UFC 281 DFS Preview & Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 281 DFS Preview & Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 281 is one of those rare cards that promises wall-to-wall action and fun fights, including the main event between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira. We'll cover every bout across four platforms, including a powerful showman looking to get some high-level wins in the UFC and a leg-lock wizard facing his toughest opponent to date.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Nicolae Negumereanu ($7,800)

Carlos Ulberg seemed to finally find his form as an athletic, rangy kickboxer in his last bout with Tafon Nchukwi, but "Black Jag" can still be pressured against the fence and worn down. These are specialties of Negumereanu, who will march forward looking to throw big shots and complete takedowns. We have seen "Nick" take a tremendous amount of damage in order to impose his will, which means that Ulberg may be in trouble if he can't finish his opponent early.

Montel Jackson ($9,000)

Jackson's height and reach alone are enough to make him a problem for most bantamweights, but opponents must also worry about his grappling ability, as he logged four takedowns and over 10:00 of control time in his last fight against JP Buys. Dan Ige is a solid kickboxer who is generally content to let his opponent lead the dance while he looks for counter shots. This will be incredibly dangerous against someone like Jackson, who has notched eight takedowns in seven UFC contests.

Andre Petroski ($9,200)

While a submission win against Misha Cirkunov is nothing to sneeze at, Wellington Turman will face a different class of grappler in Andre Petroski, who can snatch opportunistic submissions and has shown competency on the feet. Turman was notably knocked out by a grappler in Andrew Sanchez in 2020, which gives the 31-year-old avenues to victory if he can't get past the Brazilian fighter's 85 percent takedown defense rate.

Erin Blanchfield ($9,500)

Blanchfield looks to be one of the more impressive grapplers in the sport at the moment after easily defeating Miranda Maverick in 2020 and notching her first submission victory in the organization against JJ Aldrich in June. Molly McCann is a gritty boxer with surprising power, but she has lost convincingly against every wrestler she has faced, having been taken down a combined 14 times in bouts against Gillian Robertson, Taila Santos, and Lara Procopio.

Claudio Puelles ($7,500) 

Strength of schedule and quality of wins make Dan Hooker a rightful favorite here, but Puelles has been a destroyer of worlds on the ground, using lightning-fast transitions to control opponents and set up submission attempts. Hooker has been known to cede the center of the Octagon, and "The Prince of Peru" will use heavy kicks to close the range and create a grappling scenario. From there, the length of Hooker will actually be his worst enemy as Claudio looks to attack his legs in scrambles.

Zhang Weili ($9,400)

For as strong of a wrestler as she is, it may surprise some to learn that Carla Esparza has just a 46 percent takedown defense rate. This doesn't bode well for her fight against Weili, who is a physically strong grappler and submission threat. She will also carry far more power in her hands when the two are on the feet. This doesn't leave many avenues for "Cookie Monster" to be successful, and Zhang has delivered from a DraftKings perspective during her time in the UFC, notching over 100 points four times in eight fights.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Michael Chandler – 2.1 X Multiplier

This may be another case of seniority and accomplishment in the Octagon because I don't see much space between Chandler and Dustin Poirier as fighters. Specifically, I like Chandler's power and ability to wrestle as "The Diamond" gets tired and allows himself to get pressured against the fence. Dustin hasn't dealt with many big punchers during his emergence as a top fighter at lightweight, and Chandler will be explosive and dangerous on his front foot.

Ryan Spann – 2.1 X Multiplier

Spann's hesitancy plagued him during his early UFC career, but "Superman" showed aggressiveness and technique in his win over Ion Cutelaba, utilizing his jab and forcing the fight on his opponent. Dominick Reyes is a slick boxer but has a tendency to wait on his opponents, and Spann has too much power to be allowed to dictate pace. It's also worth noting that this will be Reyes' first real test against a strong grappler, as Chris Weidman was already a shell of his former self when the two fought in 2019.

Renato Moicano -1.9 X Multiplier

Brad Riddell has now been stopped in two consecutive contests, being befuddled by aggression (in the case of Rafael Fiziev) and an inability to get on the inside (in the case of Jalin Turner). He will need to deal with both issues against Moicano, as well as an excellent BJJ game. Moicano will use his kicks to great effect here, which should further trouble the boxer in Riddell.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

Karolina Kowalkiewicz UNDER 64.5 Significant Strikes, Ottman Azaitar UNDER 36.5 Significant Strikes, and Chris Gutierrez OVER 57.5 Strikes

The first two fights carry a similar dynamic, as volume should be kept low in both due to the overwhelming power of one competitor. In the case of Azaitar, his ability to put opponents to sleep may cause trouble for Matt Frevola, who is known to march headlong into boxing range without much regard for defense. If this fight doesn't finish early, it will likely mean that Frevola was successful in employing his wrestling. Either way, significant strikes should be at a minimum.

Kowalkiewicz looked like her old self in her last bout with Felice Herrig, but still got tagged with overhand rights when she left her chin up in the pocket. Silvana Gomez Juarez has frightening power for this division, meaning the Polish fighter would do well to employ more clinching in order to avoid a knockout punch.

While I would love to predict a glorious sendoff for Frankie Edgar, every part of his game seems to have taken a backward step in recent years, including his ability to score takedowns. "The Answer" has completed just five in 17 attempts over his last two fights, and Gutierrez will enter the bout with a takedown defense rate of 74 percent. "El Guapo's" fights in the UFC have largely gone to decision due to his style as a low-volume counter striker, and I think Edgar will be able to force enough clinches to limit significant strike output.

Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight

Seungwoo Choi OVER 56.6 Strikes and Mike Trizano OVER 48.5 Strikes

We have seen both men try to initiate grappling exchanges when they aren't comfortable on the feet, and I think the length and height of Choi will compel Trizano to close the distance. This should lead to 50/50 grappling exchanges with short shots in the clinch and on the ground to run totals up.

Israel Adesanya UNDER 93.5 Strikes and Alex Pereira UNDER 77.5 Strikes

As former kickboxers, both men can get caught waiting on their opponent, so I expect we will see a fair amount of tit-for-tat striking, peppered with a few big exchanges per round. Not only will this lead to low totals, but we need to factor in the possibility that one of those exchanges produces a fight-ending sequence, as both men hit exceptionally hard.

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. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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