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UFC 293 Picks Today: Top DraftKings DFS Fantasy MMA Targets, Values for UFC 293

Tim Finnegan gives UFC 293 picks for Saturday’s DraftKings UFC slate.

MMA: APR 08 UFC 287 Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL is back in action on Sunday with DraftKings Fantasy Football Millionaire contests, but before that, we have a big fantasy UFC slate. UFC 293 is taking place on Saturday from Sydney, Australia, and the card is headlined by a middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Sean Strickland. Adesanya was originally set up to face Dricus Du Plessis next, but an injury to Du Plessis resulted in Strickland getting the title shot. Australian fan favorite Tai Tuivasa is also on the card, and he will face Alexander Volkov in the co-main event.

DraftKings is hosting a huge UFC 293 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $750,000 in total prizes, including $200,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: UFC $750K UFC 293 Special [$200K to 1st].


Israel Adesanya ($9,700)

Adesanya is an elite striker who is tall and lengthy for middleweight, and he has enjoyed a significant reach and range advantage over most of his opponents at middleweight. This will come into play against Sean Strickland—Adesanya will have a four-inch reach advantage over Strickland, and Adesanya is about three inches taller. Adesanya uses his length to position himself just outside of his opponent’s striking range, which generally makes it difficult to land a clean shot on Adesanya. Adesanya then punishes most of his opponents with his superior striking from distance, and his takedown defense and defensive grappling have been good enough to stop the grapplers he has faced at middleweight.

Adesanya’s only loss in the UFC middleweight division was to rival Alex Pereira, who was monstrously large for the division and had the elite striking and length to give Adesanya a matchup nightmare. However, Adesanya quickly avenged this loss by knocking Pereira out in an immediate rematch, and with Pereira moving up to light heavyweight, Adesanya has clear control over the division once again.

Sean Strickland has improved recently after going to Connecticut to train with Alex Pereira. However, Strickland’s improvements will not close the gap enough to be a significant threat to Adesanya. Strickland does not have the offensive wrestling background to threaten to take Adesanya to the ground where Adesanya is weakest, and Adesanya’s striking is significantly better than Strickland’s striking. If this fight stays at distance, which is likely to happen, Adesanya should pick apart Strickland on his way to a strong fantasy score. At over -600 on the Moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook, Adesanya is the biggest favorite on the slate, which provides more evidence for how safe of a fantasy play he is.

Carlos Ulberg ($9,200)

Ulberg, who trains with Israel Adesanya at City Kickboxing, has explosive striking. Ulberg moves very well for light heavyweight, and his speed and fluidity stand out in the division. Ulberg has featured crippling calf kicks, stinging power jabs, and power left hooks to set up multiple first-round knockouts. Ulberg has knocked out multiple UFC opponents with his left hook, which he sets up either via the lead jab or sliding back as a counter.

Ulberg’s striking stats are elite. Ulberg leads the slate in time-adjusted striking volume, landing over eight significant strikes per minute. Ulberg also has strong pop, ranking third among active light heavyweights in knockdowns per 15 minutes. Ulberg has recorded at least one knockdown in each of his last three UFC fights, which has resulted in a first-round win in each fight. Ulberg is about a -300 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook for his matchup against Da Woon Jung, putting him in a good position to win and record another strong fantasy score.

Value Play

Tai Tuivasa ($7,400)

Tuivasa is on a two-fight losing streak, but his losses have been to elite competition in Sergei Pavlovich and Ciryl Gane, the two best UFC heavyweights outside of Jon Jones. Tuivasa gets a more winnable matchup against Alexander Volkov in a fight that should probably be priced closer. Volkov is not much of a grappler and has not attempted any takedowns in any of his last seven UFC fights, so this fight is likely to be a striking match.

Volkov is longer and will have a substantial reach advantage, but Tuivasa is one of the hardest punchers in the UFC and has a legitimate chance to win by knockout if this fight remains at distance. Seven of Tuivasa’s eight UFC wins are by KO/TKO, and he also floored the defensively sound Ciryl Gane with a bomb of a right hand that put Gane in huge trouble. As the eighth cheapest fighter on the DraftKings fantasy UFC slate, Tuivasa is worth considering as a salary relief play.

Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: UFC $750K UFC 293 Special [$200K to 1st]

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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.