Tomorrow afternoon, UFC Vegas 32 will have 150 fans in attendance at the Apex Center for the first time in almost two years. The card is a tribute to hardcore fans with a cornucopia of fantastic style matchups, including a few contender pairings. The action potential for this show is through the roof.
Of the outstanding fights on the bout sheet, there are some that stand out from the rest. Now that the co-main event has been scratched due to an unfortunate injury, Kyler Phillips vs. Raulian Paiva is now serving as the co-main event. Will Phillips be able to keep Paiva at bay to keep his forward momentum? How about the most talented women’s prospect, Miranda Maverick? Will she be able to overcome Maycee Barber’s power?
In a classic wrestler vs. submission grappler contest, we have the comeback kid, Darren Elkins hoping to extend his one-fight run against BJJ ace Darrick Minner. Does “The Damage” still have enough in his bag of tricks to get by the savvy Minner? We also have a very intriguing prospect pairing at bantamweight between Randy Costa and Adrian Yanez that could give the main event some competition when the brass is determining who gets fight of the night.
Finally, at the top of the heap is the crown jewel of the show, a title eliminator between No. 2 Cory Sandhagen and the returning T.J. Dillashaw. Sandhagen is the favorite, but can Dillashaw still summon the kind of power needed to starch Sandhagen? Is his wrestling still effective enough to take out the much bigger man? These are questions we hope to have answered by Saturday night.
We’ve selected four fighters from the event that will illustrate why they are worthy of their lofty or budget-conscious price tags in an effort to help you select your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Let’s get started.
DraftKings is hosting a big fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $500K in total prizes, including $100K to first place. This slate locks at 4:00 PM ET on Saturday, so set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $500K Throwdown [$100K to 1st].
Cory Sandhagen, $8,800
It has been a satisfying experience to see how well Cory Sandhagen has bounced back from the disappointing defeat that Aljamain Sterling handed him a little over a year ago. The submission, a rear-naked choke, came just 88-seconds into the fight, ending a seven-fight hot streak “The Sandman” had accrued. Since then, he has demolished both Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar, making an emphatic statement about where he belongs in the pecking order. Sandhagen is aggressive, but not reckless, and a true volume machine, racking up 6.85 shots landed per minute while only absorbing less than half that in the same 60-second window. He has excellent fundamentals, especially the most important one—working the body—and he does that exceptionally well. He’s a dynamic striker, mixing in a variety of flashy but powerful kicks, knees and elbows along with beautiful jab work. He’s also good on the ground, something that should come in handy against Dillashaw, a man with an excellent wrestling base and lots of collar-starching power. Dillashaw is 35-years-old now, but he’s had the unintended benefit of 2.5 years away from the octagon, thanks to a PED suspension. Now, he’s back and looking to cement himself as the next guy to get a crack at the belt. It’s a tall order, one that I think he won’t be able to fill.
Julio Arce, $9,100
Julio Arce is going to be a big boy at bantamweight. The native New Yorker (HUZZAH!) is making the journey down to 135 for the first time in his career, facing off against a solid opponent in Andre Ewell. Arce is a crafty fighter with plenty of tools at his disposal. He’s a good striker with plenty of power, a great kicker (just ask Julian Erosa about that), and a very capable grappler. He has an impressive list of wins, including one over Dan Ige. Andre Ewell came into the UFC and immediately scored a split-decision victory over a faded Renan Barao. He’s been a mixed bag of wins-and-losses since then, and seems to be having trouble taking the next step up in competition. Arce is going to be an incredibly tough challenge considering the completeness of his game — he’s just fighting at a higher level. That’s not to say Ewell is unable to win here, he certainly can, but the pricing is on point, in my humble opinion.
Pricing: Just right
Randy Costa, $7,200
Randy Costa may still be an unpolished gem, but he’s got so much potential. Blessed with power, he has a bit of wildness to him that befits his unorthodox style. Every single win has come via knockout and inside the first round. His lone loss, a rear-naked choke submission to Brandon Michael Davis, is the only fight he’s had that made it out of the first round. He’s an active kicker and puncher, but his metrics are quite skewed thanks to the fact he’s had an average of just three minutes of fight time, so we will overlook that stat. Suffice to say, he’s very much a volume striker. He’s got an extremely tough test with Adrian Yanez, a man that also packs a wallop, but his victories have been against lower-level competition until he reached the UFC. Gustavo Lopez is undoubtedly his best win, where he stayed composed and managed to get the late knockout in the third. Composure flies out the window in the face of an aggressive power puncher, and I have the feeling that Costa might just be the spark that ignites a firestorm of reckless abandon in Yanez, possibly to his detriment. This is a risky call, but it’s hard to resist an underdog like this.
Pricing: Could be closer
Maycee Barber, $7,800
Maycee Barber came into the UFC with a dream of being the youngest UFC champion ever. That dream has been put to bed, but her talent and power is undeniable, if a bit raw. She has suffered back-to-back defeats, but there’s a silver lining, and that’s her youth. At 23-years-old, Maycee has plenty of time to sharpen her skillset, and you know what they say, “Iron sharpens iron.” That’s definitely the case here, as Miranda Maverick is an outstanding prospect with a marvelous ground game. If Maycee can sit down and commit to her punches, rather than swing wildly, often out of range, we might get to see what she’s truly capable of. If the fight hits the ground, she’ll need to be crafty. Maverick is a gifted submission artist, and very intelligent with her setups. This is Maycee’s chance to reset, because a third straight loss could mean the end of her time on the UFC roster. I think she has the tools to get it done.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.