This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC keeps rolling Saturday in Las Vegas with a pair of former middleweight title contenders.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests, including a$300k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.
Main Event - Middleweight
Both Costa and Vettori are coming off defeats to UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya in title fights, and neither man was remotely competitive in their respective fights. Vettori attempted to stay active and failed to hit the mark in dropping a lopsided decision, while Costa stood around and essentially did nothing before being knocked out in Round 2.
I'd argue that the Vettori loss was more discouraging. The Italian entered the Adesanya bout on a five-fight winning streak. He was beating his opponents with cardio and volume, but neither were to be found against the champ. I picked Vettori in that fight and couldn't have been more wrong. I remain optimistic about Vettori moving forward because he's never been knocked out in his pro career and turned just 28 years of age last month, but there is a clear gap between him and the best the division has to offer.
Costa is arguably the hardest hitter in the middleweight division. The knockout power is entirely legitimate, but after seeing his effort in the Adesanya fight, I can't help wonder if Costa didn't build his resume beating up lesser competition. His five UFC victories have come against Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall, Johny Hendricks, Oluwale Bamgbose and Garreth McLellan. The Hall win is fine, but Romero is old, and the other three are meaningless. This is a big fight for Costa in terms of his place in the hierarchy of the middleweight division.
There is going to be a clear speed and cardio edge in Vettori's favor. The fact this is a five round fight should benefit him, assuming he can hang on in the early going.
I'm interested in seeing if Costa goes for broke early or tries to remain patient. In many ways, Costa fights just like Romero did. Yoel became more patient and began to pick his spots better as he aged. Costa, who 30 years old, would be wise to do the same thing.
The technical edge Vettori possesses, combined with his durability, is too much for me to overlook and thus he's my pick to win, but Costa is extremely underpriced from a DK perspective at just $7600. He has the power to end a fight in an instant, and it's rare to find a competitor with that trait priced so cheaply.
THE PICK: Vettori
Co-Main Event - Lightweight
This has a chance to be quite the fight between two guys who are tough as nails and love to push the pace.
Dawson earned his UFC opportunity with a submission victory on Dana White's Contender Series back in August 2017, and all he's done since officially joining the roster is go 5-0, with three of those wins coming via stoppage. Dawson is an excellent wrestler, averaging 3.44 takedowns per 15 minutes. His defensive grappling could use some work, but he has 11 career submission victories and is a real threat whenever the fight ends up on the mat.
Glenn, however, is no easy mark despite the fact he enters as a massive underdog and punt play on DraftKings . Glenn knocked out Joaquim Silva in 37 seconds this past June, but his last fight prior to that came nearly three years earlier, on November 30, 2018. The crazy thing is that he wasn't scheduled for this fight, either, until Carlos Diego Ferreira was forced to withdraw. Glenn is a competent all-around fighter with nearly 30 pro fights under his belt. There isn't much he hasn't see inside the Octagon. He also has some job security, having inked a new multi-fight contract after the Silva win.
Dawson has been so good during his brief stint with the company that it's essentially impossible to pick Glenn to win, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the veteran hung around until the final bell and performed considerably better than most anticipate. That may not result in much value, DFS wise, but I expect him to hold his own as a huge underdog.
THE PICK: Dawson
Caceres has been wildly inconsistent for much of his UFC run, but he is currently in the midst of his best streak to date, having won four in a row. The competition level he's faced hasn't been great (Kevin Croom, a since-retired Austin Springer, Chase Hooper, Steven Peterson), but Caceres needs victories anywhere he can find them. Caceres has been with the company for well over a decade despite still being just 33 years of age. I'm not optimistic this run is going to continue over the long haul, but Caceres has plenty of experience and is difficult to game plan for.
Like his opponent, Choi is on a hot streak. He enters having won three straight, including a 97-second knockout victory over Julian Erosa this past July which earned him a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus. A pure Muay Thai specialist, Choi doesn't have a single submission victory in his professional career. He's giving up plenty of experience to Caceres, but I think Choi is the more technical striker of the two. Caceres, on the other hand, is wild and creative on the feet.
The thing that interests me most in this fight is the size of the two men. It's likely been a while since the 5-foot-10 Caceres has faced a featherweight who is taller and longer than he is, but Choi checks in a 6-0 even. The man that is able to handle the size of his opposition is very likely to emerge the winner.
This one surprises me a bit. Caceres has been so inconsistent that I have no issues with Choi being favored, but -280 seems like a massive number. -155 or -160 seems a bit more reasonable. It's nearly impossible to simulate the way Caceres fights in training, and while Choi is good, he's never defeated anyone of note.
I'd pick Choi if his salary was in the $8400-$8700 range, but I simply can't pony up the extra cash for a fighter we don't have much high-level film on. There's enough value here that I'll roll with Caceres outright as the underdog.
THE PICK: Caceres
This was scheduled to be Grant v. Gabriel Green, and although the latter withdrew, it was done so fairly early and gave Trinaldo over a month to prepare for the bout.
Now 43 years of age, Trinaldo continues to chug along. The Brazilian dropped a unanimous decision to Muslim Salikhov this past June, snapping a three-fight winning streak. Trinaldo could walk away tomorrow and his time with the company would be a rousing success. He has 15 wins under the UFC banner and has been with them since June 2012. Included in there are victories over Paul Felder, Jim Miller and Bobby Green.
Grant is no youngster himself at age 37. He's 3-2 with the company since debuting in December 2018, although that record is a bit misleading because two of the three wins have come via split decision. Grant's main issue is that he has virtually no experience under his belt. He has just 14 pro fights despite his advanced age. He fought just once in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and not at all in 2013 and 2017.
I'm on Trinaldo in a major way here despite his advanced age. Grant is much bigger, entering with a four-inch height and six-inch reach edge, but I fail to see where else he has the advantage. Trinaldo's durability is legendary, and Grant generates little on the feet, landing just 3.36 significant strikes per minute. Grant also averages only half a takedown per 15 minutes, meaning this is likely to be a kickboxing match.
Trinaldo's chin can go at anytime, but I'll take him against fringe opponents until I see evidence of it happening. He has yet to be knocked out in 34 professional fights.
THE PICK: Trinaldo
Jessica-Rose Clark (10-6-0, 1NC) v. Joselyne Edwards (10-3-0)
DK Salaries: Clark ($8,500), Edwards ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Clark (-145), Edwards (+125)
Odds to Finish: +215
THE PICK: Clark
Nicolae Negumereanu (10-1-0) v. Ike Villanueva (18-12-0)
DK Salaries: Negumereanu ($9,100), Villanueva ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Negumereanu (-220), Villanueva (+180)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Negumereanu