It’s fight week and the community is abuzz with excitement and anticipation. UFC 264 is a sturdy card with compelling contests at the contender and prospect levels. It happens to be one of the rare occasions when we don’t get a title bout, but we do get a mega main event in Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor, and that, my friends, is a gangbusters fight to end their trilogy. Will we see McGregor return to the prime, hungry wolf he once was, or will Poirier take the W along with the legacy that goes with it?
The co-main event is a certified fresh fight too. Gilbert Burns will return to action after losing his title bid against Kamaru Usman this past February, and Stephen Thompson returns after back-to-back impressive wins over Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. Will Burns rebound with another big KO or will Wonderboy take over as the No. 1 contender?
There are several other great fights on the card, including Ilia Topuria vs. Ryan Hall, Carlos Condit vs. Max Griffin and Irene Aldana vs. Yana Kunitskaya. This really is a solid show and should provide a little something for everyone in the way of entertainment. Not to mention all the celebrities that will be in attendance that will undoubtedly add to the electric atmosphere, owing in large part to the fact that this is the first full attendance event at the T-Mobile Center since the pandemic started. HUZZAH!
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 264 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $1 MILLION in total prizes, including $200,000 to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 264 Special [$200K to 1st].
Sean O’Malley, $9,500
Sean O’Malley not only possesses power, he’s also lightning fast and a true volume striker. With an average of 6.31 strikes landed per minute, “Sugar” is at the top of the heap. His defense could use some work, but it’s definitely not the worst we’ve seen at 3.28 strikes absorbed per minute. Sean is a switch fighter, frequently changing his stance to keep his opponents guessing as he heaps on punches in bunches. His opponent, Kris Moutinho, is a late replacement for Louis Smolka, so there isn’t much in the way of “UFC official” stats, but he carries a 9-4 record into the cage on Saturday night and there is plenty of fight footage to get a read on him, as he fought several times in CES MMA. Kris seems to have some flashes of power, illustrated by 3 TKOs, but in taking the next step up, he struggles. Tony Gravely knocked him out and is now in the UFC, and on a two-fight win streak. Rather than use one of the many bantamweights calling for a fight with O’Malley, the UFC brought in Moutinho. Take from that what you will, but do know that “Sugar” is the biggest favorite on the bout sheet on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Conor McGregor, $8,100
Conor McGregor has legitimate, one-punch knockout power. His left is lethal and he is aggressive and fast to boot. He will carry 19 knockouts into the cage with him Saturday night, and his opponent, Dustin Poirier, will come in with 13 of his own. The big question here is if we’ll see the “motivated Conor” from 2016, as many pundits believe a lack of dedication has taken hold of him with all his newfound wealth. In the first fight, a lightning left hook put Dustin away in the first round. The rematch would come seven years later, and this time, Dustin would walk away with the TKO in the second round. That’s not to say Conor didn’t have his moments, because he did in the first round, and even staggered Poirier, but Dustin is a different animal at 155 and was able to shake it off. Another thing we should take note of are Conor’s kicks, which he does launch frequently. McGregor has traveled extensively for this fight camp and has been fairly tight-lipped about it, not posting videos or training photos, so that could be indicative of him taking this contest seriously. I like to think both men have their legacy on the line, regardless of whether it’s a title fight or not, but for Conor, a loss here could mean a hit to his star power.
The trilogy. This Saturday. You think you know what’s going to happen? So do I. Put your money where your mouth is on the @DraftKings with a FREE swing at their UFC 264 pool for your share of $25K. Do it...if you know what’s good for ya. https://t.co/UOOOib2ZcG #ad pic.twitter.com/aSqAgfZsfs— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 8, 2021
Gilbert Burns, $7,700
Gilbert Burns might not have been able to keep his momentum in the title bid against Kamaru Usman, but he is still a very, very dangerous man, especially on the ground. Yes, I know he has power, but that weapon takes a back seat to his grappling, of which he has eight wins by submission. A lot can be taken from the Usman fight, mainly that “Durinho” handily won the first round. The problem is, Gilbert has that age-old syndrome that many grapplers get when they discover they have power—they fall in love with their hands. That’s what happened there and after a scorching, high-paced round one, Gilbert had blown his wad and was pretty much spent. While he managed to make it to the third round, he was so spent that a jab was what ended up dropping him. Of course, Kamaru chased him down and brutalized him until Herb Dean pulled him off. It was a hard lesson, one that he’s hopefully learned from, because Stephen Thompson is the perfect foil to his game—a long, rangy kickboxer who knows exactly how to score with the judges and has a crisp, clean striking game. His performances against Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal were outstanding, but Burns is a step or two above both those men, so the stakes are much higher here, especially for “Wonderboy”, who could potentially see another title shot with a win here. Burns definitely has a chance at victory, especially with how fast he can get you in trouble on the ground, as 10 of his wins have come in the first round. The biggest question is will he be able to get Thompson down?
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Greg Hardy, $7,800
Greg Hardy is a big, powerful striker with next to no ground game and a pretty suspect gas tank. He’s been matched carefully, but with steps up in competition, he’s taken losses (Volkov, Tybura). In both those bouts, he gassed out, especially the Tybura fight where he literally just stopped fighting entirely. Tybura found the trick to disarming Hardy was body work, so if Tai Tuivasa is smart, he’ll launch plenty of kicks and punches to the midsection to speed up that exhaustion that inevitably creeps up on even the best cardio. Tuivasa packs a punch but isn’t a ground wizard. He does have the stamina to go the distance and still have a little left in the tank, though, and that’s important in this fight.
Side note: Greg Hardy once used an inhaler in his corner during a fight, so bear that tidbit in mind when looking at stamina.
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