This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
A former title contender takes on a fellow heavyweight with title aspirations Saturday in Las Vegas.
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 $350,000 MMA Throwdown with $150,000 to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
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 - Heavyweight
Blaydes might not be Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou but he's clearly the third-best heavyweight on the roster at the moment, and I don't think it's particularly close. A freak athlete with the ability to keep a remarkable pace, Blaydes averages a whopping 6.98 takedowns per 15 minutes. In his last four fights, all wins, Blaydes has racked up 26 takedowns. Blaydes looks awkward on the feet at times, but that isn't his game. The majority of his offense comes from ground-and-pound. Blaydes has lost just twice in the UFC, both to Ngannou, and both via knockout.
Lewis continues to go about his business, earning high-profile fights and winning far more than he loses. Lewis has picked up three straight victories since dropping back-to-back fights to Daniel Cormier and Junior dos Santos. Lewis' 11 career knockouts are the most in UFC heavyweight history. Lewis will be 36 years of age next February, and he certainly isn't changing his style of fighting at this point. He steps into the Octagon with the hope of knocking his opponent out cold and picking up a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. Lewis will do everything he can to make that happen and then let the chips fall where they may.
This fight would appear to be a worse-case scenario for Lewis. His cardio, while improved, has long been a concern. Toss in the fact he defends takedowns at just a 52 percent clip, and Blaydes has the potential to turn this fight into a rout quickly.
I rarely advocate this, but Lewis has to come out swinging here in hopes of securing an immediate knockout. If this fight lasts more than even a couple minutes, Lewis' chances of winning are miniscule. I expect Blaydes to rack up plenty of takedowns and land plenty of strikes from top position, and I like him as a DK play despite the hefty salary.
Fans aren't exactly clamoring to see Blaydes compete because his style of fighting isn't what we are used to seeing from top heavyweights, but an impressive win over Lewis would seemingly ensure Blaydes an opportunity at the winner of the yet-to-be-scheduled title bout between Miocic and Ngannou.
THE PICK: Blaydes
Co-Main Event - Light Heavyweight
The career resurgence of Smith is one of MMA's most underrated stories over the course of the past decade, but as loss to Clark on Saturday would all but end Smith's chances of remaining relevant at 205 pounds. "Lionheart" got a well-earned shot at Jon Jones' UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and showed remarkable heart in seeing the final bell. He got back into the Octagon less than three months later and scored a huge submission win over Alexander Gustafsson in enemy territory. Since then, however, Smith has been knocked out by Glover Teixiera and dropped a clear-cut unanimous decision to Aleksandar Rakic.
Clark has been up and down over the course of his first ten UFC bouts, posting a 6-4 record. One of the losses came against Rakic and another came against current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz. Clark is reasonably athletic, but all six of his wins have come via decision and he never struck me as having the type of offensive skill set to go on a prolonged winning streak. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if we have already seen the best Clark has to offer inside the Octagon.
Smith is a pure brawler. He's been in countless wars over the years and it's entirely possible, if not likely, that his body is starting to simply to give out on him. The good news for Smith is that Clark doesn't have the power to take advantage of his potential shortcomings.
The odds of Smith ever getting back into the title picture at light heavyweight appear to be pretty small, but I'll be worried if he doesn't have enough gas left in the tank to defeat Clark. Smith has a huge, huge power edge in addition to being four inches taller. I think the UFC needs to be careful about who they match Smith up against moving forward, but I think he wins here. Clark makes for a reasonable underdog play on the chance Smith is totally washed.
THE PICK: Smith
"The Alpha Ginger" (that's Carlyle, and a damned good nickname) will be looking for his second victory in his first three UFC bouts. He began his company run with a knockout victory over Aalon Cruz before dropping a unanimous decision to Billy Quarantillo this past May. The obvious concern here is that Quarantillo is much better than Cruz, and thus it's fair to wonder if Carlyle built up his resume by hammering poor competition on the regional circuit. One thing I will say about Spike is that he has a pretty well-rounded game. There's some pop in his hands (five career wins via knockout) and he has a clue on the mat (three career wins via submission), in addition to possessing a long frame (5-foot-8) for the 145-pound division.
It will be interesting to see how Carlyle handles a much bigger opponent in Algeo. It's exceedingly rare to see featherweight who is a legitimate 6-footer, but Algeo fits the bill. The question beyond that is how much he has going for him other than his size. He dropped a decision on Dana White's Contender Series, yet still made his UFC debut this past August as a late-notice replacement for a fight against Ricardo Lamas. Algeo managed to see the final bell in that bout before dropping a clear unanimous decision.
I feel quite confident in saying that Carlyle is the better all-around mixed martial artist here. Algeo can land in bunches on the feet at times but he tends to totally disregard playing defense and that never works in the long run. Carlyle appears to be a tad overpriced from a DK perspective given how little we have seen of him, but I think he wins here.
THE PICK: Carlyle
There is an extreme likelihood that both of these women are fighting for their respective jobs on Saturday. They have combined to go 2-6 through their first eight UFC bouts.
Mazany has actually had two stints with the company. She went 1-3 from February 2017 to March 2019, left the UFC and went and picked up a submission win for KOTC this past January, before returning to the company and being knocked out by Julia Avila in 22 seconds this past June. What Mazany lacks in technical skill, so tries to make up for with aggressiveness. It rarely works, but I imagine it will be a more effective strategy against Ostovich than most of her other opponents.
This will be Ostovich's first fight in nearly two years. Her most recent bout was a submission loss to Paige VanZant in January 2019. Since then, Ostovich has had multiple run ins with USADA and that has led to her prolonged layoff. A deeper dive into the numbers reveal plenty of concerns for Rachael. She has been either knocked out or submitted in all five of her losses, and two of her four victories have come via split decision. It's exceedingly rare to see a UFC fighter with a record below .500, but that's where we are with Ostovich here in the final days of 2020.
A fight like this would normally be an immediate, swift fade from a DK perspective, but this card is exceedingly thin and owners will have to make a stand somewhere. I'd love to supply some sort of long technical explanation as to why I'm taking Ostovich, but the truth of the matter is that I don't trust either fighter and I'd rather save the $1000 in salary. That's it, end of story.
THE PICK: Ostovich
Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-4-0) v. Norma Dumont (4-1-0)
DK Salaries: Evans-Smith ($8,300), Dumont ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Evans-Smith (-130), Dumont (+110)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Dumont