This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC heads to Canada (aka Hawaii's 10th island) on Saturday, where Max Holloway will move back down to featherweight to defend his belt against one of the company's longest-tenured veterans. DraftKings is mixing up their GPP offerings for the pay-per-view slate, offering a new $20 option in addition to several qualifiers for the $25 241 Special in August.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Featherweight Championship
If it first (and second) you don't succeed, try, try again. This will be the third try at this matchup after attempts at both UFC 218 and UFC 222 failed due to injuries.
Holloway's 12-fight win streak and his quest to become a two-division champion came to a screeching halt when he dropped a clear-cut unanimous decision to Dustin Poirier in April. Max looked uncomfortable and out of sorts for the first time in well over five years. He struggled with the size and physicality of Poirier, and I imagine he will look much better back at his natural weight of 145 pounds. Holloway's 5-foot-11 frame is much more advantageous at featherweight as opposed to lightweight.
Edgar has been a good solider for the company for a long time so it's difficult to get too upset about this fight, even if Alexander Volkanovski is probably more deserving of the opportunity. Frankie is coming off an easy unanimous decision win over Cub Swanson in April 2018. It was an excellent and much-needed bounceback effort for Edgar on the heels of his first career stoppage loss at the hands of Brian Ortega just five weeks earlier. When Max is at his best, he relies upon footwork and combinations and the same can be said of Frankie. The issue here for Edgar is that he will have to come up with some way to negate the five-inch height edge Holloway has. Frankie's cardio is as good as it gets, and I wouldn't be surprised if he starts slowly in this fight in order to time Holloway's range before exploding in the later rounds.
I'm not dismissing the Poirier loss outright, but Holloway was competing in a weight class he hadn't seen in more than seven years, and I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. He's been untouchable at featherweight for the past six years. Holloway is impossible to pick against at 145 pounds at this point, but Edgar makes for an interesting DraftKings play. We know he can match Max's cardio, and we know he has been in plenty of big fights and won't beat himself. I'm taking Holloway by decision, but I think Frankie makes this is a closer fight than most people, and the DraftKings salaries/betting odds, would lead you to believe.
THE PICK: Holloway
Co-Main Event - Women's Featherweight
Cyborg is an immense draw whenever she fights, but this bout isn't of the same quality as your typical pay-per-view co-main event.
Coming off her shocking knockout setback to Amanda Nunes in December, Cyborg enters Saturday's bout coming off a loss for the first time in nearly 14 years. Supremely confident in both her power and her chin, Cyborg went toe-to-toe with Nunes and paid for it. I expect a different set of circumstances in this fight. Cyborg is one of the most dedicated athletes in the sport and I expect her to come back better than ever. She might be 34 years old, but she has taken very little punishment over the course of her career and she should remain an effective fighter for years to come.
Spencer, the reigning Invicta FC Featherweight Champion, made her UFC debut in May and quickly submitted an overmatched Megan Anderson. Spencer looked excellent, but Anderson's dreadful mat awareness contributed to the finish. Spencer has all the tools to be one of the better 145-pounders on the UFC roster, but beating Cyborg is another matter entirely. I am of the mind that the only way to defeat Cyborg is to beat her up with power shots like Nunes did, and I don't think Spencer has that capability. She has just one knockout win in her career.
This is the final fight of Cyborg's UFC contract and she has already said she plans to meet with different promotions following the conclusion of this bout. I'd obviously be picking her to win anyway, but that little extra motivation to put on a good show as she heads into free agency can't hurt. I don't have any interest in Spencer as an underdog play, but she did the right thing by accepting this fight. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
THE PICK: Cyborg
Geoff Neal (11-2-0) v. Niko Price (13-2-0)
DK Salaries: Neal ($9,000), Price ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Neal (-340), Price (+280)
Odds to Finish: -350
This card gets real thin, real fast, so it's a good idea to get a piece of the main and co-main along with this fight,as well.
Your classic power puncher and a product of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series, Neal has opened his UFC career with three straight victories. Neal is a big, strong guy with a great (5-foot-11) frame for the welterweight division. He's aggressive on the feet, but not to the point of recklessness. I definitely think there's something here, but Neal is set to turn 28 years old next month and there's a legitimate concerns regarding his all-around game.
A relative unknown when he entered the UFC in December 2016, Price has quietly racked up a 5-2 (1NC) record in his first eight bouts with the company. Price has fought frequently, and more often than not, effectively. Like Neal, Price is tall (6-0) for the 170-pound division and relies on his power to be successful. Nine of Price's 13 career wins have come via knockout, including three of his five UFC triumphs.
This thing has Fight of the Night written all over it. It's hard to pick a winner when the two competitors employ virtually an identical style of fighting, but I trust Neal's composure just a bit more than Price's. Niko tends to fight emotionally and get uber-aggressive even when the openings aren't there, and that's a dangerous combination when you're facing a guy with legitimate knockout power like Neal. I'm a little surprised there's such a massive gap in salaries here and I don't have much interest in Neal at such a hefty price tag, but this card is full of unknown fighters and DraftKings owners will have to make a stand somewhere.
THE PICK: Neal
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-4-0) v. Arman Tsarukyan (13-2-0)
DK Salaries: Aubin-Mercier ($7,400), Tsarukyan ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Aubin-Mercier (+170), Tsarukyan (-200)
Odds to Finish: +185
Aubin-Mercier has a cool nickname ("The Canadian Gangsta") and a couple notable wins over the course of his UFC career (Anthony Rocco Martin, Drew Dober), but he has struggled with consistency and enters Saturday's bout the loser of two in a row. OAM is an excellent mat wrestler (eight career submission wins) and very strong for the division, but he has extremely limited power in his hands (one career knockout win) and has a tendency – like most current/former TriStar products – to be a bit sleepy at time inside the Octagon.
Tsarukyan is a legitimate prospect despite dropping his UFC debut in April via unanimous decision to the underrated Islam Makhachev. Makhachev has won five in a row, so I'm inclined to give Tsarukyan a pass for that one. He's an athletic kid with a respectable all-around game and youth (he won't be 23 years of age until October) on his side. Aubin-Mercier is a difficult guy to train for because he often sits back and wait for his opposition to make a mistake, but Tsarukyan is skilled enough to make the Canadian pay if he starts slowly.
One fight into his UFC career, I'm not sure what Tsarukyan has done to be such a big favorite in both the betting odds and DraftKings salaries, but he has an awful big number next to his name everywhere you look. I've been burned by OAM more times than I can count and I'm not going down that road again, but I'd rather use Aubin-Mercier in my fantasy lineups than Tsarukyan. The Russian's potential is undeniable and I'm picking him outright, but I need to see a strong performance before inserting him into my lineups at such a high salary.
THE PICK: Tsarukyan
Krzysztof Jotko (20-4-0) v. Marc-Andre Barriault (11-2-0)
DK Salaries: Jotko ($8,700), Barriault ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Jotko (-160), Barriault (+140)
Odds to Finish: +105
Exactly one (unsuccessful) fight into his UFC career, Barriault finds himself on the main card of a pay-per-view. Did I mention this card is thin? Barriault made his company debut in May, dropping a unanimous decision to Andrew Sanchez. The 29-year-old had spent his entire five-plus year career prior to the Sanchez bout competing on the Canadian regional circuit. He has neither fought, nor beaten, anyone of note in his time in mixed martial arts.
I had high hopes for Jotko at one point not all that long ago, but a three-fight losing streak from May 2017 to April 2018 eliminated any hopes he may have had about joining the title picture at 185 pounds. Jotko snapped that losing streak with a unanimous decision victory over Alen Amedovski in April. He has some pop in his hands and moves fairly well, but Jotko has been undone by a poor chin and his inability to win big fights.
I really wish I could tell you with any sort of confidence what is going to happen in this fight. I definitely think Jotko is the better fighter, but I'm basing that off the fact he has faced considerably better competition over the course of his career and the fact we have seen Barriault in the Octagon for all of 15 minutes. It's a dangerously small sample size. Barriault is going to get a significant boost fighting in his home country, but it's not enough for me to pick him.
THE PICK: Jotko
Alexis Davis (19-9-0) v. Viviane Araujo (7-1-0)
DK Salaries: Davis ($7,100), Araujo ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Davis (+210), Araujo (-250)
Odds to Finish: +155
THE PICK: Araujo
Hakeem Dawodu (9-1-1) v. Yoshinori Horie (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Dawodu ($9,300), Horie ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Dawodu (-400), Horie (+325)
Odds to Finish: -150
THE PICK: Dawodu
Gavin Tucker (10-1-0) v. Seung Woo Choi (7-2-0)
DK Salaries: Tucker ($8,400), Choi ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Tucker (-125), Choi (+105)
Odds to Finish: +165
THE PICK: Tucker
Alexandre Pantoja (21-3-0) v. Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1-0)
DK Salaries: Pantoja ($8,300), Figueiredo ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Pantoja (-125), Figueiredo (+105)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Figueiredo
Gillian Robertson (6-3-0) v. Sarah Frota (9-1-0)
DK Salaries: Robertson ($8,600), Frota ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Robertson (-130), Frota (+110)
Odds to Finish: -245
THE PICK: Robertson
Erik Koch (15-6-0) v. Kyle Stewart (11-2-0)
DK Salaries: Koch ($8,000), Stewart ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Koch (-105), Stewart (-115)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Koch
Heavyweight Tanner Boser (16-5-1) v. Giacomo Lemos (6-0-0) DK Salaries: Boser ($8,500), Lemos ($7,700) Vegas Odds: Boser (-170), Lemos (+150) Odds to Finish: -230 THE PICK: Boser