UFC king Conor McGregor is back in action on Saturday, headlining UFC 257 in a rematch against Dustin Poirier. UFC 257 also features former Bellator champion Michael Chandler making his UFC debut against Dan Hooker and rising star Amanda Ribas facing Marina Rodriguez in a bout that could propel Ribas into the title picture.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 257 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $1 million in guaranteed prizes, including $200K to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 257 Special [$200K to 1st].
DraftKings Sportsbook will also be featuring UFC bets that can be placed for UFC 257. Place your UFC bets at the DraftKings Sportsbook UFC page and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.
Below, we will break down UFC 257 and examine some of the UFC betting offerings for the event by DraftKings Sportsbook. In addition, we will take a look at the DraftKings UFC 257 fantasy MMA slate and make some picks.
Notable DraftKings Sportsbook betting odds
- Conor McGregor by KO, TKO or DQ (-177)
- Dustin Poirier by Decision (+600)
- Dustin Poirier by KO, TKO or DQ (+600)
- Conor McGregor by Decision (+650)
- Dustin Poirier by Submission (+900)
- Conor McGregor by Submission (+2000)
- Tie (+6000)
DraftKings Sportsbook Favorite to Build Around: Amanda Ribas ($9,200; -335) vs. Marina Rodriguez ($7,000; +250)
Amanda Ribas has the skills and charisma to turn into a star for the UFC. Ribas is super well rounded—she is a BJJ black belt, a judo black belt and has showcased very crisp striking. In her striking, Ribas has a good jab, the ability to put together combinations and has good distance management, attacking and exiting before her opponent can land cleanly.
An outstanding 73% of Ribas’ opponents’ strike attempts have not landed, an elite rate that ranks at the top of the UFC leaderboard. Ribas also barely absorbs strikes, taking about 1.7 significant strikes per minute, a very low number. These defensive metrics support the visual observation that Ribas has quality striking defense.
Ribas’ offensive striking metrics are also strong. Ribas’ offensive output has far outweighed the strikes she has absorbed, as she has landed about 4.7 significant strikes per minute, a quality number. The fact that Ribas has landed far more significant strikes than she has absorbed reflects very well on her standup skills.
In addition to her quality striking, Ribas has excellent grappling. Her black belt in BJJ gives her the ability to finish fights with submissions—two of her four UFC wins are by submission—and her judo black belt helps her offensive grappling game. Take a look at how she ragdolled BJJ wizard Mackenzie Dern with a judo throw in their fight in October 2019 to score a takedown:
Ribas has also displayed good defensive grappling and been difficult to take down, stopping 85% of opponent takedown attempts through her four UFC fights, an excellent rate.
Ribas’ opponent, Marina Rodriguez, is a good striker but does not have great takedown defense, stopping just 61% of opponent takedown attempts. In Rodriguez’s most recent fight against Carla Esparza, she got taken down five times and stopped just 55% of Esparza’s takedown attempts. This could be a soft matchup for Ribas to get the fight to the ground and work her submission game.
Ribas has looked tremendous when visually watching her UFC fights and this observation is supported by strong UFC metrics, both defensively and offensively. Ribas appears set up well to get this fight to the ground and either submit Rodriguez or win a decision on points.
Mid-Tier: Sara McMann ($8,200; -130) vs. Julianna Pena ($8,000; +105)
McMann carries appeal in both DraftKings fantasy MMA contests and at -130 on DraftKings Sportsbook due to her elite wrestling combined with Pena’s weak takedown defense. Pena’s defensive grappling statistics are extremely poor, stopping just 28% of opponent takedown attempts. McMann is a former Olympic wrestler and is averaging a heavy 4.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. While McMann’s fantasy upside is generally limited due to low striking volume, she should be able to generate takedowns and control time in a very soft matchup for takedowns and position herself for a submission finish or a decision win.
Salary Relief: Michael Chandler ($7,700; +105) vs. Dan Hooker ($8,500; -134)
Chandler, a long-time Bellator fighter who held the promotion’s lightweight title multiple times, is making his UFC debut against Dan Hooker ($8,500). Chandler is one of the top fighters in the history of Bellator and the UFC has indicated they view Chandler highly. For one, Chandler was used as the backup plan for the lightweight title fight at UFC 254 between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje—the UFC had Chandler waiting in reserve as an emergency replacement in the event that either Nurmagomedov or Gaethje had to withdraw from the fight. And now, the UFC has Chandler slotted as the fight directly in front of Conor McGregor in one of the most highly visible spots possible given McGregor’s huge drawing power. This spot is set up to potentially catapult Chandler into the lightweight title picture.
Chandler is a strong, athletic wrestler with a Division 1 All-American background. He has knockout power and the ability to finish fights, as 16 of his 21 wins are by finish. Chandler holds Bellator wins over former UFC champions Ben Henderson and Eddie Alvarez and is most recently coming off a first-round KO of Henderson in August 2020.
Hooker is a tough opponent and will have a four-inch advantage in both reach and height, but Hooker has been hittable in his UFC career, taking about five significant strikes per minute, an elevated number. Chandler has the power to end the fight with his hands if he’s able to land cleanly, and Hooker’s defensive striking metrics aren’t great.
Chandler is still the underdog in this matchup on DraftKings Sportsbook, but barely at +105. The skill set between Hooker and Chandler is probably closer than the gap in DFS pricing indicates. As the ninth cheapest fighter on the fantasy MMA slate, Chandler carries the potential to return good value at his price tag.
Double your money if Conor McGregor gets the win at UFC 257! See the DraftKings Sportsbook UFC page for more details!
Main Event: Conor McGregor ($9,100; -315) vs. Dustin Poirier ($7,100; +255)
McGregor and Poirier fought previously, but it was a long time ago at UFC 178 in September 2014. McGregor made quick work of Poirier and won in under two minutes by TKO after landing a punch behind Poirier’s ear that sent Poirier to the mat. McGregor has won eight of his 12 UFC fights by KO/TKO and 80% of his UFC wins are by KO/TKO. As a result, the most likely outcome of this fight on DraftKings Sportsbook is McGregor by KO, TKO or DQ (-177). No other outcome for this fight is below +600.
While Poirier getting a second look at McGregor could theoretically help, McGregor has evolved since their first fight, which was over six years ago. McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, said that McGregor’s skills have dramatically improved recently, and after McGregor’s win over Donald Cerrone in his most recent fight, Kavanagh told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani:
“I did say that I thought this was going to be the best Conor McGregor of all time, but I didn’t know it was going to be this good a version of him. He seems to have reached a different level of athleticism now than he’s ever had in his career. He’s always had an incredibly high fight IQ and now that seems to be married to an Olympic level of athleticism and it is somewhat terrifying and fantastic.”
Part of McGregor’s recent athletic adjustments include spending more money on his body rather than material items. McGregor told TSN this week that he saw how LeBron James spends $1.5 million annually on his body and decided to invest in his body year-round rather than just for an eight week fight camp. It’s possible that McGregor is peaking athletically for this fight.
McGregor also supports Kavanagh’s observations and has said that he believes he would crush the old version of himself because his overall skills are so much better now. This is high praise given how skilled the previous version of Conor McGregor was. McGregor’s left hand is legendary, his distance and range are elite, and his precision and timing are among the best ever.
McGregor is lethal at setting traps and baiting fighters to lunge at him, where he can execute his trademark pull-back counter to an overextended and overreaching opponent. See how McGregor baits Eddie Alvarez into lunging in and overextending, where he can counter into the opening:
McGregor executed a similar pull-back counter left into a lunging Jose Aldo when he won the UFC featherweight title in December 2015:
After the Aldo fight, McGregor gave a famous quote: “Precision beats power, and timing beats speed”. McGregor offered some insight into his fighting style in a post fight interview with FOX: “A lot of people force their shots. I honestly believe power is an illusion. The perception of power, if it’s tense and squeezed, that can be seen a mile away. So I just like to place (my strikes). Just let it go. It’s four ounce gloves, you just need to tip the chin. And that’s it.” This quote offers good insight into why McGregor’s strikes are so lethal.
McGregor does leave his chin exposed in the standup, but while he doesn’t protect his chin with his hands, he protects his chin with elite distance management. McGregor leaving his chin exposed is also part of his trap to lure opponents into lunging at him where he can create distance and launch a counter into the opening once they overextend.
There are a few paths that stick out as ways to beat McGregor. The best path is through offensive wrestling and grappling, which is why Khabib Nurmagomedov was such a tough matchup for McGregor. Nurmagomedov has some of the best MMA wrestling ever along with arguably the best top game ever and McGregor was unable to launch his full standup game due to the constant threat of the takedown. The second path is to drag McGregor into the later rounds, because McGregor tends to tire in fights and could be more susceptible to absorbing strikes if his movement slows down. Poirier does not possess a dangerous offensive wrestling game, but he has displayed better cardio, so his best method to win may be by tiring McGregor out and attempting to take over late. Poirier’s best chance at landing clean may come in the later rounds if McGregor’s movement slows down and he is unable to distance himself properly.
Ultimately, McGregor should be positioned well to fight to his strengths in what looks like a standup battle. It’s also possible that McGregor’s new dedication to his body and smoother weight cut will help his cardio if the fight goes into the later rounds. This matchup is a good fit for McGregor to get the win through his superior striking, and it probably ends up with the same finish as the first fight — McGregor by TKO/KO. If McGregor is successful, a potential rematch against Nurmagomedov is brewing if Nurmagomedov agrees to come out of retirement.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds are subject to change.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA/MI), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA) or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789. 21+ (18+ NH). NJ/PA/WV/NH/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL/TN/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.