This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
T.J. Dillashaw scored arguably the biggest upset of 2014 when he took the bantamweight title from longtime champion Renan Barao. Barao gets his rematch on Saturday in Chicago.
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. Players get a $50,000 budget to select five fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +1 PT
Takedown (TD): +2 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +2 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +3 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +25 PTS
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 – Bantamweight Championship(C) T.J. Dillashaw (12-2-0) v. Renan Barao (35-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dillashaw ($10,900), Barao ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Dillashaw (-220), Barao (+180)
This rematch was supposed to take place in August of last year, but Barao passed out while cutting weight the day before the fight and he had to drop out of the bout. We've had to wait nearly a year to get the second installment. Barao's loss to Dillashaw last year was his first since his professional debut way back in April 2005. He had a 22-fight winning streak heading into the bout. He was long considered to be one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. That made Dillashaw's performance in their first matchup even more remarkable. The Team Alpha Male product landed 169 total strikes to Barao's 68. He won the significant strike bout by a count of 140-64. Barao couldn't come close to matching Dillashaw's striking speed in a fight that was spent almost entirely on the feet. I don't think Dillashaw is THAT much better than Barao, but he seems like a bad matchup for the Brazilian. Barao has to do something to try to turn this rematch into something other than a boxing match. The problem is that Dillashaw has terrific takedown defense and it's going to be difficult for Barao to get the fight to the ground. I think Dillashaw will win, but I would by no means be shocked if Barao somehow found a way to steal the rematch. He is simply too good to not make the necessary adjustments to make this a closer fight than the first. I think Barao's DK salary is entirely reasonable and I would seriously consider using him.
THE PICK: Dillashaw
Co-Main Event – Women's BantamweightMiesha Tate (16-5-0) v. Jessica Eye (11-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Tate ($10,700), Eye ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Tate (-190), Eye (+165)
It's been long established that Tate can't beat women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, but she can handle pretty much anyone else in the division. She has fought nearly every opponent that the bantamweight division has to offer during her career, including Rousey, Sara McMann, Cat Zingano, Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen. Other than Rousey, Tate may have the best submission skills of any woman in the division. Eye is more of a brawler. And while she's a pretty big name, she's only 1-1 (1NC) in her first three UFC bouts. I just don't think Eye has the all-around game to defeat Tate. She may have a chance if this turns into a pure boxing match, but Tate is a good wrestler and Eye has exhibited poor takedown defense in the past. Eye has also shown a tendency to be reckless. You can't do that against someone with the experience of Tate.
THE PICK: Tate
LightweightEdson Barboza (15-3-0) v. Paul Felder (10-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Barboza ($9,700), Felder ($9,700)
Vegas Odds: Barboza (-125), Felder (+105)
A longtime UFC veteran, Barboza is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Michael Johnson in February, during which he was surprisingly passive. Barboza is at his best when he's aggressive and using a ton of kicks. Felder is replacing Myles Jury, who had to withdraw due to injury. Undefeated as a professional, Felder is coming off a second-round TKO win over Danny Castillo in January. Felder is a solid striker, but the standup advantage has to go to Barboza, who has a highly decorated Muay Thai background. Felder should be able to do some damage if he can get the fight to the mat, but his wrestling game during his first two UFC fights has been suspect. While Barboza has faced some of the better fighters in the game, this will be a big step up in competition for Felder. I'm not entirely convinced that Felder's undefeated record is not the result of facing inferior fighters.
THE PICK: Barboza
LightweightJoe Lauzon (24-11-0) v. Takanori Gomi (35-10-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Lauzon ($11,100), Gomi ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Lauzon (-250), Gomi (+210)
This has Fight of the Night written all over it. Lauzon has long been a fan favorite. He always puts on an entertaining fight, and his 13 post-fight bonuses are the most in UFC history. Lauzon's ground skills are amongst the best in the game. 17 of his career wins are by submission. Gomi, at 36 years old and with 46 professional fights under his belt, is one of the true veterans of the sport. He relies on his power and aggressive striking style. Lauzon's biggest problem has always been that he takes too much punishment. You can beat him up on the feet and that seems like a potential problem against a guy who is as active as Gomi is. I expect Lauzon to take a lot of punishment, but I also expect him to win. I think it's clear that Gomi's best days are behind him. You can probably say the same about Lauzon, but I think he has more left in the tank. That being said, Gomi's DK salary is low enough that I'd seriously consider him as a flier to fill out my roster.
THE PICK: Lauzon
Light HeavyweightGian Villante (13-5-0) v. Tom Lawlor (9-5-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Villante ($8,600), Lawlor ($10,800)
Vegas Odds: Villante (-225), Lawlor (+185)
I think there's a decent chance that the above DK salaries are a misprint and should be reversed. Yet at the time of this writing, this is what is currently listed. If they aren't a misprint, I would put Villante in my lineup immediately and start running. Villante and Lawlor have both had inconsistent careers, but the big difference between the two is that Villante has far more natural athletic ability. He went to Hofstra University on a full football scholarship and he tried out for several NFL teams. His wrestling is probably the strength of his game, but he never uses it. Villante's biggest problem is that he gasses out extremely quickly. He looked a bit better in his last fight against Corey Anderson, but prior to that, it had gotten to the point that if he didn't get a stoppage victory in the first round, he had no chance to win the fight because he was too tired. Lawlor is returning to light heavyweight after a long run at middleweight. He has long been known more for his unusual personality as opposed to his skills in the cage. Lawlor's most recognizable moment came when he faced a then unknown Chris Weidman in November 2011. Weidman choked him out in 127 seconds. He hasn't fought since April 2013. Villante's cardio issues may make this a closer fight than it should be, but it's awful hard to see Lawlor being able to do enough to match his athletic ability.
THE PICK: Villante
LightweightJim Miller (24-6-0, 1NC) v. Danny Castillo (17-8-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Miller ($10,100), Castillo ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Miller (-135), Castillo (+115)
Miller wasn't really competitive in his last fight against Beneil Dariush in April, and he lost his last fight prior that to Donald Cerrone. Miller has essentially turned into a mat specialist at this point in his career. It doesn't always lend itself to an entertaining fight, but it's how Miller has to go about his business these days. Castillo, a Team Alpha Male product, has lost his last two fights and has failed miserably whenever he faces better competition. Miller has struggled lately, but he qualifies as better competition. Castillo is a good wrestler and Miller doesn't have the best takedown defense in the world, so that figures to be Castillo's game plan. If there's any fight on the card that has a shot to go the distance, this is it. Castillo trains with a great camp, but he isn't a great fight. The 35-year old may be sent packing if he loses this one, which I think is a real possibility. I feel confident in Miller -- both his DK salary and the Vegas odds are entirely reasonable.
THE PICK: Miller
WelterweightKenny Robertson (15-3-0) v. Ben Saunders (18-6-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Robertson ($10,000), Saunders ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Robertson (-120), Saunders (+100)
THE PICK: Saunders
BantamweightEddie Wineland (21-10-1) v. Bryan Caraway (19-8-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Wineland ($9,900), Caraway ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Wineland (-140), Caraway (+120)
THE PICK: Wineland
LightweightDaron Cruickshank (16-6-0, 1NC) v. James Krause (21-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cruickshank ($10,300), Krause ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Cruickshank (-150), Krause (+130)
THE PICK: Cruickshank
LightweightRamsey Nijem (10-4-0) v. Andrew Holbrook (9-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Nijem ($9,900), Holbrook ($9,600)
Vegas Odds: Nijem (-130), Holbrook (+110)
THE PICK: Nijem
Women's BantamweightJessamyn Duke (3-2-0, 1NC) v. Elizabeth Phillips (4-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Duke ($8,800), Phillips ($10,600)
Vegas Odds: Duke (+155), Phillips (-175)
THE PICK: Phillips
WelterweightZak Cummings (17-4-0) v. Dominique Steele (13-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cummings ($11,200), Steele ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Cummings (-250), Steele (+210)
THE PICK: Cummings