After a massive pay-per-view in Australia, the UFC returns home to the Apex Center on Saturday. This is a less exciting fight card, but with a compelling main event — and big prizes in DFS. Former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade stepped up on a week’s notice to face rising flyweight challenger Erin Blanchfield. The winner could very well be next in line for a title shot.
With only 11 fights on the card, being unique with your roster construction is at a premium. The action begins at 4:00 p.m. eastern time.
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. We’ve also added ownership projections by yours truly, to help find leverage spots for GPPs.
You can check out the projections for every fighter on Saturday’s card in our UFC Models.
Jessica Andrade ($8,500) vs. Erin Blanchfield ($7,700)
Blanchfield was originally slated to fight former flyweight title challenger Taila Santos on this card. Santos reportedly had visa issues, so in steps former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. Andrade fought just three weeks ago, dominating Lauren Murphy in a fight that many people thought should’ve been stopped.
Andrade is an aggressive striker and one of the division’s best athletes. Her grappling has improved since her early UFC days as well. She’s now a jiu-jitsu black belt and has pulled off impressive finishes utilizing her strength and grappling together. Those include a slam knockout of Rose Namajunas and a standing arm triangle over Amanda Lemos.
Still, this fight favors Blanchfield if it becomes a grappling match. The 24-year-old is a grappling prodigy with excellent submissions, top pressure, and takedowns. Blanchfield is also the considerably bigger woman, with Andrade being a natural 115 lbs fighter.
Crucially, Blanchfield has been training for a five-round fight. With just three weeks between bouts, it’s doubtful that Andrade is at 100% in terms of her conditioning. This one favors the finishing upside of Andrade early, with Blanchfield getting better as the fight progresses.
Blanchfield is also a massive value here, as she opened around +160 before being bet down to +115 throughout the week. She’s the far better cash game option — though we should probably roster both. I like Andrade for GPPs, though. She’ll likely be hunting finishes early, knowing that she doesn’t have 25 minutes of gas in the tank. She’ll also be somewhat contrarian based on the line movement against her.
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The Easy Chalk
Zac Pauga ($9,200)
Zac was a finalist in the last season of the ultimate fighter, getting knocked out in a heavyweight fight by Mohammed Usman in the championship round. Now, he’s back at his preferred weight class of light heavyweight.
Greeting him is Jordan Wright ($7,000), a former middleweight who’s coming up 20 lbs to the 205 lbs division. Wright has been finished in each of his last three fights, twice by first-round knockout. The UFC clearly wants to promote Pauga here — this is about the best possible matchup they could give him.
Pauga is -175 to win inside the distance and nearly a coin flip at +120 to do so in the first round. He’s a lock for all contest types.
Clayton Carpenter ($9,300)
While he’s less likely to pull off a finish than Pauga, Carpenter might have more upside. He’s an aggressive grappler who scored three takedowns in his Contender Series bout last year that punched his ticket to the UFC. He’s the heaviest male favorite on the card at -315 against Juancamillo Ronderos ($6,900).
Ronderos is 0-1 in the UFC, getting submitted by David Dvorak as a late-notice replacement in his UFC debut. He has four previous pro fights, all against much lesser competition on the regional scene. His final pre-UFC win came by split decision. Carpenter is a very safe pick here, with the bigger question being whether he’s able to pick up enough takedowns or get a quick finish that pays off his salary. It’s effectively a toss-up between him and Pauga for the best price considered option.
The Contrarian Choice
Josh Parisian ($7,200)
Maybe it’s hometown bias — I’m familiar with Parisian and his team from my days in the Michigan regional scene — but I believe Parisian is underrated by the market here. He’s 2-2 in the UFC and fighting Jamal Pogues ($9,000) in the latter’s promotional debut.
Pogues made it to the big show with a somewhat lackluster decision win on the Contender Series and has previously fought exclusively at 205 lbs — this is a heavyweight bout. Pogues is the noticeably smaller fighter here, which is even more of a problem in the smaller cage at the UFC Apex.
He’s also struggled on the ground, suffering submission losses in two of his three professional defeats. The grappling is where Parisian shines — the bulk of his pro wins are via ground and pound. Parisian has a solid shot at getting a hold of the smaller Pogues, dragging him down, and finishing him on the mat. At just $7,200, that would surely vault him into the optimal lineup.
The Value Play
Lina Lansberg ($6,700)
Let’s start with this: Lansberg isn’t going to win. However, she might be able to make it 15 minutes against Mayra Bueno Silva ($9,500). That alone could be enough to justify her meager salary for cash games.
Bueno Silva’s only career finishes have been via submission, yet she’s never landed a takedown in the UFC. Since she’s unlikely to knock Lansberg out, that raises the chances of this one hitting the judges. It also raises the fantasy floor for both fighters since standup affairs produce more points for the loser than spending the fight defending takedowns.
Lansberg could also sneak in a takedown or two, as she’s done on occasion in the past. That would just be an added bonus, though, the real appeal is 15 minutes of picking up strikes. Sean Zerillo laid out the case in the latest edition of our Action Network UFC Betting Podcast:
The Upside Play
William Knight ($8,200)
With significant line movement his way, “Knightmare” could easily qualify as a value play as well as an upside option. The combination of both makes him my favorite DFS fighter outside of the main event.
He opened as a pick ’em against Marcin Prachnio ($8,200) but has seen money come in his way all week. He’s now between -125 and -130 depending on the sportsbook, but could easily move to longer odds by fight time.
Knight is 3-1 as a light heavyweight in the UFC but dropped his last two fights as a heavyweight. He struggled massively with cardio in those bouts, getting knocked out in the third round of one and gassing out in a lackluster decision in the other.
Now he’s back to 205, where he’ll be carrying less weight and benefiting from all of the road work that allowed him to hit his number on the scales. He’s a better fighter in nearly every aspect than Prachnio but should really dominate the grappling exchanges. This is another bout where the smaller cage should help the bigger, stronger fighter. Prachnio will have nowhere to run. Knight should be able to tie him up and drag him down to deep waters fairly quickly.
I’m playing Knight in all my lineups this week, both cash games and GPPs.
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The Swing Fight
Alexander Hernandez ($8,900) vs. Jim Miller ($7,300)
Hernandez is yet another short-notice fighter on this card, as he takes on the UFC’s all-time appearance leader Jim Miller. Miller has had a bit of a resurgence as of late, coming into the bout on a three-fight win streak, all of which were second-round stoppages.
Still, Miller is 39 years old and well past his prime at this point. That explains the salary and betting odds (-225 or so) on Hernandez. However, Hernandez isn’t exactly a world-beater himself. He’s on a two-fight losing streak, both inside the distance.
This fight is between two fighters with major cardio concerns — especially given the short notice for Hernandez — who are way better hammers than they are nails. Miller is probably the upside pick, he hasn’t won a decision since 2017 but generally empties the tank early, looking for a finish.
Still, it wouldn’t be a shock for Hernandez to starch the veteran early either. The winner of this likely walks away with a pretty big score.