DraftKings MMA: UFC 198 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC 198 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

The biggest prize in all of MMA is on the line in the headliner of a sold out event from Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil.

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 Championship

(C) Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1) v. Stipe Miocic (14-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Werdum ($10,300), Miocic ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Werdum (-150), Miocic (+130)

This fight was originally due to take place at the end of January, but a back injury suffered by Werdum pushed it back about three and a half months. Riding a six-fight winning streak and a winner of nine of his last ten overall, Werdum is set to make his first title defense since he shockingly destroyed Cain Velasquez for the belt last June. The high altitude of Mexico City also certainly impacted Cain's performance in that fight, but Werdum deserves full marks for taking advantage of the opportunity. The champion is getting up there in age at 38, but he has a remarkably well-rounded game, highlighted by numerous international jiu-jitsu championships. Werdum's easy win over Velasquez was unexpected, but he has always been underrated and we really shouldn't be all that surprised that he has reached the pinnacle of the UFC's heavyweight division. The guy has been remarkably successful despite the fact he has been facing the best fighters in the world for well over a decade.

Miocic has won five of his last six bouts dating back to June 2013 and his only loss during that span was a tough, hard fought five-round war with Junior Dos Santos. One of the best pure athletes in the heavyweight division, Stipe is extremely quick on the feet for a man his size and he does a terrific job of mixing power and speed with his wrestling base.  I expect we will find out rather quickly whether Werdum's performance against Velasquez was a fluke or not. He is going to have a clear advantage in the submission game, but Miocic is strong on his feet and it will be difficult for Werdum to get him to the ground. I think Miocic has more power, and in a division where every guy is so big and strong that one well-placed punch can end a fight at any time, I place a high degree of importance on Miocic's speed, footwork, and athletic ability.

By my count, there are five heavyweights on the UFC roster who could potentially be champion (Werdum, Miocic, Velasquez, Dos Santos & Alistair Overeem). The difference between each of the five men is negligible and on any given night, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see any of those men defeat any of the others. You will never see a dominant champion in the heavyweight division much like Demtrious Johnson in the flyweight division right now. I would pick Werdum in a ground battle and Miocic in a kickboxing match, but it is anyone's guess as to where this fight actually takes place. Given that he is the defending champion, coming off a dominant performance against Velasquez and fighting in his native Brazil, Werdum clearly deserves to be favored, but I can by no means say that he is clearly the better of these two fighters. I think you're far better off taking a shot on Miocic as the underdog

THE PICK: Miocic

Co-Main Event – Middleweight

Jacare Souza (22-4-0, 1NC) v. Vitor Belfort (25-11-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Souza ($10,600), Belfort ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Souza (-320), Belfort (+260)

Jacare's last fight was a split decision loss to Yoel Romero last December, a fight that I (and most UFC fans) felt that Souza won. The loss snapped an eight-fight winning streak for Jacare, and it may very well have cost him an immediate shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship. Belfort finally got his shot at middleweight gold against Chris Weidman nearly a year ago, only to be finished in under three minutes. Vitor bounced back and earned an impressive first-round KO win over Dan Henderson in November, but beating Hendo means nothing these days. Belfort's biggest asset has always been his trademark power, but he is about half the size that he used to be and he has failed multiple performance enhancing drug tests over the years. At age 39, it is more than fair to wonder if the majority of his power has evaporated.

Jacare is no spring chicken at age 36, but his strengths -- his wrestling and submission game -- are as strong as ever. Souza can look awkward at times on the feet, but his striking is competent and he rarely stands in front of his opposition for extended periods of time because he relies on his grappling game so much. Jacare is probably going to get a title shot if he wins, and deservedly so. I would pick both Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman over Souza, but I would expect him to give either of them a competitive fight.

Belfort is behind Michael Bisping in the pecking order for a title shot, and he may find himself behind guys like Robert Whittaker, Gegard Mousasi and Derek Brunson in the not too distant future. Everyone was well aware that Belfort's title shot against Weidman last year was almost certainly his last shot at UFC gold, and an impressive win over a washed up Henderson doesn't change that. This should be a terrific fight between two native sons in their home country, but Jacare has way more left in the tank than Belfort at this point, and has far more to gain in this fight. Unless Belfort can turn back the clock and land one huge shot that leads to a finish, I think Jacare wins this one pretty easily.


Women's Catchweight (140 pounds)

Cris 'Cyborg" Justino (15-1-0, 1NC) v. Leslie Smith (8-6-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Cyborg ($11,600), Smith ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Cyborg (-1700), Smith (+1100)

Before I break this one down, let me state that I give Smith all the credit in the world for accepting this fight. Sure, it was the only way she was going to get a high profile bout and it will result on what will be the biggest payday of her career, but it takes real guts to get into the cage with an animal like Cyborg. Add in the fact that Cyborg will be making her UFC debut in her native Brazil, and Smith deserves even more credit. Smith has spent her entire career defeating women she was supposed to beat and losing once she was tasked with facing better competition. She is tough as nails, but this is a monumental task. Cyborg lost her first pro fight in May 2005 and hasn't lost since. She has spent the past two-plus years beating up overmatched competition in Invicta and the only concern surrounding Cyborg is the fact that she hasn't been challenged in nearly five years. I am still not totally convinced that Cyborg can cut to the 135-pound bantamweight limit on a regular basis, but having her fight a catchweight bout at 140 pounds was a smart idea. Cyborg was a big featherweight, she would be an enormous bantamweight, but I imagine she will look fairly healthy at 140 pounds. The five extra pounds, while it may not seem like a lot, makes a real difference. Massive upsets happen all the time in sports, but foreseeing them is best left to the fortune tellers. I almost never advocate putting someone in your DK lineup with a salary as high as Cyborg's, but she seems like a lock here. The fact she ends all of her fights with the upmost violence is just a bonus.

THE PICK: Cyborg

Light Heavyweight

Mauricio Rua (23-10-0) v. Corey Anderson (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Rua ($9,200), Anderson ($10,200)
Vegas Odds:Rua (+210), Anderson (-250)

Nobody will ever accuse me of being Anderson's biggest supporter. Although the results have been positive (he's 5-1 in his first six UFC fights), I think there is a limited ceiling here. Anderson is an elite wrestler who is very strong, but his standup game is questionable. Despite the obvious lack of depth in the light heavyweight division, I don't see him as a future top-five fighter. Luckily for him, Shogun is toast. Rua is 2-4 in his last six fights and although he is only 34 years of age, he has nothing left in the tank. 19 of Shogun's 23 career wins are via KO/TKO, but he is unable to get to his power these days and he is getting hit far more often than he has in the past. This fight could very easily be boring, and I think the odds are better than even that the vast majority of it consists of Anderson lying on top of Rua. There are more than a handful of light heavyweights that I would pick over Anderson, but Rua isn't one of them. I expect UFC fans will hear considerable calls for Shogun's retirement if he puts forth another lousy effort in the one.
THE PICK: Anderson


Warlley Alves (11-0-0) v. Bryan Barberena (11-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alves ($10,800), Barberena ($8,600)
Vegas Odds:Alves (-650), Barberena (+475)

The former winner of the TUF 3: Brazil middleweight tournament, Alves is 4-0 in the UFC with three of those wins coming via submission. He has fought at welterweight since the show ended. Alves' last three wins have come against Colby Covington, Nordine Taleb and Alan Jouban, all three of which are competent opposition. The 25-year-old is one of the better Brazilian prospects of the last few years. It's unlikely that Alves will ever fight for a title, but he certainly has the potential to be a consistently ranked top-10 welterweight and it would be far from a surprise if he found himself in the top-five one day. His 86-second submission win over the previously undefeated Covington in his last fight in December was particularly impressive.  Barberena's career was going nowhere after a unanimous decision loss to Chad Laprise in April of last year, but he was given a lottery ticket in the form of a FOX main card fight against top prospect Sage Northcutt in January. Barberena took full advantage, earning a second-round submission win via an arm-triangle. I think the odds are far better than 50-50 that the Northcutt fight will go down as the highlight of Bam Bam's career, but if nothing else, he was able to turn the victory into a spot on the main card of a pay-per-view, even if it took an injury for him to get there. I expect Barberena to struggle with what I assume will be constant pressure from Alves, but that was also what I expected to happen in the Northcutt fight and it never materialized. For all the hype that Sage had behind him, I don't think there's any doubt that Alves is a better-mixed martial artist at this point in their respective careers. So while Barberena isn't as big of an underdog in this fight as he was in the Northcutt fight, I actually think this is a tougher fight for him. If Bam Bam can manage to pull the upset once again, the entire MMA world will be forced to take notice. Still, I consider it unlikely.


Demian Maia (22-6-0) v. Matt Brown (22-13-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Maia ($10,500), Brown ($8,900)
Vegas Odds:Maia (-325), Brown (+265)

I am not a huge fan of using one fight with different fighters as a template for another bout, but I expect this fight to unfold eerily similar to the Gunnar Nelson v. Albert Tumenov fight last week. Brown's seven-fight win streak that dated from February 2012 to May 2014 always seemed like a fluke, and once he rose in the rankings and began fighting the best in the world, his athletic limitations were evident. Brown has real power and he is legitimately one of the tougher guys in the company, but his footwork isn't great and he struggles if he is a facing an opponent who isn't willing to stand in front of him. Brown's aggressive style has made him a fan favorite. He also has an accomplished ground game, although he isn't anywhere near Maia's level. Maia looked dreadful in back-to-back performances against Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald back in late 2013 and early 2014, but he has since run off four wins in a row. Maia embarrassed Nelson and Neil Magny in his last two fights. Facing two top-ten welterweights, Maia made them both look like free agent amateurs by leaning on a ground game that can be matched by only a handful of people in the world. The American has a chance to win if the Brazilian is willing to turn this into 15-minute kickboxing match, but that seems unlikely. The most likely result here will be Maia using his ground skills to earn the victory. It's generally bad form to pick against a fourth-degree BJJ black belt, especially when he is facing a below average athlete. I picked the striker in the Nelson/Tumenov fight (and, I was wrong); I am taking the grappler here.

Other Bouts

Women's Strawweight

Thiago Santos (12-3-0) v. Nate Marquardt (37-15-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Santos ($10,900), Marquardt ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Santos (-400), Marquardt (+325)
THE PICK: Santos


John Lineker (26-7-0) v. Rob Font (12-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lineker ($9,700), Font ($9,700)
Vegas Odds: Lineker (-170), Font (+150)

Light Heavyweight

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-7-0) v. Patrick Cummins (8-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries:Nogueira ($9,600), Cummins ($9,800)
Vegas Odds: Nogueira (+215), Cummins (-255)
THE PICK: Cummins


Francisco Trinaldo (19-4-0) v. Yancy Medeiros (12-3-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Trinaldo ($10,000), Medeiros ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Trinaldo (-240), Medeiros (+200)
THE PICK: Trinaldo


Sergio Moraes (10-3-0) v. Luan Chagas (14-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries:Moraes ($10,700), Chagas ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Moraes (-470), Chagas (+375)
THE PICK: Moraes


Renato Moicano (9-0-1) v. Zubaira Tukhugov (18-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Moicano ($9,000), Tukhugov ($10,400)
Vegas Odds: Moicano (+145), Tukhugov (-165)
THE PICK: Tukhugov

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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