We’ve got another night of exciting fights with this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card. Saturday’s bouts are headlined by lightweights Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker at the UFC APEX, and DFS lineups will lock a bit earlier at 6 p.m. ET.

We’ve have built out a full player-projection model to help us try and put together some winning DFS lineups in UFC.

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 which 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.

The Easy Chalk

Sean Woodson ($8800)

The six-foot-three Woodson, who was a dominant amateur boxer, is the tallest fighter in the Featherweight division, and he’s coming off of a win in his UFC debut where he recorded 111 significant strikes. He now faces a late replacement and recent UFC cut in Erosa, who has been knocked out five times before.

The odds for Woodson by KO/TKO/DQ (-125) look a little steep considering the crowd projection puts the line at +102, or 49.5%, but he should pay off of his value in DK points even in a decision victory.

Koerner’s projections set Woodson’s perfect rating at 37% — just outside the top four fighters — but he is the most likely starting block for all of my lineups on Saturday as I set his fair odds closer to -900 (implied 90%) than the current -525 (implied 84%).

The Upside Play

Takashi Sato ($8400)

Sato also draws a late replacement in Jason Witt, but Sato’s skill set, other than a big left hand, isn’t overly impressive. Given his odds to win by knockout (-110), Sato should be in roughly 50% of your lineups, and Koerner’s projections put him in the perfect lineup 44.3% of the time — the highest ranking on the slate behind the main-event competitors.

To his benefit, UFC newcomers win only at a 43% clip when facing UFC veterans in their debuts, and late replacements (<40 days notice) win at only a 37% clip.

Don’t assume that Sato is a lock against this late replacement, however. Witt made weight very quickly on short notice. But if he does get the stoppage, it’s difficult to imagine Sato, at his mid-range price point, not hitting the board.

The Swing Fights

Three fights on the card are between a pair of competitors who each garnered a perfect% rating of greater than 30%. As a result, the winner of each of these fights, all of which are likely to finish inside the distance, has a strong chance of finishing in the optimal lineup.

Luis Pena ($8900) vs. Khama Worthy ($7300)

Pena has the second-highest ceiling projection (105.5) on the slate, and his odds by submission (+225) continue to close in on his odds to win by decision (+188).

Worthy seemingly has to win by KO/TKO/DQ (+400), but I don’t see him outpointing the more versatile Pena for three rounds. At his price point, I only want to use Pena if he can get a finish — he has scored only 127 total points in his two most recent wins by decision.

But given the knockout odds, I want to deploy Worthy in around 20% of my lineups in the event that he can record another big upset to start his UFC career after stopping Devonte Smith at over 5-1 odds in his debut.

Mike Perry ($9000) vs. Mickey Gall ($7200)

Perry is a knockout specialist, with a far superior striking and power than Gall, but his last two wins came by decision earning a combined 137 DK points, and he has lost three of his past four and five of his past seven bouts. Perry owns the second-highest projection (90.5) on the slate, but he is a risky play after recently leaving his camp.

Perry by KO/TKO/DQ (-159) is lined appropriately compared to the crowd projection at -163 (62%), as is Gall by submission (+400) compared to a forecast at +426 (19%). He has recorded five of his six career wins via tapout, and that is his path to DFS value.

Based upon the odds, I would want Perry in about 60% of my lineups, with Gall in 20%, and neither in the remaining 20%.

Dustin Poirier ($8700) vs. Dan Hooker ($7500)

The perfect rating for both fighters, 65% and 60%, respectively, suggests that the winner will most likely end up in the optimal lineup, while the loser has a chance to also finish as an optimal scorer in a heated five-round battle. At odds of -278 (implied 73.5%), the main event is the second-least likely fight on Saturday to go to the scorecards, however.

Poirier has averaged 111 DK points and scored more than 100 points in eight of his nine UFC wins since 2016, including three decision victories where he averaged a combined 28.6 DK points per round, which is equivalent to 143 points over a five-round fight. Poirier is good for roughly 30 or more significant strikes per round.

Hooker’s output waned in the later rounds of his last fight against Paul Felder, but he still accumulated 122 total significant strikes and has averaged 97 DK points in his past two wins, both via decision. But he has a knack for recording stoppages, with 10 knockouts and seven submissions over 20 career victories.

I won’t play any lineups including both fighters, but I do expect to lean on Poirier, despite the fact that the betting market suggests that Hooker, at +180, should be in roughly 35% of your lineups.

Poirier by KO, TKO or DQ (+110) is the most likely winning method, and I would set those odds closer to -117 (54%) than plus-money.