Despite yet another UFC card to lose it’s co-main or main event during fight week, UFC 226 is stacked enough to withstand the loss of Max Holloway versus Brian Ortega late Wednesday night. On Saturday July 7, From the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the UFC will put on maybe its best event of 2018. This action-packed card will feature some big-money DFS MMA contests over at DraftKings.
In the main event, champion will face champion as UFC heavyweight title holder Stipe Miocic puts his belt on the line versus UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
The new co-main event also has title implications as Francis Ngannou squares up with Derrick Lewis in what may be an uncrowned number one contender’s fight in the heavyweight division.
With fight week upon us, there are several UFC fighters worth considering for your UFC 226 DraftKings lineup. Here is our DraftKings analysis for the main card of UFC 226 and three additional undercard fighters who may be underpriced.
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Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic ($8.9k) vs. Daniel Cormier ($7.3k)
This is a true super-fight. UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier will move up to another weight class to take on UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Still only one fight removed from a knockout loss to Jon Jones, the shadow of defeat looms large over Cormier’s pursuit of history.
A former Olympic wrestler and collegiate All American at Oklahoma State, Cormier should have both the grappling and speed advantage over Miocic. Does Miocic’s size and strength attributes negate Cormier’s best weapons in the cage?
Miocic is the taller fighter by five inches and holds a whopping eight-inch reach advantage when throwing punches at Cormier.
If it comes down to coaching and game planning, Cormier team has the better pedigree training out of American Kickboxing Academy. Miocic and his team has proven their championship credentials with four straight heavyweight title fight wins.
On DraftKings, Daniel Cormier is too talented to be this big of underdog. That being said Stipe Miocic is the pick due to his striking abilities, size and strength. Can Cormier pull the upset? Yes, but Miocic may be too good of champion to let that happen on Saturday night.
Heavyweight: Francis Ngannou ($9.3k) vs. Derrick Lewis ($6.9k)
With all the makings of a classic heavyweight slugfest, Francis Ngannou will fight Derrick Lewis until one of them is knocked out. Sure it’s possible both men come out cautious, respecting the other’s power, but both Ngannou and Lewis need only one punch to end a fight.
The big question going into this heavyweight clash is how will Ngannou react coming off an embarrassing five round defeat to Stipe Miocic in his last bout? For the first time in his career, Ngannou’s gas tank hit empty and he was unable to mount much offense versus his opponent.
Riding an impressive six-fight win streak last summer Lewis had his own hype train derailed with a fourth-round TKO loss to veteran Mark Hunt. The 33-year-old Lewis bounced back nicely in February with a third round TKO of Marcin Tybura.
On paper, Francis Ngannou is the bigger, stronger and faster heavyweight than Derrick Lewis. In a match-up where one punch could end it, Ngannou is the pick but a risky play considering this is his first fight after a loss and Lewis has the power to knockout anyone in the division.
Welterweight: Paul Felder ($7.4k) vs. Mike Perry ($8.8k)
If there was a wildcard fight at UFC 226 it would be Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry. A natural lightweight Felder, on nine days notice, will step up to a new weight class to face Perry.
On a three-fight winning streak, Felder is a dynamic striker but has never fought in the UFC as a welterweight. Technique and speed wise, Felder may get a small nod over Perry.
A loser of two consecutive fights, Perry switched up training camps for this fight and spent time with the famed Jackson-Wink MMA Academy in New Mexico. Gifted with power in both hands, Perry can end the fight anywhere in the cage when standing up. A change of coaching may be the spark that returns Perry to his former self.
Can Paul Felder catch lighting in a bottle and pull off the upset? Felder is the smarter, more experienced fighter and may have the stand-up style to frustrate Mike Perry. With Perry’s change of coaches’ the biggest x-factor in a short notice fight, Felder is the pick here in a minor upset.
Catchweight (157.5): Michael Chiesa ($8.6k) vs. Anthony Pettis ( $7.6k)
For those that believe in momentum in sports, Michael Chiesa and Anthony Pettis are two ships passing in the night. Despite Chiesa missing weight on Friday morning, the 30-year-old former Ultimate Fighter winner should still be a big favorite over Pettis.
Originally set for UFC 223 back in April, Chiesa vs. Pettis was shifted over to UFC 226 after the infamous Conor McGregor bus attack left Chiesa with an injury to his eye from broken window glass.
With both fighters coming off losses, Michael Chiesa has the grappling and wrestling chops to wear down the former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Only 31-years-old, Pettis is 2-5 over his last seven fights and has just not looked the same when the cage door shuts. Chiesa is the pick, in what could turn into a route, if Pettis does not come out hot quickly.
Light Heavyweight: Gökhan Saki ($8.4k) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. ($7.8k)
A strikers delight both Gökhan Saki and Khalil Rountree Jr. know their opponent’s gameplan at UFC 226.
A multiple time kickboxing and Muay Thai champion, Saki only has a grand total of two professional MMA fights under his belt. The catch is the 34-year-old power puncher has 83 career kickboxing wins to his credit; 59 by knockout.
Rountree Jr. has more MMA experience than his foe but it still amounts to eight career fights with 2-2 record in the UFC.
Unless the fight hits the floor, Gökhan Saki should win this fight going away. It may get him booed by the Las Vegas live crowd but Khalil Rountree Jr. has to test Saki’s takedown defense early and often to make this contest competitive.
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Middleweight: Uriah Hall ($6.8k) vs. Paulo Costa ($9.4k)
Bantamweight: Raphael Assunção ($9.1k) vs. Rob Font ($7.1k)
Lightweight: Lando Vannata ($9.0k) vs. Drakkar Klose ($7.2k)
Welterweight: Curtis Millender ($8.7k) vs. Max Griffin ($7.5k)
Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Lightweight: Dan Hooker ($8.5k) vs. Gilbert Burns ($7.7k)
Strawweight: Jamie Moyle ($9.2k) vs. Emily Whitmire ($7.0k)
Three underdogs for UFC 226 DraftKings lineups
Gilbert Burns ($7.7k): A former welterweight and riding a two-fight win streak, both KO wins, Gilbert Burns steps into the cage as the underdog versus ex-featherweight striker Dan Hooker ($8.5k). Burns has a big edge once the fight hits the floor and should have more power in any grappling exchanges that come up against Hooker. An all-world Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Burns is talented enough to win outright versus Hooker, in what should be a very close fight.
Emily Whitmire ($7.0k): Despite both fighters being inexperienced in MMA, 2-2 Emily Whitmire is a huge underdog to Jamie Moyle ($9.2k). Whitmire is moving down a weight class and will have the size advantage versus Moyle; who herself is coming off a defeat. Whitmire’s strength edge along with her grappling game makes her a live dog at UFC 226.
Uriah Hall ($6.8k): Coming off a win, flashy striker Uriah Hall is the biggest underdog at UFC 226. The long odds speak more to the hype of unbeaten prospect Paulo Costa ($9.4k) than it does Hall. With the ability to end the fight with one punch/kick, a seven inch reach advantage and stiffer level of competition, Hall may be worth a flier at UFC 226.