UFC 297 is taking place on Saturday from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, and the card features two title fights. The main event is a middleweight title fight between Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis. The co-main event is a women’s bantamweight title fight between Raquel Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 297 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $500,000 in total prizes, including $100,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: UFC $500K UFC 297 Special [$100K to 1st].
Mike Malott ($9,300)
Malott is a rising Canadian fighter who has been given favorable booking to impress in front of his home country. Malott’s opponent, Neil Magny, has a great body of work over his lengthy UFC career, but he is aging and has been on a subpar stretch recently. Magny has absorbed more strikes than he has landed in each of his last six fights, and he was thoroughly dominated in his most recent fight against Ian Garry, getting out-struck 91 to 27 in significant strikes landed while offering little to no offensive bite.
Malott’s stats have been strong through three UFC fights, landing more strikes than he has absorbed in each fight while averaging about 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. Malott has also showcased pop, recording a knockdown in two of his three fights. Malott has scored over 100 DraftKings fantasy points (DKFP) in all three of his UFC fights and is averaging 107 DKFP per fight, second-best on the slate. As about a -350 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, Malott is one of the biggest favorites on the card, which gives him a safe floor.
@Michael_Malott blew the roof off in Vancouver after this NASTY guillotine!— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) January 15, 2024
He's back in action this Saturday fighting for a top 15 WW spot!
[ #UFC297 | LIVE on https://t.co/05E97eZ6SG | Main 10pmET ] pic.twitter.com/nacmBqaul0
Dricus Du Plessis ($8,000)
Du Plessis has an excellent pace that is appealing for fantasy scoring. Du Plessis is averaging roughly seven significant strikes per minute, an elite number, and combines this with grappling to record strong fantasy scores. Du Plessis is averaging 109 DraftKings fantasy points per fight, the most on the slate.
Du Plessis is coming off a stunning upset win over top middleweight Robert Whittaker in a fight that Du Plessis entered as roughly a +300 underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook. Du Plessis has an unorthodox style that seems to catch opponents by surprise. Du Plessis’ movements and techniques aren’t always visually pleasing, but they end up being effective, and it makes Du Plessis difficult to prepare for. Du Plessis also recently had surgery on his nose to fix his breathing, which is believed to have helped his cardio.
Du Plessis has more power than Sean Strickland, which creates more margin for error for Du Plessis. Du Plessis also has a potential path to scoring with offensive grappling. Strickland stands upright and pressures forward, which can leave his legs vulnerable to takedown attempts. Du Plessis is averaging nearly three takedowns per 15 minutes and recorded takedowns in his most recent fights against Whittaker and Derek Brunson, two fighters that have traditionally been difficult to take down. Du Plessis could find success attacking Strickland’s upright posture with takedowns and offensive grappling. Du Plessis using the threat of the takedown could also help him sneak a hard punch through and connect if Strickland drops his hands to defend the takedown.
He's putting it all on the line for #UFC297 @DricusDuPlessis will risk his 6-0 record in hopes to become the next middleweight champion of the world this Saturday!— UFC (@ufc) January 17, 2024
[ Watch it all LIVE on @ESPNPlus PPV ] pic.twitter.com/yQ3EZoiyVB
Raquel Pennington ($7,600)
Pennington is the eighth-cheapest fighter on the slate in a winnable matchup against Mayra Bueno Silva. Bueno Silva has absorbed more strikes than she has landed, absorbing nearly five significant strikes per minute, which is a red flag in her striking metrics. Bueno Silva primarily relies in her submission game to win fights, as seven of her 10 career wins are by submission, including five of her six wins under the UFC’s umbrella.
Pennington has a path to victory, and it is through staying out of submissions where she can score points with striking and win a decision. Pennington has not been submitted since 2012, and Pennington’s strikes landed to absorbed ratio is better than Bueno Silva’s. Eight of Pennington’s last nine UFC wins are by decision, which is notable because this is a five-round title fight, which potentially creates 10 extra minutes to generate fantasy scoring if the fight goes the distance.
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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.