DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 62 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 62 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC Vegas 62 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 $400k 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 - Women's Flyweight

Alexa Grasso (14-3-0) v. Viviane Araujo (11-3-0)
DK Salaries: Grasso ($9,000), Araujo ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Grasso (-215), Araujo (+185)
Odds to Finish: +150

The UFC tried to book this fight on two other occasions. First, in early 2022 when Araujo was forced to withdraw due to injury, and then this past August when visa issues for Araujo resulted in it being pushed back two more months.

Grasso lost three of her first five UFC bouts, but she has found herself of late, winning three in a row dating back to August 2019. Not surprisingly, Grasso's run has directly coincided with her move up to flyweight. She appears considerably fresher and more athletic at 125 pounds compared to 115 pounds. It's clear flyweight is Grasso's division moving forward.

Araujo's 3-1 record in her past four fights looks fine on paper, but the wins have primarily come against lesser competition (Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferi, Montana De La Rosa). Combine that with the fact the Brazilian will be 36 years of age this coming November, and you have a fighter with quite a limited ceiling. This feels like a bout Araujo has to win if she wants to remain relevant.

Grasso is primarily a stand-up fighter. Her technical skills are very strong, but she's more volume over power on the feet, with just four knockout wins in her career. Her 4.92 significant strikes landed per minute is excellent, and her 63 percent striking defense is also quite strong.

On the flip side, Araujo's technical striking skills are lacking, so I expect her to try to turn this into an ugly brawl in hopes her wrestling can carry her the rest of the way. Viviane averages an impressive 2.23 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Grasso defends the takedown at a mediocre 60 percent clip. Araujo is at constant risk of getting overwhelmed with volume on the feet, so even her takedown attempts that don't land should have some impact in terms of keeping Grasso off-balance.

Perhaps Araujo can land a takedown or two and spend a bunch of time in top position in order to steal a round or two, but I think Grasso's striking skills are ultimately the difference. Even on a thin card, I'm not crazy about either woman from a DraftKings perspective. 

UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Grasso
 

Co-Main Event - Bantamweight

Cub Swanson (28-12-0) v. Jonathan Martinez (16-4-0)
DK Salaries: Swanson ($7,400), Martinez ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Swanson (+175), Martinez (-205)
Odds to Finish: +100

Swanson is somehow 3-1 in his past four fights dating back to October 2019 despite the fact he will be turning 39 years of age in just a few weeks. Cub has had a long and productive career, highlighted by back-to-back wins over Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier in late-2012 and early-2013, respectively. Swanson has always had difficulty winning the "big" fight, but it's impossible to term his UFC run anything other than a success.

Martinez has quietly won three straight and five of six dating back to August 2020. His last four victories having come via unanimous decision, although Martinez did show a ton of power on the regional circuit early in his career prior to his UFC arrival. Martinez is more than a decade younger than Swanson and should have a significant athleticism advantage here.

The big news in this fight is the fact it will be Swanson's bantamweight debut. Cub began his career at lightweight (2004-2006) before spending well over the past 15 years competing at 145 pounds. I typically don't like to see aging fighters changing weight classes, particularly when it involves moving down in weight. Swanson is a true professional and I have zero doubt he will make the 136-pound bantamweight limit without issue, but that doesn't make it the right move.

The statistics between these two men are eerily similar. They're the same exact height, have the same exact reach, and both men land and absorb nearly the same amount of significant strikes each minute.

I imagine Cub would have a minor edge in terms of grappling, but since Swanson has landed exactly one takedown dating back to April 2017, I doubt he goes that route. 

The price on Swanson here is cheap enough that I'm intrigued to use him as a "punt" play, and I think there's a decent chance he can keep this close, but there's too much youth and athleticism in Martinez's favor. I have him via decision.

UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Martinez
 

Flyweight

Brandon Royval (14-6-0) v. Askar Askarov (14-1-1)
DK Salaries: Royval ($7,000), Askarov ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Royval (+200), Askarov (-240)
Odds to Finish: -115

This is likely the very best fight on the card, the main event included.

Askarov won three of his first four UFC bouts, with the lone non-victory being a split draw against current interim UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno in his company debut in September 2019. He won each of his next three and was knocking on the door of a title shot before dropping a unanimous decision to Kai Kara-France this past March. Kara-France got the shot at gold instead, being knocked out by Moreno late in Round 3.

A long-time standout in the LFA promotion, Royval has shown far more good than bad with the UFC. His 4-2 record is strong, he has a stoppage win over Kara-France, and his two setbacks came against Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja -- two of the division's best. I doubt we'll see Royval earn a championship opportunity, but he's a fringe top-five guy in a weak division which lacks depth.

I'm extremely curious to see how this one plays out. Askarov lacks power, but he's the better striker. The clearest path to victory is for him to outperform Royval on the feet. That said, Askar's wrestling is a big part of his game. He averages 2.6 takedowns per 15 minutes, although that plays right into Royval's biggest strength, as he has nine career wins via submission.

Royval's striking has clearly improved, but it's well behind his ground game. A prolonged kickboxing match would almost certainly favor Askarov, and I'm sure Brandon and his team are well aware of that. 

It's difficult to envision a scenario in which Royval wins this fight if it's spent primarily on the feet. I like Brandon and think he can make waves in a thin division, but defeating Askarov is a big ask, no pun intended. He's not that far from a title shot, and I'd be surprised if Royval can pull the upset.

UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Askarov
 

Light Heavyweight

Misha Cirkunov (15-8-0) v. Alonzo Menifield (12-3-0)
DK Salaries: Cirkunov ($7,300), Menifield ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Cirkunov (+175), Menifield (-205)
Odds to Finish: -360

Allow me to start off by saying I'm pretty shocked Cirkunov is getting another shot here. A chronic underachiever for virtually his entire run with the company, Misha has lost three in a row and is just 2-6 in his past eight fights dating back to May 2017. His durability is completely shot, with four of those previously mentioned six defeats coming via knockout and another via submission. Toss in the fact Cirkunov is now 35 years of age, and this could very easily be his swan song with the UFC.

Menifield is certainly in better shape, with wins in three of his last four bouts, but he lost two in a row prior to that streak, so his 3-3 mark in his past half-dozen fights doesn't look all that great, either. A product of Dana White's Contender Series, Alonzo has serious fight-ending power, but brings little else to the table. He lacks the secondary offensive skills to win consistently, but facing a fragile opponent such as Cirkunov is essentially a best-case scenario for Menifield these days.

Cirkunov's edge will be in the grappling department. He's an excellent athlete and a high-end wrestler, averaging 4.25 takedowns per 15 minutes. That skill alone should be enough for him to win his share of three-round fights, but Misha somehow always seems to find a way to blow it. He's going to have to sell out to land takedowns because any one shot from Menifield could turn his lights out in an instant. 

The breakdown of this fight is remarkable simply. Cirkunov is impossible to trust due to his durability issues, while Menifield's only real asset is his power. Sure, Misha could land a bunch of takedowns and grind his way to a victory, but the more likely outcome is that Alonzo catches him with one big shot, probably early, and closes the show. I'm not crazy about Menifield's salary due to his limited offensive arsenal, but betting against Misha has been a winning proposition for years, and I see no reason for that to change.

UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Menifield
 

Other Bouts

Middleweight
Jordan Wright (12-3-0, 1NC) v. Dusko Todorovic (11-3-0)
DK Salaries: Wright ($7,500), Todorovic ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Wright (+175), Todorovic (-205)
Odds to Finish: TBD
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Todorovic

Bantamweight
Mana Martinez (9-3-0) v. Brandon Davis (14-9-0)
DK Salaries: Martinez ($8,500), Davis ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Martinez (-155), Davis (+135)
Odds to Finish: -120
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Davis

Bantamweight
Raphael Assuncao (27-9-0) v. Victor Henry (22-5-0)
DK Salaries: Assuncao ($6,900), Henry ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Assuncao (+290), Henry (-360)
Odds to Finish: -105
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Henry

Middleweight
Nick Maximov (8-1-0) v. Jacob Malkoun (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Maximov ($8,300), Malkoun ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Maximov (-135), Malkoun (+115)
Odds to Finish: +175
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Malkoun

Featherweight
Joanderson Brito (13-3-1) v. Lucas Alexander (7-2-0)
DK Salaries: TBD
Vegas Odds: Brito (-365), Alexander (+300)
Odds to Finish: TBD
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Brito

Women's Strawweight
Piera Rodriguez (8-0-0) v. Sam Hughes (7-4-0)
DK Salaries: Rodriguez ($8,600), Hughes ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Rodriguez (-170), Hughes (+145)
Odds to Finish: +200
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Rodriguez

Flyweight
Tatsuro Taira (11-0-0) v. C.J. Vergara (10-3-1)
DK Salaries: Taira ($9,100), Vergara ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Taira (-240), Vergara (+200)
Odds to Finish: +130
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Taira

Welterweight
Mike Jackson (1-1-0, 1NC) v. Pete Rodriguez (4-1-0)
DK Salaries: Jackson ($6,700), Rodriguez (9,500)
Vegas Odds: Jackson (+500), Rodriguez (-675)
Odds to Finish: -500
UFC VEGAS 62 PICK: Rodriguez

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 UFC Vegas 62 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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