This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
After a long layoff from the UFC calendar, we're officially back this Saturday in Las Vegas.
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 $333k UFC 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 - Featherweight
One of the UFC's true breakout stars over the past 18-plus months, Chikadze enters having won all seven of his UFC bouts and nine straight overall. His last three wins (Edson Barboza, Cub Swanson, Jamey Simmons) all came via knockout, and each earned Chikadze a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. I had my doubts, but he's clearly legit and at a minimum, a top-ten featherweight at this point. Even in a loaded division, the 33-year-old has quickly made a name for himself as a high-end talent with the ability to finish his competition.
With all due respect to an aging Barboza, Kattar is the best opponent Chikadze will have faced to date. The Massachusetts native has been inconsistent of late, sporting a 2-2 record in his past four fights. Included in that run are wins over Dan Ige and Jeremy Stephens and losses to Zabit Magomedsharipov and Max Holloway. The Holloway fight – Kattar's most recent – took place nearly a year to the day of this event. In that fight, Kattar absorbed 445 significant strikes and somehow managed to see the final bell. He probably could have used two years off considering the beating he took, but that simply wasn't an option.
I expect this to be a kickboxing match. Neither man averages even half a takedown per 15 minutes. Chikadze is an inch taller and enters with a two-inch reach edge.
You have to toss Kattar's defensive striking numbers out the window because they are completely skewed by the damage from the Holloway fight. That said, Kattar is the type of guy who will eat a strike in order to land two of his own, and that strategy is almost always counter productive when the competition level you're going up against rises.
This is one of those cases where I like Chikadze to win, but think Kattar is being seriously undervalued from a DK perspective. He's a high-level striker and has proven he can take a beating, which should allow this fight to go into the championship rounds and thus give Kattar a chance of landing some offense of his own. It probably won't be enough, but I don't think Giga is a stone lock, and this is the rare fight in which I wouldn't hate a stack if you are the type to make a ton of lineups. I expect a lot of action and both men to do their fair share of damage.
THE PICK: Chikadze
Co-Main Event - Women's Flyweight
This is a rematch of a November 2019 fight which Chookagian won via unanimous decision. It should be noted that Maia missed weight by 1.2 pounds for that bout.
Chookagian is fresh off back-to-back unanimous decision wins over Viviane Araujo and Cynthia Calvillo. While her 9-4 record with the company is quite impressive, a deeper dive into the numbers reveal some significant concerns. All nine of those victories have come via decision, and Chookagian has traditionally struggled when tasked with facing better competition. Maia may not fall into that category, but Katlyn's one-dimensional boxing style of attack has left her vulnerable in big fights. She has no secondary means of offense despite typically being significantly taller than most every opponent she faces. Chookagian has Maia by five inches.
A long time member of the Invicta roster, Maia has gone 4-3 in the UFC. She has also missed weight twice in those seven fights, so there are significant concerns here beyond the Brazilian's mediocre record. Maia offers significantly more on the mat than Chookagian, but she's never been able to get to that part of her game very often. She has just a single submission win under the UFC banner, which came over Joanne Wood via armbar in August 2020.
The first fight came down Maia's complete inability to land with any consistency on the feet. She connected on just 58-of-231 significant strikes, good for a woeful 25 percent clip. A stand-up affair plays right into the hands of the longer Chookagian.
I look for every chance I can to fade Chookagian, and this looks like another reasonable opportunity. To give you an idea of Katyln's overall ineffectiveness, she averages just 54.3 DK points per fight. On the flip side, Maia averages 58.3. So in short, Chookagian isn't of any use to fantasy owners even if she's winning. That makes Maia an easy pick, although I would try to ignore this fight all together on DK.
THE PICK: Maia
In dire straits following back-to-back defeats to current UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno and underrated contender Alexandre Pantoja, Royval finds himself in a must-win situation here. A former LFA Flyweight Champion, Royval surprised many with submission victories over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France to begin his UFC run, but he's a fighter who joined the company with little pedigree, and it seems highly unlikely that he will get the benefit of the doubt moving forward if he comes up short here.
Bontorin is no easy mark, however. His UFC record is barely above .500 (3-2), but he has victories over a pair of solid fighters in Matt Schnell and Raulian Paiva under his belt, and Bontorin possesses all-world mat skills. 11 of his 17 career wins have come via submission, with just three via knockout. In short, Bontorin is going to struggle in a prolonged kickboxing match, but he's so good on the ground that he has a chance in most every fight if he is simply able to just hold his own on the feet.
There is a big size differential here in Royval's favor. He's four inches taller than Bontorin, although he enters with just an inch edge in the reach department. I'm not sure Royval has the striking arsenal to take full advantage of the edge, but it's something to monitor.
Fights between two submission specialists are notoriously difficult to predict and this one is no exception.
My first thought was a slight edge to Royval because I think he fights with a tab more physicality than Bontorin, and I'm sticking to that, but his DK price tag seems too high. I'd feel much more comfortable if he was in the $8300-$8400 range. Bontorin has clear underdog value as a punt play in a fight in which there doesn't appear to be a ton of separation either way.
THE PICK: Royval
The ultimate definition of roster depth, Collier has alternated wins and losses in his first nine UFC bouts. It's a mind-numbing stat, and one that if it continues to hold true, should result in Collier walking away victorious on Saturday, as he is coming off a split decision defeat to Carlos Felipe last June. Collier is actually a pretty decent all-around fighter with some power in his hands and a clue on the mat, but he lacks high-end athleticism, and that has often been his downfall. I expect his inconsistent ways to continue regardless of what happens in this one.
Another fighter in a certain must-win situation, Sherman has lost two straight, both via unanimous decision, to Parker Porter and Andrei Arlovski. This is Sherman's second stint with the company, and all told, he owns a 3-7 record. Sherman looks the part of a potential impact heavyweight, but he offers nothing offensively outside of his power, his chin is questionable and his stand-up defense is non-existent. Simply put, you can count on one hand the number of fighters who win consistently employing Sherman's style of fighting. The list consists of Justin Gaethje and virtually no one else.
The fact Sherman is only a +110 underdog speaks to both his power and how the Vegas oddsmakers expect this to be an all-out slug fest. They're usually correct, and I would wager they get this one right.
Sherman can actually win that type of fight, which makes him somewhat intriguing, but he's going to have to land first because he has displayed zero ability to make in-fight adjustments and handle pressure. I ultimately just think Collier has more to offer, and $8,500 is a reasonable price for him, as well.
THE PICK: Collier
Brian Kelleher (23-12-0) v. TBD (Likely Kevin Croom)
DK Salaries: Kelleher ($7,500), Croom (TBD)
Vegas Odds: Kelleher (TBD), Croom (TBD)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: TBD
Women's Strawweight Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-3-0) v. Vanessa Demopoulos (6-4-0) DK Salaries: Juarez ($8,000), Demopoulous ($8,200) Vegas Odds: Juarez (+110), Demopoulous (-130) Odds to Finish: TBD THE PICK: Demopoulous