UFC 287 is taking place on Saturday from Miami, Florida, and the main event is a rematch between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya for the UFC middleweight title. This will be the fourth time Pereira and Adesanya have fought, including their two kickboxing matches against each other. The card also features a welterweight bout between Gilbert Burns and Miami local Jorge Masvidal.
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Karl Williams ($9,500)
At about -400 on the moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook, Williams is the second-biggest favorite on the UFC 287 slate for his matchup against Chase Sherman.
Williams only has two fights under the UFC umbrella, one on Dana White’s Contender Series and one last month at UFC Fight Night: Yan vs. Dvalishvili, but his statistics have been appealing for fantasy scoring. Williams racked up a massive eight takedowns with 10 minutes of control time in his decision win last month, and he had a similar performance on DWCS, registering about 11 minutes of control time with three takedowns in a decision win. Williams’ grappling volume produced an excellent fantasy score of 130 DraftKings fantasy points in his UFC win last month.
Williams has an appealing matchup against Chase Sherman. Sherman has lost five out of his last six UFC fights and is 2-8 in the UFC dating back to 2017. Sherman has absorbed a lot of striking volume, absorbing nearly seven significant strikes per minute, the most on the slate. Williams is in a good position to get the win with a strong fantasy score in one of the most favorable matchups on the slate.
Alex Pereira ($7,900)
Read more about Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya here: UFC 287 Main Card Picks on DraftKings Sportsbook for Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya 2
Alex Pereira is a matchup nightmare for Israel Adesanya because Pereira can match most of Adesanya’s advantages at middleweight. Pereira is an elite kickboxer who is huge for the division, and his height, reach and striking skill are very similar to Adesanya’s. Adesanya, who is very tall and long, has enjoyed a significant reach and range advantage over most of his opponents at middleweight, but Pereira’s size and length have largely erased those advantages for Adesanya in this matchup.
Pereira has a significant edge in power. Pereira has one of the greatest left hooks in combat sports, and his left hook found the mark again during the finishing combination of their most recent UFC fight. The left hook from an orthodox fighter onto another orthodox fighter can be such a devastating punch because the lead defensive shoulder is on the opposite side of the left hook, which gives more clearance to find the chin on the left side. Pereira’s power advantage gives him more margin for error because he can end the fight with strikes at any moment.
Pereira’s offensive and defensive kicking game has also given Adesanya problems. Defensively, Pereira has stuffed Adesanya’s leg kicks with excellent checking. Offensively, Pereira landed a crippling calf kick on Adesanya in their most recent UFC fight, which diminished Adesanya’s movement and resulted in poor ringcraft. Adesanya spent the later rounds standing near the fence, which kept him inside of Pereira’s punching range and prevented him from managing distance properly. It was along the fence that Pereira landed his fight-finishing combination, which included a powerful left hook that badly hurt Adesanya.
Pereira’s team believes he was not aggressive enough early in their last fight, which resulted in him falling behind on the scorecards going into the final round. Pereira came out aggressively in the fifth round, out-striking Adesanya 28 to 9 in total significant strikes landed, 18 of which were to the head.
Pereira costs under $8K in a very winnable matchup. The fight being five rounds also potentially gives Pereira more time to generate fantasy scoring. Pereira finished with a solid 92 DraftKings fantasy points in his previous UFC win vs. Adesanya after landing 140 total strikes and 91 significant strikes in just under five rounds.
Jorge Masvidal ($6,600)
At roughly +400 on the moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook, Masvidal is the biggest underdog on the slate. Masvidal has lost three straight fights, and at age 38, his best days appear behind him.
However, this matchup against Gilbert Burns could be more competitive than the DFS pricing and betting odds indicate. Masvidal’s last three losses were to the most elite wrestlers in the division—Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington. Burns is an elite grappler, but Burns’ primary grappling background is in jiu jitsu, not wrestling. Masvidal’s takedown defense is not bad on a rate basis, stopping 74% of opponent takedown attempts.
It’s conceivable that Masvidal could keep this fight standing long enough to find success on the feet. Masvidal is a good striker, and Masvidal likely has the striking advantage in this matchup. Masvidal is also very difficult to submit. Masvidal has not lost a fight by submission since 2009, and he should be able to survive on the ground if Burns does take him down. As a huge underdog, Masvidal is a risky DFS play, but is worth considering in tournaments at the cheapest salary on the slate.
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.