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UFC 275 DFS Breakdown: Model, Preview, Picks for Teixeira vs. Prozchaka, Shevchenko vs. Santos and More

UFC 275 goes down in Singapore Saturday night, featuring two title fights and the rematch of 2020’s fight of the year between Joanna Jedrzejckyk and Weili Zhang. With two five-round fights but only 11 total fights, DFS strategy is particularly interesting this week. It’s also Round 1 of the DraftKings Fantasy MMA World Championship, with the first round taking a cash game format. Lineups lock at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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 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 Title Fights

Glover Teixeira ($7,300) vs. Jiri Prochazka ($8,900)

This will be the first title defense for the 42-year-old Teixeira, who won the belt last October in an upset of Jan Blachowicz. The champ finds himself as the underdog yet again, this time at +165 odds against Prochazka. This fight promises fireworks, with -500 odds to end inside the distance.

While playing both fighters in five-round fights is generally my preferred strategy in cash games, this fight is an exception to that rule. The presence of another five-rounder means we probably don’t want to build lineups that guarantee two losses, and the massive inside-the-distance odds means somebody likely walks away with a minimal score.

The safer bet then is obviously Prochazka, who’s knocked out nine consecutive opponents between Rizin and the UFC. He blends tremendous power with unorthodox techniques, finishing his last opponent with a spinning elbow. He takes a lot of damage himself, though, looking hurt at times in both of his UFC bouts.

Teixeira has power in his own right and could undoubtedly catch the challenger with a big shot. His obvious path to victory is on the ground, though. The Brazilian has won both of his last two fights by submission, with a ground and pound victory preceding that. He’s fairly clearly the better grappler in this bout, but getting the fight to the canvas will be the challenge.

Given the size and speed advantage that Prochazka has, it’s likelier than not that he’s able to hurt Glover on the feet before this one ever hits the mat. For cash games, that makes Jiri by himself the preferred option. I want to be overweight on Teixeira for GPPs, though. He’s too cheap for his betting odds and has clear paths to a big score in his own right. I expect him to be fairly contrarian as well, which is crucial on an 11-fight card.

Prochazka leads our models with a 93.4-point median projection.

Valentina Shevchenko ($9,600) vs. Taila Santos ($6,600)

The co-main event features the biggest favorite on the slate in Shevchenko, as she looks to defend her title for a seventh consecutive time. She’s also the slate’s most expensive fighter, with Santos coming in as the cheapest. This fight is also tricky from a DFS standpoint, as Shevchenko has rarely scored enough to justify her massive salary this week.

Santos is 4-1 in the UFC, with her only career loss coming in her UFC debut by split decision. She’s the bigger fighter, with a 1.5-inch reach advantage, while appearing to be stronger and heavier as well. She’s also picked up three knockdowns in her five-fight UFC run, which is impressive power for any fighter — much less in women’s MMA.

That power stands out in this one since Shevchenko has scored just one knockdown in her much longer career. Shevchenko is definitely the better striker, but Santos has at least a puncher’s chance on the feet. This one gets more interesting on the ground, where the champ has picked up her last three finishes.

Santos might just be the better grappler here, with better a better takedown accuracy, takedown defense, and submission rate in the UFC. While it’s come against lesser competition, the 28-year-old still probably hasn’t hit her prime and could be even better. Compared to the 34-year-old Shevchenko, her arrow is pointing in a better direction.

With this one roughly a toss-up to end inside the distance (and an over 3.5 line of -175), we could easily see Santos put up a usable (cash game) score in a loss. I think she has a better chance of winning than the odds suggest, as I discussed in my betting preview for this bout at the Action Network.

I’ll be rostering both women in cash games, though, since a dominant Shevchenko win is certainly not out of the question here. For GPPs, I want to be way overweight on Santos. She could make the optimal in a loss at her salary on an 11-fight card, and Shevchenko may not pay off hers even with a win. Santos has the best Pts/Sal projection of any underdog on the card.

The Easy Chalk

Seung Woo Choi ($9,100)

With my favorite high-priced fighter (Manuel Kape) removed from the card, “Sting” becomes the easy chalk by process of elimination. He checks all the boxes we’re looking for in a high-priced fighter. He’s a -235 favorite, with the line moving in his favor after opening at -225. The fight is a toss-up to end inside the distance, but his opponent Joshua Culibao’s ($7,100) likeliest winning method is a decision, meaning Choi has most of the stoppage equity.

Most importantly, this should be a primarily standup fight, with Culibao landing zero takedowns in his UFC career. Choi throws strikes at a well above-average rate, and Culibao has relatively poor striking defense. That’s a good recipe for a lot of strikes landed, which could lead to a big score for Choi.

I’m not making getting to Choi a priority here, but there are not many high-priced fighters on the slate, so it’s fairly easy to get to him. He’s a relatively low-confidence play for the salary, but he might just be the best high-end option.

Brendan Allen ($9,000)

I prefer Choi to “all in” Allen due to the stylistic nature of this fight. Allen is fighting Jacob Malkoun ($7,200), a persistent grappler who’s attempted 5.7 takedowns per round in his UFC career. It’s hard to score points while defending takedowns, even if you’re winning rounds.

With that said, Allen is the biggest favorite on the card after Shevchenko, with the line moving considerably his way throughout the week. He has excellent submissions and could end up with a finish even if taken down by Malkoun. Submissions generally don’t produce as many points as knockout finishes, though, especially if you weren’t the one who scored the takedown.

He’s definitely the better striker in this matchup, which gives him a clear path to a big score. We also might not need a huge one, given the small card on Saturday. He’s a solid play, but I’m concerned he spends too much of this one on his back to pay off his salary. Still, he has the highest median projection of any three-round fighter on the card.

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The Upside Plays

Andre Fialho ($8,500)

It’s knockout or bust for Fialho, who’s the striker in the striker vs. grappler matchup against Jake Matthews ($7,700) on Saturday. Fialho is fighting for the fourth time in 2022, with a decision loss to Michel Pereira followed by two first-round knockouts.

Fialho has an extremely fantasy-friendly style, landing, and absorbing strikes at well above the divisional average. This one has a -190 line to end early, with Fialho essentially even money to score a knockout. While I like Matthews at the odds provided, Fialho is the -145 favorite here.

His all-offense style is a bit risky for cash games, but Fialho deserves a look in GPPs. He’s topped 100 points in both of his UFC victories so far. He trails only Allen and the championship favorites in ceiling projection, while coming in significantly cheaper than all of them.

The Value Play

Steve Garcia ($8,400)

Garcia is slightly cheaper than Fialho but a far bigger favorite at -180 for this one. Anytime we see that degree of line movement (Garcia opened at -155), that fighter becomes an obvious value play. It also helps that this fight is -250 to end inside the distance, the second-best odds on the slate.

Garcia is taking on debuting prospect Hayisaer Maheshate ($7,800). Maheshate is a Contender Series veteran who, prior to that point, had never even fought a fighter with a winning record, much less beaten any. This is clearly a massive step up in competition for him, with Garcia sporting a 1-1 UFC record.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with Maheshate’s performance on the Contender Series, a reasonably close 29-28 decision. Garcia should be able to weather the early storm and take care of business here, with almost any win being enough to justify his $8,400 salary.

The Contrarian Approach

Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($7,400)

While this bout feels like an obvious “swing fight” candidate, given the razor-close first fight between Joanna and Weili Zhang ($8,800), Jedrzejczyk seems like clearly the better DFS play. Zhang won the first bout between the pair, but her 104-point score wasn’t all that outstanding relative to her score this time around. That was also a five-round fight, meaning we should expect lower total scoring this time around.

Jedrzejczyk put up 78 points in a loss though, which is probably enough even without a win bonus to end up in the optimal lineup. She was also winning the fight on two of the three scorecards after three rounds in the last fight, which is another good sign for her.

She hasn’t fought since the last bout, while Zhang has been more active — suffering two defeats to Rose Namajunas in the meantime. While I don’t like extended layoffs, an 0-2 stretch with a knockout loss is probably worse than two years away from competition. I expect Jedrzejczyk to be fresher and hopefully somewhat improved with her time away.

This fight should produce a ton of total points, given the durability and extremely high striking pace both women keep. Those points should be fairly evenly distributed, though. That makes it tough to roster a fighter as expensive as Zhang, who needs a stoppage to pay off her salary. Jedrzejczyk can get there with essentially any win, making her the better play.

I gave my thoughts on this fight during our “fight of the night” segment on this week’s Action Network UFC Podcast:

The Swing Fight

Silvana Juarez ($8,600) vs. Na Liang ($7,600)

This is a fairly low-level fight between two fighters who are collectively 0-3 in the UFC. What makes this fight stand out is the stoppage odds: it’s currently -280 to end inside the distance on DraftKings. Both Juarez and Liang were finished in all of their UFC defeats, with Juarez being submitted twice and Liang losing via ground and pound.

That lines up nicely with both fighters’ strengths as well. Juarez has six knockouts in 10 professional victories, while Liang has has 11 submissions in 19 wins. Liang has fought much weaker competition prior to the UFC, though, with her final pre-UFC bout coming against a debuting professional fighter.

I prefer Juarez in this one, who had a much more challenging schedule prior to the UFC. It’s not a high-confidence pick, but she seems to be the far better fighter, and her salary isn’t really prohibitive on this small slate. I want exposure to both of them in GPPs, though, given the stoppage odds and what I expect to be relatively low ownership. They rank fifth (Juarez) and sixth in ceiling projection in our models.

 

UFC 275 goes down in Singapore Saturday night, featuring two title fights and the rematch of 2020’s fight of the year between Joanna Jedrzejckyk and Weili Zhang. With two five-round fights but only 11 total fights, DFS strategy is particularly interesting this week. It’s also Round 1 of the DraftKings Fantasy MMA World Championship, with the first round taking a cash game format. Lineups lock at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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 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 Title Fights

Glover Teixeira ($7,300) vs. Jiri Prochazka ($8,900)

This will be the first title defense for the 42-year-old Teixeira, who won the belt last October in an upset of Jan Blachowicz. The champ finds himself as the underdog yet again, this time at +165 odds against Prochazka. This fight promises fireworks, with -500 odds to end inside the distance.

While playing both fighters in five-round fights is generally my preferred strategy in cash games, this fight is an exception to that rule. The presence of another five-rounder means we probably don’t want to build lineups that guarantee two losses, and the massive inside-the-distance odds means somebody likely walks away with a minimal score.

The safer bet then is obviously Prochazka, who’s knocked out nine consecutive opponents between Rizin and the UFC. He blends tremendous power with unorthodox techniques, finishing his last opponent with a spinning elbow. He takes a lot of damage himself, though, looking hurt at times in both of his UFC bouts.

Teixeira has power in his own right and could undoubtedly catch the challenger with a big shot. His obvious path to victory is on the ground, though. The Brazilian has won both of his last two fights by submission, with a ground and pound victory preceding that. He’s fairly clearly the better grappler in this bout, but getting the fight to the canvas will be the challenge.

Given the size and speed advantage that Prochazka has, it’s likelier than not that he’s able to hurt Glover on the feet before this one ever hits the mat. For cash games, that makes Jiri by himself the preferred option. I want to be overweight on Teixeira for GPPs, though. He’s too cheap for his betting odds and has clear paths to a big score in his own right. I expect him to be fairly contrarian as well, which is crucial on an 11-fight card.

Prochazka leads our models with a 93.4-point median projection.

Valentina Shevchenko ($9,600) vs. Taila Santos ($6,600)

The co-main event features the biggest favorite on the slate in Shevchenko, as she looks to defend her title for a seventh consecutive time. She’s also the slate’s most expensive fighter, with Santos coming in as the cheapest. This fight is also tricky from a DFS standpoint, as Shevchenko has rarely scored enough to justify her massive salary this week.

Santos is 4-1 in the UFC, with her only career loss coming in her UFC debut by split decision. She’s the bigger fighter, with a 1.5-inch reach advantage, while appearing to be stronger and heavier as well. She’s also picked up three knockdowns in her five-fight UFC run, which is impressive power for any fighter — much less in women’s MMA.

That power stands out in this one since Shevchenko has scored just one knockdown in her much longer career. Shevchenko is definitely the better striker, but Santos has at least a puncher’s chance on the feet. This one gets more interesting on the ground, where the champ has picked up her last three finishes.

Santos might just be the better grappler here, with better a better takedown accuracy, takedown defense, and submission rate in the UFC. While it’s come against lesser competition, the 28-year-old still probably hasn’t hit her prime and could be even better. Compared to the 34-year-old Shevchenko, her arrow is pointing in a better direction.

With this one roughly a toss-up to end inside the distance (and an over 3.5 line of -175), we could easily see Santos put up a usable (cash game) score in a loss. I think she has a better chance of winning than the odds suggest, as I discussed in my betting preview for this bout at the Action Network.

I’ll be rostering both women in cash games, though, since a dominant Shevchenko win is certainly not out of the question here. For GPPs, I want to be way overweight on Santos. She could make the optimal in a loss at her salary on an 11-fight card, and Shevchenko may not pay off hers even with a win. Santos has the best Pts/Sal projection of any underdog on the card.

The Easy Chalk

Seung Woo Choi ($9,100)

With my favorite high-priced fighter (Manuel Kape) removed from the card, “Sting” becomes the easy chalk by process of elimination. He checks all the boxes we’re looking for in a high-priced fighter. He’s a -235 favorite, with the line moving in his favor after opening at -225. The fight is a toss-up to end inside the distance, but his opponent Joshua Culibao’s ($7,100) likeliest winning method is a decision, meaning Choi has most of the stoppage equity.

Most importantly, this should be a primarily standup fight, with Culibao landing zero takedowns in his UFC career. Choi throws strikes at a well above-average rate, and Culibao has relatively poor striking defense. That’s a good recipe for a lot of strikes landed, which could lead to a big score for Choi.

I’m not making getting to Choi a priority here, but there are not many high-priced fighters on the slate, so it’s fairly easy to get to him. He’s a relatively low-confidence play for the salary, but he might just be the best high-end option.

Brendan Allen ($9,000)

I prefer Choi to “all in” Allen due to the stylistic nature of this fight. Allen is fighting Jacob Malkoun ($7,200), a persistent grappler who’s attempted 5.7 takedowns per round in his UFC career. It’s hard to score points while defending takedowns, even if you’re winning rounds.

With that said, Allen is the biggest favorite on the card after Shevchenko, with the line moving considerably his way throughout the week. He has excellent submissions and could end up with a finish even if taken down by Malkoun. Submissions generally don’t produce as many points as knockout finishes, though, especially if you weren’t the one who scored the takedown.

He’s definitely the better striker in this matchup, which gives him a clear path to a big score. We also might not need a huge one, given the small card on Saturday. He’s a solid play, but I’m concerned he spends too much of this one on his back to pay off his salary. Still, he has the highest median projection of any three-round fighter on the card.

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The Upside Plays

Andre Fialho ($8,500)

It’s knockout or bust for Fialho, who’s the striker in the striker vs. grappler matchup against Jake Matthews ($7,700) on Saturday. Fialho is fighting for the fourth time in 2022, with a decision loss to Michel Pereira followed by two first-round knockouts.

Fialho has an extremely fantasy-friendly style, landing, and absorbing strikes at well above the divisional average. This one has a -190 line to end early, with Fialho essentially even money to score a knockout. While I like Matthews at the odds provided, Fialho is the -145 favorite here.

His all-offense style is a bit risky for cash games, but Fialho deserves a look in GPPs. He’s topped 100 points in both of his UFC victories so far. He trails only Allen and the championship favorites in ceiling projection, while coming in significantly cheaper than all of them.

The Value Play

Steve Garcia ($8,400)

Garcia is slightly cheaper than Fialho but a far bigger favorite at -180 for this one. Anytime we see that degree of line movement (Garcia opened at -155), that fighter becomes an obvious value play. It also helps that this fight is -250 to end inside the distance, the second-best odds on the slate.

Garcia is taking on debuting prospect Hayisaer Maheshate ($7,800). Maheshate is a Contender Series veteran who, prior to that point, had never even fought a fighter with a winning record, much less beaten any. This is clearly a massive step up in competition for him, with Garcia sporting a 1-1 UFC record.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with Maheshate’s performance on the Contender Series, a reasonably close 29-28 decision. Garcia should be able to weather the early storm and take care of business here, with almost any win being enough to justify his $8,400 salary.

The Contrarian Approach

Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($7,400)

While this bout feels like an obvious “swing fight” candidate, given the razor-close first fight between Joanna and Weili Zhang ($8,800), Jedrzejczyk seems like clearly the better DFS play. Zhang won the first bout between the pair, but her 104-point score wasn’t all that outstanding relative to her score this time around. That was also a five-round fight, meaning we should expect lower total scoring this time around.

Jedrzejczyk put up 78 points in a loss though, which is probably enough even without a win bonus to end up in the optimal lineup. She was also winning the fight on two of the three scorecards after three rounds in the last fight, which is another good sign for her.

She hasn’t fought since the last bout, while Zhang has been more active — suffering two defeats to Rose Namajunas in the meantime. While I don’t like extended layoffs, an 0-2 stretch with a knockout loss is probably worse than two years away from competition. I expect Jedrzejczyk to be fresher and hopefully somewhat improved with her time away.

This fight should produce a ton of total points, given the durability and extremely high striking pace both women keep. Those points should be fairly evenly distributed, though. That makes it tough to roster a fighter as expensive as Zhang, who needs a stoppage to pay off her salary. Jedrzejczyk can get there with essentially any win, making her the better play.

I gave my thoughts on this fight during our “fight of the night” segment on this week’s Action Network UFC Podcast:

The Swing Fight

Silvana Juarez ($8,600) vs. Na Liang ($7,600)

This is a fairly low-level fight between two fighters who are collectively 0-3 in the UFC. What makes this fight stand out is the stoppage odds: it’s currently -280 to end inside the distance on DraftKings. Both Juarez and Liang were finished in all of their UFC defeats, with Juarez being submitted twice and Liang losing via ground and pound.

That lines up nicely with both fighters’ strengths as well. Juarez has six knockouts in 10 professional victories, while Liang has has 11 submissions in 19 wins. Liang has fought much weaker competition prior to the UFC, though, with her final pre-UFC bout coming against a debuting professional fighter.

I prefer Juarez in this one, who had a much more challenging schedule prior to the UFC. It’s not a high-confidence pick, but she seems to be the far better fighter, and her salary isn’t really prohibitive on this small slate. I want exposure to both of them in GPPs, though, given the stoppage odds and what I expect to be relatively low ownership. They rank fifth (Juarez) and sixth in ceiling projection in our models.