On Saturday, fight fans will be treated to a ridiculously good card with UFC 263. The 14-fight event is stacked with talent from top to bottom, finally culminating with a pair of title fights in the co-main and main event spots. To add an extra element of intrigue, both those title bouts are rematches.
The rest of the card features some outstanding matchups like Nate Diaz vs. Leon Edwards, Brad Riddell vs. Drew Dober and Hakeem Dawodu vs. Movsar Evloev, to name a few. Will Nate Diaz be able to pull off the upset? Will Brad Riddell be able to avoid Dober’s power hand? Has Marvin Vettori evolved enough to take the belt from Israel Adesanya? And finally, the co-main event…aka the real main event, also has an aura of intrigue, as these two flyweights put on the fight of the year (in my opinion) the last time they entered the octagon.
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!
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Jamahal Hill, $9,400
Jamahal Hill is a very good prospect with plenty of upside and a nice left hook. He got into the sport relatively late at age 26, but has racked up an 8-0 record with three of those wins coming inside the octagon and a fourth coming from the Contender Series. He’s an incredibly active Southpaw who averages an astounding 7.9 strikes landed per minute, and to add another layer to his impressive skillset, he’s pretty defensively sound, absorbing just 3.15 strikes per minute. By comparison, his opponent, Paul Craig, is a much more conservative striker, averaging just 2.40 strikes landed per minute while absorbing slightly more at 2.43. Where Craig is dangerous is the ground, and his triangle choke is lethal. Craig has the unique ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and has a couple buzzerbeater wins to prove it. Long story short, Paul is willing to take insane amounts of punishment to find an opening. Against Hill, who has quite a bit of pop, that just seems foolhardy.
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Israel Adesanya, $9,300
Israel Adesanya first fought Marvin Vettori in 2018 whereby Izzy took the split-decision victory. In his fourth fight after beating Vettori, Adesanya would claim the middleweight title and has kept it ever since. He did suffer his first pro defeat when he moved up a weight class to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz this past March, but there is no shame in that loss. Since that fight, Vettori has maintained an unbeaten streak of five fights and has clearly refined his game. That said, Adesanya has also polished his skillset, and seems to handle grindy types like Marvin with relative ease. Now, I’m not saying this fight will be easy, but I am saying that Israel almost always finds a way to nullify attacks. Vettori and Robert Whittaker are the best the division has to offer outside Izzy, but Marvin had a much better outcome in his first bout with the champ than Bobby Knuckles did. Stats-wise, Adesanya runs a little on the average side, fighting from a switch stance and averaging 3.95 strikes landed per minute. He only absorbs 2.63 in that same minute and has a decided tendency to finish fights—15 of them by way of knockout. Marvin has a very durable chin and solid cardio (although we did see him fade some in the Holland fight toward the end), so I’m thinking a knockout isn’t a foreseeable outcome, but like the old adage says, “Never say never.”
Demian Maia, $7,200
Demian Maia has been with the UFC for 14 years and has 32 fights inside the octagon. The Brazilian Southpaw is one of the best grapplers the promotion has ever had grace its cage and continues to shock fans with victories over solid competition. He is coming off a knockout loss to Gilbert Burns, but “Durinho” hits like a freight train. Before that loss, he had strung together a three-fight win streak against names like Lyman Good, Anthony Rocco Martin and Ben Askren. Maia is a very low output fighter, averaging just 1.82 strikes per minute while absorbing slightly more at 2.03 per minute. He’s fairly durable, even at 43, but at some point—and it may have already happened—the ability to withstand the punishment he’s willing to absorb is going to wane and we’ll see the final vestiges of his decline in all its horrible glory. And unfortunately for him, he’s facing a very tough opponent in Belal Muhammad. Muhammad isn’t especially powerful, but his wrestling game is top notch and he has excellent stamina reserves that never really seem to deplete. This will be a very interesting contest because Maia still has the ground chops to give Muhammad trouble. And let us not forget that Maia has 14 wins by submission, most recently a third-round rear-naked choke of Ben Askren. I certainly wouldn’t bet the farm on him, but there is certainly some room for movement in the betting lines.
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Jake Collier, $7,500
Jake Collier might have won his last fight, but the move to heavyweight has not been particularly fruitful for him overall. He quite clearly gases by the third round, and even against Gian Villante, another man who shouldn’t be fighting at heavyweight, he had some issues. He does have the ability to dig deep into his reserves of intestinal and mental fortitude to keep going to the end but just watch his breathing and the way he throws strikes from the mid-point of the fight onward with Villante. Carlos Felipe isn’t exactly riding on a full tank of gas at all times either, but he manages his cardio much better by my calculations. Also, the power that fighters think they magically acquire by moving up to heavyweight has not presented itself yet with Collier, and frankly, I’m starting to wonder if it ever will. Your move, Jake.
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