UFC 258 isn’t the most stacked PPV show, not by a long shot, but it does have some spicy prospect flavor that many will find appealing regardless of the name value or lack thereof. Sitting atop the bout sheet is the headliner, a five-round championship clash that will see Kamaru Usman tested once again, this time by his own teammate, Gilbert Burns. Kamaru has been training elsewhere (Elevation Fight Team), and Burns stayed with the Sanford MMA team led by Henri Hooft. This is a well-matched welterweight title fight that could see either man walk away victorious.
The co-main event was reshaped in an instant when Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hall fell off the card when Weidman tested positive for COVID-19. Enter Alexa Grasso and Maycee Barber, who have now become the co-main event. Will it be action-packed? I believe it will, despite the many naysayers projecting otherwise. And there are a couple other bouts worth taking note of, as well. The contest between Ricky Simon and Brian Kelleher is on my radar, for sure. Gillian Robertson and Miranda Maverick is quite intriguing, as well.
We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy MMA 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 258 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $600K in guaranteed prizes, including $150K to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $600K 258 Special [$150K to 1st].
Maycee Barber, $7,900
Maycee Barber was on one heck of a tear until she ran into the ultimate spoiler, Roxanne Modafferi. The “Happy Warrior” took Maycee to task everywhere, from the standup where she scored a knockdown, and to the grappling where Roxy just had her way with the massive betting favorite. It wasn’t a beating where you say to yourself, ‘This is becoming hard to watch,’ but more one that had you thinking, ‘Maycee has some serious deficiencies to shore up.’
One area Barber excels in, more than any other person on the card, is her volume striking. She lands, on average, about 6.02 strikes per minute, while absorbing just 3.15 in that same time frame. She normally has pretty good grappling, too, averaging a .95 takedown ratio, as well as a submission average of 0.3 per 15-minute contest. That said, Maycee relies on being a bully, aggressively dictating the pace and range of her fights with constant pressure, racking up an impressive 8-1 record that boasts seven finishes, five of which are by KO/TKO.
Barber isn’t a technical wunderkind, but she is tough and durable. Her chin has been tested and she’s managed to stay in the fight both times (Aldrich, Modafferi), but if she hasn’t fixed the problems in her defense, a savvy boxer like Alexa Grasso will have her way with the young upstart. This should be a fun, action-packed fight.
Brian Kelleher, $7,100
When you came to this post, I bet you never thought you’d see a
fly-bantam-featherweight taking the spot, but believe it or not, “Boom” has the best knockout average of the entire bout sheet. Wildly aggressive and unpredictable, Kelleher has a style that many believe is unsustainable for a long career, but he’s been hanging tough for almost a decade, so I tend to think he’s made of more durable stuff than many believe. Kelleher is a busy striker, averaging 4.45 strikes per minute, but absorbing a whopping 5.97 in that same 60 seconds, so defense isn’t of paramount importance so long as he manages to get his licks in.
Brian’s wrestling is top notch, as well, and he is an opportunist, taking advantage of small openings that most would pass up. He has quite a task in front of him with the insane pace that Ricky Simon keeps, so hopefully, he’s been working on his keeping his head and feet moving, as well as keeping his hands up and active.
When it comes to power, Kelleher packs a wallop. With eight knockouts on his resume, Brian’s “at all costs” attitude shines through, both in his standup and his grappling where he also has 10 submission wins. Brian had a very active 2020 that saw him go 3-1 with three finishes, including a massive knockout of top prospect Hunter Azure, who was undefeated when he ran into Kelleher.
Rodolfo Vieira, $9,300
Rodolfo Vieira is one of those rare gems that made the crossover from competition jiu-jitsu to MMA very successfully. An uber-aggressive black belt, Vieira jumped onto the international BJJ circuit 12 years ago, taking a win over Braulio Estima to secure the World Cup in his division. He would go on to win a variety of championships and titles en route to his MMA career.
Vieira is having a charmed career. With a 7-0 record, all by finish, there’s no questioning his talent. Factor in that six of those seven wins are by submission, and you understand why I’ve set him in this category. If anyone on the card is going to grapple right out the gate, it’s this guy. His opponent, Anthony Hernandez, was supposed to meet him at UFC on ABC 1 last month but had to withdraw due to testing positive for COVID-19, hence this fight date.
Hernandez will be outgunned on the mat, but will probably find some success on the feet as Vieira is slow and plodding with very porous defense, and low output. There is some question as to whether his cardio will hold up, but I’m of the opinion that he gets this fight done pretty quickly.
Kelvin Gastelum, $8,800
Gastelum has had several issues in making weight in the past and while he seems to have at least gotten his cuts in order, that’s not always reflective of the state of his cardio, as we’ve seen him gas on more than one occasion. That may have changed for this fight, but I’m always cautious about Kelvin’s gas tank.
Ian Heinisch, $7,400
Ian Heinisch isn’t what I’d traditionally think of as a gas guzzler, but his fight with Omari Akhmedov showed him slow considerably in the last half of the fight, making me concerned that even against the stamina-challenged Kelvin Gastelum, he could find himself huffing and puffing as the fight gets under way.
Jim Miller, $7,300
Editor’s note: Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller has been pulled from UFC 258.
Time waits for no man, and in Jim Miller’s case, he walked right in and took his pound of flesh in the form of lung capacity. Miller, as he’s gotten older, has slowed down considerably. Usually hot out of the gate, he has about a round, round-and-a-half that he’s most dangerous, and then the slowdown starts creeping in. By the end of round two, you can see the visible toll on his output, which has never been overly active to begin with. His footwork becomes more plodding and his chin becomes more and more open. This is not to say he can’t win, it’s just to say that Miller’s cardio is no longer serving him in its fullest capacity and hasn’t for the last few years.
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