If you are interested in a little pre-Super Bowl action this weekend, the UFC is bringing back its traditional fight night before the big game in Las Vegas. DraftKings and FanDuel have UFC Vegas 18 on their slates, although COVID-19 took a big swipe at which fighters are available to choose from. DraftKings alone has a $400,000 contest, with first place walking away with a cool $100,000.
With DraftKings introducing a new scoring system this new MMA season, here are four quick takes on fighters you must consider this weekend if you want a shot at winning the grand prize.
DraftKings MMA Picks:
Alexander Volkov – $8,600
While we should expect to be entertained by the main event between heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov, the fact that Volkov is so cheap not only in DFS at $8,600 but in the sportsbooks at around -190 odds to win is an easy play Saturday.
The matchup might be fun to hype in terms of its significance, but in all reality Overeem might be overwhelmed in this matchup. His popularity is what keeps him in these high profile fights, where his actual fighting record is 3-4 in the last three years.
At 40 years old, Overeem is coming into this matchup against the vastly underrated 6-foot-7 Volkov, who can produce about triple the volume in terms of strikes landed. At a cheap price for almost a sure win inside the distance, Volkov is the easiest play on the slate.
Cory Sandhagen – $9,400
This salary hurts to take in, and no one will blame you for fading this fight between Cory Sandhagen and Frankie Edgar. While Edgar might have the experience and name recognition, Sandhagen is expected to dominate every aspect of this fight.
Looking at the tale of the tape, Sandhagen is five inches taller than Edgar, and almost has a two inch reach advantage. While Edgar might be able to take this fight to the ground, Sandhagen’s pure size advantage will make it hard for Edgar to dictate much of this fight.
In both betting and fantasy, people will be taking shots at Edgar given how massive of an underdog he is. But don’t let that fool you, there is a reason he is such a huge underdog in this one. This is one of the few times it’s easy to eat the salary on Sandhagen.
Manel Kape – $7,900
One of the few underdogs that are expected to win by most experts, the cheaper price tag on Kape with -180 odds for this fight to finish early is another easy pick. This matchup between Alexandre Pantoja and Manel Kape is one of the closest on the card in terms of betting and DFS.
Some sportsbooks have Kape as a betting underdog, especially when this matchup was first announced and put on DraftKings. But some books now have Kape all the way up to -110 odds in winning this fight.
Take the line movement as an obvious sign that Kape is the true favorite in this fight. The biggest advantage to picking Kape is that you won’t be picking his chalkier opponent Pantoja. While Pantoja has had success in his career, he is an easy fade in this matchup when we can get Kape at a cheaper price.
Beneil Dariush – $8,000
In this rematch of a 2014 fight, Beneil Dariush and Diego Ferreira is the closest matchup on the card. With Dariush at a $8,000 salary and Ferreira at $8,200, this fight really could go either way. Ferreira opened up as a slight favorite in the betting lines, but expect a close one here.
Ferreira is on a hot streak, he hasn’t lost a fight since early 2015. We can expect multiple submission attempts from Ferreira, if Dariush lets him take this fight to the mat. Given the fact that Ferreira is on such a hot streak, expect many people to add him to their lineups for only $8,200.
Once people do their research and see Ferreira’s record, he will end up as one of the most owned players on this card. But Dariush is just as likely to win this fight as well, inside the distance nonetheless. Take the lesser owned, cheaper option in this fight.