UFC 250, which is headlined by pound-for-pound champ Amanda Nunes, takes place on Saturday, and DFS lineups will lock at 6 p.m. ET.
If you are unaware, we have built out a full player-projection model to help us try and put together some winning lineups in UFC DFS.
The model, created by my colleague Sean Koerner, is based on 10,000 simulations of all 12 fights. He then pulled the DraftKings score from each fight to create floor, median, and ceiling projections for every fighter. Here is how he defined each projection:
- Floor: Fighter has an 80% chance of going over this score, 20% chance of going under
- Median: Fighter has a 50% chance of going over this score, 50% chance of going under
- Ceiling: Fighter has a 20% chance of going over this score, 80% chance of going under
These should give us a better sense as to what fighters we should target based upon the game type — maximizing ceiling in GPPs, for example.
Another tool that you can use to make it easier to identify which fighters to use in the big tournaments is Perfect%.
Perfect% is the percentage of the time that fighter finishes in the ‘perfect/optimal lineup’ based on my simulations. It’s worth noting that this is factoring in the “perfect lineup” that meets the DraftKings budget of $50,000 or less. Therefore this is the perfect metric to use when trying to figure out the ideal fighters to use in the MMA Million.
Check out Sean Koerner’s full DFS projections for Saturday’s UFC card:
The Easy Chalk
Amamda Nunes ($9,400) and Sean O’Malley ($9,300)
The two most significant betting favorites on the UFC 250 card are the two most expensive fighters on Saturday’s DFS slate.
Nunes has the highest median (101.5), ceiling (114) and floor (86.5) projections, and is by far the most likely competitor to find her way into the optimal lineup (56%).
“The Lioness” could end the fight quickly via first-round TKO or go the distance with Felicia Spencer, where Nunes could rack up significant strikes for five rounds. In her two five-round decision victories, Nunes scored 89 and 125 DraftKings points, with a total of 165 significant strikes, ten takedowns and seven advancements.
O’Malley managed to land 141 significant strikes and score 116 DraftKings points in his three-round UFC debut. He’s an odds-favorite to win by KO/TKO on Saturday, which gives him the second-highest projection on the slate, whether sorting by median, floor or ceiling. He’s also the next most likely fighter, behind Nunes, to end up in the perfect lineup (32.6%).
I would guess that Nunes will be the higher-owned fighter, and I might prefer to use in her cash games and O’Malley in GPPs if you are only playing one tournament lineup.
And if you get creative, you might be able to squeeze both Nunes and O’Malley onto the same roster.
The Upside Plays
Four other fighters on the slate have a perfect rating higher than 30%, but only two have a ceiling projection higher than 100 points.
Chase Hooper ($8,500)
The undefeated, 20-year-old prospect has a ways to go in terms of improving his striking. Still, he’s an incredible grappler with extremely long limbs, going against a smaller opponent who cannot wrestle. Hooper is listed at +105 to finish the fight inside of the distance, and he could record his second-consecutive first-round finish in the UFC; listed at +145 to win by submission.
Alonzo Menifield ($8,500)
Menifield has won seven of his nine career fights in the first round, including all three of his UFC victories, and he’s certainly capable of recording another early stoppage on Saturday night. He’s yet to face a fighter who can survive against his Heavyweight-like power and is listed at -143 to win by KO/TKO.
The Upset Special
Devin Clark ($7,200)
Menifield’s opponent sticks out in our projections, with a 30.3% chance of finishing inside the perfect lineup. I bet on Clark to win by decision, concluding that if he can survive the early onslaught from Menifield, Clark should be able to test the bigger man’s wrestling chops, while accumulating enough strikes to pay off his salary in any victory.
In his five most recent wins, all by decision, Clark has averaged 78.8 DraftKings points while recording 19 takedowns and 11 advancements. If his chin can withstand some early damage, look for Clark to grind his way to profitability.
The Swing Fights
Cory Sandhagen ($8,000)
Sandhagen is in a coin-flip fight with Aljamin Sterling ($8200), who has a relatively low ceiling due to his defensive style. Still, Sandhagen is an extremely active striker who has recorded as many as 120 significant strikes (100 DraftKings points) in a win by decision. If he wins the fight, he’s probably worth including — with a ceiling projection at 95.5 points and a 32% chance of finishing in the optimal lineup.
Herbert Burns ($8,900)
Burns is a substantial favorite against Evan Dunham ($7300), who returns to the octagon after a two-year absence. The Brazilian is listed at -106 to win inside of the distance, and with the fourth-highest ceiling projection on the slate, he should certainly attract some attention. Dunham is capable of surviving and out-classing Burns on the feet, which would make Burns almost unusable. At his price point, you’re hunting for a finish, and I’ll mostly stay away from the younger Burns brother.
Gerald Meerschaert ($7,800)
Meerscharert is -162 to go the distance with Ian Heinisch ($8400), but he has a five-inch reach advantage, and two-inch height advantage, and I suspect that he will completely dominate the grappling battles.
Meerscharert has an ironclad chin and offers multiple paths to victory with his wicked submission game, which has earned him an average of 99 DraftKings points in his past six wins. The underdog is +350 to win by submission, and the much more likely of the two fighters to cause an early stoppage in this bout.