DraftKings MMA: UFC Columbus Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Columbus Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

A former heavyweight contender gets a chance to start a new path Saturday on a card full of recognizable veterans.

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 MMA 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 -  Heavyweight

Curtis Blaydes (15-3-0, 1NC) v. Chris Daukaus (12-4-0)
DK Salaries: Blaydes ($9,200), Daukaus ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Blaydes (-400), Daukaus (+330)
Odds to Finish: -280

Daukaus began his UFC run with four straight knockout victories, but he was finished by Derrick Lewis this past December despite entering as a favorite, and he's at real risk here of losing a second straight bout. Although a black belt in BJJ, Daukaus is entirely reliant on his striking power in order to be successful. He doesn't have a single submission victory in his career, compared to 11 knockout wins. He's talented, but he made a name for himself beating up on lesser competition, and it's entirely possible, if not likely, that he isn't as good as many of us originally believed.

Blaydes has also been exceptional in his nearly six-year run with the company, posting an 11-3 (1NC) record. All three losses came via knockout, one against Lewis, and two against current UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou. Blaydes has the best wrestling and best cardio in the heavyweight division. He averages 6.27 takedowns per 15 minutes and more impressively, connects on 53 percent of his attempts. In a division in which many of the competitors tire out quickly, Curtis possesses the ability to change the course of a fight with the pace in which he competes.

It's important to note than Daukaus has never been taken down in the UFC, but it's equally important to note he has never gone up against an opponent as talented as Blaydes. Chris has to sell out to remain upright at all costs. 

If there's anything for Daukaus to hang his hat on, it's the fact that all three of Blaydes' defeats have come via knockout. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he catches Curtis with a shot and closes the show. The odds are quite small, however, and thus I think both fighters are properly priced from both a DK and Vegas perspective.

Inserting Daukaus in your lineup as a punt play isn't the worst idea in the world because he does have fight-ending power, but he's giving up so much in terms of overall physicality that I think he is at real risk of spending a good portion of this fight on the mat and thus dropping a lopsided decision.

THE PICK: Blaydes

Co-Main Event -  Women's Flyweight

Joanne Wood (15-7-0) v. Alexa Grasso (13-3-0)
DK Salaries: Wood ($7,200), Grasso ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Wood (+190), Grasso (-235)
Odds to Finish: +215

Fresh off back-to-back defeats to Talia Santos (submission) and Lauren Murphy (split) and a loser of three of her past four fights, there is a real chance Wood is fighting for her job on Saturday. Wood, a professional for more than a decade, has fought plenty of quality opponents over the years, but she's been wildly inconsistent during the course of her time with the UFC and has always had issues defeating better competition. I expected more, quite frankly, upon her arrival in the company back in April 2015.

Grasso is another fighter who has been up and down, although she appears to be finding her way on the strength of back-to-back wins over Maycee Barber and Ji Yeon Kim. Grasso spent the vast majority of her career at strawweight, but has looked better and extremely more comfortable since moving up to flyweight for her last couple bouts. She's in better shape than Wood as far as her roster spot being secure, but this is a fight she also has to have.

This figures to be the very definition of a stand-up battle. Both women are almost exactly the same size, in addition to both offering almost nothing in terms of their respective ground games. 

Wood tends to be a bit more reckless and wild on the feet, while Grasso is more technical. Wood is the better wrestler, averaging 1.57 takedowns per 15 minutes, and I'm highly interested in seeing if she goes that route. 

From a stylistic standpoint, this is a fight Wood can win, and I'm surprised she's such a hefty underdog. I understand it because of how inconsistent she has been, but the same thing could be said about Grasso until recently.

Neither women has much stopping power and I have little interest in either from a DK perspective, but I expect this to be a more competitive fight than the numbers indicate. I still can't take Wood against a halfway decent opponent until I see more from her.

THE PICK: Grasso


Askar Askarov (13-0-1) v. Kai Kara-France (23-9-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Askarov ($9,100), Kara-France ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Askarov (-350), Kara-France (+270)
Odds to Finish: +140

It's been a meteoric rise for Askarov since making his company debut back in September 2019. He fought current UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno to a split draw in the latter's native Mexico in his company debut and has since gone on to rack up unanimous decision wins over Tim Elliott, Alexandre Pantoja and the since-retired Joseph Benavidez. Askarov remains a virtual unknown among casual fans, but he's an excellent all-around competitor and could be fighting for a title sooner rather than later.

First, he will have to get past Kara-France, who is coming off the most notable win of his career, a first-round knockout win over former UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt in December. It was Cody's first ever fight at flyweight, and KKF torched him in just over three minutes. It was his second straight first-round knockout victory and a second straight effort that earned Kara-France a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. A win over Garbrandt doesn't mean half as much as it did a few years ago, but it was an excellent effort nonetheless.

Kara-France is at his best when he is aggressive and hunting for the finish, but Askarov is slick enough and smart enough on the feet to go after his opposition and get out of the way before they are able to return fire. He's also two inches taller than KFF, although Kara-France will enter with a two inch reach edge. 

This sets up similarly to the main event in the sense that I think the favorite (Askarov) is a much better fighter than the underdog (Kara-France), but the underdog has the power to make this interesting. If you're the type to make multiple lineups, try to fit KKF in a handful of them. He's capable of pulling an upset.

THE PICK: Askarov


Matt Brown (25-18-0) v. Bryan Barberena (16-8-0)
DK Salaries: Brown ($8,200), Barberena ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Brown (-105), Barberena (-115)
Odds to Finish: -150

This fight was scheduled to take place last December before Brown contracted COVID-19 and and was forced to withdraw. Barberena remained on the card and took a unanimous decision from Darian Weeks

Brown turned 41 years of age this past January. He's 4-7 in his past 11 fights and has discussed retirement on multiple occasions. He's fresh off a knockout victory over the since-retired Dhiego Lima last June, but that doesn't have any sort of bearing whatsoever regarding what to expect from Brown moving forward. What Brown does have going for him is ridiculous toughness, in addition to the ability to generate significant offense in a short period of time if he gets going. 

Barberena made some waves with wins over Sage Northcutt and Warlley Alves early in his UFC run, but he's gone 4-5 since, although two of those defeats came against Colby Covington and Leon Edwards. He has many of the same offensive traits as Brown. He's aggressive on the feet to the point of recklessness and is typically fairly durable. 

Neither man possesses a skill set I would be on over the long term, but Barberena is nearly a decade younger than Brown, and that could very well make all the difference here.

This is a surprisingly deep card. There's plenty of potential value on the prelims. I'd probably stay away here as the potential range of outcomes is massive. 

If forced to pick, I'll go with Barberena simply to save $200 in salary. I have little confidence about what is going to happen in this one.

THE PICK: Barberena

Other Bouts

Ilir Latifi (16-8-0, 1NC) v. Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1)
DK Salaries: Latifi ($8,600), Oleinik ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Latifi (-190), Oleinik (+160)
Odds to Finish: -190
THE PICK: Latifi

Marc Diakiese (14-5-0) v. Slava Borshchev (6-1-0)
DK Salaries: Diakiese ($7,500), Borshchev ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Diakiese (+140), Borshchev (-160)
Odds to Finish: -190
THE PICK: Diakiese

Neil Magny (25-9-0) v. Max Griffin (18-8-0)
DK Salaries: Magny ($8,800), Griffin ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Magny (-235), Griffin (+190)
Odds to Finish: +150

Women's Bantamweight
Sara McMann (12-6-0) v. Karol Rosa (15-3-0)
DK Salaries: McMann ($7,300), Rosa ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: McMann (+180), Rosa (-220)
Odds to Finish: +120

Chris Gutierrez (17-3-2) v. Danaa Batgerel (10-2-0)
DK Salaries: Gutierrez ($7,700), Batgerel ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Gutierrez (+130), Batgerel (-150)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: Gutierrez

Women's Flyweight
Jennifer Maia (19-8-1) v. Manon Fiorot (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Maia ($6,800), Fiorot ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Maia (+350), Fiorot (-475)
Odds to Finish: +195
THE PICK: Fiorot

Matheus Nicolau (17-3-1) v. David Dvorak (20-3-0)
DK Salaries: Nicolau ($7,800), Dvorak ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Nicolau (+115), Dvorak (-135)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Dvorak 

Luis Saldana (15-7-0) v. Bruno Souza (10-2-0)
DK Salaries: Saldana ($8,300), Souza ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Saldana (-120), Souza (+100)
Odds to Finish: +150

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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