On Saturday, the UFC will host their 36th “Vegas” themed event, live from the APEX Center. It’s an early card, with the DraftKings slate locking at 1:30 p.m. ET (remember, this card was designed originally as a UK event and was moved to Las Vegas). The card only has 10 fights, after several rebookings and cancellations for various reasons ranging from visa issues to COVID-19. UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Till is a surprisingly good card considering the shuffling and dropped bouts, culminating with a very solid middleweight headliner between Derek Brunson and Darren Till that will most likely see the winner in the rarefied air that top contenders enjoy. The man with his arm raised at the end of this fight could be paired up with the winner of Costa-Vettori in a title eliminator. Middleweight has become quite an intriguing division after years of being one of the thinner classes.
In the co-main event position is a contest that’s undergone a transformation thanks to one Serghei replacing another. Serghei Spivac steps in on short notice to replace Sergei Pavlovich after visa issues ended up nixing him from the event. Spivac presents a tough challenge to Aspinall, as he’s a tough grinder with a sound submission game. If Aspinall gets through him, he will undoubtedly be moved quickly through the rankings for pairings within the Top 10. For the first time in ages, heavyweight isn’t completely threadbare outside the Top 5.
The rest of the show features compelling matchups across the board, with Jack Shore being the biggest favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook. Of the many Brits and Euro athletes on the card, former Cage Warriors lightweight champion Paddy Pimblett is finally crossing the pond for the first time in a duel with Luigi Vendramini. The 26-year-old “baddy” is an outstanding grappler with 12 finishes, seven by way of submission. Vendramini presents a sturdy challenge for Pimblett, especially on the feet, so he’s certainly an underdog worth keeping an eye on.
We’ve selected four fighters from the event that will illustrate why they are worthy of their lofty or budget-conscious price tags in an effort to help you select your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups. Let’s get started.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC Fight Night fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $400K in total prizes, including $100,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $400K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].
Today's MMA fight between Jonathan Martinez and Marcelo Rojo has been cancelled due to Martinez failing to make weight. Be sure to check your lineups, as neither fighter will accrue points. Today's Main Slate will now lock at 2PM Eastern and Late Slate will lock at 2:15 PM.— DraftKings CX Team (@DK_Assist) September 4, 2021
Tom Aspinall, $9,000
Tom Aspinall has been one of the best additions to the heavyweight division over the last few years. He’s a big, imposing figure at 6’5 and checks all the boxes in his three outings inside the octagon. He’s a youthful 28 years of age in a division once filled to the brim with aging fighters, and his opponent, Serghei Spivac, is also a very spry 26 years. Both men have their weapons, but Aspinall is quite a bit more potent on the feet, logging eight knockouts in 10 wins, with the other two victories also being finishes via submission (obviously). While he appears to be quite active with stats reflecting an unusually high 7.43 SLPM (strikes landed per minute), his average fight time is just under three minutes, so those numbers aren’t really to be trusted just yet. He’s adept on the ground, managing to be just the second person to ever submit Andrei Arlovski, albeit a very faded version. Spivac, on the other hand, is in his physical prime, has a very good ground game, and thus far has shown the cardio and durability to possibly survive the assault that the Liverpudlian will be launching against him. Spivac has been a mixed bag of results, having his clock cleaned by Walt Harris and being outwrestled by Marcin Tybura, but the “Polar Bear” has quietly put together a three-fight win streak leading into this bout. When it’s all said and done, Aspinall’s power and speed will likely be the deciding factor, and it’s his fight to lose, but Spivac is certainly going to present his toughest fight to date.
Pricing: Could be closer
Jack Shore, $9,100
Jack Shore is one of the brightest prospects in the bantamweight division. Undefeated in his 14-fight professional career, “Tank” has a fantastic ground game built on a combination of wrestling and grappling that’s resulted in eight wins by way of submission. He’s built his resume off being a pressure fighter but is surprisingly not as physically imposing as some of the 135-pounders in the upper levels of the division. At some point, he’s going to run into Cody Stamann or Merab Dvalishvili and be put to a real test, but Ukarine’s Liudvik Sholinian likely won’t be the one to present that type of challenge. Sholinian is also a pressure fighter, but he’s defensively porous and was easily worked over in this past season’s The Ultimate Fighter by Ricky Turcios. With Shore being the better wrestler/grappler, this is one of the firmest chalks on the card, even if a tad bit too wide.
Pricing: Almost perfect
Derek Brunson, $7,400
The disrespect to Derek Brunson is absolutely palpable here! Here we have one of the most improved fighters on the roster, with marked strides in his striking, cardio and defense—ON A FOUR-FIGHT WIN STREAK—and we’re just throwing him under the bus in favor of a guy who’s had quite the inflated reputation, logging six wins of 10 in his UFC run. Till has been lauded for power and striking ability, but the power has only translated to knockouts over Wendell de Oliveira and Donald Cerrone inside the octagon. He does have great boxing form and technique, but often settles into long stretches of inactivity, even after wounding his opponents, case in point, Jorge Masvidal and Robert Whittaker. Derek Brunson hasn’t exactly been ultra dependable in his career, but over the last couple years, he’s turned a corner and has shown a deeper gas tank, better shot selection and his wrestling, while always one of the high points in his skillset, has just gotten better. It will be fascinating to see how Till works off his back, as he will likely end up there. Can Till get the win here? Sure he can, but to make him the favorite by such a wide margin is just insane to me. Till has had just one win since his 2018 victory over Stephen Thompson, a split-decision that went his way against Kelvin Gastelum in a stinker of a fight that easily could’ve gone the other way with the judges. This pricing would normally have me mentioning how fortune favors the bold or some other ancient proverb, but this is genuinely a winnable fight for Brunson, and in my very humble opinion, he should be the favorite.
Pricing: A steal
Dalcha Lungiambula, $7,800
The ”Champion” vs. the “Powerbar” might be my favorite battle of nicknames. Dalcha Lungiambula, aka the “Champion”, is a stout fireplug, clocking in at just 5’8 but built like a brick house. As a matter of fact, he’s actually dropped down to 185 this year after fighting most of his career at 205 pounds. How he makes 185 considering his stocky frame is beyond me, but he’s doing it and winning. The former EFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion is blessed with ridiculous power and equally cursed with a little stamina. He did make it to the end of his last fight, a win over Markus Perez back in January, but he was definitely a member of Team Hufflepuff when the final horn sounded. Marc-Andre Barriault has the volume to pressure Lungiambula, with a very solid gas tank and a sturdy chin to match. That said, Dalcha hits like a freight train, and in this daring pick of mine, I’m counting on one of those power bombs to take out the “Powerbar.”
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