This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC has its final pay-per-view of 2021 as UFC 269 goes down on Saturday, December 11 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Charles Oliveira defends his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier.
In this series of articles, I'll share my favorite play, an underdog pick, a prop and a two-fighter parlay I like. All lines are taken from DraftKings online sportsbook and are accurate as of the post date of this article.
Josh Emmett (16-2) vs. Dan Ige (15-4)
Weight Class: Featherweight
Both Emmett and Ige are fighters who don't like to take a step back, and both men have KO power and are durable as they come. Yet, I just think Emmett is the better overall fighter and is a tough matchup for Ige.
On the feet, Emmett is the more active fighter, as he lands 4.32 significant strikes per minute and also has legit one-punch KO power at featherweight. Although Emmett is there to be hit, he is fine taking one to give one, as his power is more than Ige's.
Although both men have been taken down quite often and do shoot for takedowns a couple of times per fight, I don't think it hits the ground. Instead, I expect Emmett to just out-volume Ige and even drop him a few times to win a decision.
The Play: Josh Emmett (-165)
Erin Blanchfield (7-1) vs. Miranda Maverick (9-3)
Weight Class: Women's Flyweight
Erin Blanchfield has been hyped up well before her UFC debut, and although she gets a tough matchup in Miranda Maverick, I think she is the better version of Maverick. Blanchfield is relentless in her striking and does not get tired, as her UFC debut saw her land eight significant strikes per minute, and she was a perfect 3-for-3 on takedowns.
Blanchfield's volume will be the difference, but I also think she is the stronger fighter and will be able to clinch Maverick and wear on her to tire her out. Blanchfield will also likely get key takedowns to help secure the win. This is a close fight but to me, the line should be flipped, so to get Blanchfield at plus-money is a great bet.
The Play: Erin Blanchfield (+115)
Tai Tuivasa (13-3) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-3-1)
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Tuivasa has looked great as of late, as he's coming off a KO win over Greg Hardy and prior to that, knocked out Harry Hunsucker and Stefan Struve. After losing three in a row, he went back to the drawing board and made big changes in his camp which have panned out.
Sakai, meanwhile, is coming off a first-round KO loss to Jair Rozenstruik, which was really was the first punch Rozenstruik landed. Sakai, to me, doesn't do anything great and is there to be hit. I think it is only a matter of time for Tuivasa to land the KO shot, which likely happens early as well.
The Play: Tai Tuivasa to win by KO/TKO (+140)
Sean O'Malley (14-1) vs. Raulian Paiva (21-3) &
Alex Perez (24-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-6)
Weight Class: Bantamweight & Flyweight
Although O'Malley is getting a step up in competition in facing Raulian Paiva, it's still a good style matchup for O'Malley. The fan-favorite bantamweight contender is an amazing striker who lands 8.25 significant strikes per minute, while Paiva absorbs 4.9 significant strikes per minute, which shows he is there to be hit.
Paiva is also a former flyweight, which isn't a good sign, as O'Malley uses his size and reach very well. I don't think Paiva will be able to get inside, and O'Malley will just piece him up and eventually get the KO win.
For my other leg, which is on the early prelims, I like Perez to beat Schnell. Although Perez hasn't fought since November of 2020, this is a good matchup against Schnell. Perez can use his wrestling to just control Schnell and win a decision. Even on the feet, Perez is the better striker, where he should be able to out-volume Schnell and win a dominant decision or perhaps get a late finish.
The Play: O'Malley and Perez parlay (-137)