This Saturday night, fight fans around the world will be treated to a great lineup of exciting fights when UFC 262 takes over the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas in front of a full capacity crowd. The fights are a testament to excellent matchmaking and there’s a pretty decent array of intriguing duels from top to bottom—a rarity these days considering how the brass likes to fluff out the main card while the prelims are left a little threadbare as far as name value goes. The prospects represented on the bout sheet are also paired off well with opponents that should bring out their best—I’m looking at you Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin!
Then we get to the co-main event, a brilliant fight between Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush that is guaranteed to bring fireworks. Both men are excellent grapplers, and both have wild but potent striking styles. Does Ferguson still have the edge over the lower end of the contender’s ladder or will Dariush prove that “El Cucuy’s” best days are behind him?
In the headlining position, we get a fantastic title fight for the vacant lightweight belt between former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler and grappling wizard Charles Oliveira. Chandler looked sensational against Dan Hooker earlier this year and “Do Bronx” is on an eight-fight win streak. Will Chandler’s power be enough to overwhelm Chuckie Olives or will the jiu-jitsu ace turn him into a beefy pretzel?
We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups. Each category will feature the standout fighter for his/her achievements in said category. Let’s get started!
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Shane Burgos, $8,400
“Hurricane” is the epitome of a volume striker. Averaging a whopping 7.31 strikes landed per minute, to say he’s “active” would be a ridiculous understatement. The 30-year-old fights out of the orthodox stance and he unfortunately suffers the almost universal malady of the vast majority of pressure fighters/volume strikers—his defense is as porous as a dish sponge.
Mr. Burgos absorbs 5.81 strikes per minute, and while we’ve seen him take wins over Makwan Amirkhani, Cub Swanson and Kurt Holobaugh recently, we’ve also seen him get tuned up against Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett. Edson Barboza has seen better days and has a pretty reckless streak of his own, but he’s still dangerous, so Shane will need to be mindful of the power “Junior” possesses. That said, Barboza absorbs even more damage than Burgos, and facing the kind of constant pressure that Shane brings to the table could very well see him on the wrong side of the column. Extraordinary matchmaking here.
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Tony Ferguson, $7,600
“El Cucuy” was on an incredible hot streak—12 fights, to be exact—and then he met Justin Gaethje and that impressive run came to a screeching halt last May. He would take a fight with Charles Oliveira six months later and lose a second time in 2020. Gaethje is No. 2 in the division and Oliveira is fighting for the belt in the main event, so those losses stand up to inspection.
Now that we’ve gotten that bit of historical fact out of the way, let’s talk striking. Fergie has a wild, unorthodox striking style. He’s easily baited into wars, and until Gaethje, he demonstrated amazing durability with endless stamina and a granite chin. It should be noted that his chin held fast all the way into the fifth round with the aforementioned Gaethje. He survived Oliveira’s evolving striking, as well.
Tony does settle into a more practical rhythm once he’s figured out his opponent. A classic example of this was his battle with Lando Vannata. He had an all-out firefight with Lando in the first, came dangerously close to being knocked out, but before the end of the round, there was a notable shift in the momentum, and his striking wasn’t the untamed mess from the first couple minutes. It was much more precise, more potent. He looked outstanding against former champion Rafael dos Anjos. Ditto Anthony Pettis, who ended up having his corner throw in the towel. Ditto Donald Cerrone, only the ringside physician was the one to stop that one. Beneil Dariush is a super tough opponent with a budding striking game of his own, and similar to Tony’s in that he’s wild and unorthodox. He also has legitimate power. Tony, however, is a little more predictable to score knockouts and has 12 of them to his credit. This comes down to whether Tony can still keep the bottom half of the Top 10 from contention. He has the skills, the tools and the experience to do it.
Charles Oliveira, $8,700
“Do Bronx” is one of, if not the best grappler in the UFC right now. When you rack up 19 wins by submission out of 30 total wins, that’s saying something. I mean, you can basically set your watch by it. He’s got that long, lanky body that’s purpose-built for using his striking—both punches and kicks—to set up a very effective takedown game.
Charles averages 2.64 takedowns per 15-minute fight and sports a 2.8 submission attempt average in that same time frame. When the fight hits the ground, and it almost certainly will, that’s when the fun begins, because Michael Chandler has a very good wrestling base and can handle himself well in scrambles. As a matter of fact, he’s the owner of seven submissions and has yet to be submitted, but we should never say never. If anyone can get the job done, it’s Oliveira. And for those that like to connect the dots with a little MMA Math, “Do Bronx” submitted Will Brooks who beat Michael Chandler not once, but twice.
Jacare Souza, $8,500
“Jacare” is 41 years old now and with 36 fights under his belt. His career stretches back nearly 18 years. Even before this current losing skid, he was already slowing down. His cardio has looked more and more suspect with each fight. Then there’s the knockout loss he suffered this past December and the battle with COVID-19 last year. This in no way suggests he can’t still beat young whippersnappers like Andre Muniz, it’s more a warning to his conditioning, which is a mere shadow of what it once was. Be cautious when considering him in this contest.
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