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UFC Cheat Sheet: DraftKings MMA DFS Picks, Predictions for UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson

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

This Saturday, the UFC presents UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson, live from the APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the event title gives away, the headliner is an important contest between two strawweight contenders that have been given the unexpected yet welcome gift of coming to the scales at 125 pounds since the fight was booked on short notice when TJ Dillashaw was forced to withdraw from his showdown with Cory Sandhagen in the original main event. The winner could find herself in prime positioning for a title eliminator, easily making it the most impactful fight on the bout sheet.

The rest of the show is a carefully curated selection of talent, some fighting at the entry level, some making their way through the middle of the pack, and those that are poised to break into the Top 10. Of that latter group, Gregor Gillespie vs. Diego Ferreira represents the category best. Combatants Neil Magny and Geoff Neal are already inside the Top 10 with Magny taking No. 9 and Neal occupying No. 10. The winner here could find himself in title contention by next year, making this the second most impactful fight on the card.

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!



SUPER STRIKERS

Tafon Nchukwi, $8,500

Tafon Nchukwi is a dynamic volume striker fighting from the orthodox stance. Making his way into the UFC off a sensational head kick knockout from Dana White’s Contender Series, Tafon continued to impress in his octagon debut last December when he defeated Jamie Pickett. He faces a tough customer in Junyong Park, but his incredible output combined with legitimate power makes him worth a second look. Nchukwi averages a whopping 7.59 strikes landed per minute and is somewhat defensively responsible considering his output, absorbing 4.31 shots in that same time frame. Of his five wins, four are stoppages, so Park will really need to mind himself in exchanges as well as when he shoots. This is a good litmus test for Nchukwi to show the brass he’s ready for the next rung on the ladder.


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KNOCKOUT KINGS

Ben Rothwell, $8,200

Editor’s note: Saturday’s UFC fight between Ben Rothwell and Philipe Lins has been pulled from the card.

Ben Rothwell has been kicking butt and taking names for more than two decades, racking up 38 wins along the way, with 28 of them coming by way of knockout. He’s coming off the heels of a loss to Marcin Tybura, but before that, he was on a pair of wins (Ovince St. Preux and Stefan Struve respectively), one being a knockout. At 39 years of age, Rothwell is still putting up wins over middling or aging competition. Yes, he’s definitely shopworn, but he still has a sturdy chin that hasn’t been tested since 2009, he’s still able to maintain a steady work rate for the entire fight, and he’s still aggressive enough to push a pace. All that said, this is likely going to be a rough watch, as Rothwell has slowed down considerably, and Lins is largely unsuccessful when he fights anyone of substance. Losses to Tanner Boser and Andrei Arlovski are indicative of his struggles taking that next step in the evolution of his career, and facing a seasoned veteran like Rothwell could find him taking a third consecutive loss.


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GRAPPLING GODS

Donald Cerrone, $8,400

Donald Cerrone has been fighting for 15 years and has gotten quite savvy along the way. The 38-year-old has bounced back and forth between lightweight and welterweight, but for the last few years, 170 pounds is where he’s been making his fortunes. Currently riding a five-fight winless stretch, “Cowboy” has certainly been feeling the effects of a long career and increasingly dangerous competition. It’s been just over two years since he outclassed Al Iaquinta with one of his signature performances, so he’s ripe for another bit of veteran magic. Donald has a phenomenal ground game and has seen 17 of his 36 wins come by way of submission. He has good standup but he’s known to be a slow starter, so bear that in mind, as his opponent, Alex Morono, is a wild card that starts hot. Donald averages 1.19 takedowns per 15-minute fight and is a great scrambler. He works well from the top or the bottom and has exhibited a level of steely calm under pressure. This is likely a must-win for the most active fighter on the roster. He’ll have his work cut out for him, but he has the tools to get the job done.



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GAS GUZZLERS

Philipe Lins, $8,000

Editor’s note: Saturday’s UFC fight between Ben Rothwell and Philipe Lins has been pulled from the card.

Philipe Lins seems like a fresh, new face to the MMA scene, but he’s been fighting for 16 years and is just four years younger than his foe, Ben Rothwell. He’s spent the majority of his career fighting in Bellator or the PFL, and as mentioned earlier, taking that step up to the next tier of competition has not gone well for him. He’s a low output fighter, averaging only 2.66 strikes landed per minute, but he absorbs 3.68 shots in that 60-second stretch, adding to a sketchy stamina reserve. Add in that he’s shown himself to be easily walked down, susceptible to low kicks and flashy spinning strikes and you have a growing issue. I won’t go as far as to say he’s an active member of Team Hufflepuff, but his cardio definitely leads me to believe there is room for improvement.

Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $400K Throwdown [$100K to 1st]


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