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UFC 257 Cheat Sheet: DraftKings MMA DFS Picks, Predictions for January 23

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

Do you feel that? That electricity that’s been building all week is finally culminating with a showstopper of a card in UFC 257. Conor McGregor is back and he’s facing the ultra-tough Dustin Poirier in a rematch that’s been six-plus years in the making. The outcome of this fight will likely determine who moves forward to fight for the belt that ostensibly hangs in the balance, since Khabib Nurmagomedov keeps reiterating that he’s not coming back (as recently as yesterday). It’s a rematch worthy of the attention it’s been getting and one that sees both men changed dramatically skill-wise since their first encounter back in September of 2014.

We can’t talk about this card without mentioning a few other fights that have great interest from fans and pundits alike. Michael Chandler is finally making his debut against tough New Zealander Dan Hooker in the co-main event after signing with the promotion last September. Amanda Ribas is surging with five consecutive wins and will face Marina Rodriguez in a strawweight battle for coveted upward movement in the rankings. There are plenty of other really good fights, but these illustrate matchmaking excellence.

We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Each category will feature the standout fighter for his/her achievements in said category. Let’s get started!

DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 257 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $1 million in guaranteed prizes, including $200K to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 257 Special [$200K to 1st].

DraftKings Sportsbook will also be featuring UFC bets that can be placed for UFC 257. Place your UFC bets at the DraftKings Sportsbook UFC page and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.


Joanne Calderwood, $8,400

Joanne Calderwood is an orthodox volume striker with a solid kickboxing base that she routinely displays with beautiful teep kicks, high kicks and sharp knees in the clinch. Averaging 6.17 strikes per minute with an absorption rate of 4.31, Calderwood exhibits a need for some tightening of her defense. That said, she’s much more aggressive since moving up to flyweight, and even though she’s not packing a ton of power, she racks up damage through accumulation.

“JoJo” can be controlled, especially if she gets too comfortable with her own progress during a contest. She looked good early in her fight with Katlyn Chookagian, but inexplicably took the majority of the last half of the fight off. It was almost as if the spirit of Miesha Tate whispered in her ear, “Just coast.” If Joanne can pressure Eye early, and most importantly, keep the pressure on, she has a good chance to win. Eye has struggled with weight issues, injury and illness over the last couple years, so her cardio may already be at a deficit. In any event, this is a very well-matched fight between two women that need a statement women to get them back on track to a crack at Shevchenko (second time for Eye).


Conor McGregor, $9,100

Conor McGregor is a Southpaw bomb slinger with some of the best counter-striking in the entire sport. With lightning quick reflexes, Conor takes very little time getting an accurate read on his opponent, then capitalizing on whatever opening they leave him. He is an opportunist with one-punch knockout power, speed, timing, excellent footwork and very capable defensive wrestling. “The Notorious” is also a volume puncher, averaging 5.43 strikes per minute with an absorption rate of 4.40 strikes per minute. His strike selection is smart and he uses a wide variety effectively, even shoulder strikes, most recently seen in his bout with Donald Cerrone where he broke Cerrone’s nose. McGregor followed those up with a crushing head kick and a barrage of punches until Herb Dean stepped in. At every moment of that fight, Conor was in control and the way he picked Cowboy apart was a testament to his talent.

McGregor has his drawbacks, too. Despite finishing so many of his opponents in the early rounds—19 of them—his punch stats reflect a willingness to go for broke in exchanges, exposing cardio deficiencies. And while Mac has capable defensive wrestling, it’s not infallible, as both Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov have shown.

Dustin Poirier has advanced his skill set tremendously, most significantly in his striking, since the first time they fought, six-plus years ago. Moving back to 155 was instrumental in his progress, allowing for better cardio, more power in his striking, and increased durability. Poirier does take some punishment in the opening rounds, so therein lies the danger for him—Conor, the opportunist.

McGregor to win, boosted to +100!

Double your money if Conor McGregor gets the win at UFC 257! See the DraftKings Sportsbook UFC page for more details!


Antonio Carlos Junior, $7,500

Antonio Carlos Junior is a dangerous submission specialist hailing from Brazil. He blazed a trail through season three of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil but had mixed results until 2016 where he started a five-fight win streak, including a unanimous decision over currently surging Marvin Vettori. Then he hit another wall, dropping his last two fights to Ian Heinisch and Uriah Hall. It’s been more than 15 months since he last fought, but hopefully that period of inactivity was restorative. ACJ is a gifted grappler with a powerful takedown game. If the fight does end up on the ground, and that’s a big “if” because Brad Tavares has great takedown defense, he has the distinct advantage.

Tavares never really got past that fringe contender status that so many mid-tier fighters get to but can never traverse. He’s been a solid pick for a long time, but he’s looked more and more hittable, and got absolutely trucked by Edmen Shahbazyan in his last fight, also a million moons ago, back in late 2019. To his credit, he’s never been submitted, but that could change in the blink of an eye, especially since cracks have already started appearing in his once-sturdy defense. This is another coin flip that could go either way, but as far as grappling aces go, “Shoe Face” is top notch.


Marina Rodriguez, $7,000

Marina Rodriguez is striking specialist who packs quite a wallop. She is one of the better strikers in the division, both offensively and defensively, and she throws with considerable volume. She’s paired off with star-on-the-rise, Amanda Ribas, also a great striker, but with the bonus of being a super aggressive and highly effective grappler with a seemingly endless gas tank. And therein lies the issue—Marina Rodriguez has cardio issues. In her fight with Cynthia Calvillo she was winded early, and in her fight with Carla Esparza, her cardio clearly failed her, costing her the decision. If she hasn’t shored up that weak link in her armor, Ribas will buzzsaw her way to another victory, getting her another step closer to title contention.

Conor McGregor $9,100

Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 257 Special [$200K to 1st].

Place your UFC bets at the DraftKings Sportsbook UFC page and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

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For sports betting, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook or download the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.

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