This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The next challenger for the UFC Bantamweight Championship may very well emerge from the main event of Saturday's card in Portland.
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:
(Please note that DraftKings has altered their scoring system. The new point values are listed below and the rosters will now expand from 5 to 6 fighters).
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
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
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 – BantamweightJohn Lineker (28-7-0) v. John Dodson (19-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lineker ($8,100), Dodson ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Lineker (+110), Dodson (-130)
One of the most successful fighters in UFC flyweight history, Dodson could never figure out the riddle that is pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson, and he decided to move up to bantamweight where he debuted against Manny Gamburyan in April. He knocked out The Anvil in 37 seconds and now appears primed to make a run at 135 pounds. Dodson's biggest advantage over his opponents at flyweight was his insane striking power. It may not have quite the same impact in the higher weight class, but the Gamburyan fight proved that it's still more than enough to knock out a tough opponent. Dodson's footwork remains elite, which should help him against bigger opponents.
Lineker tried to make a title run at flyweight, but he struggled to make weight on a consistent basis and has since returned to bantamweight. He has won three straight at 135 pounds and five consecutive fights overall. His last bout was a vicious first-round KO win over Michael McDonald in July. Lineker doesn't tend to be as aggressive as some of the other smaller fighters on the UFC roster, but as soon as he lands one hard shot, he goes for the kill. Punches that on the surface appear to be fairly routine cause massive damage due to the power Lineker possesses in his hands.
It's rare that a main event fight features two guys who tend to employ virtually identical styles. Neither man has ever been knocked out, which is crazy given how many fights they have both had. Lineker has the advantage of being the bigger man and the more precise striker, but I think it's fair to say that Dodson may very well have more one-punch knockout power. This is basically a pick 'em, which is what the DraftKings salaries and odds state. I'm going with Dodson because I think he's the better athlete of the two and that his footwork may make a difference, but there is little separating these two men.
THE PICK: Dodson
Co-Main Event – LightweightWill Brooks (18-1-0) v. Alex Oliveira (14-3-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Brooks ($9,000), Oliveira ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Brooks (-280), Oliveira (+240)
The UFC is generally very good in regards to their matchmaking skills, but this fight makes zero sense. Brooks, the former Bellator Lightweight Champion, has won nine fights in a row and will turn 30 years old next week. Even though this is just his second UFC bout (he took a unanimous decision from Ross Pearson in July), he has been one of the best 155-pounders in the world for years, and a bout against a fringe top-15 fighter in Oliveira is negligence. An American Top Team product, Brooks is tough as nails and is the owner of an impressive all-around game. He has four career wins by submission and has been stopped just once in his career. He may not have any one elite trait to fall back on, but his game doesn't have a single weakness.
Oliveira has bounced between welterweight and lightweight, with most of his bouts coming on short notice. His is 4-1 in his last five fights, although the one setback was in the biggest spot of his career: a main event fight against Donald Cerrone in February when Oliveira was submitted in less than three minutes. Oliveira has power, but he can't come close to matching the speed or athletic ability of Brooks. For all of the Brazilian's success with the company, he has never beaten anyone of note in his entire career, let alone his UFC run.
Brooks didn't look great in the Pearson fight, but he has quite a pedigree and isn't getting any younger. He deserved a better opponent than Oliveira. Perhaps the UFC brass is hoping for an impressive win from Ill Will in hopes of pushing him into a title contention fight immediately, but that's a risky move. I certainly think he will win, but it may have to be an impressive finish in order for Brooks to get a fight against the high-caliber opponent that he is seeking.
THE PICK: Brooks
FeatherweightHacran Dias (23-4-1) v. Andre Fili (15-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dias ($8,500), Fili ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Dias (-175), Fili (+155)
This fight was originally supposed to be Dias v. rising star Brian Ortega, but T-City was forced to withdraw due to injury and Fili agreed to step in. Fili isn't the talent that Ortega is, but he's a better-than-average late replacement. Fili, a Team Alpha Male product, has seen his UFC career marred by inconsistency. He has rotated wins and losses over his first five fights with the company, although the two losses have come against Yair Rodriguez and Max Holloway, two of the best young fighters in the sport. Fili's greatest asset is his long frame. At 5-foot-11, he is going to have a height advantage over just about any featherweight he faces. He is a good athlete, but his technique can get a bit loose at times, something that is surprising considering the team he trains with. The 26-year-old is a good fighter, but he's been too inconsistent in his career to project him as a top contender one day.
Dias has long been one of the more underrated featherweights on the UFC roster, but he has also struggled massively against better competition. The biggest difference between Dias and Fili is that Dias has one elite skill on his arsenal: his submission game. A BJJ black belt with nine career submission wins under his belt, Dias has a wicked rear-naked choke, which he has used on numerous occasions to end fights. I don't think he can match Fili's striking ability, but he tends to fighter smarter than his opponent.
Dias is currently a top-15 (No. 12) featherweight according to UFC.com, and while that may be his ultimate ceiling, I don't think we will ever see Fili ranked that high. This sport is all about being sharp every time you step into the cage and Fili has shown no indication that he is able to do that.
THE PICK: Dias
MiddleweightNate Marquardt (37-16-2) v. Tamdan McCrory (14-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Marquardt ($8,000), McCrory ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Marquardt (+190), McCrory (-230)
Desperately in need of a win to save his job, Marquardt knocked out CB Dollaway in December. He was back to his old tricks in May, however, succumbing to knockout at the hands of Thiago Santos. Nate the Great is 2-6 in his last eight fights dating back to January 2013. He has no chin, no power, and his wrestling game has fallen off a cliff, which is not surprising when you take into account that Marquardt turned 37 in April. His career is almost certainly going to end badly.
McCrory is 1-1 in his second stint in the UFC, having been KOed by the underrated Krzysztof Jotko in June. McCrory has pulled off some beautiful submissions over the years, and he has enough power to keep you honest. McCrory offers little from a ceiling perspective, but it would be pretty sad if he didn't have enough to defeat Marquardt.
There are a few fighters in the sport, and Marquardt is one of them, that I can't see picking to win a fight under any circumstance at this point in their careers. Sure, maybe he can land one lucky shot and pick up a knockout win, but his movements have slowed so much that it's impossible to expect any improvement moving forward from a technical perspective. As I mentioned earlier, I'd be shocked if Marquardt's career didn't end badly. He doesn't seem to know when to step aside..
THE PICK: McCrory
WelterweightJosh Burkman (29-13-1, 1NC) V. Zak Ottow (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Burkman ($8,900), Ottow ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Burkman (-245), Ottow (+205)
THE PICK: Burkman
FlyweightLouis Smolka (11-1-0) v. Brandon Moreno (11-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Smolka ($9,400), Moreno ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Smolka (-470), Moreno (+375)
THE PICK: Smolka
Light HeavyweightHenrique da Silva (11-0-0) v. Joachim Christensen (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries:da Silva ($9,200), Christensen ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: da Silva (-125), Christensen (+105)
THE PICK: da Silva
HeavyweightShamil Abdurakhimov (16-3-0) v. Walt Harris (8-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Abdurakhimov ($7,400), Harris ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Abdurakhimov (-125), Harris (+105)
THE PICK: Harris
WelterweightJussier Formiga (18-4-0) v. Dustin Ortiz (15-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Formiga ($9,200), Ortiz ($10,200)
Vegas Odds: Formiga (-200), Ortiz (+170)
THE PICK: Formiga
WelterweightKeita Nakamura (32-7-2, 1NC) v. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (15-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Nakamura ($8,400), Zaleski dos Santos ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Nakamura (-135), Zaleski dos Santos (+115)
THE PICK: Zaleski dos Santos
Light HeavyweightJonathan Wilson (7-1-0) v. Ion Cutelaba (11-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Wilson ($7,500), Cutelaba ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Wilson (+140), Cutelaba (-160)
THE PICK: Wilson
HeavyweightCody East (12-2-0) v. Curtis Blaydes (5-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: East ($7,900), Blaydes ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: East (+200), Blaydes (-240)
THE PICK: Blaydes
Women's BantamweightKelly Faszholz (3-1-0) v. Ketlen Vieira (6-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Faszholz ($8,600), Vieira ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Faszholz (-120), Vieira (+100)
THE PICK: Vieira