DraftKings MMA: UFC Austin DFS Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Austin DFS Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC Austin takes place Saturday and features a mix of storied veterans and active contenders. Jon Litterine is back to break down the key fights and offer his DFS picks for the key fights on the card.

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, including a $400k UFC Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:

Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.

Moves Scoring
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)

Scoring Notes

  • Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
  • A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
  • Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
  • A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
  • A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.

Main Event -  Featherweight

Calvin Kattar (23-5-0) v. Josh Emmett (17-2-0)
DK Salaries: Kattar ($8,800), Emmett ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Kattar (-235), Emmett (+190)
Odds to Finish: +100

Kattar has been excellent since making his UFC debut back in July 2017. He has posted a 7-3 mark in his first ten fights with the company and is coming off arguably his best performance to date, a dominant showing in a unanimous decision win over Giga Chikadze this past January. Kattar was a hefty underdog in that fight and looked brilliant in sweeping the scorecards in a bout which went five rounds. 

Emmett enters having won four in a row. He defeated Shane Burgos via unanimous decision in June 2020, but suffered a significant knee injury in the bout which would sideline him until December 2021. He returned then to win another unanimous decision, this one from Dan Ige

This is a fight between two guys who are extremely reliant on their boxing skills for success. Emmett probably has more power, but Kattar should be considerably quicker, in addition to entering with a five-inch edge in height and a two-inch edge in reach. Emmett is going to have to get inside with regularity against his longer opponent in order to be successful. 

The winner here figures to be the man who is able to remain upright. I'm expecting this to be a wild brawl, as both of these men -- Kattar, in particular -- are willing to eat a shot in order to land two of their own. Calvin has absorbed a whopping 7.64 significant strikes per minute over the course of his UFC run. For comparison's sake, Emmett absorbs 4.10 per minute. Now, that number is skewed because of the 445 significant strikes (that is not a misprint) Kattar ate in his loss to Max Holloway back in January 2021, but it has become increasing clear over the years that Calvin is at his best in wild, back-and-forth brawls.

Neither of these two have had durability issues to date. Kattar has somehow never been knocked out in his professional career, while Emmett has been finished just once, against Jeremy Stephens back in 2018. 

This is a bigger fight than one might guess at first glance due to the age of both men. Yes, both have been very successful of late, but Kattar turned 34 years of age this past March, while Emmett turned 37 a handful of weeks earlier. 

It wouldn't be a bad idea for Emmett to try to get this fight to the mat, and he's capable of that as he lands 1.25 takedowns per 15 minutes, although Kattar's 89 percent takedown defense is brilliant. 

I'd feel better from a DFS perspective if Kattar was closer to the $8,500 range in salary, but I still think he wins. I wouldn't be surprised if Emmett keeps it fairly close and is able to see the final bell, but I ultimately think the speed advantage in the stand-up for Kattar wins out in a fight in which both men project to generate plenty of offense.


Co-Main Event - Lightweight

Donald Cerrone (36-16-0, 2NC) v. Joe Lauzon (28-16-0)
DK Salaries: Cerrone ($8,300), Lauzon ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Cerrone (-165), Lauzon (+145)
Odds to Finish: -200

Cerrone and Lauzon were due to fight at UFC 274 on May 7, but Cerrone was forced to withdraw due to a bout of food poisoning. 

This is a bout between two of the most highly-respected fighters in recent memory. It would appear to be extremely likely that the loser of it will be done with the company – especially if it's Cerrone – and I wouldn't be totally shocked if either or both men decide to call it quits regardless of the result.

Cowboy enters on a six-fight losing streak (0-5, 1NC). His last victory was a unanimous decision over the since-retired Al Iaquinta in May 2019. At his best, Cerrone was a highly aggressive, creative striker, but he has been in so many wars over the years that it's fair to wonder if all the damage he has absorbed has started to take its toll. He seems more fragile than ever, which is understandable at age 39. Four of those previously-mentioned five defeats came via knockout, and simply put, Cowboy has no value if his durability is shot.

Although he never officially retired, Lauzon has rarely fought the past few years. After fighting three times in 2017, he stepped into the Octagon once in 2018 and once in 2019, and we haven't seen him since. It will be roughly 26 months on the sidelines by the time he faces Cerrone, and that's not a positive for the soon-to-be 38-year-old.

Two of Lauzon's last three wins have come via knockout, but he remains a mat specialist at this late stage of his career. A prolonged kickboxing match should be a significant edge for Cowboy, but given how fragile Cerrone has been of late, that's no guarantee, either. On the flip side, Cowboy has been submitted just once in his storied career, so Lauzon is going to have issues exceling in that area.

This would seem to be a fight with a wide range of outcomes despite how much we know about each man. I'm fading this one completely. Between Cerrone's recent struggles, Lauzon's time off and the advanced age of both men, I have zero confidence in accurately predicting a winner. Cowboy's edge in the stand-up is the difference for me, but I'm not paying $8,300 in salary to find out if I'm correct. That said, Cowboy's salary for the originally scheduled first bout was $8,800, so if you like him, you're getting a fairly substantial discount here compared to what he was expected to cost going into the first fight.



Kevin Holland (22-7-0, 1NC) v. Tim Means (32-12-1, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Holland ($8,900), Means ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Holland (-260), Means (+210)
Odds to Finish: -105

Still the unquestioned MVP of the UFC's "pandemic era," Holland broke a three-fight winless streak (0-2, 1NC) with a knockout win over Alex Oliveira this past March. The stoppage win looks good on paper, but Holland again looked lousy in the opening round before catching the Brazilian and finishing him. Holland has had an immense amount of difficulty defending the takedown. Oliveira got him twice in the opening round of their fight and every opponent has has faced in his last five fights has taken Holland down at least once. He's down to just 49 percent in terms of takedowns defended, and that number simply won't cut it.

Means is still rolling along at age 38, winning three in a row and four of his last five. The UFC has been quite careful about who they have matched Means up against over the years. He made his company debut back in February 2012 and the best fighters he has seen to date have been Jorge Masvidal, Neil Magny and Belal Muhammad. All three of those guys are very good, but you would think Means would have been in there against some elite competition considering he has been with the company more than a decade.

On paper, this looks like a lousy matchup for Holland. Yes, Kevin is more talented, but Means is one of the few welterweights who is nearly as tall as the 6-foot-3 Holland, and Tim should have a significant advantage on the mat. It's extremely difficult to trust Holland at this point despite his physical gifts because he's at risk of being planted on the mat for long stretches at a time every single time he steps into the Octagon.

Means has been knocked out once since September 2004, so Holland is going to have to land something big if he hopes to get Tim out of there. Means is by no means a heavy wrestler -- he averages just 0.92 takedowns per 15 minutes -- but he's crafty and excellent on the mat, so I tend to think he can handle Holland if the fight gets there.

Picking an outright winner at such a cheap salary typically worries me, but there aren't a ton of underdogs I like on this card, and Means unquestionably has a clear path to victory. In a three-round fight, I'll take the risk he can pin Holland to the mat and hold him there to grind out a decision. If this fight stays upright, Means is in trouble.



Joaquin Buckley (14-4-0) v. Albert Duraev (15-3-0)
DK Salaries: Buckley ($7,600), Duraev ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Buckley (+180), Duraev (-220)
Odds to Finish: -190

Buckley is "must see TV" every single time he steps into the Octagon. He goes for broke with every single shot he throws and is willing to put himself in harm's way in search of the finish. It has worked for him thus far, for the most part, as he has a 4-2 record in his first half-dozen bouts. Three of the four wins (and both of the defeats) have come via knockout, with each earning Buckley a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. This style of fighting is entirely unsustainable against better competition, but it makes Buckley a highly-intriguing DFS play each time every single time out. 

Duraev -- a product of Dana White's Contender Series -- enters having won ten fights in a row, including a unanimous decision win over Roman Kopylov in his UFC debut last October. It would be foolish (and impossible) to try to break down Duraev's future long-term potential on the basis of just 15 minutes worth of competition with the company. He has a reputation of being better on the mat than the feet, but Duraev -- who landed 152 total strikes in his victory over Kopylov -- looked perfectly competent in the stand-up in his UFC debut.

It goes without saying that the longer this fight goes, the more it favors Duraev. Buckley is extremely aggressive, and his output and effectiveness tend to drop as a bout progresses. 

Duraev has had durability issues in the past, as each of his three professional defeats have come via knockout. The most recent one was back in March 2014, however, and I'm hesitant to put significant value in something than hasn't been an issue for a fighter in well over eight years. 

Buckley is the type of fighter I try to avoid if at all possible. He essentially has one way to win a fight. Now that can pay off in a major way if it hits, and I certainly like the idea of using him at the backend of lineups at such a cheap price, but I think Duraev is a better all-around mixed martial artist. That's what wins out in the end, more often than not.


Other Bouts

Damir Ismagulov (23-1-0) v. Guram Kutateladze (12-2-0)
DK Salaries: Ismagulov ($8,400), Kutateladze ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Ismagulov (-160), Kutateladze (+140)
Odds to Finish: +150

Julian Marquez (9-2-0) v. Gregory Rodrigues (11-4-0)
DK Salaries: Marquez ($7,700), Rodrigues ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Marquez (+170), Rodrigues (-200)
Odds to Finish: -200

Adrian Yanez (15-3-0) v. Tony Kelley (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Yanez ($9,400), Kelley ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Yanez (-350), Kelley (+270)
Odds to Finish: -150

Women's Flyweight
Jasmine Jasudavicius (7-1-0) v. Natalia Silva (12-5-1)
DK Salaries: Jasudavicius ($9,100), Silva ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Jasudavicius (-250), Silva (+200)
Odds to Finish: +140
UFC AUSTIN PICK: Jasudavicius

Court McGee (22-10-0) v. Jeremiah Wells (10-2-1)
DK Salaries: McGee ($8,200), Wells ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: McGee (-120), Wells (+100)
Odds to Finish: +120

Ricardo Ramos (15-4-0) v. Danny Chavez (11-4-1)
DK Salaries: Ramos ($9,300), Chavez ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Ramos (-300), Chavez (+235)
Odds to Finish: +150

Women's Strawweight
Maria Oliveira (12-5-0) v. Gloria de Paula (6-4-0)
DK Salaries: Oliveira ($7,000), de Paula ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Oliveira (+215), de Paula (-265)
Odds to Finish: +250

Eddie Wineland (24-15-1) v. Cody Stamann (19-5-1)
DK Salaries: Wineland ($6,700), Stamann ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Wineland (+385), Stamann (-525)
Odds to Finish: +120

Phil Hawes (11-3-0) v. Deron Winn (7-2-0)
DK Salaries: Hawes ($9,000), Winn ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Hawes (-260), Winn (+210)
Odds to Finish: -125

Roman Dolidze (9-1-0) v. Kyle Daukaus (11-2-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Dolidze ($7,500), Daukaus ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Dolidze (+190), Daukaus (-240)
Odds to Finish: -110

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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