UFC 264, with the highly-anticipated conclusion to the Poirier-McGregor trilogy, takes place today. Get building now, because DFS lineups are 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
Sean O’Malley ($9500)
This one could not be more obvious. O’Malley was already a heavy favorite against his original opponent, Louis Smolka, before Smolka pulled out. Now, instead of a top-50 UFC Bantamweight, “Sugar” gets to face a debuting Kris Moutinho ($6700), who is 9-4 on the regional circuit and taking this fight on under two weeks notice. I’m sure he’s a solid fighter, but facing O’Malley on short notice is not a recipe for a successful UFC debut, as reflected by his +600 or so odds.
O’Malley has our highest floor, median, and ceiling projection, and the second best pts/dollar despite coming in at $9500. He’s going to be in everybody’s lineup, but for good reason. He’s a must in cash games, and should probably be in most of your GPP lineups too.
The Upside Plays
Illia Topuria ($9100)
Topuria is a true GPP upside play. He’s amassed stoppage victories in eight of his 10 pro fights on the way to an undefeated record, and has a 99.3 point ceiling according to our projections. The danger here is that his opponent, Ryan Hall ($7100), is a grappling wizard, and Topuria likes to shoot for takedowns (nine attempts in his UFC debut.) I think the most likely outcome here is a fairly dominant performance for the explosive Topuria, but “the Wizard” finding a quick leg-lock wouldn’t shock me. If multi-entering, you’re going to want to have some Topuria lineups, but I wouldn’t go all-in here.
Dricus Du Plessis ($8200)
Du Plessis has only spent 3:23 inside the octagon so far, but it was an impressive debut. He racked up 58 strikes attempted, which is more than the UFC average for an entire round, en route to a 110 point Draftkings score.
Du Plessis is a moderate -120 favorite heading into his matchup with Tevin Giles ($8000), with a ceiling projection (94.9, eighth best of the slate) that far outpaces his median (14th best) projection. That makes sense, because he’s never seen a decision in a 17-fight pro career. This fight is also favored at -130 to finish inside of 15 minutes, so it’s pretty likely that Du Plessis puts up a big number if he wins.
The Contrarian Approach
Gilbert Burns ($7700)
Burns has a very low 44.3 point median projection here, but he has a strong 89.1 point ceiling at his very reasonable salary. Burns averages over 75 Draftkings points per contest, largely by way of his takedowns and control time, which is an area that his opponent Stephen Thomspon ($8500) struggles in. Betting markets think he’s more likely to win by stoppage than by a decision, and I can’t see a scenario where he wins inside the distance and isn’t in the optimal lineup at only $7700, so I’ll have some exposure to him at what should be fairly low ownership.
Yana Kunitskaya ($7900)
Yana is an interesting play here. Her median projection is 17th on the card, while her floor is the sixth best. Books have this fight at -275 to see the judges, so I’m not expecting fireworks here, but Yana can still rack up points in a hurry. She’s scored over 90 points in her last two fights, both decision victories, and is one of the most active fighters on the card, with 69 strikes and just under one takedown attempt per round. There’s a lot of scenarios where she makes her way into the winning lineup at only $7900 in salary, and is a great high-floor salary saver for cash games.
The Swing Fights
Dustin Poirier ($8100) vs. Conor McGregor ($8100)
Besides being one of the most highly-anticipated fights in UFC history, the main event is an important one for DFS players as well. Poirier and McGregor are second and third in our median projections, and both average over 85 fantasy points per contest. It’s also the only five-round fight of the night, so there should be plenty of points for one or both fighters here.
I slightly prefer Poirier here, as do our projections, for a couple reasons. He’s a much more active grappler, so the new scoring system with control time favors him. Betting markets have moved fairly significantly in “Diamond’s” favor as well, with him opening as a slight underdog and now somewhere around -130 depending on the book. Given the public’s usual love for Conor, I’m guessing this means most of the smart money has been on Poirier.
I want some McGregor exposure too. He’s gone over 100 DK points in seven of his last 10 fights (to put it another way, in all of his wins), which would make him a must have at his current salary.
I also can see a case for including both guys in your lineup here. If the fight makes it into the championship rounds, there’s plenty of opportunity for both of them to put up big scores. I doubt you’d win many large-field GPPs with both of them, but it’s a viable strategy for smaller field contests and cash games and would provide significant leverage against the field.
Tai Tuivasa ($8400) vs. Greg Hardy ($7800)
Anytime you have a heavyweight matchup between two brawlers, the odds are very high that one of them puts up a big score. They’ve combined for 17 KOs across their 19 wins, so somebody is going to be hitting the deck hard here. I don’t see either guy having much interest in grappling, so expect this fight to be finished sooner rather than later. I honestly haven’t the slightest clue as to which of them I expect to find the home-run shot first, but I’ll be making a rule in the Optimizer to include one of them in every GPP lineup I build. Don’t overthink this one.