Mashup for UFC 258, which begins Saturday at 6:30 PM EST. This week, we get our first look at multiplier plays with SuperDraft as we once again guide discerning DFS players and gamblers across multiple platforms to determine the best places to play each fight on the 12-bout slate. One final note before we begin: as with my Handicapping the Octagon article series, all betting lines are taken from William Hill.
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Bets to Consider:
Kelvin Gastelum by decision: +100
This bet is made much simpler when one considers that these two men have only been finished three times in a combined 38 fights. Once we have established a high likelihood that the fight goes to decision, it's just a matter of deciding on the winner. Gastelum will likely have the edge here in virtually every area aside from strength. While it's true that Ian Heinisch is a willing wrestler, he owns a paltry 19 percent takedown rate in his six UFC fights, and Gastelum's ledger shows a solid 63 percent takedown defense rate. I expect Gastelum to keep this fight standing, where his quick hands and superior boxing should be enough to win the day.
Chris Gutierrez: -150
As much as I love the slick boxing and speed that Andre Ewell brings to the cage, I didn't have a particularly hard time settling on Gutierrez here as the more fundamentally sound kickboxer. In one of the odder tales of the tape you'll ever see, Ewell has a one-inch height disadvantage despite sporting an eight-inch reach advantage. This would seem like a significant point in Ewell's favor until we remember that he will have that lead leg planted front-and-center for Gutierrez's nasty kicking game. He has also been working in his wrestling more often, and Ewell has been taken down in three of his five UFC fights.
DraftKings Plays to Consider:
Rodolfo Vieira ($9,300)
Vieira is an absolute powerhouse inside the cage and, as you might expect from someone with the nickname of "The Black Belt Hunter," has the best jiujitsu this side of Demian Maia. The BJJ world champion next sets his sights on Anthony Hernandez, who is a powerful volume striker but was choked out by another strong grappler in Markus Perez in 2019. While it took Perez several attempts to ground Hernandez, Vieira seems to be that rare breed of BJJ specialist that is actually a good wrestler. Vieira's price for a three-round fight might make some shy away, but I expect him to get this done early with a takedown (or two) and ground control time thrown in for good measure.
Kamaru Usman ($9,000)
Usman's high number of significant strikes and takedowns made him a dependable play under the old system, but the introduction of regular strikes and control time may just make his score read "TILT" if he can put together a classic performance. How much of a boost could he get? Consider that "The Nigerian Nightmare" would have averaged 129.8 (!) DraftKings points in his last five fights if the new categories were in place. Some may pump the breaks, reasoning that he won't want to take down such a high-level BJJ blackbelt as Gilbert Burns, but Usman had no qualms about taking down another black belt in Rafael Dos Anjos, bringing him to the mat 12 times in their bout. It should also be noted that Burns got incredibly tired after having to work for two rounds against Alexey Kunchenko, meaning the amount of danger Usman is in should get progressively less as the fight goes on.
Bobby Green ($8,900)
Green does a fair amount of everything in the cage, and as such should be a perfect candidate to benefit from the updated scoring. This eclectic style of volume striking, wrestling, and control would have netted him at least 98 points in two of his last three fights. Green has had more hard-luck split-decisions throughout his career than seems possible, but he should be several levels above Jim Miller here, who has gotten the majority of his recent victories by quick submission. Green has lost by tapout just twice in 28 professional fights and is an underrated defensive wrestler (72 percent defense rate), which should leave him free to impose his will on the aging veteran.
Miranda Maverick ($8,500)
Gillian Robertson has made a career in MMA by overwhelming lesser grapplers. The problem is that she has no standup game to speak of, so when she encounters grapplers who are better than she is (Mayra Bueno Silva, Taila Santos) it can lead to some pretty one-sided loses. I believe Maverick can basically do what Santos did to her for three rounds: execute takedowns and stay in top control while hunting for submissions. If this plan fails, we know from her last bout with Liana Jojua that she will have no problem letting her hands go and trying to get a quick TKO.
SuperDraft Plays to Consider:
Ricky Simon: 1.9X multiplier
Given that Simon has put up 130 or more points in three of his last five fights on SuperDraft, it seems odd that his multiplier is this high. One can only assume the reason for this is Brian Kelleher's stout 72 percent takedown defense rate, but "Boom" has never faced a wrestler as relentless as Simon, and lately, he seems to have opted to let himself get taken to the floor in order to work his guillotine series. While this does mean he will have to look out for his neck, Simon has only been submitted once in his 20-fight career. The pressure and pace of the 28-year-old should make a horrible style matchup for Kelleher, who often gets off to slow starts before working his way into fights.
Polyana Viana: 2.05x multiplier
A 2-3 fighter in the UFC generally isn't someone to get excited about over a multiplier, but styles make fights, and Mallory Martin was taken down at will by Virna Jandiroba before practically putting herself in an arm triangle and getting submitted in the second round of that fight. Viana has finished seven of her 11 MMA wins via submission (including each of her last four) and I doubt Martin will be able to deal with her physicality inside the cage.
Gabriel Green: 2.05x multiplier
DraftKings may have pulled back on the points awarded for significant strikes, but the 0.75 that SuperDraft offers gave Green 95 points in his losing effort against Daniel Rodriguez. While we shouldn't expect that level of output in his sophomore showing against Phil Rowe, Green will constantly look to pressure his opponent against the cage and throw strikes. The 27-year-old has also shown some incredibly slick BJJ on the regional scene so takedowns on a tall and long opponent should not be out of the question. Rowe can use his aforementioned length, but too often throws himself out of position while putting together rote combinations. It should also be noted that pressure striking had Rowe in serious trouble early in his contender series fight against Leon Shahbazyan.
Maycee Barber: 2.2x multiplier
Remember Barber, the absolute whirlwind who came into the UFC as an undefeated fighter and went on a three-fight finishing streak? Apparently, one loss (in which she suffered a major knee injury) means she is no longer that person and necessitates she receive one of the biggest multipliers on the slate. Snarky attitude aside, I get being unsure of how Barber will perform after more than a year outside of the cage, but the 22-year-old has already handled a strong boxer in JJ Aldrich, overwhelming and stopping her in the second round. Alexa Grasso may get off some shots – or even have a reasonable opening frame – before Barber can get her game going, but I expect her to break under the pressure and powerful striking at some point.
Monkey Knife Fight Plays to Consider:
Belal Muhammad OVER 65.5 significant strikes and Dhiego Lima OVER 48.5 significant strikes.
Two facts kept running across my mind when contemplating this play: Muhammad is a high-volume striker (4.48 SLpM) and has finished just five of his 17 victories. Lima has improved his boxing tremendously in his second UFC run, and while I expect him to get swallowed up in the volume and pace of Muhammad, this should mean heavy striking on both sides. There is some danger that "Remember the Name" will opt for a grapple-heavy approach on a longer, taller opponent, but he has succeeded on just 30 percent of his takedown attempts in the Octagon, and Lima is one fight removed from going 8-for-8 on takedown defense against Court McGee. This prowess, combined with the general high pace should net us a fairly comfortable over.
FanDuel Plays to Consider:
Julian Marquez ($19)
Something that's very noticeable about Maki Pitolo's UFC run to this point is the degree to which he has been muscled around by some of the stronger fighters at the weight class. This hasn't always meant takedowns (as was the case with Callan Potter), but the strength differential has largely resulted in opponents being able to control where the fight takes place. It also means that the coconut bombs he sees fit to throw haven't resulted in many hurt or stunned fighters, even when he lands them clean. This is a problem when matched up with a tough guy like Julian Marquez, who will look to march Pitolo down and throw big shots. This should pay dividends no matter where you play, but it interests me for FanDuel because of Marquez's propensity to go for submissions, as he has attempted five in his two UFC fights. This could occur if Pitolo goes for a takedown, but that shouldn't be the only opportunity, as Marquez has been keen to wrap up his opponents and attempt front chokes. While it may not seem like much, each submission attempt is worth a cool five points, and having 10 or 15 points tacked onto what could be a big winning score can make all the difference.