This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Manchester's favorite son returns home as he gets set to make his first historic defense of the UFC Middleweight Championship.
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 – Middleweight Championship(C) Michael Bisping (30-7-0) v. Dan Henderson (32-14-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bisping ($9,100), Henderson ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Bisping (-230), Henderson (+190)
Hear me out for this minor rant: There is no logical reason whatsoever that this fight is happening. Bisping deserves all the credit in the world for stunning Luke Rockhold to win the UFC Middleweight Championship in early June. He pulled a massive upset and he deserves to be rewarded for it. That being said, there is no justification for having Henderson in a title fight at this point in his career. I know Henderson handed Bisping the most vicious defeat of his career (and one of the most vicious in MMA history, really), but that was back at UFC 100 in July 2009. There are a countless number of quality title contenders in the UFC middleweight division and giving the 46-year-old Hendo a rematch, even if it is to allow Bisping to avenge the most painful loss of his career, is just wrong. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's break down the fight....
As Rockhold openly admitted, I think it is pretty clear he took Bisping lightly in their title fight. The champ has been around forever, his cardio remains elite, and if you give him an opportunity, he will beat you. Still, the end result of the Rockhold fight was a fluke. If Rockhold and Bisping fight 10 times, Rockhold probably wins at least nine of them. But Bisping won the only one that mattered. Bisping's greatest attribute at this point in his career is his toughness. Despite the loss to Henderson in the first fight, Bisping has only been knocked out one other time in his entire career. Even at age-37, he is the very definition of durable.
I've been calling for Henderson to retire for a while now and one win over a washed up Hector Lombard isn't going to change that. He is 3-6 in his last nine fights, and although he retains the power to knock out any man on earth, the odds of Hendo getting into position to land such a shot have decreased infinitely from the prime of his career. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he knocks out Bisping again if one hard punch connects, but it's anyone 's guess when one of those punches will land. Considering the depth of the UFC's middleweight division, it's scary to think that Henderson is one well-placed shot away from being champion.
Speculation is that Henderson plans on retiring after Saturday's bout no matter what the result. That would be a wise decision. He is being given his shot to go out on top. Bisping's durability alone makes him the favorite in this fight and my pick, but Henderson is never a terrible DK play because an "H-Bomb" can end any fight in an instant. Win or lose, I'd be shocked if Henderson saw the final bell.
THE PICK: Bisping
Co-Main Event - MiddleweightVitor Belfort (25-12-0) v. Gegard Mousasi (39-6-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Belfort ($6,800), Mousasi ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Belfort (+275), Mousasi (-335)
Belfort has earned a reputation as one of the top middleweights in the world, but the truth of the matter is that he has just two wins in the last three and a half years, and they both came against Henderson. Not only is he 39 years of age, but he's about half the size he used to be (you can form your own conclusions as to why that's the case). Belfort still has the ability to be effective in short spurts, but he can't keep up an aggressive pace for any extended period of time. If he doesn't score an early knockout, it's hard to see him keeping up with top fighters over the course of any fight.
Mousasi has been one of the best and most underrated fighters in the sport for a long time. The former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion is known for his casual demeanor, something that has undoubtedly impacted his marketability over the course of his career. Mousasi has 20 career wins by knockout and 12 by submission. He's a remarkably well-rounded fighter. It's a testament to how much depth is in the UFC's middleweight division that Mousasi is currently ranked outside of the top-5 -- he's that good.
Belfort tends to be aggressive, while Mousasi tends to be passive, so something has to give in this fight. As long as Mousasi is able to survive Belfort's initial flurry, he should be fine. Gegard has always been a very smart fighter, and while it isn't always fun to watch, he is good at tailoring his game plans to his opposition in order to pick up a win. This figures to be Belfort's last stand in terms of him having fights that impact the UFC Middleweight Championship picture. He just isn't the same fighter that we saw score so many impressive victories over the years.
THE PICK: Mousasi
Light HeavyweightOvince Saint Preux (19-8-0) v. Jimi Manuwa (15-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Saint Preux ($8,400), Manuwa ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Saint Preux (-155), Manuwa (+135)
Although OSP's UFC run has included some quality victories and an impressive 7-3 overall record, his struggles against top fighters in the UFC's light heavyweight division have severely hampered his outlook moving forward. No one expected Saint Preux to defeat Jon Jones on short notice in his last fight in April, but his performances against Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira were particularly concerning. OSP is a great athlete, a good wrestler, and has a lot of power, but he has shown nothing that would lead you to believe that he can challenge the top guys in the division. OSP is currently ranked as the No. 5 light heavyweight in the UFC, but there is a gigantic gap between himself and the four guys above him.
Manuwa has two losses in his entire career: one to Alexander Gustafsson and the other to Rumble Johnson. He has handled all of his other opponents with relative ease, which puts him in a similar position to Saint Preux. Manuwa does a terrific job of mixing different types of strikes into his arsenal at all time. He will throw punches, kicks, knees, or anything else that he can think of, depending on the particular situation. His power is legitimate, but there isn't much else to his game. Poster Boy is a purple belt in BJJ, but he has just a single career win by submission, and that came in his fourth pro fight in February 2009. If he isn't able to land impactful strikes against OSP, he's going to have a problem.
Both of these guys have probably just about reached their ceilings in terms of the rankings, which means OSP (No. 5) is probably a better fighter than Manuwa (No. 8), although I see little difference between the two men in terms of ability. Given their DraftKings salaries, I think Manuwa is the smarter play, even if I don't think he will win. His aggressive style plays well in DFS terms. It's a bit of a strange fight to try to breakdown. It may be best to stay away from it completely.
THE PICK: Saint Preux
HeavyweightStefan Struve (31-8-0) v. Daniel Omielanczuk (19-5-1, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Struve ($8,500), Omielanczuk ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Struve (-175), Omielanczuk (+155)
Struve caught a break when his original opponent, Ruslan Magomedov, was forced to withdraw due to a staph infection. I wouldn't have picked Struve to with that fight, but I'm picking him to win this one. The Skyscraper's career has been derailed by a serious injuries, mostly notably a serious heart issue that left many wondering if Struve would ever be able to compete again. He hasn't looked like the same guy since returning to full-time action in December 2014, but this is a fighter who has a TKO win over current UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic on his resume. The game plan for Struve is the same as ever: use his crazy size and length to pepper his opponents with strikes from distance. Struve also has 16 career wins via submission, although it's the striking that sets up everything else. The length of his arms and legs make him an immediate threat to end the fight any time he is on the mat.
Omielanzcuk is technically 4-2 in the UFC, although the four wins have come against nobodies and the two losses came against moderately decent opponents in Anthony Hamilton and Jared Rosholt. His biggest issue is that he's both short (6-0) and light for the heavyweight division. Omielanczuk's great asset is his submission game, but I don't see how he can grab a hold of Struve given the size differential between the two men. Omielanczuk is giving up a foot in height and 10.5 inches in reach to his opponent.
I have serious doubts about Struve's durability, and I wouldn't be picking him against numerous fighters in the heavyweight division (Magomedov, for example), but I think his length will be enough to handle Omielanczuk. I don't see how Omielanczuk can get inside against the 7-foot tall Struve. As long as Struve stays active, and by that I don't mean throwing strikes to hurt his opponent, I mean throwing strikes to keep his opponent at distance, I think he wins fairly easily.
THE PICK: Struve
FeatherweightMirsad Bektic (10-0-0) v. Russell Doane (14-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bektic ($9,700), Doane ($6,500)
Vegas Odds: Bektic (-800), Doane (+500)
The originally scheduled fight between Bektic and Arnold Allen would have been terrific, but having Doane step in on five days notice drains much of the energy from the bout. It's been far too long see we have seen Bektic, one of the top prospects in the sport, inside the Octagon. The American Top Team product last fought in May 2015, a TKO win over Lucas Martins. He was due to face Tatsuya Kawajiri in December, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. He's been on the sidelines ever since. It's highly unusual to see a 25-year-old kid with the elite all-around game that Bektic possess. His ability to win a fight in numerous different ways is remarkable. The term "top prospect" is overused in this sport (and every sport), but Bektic truly is one.
Doane deserves credit for having the stones to step in on such short notice to face an elite prospect such as Bektic, but his performances of late have put him in a position in which he was forced to accept this fight. Doane won his first two UFC fights, but he has lost three-straight since and he doesn't have a win since July 2014. Doane posseses a halfway decent ground game, but he brings little else to the table. He was on the verge of being released, so taking this fight against Bektic in hopes of pulling off the massive upset was a smart play.
Bektic isn't well known amongst casual MMA fans, but much of that has been due to inactivity. He's a lock to become a future star if he can manage to stay healthy. I understand that there aren't many options on such short notice, but this is an underwhelming fight to say the least, even with an elite talent such as Bektic involved in it. I imagine he will cruise to victory without incident.
THE PICK: Bektic
BantamweightBrad Pickett (26-11-0) v. Iuri Alcantara (32-7-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Pickett ($7,900), Alcantara ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Pickett (+140), Alcantara (-160)
THE PICK: Pickett
BantamweightIan Entwistle (9-3-0) v. Rob Font (12-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Entwistle ($6,900), Font ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Entwistle (+250), Font (-300)
THE PICK: Font
BantamweightDavey Grant (10-2-0) v. Damian Stasiak (10-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Grant ($8,800), Stasiak ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Grant (-185), Stasiak (+160)
THE PICK: Grant
WelterweightLeon Edwards (11-3-0) v. Albert Tumenov (17-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Edwards ($7,000), Tumenov ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Edwards (+220), Tumenov (-260)
THE PICK: Tumenov
WelterweightDanny Roberts (13-1-0) v. Mike Perry (8-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Roberts ($8,100), Perry ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Roberts (-140), Perry (+120)
THE PICK: Roberts
LightweightLeonardo Santos (15-4-1) v. Lucas Martins (28-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Santos ($7,600), Martins ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Santos (+180), Martins (-220)
THE PICK: Santos
LightweightLukasz Sajewski (13-2-0) v. Marc Diakiese (9-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Sajewski ($7,200), Diakiese ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Sajewski (+175), Diakiese (-210)
THE PICK: Diakiese