UFC 295 is taking place on Saturday from Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the card underwent big changes a few weeks ago. The event was originally scheduled to be headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic, but an injury to Jones during training pushed that fight to a later date. The card is now headlined by an exciting light heavyweight title fight between former light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka and former middleweight champion Alex Pereira. Prochazka is returning from a significant shoulder injury, which forced him to vacate the title last year.
The co-main event is an interim heavyweight title fight between Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall. Pavlovich is one of the scariest punchers in the UFC due to his long arms and big punching power, and all six of his UFC wins are by KO/TKO. Aspinall is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights the division has ever seen, and his only UFC loss is due to a freak injury 15 seconds into the fight.
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Benoit Saint Denis ($9,100)
Saint Denis has been an excellent fantasy scorer on the back of a strong mix of grappling and striking volume. Saint Denis has recorded about five takedowns per 15 minutes and has landed about 5.5 significant strikes per minute, two appealing rates for fantasy scoring. Saint Denis has also mixed in excellent control time to further aid fantasy scoring, registering a control time percentage of over 50%.
Saint Denis has a favorable matchup against Matt Frevola and enters the fight as about a -230 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, which makes him one of the larger favorites on the card. Saint Denis is in a good position to record the win and finish with a strong fantasy score. Saint Denis is averaging 110 DraftKings fantasy points per fight, second-highest on the slate, and has scored at least 100 DraftKings fantasy points in each of his last four fights.
Alex Pereira ($8,400)
Pereira’s opponent, Jiri Prochazka, is coming off a substantial layoff due to a serious shoulder injury and has not fought since June 2022, creating an element of uncertainty as to how Prochazka will look coming off both an injury and a long layoff.
Prochazka is aggressive and lacks good striking defense, which could play right into Pereira’s game. Prochazka has absorbed over five significant strikes per minute and has avoided just 40% of opponent significant strike attempts, which is a very poor rate. Prochazka is prone to keeping his hands low, which makes him hittable when he closes the distance to throw strikes.
Prochazka absorbing an elevated amount of strikes is alarming for his chances on the feet against Pereira, who is nicknamed “Poatan”, which means “Hands of Stone”. Pereira is a murderous striker who has arguably the greatest left hook in the history of MMA. Pereira has more than just a left hook—his striking is very diverse, and he attacks everywhere. Pereira is also very rangy and excellent at distance management, which generally keeps him safe from return fire, especially from aggressive opponents who charge towards him. As one of the UFC’s most elite and dangerous strikers, Pereira will have a significant edge as long as he can keep this fight at distance.
Sergei Pavlovich ($8,000)
Pavlovich is one of the scariest punchers in the UFC. Pavlovich’s arms are extremely long—his reach is measured at 84 inches, one of the longest reaches in the UFC, and he combines his long arms with lightning-fast hands to produce explosive first-round knockouts. Pavlovich has finished all six of his UFC wins inside the first round.
Pavlovich is one of the highest-volume strikers in the UFC, landing almost nine significant strikes per minute, second-most among all qualified UFC fighters. Pavlovich’s striking volume and first-round finishes have produced strong fantasy scoring. Pavlovich has scored over 100 DraftKings fantasy points in each of his last six UFC fights and is averaging 103 DraftKings fantasy points per fight, third-best on the UFC 295 slate.
Pavlovich has also displayed a good gas tank in the rare instances that the fight is prolonged. Pavlovich went 25 minutes in a decision win before he joined the UFC, which is a good sign for his fight against Tom Aspinall, which is five rounds long. Aspinall is one of the most well-rounded fighters the UFC heavyweight division has ever produced, so this is a tough matchup for Pavlovich, but Pavlovich’s power, fast hands and length advantage could make the difference. Pavlovich has a six-inch reach advantage over Aspinall, which will help in distance striking.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.