This article is part of our FanDuel MMA series.
We are back at it with another UFC card! UFC Vegas 15 features 15 bouts, which makes for plenty of opportunities to roster fighters in our FanDuel lineups!
If I do not mention a fighter in this article, it does not mean I am not considering them for a specific category. Still, I am putting fighters in these categories out of respect for prioritization.
Let's get into it!
FanDuel Scoring System:
Moves Scoring (MVP 1.5X)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.9 PTS
Takedown (TD): +9 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): +4.5 PTS
Submission Attempt (SA): +7.5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +18 PTS
Moves Scoring (Standard)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.6 PTS
Takedown (TD): +6 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): 3
Submission Attempt (SA): 5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +12 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (MVP 1.5X)
1st Round Win (1stW): +150 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +112.5 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +75 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +52.5 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +37.5 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +30 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (Standard)
1st Round Win (1stW): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +75 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +35 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +25 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +20 PTS
MVP Top Play
Curtis Blaydes ($23)
Mentioning Curtis Blaydes in this category is not a "hot take," but I believe Blaydes is the best play on the slate given his projected floor and upside if he defeats Derrick Lewis. Blaydes has the most substantial win inside distance line and has five rounds to find the finish. Blaydes has often fought at a high pace (i.e., landed fourteen takedowns against Volkov and ten takedowns against Hunt), and it is challenging to stop his style. If Blaydes survives through Lewis's threat of power (i.e., Blaydes has shown a good chin overall), he is very likely to win this fight (i.e., is the superior striker, athlete, grappler, and has far better cardio). He will be a prevalent option, but I will have a lot of exposure to Curtis Blaydes this weekend in my lineups.
Cash Game Underdogs
Yana Kunitskaya ($8)
I think there's a good argument to be made that the odds for Kunitskaya vs. Vieira should be closer. I still favor Vieira to win (i.e., is the superior grappler, and the standup is likely competitive), but I tend to think she's unlikely to dominate anywhere the fight goes. In my eyes, Yana is the superior striker (i.e., Muay Thai and Taekwondo credentials). Even though she's lost fights due to the opposition's grappling threat (i.e., before coming to the UFC), she's made significant improvements defensively (i.e., utilizes wiser, digs for under hooks, good at controlling the oppositions posture on the mat to avoid considerable damage).
I can see Vieira taking Yana down, but I think there's a decent chance she does not dominate once on the ground, which, therefore, can make the fight competitive. Yana is an underdog that I think has a solid chance of making it to the judges' scorecards and making the fight very competitive. For a bargain price on FanDuel, I am interested in rostering her in my cash game lineup.
Luis Pena ($13)
I favor Pena's opponent, Drakkar Klose, to win (i.e., superior wrestler, can have success with the leg kicks, is not taking this fight on short notice), but I think Pena can make this fight closer than odds indicate. Though Pena's takedown defense is a huge liability (i.e., is 45% per ufcstats.com), he is a solid scrambler and leverages his length well on the mat (i.e., has eight reversals in the UFC). Also, Klose has shown to be content to strike for extensive periods, and in the striking exchanges, Pena will have a five-inch reach advantage and is the more fluid striker of the two (in my opinion). I like Pena's chances of making it to the scorecards (i.e., Klose has not won a fight via finish in the UFC) and making this fight competitive.
Darrick Minner ($10)
Darrick Minner is a very threatening submission grappler early in fights. He's continuously shown to pursue the early finish and risk his cardio for the latter part of the fight (i.e., gassed in round 2 against Camus, gassed after round 1 against Sanders). I think he can takedown Rosa early in this fight (i.e., Rosa's takedown defense is 45%, has been taken down quickly because he's confident in his grappling skills on the mat) and put Rosa in trouble early (i.e., Rosa was nearly submitted by Mitchell multiple times and his guard has been passed several times in the UFC beyond the Mitchell fight). If Rosa can survive Minner's submission onslaught (i.e., Minner is willing to go for submissions over getting a dominant position), Rosa likely wins this fight. However, Minner is a FanDuel consideration for me because it's like to be by an early finish if he wins.
Aleksei Oleinik ($11)
Aleksei Oleinik is mainly a leverage play as I believe Daukaus will get a lot of love on FanDuel (rightfully so), but Oleinik is not a big underdog in this matchup. Oleinik also has an excellent win inside the distance line relative to all the underdogs on this card. Daukaus has been finished in all of his professional MMA losses, and his defensive MMA grappling remains mostly unknown. Oleinik is a very high-level submission grappler and is undoubtedly the more tested UFC fighter. I am willing to target Oleinik in GPPs.
Shana Dobson ($13)
Shana Dobson and her opponent Casey O'Neill are both very inexperienced in MMA. The tape study also suggests they are both very liable defensively yet aggressive offensively (especially O'Neill). In a fight where I think the public will not target much due to the odds suggesting it's very likely to go to a decision, I am willing to target this fight a bit in GPPs with the thought process of maybe one of these fighters can get a finish either on the ground or in striking exchanges.
Nassourdine Imavov ($15)
Nassourdine Imavov is an excellent talent (i.e., good technical striker, opportunistic submission threat, solid cardio for three rounds, double leg takedown ability). I believe Nassourdine is one of the most likely underdogs to win on this card. His opponent, Phil Hawes, is a dangerous finisher and explosive athlete. Still, Hawes has historically shown to have susceptible cardio (i.e., very muscular frame and was exhausted in round two against Marquez), liable striking defense (i.e., the chin is very high when trading in the pocket), and questionable durability (i.e., was rocked by Louis Taylor and Julian Marquez). Imavov has shown proficient countering ability, sound defense, and the ability to threaten to finish via striking and ground. I like Imavov's chances of winning this fight a lot if he makes it out of the first (though I think he can still win this fight inside the first round).
GPP Pivot Favorites
Chris Daukaus ($20)
Chris Daukaus and Tom Aspinall have very similar upside, yet Daukaus has a cheaper FanDuel and is potentially lower owned. Daukaus has strong and fast hands (i.e., has the hand speed advantage over Oleinik) while showing the ability to throw in combination with proficiently. Oleinik is not as good of a technical boxer as Daukaus and has been finished via strikes in eight of his fourteen professional MMA bouts. The TKO/KO finish from Daukaus here seems very reasonable, and that is the primary reason I am targeting him for GPPs.
Charles Rosa ($20)
As touched on under 'GPP Underdogs,' Minner typically is very aggressive at getting the early finish. If unsuccessful, he tends to get finished (i.e., Minner has been finished in ten of his eleven pro-MMA losses). Rosa is a BJJ Black Belt (i.e., has a threatening guard, and eight of his thirteen pro-MMA wins are via submission). I believe he can finish Minner in this fight (i.e., Minner has historically gotten his guard passed countless times), especially if Minner gets tired. I am willing to target Rosa thinking he can grapple effectively with added upside of finishing and is likely lower owned than many other options in his price range.
Casey O'Neill ($18)
I am not sold on Casey O'Neill being an elite technical grappler, but Shana Dobson defends takedown at a rate of 0%. She has shown a weakness in grappling many times (i.e., against Mazo, Modaferri on TUF, and Agapova in round 1). O'Neill is slick in grappling transitions, will sink in both hooks if presented in the back, and is at least a BJJ Purple Belt. O'Neill is also willing to pressure in striking exchanges, which Dobson has shown to be susceptible against in the past (i.e., against Mazo and Mueller). I don't think O'Neill will be a popular target, but I am willing to target her, thinking she is an aggressive fighter who may possess the skills to earn a finish in this matchup despite what the odds suggest.
John Casteneda ($16)
John Casteneda is facing Eddie Wineland, who appears to be near the end of his fighting career. Eddie has considered retirement in the past and is likely at the speed disadvantage against the much younger Casteneda. Eddie's striking defense gives me pause. He tends to keep his hands low and chin high, therefore, relying on his reactionary movement to slip punches. At 36 years old, I am not sure how much longer this tendency will work for him if he keeps fighting. Eddie's durability also concerns me (i.e., Popov rocked him, knocked out by O'Malley in the most recent fight). Casteneda is mainly reliant on getting a TKO/KO finish for a big score on FanDuel, but it is a risk I am willing to take as I do not think the public will be high on him.
Phil Hawes ($17)
The majority of Phil Hawes wins come in the first round , and I tend to think that if he wins versus Nassourdine Imavov, it will likely materialize then. Hawes is a threatening striker (i.e., is varied, has power, utilizes feints), a great athlete (i.e., Division I Wrestling background), and a strong grappler (i.e., BJJ Brown Belt, Junior National Champion Wrestler, double leg takedown ability) while he's fresh. Hawes is a threat to many fighters because of the physical and technical tools he is fresh, so I am willing to target him on FanDuel.
Danny Chavez ($17)
Danny Chavez made an excellent debut at UFC 252. I was very impressed with his defensive grappling, offensive grappling, low kicks (they're thrown with power), and boxing (i.e., fast hands, has power). Danny trains at MMA Masters amongst other excellent UFC talents (i.e., Miguel Baeza, Colby Covington, and others), which I see positively. Danny is facing a more UFC-tested Jared Gordon. Gordon has shown questionable durability (i.e., was finished via strikes by Charles Oliviera, Joaquim Silva, and Carlos Diego Ferreira) and susceptible striking defense in the past (i.e., does not utilize proper head movement and is willing to brawl in the pocket like against Hacran Dias). I think there are enough openings defensively for Danny to exploit, which may lead to a finish. I am willing to target Danny in my FanDuel lineups.
GPP Fades/Fighters To Be Light On
Ketlen Vieira ($22)
The reason why I will have very little exposure to Ketlen Vieira on FanDuel is simple. She has a high price and does not have as emphatic a win inside the distance line as many favorites. I also think her fight with Yana Kunitskaya may play out very competitively. When I am paying up for a fighter to the roster, I'd like to invest in them, thinking they have a strong chance to put up a big FanDuel score, and I don't think there is a high likelihood Vieira does this weekend. I'd instead target Ketlen's opponent, Yana Kunitskaya, on FanDuel this weekend.
Drakkar Klose ($18)
Like Ketlen Veiria, Drakkar Klose does not have as emphatic a win inside the distance line as many other favorites on this card. Also, Klose has not won a fight by a finish since coming to the UFC (i.e., seven bouts) I think this fight may play out very competitively, considering Luis Pena is the longer fighter (i.e., Pena has a 5-inch arm reach advantage and is 6-inches taller). Klose has shown the willingness to strike for extended periods, so in theory, his grappling upside is capped as well (I think this would benefit Pena). Where finishes are significantly valued, I'd instead target other options in Klose's price range this weekend on FanDuel with better chances to finish.