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UFC Fight Night Cheat Sheet: DraftKings MMA DFS Predictions for August 29

Stephie Haynes preps you for Saturday’s UFC slate with key factors and winning trends for your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups.

The light heavyweights will be taking center stage on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Rakic, which takes place at the UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The headliner of Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic will be an abbreviated, three-round affair thanks to it being a very short notice pairing. The card has just 11 fights in total, and one has undergone multiple changes in the last 72 hours, as Alex Caceres’ opponent has changed from Giga Chikadze to Kevin Croom to now Austin Springer. There are some very compelling matchups here, with the best being the co-main event of Robbie Lawler vs. Neil Magny.

Let’s take a look at some factors that could make a difference in your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups.


DraftKings users can enter for their chance to win big prizes in Saturday’s fantasy MMA $400K Throwdown contest, which pays out a guaranteed $400,000, including $100K to first place. Set your DraftKings MMA lineups here: MMA $400K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].

DraftKings users can also get in on the UFC action by betting on DraftKings Sportsbook or by downloading the DK Sportsbook app.


STRIKERS

Aleksandar Rakic ($8,700)

Aleksandar Rakic is a well-rounded volume striker with real stopping power, evidenced by nine knockout victories, which also places him in our knockout kings category. Since his debut in 2011, he’s only lost one fight, a controversial split-decision to Volkan Oezdemir that many thought should’ve gone his way. Rakic lands 5.17 strikes per minute for a 52% accuracy rate while only absorbing 2.41 shots per minute. He’s got excellent takedown defense at a rate of 88% and averages 1.20 takedowns per three-round fight, as well. Both Rakic and his opponent, Anthony Smith ($7,500), are orthodox fighters standing six-foot-four-inches tall, but Aleksandar will have a two-inch reach advantage. It stands to reason that his cardio is also in much better shape than Smith’s, which has looked quite weak lately. All in all, there is plenty more upside with Rakic than with Smith.

Alexa Grasso ($9,100)

Alexa Grasso is a fantastic Mexican boxer with good hand speed and foot work. She lands 5.25 strikes per minute while only absorbing 3.61 shot per minute for a defense rate of 63%. This will be her first fight at flyweight, and with any luck, the speed she’s known for will translate well at the higher weight class. Ji Yeon Kim ($7,100) is an aggressive striker, but not as experienced or as technical as Alexa, who despite being the smaller of the two should carry a power edge and speed advantage against “Fire Fist.” Even in her loss to Carla Esparza, Grasso still managed to outland her, and against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, she impressed with 148 significant strikes landed. If Grasso struggles here, we should definitely proceed with caution when picking her future bouts.

Ion Cutelaba ($7,200)

Ion Cutelaba is a striking machine with big knockout power (12 wins by knockout), making him another of our multi-category riders, this time in the knockout kings division. This rematch will finally settle the age-old question of “what in the heck was that ref thinking by stopping that fight so early?” Ion lands 5.29 strikes per minute while only absorbing 3.26 shots per minute. His hyper aggression can be seen as a gift or a weakness, especially since it often begins before the fight does (see staredown of his first fight with Magomed Ankalaev). He sets a ferocious pace early, and we could see that the last time when he came out blazing from the jump, but he pays for it later down the stretch, with visible signs of being winded before the halfway mark of his fight with Jared Cannonier. “The Hulk” ends up in our infamous gas guzzlers category as a result. It’s an incredibly intriguing fight, one that fans have waited through two cancellations to see.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ion Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19 and his fight tonight vs. Magomed Ankalaev has been canceled.

Sean Brady ($9,300)

Sean Brady is a multi-dimensional volume striker with a perfect 12-0 record. He wowed MMA fans in his UFC debut against Court McGee where he outlanded the veteran to take a comfortable unanimous decision. He would follow that fight up with another great performance against Ismail Naurdiev. Brady’s left hook is quick and accurate, and it packs quite a wallop, as the aforementioned McGee can attest to, since it put him on the canvas in the first round. Sean is also light on his feet, getting in and landing body shots then darting right back out before eating a bunch of leather. He lands 5.53 strikes per minute while absorbing 4.80 shots per minute. This is definitely Brady’s fight to lose.


KNOCKOUT KINGS

Robbie Lawler ($7,600)

Robbie Lawler is a steal at this price. Yes, he’s 38 years old, but power is always the last thing to go, and even though his recent record doesn’t reflect it, Lawler is still a dangerous out for anyone at welterweight. “Ruthless” is a southpaw with 20 wins by way of knockout. His speed, power and the ability to reach down into the well to come up with a winning sequence late in the fight (see Rory MacDonald fight) go hand-in-hand with the absolutely lethal head kick/punching combos he’s become so well known for. If Neil Magny ($8,600) takes this fight lightly, he could find himself in a world of trouble, especially considering how durable Robbie’s chin is and how well his cardio holds up in the latter portion of his fights. Side note: Lawler is my all-time favorite fighter and this weekend is my birthday. The fight gods will hopefully take this violence merchant to a victory. I have spoken. Let it be known.

Anthony Smith ($7,500)

Anthony Smith is a well-rounded fighter with legitimate knockout power and legitimate submission chops—a double threat. He makes an appearance on our submission threats list, as well, since he has 12 wins by submission, but it’s his 18 wins by knockout that have us here in the first place. The foremost thing we should note is that despite only being 32 years old, Smith has a lot of fight wear—48 fights worth of wear-and-tear, to be exact, so age, be it chronological or combat style, is not on his side. Those 48 fights also represent experience, and that’s something Smith has in spades. He’s an orthodox fighter with a big right hand that brings forth all the sweet chin melodies when it lands down the middle like it did on Hector Lombard. He does have cardio issues, though, and they’ve plagued him for years. Even in the fight with Lombard, he appeared to be fading by the third, so “Lionheart” gets the distinction of yet another category to reside in, the dreaded gas guzzlers grouping.

Magomed Ankalaev ($9,000)

Magomed Ankalaev has nasty kicks and he knows how to pair them with follow-up punching barrages that make for sensational knockouts. As a matter of fact, he has eight knockouts in 12 wins and three of them are kick-punch combinations. His lone loss was to Paul Craig in a fight he was winning all the way up to the buzzer-beater finish that Craig literally got in the last second of the fight. I know, I know—one should never say “he was winning up until he lost,” but in this case, an exception can be made. This fight with Cutelaba is a rematch of their February bout, where Magomed scored a controversial knockout, but I’ve got a feeling that Cutelaba’s aggression and willingness to trade at all costs will end up coming with a pretty hefty price tag.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ion Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19 and his fight tonight vs. Magomed Ankalaev has been canceled.

Christian Aguilera ($6,900)

Christian Aguilera is a knockout king who uses a switch stance beautifully. He’s the owner of 11 big wins by way of knockout, most recently against Anthony Ivy this past June. The great thing about Aguilera is that he’s reasonably good at all aspects of fighting. He can hit a takedown and defend one, he’s got the stamina to go the distance and he’s got good striking form. And let’s not forget that power, because that is always the game changer. Sean Brady ($9,300) is the huge favorite here, but Christian can absolutely turn the tables and take the upset.

Aleksandar Rakic $8,700

Ion Cutelaba $7,200


SUBMISSION THREATS

Zak Cummings ($8,400)

Zak Cummings is a masterful grappler with very good wrestling and a sneaky, crafty submission game—12 of his 23 wins are via submission. He’s a counterpuncher, though, and can be drawn into standup wars where he is good enough to give a decent accounting of himself, but in some cases finds himself completely outworked and outclassed (see Omari Akhmedov fight). He does possess power, as evidenced in his fight with Trevin Giles, where he dropped Giles with a lethal overhand left then followed him down to lock up a rear-naked choke to seal the deal. Cummings clearly has no issues with seizing opportunities, and this fight with Alessio Di Chirico ($7,800) is bound to be rife with them. Note: both guys can tend be grinders, so this could end up being a very dull, ‘at range’ kickboxing affair.

Polyana Viana ($8,000)

Polyana Viana hasn’t been doing well of late, dropping her last three in a row to Veronica Macedo, Hannah Cifers and J.J. Aldrich. However, before those losses, she was on a six-fight win streak, all via finish, with five via submission and a knockout of the currently surging Amanda Ribas among those wins. It’s been a year since her last fight, and hopefully, she’s got herself better equipped to fight the level of competition she’s being paired up with. Viana has excellent grappling with smooth transitions and she is dominant in scrambles, but it is concerning that Veronica Macedo was able to capitalize on the ground over her last year to end up getting a submission win herself. Emily Whitmire ($8,200) isn’t the natural athlete that Viana is, but she makes up for that with grit and determination. This has to be a last call for Viana, so she’ll have to bring her A-game to the UFC table if she wants to continue eating there.

Anthony Smith $7,500


GAS GUZZLERS

Ion Cutelaba $7,200

Anthony Smith $7,500

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