We’re back with another UFC Fight Night card! This Saturday’s bouts are headlined by top-ranked women’s flyweight contender Jessica Eye and Cynthia Calvillo at the UFC APEX, and DFS lineups will lock at 7 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 what 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.
Check out Sean Koerner’s full DFS projections for Saturday’s UFC card:
The Easy Chalk
Merab Dvalishvil ($9,200)
Dvalishvil was originally scheduled to fight Ray Borg, as a -400 favorite, but now he’s an even more significant favorite against Gustavo Lopez — a late replacement. Last-minute replacements win at only a 37% clip in the UFC, and they get knocked out at a significantly higher rate (32%) than your average fighter.
Dvalishvil has averaged 107 DraftKings points over his past three bouts — all wins via decision, which makes him a solid play even if you don’t anticipate a finish in a match that is -190 to go the distance. He should be able to rack up takedowns (averaged 7.8 over his past five fights) with a handful of advancements and roughly 20 significant strikes per round. According to Koerner’s projections, Merab has a 72% chance of finishing in the optimal lineup.
Julia Avila ($9,300)
Avila is the most expensive fighter on the slate, and she also draws a late replacement in Gina Mazany, which is a significant boost to her chances.
Avila is only +250 to win in Round 1, +136, to win by KO/TKO, and you have to lay juice to bet on her to win inside of the distance. She recorded 71 DraftKings points in her previous UFC bout — a decision victory — but has a significantly higher chance of winning by stoppage this time around, with a 36% chance of finishing in the perfect lineup, and her relentless combinations and killer instinct could put Mazany away early.
The Upside Plays
Charles Aguilera ($7,200) vs. Anthony Ivy ($9,000)
This bout between a pair of UFC newcomers is -278 to finish inside of the distance, meaning that you probably want to include one of these two fighters in your lineups.
Aguilera is at a severe grappling disadvantage against Ivy, so he’ll be looking to land a powerful overhand right to crumple his opponent and stop the fight in the early stages. Ivy is +138 to win by KO/TKO, which would come as the result of a ground-and-pound after multiple takedowns, whereas Aguilera is +325 by KO/TKO, and an upset victory would put him in the perfect lineup 40% of the time.
The Swing Fights
Cynthia Calvillo ($7,900) vs. Jessica Eye ($8,300)
Calvillo has the second-highest ceiling (100.5) rating and the second-highest perfect lineup rating (61%) on the slate, and she’s currently favored over Jessica Eye. The latter missed weight and looked unsteady on the scale, despite costing less on DraftKings.
This bout is -215 to go the distance, but Calvillo by submission (+300) is the most likely finish, given Eye’s known grappling issues. Eye is capable of racking up a high number of significant strikes for five rounds, which also gives her a high ceiling (90.5 points) and perfect rating (34.5%).
Still, Calvillo offers better DFS value relative to cost.
Andre Fili ($8600) vs. Charles Jourdain ($7600)
These two fighters will finish in the perfect lineup around 30% of the time, but I do anticipate that Fili (-106 by decision) will rack up a high-number of takedowns for three rounds unless Jourdain’s pressure (+350 by KO/TKO) stops the fight early.
Fili is a bit off an enigmatic DFS performer, ranging from 11 to 110 DK points over his past ten matches. Still, he has recorded as many as 98 significant strikes, five takedowns, and three advancements in a three-round decision — averaging 91 DraftKings points in his past three wins on the scorecards.