This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
If you're hoping to turn Saturday's event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests, including a $500k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.
Main Event - Bantamweight
A former two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion, Dillashaw has been on the sidelines for the better part of two and a half years. T.J. last fought in January 2019, at which point he was knocked out by Henry Cejudo in 32 seconds in a UFC Flyweight Championship fight. Dillashaw tested positive for a banned substance in BOTH his pre and post-fight tests before and after the Cejudo fight and was subsequently stripped of his bantamweight crown that March. He later admitted his wrongdoing.
The first and most obvious question surrounding Dillashaw at this point is whether or not his history of UFC success is legitimate. Common sense would say he would have tested positive in the past had he been on anything his previous fights, but there's no way of knowing that for sure. Second, is how we he fare after such a long layoff? T.J. turned 35 years of age this past February. He's fought once since August 2018 and is coming off a significant PED suspension.
While T.J. has been away, Sandhagen has been rolling through his opposition. Cory is 7-1 in the UFC, with his only defeat coming at the hands of current UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling. He's recorded five stoppages, four knockouts and a submission, in those seven victories. Sandhagen is just 29 years old and has obvious staying power. He's big (5-foot-11) for the division, fights physically and can win a bout anywhere.
Like it or not, Dillashaw is immediately back in the title picture at 135 pounds. He never lost his belt and is pretty well known amongst casual fans. Unfortunately for him, this seems like an awful matchup. The UFC certainly isn't easing him back into action.
Sandhagen is five inches taller, enters with a three-inch reach edge and is nearly six years younger. Toss in the fact he has been fighting world-class competition while Dillashaw has been home for two-plus years serving a PED suspension, and this pick becomes quite clear. I imagine T.J. is still one of the better bantamweights on the roster, but I don't think he's a top-five guy at this point given his advanced age and inactivity, and he will have to prove he can defeat a quality opponent before I can get back on board. The flip side is that this is the cheapest you will ever see Dillashaw priced. Using him is a punt play isn't the worst idea I've ever seen.
THE PICK: Sandhagen
Co-Main Event - Women's Bantamweight
The big story here is Ladd, who returns for the first time since December 2019 after tearing both her ACL and MCL during a training session. All of that missed time is generally a concern, but Ladd is still just 26 years old, and I would wager that the lost reps, while frustrating, won't impact her over the long term. She looked darn good prior to going down, with wins in four of her first five UFC bouts. The lone setback was a 16-second knockout defeat at the hands of Germaine de Randamie in a main-event spot.
Chiasson won Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter at featherweight, although she's now competing at 135 pounds. She's also been strong in her brief UFC run, winning five of six. Chiasson possesses a solid all-around game. She is reasonably effective on the feet and can wrestle a bit. The issue will be remaining upright against Ladd, who averages 2.45 takedowns per 15 minutes and is one of the most deceptively strong fighters in the division.
There's a lack of experience here on both sides. Neither woman has an impressive resume of victories, although Ladd would lead in that area just slightly.
Next up is the size difference between the two. Chiasson is massive for the division at 5-foot-11. She's five inches taller than Ladd and will enter with a six-inch reach edge. Both are numbers that could make a difference in a fight, which seems quite likely to see the final bell.
I'm pretty torn on this one. While acknowledging her potential, I always though Ladd was a tad overrated. I also don't like to take fighters coming off major injuries. I would easily pick Ladd if she hadn't missed all the time and the salaries were somewhat similar, but the remarkable discount Chiasson provides made me change my mind. The value just feels right.
THE PICK: Chiasson
Elkins is one of the toughest men in the world, which is a necessity if your nickname is "The Damage." Now 37 years old and with well over 30 professional fights under his belt, Elkins has seen it all. He won six fights in a row from October 2015 to January 2018. Included in that stretch were wins over Michael Johnson, Mirsad Bektic and Dennis Bermudez. On the heels of that run, Elkins lost four straight, including setbacks to Alexander Volkanovski and Ricardo Lamas. It seemed as if Elkins might be released with the UFC trimming the fat on their roster of late, but the company gave him one more chance, and he responded with a submission win over Eduardo Garagorri last November. It was a victory that bought Elkins just a tiny bit of time, as he essentially still finds himself in must-win mode.
Minner has fought for countless organizations over the course of his career. He actually lost to Herbert Burns on Dana White's Contender Series, but was given an UFC opportunity anyway. He has had three official fights with the company, winning his last two after dropping his debut to Grant Dawson in February 2020. Minner is the very definition of mat specialist. 22 of his 26 wins have come via submission, and he struggles if forced to stand for any significant length of time.
Elkins has been submitted once in his professional career. He's as crafty as the come and will surely do whatever is necessary to ensure he doesn't end up in a ground battle with Minner.
That being said, Elkins lacks the athleticism to compete at a high level in the later stages of his career. He gets by on guts and guile at this point, and that only gets you so far. I hate picking against Elkins because his durability is legendary, but I think Minner does enough to take this one.
THE PICK: Minner
I'm actually quite surprised the UFC went ahead and booked this fight. Barber and Maverick are two of the division's youngest and brightest prospects, and it seems counterproductive that the company would ensure would of them leaves with a loss.
Although neither woman truly needs a victory considering their youth, the 23-year-old Barber is the one that enters on a two-fight losing streak. Maycee began her UFC run with three straight knockout wins (Gillian Robertson, JJ Aldrich, Hannah Cifers) and has since dropped unanimous decisions to Alexa Grasso and Roxanne Modafferi. Barber is tough and uber-aggressive. She lacks polish and makes plenty of mistakes that are typically associated with young, inexperienced fighters. I've commented in the past that Barber would be better off going to Invicta and gaining reps, and I stand by that statement.
Everything that applies to Barber also applies to the 24-year-old Maverick, with the main difference being the latter enters on a five-fight winning streak, including victories in each of her first two UFC bouts against Robertson and Liana Jojua. Maverick has shown a nice mix of striking and grappling in the early going, averaging 2.25 takedowns per 15 minutes.
I can't even begin to guess what's going to happen here. The range of outcomes here is immense given the inexperience of both women. I would still take Barber over the long term if forced to choose, but I think Maverick is further along at this point and I trust her to stick to and implement her game plan just a tad bit more.
THE PICK: Maverick