This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
We've got more main-event shuffling this week in Vegas, which has essentially become the norm for the UFC (and MMA in general) in 2020. Barring any weigh-in issues, it's looking like an 11-fight card on tap for Saturday.
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 $18 December Throwdown with $100k 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 - Middleweight
This fight has been altered twice in the past two weeks. It was originally scheduled to be Hermansson v. Darren Till, and then Hermansson v. Kevin Holland. On Saturday, it will be Hermansson v. Vettori.
It's been a wild ride for Hermansson over his four-plus years with the company. The 32-year-old Swede joined the UFC in September 2016 as nothing more than low-level roster depth. Since arriving, Hermansson has picked up victories over Kelvin Gastelum, Jacare Souza and David Branch, among others. Hermansson was knocked out by Jared Cannonier in September 2019 before rebounding and submitting Gastelum this past July. It was great to see Hermansson bounce back from his first serious setback with the company.
Jack is an excellent all-around fighter, but his greatest attribute is his cardio. He keeps a tremendous pace and thrives on constantly pressuring his competition. Hermansson is just 32 years old, so I imagine he should be able to continue fighting at such a pace for at least a couple more years. Vettori, on the other hand, is essentially a mat specialist. I actually think his striking is a bit underrated, but he has very little power and nine of his 15 career victories have come via submission.
I like Vettori and think he has potential, but he's never actually defeated anyone of note. The highlight of his career to this point was a split decision setback to current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya back in April 2018. Israel has obviously improved since then but with what Adesanya has done to some of the best 185-pounders in the sport of late, the fact Vettori was able to remain so competitive against him is a positive sign.
This fight is essentially a pick 'em for me. Vettori tends to be calm and composed inside the octagon and I think that will help negate the pressure of Hermansson. Of course, Vettori took this fight on extremely short notice and it's fair to wonder if that will impact his performance.
I'm going with Vettori based on nothing more than a gut feeling, but both men are firmly in play from a DK perspective. Hermansson obviously makes for a fine Vegas wager given his plus odds, while I would like to see Vettori in more like the -105 or -110 range to be interested there.
THE PICK: Vettori
The early returns on Evloev are positive through the course of his first three UFC bouts. He's won them all, all via unanimous decision. Perhaps what has been most impressive is the fact Evloev has shown he can win fights in a couple different ways. Evloev leaned on his wrestling to win his first two fights over Seung Woo Choi and Enrique Barzola before leaning on his striking game to defeat Mike Grundy in his most recent bout on Fight Island this past July. Evloev remains undefeated as a professional and is still just 26 years of age. We'll need to see him perform against better competition, but his ceiling appears to be immense.
Landwehr was quickly submitted by Herbert Burns in his company debut in January 2020 before taking a unanimous decision from the uber-tough Darren Elkins in a back-and-forth brawl this past May. The sample size is obviously small, but Landwehr has the look of a pure brawler. Elkins is known for dragging his opposition into those type of fights, so we'll have to see if Landwehr is willing to go that route against a much more technical opponent in Evloev. Landwehr doesn't have a single submission victory in his career, so I imagine that's where this fight is headed.
Landwehr is going to have to make this ugly in order to have a chance to win. He's going up against an opponent in Evloev who has a much better all-around game, particularly in terms of wrestling and submissions.
I believe Landwehr is good enough to handle plenty of 145ers on the UFC roster but getting past Evloev is a big ask. I'm not particularly crazy on using Evloev from a DraftKings perspective give his massive price tag, and the fact I'd like to see him string together a few more solid efforts against better competition, but he's the clear outright selection here.
THE PICK: Evloev
To say this is a must-win for Villante would be the understatement of the century. Extremely long on physical gifts and extremely short on actual production inside the Octagon, Villante is 2-5 in his past seven fights dating back to March 2017. His most recent fight was a disaster. Going up against Maurice Greene this past June, Villante appeared to be well on his way to a unanimous decision victory before Greene "submitted" him with just over a minute left. It was a disaster. I can't even begin to explain. Look it up on YouTube or UFC Fight Pass.
The story with Villante hasn't changed. He's an above-average wrestler who refuses to use those skills, instead preferring to stand and bang with his opposition. Gian has power, but his poor stand-up defense and dreadful cardio have long been his undoing. Villante is now 35 years old. Things aren't changing. This is what he is in terms of a fighter.
Collier hasn't exactly been a picture of consistency in his own right. In fact, he has alternated wins and losses in each of his first seven bouts with the company. Collier, like Villante, is a long time former light heavyweight. He made his heavyweight debut this past July and was knocked out by Tom Aspinall in 45 seconds. It was Collier's first fight of any kind since November 2017.
I imagine Collier will be more than willing to engage Villante in the all-out brawl he is seeking. As crazy as it sounds, I think that favors Villante. I think he hits harder and I know he has the better chin. It takes a heck of a lot of damage to get Villante out of there. That being said, Villante was just "submitted" by Greene while in mount, and I have a longstanding rule of picking against fighters who are "submitted" against Maurice Greene while in mount, therefore.....
THE PICK: Collier
This fight was scheduled to take place a few weeks ago on the card headlined by Paul Felder and Rafael dos Anjos. Smolka had a tough weight cut for that bout, and the fight eventually had to be cancelled.
This will be Smolka's 15th UFC bout over the course of two different tours of duty with the company. He spent the entirety of his first run from January 2014 to December 2017 at flyweight before being released and returning to the company as a bantamweight back in November 2018. Smolka has alternated stoppage wins and losses in his four fights since coming back, with victories over Su Mudaerji and Ryan McDonald, and losses to Casey Kenney and Matt Schnell. The fact Smolka has struggled against the better competition in Kenney and Schnell is concerning. One of Smolka's greatest attractions at flyweight was his size. He's 5-foot-9, and while that's also big for the bantamweight division, it's not as pronounced.
Quinonez began his UFC run with four victories in his first five fights. It's been a much rougher ride of late, with stoppage defeats in two of his past three bouts. Like Smolka, Quinonez has been totally overwhelmed when the competition level standing across from him has risen. Quinonez's biggest issue has been his inability to generate any significant offense over the course of his career. He has just three stoppage victories. His best bet is probably to try to get this fight to the mat, as Quinonez has averaged 2.58 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Smolka is probably the slightly better fighter, but I don't think there's any significant gap between these two men. Quinonez makes for a reasonable enough underdog play, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm worried about his ability to generate consistent offense. He's going to have a significant problem catching up on the judges' scorecards if he stumbles out of the gate. His margin for error is exceedingly small, and it's difficult to rely on a fighter like that. That being said, there are very, very few underdogs I like on this card and Quinonez seems like a reasonable choice.
THE PICK: Quinonez
Montana De La Rosa (11-6-0) v. Talia Santos (16-1-0)
DK Salaries: De La Rosa ($7,300), Santos ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: De La Rosa (+175), Santos (-210)
Odds to Finish: +165
THE PICK: Santos