On Saturday, UFC 256 will take center stage at the APEX Center in Las Vegas. It’s the second to last card of the year and the absolute last pay-per-view of 2020. The bout sheet is a well-appointed affair with plenty of name value as well as promising new talent. Even with the cancellation of four fights, we’re still left with ten and they’re all great. The show will be headlined by Deiveson Figueiredo making his second title defense in just three weeks against the always dangerous Brandon Moreno. It’s not lost on me that the last three title fights of the year will have all been flyweight bouts. The co-main event is a bona fide scorcher, as Tony Ferguson will be battling Charles Oliveira. Other intriguing fights include Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba and Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda.
We’ve put together a handy guide to provide stats and facts that may aid you in making your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups. Let’s take a look at those.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 256 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $600K in guaranteed prizes, including $150K to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 7:30 p.m. ET. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $600K 256 Special [$150K to 1st].
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Tony Ferguson, $8,600
Tony Ferguson is an orthodox volume striker who averages a very respectable 5.80 strikes per minute while absorbing 4.04 strikes in that same time frame. He’s not the one who posts the highest volume on this card, but he can be counted on to have a fairly high output. He has a long reach, purpose-built for pot-shotting at range and the length to fire off lethal head and body kicks. He takes a while to get fully engaged, so the first round is the shakiest for him, but he comes on strong in the second and subsequent rounds. People have been questioning his durability since the loss to Justin Gaethje, but I’m of the opinion that Charles Oliveira ($7,600), even with his newfound knockout power, doesn’t have the same wrecking ball that Gaethje does, thus presenting less of a threat in the standup, and we cannot overlook Ferguson’s own 12 knockouts (automatic entry to our Knockout Kings category). That said, if “Do Bronx” is going to get the win, it would be in that opening stanza. Conversely, Oliveira doesn’t do as well in the later rounds, so the longer the fight goes, the better Ferguson’s chances are of winning.
Billy Quarantillo, $8,500
Billy Quarantillo is one of the best prospects to come from Dana White’s Contender Series. He’s well rounded with excellent grappling, good hand and foot speed and a hammer of a right hand. He is the true embodiment of a volume striker, averaging 7.51 strikes per minute while still being somewhat defensively sound with an absorption rate of 3.45 strikes per minute. Billy faces a tough opponent in Gavin Tucker ($7,700), also a very good grappler, but Tucker isn’t quite as athletically gifted as Quarantillo, especially in the power department. He’s also not as experienced since a good portion of his career was sidelined by injuries. Billy has a much better strength of schedule, as well. The long and the short of it is that Quarantillo has much more upside than Tucker. That’s not to say Tucker can’t win, but the odds favor Billy for a reason.
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Junior Dos Santos, $7,000
Junior Dos Santos has been entertaining UFC fans since 2008 when he knocked out Fabricio Werdum way back at UFC 90. “Cigano” might have a deteriorating chin, but his standup is still very good and we’re all quite aware that power is the last thing to go on an aging fighter. With 15 knockout wins on his record, Dos Santos is still a legitimate threat to anyone that faces him. He’s a boxer at heart and has the length and ranginess to work from the outside and the confidence in his power to fight in the clinch. His opponent, Ciryl Gane ($9,200) is a French kickboxer with plenty of upside, but it seems that he’s taking the plunge into the upper echelon with this fight kind of early. Junior’s three-fight losing skid comes at the hands of three big punchers in Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. Gane is 6-0 and while he has some knockouts, his power hasn’t yet revealed itself to be in the same league as Big Franci’s. That said, Junior’s chin is quite eroded, and he still keeps his hands too low. He also has durability issues which puts him squarely in our Gas Guzzlers category. This is a big step up the ladder for Gane and he is the favorite here for a reason, but I wouldn’t completely rule out JDS just yet.
Deiveson Figueiredo, $9,000
I feel like “The Most Interesting Man in the World” moniker should go to Deiveson Figueiredo. He is a multi-talented man, capable of handling buffalo, whipping up some sushi, giving an awesome haircut and cleaning the clocks of mortal men. Figgy is an aggressive power puncher with a rocket right (nine knockouts) and a very good ground game (eight submissions). He faces Brandon Moreno ($7,200) just three weeks after choking out Alex Perez in the first round. Moreno doesn’t have the striking prowess that Deiveson has, but he is a very accomplished grappler, so even with Fig’s big power advantage, Moreno is still in this, especially if he can manage to get the champ into the later rounds where he could tire. But, let’s be crystal clear, Figs has way more upside, of that, I am sure.
*Tony Ferguson, $8,600
Charles Oliveira, $7,600
Charles Oliveira has been wanting a real step up in competition for the last couple years, but the UFC matchmakers inched him along, giving him fringe contenders and pairing him up with Nik Lentz three times for whatever reason. They gave him Kevin Lee in his last outing, but the real level change (see what I did there?) came when the UFC booked this bout with Tony Ferguson. This is the fight that puts him in serious title contention discussions if he wins. “Do Bronx” is a gifted grappler with 19 wins coming by way of submission. Chuckie Olives is an opportunist at heart and if you check out his footage and record, you will note that he has a lot of front chokes. That’s because he uses them to capitalize on the mistakes his opponents make—namely, trying to get him down with doubles or singles. He’s smooth and flawless with his transitions, scrambles like the fate of the world depends on him getting position and now has added power to his skill set. Charles has his flaws, though, and the most glaring one is that when pressured down the stretch, he doesn’t do well. He’s a fast starter but becomes less effective as the fight wears on. The fight with Paul Felder was a perfect example. Tony is a tall order, but I think Oliveira is really entering his prime and has a realistic chance to get the W.
Mackenzie Dern, $8,700
Mackenzie Dern is an amazingly talented grappler with some serious accolades to her credit on the BJJ circuit, all the way to the champion level at ADCC. She’s athletically gifted with power and strength, but those attributes cannot hide her defensive issues or her rudimentary striking. She is getting better, but it’s a slow process. Her opponent, Virna Jandiroba ($7,500), is a former Invicta champion with much more experience, excellent grappling, but a standup game that is just as weak as Mack’s. Dern averages just .39 takedowns per 15-minute fight, but attempts 3.1 submissions. She has six submission wins in 10 fights and Jandiroba has 13. There’s been lively discussion about how easily Virna dispatched Felice Herrig, but Herrig had been out with injuries for two years and had been struggling before that, having dropped her last two before facing Jandiroba. Dern is in the same boat with her win over Randa Markos, who had lost her two previous fights before stepping into the octagon with Mack. If this ends up being a standup battle—because we have seen Dern abandon her grappling in favor of a standup war—I’d still favor Dern, who has power but lacks technique. Jandiroba isn’t powerful and her striking is just as raw as Dern’s. If it hits the ground, I favor Dern because she’s competed at the most elite levels on the grappling circuit and she’s incorporated her jiu-jitsu into her MMA game very well. I must say, the prices are way too wide on this fight. Jandiroba has an excellent chance of taking the win here.
Jacare Souza, $8,000
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has been taking necks and limbs for years—to the tune of 14 submission wins—but it’s been three-plus years since we’ve been treated to what he does best. At 41, we’ve definitely seen better days for Souza, but he’s still quite dangerous, both on the ground and on the feet. Jacare averages 2.46 takedowns per 15-minute fight and logs 1.4 submission attempts in that same 15 minutes. He also has a legitimate heater that last put Chris Weidman on a train to Naptown. His striking is diverse, too, with headkick knockouts showing up more than once on his record. It’s been over a year since he last fought where he lost a split-decision to Jan Blachowicz. The only person to stop him inside the octagon has been Robert Whittaker, but as he’s gotten older, his durability has looked much shakier as the rounds progress. This unfortunate statistic puts him in our Gas Guzzlers category. There was a time when Jack Hermansson wouldn’t have been able to outgrapple Souza, but here we are with that very thing having happened just last year. Now he faces Kevin Holland ($8,200), a man 13 years his junior and riding a four-fight win streak. Holland is incredibly strong, has power and has submission chops of his own—six of them to be exact—but is he ready for this level? A quick look back to last year’s fight with Brendan Allen, where “Trailblazer” ended up on the receiving end of a rear-naked choke, indicates that someone with the elite level BJJ that Souza has, might just put an early end to Holland’s night. The pricing is perfect here, as this is an exceptionally well-matched fight.
Jacare Souza, $8,000
Junior Dos Santos, $7,000
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