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DraftKings Alters Fantasy MMA Scoring Criteria for 2021 UFC Events: How Do the Changes Affect Fighters?

Timothy Finnegan examines the changes DraftKings has made to the fantasy MMA scoring criteria and looks at some fighters who could be affected, including Francis Ngannou, Max Holloway and Kamaru Usman.

The UFC is on the verge of resuming after an extended break due to the holidays, and when the promotion returns on January 16 for UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Kattar, a new DraftKings scoring system will be in place for Classic Fantasy MMA contests, starting with the DraftKings MMA $300K Island Throwdown [$100K to 1st] contest. The changes will also be in place for the big UFC 257 event on January 23, which features MMA icon Conor McGregor facing Dustin Poirier in a rematch. For UFC 257, DraftKings has put together a huge tournament with a prize pool of $1 million. Entries can be reserved for the UFC 257 million dollar contest here: MMA $1M 257 Special.

Here is a rundown of the new DraftKings fantasy MMA scoring system as the UFC transitions to 2021. All stats will continue to be provided by FightMetric. New scoring categories include:

Strikes, which are worth +0.2 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP).

Control Time, which is defined as time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. Control time is worth +0.03 DKFP per second.

Quick Win Bonus, which is defined as a first-round win in 60 seconds or less. A quick win bonus is worth +25 DKFP.

In addition to the new scoring categories of strikes and control time along with the quick win bonus, other changes have been made.

Significant Strikes have dropped from +0.5 DKFP to +0.2 DKFP. However, a Significant Strike will now count as both a Strike (0.2 DKFP) and a Significant Strike (0.2 DKFP), so a Significant Strike will be worth a total of 0.4 DKFP instead of 0.5 DKFP.

Advances have been removed. Under the old scoring system, advances earned a fighter +3.0 DKFP, but advances will no longer count towards a fighter’s score.

How do the changes affect DraftKings lineups? For one, the new quick win bonus gives a boost to fighters who finish fights really quickly. A win within the opening minute of the first round would now score a fighter a minimum of 115 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) instead of a minimum of 90 DKFP. This helps cushion fantasy scoring for fighters who have at times been “penalized” for spectacular, lightning-quick knockouts. For example, Jorge Masvidal’s amazing, epic five-second flying knee KO of Ben Askren at UFC 239 in July 2019 earned him only about 102 DKFP under the old scoring criteria due to very limited volume. Under the new scoring criteria, Masvidal’s incredible knockout would be worth about 127 DKFP.

Francis Ngannou is a good example of a fighter who stands to benefit from the new quick win bonus. Ngannou is probably the most terrifying power puncher in the history of MMA and routinely finishes fights shortly after the bell rings. Ngannou would have qualified for the 60-second quick win bonus in three of his last four fights and would have barely missed out on the bonus by 11 seconds in his only other fight during that stretch. Ngannou’s average fight time over his last four fights is an incredible 41 seconds. When Ngannou cleaned Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s clock in 20 seconds at UFC 249 in May 2020, he earned only 103 DKFP despite thorough domination of his opponent. Under the new scoring system, Ngannou would have earned about 128 DKFP.

One of the biggest candidates to benefit from the new scoring criteria is UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. Usman records a lot of striking volume that is not classified as significant due to these strikes taking place from a close-range either in the clinch or on the ground rather than at distance. Usman also records a lot of control time due to his strong wrestling background and general fighting style.

In Usman’s most recent fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 in July 2020, Usman finished with a healthy 108 DKFP, but under the new criteria, he would have had a massive surge in fantasy production and finished with over 150 DKFP. The difference can be attributed to the huge discrepancy between his total striking volume and significant striking volume, along with a lot of control time. Only 36% of Usman’s strikes landed in the fight were classified as significant strikes, but he landed 263 total strikes, 169 of which did not count under the old scoring. Usman also recorded a heavy control time of 16:38, resulting in another 30 DKFP, which far outweighs the fantasy points he received for advances.

When the UFC returns on January 16, Max Holloway will be featured in the main event. Holloway is another fighter who may be affected by these rule changes, although unlike Ngannou and Usman, it might not be in a good way. Holloway is one of the biggest volume strikers in the UFC when adjusted for octagon time, pumping out roughly 6.5 significant strikes per minute, the seventh best rate among all qualified active fighters. By raw totals, Holloway is the biggest volume striker in UFC history, leading all UFC fighters in total significant strikes landed since the UFC began tracking the statistic.

The notable part of Holloway’s striking metrics is that most of Holloway’s strikes are significant strikes. A massive 93% of the strikes Holloway has landed have been significant strikes. For reference, here are some benchmarks for a comparison with notable UFC fighters:

  • 53% of the strikes Kamaru Usman has landed have been significant strikes
  • 63% of the strikes Stipe Miocic has landed have been significant strikes
  • 73% of the strikes Jan Blachowicz has landed have been significant strikes
  • 75% of the strikes Conor McGregor has landed have been significant strikes
  • 82% of the strikes Deiveson Figueiredo has landed have been significant strikes
  • 84% of the strikes Dustin Poirier has landed have been significant strikes
  • 86% of the strikes Jose Aldo has landed have been significant strikes
  • 93% of the strikes Max Holloway has landed have been significant strikes

In Holloway’s most recent win at UFC 240 in July 2019, Holloway landed 131 total strikes, and almost all of them were significant strikes (129). Under the old scoring system, Holloway earned about 65 DKFP for his striking, but under the new one, he would have earned about 52 DKFP for his striking. In Holloway’s most recent fight against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251 in July 2020, he originally finished with a total of 51 DKFP in a split decision loss, but under the new scoring system, he is now listed with a total of about 43 DKFP.

Since Holloway generates most of his fantasy scoring through significant strike volume over the course of many rounds and generally does not score takedowns, record control time or finish fights quickly, he could be a fighter that sees his fantasy production tick down under the new criteria. Holloway’s opponent on Saturday, Calvin Kattar, has also seen a tick down in fantasy scoring from his most recent fight. Kattar originally finished with about 88 DKFP in his decision win over Dan Ige in July 2020, but he is now listed with about 79 DKFP for that win in his fight log.

Another example of a fighting style that could benefit under the new rules is someone who fights like Nate Diaz, who does not throw every strike with the intention of turning his opponent’s brain off. Only 60% of the strikes Diaz has landed have been significant strikes, a much lower rate than fighters like Holloway, and in Diaz’s rematch with Conor McGregor in 2016, 86 of the 252 total strikes Diaz’s landed did not count in the scoring due to those strikes not qualifying as significant strikes.

Here is a complete list of the updated DraftKings Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Fantasy MMA scoring criteria:

Moves

  • Strikes are worth +0.2 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP).
  • Significant strikes are worth +0.2 DKFP. A significant strike is defined as any distance strike or clinch/ground strike that is considered a “power strike” by official scorers.
  • Significant strikes will now count as both a strike (0.2 DKFP) and a significant strike (0.2 DKFP), so a significant strike will be worth a total of 0.4 DKFP.
  • Control time is worth +0.03 DKFP per second.
  • A takedown is worth +5.0 DKFP.
  • A reversal or sweep is worth +5.0 DKFP.
  • A knockdown is worth +10.0 DKFP. 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.

Fight Conclusion Bonuses

DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) are awarded based on how quickly a fighter is able to finish the fight.

  • 1st round win: +90 DKFP
  • 2nd round win: +70 DKFP
  • 3rd round win: +45 DKFP
  • 4th round win: +40 DKFP
  • 5th round win: +40 DKFP
  • Decision win: +30 DKFP
  • Quick win bonus (first-round win in 60 seconds or less): +25 DKFP

Reserve your DraftKings fantasy MMA entries for upcoming UFC events here!

MMA $300K Island Throwdown [$100K to 1st]

MMA $1M 257 Special [$200K to 1st]


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