UFC 263, featuring a pair of title fights and the return of Nate Diaz, goes down this Saturday, with DFS lineups set to lock at 6 p.m. ET.
We have built out a full player-projection model using the FantasyLabs tools to help put together some winning DFS lineups in UFC. You can use our optimizer to build optimal lineups using these projections.
The model, created by our own Sean Koerner, is based on 10,000 simulations of all the 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 which fighters we should target based upon the game type — maximizing ceiling in GPPs, for example.
You can check out the projections for every fighter on Saturday’s card below.
UFC DFS Model
The Easy Chalk
Israel Adesanya ($9300) | Joanne Calderwood ($8200)
The middleweight champ checks all the boxes in this one. His 84 projected points is second on the slate, he’s a heavy favorite (-275), and in a title fight he either gets two extra rounds to work, or a stoppage bonus. Despite his expensive salary, he’s still projected for the fourth-best points per dollar for the card.
In Iz’s four title fights to date, he’s gone over 100 DK points three times. The highest mark for him in that span was the 117 he put up en route to winning the middleweight title, which he won by decision, so he can find his way into the optimal lineup even if he isn’t able to stop Vettori.
Given the champ’s popularity, his fight being the main event, and his betting odds, expect him to be highly owned on Saturday, but his chances of finding his way into the optimal lineup justify eating the chalk.
Calderwood on the other hand might not be so highly owned, but I’m listing her in this section because she’s just as obvious of a play.
She’s tied for second in the points per dollar projections on Saturday, and her 81 strike attempts per round leads the slate while being almost double the UFC average (43). Attempted strikes are important. Additionally, she’s a -145 favorite, but a very affordable $8200 on DraftKings.
While her ceiling isn’t the best (94.2) the fighters above her in ceiling projection all check in at a minimum salary of $8900. Coupled with her third-rated floor, this makes her a must if you’re playing cash games, and a great way to free up some salary in GPPs.
The Upside Plays
Jamahal Hill ($9400)
UFC 263’s best ceiling projections belong to main card opener Jamahal Hill. While he’s expensive at $9400, he’s a very active striker (65 per round) and a -300 favorite, with the odds of him winning inside the distance at -125.
The danger here is stylistic, as opponent Paul Craig likes to grapple, which could lead to Hill being stuck on his back or against the fence for much of the fight. While he won the fight in his UFC debut against Darko Stosic, he got taken down six times, which resulted in only 71 DK points for Hill, which at a price tag of $9400 isn’t enough.
Deivison Figueiredo ($9100)
Deiveson’s projections tell the story here. While he has the third-highest ceiling, his median projection of 69.2 is sixth, which isn’t ideal with a salary of over $9000.
He’s a -225 favorite in a five-round fight, but I think the projections are appropriately cautious here. He only put up 68 points in his first fight with Moreno (a draw), and he’s not super active on the feet, throwing only 31 strikes per round.
However, both guys bring a ton of power for the weight class, as evidenced by the +125 line on the fight ending by KO, so there’s a good chance one of the two fighters puts up a big number on Saturday, and the reigning champ has better odds to be that guy.
The Contrarian Approach
Brandon Moreno ($7100)
While he doesn’t project super well, Moreno could be the key to the winning lineup on Saturday. He actually outscored Figueiredo in their first matchup (80 PTS), and as mentioned above, both guys have a decent shot at a knockout.
He’s more active than his opponent, averaging 20 more strikes and slightly more takedowns per round, so it’s conceivable he could be a better point per dollar play than Figueiredo even in a loss.
I wouldn’t recommend playing both guys together, since the only way for Figueiredo to find his way into the optimal given his salary is with a stoppage, but Moreno has a few outs here so it’s worth mixing in some exposure.
Marvin Vettori ($6900)
Vettori is second only to Hill in our points per dollar projections, and coming in at only $6900 gives us a lot of roster flexibility. He’s topped 125 points in each of his last three outings, and has already managed to take Adesanya to a decision in their previous matchup.
We want as much exposure to five round fights as we can get, and it’s going to be really hard to take all three favorites (Adesanya, Figueiredo and Leon Edwards ($9500). Taking a stand on either Vettori or Moreno in each of my lineups will be my plan of attack.
The Swing Fights
Carlos Felipe ($8700)
Felipe matches up with Jake Collier ($7500) in our only heavyweight bout of the evening. Both men are active strikers, with little (Collier) to no (Felipe) interest in the takedown. The Big boys tend to produce more points, so I want a healthy amount of both of them in my lineup. Felipe is favored and projects almost 20 points better, so I’ll be getting more of him, but Collier is underpriced enough that he’ll be in some of my lineups as well.
Chase Hooper ($7800)
Hooper is a slight (+105) underdog for his fight against Steven Peterson ($8400), but both guys are fairly affordable considering their 90+ point ceiling projections. This is the only fight of the night where both fighters have ceiling projections that high, and for good reason.
Books have the fight at +125 to make it to a decision, so it’s likely we’ll see a stoppage by one of the two. They also both come in above the UFC average in attempted strikes and attempted takedowns, so expect a lot of action here.
The Short Notice Special
Matt Frevola ($8900)
After his original opponent Frank Camacho got in a car accident and had to withdraw on Tuesday, Frevola now takes on UFC newcomer Terrance McKinney ($6900). I don’t know much about McKinney, but Frevola’s odds improved from about -205 against Camacho to -250 against McKinney.
Since pricing had already come out, Frevola’s original salary remained intact despite the improvement of the situation. He’s not cheap by any means, but he has our highest ceiling under $9000, and we don’t get these situations too often in MMA so take advantage of it while you can.
Pictured above: UFC fighter Nate Diaz
Photo credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC