Coming off a great card last week we get right back on the wagon with a full UFC pay-per-view which features the return of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history and some very intriguing battles between top contenders. From a DFS standpoint, I was happy with most of my picks last week, and as I predicted underdog wins were the theme of the night. My only regret was not going all-in on Anthony Johnson as I really thought he was being underappreciated by the media (and vegas) leading up to the fight. Let it be known, “Rumble” has put together the most dominant four-fight stretch against quality opponents in the UFC in a long time and has a very real shot at taking out the best pound-for-pound fighter in Jon Jones.
This week and ongoing I’m going to be including a new twist to my previews. Kountermove.com is an MMA + combat sports dedicated Daily Fantasy Site which has been featuring some huge guarantees week in and week out and my picks will be based primarily on their pricing along with some DraftKings pricing and plays. Better, for the true MMA fan, they offer games on all MMA cards, not just the UFC. As someone who is very picky about where he spreads his action I have to say I am impressed with Kountermove for putting up big guarantees as they grow their business. I’m also impressed with the operation of their site as they have a nice interface and catchy visuals. Additionally, this week they feature ALL of the preliminary fights in their tournaments; extra fights mean less lineup overlap and a better chance for players to extract an edge with their knowledge.
All-in-all, I’m happy to be featuring an MMA only DFS site in my previews and will continue to include them, along with other sites that are committed to growing the sport for fantasy purposes.
Onto this week…
While I’m not as high on the underdogs as last week’s card, there is some potential for quick knockouts and some high-striking battles. The main event is the only five-round fight on the card and looks like it will feature lots of striking and, since Anderson Silva is fighting, the potential for a very quick knockout. As always, I’m going to discuss who the best plays (and fights) are for cash games and gpps, some possible underdogs to consider, and other strategies to employ.
Jordan Mein (opened at even money, currently at -131)
While some may be scared off Mein by the name of his opponent (former #1 contender Thiago Alves) I am personally really liking this spot for Mein and, for numerous reasons, think he makes a good DFS play this week. First, this fight should be decided solely on the feet as both of these men are primarily strikers which means more potential for an early KO and lots of points regardless. Second, Mein is coming off an eye-opening quick knockout of an established fighter, while Alves is fighting for only the third time in the past 3 years. In short, Mein is the fighter on the rise while Alves seems to be merely clinging to elite fighter status. Lastly, Mein’s price is affordable on both sites (for a favorite) and his potential to get you an early stoppage or dominant decision win is very good, giving him that high upside for a nice affordable price. Conclusion: Make Mein your main man this week.
Al Iaquinta (-183)
To me Iaquinta represents your best shot at getting a fighter likely to be involved in a highly contested striking affair who also has a great potential to win the fight before the final bell. Iaquinta is fighting veteran Joe Lauzon who is known for being Mr. Fight of the night and a dangerous submission artist. However, in this matchup, I like the younger and more explosive Iaquinta as I believe this fight will be decided mostly on the feet. Moreover, Iaquinta’s price on both KounterMove and DraftKings is lower than other favorites. With the vegas odds making Inquinta a clear favorite, the fact he is only 200 more in price than Lauzon on Kountermove makes him a great play. Additionally, targeting both sides of this fight in a cash game makes sense as it has some of the best odds to finish before the third round and will feature heavy striking.
Tyrone Woodley (+100)
Full disclosure, I am pretty on the fence about this fight, but I’m determined to be more decisive this week and I think Woodley is the right pick. Woodley is an athletic beast whose strength is his wrestling but he also possesses explosive movement and power on his feet. His opponent, Kelvin Gastelum is the TUF season 17 winner and an excellent all-around fighter and striker himself. If this fight ends up being a technical sparring or grappling match and goes the distance I give Gastelum the edge. But I think the athleticism and power of Woodley will be too much. I expect Woodley to be able to land enough shots of his own to put Gastelum on his back or control the fight with his wrestling and pure strength. All in all, the power of Woodley and the draw of early KO potential makes gambling on Woodley at his price more palatable since the payoff if he wins could be huge.
John Lineker (+197)
In a potential number one contender’s matchup at Flyweight, I am still sort of shocked at how under-priced Lineker is both on KounterMove and DraftKings along with the odds in Vegas. Much like Woodley, I can see Lineker losing this matchup if it goes the distance, but the fact of the matter is Lineker has proven he has the explosiveness and power to end a fight at any time. I don’t expect McCall to overwhelm Lineker and take this fight to the ground as both men have the penchant for simply standing and banging. This all favours Lineker and a possible early KO. He’s by no means a lock but for his price he makes a great gpp flier and my favorite cheap-underdog fighter this week.
Anderson Silva (-440)
You didn’t seriously think I’d end this preview without a few words about the greatest fighter of all time did you? There’s a lot of question marks coming into this fight for Silva, but to be honest, I could argue there’s just as many about his opponent, who is moving up in weight class and is getting a little long in the tooth himself. The bottom line is this, we’ve seen Anderson Silva win a fight and dominate when he doesn’t care or he’s distracted… now that he actually has something to prove why should we expect less? Diaz’s high volume striking game flows right into Silva’s strength of counter-punching and movement (don’t think the UFC doesn’t know this, they have more to gain from a Silva return to form than anyone) and all reports have been positive that Silva is back to full strength. Silva gives you both the potential for volume points in the only 5 round fight and of course, the potential for the ever elusive early finish (due to him being Anderson Silva). The big issue is fitting him onto your roster, but with a few decent dogs out there the potential for him to be on the winning gpp roster exists.
Thales Leites (-430 odds)
Ever since he developed a striking game to go with his world-class grappling and submission, Leites has been on a tear back up his division. Moreover he takes on an opponent this weekend who, outside of his wrestling prowess, is underwhelming in his movement and striking (although he does have KO power). I think ultimately Leites wins this fight (easily) and makes for a great anchor play, especially if you’re scared of a Silva injury or loss. Like Silva though he is high priced and you have to take some gambles if you’re going to fit him on your roster. I like him much more on Kountermove where he is priced much less than some of the other heavy favorites.
Kountermove Special: as the only site offering action on all the prelims Kountermove allows you to put your extra knowledge to work by picking from the preliminary fights and gaining an edge over your competition.
Thiago Santos (-157)
Santos represents the best value of the all preliminary fighters and is in the fight most likely to end up being decided through strikes. Santos is a gifted striker who matches up well against the durable but very hittable Enz. Santos will have a huge edge in the striking department and even if he doesn’t stop Enz before the final round I expect a huge number of points for Santos simply from landed strikes in a decision victory.
One thing I will say about this card is that while I like most of the favorites there are no real “locks”. Silva has the injury cloud hanging over his head and Leites faces real KO power in Boetsch. My best suggestion, as always, target the fights where you think you can get an early KO or lots of strikes. With the way scoring is setup on Kountermove and Draftkings, it is you’re best chance for success.