DraftKings MMA: UFC Croatia Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Croatia Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Two of the top heavyweights in the world hope to steal the show as the UFC heads to Croatia for the first time.

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:

Moves Scoring
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

Scoring Notes
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 – Heavyweight

Ben Rothwell (36-9-0) v. Junior Dos Santos (17-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Rothwell ($9,700), Dos Santos ($9,700)
Vegas Odds: Rothwell (+110), Dos Santos (-130)

This worst part of this sport is seeing an aging fighter hang on too long and fall apart at the end of the their career. Dos Santos is still just 32 years old, but it's fair to wonder if we will ever again see the fighter who knocked out Cain Velasquez to win the UFC heavyweight title back In November 2011. JDS is 2-3 in these last five fights, with two of those losses coming against Velasquez and one against Alistair Overeem in his last fight in December. The vast majority of Dos Santos' success has been the result of two things: huge power, and an iron chin. There is no real reason to believe that the power has gone anywhere. JDS is a hard worker and he's young enough that his athletic ability shouldn't be slipping at his age. His chin on the other hand, is a big question mark. In many of the fights that he won, JDS was able to take a beating, survive, and then somehow find a way to win. He didn't look like the same guy in the Overeem fight. On the other side of things, everyone continues to write Rothwell off, but he just keeps winning big fights. Rothwell has won four fights in a row, including wins over Overeem, Josh Barnett and Matt Mitrione. Big and strong, Rothwell doesn't look the part of a potential champion, but he continues to defy the odds. This is a must-win fight for both men. Losing four out of six would leave JDS out in the cold. There is suddenly enough depth in the heavyweight division that he will find himself tumbling down the rankings if he loses to Rothwell. Big Ben, on the other hand, has worked tremendously hard to get in this position, but it will mean little if he loses this one. Even with a win, JDS probably is at least another two bouts away from a title shot. Rothwell could conceivably get the next chance if he is able to finish Dos Santos impressively. We have seen enough from both men recently that I have a hard time picking Dos Santos. He has been fighting the best in the world for more than seven years, but he just doesn't look like the same guy who was once UFC champion. Rothwell is on a roll and he deserves to be favored. This is a close fight, but JDS is going to have to prove to me once again that he can beat a top fighter before I pick him in another big bout..

THE PICK: Rothwell

Co-Main Event – Heavyweight

Derrick Lewis (14-4-0, 1NC) v. Gabriel Gonzaga (17-10-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lewis ($9,100), Gonzaga ($10,300)
Vegas Odds: Lewis (-140), Gonzaga (+120)

Jared Rosholt was released from the UFC last week despite the fact he was 6-2 with the company and has a win over Stefan Struve. The reason why: he is painfully boring to watch fight. While Lewis may not always come out on the winning side of things, he is always entertaining. The Black Beast has been in seven UFC bouts and every single one of them has resulted in either a KO or TKO. Lewis is 5-2 in those seven bouts. He always attempts to blitz his opponents and if he connects with one of his huge right hands, that opponent is going to sleep. Gonzaga has been around an awful long time (he's been with the company for more than a decade) and has the advantage of having faced far better competition. Gonzaga snapped a three-fight losing streak in his last bout against Konstantin Erokhin in December, a snoozer of a unanimous decision win for the Brazilian. This fight is mind-numbingly easy to break down. If the two stand and trade: Lewis should have a clear advantage. If the fight gets out of the first round and/or turns into anything other than a brawl, the edge goes to Gonzaga. I'm going to take Lewis, especially at that price, but who really knows what will happen in these fights with aging, marginally talented heavyweights?


Francis Ngannou (6-1-0) v. Curtis Blaydes (5-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Ngannou ($9,800), Blaydes ($9,600)
Vegas Odds: Ngannou (-135), Blaydes (+115)

Making his debut back in mid-December, Ngannou hammered a completely overmatched Luis Enrique, before finally earning the stoppage win mid-way through the second-round. Ngannou stuffed four of five takedowns attempts, although he spent nearly an entire round on his back the one time that he was taken down. Blaydes is undefeated in his pro career. He earned TKO/KO wins in all five of his victories. This card is full of fighters who even the most hardcore MMA fans have little to no information on. Fantasy owners are going to have to take a chance on one or two of them. Ngannou showed some real power in his UFC debut, but I'm worried that he could spend an extended period of time on his back against a guy who is bigger than he is. Blaydes seems like a pretty decent play as an underdog here, but I acknowledge that he could just as easily get blitzed in under a minute.
THE PICK: Blaydes


Timothy Johnson (9-2-0) v. Marcin Tybura (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson ($9,900), Tybura ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (+155), Tybura (-175)

Johnson looked great in his UFC debut against Shamil Abdurakhimov last April before dropping a unanimous decision to Jared Rosholt in August. Rosholt's tendency to draw other fighters into boring fights (it cost him is job, after all), results in me giving Johnson a bit of a pass there. Johnson had an eight-fight winning streak stopped in his loss to Rosholt. Tybura makes his living on the mat, which is strange to say for a guy who is listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds. Six of Tybura's 13 career wins have come via submission. Johnson is massive and I like his chances if he can manage to stay off of his back. Tybura is a guy to keep an eye on because the amount of heavyweights with legitimate submission skills these days are in the single digits, but I need to see him do it at the highest level.
THE PICK: Johnson

Other Bouts

Light Heavyweight

Igor Pokrajac (25-12-0, 1NC) v. Jan Blachowicz (18-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Pokrajac ($8,800), Blachowicz ($10,600)
Vegas Odds: Pokrajac (+300), Blachowicz (-360)
THE PICK: Blachowiczbr>

Women's Strawweight

Maryna Moroz (6-1-0) v. Christina Stanciu (5-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Moroz ($11,200), Stanciu ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Moroz (-185), Stanciu (+160)


Nicolas Dalby (14-0-1) v. Zak Cummings (18-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dalby ($9,000), Cummings ($10,400)
Vegas Odds: Dalby (-170), Cummings (+150)


Ian Entwistle (9-2-0) v. Alejandro Perez (17-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Taisumov ($11,400), Hadzovic ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Taisumov (-300), Hadzovic (+250)
THE PICK: Taisumov


Filip Pejic (10-1-0) v. Damian Stasiak (9-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries:Pejic ($9,400), Stasiak ($10,000)
Vegas Odds: Pejic (+105), Stasiak (-125)


Rob Whiteford (12-3-0) v. Lucas Martins (15-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Whiteford ($9,200), Martins ($10,200)
Vegas Odds: Whiteford (-105), Martins (-115)
THE PICK: Whiteford


Jared Cannonier (7-1-0) v. Cyril Asker (7-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cannonier ($10,700), Asker ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Cannonier (-155), Asker (+135)
THE PICK: Cannonier


Alessio Di Chirico (9-0-0) v. Bojan Velickovic (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Di Chirico ($8,900), Velickovic ($10,500)
Vegas Odds: Di Chirico (+145), Velickovic (-165)
THE PICK: Velickovic

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jon Litterine plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: JLitterine.
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Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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