UFC 278 takes place this Saturday in Salt Lake City. The card is headlined by a rematch between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards for the UFC welterweight title. Usman and Edwards originally fought back in 2015, and Usman won by decision.
Usman is on a massive hot streak and is slowly getting his name thrown into the mix for greatest welterweight of all time. Usman has gone 15-0 in the UFC, and with a win this weekend, Usman would tie Anderson Silva for the longest win streak in UFC history with 16 straight wins.
Other notable names on the UFC 278 card include former champions Jose Aldo and Luke Rockhold.
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Stud To Pay Up For
Kamaru Usman ($9,100)
Usman has traditionally been a massive fantasy producer on the back of an elite mix of grappling and striking. Usman ranks third among all active UFC fighters in control time, 10th in takedowns landed, and seventh in total strikes landed. Usman also never loses—he is an incredible 15-0 in UFC fights and is on the verge of tying Anderson Silva for the longest win streak in UFC history with 16 straight wins. As a result, Usman is averaging 122 DraftKings fantasy points per fight, the highest on the slate.
Usman’s elite wrestling gives him the ability to dictate where this fight takes place. In his first fight against Edwards, Usman recorded six total takedowns and controlled Edwards for over two-thirds of the fight. As Usman’s striking has improved, he has backed off aggressive offensive wrestling—Usman has attempted just three total takedowns in his last three fights combined. However, the threat of Usman’s takedown could open up room to land strikes, as Edwards has to worry about level changes and protecting his legs and hips from takedowns, which can result in punches sneaking through to the head.
If Usman chooses to wrestle with Edwards, he is far superior and could rack up big control time and takedown statistics. If Usman chooses to strike, he also has multiple paths to victory. Usman’s striking has dramatically improved recently, and he has displayed an excellent jab along with a big power right hand. Edwards has never been finished before, but Nate Diaz had Edwards badly hurt very late in Round 5 in Edwards’ most recent fight. Since Edwards primarily stands southpaw, Usman’s power right hand could find the mark in this fight, as Edwards’ lead hand and lead shoulder will primarily be on the opposite side of Usman’s right hand.
Usman’s elite well-rounded skills give him a big edge in this matchup, and his fantasy ceiling is explosive—Usman has scored as many as 195 DKFP in a single fight. Since this is a five-round title fight, there are also potentially 10 extra minutes to generate fantasy scoring.
Paulo Costa ($8,700)
Costa is a BJJ black belt, but he does not use his grappling for offense. Costa has only attempted two total takedowns in seven UFC fights. Instead, Costa is primarily a striker. 11 of Costa’s 13 career wins are by KO/TKO, and he throws a lot of striking volume. Costa is landing nearly seven significant strikes per minute, which makes him the biggest volume striker on the slate.
Costa’s opponent, Luke Rockhold, is a former champion, but he is getting old and his chin has not held up in recent fights. Rockhold has lost three of his last four fights by KO/TKO.
Costa’s aggressive striking style combined with Rockhold’s diminishing ability to take strikes makes Costa a good candidate to win and produce a solid fantasy score.
#OnThisDay in 2019, @BorrachinhaMMA & Yoel Romero left it ALL in the Octagon— UFC (@ufc) August 17, 2022
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Merab Dvalishvili ($8,200)
Merab Dvalishvili is one of the highest fantasy scorers among all UFC fighters in part due to his style. Dvalishvili is relentless and works a fast pace, smothering opponents with takedowns and control time. Dvalishvili is averaging an incredible 7.3 takedowns per 15 minutes and has racked up 63 total takedowns, the fourth most among all active UFC fighters. Dvalishvili lands good striking volume, landing over four significant strikes per minute. Dvalishvili has absorbed only about two significant strikes per minute, which also gives him a good strikes landed to absorbed ratio. As a result, Dvalishvili is averaging a heavy 117 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) per fight, the second-highest mark on the slate.
Jose Aldo has traditionally been very difficult to take down, stopping 90% of opponent takedown attempts, but Dvalishvili’s relentless pressure could tire Aldo out and help Dvalishvili take over as the fight goes on.
As a -130 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, Dvalishvili’s matchup vs. Aldo is winnable, and his affordable $8,200 price tag combined with his elite fantasy-scoring style gives him a chance to be the top value play on the slate.
All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.
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