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DFS lineup advice for UFC 252 and The MMA Million with $1,000,000 guaranteed

UFC 252 will be an 11-fight card starting at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and PPV tonight. We’ve got picks and lineup strategy to help you in the The MMA Million another DFS contests.

Opponents Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier face off during the UFC 252 weigh-in at UFC APEX on August 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

One of the biggest main events of the MMA year is here, and there there will be 11 other fights at UFC 252 this evening starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. And you can be the big winner in DraftKings The MMA Million, with $200,000 guaranteed for first place via just an $20 entry.

Each fighter has been given a salary, usually in balance with their opponent but not always due to replacement fighters, and rosters can’t exceed a salary cap of $50,000. With bonus points for stopping opponents early, picking effective strikers and submission specialists that can end things in one round or less is crucial. So is being an active fighter that shoots for takedowns and lands significant strikes.

Here’s how the scoring works, and notice how heavily it leans towards winning big and early:


Significant Strikes: +0.5 Pts
Advance: +3 Pts
Takedown: +5 Pts
Reversal/Sweep: +5 Pts
Knockdown: +10 Pts

Fight Conclusion Bonuses

1st Round Win: +90 Pts
2nd Round Win: +70 Pts
3rd Round Win: +45 Pts
4th Round Win: +40 Pts
5th Round Win: +40 Pts
Decision Win: +30 Pts

And below here are the best bets of a guy that didn’t know a heel hook from a hammerfist four months ago. But we’ve done pretty well with our DFS picks here, and hope to find some value down the card that can translate to bigger favorites in other places.

Merab Dvalishvili: $8,700

A fighter that has an 11-4 MMA record with eight decisions is the best bet on the board, which makes no sense except Merab Dvalishvili is a mat-scoring machine. Averaging 12.5 takedowns in his last two fights, he scored 174 points in his last bout... and won by decision! His last four have all needed the judges, but he’s scored at least 92 points every time, and averaged 123.75 in those four outings. His 8.67 takedowns per UFC bout average are just the start of how he uses his activity. And just $400 over par salary value? Especially against a competitor in John Dodson that likes to go the distance himself as his last seven fights have needed the judges? Sold.

Daniel Pineda: $7,300

You’ve got to save salary somewhere, and it’s tough to do that against Herbert Burns. But Pineda has four-straight first-round wins on the independent circuit, and is coming off a drug suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that canceled his last two. Burns came in 3.5 pounds overweight for this fight, and look pretty dejected on the scales while doing so. The stats for Pineda that are listed don’t really apply as he hasn’t competed in the UFC in over six years, but seems to have found his stride as an MMA fighter. You’re looking to catch Burns slacking and to find an upset here that will save dollars for bigger names on the card.

Chris Daukaus: $7,700

This one is strictly anecdotal, but I was born and raised in Delco, PA. It’s the biggest suburban county attached to Philadelphia, and sent a few text messages home this morning about the UFC debutante Daukaus. The Philly PD cop is apparently fearless in the cage, unafraid to swing hard and trade hoping to land big and knock out an opponent. With an 8-3 career record with seven knockouts, and having been knocked out twice himself, he’ll look to throw early and often. We’ll hope he finds a button early and ends this one in a hurry while saving salary for some favorites like Sean O’Malley as well.