Another night, another fight for the UFC at Fight Island. Saturday’s action is headlined by flyweight title contenders Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez on the 12-bout Fight Night card and DFS lineups will lock at 5 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 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.
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.
Get 25-1 Odds on Either Side of Figueiredo-Benavidez Main Event
The Easy Chalk
Grant Dawson ($9200)
Dawson has scored 104, 111, and 106 DK points in his three UFC fights – two second-round wins via submission, and a three-round decision. He is a grappling specialist who is extremely active once he does get the fight to the mat, averaging five advances across those three fights, and he has the highest ceiling rating (105) in Koerner’s projections for Saturday.
Dawson is projected to land in the DK optimal lineup 32% of the time, which tracks with his odds to win by submission at +225 (implied 30.7%). My crowd projection set those odds at -103, however, suggesting a substantial edge on Dawson to end the fight early and get the stoppage bonus.
The Upside Plays
Roman Dolidze ($8900)
The final fight on Saturday’s preliminary card is the bout most likely to finish inside of the distance, both by my crowdsourced projection (82%) and the listed odds (-210).
Dolidze is 6-0 in his professional career, with all six wins by stoppage, and the crowd projection makes him the most likely fighter on the evening to record a knockout at 63% – with his listed odds (+165) suggesting a 37.7% probability, but an increased chance of submission at +550 (implied 15%).
This is his first fight since a 2018 PED suspension, so I’m skeptical of Dolidze’s physical gifts now that he is off the juice, but he has the third-highest ceiling and perfect ratings for Saturday’s slate – and he should be included in at least one-third of your lineups.
Carlos Felipe ($7800) and Sergey Spivak ($8400)
Aside from the Dolidze bout, and Saturday’s main event, the first fight on the card is the next most likely bout to finish inside of the distance. Carlos Felipe has won six of his eight career victories by first-round knockout, while Sergei Spivak has finished all 10 of his wins – six submissions and four knockouts – including eight in the first round.
Like Dolidze, this is the first fight since a PED suspension for Felipe, so I am skeptical of his current physical attributes, but he has a history of recording early stoppages, and the crowd projection put his fair KO/TKO odds at +142 (implied 41%) compared to listed odds of +260 (implied 27%) – the same odds as Spivak by submission.
One of these two fighters seems likely to end the bout via finish and Spivak (95 ceiling projection, 27% perfect rating) is favored, but Felipe (19% perfect rating) is worth including in one out of five lineups.
Kelvin Gastelum ($8200)
Gastelum likely needs to record a finish in the co-main event in order to land in the optimal lineup – even though he has scored as many as 92 DK points on 124 significant strikes in a three-round win via decision. He is listed at +275 (implied 26.7%) to win by knockout, though my crowd projection set those chances closer to 36%, and given his perfect rating (29%), the true odds probably lie somewhere in the middle of those two figures.
The Swing Fight
Deiveson Figueiredo ($9000) vs. Joseph Benavidez ($7200)
This pair of main event competitors fighting for the Flyweight title are projected to land in the optimal lineup more than 85% of the time on DraftKings, and you probably want exposure to one or the other in more than 80% of your lineups.
Figueiredo has the best bargain rating on the slate, but he also figures to be one of the more highly-owned fighters – and Benavidez can probably get to the optimal lineup with either or a win or a loss, given his price point. He should be the man landing at a higher volume, for so long as the fight goes.
Figueiredo likely needs to score a finish to pay off his salary – he doesn’t throw enough volume otherwise. He is listed at–110 (implied 52.4%) in the betting market to finish the fight early. He has both the highest median and floor projections on the slate, with the second-highest ceiling rating (104.5) too – but he will simply prove to be too popular of a selection to differentiate yourself from the pack.
Pictured above: Deiveson Figueiredo
Photo credit: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images.