This Saturday, the UFC will put forth their 30th Vegas-themed event, live from the APEX Center. The card is chock-full of compelling fights from the opener all the way to the headliner—a contest that has title contender implications. The pairing of Raoni Barcelos and Timur Valiev is brilliant matchmaking, as is Renato Moicano and Jai Herbert. Tim Means got an opponent upgrade when he went from Danny Roberts to Nicolas Dalby, and newcomer Jeremiah Wells steps in as a late replacement for Ramazan Emeev when he faces off against Warlley Alves.
Will Alexander Volkov have the power and speed to beat the unbeaten Ciryl Gane? Will Tim Means be able to overcome Nicolas Dalby’s relentless game? Will Shavkat Rakhmonov keep his unbeaten record against the wildly aggressive Michel Prazeres? Even the opening bout is a very good one between grizzled veterans Yancy Medeiros and Damir Hadzovic and could end up being a “loser leaves town” match, so you can expect fireworks from these two.
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!
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC Fight Night fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $333K in total prizes, including $100,000 to first place. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $333K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].
Raoni Barcelos, $8,800
This is such a nice bit of matchmaking, even if Barcelos should be getting a bigger name at this point, considering his sterling record inside the octagon. Raoni is an aggressive, well-rounded volume striker. He averages 5.59 strikes landed per minute, but does take a heap of volume in return, absorbing 4.17 shots in that same space. He is durable, but at 34 years of age, that durability may begin to fade sooner than we’d like, as he has had nine years of fight wear, but for now, he’s as fresh as a daisy and beating good opposition handily. He has legitimate, one-punch stopping power to go along with that volume approach, but his opponent is no slouch, and has shown flashes of power, as well. Valiev also has a very strong wrestling game that could prove troublesome for Barcelos and he’s also a very busy striker himself, landing 5.50 strikes per minute. Valiev is the more defensively responsible of the two, absorbing only 1.55 strikes per minute, so Barcelos will need to be surgical to rack up the volume he’s become accustomed to. Outstanding contest, to say the least.
Alexander Volkov, $7,500
Alexander Volkov will enter the cage the far more experienced man, but Ciryl Gane has proven to be a composed, technically sound, talented fighter who’s experienced success both on the ground and the feet. But when you take a closer look, we have to put things in proper perspective, and part of that is looking at their strength of schedule, and therein lies the stark difference. Gane does hold a very solid win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, but the one over Junior Dos Santos shouldn’t be quite as impactful, as Dos Santos’ chin had long been gone by the time Gane got to him. Volkov, on the other hand, has grown his profile considerably inside the octagon, and has been notching wins over good opposition since his days at Bellator. He has the more technical striking, a three-inch height advantage and underrated grappling, but where he’s very proficient is knocking people out, and he’s got 22 wins that illustrate that power hand. I know Gane has looked good in there, but he’s been matched pretty advantageously to this point. I think Volkov is an excellent litmus test to see whether he’s ready for a run at contention, and obviously, the same applies for Alexander. Another great fight, and clearly the most important one on the card.
Daniel Pineda, $7,300
Daniel Pineda’s career arc has been a bit of a rocky road. After being cut from the UFC back in 2014, he made the rounds through the regional circuit, then ran through some serious competition in the PFL before getting the call back from the UFC. He came in the underdog when he squared off with Herbert Burns, shocking fans with a TKO victory in the second round. He’d come back four months later to face Cub Swanson, ultimately losing via second-round knockout. No shame there, Cub still has power. Andre Fili is a tough customer, but isn’t the most powerful striker, so there’s room to breathe in that regard, but he’s a capable grappler—just not quite as much as Pineda, who has 18 submission wins on his resume, most recently against Jeremy Kennedy. This is likely going to be the proverbial battle of attrition that will see both men have their moments, but Pineda is more defensively sound and the better submission artist. Sean Shelby is putting in work!
Ovince Saint Preux, $7,900
At 38 years of age, Ovince St. Preux has a lot of mileage—40 professional fights’ worth spanning over 13 years. He’s faced a who’s who of light-heavyweight competition, even competing for the title once, losing to Jon Jones via lopsided decision. Since then, he’s notched wins over the likes of Corey Anderson, Tyson Pedro and Alonzo Menifield. Conversely, he’s been taking losses at the hands of Jamahal Hill, a very faded Ben Rothwell, Ilir Latifi, Nikita Krylov…I could go on, but I’ll spare you the list. One thing that has become quite apparent is his durability—never his strong suit—has abandoned him, as has his cardio. Sure, he sometimes makes it to the final horn, but he hasn’t won a decision since 2016. To put that in perspective, he’s had 14 fights since then, been to decision three times during that span, and lost all three in addition to being knocked out twice and submitted twice. I’m not saying he can’t win here, I’m just saying be mindful of his gas tank for when selecting teams for fantasy play.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is crooklyn949) 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.
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