UFC 282 is taking place from Las Vegas on Saturday, and the event has already undergone massive changes to the main card. Jiri Prochazka was originally set to defend the UFC light heavyweight title in a rematch against Glover Teixeira, but Prochazka suffered a significant shoulder injury in training, which forced him to vacate the title. Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev was promoted to the UFC 282 main event and the two will compete for the vacant light heavyweight title. Robbie Lawler’s fight against Santiago Ponzinibbio was also canceled due to an injury to Lawler, and Ponzinibbio will instead face late replacement Alex Morono.
DraftKings is hosting a huge UFC 282 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $700,000 in total prizes, including $150,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: UFC $700K UFC 282 Special [$150K to 1st].
Vinicius Salvador ($8,900)
Editor’s note: Vinicius Salvador vs. Daniel Da Silva has been canceled.
Salvador has a plus matchup against Daniel Da Silva, who has absorbed a ton of strikes. In three UFC fights, Da Silva has absorbed a colossal 10 significant strikes per minute, which is incredibly high. Da Silva’s striking defense on a rate basis is also extremely poor, avoiding just 26% of opponent significant strike attempts. Da Silva has been knocked down and finished by KO/TKO in two of his three UFC fights.
Salvador only has one UFC fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, but he ran a fast pace in that fight, landing over eight significant strikes per minute and recording a heavy three knockdowns. Salvador is positioned well to land a lot of strikes in this matchup and win the fight with a high fantasy score.
Jan Blachowicz ($7,000)
Blachowicz is the third-cheapest fighter on the DraftKings fantasy UFC slate, and his matchup against Magomed Ankalaev appears closer than this pricing indicates.
Despite having a wrestling background growing up in Dagestan, Ankalaev does not utilize a lot of aggressive offensive wrestling. Ankalaev is converting under one takedown per 15 minutes and has been successful on only 33% of his takedown attempts. For comparison, monstrous Dagestani wrestler and UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is averaging roughly 3.5 takedowns per 15 minutes and has been successful on 65% of his takedown attempts. In addition, Ankalaev’s primary wrestling background is Greco, which utilizes upper-body clinch work as opposed to level changes and leg attacks.
Instead, Ankalaev is more of a patient counter striker. If this ends up being primarily a striking match, Blachowicz will be extremely dangerous. Blachowicz has the length advantage, carrying a three-inch reach advantage, which will help him on distance strikes. Blachowicz also has a powerful right hand, which will come into play given Ankalaev stands southpaw. The best method for an orthodox fighter to attack a southpaw is with the right hand, because a southpaw’s lead defensive shoulder is on the opposite side of the orthodox fighter’s right hand, giving more clearance to find the button on the right side.
Ankalaev has been hurt in fights before on the feet, most notably against Thiago Santos, where Ankalaev was knocked down with standing strikes and put on his back. Ankalaev also had his legs wobbled in his fight against Dalcha Lungiambula.
Blachowicz is a very live underdog given his punching power and reach advantage and could provide big value in DraftKings fantasy MMA contests. This is also the only five-round fight on the card, which could create 10 more minutes to generate fantasy scoring.
Jared Gordon ($7,100)
Gordon is the fourth-cheapest fighter on the slate for a matchup against rising English fighter Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett. Pimblett is charismatic and is good at getting people engaged, which has resulted in him receiving a lot of hype and attention.
Gordon represents a step up in competition for Pimblett. Gordon is 4-1 in his last five fights and has strong striking metrics, landing nearly six significant strikes per minute while absorbing about three significant strikes per minute. Gordon has also fought elite competition in the past, most notably facing former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira in 2019.
While Pimblett has the potential to develop into a star down the road, there are some aspects of Pimblett’s current game that could be exploited by better competition. Pimblett’s defense is leaky both on a rate basis and visually. Pimblett is avoiding just 41% of opponent significant strike attempts, which is not good. In comparison, Gordon has avoided 57% of opponent significant strike attempts. Pimblett has the tendency to keep his chin upright and stationary, which could make him vulnerable when he is in range on distance strikes.
The public may be underestimating Gordon in this matchup. Gordon has a path to victory through Pimblett’s shaky striking defense, and his ownership in DraftKings fantasy MMA contests may be low due to Pimblett’s hype and star power.
Chris Daukaus ($7,500)
Daukaus and his opponent, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, have both lost to strong competition in the UFC. Daukaus is coming off two consecutive losses, but each loss was to top 10 heavyweights in Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. Rozenstruik’s losses have also been to quality opponents, including elite heavyweights Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, along with top 10 heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov.
Daukaus enters this fight with much more appealing striking metrics. Daukaus is landing over six significant strikes per minute, which is strong striking volume. Daukaus’ defensive metrics are also good, avoiding 59% of opponent significant strike attempts. On the flip side, Rozenstruik’s striking metrics are poor. Rozenstruik has absorbed more strikes than he has landed and has avoided only 45% of opponent significant strike attempts.
Daukaus is a little risky because he has been knocked out multiple times, but Daukaus runs a faster pace than Rozenstruik and could position himself for a good fantasy score with striking volume and a possible finish. Rozenstruik has been knocked out twice in his last six fights, and 11 of Daukaus’ 12 career wins are by KO/TKO. Daukaus has scored over 100 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) in each of his four UFC wins.
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.