UFC 286 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 286 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

I can't think of a better word to describe the UFC 286 card than "chaotic," as several unproven fighters are given massive favorite status against skilled (if limited) opponents. We'll take a look at every bout on a stuffed slate, including a jiu-jitsu guard specialist and a bruiser who seems to be adding new wrinkles to his game.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Kamaru Usman ($8,900)

Usman's ownership will likely be incredibly high at this price, but his determination to get takedowns, combined with how readily Leon Edwards accepts being placed on the back foot, leaves us little choice. Edwards is a good enough anti-wrestler to stay on his feet and make the early rounds interesting, but "Rocky" got worn down by the pace and pressure in the middle frames of the rematch, and I'm not exactly banking on a fifth-round head kick to steal the show this time around.

Gunnar Nelson ($9,500)

I think of Bryan Barberena as a reverse cash cow when he is facing a committed wrestler. Not only because he has defended takedowns at just a 54 percent rate, but because his penchant for working back to his feet allows him to be grounded again. "Bam Bam" has been brought to the mat at least four times in five of his last six fights, and Nelson was perfectly content to play a smothering grappling game with Takashi Sato in his last fight. Put all of this together, and what emerges is a fighter who may actually have some GPP upside, despite the seemingly prohibitive price. 

Jack Shore ($9,500)

Shore's matchup against Makwan Amirkhani is the closest I'll ever come to saying someone in an MMA fight has no path to victory. The issue is that Shore is far better than "Mr.Finland" in his area of expertise (grappling), and "Tank" will pressure and throw enough volume on the feet to take Amirkhani off of his game. I expect this fight to go like so many others in which Makwan can't immediately get a finish. Specifically, that he will get tired and allow Shore to take over. This is another fight where multiple takedowns and scrambles can potentially lead to a stoppage, which may compel some to consider Shore in GPPs as well as cash games.

Casey O'Neill ($8,600)

O'Neill's inability to take down Roxanne Modafferi may make some leery about rolling with her against such a physically strong opponent as Jennifer Maia, but if she can't take down the Brazilian fighter, I trust her to overwhelm the slow-footed counterpuncher with incredible volume. O'Neill landed a whopping 229 significant strikes against "The Happy Warrior" in that victory, and "King" will stay in Maia's face from the opening bell, not allowing her to set up her shots.

Dusko Todorovic ($7,500)

Todorovic against Christian Leroy Duncan may just be one of those fights where two men swing until one of them falls, but we've seen Todorovic grapple quite a bit lately, notching three takedowns in his last three bouts. Duncan has actually shown quite a bit of craft in his standup game, employing plenty of agility and feints, but he's been taken down and held there in every fight of his I was able to get my hands on. Whichever way the fight goes, I'm happy to take my shot on the underdog in a low-level matchup that is likely to see a finish.

Malcolm Gordon ($6,900)

I expected Gordon to be an underdog in this spot but seeing him as a massive dog just feels off. not only has Gordon fought (and beaten) better competition, but there doesn't appear to be much to Jake Hadley's game besides an aggressive guard and pressure. This isn't exactly a revelation for a fighter at flyweight, as Gordon is plenty quick and is a blackbelt who was able to scramble with Muhammad Mokaev in portions of their fight. I'm not totally convinced "X" walks away a winner, but I certainly haven't seen enough from Hadley to justify this sort of line.

Marvin Vettori ($9,100)

I like to zig when others zag, and I get the feeling that Roman Dolidze will be a relatively popular underdog on Saturday. While we've seen him display some slick grappling, we shouldn't forget that Dolidze was getting soundly beaten at range by Jack Hermansson, and Vettori is a BJJ blackbelt who has never been finished in 24 professional fights. I think the power, size and scrambling ability will all pay dividends here, allowing the Italian fighter to win this bout no matter where it takes place.

Lerone Murphy ($8,300)

We saw in his fight with Ricardo Ramos that Murphy has the wrestling and scrambling ability to hang with anyone on the mat, and I think we will see takedowns from the undefeated fighter here, as Gabriel Santos loves to bear down and take the space away from opponents. The short-notice nature of this fight could result in Murphy attempting to sap the energy and power of the Brazilian while allowing him to work his underrated grappling. 

Muhammad Mokaev ($9,700)

Unlike some other high-priced wrestlers above, I won't argue the upside in Mokaev at this price. While he is a cardio machine who has put up at least 120 points in all three of his UFC wins, he will get an opponent in Jafel Filho who is willing to play a submission game on the mat. This should force Mokaev to be a bit more careful, which could limit his enthusiasm to take the fight to the ground.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Jai Herbert – 2.1 X Multiplier

Herbert is such a slick and physical kickboxer that he's had major successes in each of his UFC losses, including a booming head kick that knocked down the streaking Ilia Topuria when the two fought last year. I expect Herbert to be a step ahead of L'udovit Klein when the two are at range in this one, and I can't count on Klein's skills as a grappler to bail him out of tough spots.

Veronica Hardy -2.35 X Multiplier

In between Juliana Miller's domination of Brogan Walker were a few tense moments where she lost position in scrambles. Hardy's one reliable skill is catching submissions off of her back, and I can't trust a fighter with four professional bouts to not make a mistake on the ground. Being more physical than her opponents on the ground is a big part of Miller's offensive game, and I'm not sure what happens when someone is able to combat it.

Chris Duncan 2.05 X Multiplier

Duncan is the kind of brawler I wouldn't usually pick against a methodical kickboxer like Omar Morales, but the Venezuelan fighter can be passive to the point of inaction, and Duncan will be bearing down on him from the opening bell. Morales will land some hard kicks as he always does, but I've never seen him sustain enough offense to keep an aggressive opponent at bay.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

Joanne Wood OVER 70.5 Significant Strikes, Sam Patterson OVER 41.5 Significant Strikes, and Rafael Fiziev OVER 53.5 Significant Strikes 

Wood's number may be the highest we've seen in a three-round fight in the history of this article series, but I'm taking the over fairly confidently, as "Jojo" lands an incredible 6.76 significant strikes per minute, and has just two finishes in her 15 UFC fights. Wood will have every advantage imaginable against Luana Carolina, who is slow on her feet and has absorbed 3.55 significant strikes per minute in her six UFC appearances.

Yanal Ashmoz is unlikely to wrestle against Patterson, meaning he will need to find some way to navigate a 10-inch reach disadvantage. The Israeli fighter has shown himself to be durable, but he will likely be on the receiving end of strikes from Patterson for the better part of 15 minutes.

We all love watching Justin Gaethje fight, but he will be at a significant technique disadvantage against Fiziev, who is lightning-fast, shows great defensive awareness, and can attack with all eight limbs. "The Human Highlight" will stand in front of his opponent to absorb damage as usual, and should get all he can handle against one of the slickest strikers in the division.


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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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