This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Jose Aldo is set to fight for the featherweight title on his home turf, but will it be enough against the hot hand of Max Holloway? The champion and the interim champion will be battling it out this Saturday in Rio.
Note: We have opted for an extended breakdown for the Rafael dos Anjos v. Marlon Moraes fight as opposed to the main card opener of Erick Silva v. Yancy Medeiros.
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 - UFC Featherweight Championship(C) Jose Aldo (26-2-0) v. (IC) Max Holloway (17-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Aldo ($8,100), Holloway ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Aldo (-145), Holloway (+125)
Odds to Finish: +115
With Conor McGregor moving on to bigger things, we are finally going to get some clarity in regards to who is the best fighter in one of the UFC's deepest divisions.
Aldo has been one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world for more than a decade, but his 13-second knockout loss at the hands of McGregor in December 2015 is all novice fans remember him for. He gets a chance to turn the page on Saturday. Other than the McGregor setback, Aldo's only other career loss came in November 2005. He has been fighting the top guys in the sport for his entire career and he almost always finds a way to prevail. Aldo looked nervous and uncomfortable in the events leading up to the McGregor fight. The positive is that he responded to the McGregor loss with a dominant unanimous decision win over Frankie Edgar in July. Aldo's wrestling game is perennially underrated (his career takedown defense is 92 percent), but his biggest strength is his striking. Aldo is constantly throwing combinations. It was remarkable how easily he won the standup battles against a lightning-quick fighter in Edgar.
Holloway has more than earned his opportunity here. Currently riding an 11-fight winning streak that includes victories over Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson, the 25-year-old Holloway improves every single time we see him step into the Octagon. While Holloway doesn't have huge traditional knockout power, he lands combinations at an insane rate. He connects with nearly six (5.67) significant strikes per minute. Much like Aldo, Holloway is an underrated wrestler and a good mat wrestler, but he rarely leans on those skills.
I expect this fight to go the distance. The sole reason that I am picking Aldo to win is because I have more faith in his striking defense than that of Holloway. Aldo's loss to McGregor, or at least the way it happened, was a fluke. Over the course of his UFC career, Aldo has absorbed just over two significant strikes per minute. That's a shockingly low number for a guy who has been one of the best fighters in the world for more than a decade. Holloway is a stud, but Aldo, at age 30, should still have plenty left in the tank.
THE PICK: Aldo
Co-Main Event - Women's StrawweightClaudia Gadelha (13-2-0) v. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Gadelha ($9,000), Kowalkiewicz ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Gadelha (-340), Kowalkiewicz (+280)
Odds to Finish: +246
Although Gadelha has lost to current UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk twice, and Kowalkiewicz once, due to the lack of top-end depth in the division, this could essentially be a number one contender's contest.
Gadelha has had far more success against Joanna Jedrzejczyk than anyone else. She has generally dominated the earlier rounds and then gassed out later in the fights. The Brazilian is built like a tank and while her striking isn't the biggest strength of her game, her stand up defense is solid. Gadelha has averaged 4.6 takedowns per fight over the course of her UFC career and she has the pure strength to get a fight to the mat even when her technique isn't perfect.
Kowalkiewicz is a Muay Thai specialist who received a wake up call in her fight against Jedrzejczyk in November. While Karolina's striking technique is elite, she doesn't have fight-ending power and she eats too many shots when her opposition returns fire. Her takedown defense (87 percent) has been exceptional, but she has never faced a fighter who possesses the upper body strength of Gadelha. As good as she is, and I think Kowalkiewicz is one of the best 115-pounders in the world, I think there is potential for her to struggle in this fight.
My biggest complaint surrounding Gadelha is her cardio. It's definitely something I would take into consideration in the future, but I don't think that is going to be an issue in a three-round fight. And while Kowalkiewicz has exhibited solid takedown defense, all it is going to take is one well placed shot from Gadelha and she could find herself on her back for the remainder of a round. Karolina's best chance of winning this fight is if Gadelha foolishly decides to engage her in a brawl. I don't expect it to happen.
THE PICK: Gadelha
MiddleweightVitor Belfort (25-13-0) v. Nate Marquardt (38-16-3)
DraftKings Salaries: Belfort ($8,400), Marquardt ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Belfort (-160), Marquardt (+140)
Odds to Finish: -610
Before I begin attempting to dissect this mess, I would like to point out that I don't advocate using either of these two men in your fantasy lineups. That being said, this is Belfort's retirement fight (or at least that is what he is claiming) and he is going to have the Brazilian crowd behind him. That will probably count for something in a bout in which both men are well past their prime. Vitor hasn't won a fight against anyone other than Dan Henderson in more than four years. I expect him to attempt to blitz Marquardt immediately and the scary thing is that it might actually work.
It would be wise for Marquardt to follow Belfort into retirement, but I'm not optimistic it will happen. Nate is 2-4 in his last four fights and his chin has all but evaporated. He will mix in a huge power shot here and there, but any finish that he scores these days is essentially a fluke. Marquardt has taken a TON of punishment over the years and it has most certainly had an impact on the later part of his career.
I freely admit that I have no idea what will happen here. Both guys look finished. Vitor has been fighting better competition lately, he has the advantage of knowing he can work his tail off for his final fight and he will have the crowd behind him. His initial flurry may very well be enough to finish Nate off and for those reasons, he's my pick. But let me be clear, there's no way anyone can realistically predict who is going to win this fight. I will say that I do not think it will go the distance.
THE PICK: Belfort
MiddleweightPaulo Borrachinha (9-0-0) v. Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Borrachinha ($9,200), Bamgbose ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Borrachinha (-275), Bamgbose (+235)
Odds to Finish: -735
Borrachinha has a ton of long-term potential, but the fact of the matter is that this fight should not be on the main card of a pay-per-view. That said, the Brazilian has undefeated professional record with eight of his nine wins coming via KO. He made his UFC debut in March and proceeded to dust an overmatched Garreth McLellan in just over a minute. The competition he has faced has been terrible, but you don't rack up numbers like that without some real ability. I'm interested to see how he fares against a legitimate opponent who will force him to do something other than throw bombs, but Bamgbose isn't that guy.
The Holy War Angel is 1-2 in his brief UFC career and he hasn't been impressive. While Bamgbose is athletic, all he does is strike. He just continuously pushes forward in hopes of engaging his opponent in a brawl. That seems like a pretty lousy idea against a guy who has knocked out eight of his nine career opponents. Bamgbose would be wise to do something other than turn this into a kickboxing match, but I'm not sure he is even capable of doing so.
This seems like a perfect matchup for Borrachinha. He should be able to get off plenty of power shots with Bamgbose providing little to no resistance. It's extremely rare that I think there is at least a 50/50 chance a fighter will get a first-round stoppage win, but the Brazilian has a legitimate chance of that in this bout.
THE PICK: Borrachinha
BantamweightRafael Assuncao (24-5-0) v. Marlon Moraes (18-4-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Assuncao ($7,500), Moraes ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Assuncao (+150), Moraes (-170)
Odds to Finish: +160
Other than the main event, this is by far the best fight on the card in my opinion. It marks the UFC debut of Moraes, who was the reigning WSOF Bantamweight Champion prior to signing with the company earlier this year. Currently riding a 13-fight winning streak, Moraes hasn't lost since November 2011. He does everything well. With eight career wins by knockout and five by submission, Moraes can stop a fight from any position. The depth in the WSOF is horrendous, but Moraes is a legitimate stud.
Assuncao's rise to the top of the bantamweight rankings was derailed by a serious injury. An issue that at first appeared to be relatively minor ended up costing him more than a year and a half worth of action. He was soundly decisioned by T.J. Dillashaw in his return to action at UFC 200 last July, but Assuncao responded with a decision win over the talented Aljamain Sterling in January. Assuncao would have gotten a title shot had it not been for the injury. Now he has to fight his way back to the top of a deep division. He is talented enough to do it.
This is a tall task for Moraes in his debut with the company. Assuncao has no weaknesses and he is a wizard on the mat. This will be by far the toughest opponent the newcomer has ever gone up against. Still though, I like Moraes in this fight. I expect him to make a huge statement in his debut on the world's biggest MMA stage.
THE PICK: Moraes
WelterweightErick Silva (19-7-0, 1NC) v. Yancy Medeiros (13-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Silva ($8,000), Medeiros ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Silva (+125), Medeiros (-145)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Silva
MiddleweightAntonio Carlos Junior (8-2-0, 1NC) v. Eric Spicely (10-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Carlos Junior ($8,900), Spicely ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Carlos Junior (-225), Spicely (+185)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Carlos Junior
BantamweightJohnny Eduardo (28-10-0) v. Matthew Lopez (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Eduardo ($7,600), Lopez ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Eduardo (+165), Lopez (-190)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Eduardo
BantamweightIuri Alcantara (34-7-0, 1NC) v. Brian Kelleher (16-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alcantara ($9,100), Kelleher ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Alcantara (-330), Kelleher (+270)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Alcantara
Women's StrawweightViviane Pereira (12-0-0) v. Jamie Moyle (4-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Pereira ($8,300), Moyle ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Pereira (-130), Moyle (+110)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Moyle
WelterweightLuan Chagas (14-1-1) v. Jim Wallhead (29-10-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Chagas ($8,800), Wallhead ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Chagas (-255), Wallhead (+215)
Odds to Finish:-150
THE PICK: Chagas
FlyweightMarco Beltran (8-5-0) v. Deiveson Figueiredo (11-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Beltran ($7,700), Figueiredo ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Beltran (+120), Figueiredo (-140)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: Figueiredo