DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 50 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 50 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Some might argue that this week's free ESPN card rivals that of last week's pay-per-view, as multiple future title contenders may be among the 14 scheduled fights.

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 - Light Heavyweight

Thiago Santos (22-9-0) v. Magomed Ankalaev (16-1-0)
DK Salaries: Santos ($6,600), Ankalaev ($9,600)
Vegas Odds: Santos (+410), Ankalaev (-575)
Odds to Finish: -165

Santos may have very well saved his job -- and most certainly saved his chances of remaining on the fringes of the light heavyweight title picture -- with a unanimous decision over Johnny Walker last October. It was a boring fight in which neither man accomplished much of anything, but Santos entered having lost three straight, and the fact he got his hand raised is all that matters in the long run. 

Ankalaev was surprisingly submitted by the crafty Paul Craig in his UFC debut in March 2018, but he has gone on to win seven in a row since, with four of those coming via knockout. Santos represents a clear step up in competition compared to who Ankalaev has faced thus far, but he is clearly a fighter on the rise with legitimate long-term potential, while Santos, at age 38, is nearing the end of the line.

It's been talked about to death but has to be brought up again: Santos simply hasn't looked like the same guy since nearly winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from Jon Jones on one leg in July 2019. Santos fought that bout with a torn ACL, PCL, MCL meniscus, and a cracked tibia, along with a partially torn right meniscus. It will forever remain one of the most epic performances in the history of the sport, but it's fair to wonder if all that damaged, combined with the Brazilian's advanced age, has sapped him of some of his abilities. Santos has always been a power puncher who relies on strength and explosiveness to be successful, and those traits have been severely dampened since the Jones fight. I think there's a reasonable chance we never see that guy inside the Octagon again.

Ankalaev's calling card is also his power, but he can mix in a takedown here and there, and more importantly, has shown the ability to remain upright with a stellar 85 percent takedown defense to date. He's going to win more often than not if he is involved in kickboxing matches.  

Even though I think Ankalaev is going to win, his DraftKings salary seems extremely inflated. Santos might not be as explosive as he was even a couple years ago, but his power is very clearly still there, and $6,600 is a cheap, cheap price tag for a guy with that type of finishing ability. Of course, Thiago might be toast, at least in terms of defeating high-end competition, in which case Ankalaev will coast to a win here.

I still think it's a good idea to get some exposure to Santos because he costs nothing and the payoff is potentially massive, but my guess is he comes up short.

THE PICK: Ankalaev

Co-Main Event - Bantamweight

Marlon Moraes (23-9-1) v. Yadong Song (18-5-1, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Moraes ($7,000), Song ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Moraes (+210), Song (-260)
Odds to Finish: -250

The UFC would have been well within its rights to move on from Moraes considering he has suffered three straight knockout defeats, but the company is giving him another opportunity, and I agree with the decision. After all, those losses came against Cory Sandhagen, Rob Font, and most recently, Merab Dvalishvili. In the Dvalishvili fight, Moraes scored two knockdowns in the opening round and appeared for all the world to have an easy stoppage victory on his hands before badly gassing out and being stopped himself. Moraes was arguably the best fighter not under the UFC banner less than five years ago, and while he is never going to get the level many expected prior to his arrival, there should be some gas left in the tank for the soon-to-be 34-year-old.

Song might not be on the same level as some of the guys Moraes has faced recently, but he's damn good, and his 7-1-1 record with the UFC proves it. Song is a powerful striker with legitimate fight-ending power. His secondary offensive skills remain a work in progress, but he lands plenty of volume on the feet (4.88 significant strikes per minute) and turned just 24 years of age this past December. His ceiling is exceptionally high, and this feels like a good barometer fight for him.

The obvious concern here is the fragility of Moraes combined with the power of Song. Marlon can't get out of his own way at the moment, and anyone that thinks this will be an easy victory for him because of both his past resume and Song's youth will be sorely mistaken.

Simply put, I can't trust Moraes at the moment, especially against a quality opponent like Song. Even when he is putting together a strong effort like in the Dvalishvili fight, he finds a way to fall apart. 

I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope things will turn around, but I'm not optimistic. The Brazilian's lack of durability, combined with the power of Song, seems like a disaster in the making for Moraes.



Alex Pereira (4-1-0) v. Bruno Silva (22-6-0)
DK Salaries: Pereira ($8,900), Silva ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Pereira (-180), Silva (+155)
Odds to Finish: -600

Pereira has developed an enormous following despite the fact he turns 35 years of age this coming July and has all of five professional MMA fights under his belt. Of course, he is a former Glory Middleweight and Light Heavyweight kickboxing champion, so it's easy to understand the hype. Pereira made his UFC debut last November and earned a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for his second-round knockout victory over Andreas Michailidis

With all due respect to our man Andreas, Silva will provide a significantly stiffer test for Pereira. The Brazilian arrived on the scene last June and racked up three knockout victories in less than six months. 19 of his 22 career wins have come via knockout, while he has not been stopped by strikes at any point. Five of Silva's six career losses have come via submission. That's a legitimate concern and will be something to monitor in future bouts, but Pereira figures to be more than willing to engage Silva in the stand-up battle he is seeking.

This is a truly exceptional fight and one that I feel is being severely overlooked. We could go the rest of the year and not see a striking battle as technical as this one projects to be. 

I'm torn here. As good as Pereira has looked, he's at an advanced age with all of five professional fights under his belt. He's more than a decade behind where he needs to be in terms of MMA experience, and that is the type of thing that tends to become an issue when tasked with facing better competition. 

Silva has enough talent and provides enough value that I'm going to take him in a mild upset. I expect a highly competitive and entertaining bout.


Light Heavyweight

Khalil Rountree (10-5-0, 1NC) v. Karl Roberson (9-4-0)
DK Salaries: Rountree ($8,000), Roberson ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Rountree (+110), Roberson (-130)
Odds to Finish: -175

Rountree and Roberson have combined to lose four of their past six fights, and there is most definitely a scenario in which Roberson -- who has dropped two in a row -- is fighting for his job on Saturday.

Rountree found himself in a similar position in his last bout on the heels of back-to-back defeats to Ion Cutelaba (knockout) and Marcin Prachnio (unanimous decision), but he rebounded with a knockout win over Modestas Bukauskas in September. Bukauskas has since been cut, but the victory should provide Rountree with a tiny bit of runway moving forward.

Roberson has been competitive for the most part in eight UFC bouts (4-4), but his complete inability to defend himself on the mat has been his ultimate undoing. All four of those losses have come via submission, and every single opponent Roberson faces is going to sell out in order to get him to the ground. I'm sure Roberson is aware of this, but he hasn't appeared to make any strides in this area. 

The good news for Roberson is that Rountree doesn't have a submission victory in his pro career. The latter does have more stopping power in his hands, but Roberson will have a chance here if this fight remains standing. 

There's a clear physicality edge for Rountree, but Roberson is quicker, and unlike his opponent, has shown the ability to mix in a takedown here and there. This is another close one, as everything suggests. I'll take Roberson, albeit with little confidence.

THE PICK: Roberson

Other Bouts

Sodiq Yusuff (11-2-0) v. Alex Caceres (19-12-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Yusuff ($9,100), Caceres ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Yusuff (-250), Caceres (+200)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: Yusuff

Drew Dober (23-11-0, 1NC) v. Terrance McKinney (12-3-0)
DK Salaries: Dober ($9,000), McKinney ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Dober (-170), McKinney (+150)
Odds to Finish: -225

Matthew Semelsberger (9-3-0) v. AJ Fletcher (9-0-0)
DK Salaries: Semelsberger ($9,300), Fletcher ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Semelsberger (-235), Fletcher (+190)
Odds to Finish: -260
THE PICK: Semelsberger

Women's Flyweight
JJ Aldrich (10-4-0) v. Gillian Robertson (10-6-0)
DK Salaries: Aldrich ($7,700), Robertson ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Aldrich (+115), Robertson (-135)
Odds to Finish: -125
THE PICK: Aldrich

Trevin Jones (13-7-0, 1NC) v. Javid Basharat (11-0-0)
DK Salaries: Jones ($7,500), Basharat ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Jones (+125), Basharat (-145)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Basharat

Damon Jackson (19-4-1) v. Kamuela Kirk (12-4-0)
DK Salaries: Jackson ($7,800), Kirk ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Jackson (-110), Kirk (-110)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Jackson

Women's Flyweight
Sabina Mazo (9-3-0) v. Miranda Maverick (11-4-0)
DK Salaries: Mazo ($6,800), Maverick ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Mazo (+260), Maverick (-330)
Odds to Finish: +185
THE PICK: Maverick

Dalcha Lungiambula (11-3-0) v. Cody Brundage (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Lungiambula ($8,300), Brundage ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Lungiambula (-120), Brundage (+100)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: Lungiambula 

Kris Moutinho (9-5-0) v. Guido Cannetti (8-7-0)
DK Salaries: Moutinho ($8,600), Cannetti ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Moutinho (-145), Cannetti (+125)
Odds to Finish: -115
THE PICK: Moutinho

Light Heavyweight
Tafon Nchukwi (6-1-0) v. Azamat Murzakanov (10-0-0)
DK Salaries: Nchukwi ($7,400), Murzakanov ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Nchukwi (+150), Murzakanov (-170)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Murzakanov

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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