UFC 223 DraftKings DFS MMA Lineup Picks and Preview

Written By Tommy Messano on April 5, 2018

UFC 223 DraftKings DFS MMA Lineup Picks

Chaos. With less than a week to go until UFC 223 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, one half of the main event for the pay-per-view was switched out. Sometimes MMA is at its best when it’s in full-on scramble mode. Even with the switcheroo, this action-packed card will feature some big-money contests for the event over at DraftKings.

In the main event of UFC 223, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will move up to a new weight class to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC’s interim lightweight title. On six days notice, Holloway will look to become the first blemish on Nurmagomedov’s perfect pro record and capture titles in two different weight classes.

In the co-main event of UFC 223, Women’s Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will put her title on the line for the first time in a rematch versus former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

With fight week upon us, there are several UFC fighters worth considering for your UFC 223 DraftKings lineups. Here is our analysis for the main card of UFC 223 and three additional undercard fighters who may be underpriced.


UFC Interim Lightweight Championship: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Max Holloway

On Sunday night, April Fool’s day, the UFC announced Max Holloway ($7.1k) will take the place of Tony Ferguson in a title fight versus undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov ($9.1k). Besting Nurmagomedov with a full training camp and months worth of preparation is a tall task, asking a smaller fighter on less than a week’s notice may be impossible to ask of Holloway.

Nurmagomedov walks into the UFC 223 cage as a heavy favorite. The 29-year-old Russian brings with him a 25-0 MMA record, including a 9-0 mark in the UFC. In his last fight at UFC 219, Nurmagomedov dominated tall, lanky striker Edson Barboza for 15 minutes using his top-shelf wrestling and grappling skills to get the job done.

Holloway has not lost in the UFC since an August 2013 decision defeat at the hands of Conor McGregor. During Holloway’s recent 12-fight winning streak he has downed the likes of Jose Aldo (twice), Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas and Jim Miller. Holloway’s strengths have always been his striking and punching power, and it will be curious to see if his boxing abilities travel up to a new weight class.

Khabib Nurmagomedov was a favorite over Tony Ferguson and remains a big favorite over Max Holloway. Coming in on short notice, Holloway will need to make quick work of his challenger because his cardio may not be up to its usual standards. Unless he gets cracked early, Nurmagomedov’s strength, size, wrestling and grappling edge are a lot to overcome. The pick is Nurmagomedov by late stoppage.


UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship: Rose Namajunas (c) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Five months ago, Rose Namajunas ($7.9k) shocked the MMA world with her first round KO win over strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($8.3k). Can Rose make lightning strike twice? Or will Joanna reclaim the UFC title she held for over two years?

Heading into UFC 217, Namajunas was on a modest one-fight win streak and had never knocked out one of her opponents. The 25-year-old Namajunas needed only three minutes to dispatch of  Jedrzejczyk and earn the first KO win of her career. Though their last fight was brief, Namajunas looked to be the faster and more athletic fighter on the feet.

Not only did Jedrzejczyk lose her title at UFC 217, she also lost her undefeated pro MMA record. A converted kickboxer and Muay Thai striker, Jedrzejczyk looked unstoppable…until she wasn’t. Jedrzejczyk’s strengths in the cage still remain on the feet and she will look to lean on her experience edge versus Namajunas at UFC 223.

Despite coming off a huge win and being the UFC champion, Rose Namajunas is the betting underdog heading into UFC 223. Namajunas now has a mental edge over Joanna Jedrzejczyk and proved she can hang on the feet with the former champion. Namajunas will step into her first title defense with a good game plan and should be able to pick up another decisive win at UFC 223.

Featherweight: Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar

In a classic battle of striker versus grappler, Boston’s Calvin Kattar ($8.7K) comes in as a big favorite over Brazilian Renato Moicano ($7.5k).

A former lightweight, Kattar brings an amateur boxing background on his resume. Already 2-0 in the UFC, Kattar last tasted victory when he knocked out Shane Burgos at UFC 220 in January. With only two months between UFC fights, fatigue could play a factor for Kattar at UFC 223.

Unbeaten in MMA until he was submitted by current featherweight number one contender Brian Ortega last July, Moicano has some of the best grappling skills at 145 pounds. A black belt in jiu-jitsu and able to hold his own in the striking department, Moicano is not an easy out for anyone at featherweight.

All things being equal, its surprising that Calvin Kattar steps into the cage as one of the bigger favorites at UFC 223. It’s a risky play, in what boils down to a coin flip. If the fight stays on the feet Kattar should get the decision. The pick is Renato Moicano who is a more well-rounded fighter and should win most of the grappling exchanges.


 Lightweight: Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis

A dangerous fight for both men, Michael Chiesa ($8.6k) and Anthony Pettis ($7.6k) are in need of a signature win at UFC 223.

In what amounted to a title fight eliminator, Chiesa lost his last fight to Kevin Lee by first round submission. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Chiesa and moved his UFC record to 6-3 overall. An impressive grappler, Chiesa will have the submission and wrestling edge at UFC 223.

A former UFC lightweight champion, it’s hard to ignore Pettis’ 2-5 record in the UFC since he lost the belt in March 2015. Bouncing down to featherweight and now back to lightweight, Pettis’ last two losses were by TKO stoppages. Still an exciting striker, the 31-year-old Pettis will need turn back the clock if he wants to avoid another prolonged losing streak.

Anthony Pettis has not looked to be the same fighter for a while. As long as Michael Chiesa doesn’t get sucked into a firefight on the feet, he should be able to take the fight to the floor and submit Pettis. Chiesa is the pick.

Lightweight: Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder

Two fighters on long winning streaks will meet at UFC 223 when Al Iaquinta ($8.2k) face-off Paul Felder ($8.0k).

Currently on a five-fight winning streak, Iaquinta looked spectacular in a one round drubbing of Diego Sanchez back in April 2017. Coming a year long layoff, ring rust may play a factor in Iaqunita’s return at UFC 223. A powerful wrestler, Iaquinta will have the advantage anytime the fight hits the floor.

On a three-fight winning streak of his own, Felder has stopped each of his last three UFC opponents by knockout. Known for his unorthodox striking style, Felder has the ability to shut the lights off of anyone in the UFC’s lightweight division.

Despite improvements to his striking game, Al Iaquinta will want to take the fight to the ground. Paul Felder wants his UFC 223 fight to turn into a kickboxing exhibition.  Iaquinta is the pick due to his power on the feet and his big wrestling edge, that should allow him to take the fight wherever he wants.


Three Underdogs for UFC 223 DraftKings Lineups

Olivier Aubin-Mercier ($8.1k): A younger grappler than Evan Dunham ($8.1k), Olivier Aubin-Mercier must rely on pace and his wrestling if he wants to upset Dunham. A winner of three straight UFC fights, Aubin-Mercier’s best path to victory is to wear down Dunham and maybe catch him in a submission in the later rounds.

Mike Rodriguez($7.8k): Mike Rodriguez is in a great spot to pick up a win at UFC 223 over light heavyweight Devin Clark ($8.4k). Versus a wrestler, Rodriguez holds a huge striking edge over Clark. Rodriguez has won his last four fights by knockout and with his eight-inch reach advantage over Clark, he is prime position pull off an upset at UFC 223.

Chris Gruetzemacher ($7.3k): One of the biggest underdogs on the night, Chris Gruetzemacher still has a chance to catch Joe Lauzon ($8.9k) sleeping at UFC 223. A loser of two straight, Lauzon has looked worn down and perhaps the 33-year-old’s 14 year MMA career has finally caught up to him. Gruetzemacher is also a loser of two straight but has the wrestling ability and power to give Lauzon problems, and possibly score a win at UFC 223.


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Tommy Messano

A fantasy sports player for several years, Tommy Messano is a writer residing in Gilbert, Arizona who is best known for his work as a Mixed Martial Arts journalist. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including Sherdog.com, MiddleEasy.com, ESPN.com and CagesideSeats.com. Twitter: @ULTMMA

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