DraftKings MMA: UFC Long Island Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Long Island Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

The former UFC Middleweight Champion of the world gets his first opportunity to fight on his native Long Island as he looks to break a three-fight losing streak in Saturday's main event. There aren't a lot of underdogs that I like, so it's important to submit multiple lineups and mix-and-match your picks.

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).

Moves Scoring
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

Scoring Notes
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 - Middleweight

Chris Weidman (13-3-0) v. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Weidman ($7,800), Gastelum ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Weidman (+150), Gastelum (-160)
Odds to Finish: -185

At the crossroads of his career, Weidman finally gets the opportunity to fight in front of his hometown fans on Long Island. The former UFC Middleweight Champion has lost three fights in a row, all via KO. The setbacks all came against elite competition (Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi), but it is obviously still a concern. Chris was seemingly in good position in all three of the fights before it fell apart for a variety of reasons. Even when he was winning fights, Chris was a guy who absorbed too much punishment on the feet. That appears even more evident in his recent losses. His wrestling remains as strong as ever, but the 33-year-old is having serious issues in all striking exchanges.

Gastelum has won three fights in a row, although his most recent win over Vitor Belfort was changed to a no-contest after Kelvin tested positive for marijuana following the bout. Gastelum, who has battled weight issues his entire career, is thriving at 185 pounds. He looks healthier and more explosive with the extra 15 pounds on his frame. A lethal puncher with a background in wrestling, Gastelum has the athletic ability to thrive in all areas of a fight. His biggest issue in middleweight fights is his lack of size. Gastelum is five inches shorter than Weidman and is giving up seven inches in reach to the former champ. Luckily for Gastelum, he does most of his damage from in close.

Given Gastelum's wrestling background and the fact he has never been finished in his career, Weidman strikes me as a poor DraftKings play. It's an attractive salary for a guy who was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world not too long ago, but I don't like the matchup for Chris. I refuse to believe that Weidman, at age 33 and with just 16 career fights under his belt, is finished. He is going to get an extra boost fighting in front of family and friends. That should help to some extent, but Gastelum lands more than four significant strikes per minute and Weidman can't defend himself on the feet.

I can't believe I'm going to type this, but I have Weidman losing his fourth-straight fight here. Gastelum should be able to negate the things that Chris does best. My guess is Weidman moves up to light heavyweight if he comes up short. I have a hard time believing that the UFC would flat out release him.

THE PICK: Gastelum

Co-Main Event - Featherweight

Dennis Bermudez (17-6-0) v. Darren Elkins (23-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bermudez ($8,700), Elkins ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Bermudez (-210), Elkins (+175)
Odds to Finish: +180

There is really no good reason this fight is the co-main event, but it should be a highly entertaining contest. Bermudez now makes his home on Long Island and that fact likely played into this fight being pushed up the card. "The Menace" is just 2-3 in his last five contests and he's coming off a first-round KO loss at the hands of Chan Sung Jung. His recent skid is on the heels of a seven-fight winning streak that included a victory over current UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway. A wrestler who struggles if his grappling game isn't on point, Bermudez has averaged more than four takedowns per fight in his UFC career. His striking gets sloppy at times, but in an ideal world he wouldn't spend all that much time having to rely on those skills.

Elkins, at age 33, remains about the toughest man on earth. We have seen him take beatings time and time again and keep on ticking. Elkins has won four straight fights, including a shocking win over top prospect Mirsad Bektic in his last bout in March. Elkins, like many veteran fighters, gets by on grit and determination. He isn't a great athlete and he doesn't have much power. The vast majority of his eight KO wins came early in his career. Any Elkins victory is highly unlikely to be visually pleasing.

Elkins has a background in wrestling but his career takedown defense is a pitiful 40.9 percent. Bermudez is going to have a significant strength advantage and he should be able to land repeated takedowns even if his positioning isn't exactly correct. Elkins will probably last the entire 15 minutes because of his all-world toughness, but Bermudez should rack up multiple takedowns and land plenty of strikes from the ground-and-pound position. I think he is a smart DraftKings play as the favorite.

THE PICK: Bermudez


Patrick Cummins (9-4-0) v. Gian Villante (15-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cummins ($8,100), Villante ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Cummins (+145), Villante (-170)
Odds to Finish: -140

Villante's refusal to wrestle in the UFC despite being a high school state wrestling champion while attending MacArthur High School in Levittown, about ten minutes from Nassau Coliseum, has become an inside joke in the world of MMA. He may have no other choice but to rely on those skills in this fight.

Cummins is a big, powerful wrestler who has crazy upper-body strength and little else. He has proven time and time again that he can rack up takedowns seemingly at will, but he has no chin whatsoever and is a below-average striker. At age 36, Cummins isn't going to be adding new skills to his repertoire any time soon. He is 5-4 in his UFC career.

Villante has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights. His refusal to do anything other than brawl has become increasingly concerning. We have seen enough from Villante to know that he won't be switching up the game plan now. Villante's biggest issue is his cardio. If a fight lasts more than five minutes, he has very little chance of winning. His output decreases dramatically once the second round begins, and he has difficulty avoiding combinations from his opponents.

I assume that Villante still knows how to wrestle, but since it's been so long since he has attempted it inside the Octagon, it's truly anyone's guess how well he will fare. The only thing that I am certain of in this fight is that Villante has the better chin. He can take a beating and hang in there while Cummins has been KO'ed in all four of his losses with the UFC.

I have been burned so many times by both men that I don't want to pick either guy. I'm picking Cummins because I simply have no confidence that Villante can win a fight that lasts more than a few minutes. His cardio is just terrible and there have been no signs of improvement on the horizon. Honestly though, anything could happen in this one.

THE PICK: Cummins


Jimmie Rivera (20-1-0) v. Thomas Almeida (21-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Rivera ($8,300), Almeida ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Rivera (-200), Almeida (+165)
Odds to Finish: -120

Rivera lost his second professional fight in November 2008 and hasn't lost since. He is riding a 19-fight winning streak and is 4-0 during his brief time with the UFC. Rivera has extremely quick hands and feet. He does a terrific job of hitting his opponents and getting out of range before they can return fire. The only real negative that we have seen from Rivera during his time with the company is the fact that he has had trouble finishing fights. Just one of his four victories has come via knockout.

The only loss Almeida has suffered in his professional career came at the hands of current UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt. Almeida is the exact opposite of Rivera in the sense that he excels at finishing fights. His last four wins in the UFC have all come via knockout and he has earned a Performance of the Night bonus for each one. Almeida gets hit a bit much for my liking, but he has the power in his hands to make up for it. The Brazilian has also proven that he can dig deep to win fights when he isn't at his best. Just 26 years old (next week), Almeida has an extremely high ceiling.

Rivera should have an advantage if the fight hits its later stages, while Almeida is the more likely combatant to score a quick finish. Almeida has shown a propensity to get popped on the feet here and there, and Rivera has fast, fast hands. Give me Rivera to win, but Almeida strikes me as the better fantasy play. He has more weapons to finish the fight.

THE PICK: Rivera

Other Bouts


Lyman Good (19-3-0, 1NC) v. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (16-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Good ($8,500), Zaleski dos Santos ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Good (-190), Zaleski dos Santos (+165)
Odds to Finish: +135


Rafael Natal (21-8-1) v. Eryk Anders (7-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Natal ($8,800), Anders ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Natal (+105), Anders (-120)
Odds to Finish: -165
THE PICK: Anders


Ryan LaFlare (13-1-0) v. Alex Oliveira (16-3-1, 2NC)
DraftKings Salaries: LaFlare ($8,200), Oliveira ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: LaFlare (-200), Oliveira (+170)
Odds to Finish: +180


Damian Grabowski (20-4-0) v. Chase Sherman (10-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Grabowski ($7,300), Sherman ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Grabowski (+205), Sherman (-245)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Sherman


Kyle Bochniak (7-1-0) v. Jeremy Kennedy (10-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Bochniak ($7,100), Kennedy ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Bochniak (+205), Kennedy (-245)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Kennedy


Brian Kelleher (17-7-0) v. Marlon Vera (9-3-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Kelleher ($9,200), Vera ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Kelleher (-235), Vera (+195)
Odds to Finish: -125
THE PICK: Kelleher


Timothy Johnson (11-3-0) v. Junior Albini (13-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson ($9,000), Albini ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (-235), Albini (+195)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: Johnson


Shane Burgos (9-0-0) v. Godofredo Pepey (14-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Burgos ($8,700), Pepey ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Burgos (-370), Pepey (+310)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Burgos


Frankie Perez (10-3-0) v. Chris Wade (11-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Perez ($7,600), Wade ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Perez (+250), Wade (-300)
Odds to Finish: +175

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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