DraftKings MMA: UFC London Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC London Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC London takes place Saturday, and Jon Litterine is back to break down the top fights, plus offer his DFS picks and predictions for the key matchups 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 $500k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring rules are noted at the bottom of the column. Let's get to the action...

Main Event - Heavyweight

Tom Aspinall (12-3-0) v. Marcin Tybura (24-7-0)
DK Salaries: Aspinall ($9,700), Tybura ($6,500)
Vegas Odds: Aspinall (-500), Tybura (+360)
Odds to Finish: -1300

Aspinall returns to the Octagon for the first time in 364 days. Tom won each of his first five UFC bouts, all via stoppage, thus earning a huge opportunity against Curtis Blaydes. Unfortunately, Aspinall suffered a knee injury a mere 15 seconds into the bout and was left unable to continue. I have zero reason to believe he isn't fully healthy now.

Tybura isn't the most exciting fighter to watch, particularly in the hard-hitting heavyweight division, but he deserves this opportunity. Marcin has won seven of his last eight dating back to February 2020, with the lone setback in that span being a unanimous decision defeat to Alexander Volkov, an opponent Aspinall knocked out in just under four minutes.

Unlike many other UFC main events, it's difficult to draw any potential conclusions from the numbers in this one. Five of Aspinall's six UFC bouts ended in Round 1, with four of those coming in 2:30 or less. He's averaging an insane 7.41 significant strikes landed per minute, in addition to averaging four takedowns per 15 minutes, but both those numbers are overblown because his fights have been so short.

Tybura has nine career wins via knockout, but it's quite clear that going blow-for-blow with Aspinall is a potential recipe for disaster. Marcin needs to slow this fight to a halt, stay tight to Aspinall and try to drag him to the mat. There are two problems with that. One, Tom has proven to be tricky on the mat, and two, at 6-foot-5, he's absolutely gigantic. 

It's also absolutely worth noting Tybura has been knocked out four times in his pro career, although three of them came in a four-fight stretch from early 2018 to late 2019. 

As great as Aspinall has looked, his only two notable victories were over Volkov and Sergey Spivac. Both are rock-solid wins, but that's not the top of the food chain at heavyweight.

Have we really seen enough from Aspinall to invest a ridiculous $9,700 in him on DK? It's by far the largest salary on a card that, at the time of this writing, is scheduled for 15 fights. I'll pass and make my stand elsewhere, even if I think Tom is going to win. Tybura isn't a stiff by any means, even if he's at risk of getting run out of London's 02 Arena at any point due to Aspinall's massive athleticism edge.

UFC LONDON PICK: Aspinall
 

Co-Main Event - Women's Flyweight

Molly McCann (13-5-0) v. Julija Stoliarenko (10-8-2)
DK Salaries: McCann ($9,400), Stoliarenko ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: McCann (-225), Stoliarenko (+180)
Odds to Finish: -170

A member of the UFC roster for more than five years now, McCann has made a name for herself due to her over-the-top antics, in addition to aligning with Paddy Pimblett. She had a three-fight winning streak snapped last November at Madison Square Garden, where she was beaten via first-round submission by Erin Blanchfield in one of the most lopsided bouts you will ever see. 

Stoliarenko has lost three of four with the UFC and is likely fighting for her job. She began her run with losses to Yana Santos, Julia Avila and Alexis Davis. The company generously awarded her a fourth opportunity, and Stoliarenko took advantage, submitting Jessica-Rose Clark. Yet, her struggles returned in her most recent fight last October, as she was knocked out by Chelsea Chandler in just over four minutes.

I have maintained from the very start that McCann is nothing more than roster depth. She's 6-4 in ten UFC bouts, beating lesser competition and struggling mightily against better opposition. She's popular, particularly in her native England, so putting her in a prominent spot on overseas cards such at this one is a wise move, but letting her face the likes of Blanchfield is a recipe for disaster.

The good news for "Meatball" is that this is a fight she should win. Stoliarenko's only edge is in the size department. She's three inches taller and has a significant four-inch reach edge. Yet, those marks are totally negated by the fact Julija allows her opposition to get inside with regularity, as she is absorbing 4.61 significant strikes per minute, while landing just 2.75.

I'm actively looking for a reason to bet against Molly at this point, but it's impossible to do here in a home game against a lower-tier opponent. I expect an ugly, wild McCann win, but I'm avoiding her in a significant manner at her massive DK price tag.  

UFC LONDON PICK: McCann
 

Featherweight

Nathaniel Wood (19-5-0) v. Andre Fili (22-9-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Wood ($9,200), Fili ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Wood (-185), Fili (+150)
Odds to Finish: +150

Set to turn 30 years of age in early-August, Wood is no longer a "prospect" like his nickname would imply, but this fight is still very much a case of an up-and-coming fighter going against a grizzled veteran, even if Fili is still just 33 years old.

Wood dropped two of three from February to October 2020, but has since rebounded with back-to-back unanimous decision wins over Charles Rosa and Charles Jourdain. Jourdain is notoriously tricky to fight, and Rosa is one of the toughest men on the roster, so both were solid victories for Wood. It's worth noting Wood spent more than a year and a half on the sidelines prior to the Rosa fight, his first at featherweight.

Fili has now been with the UFC nearly a decade. He's 1-2 (1NC) in his past four, with the lone win being a split decision over Bill Algeo his last time out last September. Fili has fought a bunch of high-end competition over the year (Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar) but has always struggled to win the "big" fight. Fili is a .500 fighter at this point, although I imagine he still has more than enough left in the tank to get past lesser opponents.

Wood has an edge in terms of both power and athleticism, but size is overwhelmingly on Fili's side. He'll enter with a whopping five-inch edge in both height and reach. I expect Andre to try to keep this fight at distance in hopes of limiting Wood's combinations. 

Fili has been knocked out three times in his pro career and just once since April 2016. Wood is going to look like the crisper and more technical fighter, particularly in the stand-up, but Andre certainly has the ability to make this a closer fight than most people think.

I can't pick Fili to win outright, as Wood should also get a boost from the crowd in his native England, but I like Fili better than some of the other hefty underdogs on this card. Ultimately, however, I think the more talented fighter wins, and that's Wood. 

UFC LONDON PICK: Wood
 

Middleweight

Paul Craig (16-6-1) v. Andre Muniz (23-5-0)
DK Salaries: Craig ($6,900), Muniz ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Craig (+185), Muniz (-225)
Odds to Finish: -280

A victor on both Dana White's Contender Series AND Dana White's Contender Series: Brazil, Muniz ran off five straight victories to begin his UFC run, including a submission of Jacare Souza and a lopsided unanimous decision over Uriah Hall. He got his first headlining gig this past February and was choked out by the extremely underrated Brendan Allen late in Round 3. Allen is terrific, so the one setback isn't a huge concern, but Muniz, who is already 33 years of age, needs to respond here.

35 years of age and a professional for nearly a decade, Craig will be dropping down to middleweight for the first time here. I'm typically not a huge fan of aging fighters changing weight classes, and even less in favor when it involves dropping down instead of moving up, but Craig simply doesn't possess the power in his hands to consistently threaten his opposition at 205 pounds. He is fresh off back-to-back losses to Johnny Walker (TKO) and Volkan Oezdemir (unanimous decision), and there's a no-zero chance Craig could be fighting for his job on Saturday.

This is not an easy matchup for Craig in his 185-pound debut. He enters with a two-inch height edge, but Muniz is a physical middleweight, and he will be the man with a two-inch reach edge. Paul isn't the type to ever turn down a fight, but the UFC didn't do him any favors here. 

Of the 39 combined professional victories between these two men, 28 have come via submission. Craig in particular is almost entirely reliant on his ground game for success. In the event this fight stays standing, I would absolutely favor Muniz. Craig simply doesn't possess the footwork to consistently evade his opposition in the stand-up. 

Everything here, from the DK salaries to the Vegas odds, seems correct. Muniz is younger, a better athlete, has more ways to win and is fighting in his natural weight class. This is an easy pick. A longshot bet on Craig is simply a dart throw he can clamp on a deep submission at some point and close the show.

UFC LONDON PICK: Muniz
 

Other Bouts

Lightweight
Jai Herbert (12-4-1) v. Fares Ziam (13-4-0)
DK Salaries: Herbert ($7,500), Ziam ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Herbert (+125), Ziam (-145)
Odds to Finish: -105
UFC LONDON PICK: Herbert

Featherweight
Lerone Murphy (12-0-1) v. Josh Culibao (11-1-1)
DK Salaries: Murphy ($8,800), Culibao ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Murphy (-155), Culibao (+130)
Odds to Finish: +130
UFC LONDON PICK: Murphy

Bantamweight
Davey Grant (15-6-0) v. Daniel Marcos (14-0-0)
DK Salaries: Grant ($7,700), Marcos ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Grant (+115), Marcos (-140)
Odds to Finish: -110
UFC LONDON PICK: Marcos

Welterweight
Danny Roberts (18-7-0) v. Jonny Parsons (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Roberts ($8,000), Parsons ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Roberts (+105), Parsons (-125)
Odds to Finish: -175
UFC LONDON PICK: Roberts

Lightweight
Marc Diakiese (16-6-0) v. Joel Alvarez (19-3-0)
DK Salaries: Diakiese ($7,200), Alvarez ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Diakiese (+150), Alvarez (-185)
Odds to Finish: -230
UFC LONDON PICK: Alvarez

Heavyweight
Michael Parkin (6-0-0) v. Jamal Pogues (10-3-0)
DK Salaries: Parkin ($7,300), Pogues ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Parkin (+130), Pogues (-160)
Odds to Finish: TBD
UFC LONDON PICK: Pogues

Middleweight
Makhmud Muradov (25-8-0) v. Bryan Barberena (18-10-0)
DK Salaries: Muradov ($9,500), Barberena ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Muradov (-300), Barberena (+240)
Odds to Finish: -120
UFC LONDON PICK: Muradov

Women's Bantamweight
Ketlen Vieira (13-3-0) v. Pannie Kianzad (17-6-0)
DK Salaries: Vieira ($9,100), Kianzad ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Vieira (-175), Kianzad (+145)
Odds to Finish: +220
UFC LONDON PICK: Vieira

Lightweight
Chris Duncan (10-1-0) v. Yanal Ashmouz (7-0-0)
DK Salaries: Duncan ($8,400), Ashmouz ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Duncan (-155), Ashmouz (+130)
Odds to Finish: -200
UFC LONDON PICK: Duncan

Women's Strawweight
Shauna Bannon (5-0-0) v. Bruna Brasil (8-3-1)
DK Salaries: Bannon ($7,600), Brasil ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Bannon (+120), Brasil (-145)
Odds to Finish: +165
UFC LONDON PICK: Bannon

Flyweight
Jafel Filho (14-3-0) v. Daniel Barez (18-5-0)
DK Salaries: Filho ($8,300), Barez ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Filho (-115), Barez (-105)
Odds to Finish: -120
UFC LONDON PICK: Barez

Note: All odds accurate as of time of posting, and taken from the DraftKings Sportsbook, if available, before searching elsewhere. Stay up to date for London with more MMA betting content.

DraftKings MMA Scoring

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

Moves Scoring
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.2 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.

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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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