This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
While we had a late main event reshuffle, the UFC Vegas 23 card is once again set to deliver for a nationally-televised audience on ABC, with 15 fights set to go down.
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 $350k 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.
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)
- 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 - Middleweight
In for Darren Till, Holland will be fighting in his second main event in a three-week span. He was thoroughly dominated and dissected by Derek Brunson in his prior bout. It was a concerning performance from Holland on multiple levels. Viewed by many as a one-dimensional striker, Holland allowed Brunson to connect on six successful takedown attempts. In addition, his body language throughout the course of the fight was terrible. He was joking around, talking to Brunson and talking to people outside the cage, all while not being the least bit competitive. I picked Brunson in that fight, but I was shocked at how poor Holland looked. This fight, on extremely short notice, may very well be a taller task than that one.
A winner of four fights in a row and undefeated for nearly three years, Vettori earns his second straight main event opportunity. Oddly enough, the Italian stepped in on late notice for Holland in his most recent bout last December and took an easy unanimous decision from Jack Hermansson. Vettori is easily one of the best middleweights in the world despite not yet being a household name. His cardio is exceptional, as is his offensive output (4.78 significant strikes landed per minute) and stand-up defense (66 percent). It's only a matter of time before Vettori gets the recognition he deserves. There's simply too much talent here.
Holland is three inches taller and enters with a seven-inch reach advantage. They're imperative numbers considering Holland has very little chance of winning anything other than a kickboxing match.
The one thing that impressed me the most about Vettori's win over Hermansson was his ability to handle Jack's constant pressure. He essentially did to Hermansson what Jack did to all his opponents up to that point. And while Holland may hit harder, Vettori has displayed a much higher fight IQ, in addition to an ability to tailor his game plan to specific opposition.
Holland is going to get picked apart if he goes into the Octagon swinging like a wild man. Vettori is too smart and too talented to fall for that. He's also exceedingly durable, having never been knocked out in his professional career. It was just one fight, but I'm out on Holland until I see him perform against another high-level opponent. I simply have too many concerns on the heels of the Brunson fight. That said, this is a prime buy-low spot for him if you think his performance against Brunson was a fluke. I doubt there is a $3000 gap in DK salary between the two.
THE PICK: Vettori
Co-Main Event - Featherweight
Allen was scheduled to face Jeremy Stephens last November before the latter was forced to withdraw. While that would have been an excellent fight, this is a potential breakout spot for Allen on a national stage. The 27-year-old Brit is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC, including wins over Gilbert Melendez, Nik Lentz and Makwan Amirkhani. There are only two complaints I have regarding Allen's game, and both are relatively minor. The first is the fact that five of those seven UFC victories have come via decision. The second is that Allen has been relatively inactive over the course of his time with the company. Now we don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but Allen fought just once in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, twice in 2019, and once again in 2020.
Yusuff has been on the sidelines for roughly the past 13 months. A product of Dana White's Contender Series, Yusuff is also perfect in the UFC (4-0), with a pair of knockouts and a pair of unanimous decision wins. What you see is what you get with Sodiq. He's aggressive, hits hard and is fairly one-dimensional. He's the type of fighter who can do all sorts of damage if he's landing with regularity, but struggles when facing an opponent who can stop him from stringing together combinations. Yusuff also hasn't faced much in the way of quality competition, with Andre Fili likely the best man he has seen inside the Octagon to date.
Allen is the type of fighter who tends to be overlooked simply because he doesn't have one elite skill to fall back on. While his game has no true weaknesses, Yusuff's power is the greatest single attribute either man brings to the table. Thankfully Allen has proven to be exceedingly durable, having never been knocked out in his professional career.
I'm torn here. I could get on board with the Vegas odds, but Allen appears severely underpriced from a DK perspective. He should probably be about $300-$400 more than he's listed at, and that's enough for me to take a shot on him as an underdog. I expect a drawn-out and competitive fight.
THE PICK: Allen
Viewed as nothing but roster depth in the early portion of her UFC career, Ansaroff came out of nowhere to pick up four-straight victories over reasonable competition (Claudia Gadelha, Randa Markos, Angela Hill, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger) before dropping a unanimous decision to Tatiana Suarez in June 2019. Ansaroff has been on the sidelines since, as she gave birth to a daughter, her first child with her wife UFC Women's Bantamweight/Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes. Ansaroff could retire tomorrow, and I would consider her run with the company a success. She's very limited athletically and has little stopping power in her hands, although Ansaroff is durable and doesn't beat herself.
This is a weird fight for Dern to accept. It's going to do nothing for her in terms of the rankings, and she will be expected to dominate an opponent who hasn't fought for the better part of the past two years. Dern turned 28 late last month, so while she's theoretically entering the prime of her career, she's behind where she probably should be in terms of MMA experience because she got a late start given her dominance in the world of BJJ.
Dern's last fight was particularly encouraging. She took a unanimous decision from Virna Jandiroba in December, who was by far the best opponent she had seen to date. Of course, Jandiroba is a mat specialist like Dern, so it didn't tell us a ton in terms of how much her striking is progressed. Dern lacks technical skill in the stand-up and is borderline reckless on the feet at times, but it's difficult to tell if that's her style of fighting or just due to a lack of experience. Her grappling is so good that even average striking combined with her youth and athleticism would give her a very high ceiling.
This is not a difficult pick, but it's an exciting one given the fact Dern is bafflingly an underdog. Dern's upside if infinitely higher, and then you toss in the fact Ansaroff hasn't fought for nearly two years. The intrigue, if you can call it that, surrounding Nina is that she can fight loose and comfortable since expectations are so low. I still don't think it will matter. I expect this line to swing in Dern's direction as the fight progresses.
THE PICK: Dern
A fighter with far more "name" than "game" at this point in his career, Perry has lost three of his past four and is sporting a 3-6 record dating back to December 2017. Perry has legitimate power and is tough as nails, but he absorbs so punishment on the feet that it has proven difficult for him to get any sort of streak going. Perry's been trending in the wrong direction for the last couple years and missed weight for his last fight – a unanimous decision loss to Tim Means – last November. I'm not optimistic things will turn around for him.
Rodriguez began his UFC run with wins over Means, Gabriel Green and Dwight Grant before being decisioned by the underrated Nicolas Dalby on the same card in which Perry lost to Means. Rodriguez's style is extremely similar to Perry's. He's uber-aggressive on the feet and offers little elsewhere. Rodriguez lands 7.68 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 6.12 per minute. Both of those numbers are ridiculously high and likely unsustainable.
Rodriguez is likely the better wrestler, but I expect this to be a senseless brawl. For that reason I advocate DraftKings players getting a piece of it in one form or another. Rodriguez is about five years older, but Perry has been in so many wars in his day that I think he's considerably older in MMA years than his 29-year-old age.
There's a three-inch edge here for Rodriguez in terms of both height and reach. I generally don't put a ton of stock in those type of numbers except when a fight projects to be contested almost entirely in the stand-up such as this one.
Perry is a mildly intriguing underdog simply because it generally takes so much to get him out of there, but I don't think he wins. His future would appear to be pretty bleak at this point.
THE PICK: Rodriguez
John Makdessi (17-7-0) v. Ignacio Bahamondes (11-3-0)
DK Salaries: Makdessi ($7,300), Bahamondes ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Makdessi (+160), Bahamondes (-185)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Bahamondes
Impa Kasanganay (8-1-0) v. Sasha Palatnikov (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Kasanganay ($9,500), Palatnikov ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Kasanganay (-290), Palatnikov (+245)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Kasanganay