UFC Vegas 43 features Meisha Tate vs Ketlen Vieira in the main event, plus a bevy of other WMMA action. It’s another afternoon card, with contests locking at 3 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
Adrian Yanez ($9,100)
Yanez has three UFC fights so far — and three knockout victories. You can’t ask for a better start to the career than that. Yanez is taking on 35 year-old veteran Davey Grant ($7,100) in main card action, and is currently around a -310 favorite.
He’s also a -105 favorite to continue his knockout streak in this one. That explains his slate-leading Pts/Sal projection. Grant has never been knocked out as a professional — but neither had Randy Costa before he ran into Yanez. Yanez has a perfect style for DFS contests as well. He’s defended a perfect 100% of the takedowns he’s faced, while throwing at an above average rate in all of his (completed) rounds.
This one doesn’t require a ton of analysis — we can trust the projections and betting markets here.
Ketlen Vieira ($7,900)
I expect to be somewhat more popular than fellow main event competitor Miesha Tate ($8,300) in this one, although builds featuring both women will be fairly common in cash games. Our projections prefer Vieira, who is a few hundred dollars cheaper in salary and leads Tate in every category.
Vieira is 1-2 over her last three contests, but her two losses came to the #3 and #6 ranked women’s bantamweight fighters in the world. Tate is also 1-2 in that span … but the losses were over five years ago, and she looked impressive in her return to action. She picked up a ground and pound win over Marion Reneau in that one.
However, Vieira is a much stiffer test. The 44 year-old Reneau had lost four straight before the Tate bout, and seemed to certainly be past her prime. Vieira, at age 30, in is in the midst of hers. She should hold a grappling advantage here — Vieira has defended takedowns at a 92% rate, and landed slightly more per 15 minutes than “Cupcake (née takedown)” Tate.
Given the five-round nature of this fight, and the odds we see all five rounds (-150) whichever woman can control the grappling should rack up more than enough takedowns and control time to pay off their current salary. I think that’s fairly clearly Vieira here.
The Upside Plays
Luana Pinheiro ($9,300)
Pinheiro (9-1) is the biggest favorite of the night, at -420 against the 5-3 Sam Hughes ($6,900). She also projects better than any other fighter on the slate, leading the pack in ceiling projection (and trailing only Yanez in Pts/Sal.)
We’ve only seen one UFC round from Pinheiro so far, but it was a dominant one. She took down veteran Randa Markos five times, and landed 29 significant strikes. She also got a first round win by way of a Markos disqualification. While that casts some doubts on her true stopping power, she won all of her pre-UFC bouts (that we have methods listed for) inside the distance, including (at least) two knockouts.
That stopping ability is fairly uncommon in the women’s division, so if she can combine that with the takedown prowess she’s already shown, she can rack up fantasy points quickly. Hughes (0-2 UFC) is a relatively easy place to start. Three of her five professional wins were against debuting opponents, which doesn’t bode well against the experienced Pinheiro. Hughes was also taken down four times by fellow UFC Vegas 34 competitor Loma Lookboonmee ($7,400) in their bout, and once (on one attempt) by Tecia Torres.
Given her relative UFC inexperience, I don’t expect Pinheiro to be as highly owned as the other heavy favorites on the card. However, she has more upside than any of them, making her a great tournament play.
Sean Brady ($8,900)
Brady is third on the card in ceiling projections, but checks in at sixth in median projection. That’s the definition of an upside play. Brady is 4-0 in his UFC career, and is taking a big step up in competition against Michael Chiesa ($7,300) who’s currently ranked as the world’s #8 welterweight.
Even so, oddsmakers have Brady as a -165 favorite in this one. Brady has impressed since making the jump to the major leagues. The Renzo Gracie blackbelt has two submission wins, and has scored at least 99 DraftKings points in every bout.
Whether his domination can continue as the level of competition rises is the question in this one. Chiesa is no slouch on the mat himself, with six UFC wins by submission. He was also riding a four-fight win streak before his loss to Vicente Luque, who’s currently a top-five welterweight himself.
The ascendant Brady could easily continue his rise through the ranks here. However, it’s somewhat risky given the step up in competition. I’m staying away from this one in cash games, but loading up on Brady for tournaments.
The Contrarian Approach
Davey Grant ($7,100)
While I expect his opponent (Yanez) to be chalk, Grant is in play as a sneaky option here. While Yanez’s power stands out, Grant brings an above-average knockdown rate to the table here as well. He’s also a stronger defensive fighter, absorbing only 2.47 strikes per minute. That gives him a shot if this turns into a slug fest. He has the power to put Yanez down, while possible avoiding some shots of his own.
The real appeal to Grant is his wrestling acumen though. This is more of a question mark than an advantage since we haven’t seen much of Yanez grappling in his three UFC fights. He’s successfully defended every takedown he’s been faced with, but his past opponents were all below average wrestlers to begin with.
Grant is a moderate +245 or so underdog here, but he could pay off in a few different ways at his current price. Either by racking up takedowns, or by getting the better of striking exchanges. He’s a solid dart throw for tournament lineups this weekend.
The Swing Fight
Terrence McKinney ($8,400) vs. Fares Ziam ($7,800)
Looking at the projections for McKinney vs Ziam paints an interesting picture. Neither man has a median projection above 50 — both men have ceiling projections above 90. That makes sense, given that this bout is a +180 underdog to see the final bell.
McKinney has never actually seen a decision as a professional. He has five wins by knockout, and six by submission, to go with two knockout losses and one by way of submission. All of Ziam’s pre-UFC fights ended decisively as well, although he has three straight decisions (two wins) inside the Octagon.
Regardless, this fight is a near pick ’em, with Ziam as a slight favorite. That would suggest that the value is on Ziam — as well as the smart money — given that he opened with slightly longer odds. He’s certainly the less fantasy friendly of the pair though, with below average striking and takedown rates. He’s also never scored a UFC knockdown — though he has some knockout victories in smaller shows.
McKinney on the other hand only has seven seconds of UFC action in the books. That was enough for him to score a knockout, but it’s hard to project his stats out over a full fight (He’s on pace for 43 knockdowns a round, but that feels a tad unsustainable.) Regardless, his pre-UFC career suggests that he makes something happen fast, with only two of his fights making it past the first round.
Ziam is probably the smarter pick here, but with McKinney’s price he may go a bit under owned. Based on his record, that would be a big mistake.
Pictured Above: UFC fighter Ketlen Vieira
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC