Dana White and UFC put on the first of three Pay-Per-View events at an empty VyStar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday and the second UFC event is slated for this Wednesday.
The first event, UFC 249, saw its testing process effectively screen some sources of transmission when Jacare Souza and his two cornermen tested positive for COVID-19, cancelling his bout against Uriah Hall.
UFC Fight Night is an 11- fight card with two main events, including a light heavyweight bout between Glover Teixeira and Anthony Smith for the right to challenge champion Jon Jones.
DraftKings follows up its $1M DFS contest with the Mid-Week Melee, another big contest offering $400k in prizes for a $10 entry. At, PlayPicks we’re once again providing our top DFS plays to help you build your DFS lineups.
In this column, we will identify the top DFS plays to consider for Cash and GPP formats for the May 13 contests at DraftKings. We also highlight sleepers and values to consider.
Keep in mind the betting lines may shift prior to the fight and news may break regarding how prepared each fighter is for their respective bout, many of which were scheduled on relatively short notice.
UFC Fight Night Top DFS Plays
Ovince Saint Preux ($8,700)
The co-main event on Wednesday features Saint Preux (24-13) and Ben Rothwell (37-12) in a heavyweight bout. This matchup figures to go longer than many heavyweight fights given their fighting styles, with the average OSP fight going 9:32 and Rothwell’s fights going 8:42 on average. Note that the two main events can go up to 5 rounds whereas the rest of the fights on this card can only go 3 rounds.
Saint Preux (-139 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook) is a southpaw with an 80-inch reach and great defensive tactics. While he only absorbs 2.86 strikes per minute, Rothwell absorbs 4.58 strikes per minute. OSP also averages 1.34 takedowns per 15 minutes with 40% takedown accuracy, indicating a high ceiling in the event this fight goes to decision after 5 rounds.
Hunter Azure ($9,100)
If you’re looking for a rock solid building block to start your lineups, the undefeated Azure (8-0) is a good starting point. He’s won 15 straight MMA bouts and is one of the best defensive fighters we’ve seen in the sport with a low rate of 1.57 strikes absorbed per minute. Azure (-182) is expected to fulfill the fatherhood narrative by dispatching 33-year-old Brian Kelleher (20-10) in a featherweight bout just over a month after the birth of his first child. Azure was a four-time wrestling state champion in Montana and has a clear-cut advantage if this fight goes to the mat. Kelleher has submitted in the first round of 2 of his last 3 losses and has absorbed 5.83 strikes per minute in his UFC career.
Omar Morales ($8,800)
The 34-year-old Venezuelan is a newcomer to UFC, but has flashed plenty of potential throughout his MMA career. At 5-foot-11, he has 3 inches and 10 pounds on his opponent, submission specialist Gabriel Benitez (21-7). Morales (-162 odds at DK Sportsbook) is 9-0 as a pro with 7 of his wins coming via knockout and Benitez has twice been TKO’d in the first round over his last 6 fights. If Morales can stay off the mat, he should be able to use his superior power to pounds Benitez and potentially earn a big bonus with an early knockout
UFC 249 Top DFS Value Plays
Ike Villanueva ($7,800)
Newcomers can be regarded with skepticism in UFC and that may explain Villanueva’s temptingly low price tag. He may be a UFC rookie, but the 36-year-old has been fighting since 2008 and is 16-9 with a Fury FC Double championship belt. The heavyweight has ample power and is facing a relatively poor defensive fighter in Chase Sherman (-139). The 30-year-old Sherman lands 5.81 strikes, but absorbs 5.76 strikes per minute. He’s lost his last three straight UFC fights while suffering two TKO’s and took a whopping 111 strikes in his last bout. Villanueva could win his debut by knockout, or by decision if he can outmaneuver Sherman.
Glover Teixeira ($7,200)
Clearly a great value in this spot, Teixeira (30-7) will have a chance to go up to 5 rounds with wily veteran Anthony Smith (32-14). Both fighters are known as submission specialists to a degree, and the 40-year-old Teixeira is a slight underdog with +150 odds at DK Sportsbook. But his striking rates are very similar to Smith’s and he has a much higher takedown rate (2.00 per 15 minutes), which gives him plenty of potential in a lengthy fight.
In Teixeira’s 12 UFC victories, 10 have gone the distance. The Brazilian went 3-0 last year and recorded a pair of early submissions, but Smith is unlikely to tap out early. The conservative approach of both fighters makes Teixeira a great Cash play at a low price tag.