This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
It may not feature Cris Cyborg, but Saturday's UFC 208 from Brooklyn, New York will finish with an inaugural women's featherweight champion. UFC fans will also bear witness to a struggling legend in Anderson Silva, as well as get the chance to see the heavily-favored Jacare Souza strengthen his case for a title shot.
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 - Women's Featherweight ChampionshipHolly Holm (10-2-0) v. Germaine de Randamie (6-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Holm ($8,000), de Randamie ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Holm (+105), de Randamie (-125)
Odds to Finish: -105
All plans for the UFC's creation of the Featherweight Championship may have very well gone out the window when Cris Cyborg tested positive for a possible USDA violation back in December, but it's too late to cancel those plans now. As a result, we are going to see some awkward fights in the division, highlighted by this one for the inaugural title.
Holm is the far bigger star of the two women, but she has lost back-to-back fights. Whether or not it makes sense, her reward is that she gets another title shot. Holm looked pretty good in her loss to Miesha Tate before the roof caved in on her late in the fight, but it was her loss to Valentina Shevchenko in July that was particularly concerning. Facing an opponent whose strengths seemingly mirrored her own, Holm was battered on the feet, appearing confused and befuddled throughout the course of the 25-minute fight. The fact of the matter is that other than her huge win over Ronda Rousey that won her the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship, she has been highly disappointing throughout her time with the company. We all saw how Ronda was obliterated by Amanda Nunes recently, so beating up Rousey on the feet seemingly means less now than ever before.
De Randamie's only UFC loss was also to Nunes, but she has been extremely impressive in her other fights, albeit against worse competition. The Iron Lady is the holder of numerous world titles in Muay Thai, and she is going to have a size and reach advantage on Holm. I imagine that the additional ten pounds will help her more than it will help her opponent. I still have real questions about the rest of de Randamie's game, but her striking is elite and she's facing an opponent in Holm who does nothing else other than strike. It sets up very well for de Randamie.
The winner of this fight may very well be the woman who is successful in something other than striking. Yet, once you break down the striking numbers, de Randamie has had the advantage in every significant category. She lands more, and she gets hit less. And although the wins have come against nobodies, at least she enters the fight riding a two-fight winning streak. I have a problem with giving a title shot to someone who has lost two fights in a row. I'm worried about Holm. I don't see a ton of reasons for optimism moving forward. Her win over Rousey is still getting her high profile fights and I don't think that can, or will, last much longer.
THE PICK: de Randamie
Co-Main Event - MiddleweightAnderson Silva (33-8-0, 1NC) v. Derek Brunson (16-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Silva ($7,900), Brunson ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Silva (+130), Brunson (-150)
Odds to Finish: -205
Unlike most last-minute fights that the UFC makes, this one actually makes some sense from a rankings standpoint. The UFC is simply hoping that Silva's legendary name helps add buys to what is a fairly lackluster Pay-Per-View card.
Anderson is 0-4 (1NC) in his last five fights and hasn't won since October 2012. He stood no chance of beating Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 last July, but he looked especially sluggish in his loss to Michael Bisping last February. At age 41, Silva's movements have slowed considerably. He can't get into position quick enough to land all of the crazy strikes that he did in his heyday. I don't think Silva is completely finished, but I would like to see him walk away without tarnishing any more of his legacy as the GOAT. With the possible exception of Vitor Belfort, there isn't a fighter currently ranked in the top-10 of the UFC's middleweight division that I would pick Anderson over at this point.
Brunson's five-fight winning streak was snapped at the hands of Robert Whittaker in late November. He looked exceptional in the early going of that fight, pummeling Whittaker and nearly earning the stoppage win. The tides eventually turned, however, as Brunson he got lazy and wild on the feet when he couldn't get the finish, and Whittaker slowly took advantage of Brunson's aggressiveness and turned the tables on him. Brunson is an insane athlete. He has the explosiveness to end a fight in an instant, but he needs to fight smarter than he did against Whittaker. Perhaps he was just amped up for the biggest fight of his career, but you aren't going to beat better fighters if you employ the reckless style that Brunson did on that night.
As long as Brunson calms down a tad, I think he handles Anderson will relative ease. I don't see how Silva, at age 41, can handle the explosiveness of Brunson, even in short spurts. I haven't given up on Brunson turning into a top-five middleweight, but it's pretty clear that Silva will never reach that level again. Anderson has openly contemplated retirement before, and if he gets hammered by Brunson, I think he will be smart enough to walk away.
THE PICK: Brunson
MiddleweightJacare Souza (23-4-0, 1NC) v. Tim Boetsch (20-10-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Souza ($9,500), Boetsch ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Souza (-500), Boetsch (+400)
Odds to Finish: -350
Now this is as terrible of a fight as you will ever see. Jacare is without a doubt one of the top two or three middleweights on the planet, but he can't get a fight against an opponent better than Boetsch? Such is the setup of the UFC's 185-pound division these days.
Jacare is 9-1 in his last ten fights, and the one setback was of the split decision variety at the hands of Yoel Romero -- a fight that Souza almost certainly deserved to win. It probably cost him a chance at an immediate title shot, or at the very least, a No. 1 contender's bout. Now he gets to fight Boetsch in a fight that means less than nothing. Jacare is now 37 years of age. It's important that he stays active, but he doesn't need to be accepting these fights against opponents who are clearly inferior competition.
This is Boetsch's last shot at a top-five opponent, so he might as well take it, even if it almost certainly will end badly for him. Boetsch has tallied back-to-back knockout wins over the late Josh Samman and Rafael Natal, but neither of those guys are on Jacare's level -- to put it mildly. Boetsch is at the point in his career that he just heaves repeated power shots in hopes that one of them connects and sets up a sequence to end the fight. It worked against Samman and Natal, but it's not going to work against Jacare. There is nothing to suggest that Boetsch can even be competitive against Souza, let alone win.
Fighters with massive salaries are always a highly risky play from a fantasy/DraftKings perspective, but Jacare is so much better than Boetsch in every area that I think it makes sense to use him. I expect a quick, dominating victory.
THE PICK: Souza
Light HeavyweightGlover Teixeira (25-5-0) v. Jared Cannonier (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Teixeira ($8,700), Cannonier ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Teixeira (-185), Cannonier (+160)
Odds to Finish: -240
Even though he was starched by Rumble Johnson in his last bout in August, I hope Teixeira received some type of bonus for accepting this fight. He has absolutely nothing to gain in terms of the rankings, so he better find a way to win. Glover has three losses in the last decade-plus: the loss to Johnson, a loss to Phil Davis in which he couldn't defend a takedown to save his life, and a loss to Jon Jones in a title fight in April 2014. Other than that, he has been competing against, and usually defeating, the best fighters in the world. Glover is a well-rounded fighter who retains a ton of power in his hands and remains in terrific shape despite the fact he turned 37 years old in October. His game really hasn't slipped at all of late. It's probably unrealistic to expect Teixeira to make another run at the title, but he's a top-five fighter in the UFC's light heavyweight division.
Cannonier's UFC career began at heavyweight, and featured a first-round KO loss at the hands of Shawn Jordan. He proceeded to take 15 months off, and has won back-to-back fights at light heavyweight since returning. Unfortunately for Tha Killa Gorilla, defeating Cyril Asker and Ion Cutelaba won't prepare you for fighting Teixeira. Cannonier's takedown defense has been suspect early in his UFC run (he was taken down six times by Cutelaba) and I imagine that will be the area of his game that Teixeira tries to exploit. If Cannonier hopes to win this fight, he almost certainly will need to keep it on the feet.
We have mentioned in the past that the lack of depth in the UFC's light heavyweight division has caused the company to book some questionable matchups and this is another example of that. There is nothing in Cannonier's resume that says he is deserving of an opportunity like this. I think he has enough talent to keep the fight moderately close, but it's a tall task to actually pick him to win.
THE PICK: Teixeira
LightweightDustin Poirier (20-5-0) v. Jim Miller (29-8-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Poirier ($9,300), Miller ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Poirier (-450), Miller (+360)
Odds to Finish: -130
Poirier looked like a potential top-five fighter at lightweight, but that notion came to a grinding halt when he was destroyed by Michael Johnson in September. All the things that make Poirier a great fighter -- aggressiveness, movement, and offensive innovation -- went out the window in the Johnson fight. You aren't going to outwork Poirier, and if an opponent doesn't have any power in their hands (which Miller doesn't), it's going to be awful hard to defeat him. I'm still very high on The Diamond's potential at 155 pounds. The division is insanely deep, but he has the ability to make a legitimate run at the top.
Miller looked finished not all that long ago, but he has since rebounded with three straight wins. His performances have still been mediocre simply because he has less than no power in his hands. Miller still has the capability to win a ground battle with most lightweights, but once you start going up against better fighters, you have to at least threaten them with strikes if you expect to win.
This is the one fight on the main card that I feel most confident about. I expect Poirier's explosiveness to be a major issue for Miller. Miller is durable, but I don't think he can get off enough offense to win.
THE PICK: Poirier
WelterweightRandy Brown (9-1-0) v. Belal Muhammad (10-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Brown ($8,400), Muhammad ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Brown (-130), Muhammad (+110)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Brown
FlyweightWilson Reis (21-6-0) v. Ulka Sasaki (19-3-2)
DraftKings Salaries: Reis ($9,600), Sasaki ($6,600)
Vegas Odds: Reis (-600), Sasaki (+450)
Odds to Finish: -115
THE PICK: Reis
LightweightNik Lentz (29-7-2, 1NC) v. Islam Makhachev (13-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lentz ($7,400), Makhachev ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Lentz (+230), Makhachev (-270)
Odds to Finish: +185
THE PICK: Lentz
FlyweightIan McCall (13-5-1) v. Jarred Brooks (11-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: McCall ($8,100), Brooks ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: McCall (-110), Brooks (-110)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: McCall
HeavyweightMarcin Tybura (14-2-0) . Justin Willis (4-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Tybura ($8,600), Willis ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Tybura (-170), Willis (+140)
Under 1.5 rounds: -135
THE PICK: Willis
WelterweightRyan LaFlare (12-1-0) v. Roan Carneiro (21-10-0)
DraftKings Salaries: LaFlare ($9,000), Carneiro ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: LaFlare (-260), Carneiro (+220)
Odds to Finish: +145
THE PICK: LaFlare
FeatherweightRick Glenn (18-3-1) v. Phillipe Nover (12-7-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Glenn ($8,900), Nover ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Glenn (-200), Nover (+170)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Glenn