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UFC London DFS Breakdown: Model, Preview, Picks for Blaydes vs. Aspinall, Pimblett vs. Leavitt, More Saturday Fights

The UFC returns to The O2 arena early on Saturday. They’re bringing a 14-fight card, with heavyweight contenders Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall squaring off in the main event. Blaydes is a former title challenger, and Aspinall could be a fight or two away from his own shot at gold with a win over Blaydes. The action kicks off with an early fight time of noon eastern, so be sure to have your lineups ready.

We have built out a full player-projection model using the FantasyLabs Tools and Player Models 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 bout 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 of which fighters we should target based on the game type — maximizing ceiling in GPPs, for example.

You can check out the projections for every fighter on Saturday’s card in our UFC Models.

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Main Event

Tom Aspinall ($8,300) vs. Curtis Blaydes ($7,900)

We have a perfect storm of a main event for DFS purposes. Betting lines — and thus DFS salaries — are incredibly close, and we have a matchup between two heavyweight finishers.

Both men have clear paths to massive scores, with Aspinall winning all five of his prior UFC bouts by stoppage, including four in the first round. Blaydes has both stopping power and tremendous takedown upside, picking up a whopping 14 against Alexander Volkov.

Aspinall is probably the better striker here, throwing way more volume and featuring a better striking differential, accuracy, and defensive rate. That’s a bit misleading, though, as Aspinall was initially given some fairly easy UFC fights. Blaydes has fought top competition from the jump, making his UFC debut against Francis Ngannou.

Still, the eye test favors Aspinall on the feat, though Blaydes probably has more one-punch power. The grappling is more interesting. Aspinall has excellent jiu-jitsu, while Blaydes is the best wrestler in the heavyweight division. I’m expecting Blaydes to be able to land some takedowns here, but controlling Aspinall on the mat while avoiding being submitted will be a more significant challenge.

Either way, this is a clear fight to have exposure to in every lineup you build. There’s even a slight case to be made for stacking for GPPs. I likely won’t go there on a 14-fight card but mixing in a few lineups like that if mass entering bigger contests is possible.

The Easy Chalk

Mason Jones ($9,200)

This card features many heavy favorites, as the UFC matchmakers did their best to produce an event that sends the British crowd home happy. Among them is Mason “The Dragon” Jones, a 27-year-old Welsh prospect. Jones was perfect in his pre-UFC career before going 1-1-1 to start his Octagon tenure.

That no contest was a fight he was easily winning before an accidental eye poke, and his win against David Onama has aged extremely well. Onama is 2-0 with a pair of stoppage wins since losing to Jones. His opponent this time is L’udovit Klein ($7,000) in a bout that came together on short notice.

That’s important for two reasons. First, Klein is primarily a featherweight, so Jones should have a notable size advantage for this bout. Second, Jones has been preparing as if he had a fight on this card — a logical move for a Welsh fighter — while Klein likely was not. Jones should have a cardio edge in this one as well.

Jones is probably the safest bet of the high-end fighters to pay off his salary, given his high volume of strikes and takedowns. He attempts both at well over the UFC average, so he can put up a ton of points even in a decision. However, this fight is -180 to end before then, so his chances of a stoppage are reasonably high.

Finally, he’s seen moderate line movement throughout the week, going from -345 when salaries were released to -390. That makes him a strong value to go with his upside, so he’s a solid play in all formats.

He leads the slate in median and ceiling projections.

Paddy Pimblett ($8,900)

Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett is fighting again in front of a hometown crowd, this time against Jordan Leavitt ($7,300). Pimblett is a solid -275 favorite and should be one of the more popular fighters on the slate, given his name recognition and exciting fighting style.

He also trails only Jones in median and ceiling projections, despite five other fighters checking in with higher salaries. That makes him an obvious DFS play. He’s capable of ending the fight standing or on the ground, as he’s showcased in his two first-round wins inside the Octagon.

I’ll be staying away from Pimblett in cash, though. He fights with what could generously be described as a “high variance” style, absorbing a ton of strikes with his chin up in the air. He’s also fairly reckless on the ground, going for high-risk submission attempts.

Leavitt also represents a considerable step up in competition for Pimblett. Both of Pimblett’s prior opponents have 1-3 UFC records, while “The Monkey King” stands at 3-1. Leavitt is a dangerous grappler who could be the first UFC fighter to test Pimblett’s takedown defense. I’m less sold on Leavitt’s striking, but he could certainly find the chin of a wild Pimblett.

This one likely hits the ground at some point, with Pimblett attempting two takedowns in his two UFC rounds despite winning the striking exchanges. That’s good for Pimblett’s fantasy score to add some takedown points but could get him into trouble.

I want to be way overweight on Leavitt for tournaments, but Pimblett is still likely to end up with a big score.

The Upside Plays

Paul Craig ($7,700)

Craig is another high-variance fighter who seems to be on the verge of defeat in his fights before snatching an improbable submission victory. He’s 5-0-1 over his last six contests, with four first-round submission wins and a second-round TKO.

Craig is willing to do whatever it takes to turn his fights into grappling matches, including pulling guard against Jamahal Hill. He’ll also play possum when hit by big shots, baiting his opponents to follow him to the canvas Charles Oliveira style.

He’s fighting Volkan Oezdemir ($8,500) as a slight underdog, though the line has moved from Craig +150 to Craig +125. Bettors see the value in Craig over Oezdemir, who’s gone 2-4 in the UFC since challenging for a title in 2018.

Oezdemir has shown some holes on the ground, getting finished by Daniel Cormier via strikes in his title shot, and submitted by Anthony Smith. His lone pre-UFC loss also came via submission, making this an ideal matchup for Craig.

Craig is a perfect DFS fighter since most of his win condition comes with a stoppage. We discussed our thoughts on this fight in the latest edition of the Action Network UFC Betting Podcast:

Marc Diakiese ($9,100)

Diakiese is another of the heavy favorites on the card, and like many of them, he’s seen betting lines swing his way since salaries were released. Diakiese has jumped from -305 to -390, making him a substantial value at his $9,100 salary.

He stands out among the other high-priced fighters thanks to his takedown upside. The two most straightforward paths to big DFS scores are via quick finishes and takedowns, and we likely will need massive scores from our expensive fighters on a 14-fight card.

Diakiese is at his best when he’s forcing the grappling, as he did with 11 takedowns in his last fight. His opponent, Damir Hadzovic ($7,100), shouldn’t put up much resistance there, with a lackluster 37% takedown rate to his name. “The Bosnian Bomber” has never finished a UFC fight via submission, so Diakese should also be relatively safe if and when it gets to the ground.

If you can find the extra salary, Mohammed Mokaev ($9,500) is in a similar position, with outstanding wrestling and heavy moneyline odds. Our projections slightly favor Mokaev, but Diakese checks in as the better points-per-dollar option in both median and ceiling projections.

The Value Play

Hannah Goldy ($6,900)

I’ve been in the habit of treating the “value play” section as a place to highlight cheap fighters that interest me far more for cash games than GPPs. Goldy fits that bill to a degree, as she’s a considerable underdog to Molly McCann ($9,300).

Goldy stands out for her ability to put up a reasonable score in a loss. She’s averaged over 40 in her two UFC losses, thanks to a high-output striking attack. That shouldn’t change against McCann, as these two lead the slate in combined striking attempts per round.

This bout also has the longest stoppage odds on the slate at +165, so the odds of getting three full rounds from Goldy are fairly strong.

I see some upside from Goldy as well. McCann is a bit overrated based on a semi-fluky spinning back elbow knockout in her last win, while Goldy is 1-2 in the UFC. However, “24K” was undefeated before her UFC stint against fighters with exclusively winning records (except for her debut, a win against fellow debutant and future UFC fighter Gillian Robertson.)

This one should be fairly even on the feet, with McCann likely the better grappler. However, Goldy has solid takedown defense and should be the much physically stronger fighter.

A win from Goldy could vault her into the optimal at her cheap salary. I want some exposure to that possibility, as well as her very high floor for cash games.

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The Contrarian Approach

Makwan Amirkhani ($7,500)

“Mr. Finland” is essentially a smaller, less successful Craig. His last three wins have come via submission, but when he’s not tapping somebody out, things are generally going pretty bad for him. That makes him a high-variance option on Saturday.

The matchup sets up nicely for him, with Jonathan Pearce ($8,700) attempting a ton of takedowns in his fights. His method of takedowns — traditional wrestling shots — also leaves his neck exposed, a perfect scenario for Amirkhani.

Betting markets seem to have caught on to this, driving Amirkhani’s odds from +185 to +160 throughout the week. I wouldn’t be shocked if that trend continues, making him a solid value in terms of winning percentage per dollar. How he’s likely to win is also ideal for DFS, so I’ll have some GPP exposure.

The Swing Fight

Chris Curtis ($8,200) vs. Jack Hermansson ($8,000)

Given the nature of DraftKings’ salary structures, we frequently see the requisite “$8,200/$8,000” fight find its way into the optimal lineup. I expect Saturday to be no different, with the ascendant Chris “Action Man” Curtis fighting middleweight stalwart Jack Hermansson.

Curtis burst onto the UFC scene last year with two knockout upsets over Phil Davis and Brendan Allen in less than a month. Similarly, his previous fight was less than a month ago against another grappler in Rodolfo Viera. He won that fight via unanimous decision and is stepping in as a late replacement against Hermansson.

Hermansson has alternated wins and losses against top competition over his last six fights, most recently dropping a decision to Curtis’ training partner Sean Strickland. Strickland and Curtis have similar boxing-heavy styles, and Hermansson was unsuccessful on eight attempts at bringing Strickland to the mat.

His lack of success against a stylistically similar opponent has me leaning toward Curtis, with betting markets essentially a dead heat. Neither man is heavier than a -115 favorite at any book, with some books leaning each way.

I expect this one to end somewhat quickly, with it going towards whichever man can keep the fight on their turf. I bet the under on this fight, which means it’s a priority for DFS. Either fighter getting a stoppage at their salary should propel them into the optimal lineup.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Pictured above: Paddy Pimblett

The UFC returns to The O2 arena early on Saturday. They’re bringing a 14-fight card, with heavyweight contenders Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall squaring off in the main event. Blaydes is a former title challenger, and Aspinall could be a fight or two away from his own shot at gold with a win over Blaydes. The action kicks off with an early fight time of noon eastern, so be sure to have your lineups ready.

We have built out a full player-projection model using the FantasyLabs Tools and Player Models 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 bout 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 of which fighters we should target based on the game type — maximizing ceiling in GPPs, for example.

You can check out the projections for every fighter on Saturday’s card in our UFC Models.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

Main Event

Tom Aspinall ($8,300) vs. Curtis Blaydes ($7,900)

We have a perfect storm of a main event for DFS purposes. Betting lines — and thus DFS salaries — are incredibly close, and we have a matchup between two heavyweight finishers.

Both men have clear paths to massive scores, with Aspinall winning all five of his prior UFC bouts by stoppage, including four in the first round. Blaydes has both stopping power and tremendous takedown upside, picking up a whopping 14 against Alexander Volkov.

Aspinall is probably the better striker here, throwing way more volume and featuring a better striking differential, accuracy, and defensive rate. That’s a bit misleading, though, as Aspinall was initially given some fairly easy UFC fights. Blaydes has fought top competition from the jump, making his UFC debut against Francis Ngannou.

Still, the eye test favors Aspinall on the feat, though Blaydes probably has more one-punch power. The grappling is more interesting. Aspinall has excellent jiu-jitsu, while Blaydes is the best wrestler in the heavyweight division. I’m expecting Blaydes to be able to land some takedowns here, but controlling Aspinall on the mat while avoiding being submitted will be a more significant challenge.

Either way, this is a clear fight to have exposure to in every lineup you build. There’s even a slight case to be made for stacking for GPPs. I likely won’t go there on a 14-fight card but mixing in a few lineups like that if mass entering bigger contests is possible.

The Easy Chalk

Mason Jones ($9,200)

This card features many heavy favorites, as the UFC matchmakers did their best to produce an event that sends the British crowd home happy. Among them is Mason “The Dragon” Jones, a 27-year-old Welsh prospect. Jones was perfect in his pre-UFC career before going 1-1-1 to start his Octagon tenure.

That no contest was a fight he was easily winning before an accidental eye poke, and his win against David Onama has aged extremely well. Onama is 2-0 with a pair of stoppage wins since losing to Jones. His opponent this time is L’udovit Klein ($7,000) in a bout that came together on short notice.

That’s important for two reasons. First, Klein is primarily a featherweight, so Jones should have a notable size advantage for this bout. Second, Jones has been preparing as if he had a fight on this card — a logical move for a Welsh fighter — while Klein likely was not. Jones should have a cardio edge in this one as well.

Jones is probably the safest bet of the high-end fighters to pay off his salary, given his high volume of strikes and takedowns. He attempts both at well over the UFC average, so he can put up a ton of points even in a decision. However, this fight is -180 to end before then, so his chances of a stoppage are reasonably high.

Finally, he’s seen moderate line movement throughout the week, going from -345 when salaries were released to -390. That makes him a strong value to go with his upside, so he’s a solid play in all formats.

He leads the slate in median and ceiling projections.

Paddy Pimblett ($8,900)

Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett is fighting again in front of a hometown crowd, this time against Jordan Leavitt ($7,300). Pimblett is a solid -275 favorite and should be one of the more popular fighters on the slate, given his name recognition and exciting fighting style.

He also trails only Jones in median and ceiling projections, despite five other fighters checking in with higher salaries. That makes him an obvious DFS play. He’s capable of ending the fight standing or on the ground, as he’s showcased in his two first-round wins inside the Octagon.

I’ll be staying away from Pimblett in cash, though. He fights with what could generously be described as a “high variance” style, absorbing a ton of strikes with his chin up in the air. He’s also fairly reckless on the ground, going for high-risk submission attempts.

Leavitt also represents a considerable step up in competition for Pimblett. Both of Pimblett’s prior opponents have 1-3 UFC records, while “The Monkey King” stands at 3-1. Leavitt is a dangerous grappler who could be the first UFC fighter to test Pimblett’s takedown defense. I’m less sold on Leavitt’s striking, but he could certainly find the chin of a wild Pimblett.

This one likely hits the ground at some point, with Pimblett attempting two takedowns in his two UFC rounds despite winning the striking exchanges. That’s good for Pimblett’s fantasy score to add some takedown points but could get him into trouble.

I want to be way overweight on Leavitt for tournaments, but Pimblett is still likely to end up with a big score.

The Upside Plays

Paul Craig ($7,700)

Craig is another high-variance fighter who seems to be on the verge of defeat in his fights before snatching an improbable submission victory. He’s 5-0-1 over his last six contests, with four first-round submission wins and a second-round TKO.

Craig is willing to do whatever it takes to turn his fights into grappling matches, including pulling guard against Jamahal Hill. He’ll also play possum when hit by big shots, baiting his opponents to follow him to the canvas Charles Oliveira style.

He’s fighting Volkan Oezdemir ($8,500) as a slight underdog, though the line has moved from Craig +150 to Craig +125. Bettors see the value in Craig over Oezdemir, who’s gone 2-4 in the UFC since challenging for a title in 2018.

Oezdemir has shown some holes on the ground, getting finished by Daniel Cormier via strikes in his title shot, and submitted by Anthony Smith. His lone pre-UFC loss also came via submission, making this an ideal matchup for Craig.

Craig is a perfect DFS fighter since most of his win condition comes with a stoppage. We discussed our thoughts on this fight in the latest edition of the Action Network UFC Betting Podcast:

Marc Diakiese ($9,100)

Diakiese is another of the heavy favorites on the card, and like many of them, he’s seen betting lines swing his way since salaries were released. Diakiese has jumped from -305 to -390, making him a substantial value at his $9,100 salary.

He stands out among the other high-priced fighters thanks to his takedown upside. The two most straightforward paths to big DFS scores are via quick finishes and takedowns, and we likely will need massive scores from our expensive fighters on a 14-fight card.

Diakiese is at his best when he’s forcing the grappling, as he did with 11 takedowns in his last fight. His opponent, Damir Hadzovic ($7,100), shouldn’t put up much resistance there, with a lackluster 37% takedown rate to his name. “The Bosnian Bomber” has never finished a UFC fight via submission, so Diakese should also be relatively safe if and when it gets to the ground.

If you can find the extra salary, Mohammed Mokaev ($9,500) is in a similar position, with outstanding wrestling and heavy moneyline odds. Our projections slightly favor Mokaev, but Diakese checks in as the better points-per-dollar option in both median and ceiling projections.

The Value Play

Hannah Goldy ($6,900)

I’ve been in the habit of treating the “value play” section as a place to highlight cheap fighters that interest me far more for cash games than GPPs. Goldy fits that bill to a degree, as she’s a considerable underdog to Molly McCann ($9,300).

Goldy stands out for her ability to put up a reasonable score in a loss. She’s averaged over 40 in her two UFC losses, thanks to a high-output striking attack. That shouldn’t change against McCann, as these two lead the slate in combined striking attempts per round.

This bout also has the longest stoppage odds on the slate at +165, so the odds of getting three full rounds from Goldy are fairly strong.

I see some upside from Goldy as well. McCann is a bit overrated based on a semi-fluky spinning back elbow knockout in her last win, while Goldy is 1-2 in the UFC. However, “24K” was undefeated before her UFC stint against fighters with exclusively winning records (except for her debut, a win against fellow debutant and future UFC fighter Gillian Robertson.)

This one should be fairly even on the feet, with McCann likely the better grappler. However, Goldy has solid takedown defense and should be the much physically stronger fighter.

A win from Goldy could vault her into the optimal at her cheap salary. I want some exposure to that possibility, as well as her very high floor for cash games.

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Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

The Contrarian Approach

Makwan Amirkhani ($7,500)

“Mr. Finland” is essentially a smaller, less successful Craig. His last three wins have come via submission, but when he’s not tapping somebody out, things are generally going pretty bad for him. That makes him a high-variance option on Saturday.

The matchup sets up nicely for him, with Jonathan Pearce ($8,700) attempting a ton of takedowns in his fights. His method of takedowns — traditional wrestling shots — also leaves his neck exposed, a perfect scenario for Amirkhani.

Betting markets seem to have caught on to this, driving Amirkhani’s odds from +185 to +160 throughout the week. I wouldn’t be shocked if that trend continues, making him a solid value in terms of winning percentage per dollar. How he’s likely to win is also ideal for DFS, so I’ll have some GPP exposure.

The Swing Fight

Chris Curtis ($8,200) vs. Jack Hermansson ($8,000)

Given the nature of DraftKings’ salary structures, we frequently see the requisite “$8,200/$8,000” fight find its way into the optimal lineup. I expect Saturday to be no different, with the ascendant Chris “Action Man” Curtis fighting middleweight stalwart Jack Hermansson.

Curtis burst onto the UFC scene last year with two knockout upsets over Phil Davis and Brendan Allen in less than a month. Similarly, his previous fight was less than a month ago against another grappler in Rodolfo Viera. He won that fight via unanimous decision and is stepping in as a late replacement against Hermansson.

Hermansson has alternated wins and losses against top competition over his last six fights, most recently dropping a decision to Curtis’ training partner Sean Strickland. Strickland and Curtis have similar boxing-heavy styles, and Hermansson was unsuccessful on eight attempts at bringing Strickland to the mat.

His lack of success against a stylistically similar opponent has me leaning toward Curtis, with betting markets essentially a dead heat. Neither man is heavier than a -115 favorite at any book, with some books leaning each way.

I expect this one to end somewhat quickly, with it going towards whichever man can keep the fight on their turf. I bet the under on this fight, which means it’s a priority for DFS. Either fighter getting a stoppage at their salary should propel them into the optimal lineup.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Pictured above: Paddy Pimblett