UFC 259 is a bonafide gem. Three title fights, 12 bouts underneath those (as of this writing), and a whole lot of anticipation from fans around the globe says so. This is our first supercard of the year, and two of those three title fights are stellar matchups and the third is a great showcase fight for the women’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). At the top of the bout sheet is the champ vs. champ bout between middleweight kingpin Israel Adesanya and light heavyweight ruler of the roost, Jan Blachowicz. Before that, though, we get the women’s featherweight title bout between the “Lioness” Amanda Nunes and Australia’s Megan Anderson. And to round out our trio of title fights is the pairing of bantamweight champion Petr Yan vs. Long Island’s Aljamain Sterling, aka my early pick for fight of the night.
The rest of the card is not short on name value or talent. The outstanding matchmaking for the Drew Dober vs. Islam Makhachev deserves an ovation, as does the Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic fight. We also get the return of some longtime veterans in Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez. You could close your eyes, throw a pebble in the general direction of this event and end up with a great contest, no matter where it lands. It really is that good.
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 259 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $1 million in guaranteed prizes, including $200,000 to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 5:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 259 Special [$200K to 1st].
Petr Yan, $8,400
Petr Yan is the textbook definition of a volume striker. Coming in with an average of 6.32 strikes per minute, Petr is the most active fighter on this card. He absorbs less than half that, at 3.25 strikes per minute, a feat, considering most volume strikers end up absorbing as much as they give, sometimes more. Yan is a switch fighter facing off against Aljamain Sterling, who fights from the orthodox stance. Yan throws a hard jab often, working up top and to the middle for a complete tenderizing of the body. To add insult to injury, Yan has a very sturdy chin, so whatever offense you may be lobbing in his general direction is either deflected or absorbed with little to no effect.
That striking is going to come in handy against Sterling, who has impeccable grappling and frequently makes use of it, although lately, Aljamain has worked relentlessly on improving his striking and has looked absolutely phenomenal in his last several outings, too. If you hadn’t noticed already, this is my favorite fight on the card, and the one I’m most looking forward to. It is well-matched and should prove to be ultra-competitive.
Israel Adesanya, $9,200
Israel Adesanya is actually tied with Thiago Santos (also on this card) for the most knockouts with 15, but I chose him because he has the most recent KOs of the two. His latest one being poor Paulo Costa, who had entirely too much wine to drink the night before. Israel is as athletic as they come, to use a tired cliché, but if the cliché fits, wear it. He’s fast and has the slickest, lightest footwork in the sport. He counters beautifully. He gets timing down quickly. He gets his opponent figured out quickly. He does everything quickly.
Jan Blachowicz is no slouch, but he’s nowhere near as athletic, nowhere near as fast, and his footwork is pretty clunky and cumbersome. But what he does do, is he knocks people out. And they’re one-hitter quitters in some cases. Just ask Corey Anderson or Luke Rockhold about that power. Izzy has power too, and it stems from multiple points, be it his hands or his feet. The way he brutalized Robert Whittaker was scary. The knees and barrage of punches he put on Derek Brunson was pretty nasty, too. Both men have the ability to stop the other, but one of them has all the rest of the physical advantages to tip the scales heavily in his favor.
Aljamain Sterling, $7,800
Aljamain Sterling has come a long way since he first joined the UFC back in 2014. Hailing from Long Island’s Serra-Longo fight team, Aljo has taken his grappling (and all aspects of his skill set) to new levels. I think we were all put on notice when he managed to pull off the rare Suloev Stretch on Cody Stamann. I mean, the level of difficulty in getting a kneebar from back mount is absolutely bonkers. And let’s not forget what he did to Cory Sandhagen in 88 seconds flat. That marked his eighth submission, so If there’s high-level grappling occurring on this card, you can bet the farm on some of it happening in this fight, and it will most likely be spurred on by Sterling.
I know this category is to target the ground wizard, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Aljo’s striking evolution, as well. He’s come a long way since his struggles early on and put forth beautiful performances against both Jimmie Rivera and Pedro Munhoz, easily outclassing them on the feet. Against Petr Yan, who is a whirling dervish of volume striking, this will be a most handy tool to have onboard.
Jake Matthews, $6,900
Jake Matthews is on a three-fight win streak, but some of the guys he’s going all the way to decision with (Emil Meek aside) should have been dispatched by this young Aussie with lots of hype, and for a hot minute, he even had a small amount of promotional protection in the early goings when he was finishing lower level guys right, left and center. When met with higher range competition, he falters, though, and one reason may be his gas tank. While he doesn’t roll through the rounds on fumes, he absolutely has a small leak somewhere, because he has gotten visibly winded in the third round of his last couple fights. He’s managed to pull off the wins, but not being able to finish 2020 Diego Sanchez doesn’t give me much hope for the height of his ceiling. Be careful here because Sean Brady is a grindy, tough, durable guy with no leaks and is much more willing to take the fight straight to young Jake.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.