This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Talk about an unlikely main event. Who would have ever imagined Hermansson and Cannonier headlining a UFC card even 12 months ago? Yet, the two have managed to win a combined six fights in a row (several over high-profile opponents), and the victor here will find himself right in the title conversation at 185 pounds.
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 - Middleweight
Fresh off wins over Ronaldo Souza and David Branch in less than the span of a month, Hermansson suddenly finds himself as one of the division's more marketable and effective fighters. A native of Sweden who currently lives and trains in Norway, "The Joker" recently signed a brand new six-fight deal with the UFC in July. Hermansson definitely has power in his hands and a decent submission game, but what I have been most impressed with is his cardio and pace. He's constantly moving, and starts quickly to ensure his opposition isn't able to get into a groove early in the fight. The beating he put on Jacare was a thing of beauty. Hermansson remains a virtual unknown to casual fans, but he's legitimately one of the very best 185-ers on the planet.
Not to be outdone, Branch enters coming off knockout wins over David Branch and all-time-great Anderson Silva. Cannonnier is massive for the division, which shouldn't really come as a surprise. After all, this is a guy who began his UFC run at heavyweight and spent the vast majority of his time with the company at light heavyweight. He's been fighting at middleweight for less than a year. Cannonier's explosiveness is exceptional. Human beings as big and strong as the "Killa Gorilla" (still my favorite nickname out there) shouldn't be able to move as quickly and powerfully as Cannonier does. Not saying he's on the same level, but Jared is a bit similar to Yoel Romero in that respect.
The fact this is a five-rounder would definitely appear to favor Hermansson. That's not to say Cannonier's cardio is poor, but Hermansson keeps an elite-level pace. I don't think he's going to win, but I have time for Cannonier at such a low salary, particularly if you are the type to enter multiple DraftKings lineups. He a fine option to fill out the bottom half of your roster at just $7,000. He's been plenty impressive of late, and Hermansson doesn't have a long track record of success. That being said, I like "The Joker" to take this one.
THE PICK: Hermansson
Co-Main Event - Welterweight
Nelson is a true enigma. Blessed with some of the best submission skills in the sport and deceptively strong, Gunnar is somehow a .500 fighter (4-4) over the past five years. He has alternated wins and losses in his last four bouts and is coming off a split decision setback against the surging Leon Edwards in March. Nelson's fights are often defined by a lack of urgency. He tends to start slowly and you can't do that in a three-round bout. To give you an idea of how uncomfortable Nelson is on the feet, he lands just 1.76 significant strikes per minute. That's about the lowest number you will ever see from a solid fighter. Every second these two men stand at distance swings the tide in Burns' favor.
Burns is in for an injured Thiago Alves on roughly two weeks notice. Always one of the more active fighters on the UFC roster, the Brazilian is sporting a 5-1 record dating back to September 2017, with his only loss in that span coming against the talented Dan Hooker. Burns is a big, strong guy with an excellent ground game. He would be wise to keep this fight on the feet, but he's not slouch on the mat. He should have a substantial strength advantage over Nelson.
We've all probably overrated Nelson from the very start. I thought he would roll over Alves, but Burns is a considerably more difficult mark. He's younger, more athletic, and far more powerful (these days) than the fellow Brazilian he is replacing. I've gone back and forth on this pick, and when I can't decide who to take I always go with the fighter who provides the best combination of salary relief and in this case, that's Nelson. I'm worried about his inconsistency and how he will handle the athleticism of Burns, but he seems about as likely as any underdog on this card to pull the upset. If you're a mass DraftKings player I'd advise using both men in your lineups at some point.
THE PICK: Nelson
Desperate for a strong rebound performance following a submission setback to Glover Teixeira in April, Cutelaba gets ready to step into the Octagon for the third time in the past 14 months. Cutelaba has done his best work on the feet, but he would be wise to lean on his ground game here. He's a solid wrestler (1.64 takedowns averaged per 15 minutes) and Rountree's takedown defense is a poor 52 percent. Cutelaba won't turn 26 years old until December, but his tendency to struggle against better competition is a major concern moving forward.
Rountree rebounded from a quick knockout loss to the hands of rising star Johnny Walker to take a unanimous decision from Eryk Anders in April. Anders is legitimately talented, so it was a nice victory for Rountree. The 29-year-old is an exceptional athlete. He moves well and has power. That being said, I am a tad bit worried about Rountree's ability to compete in anything other than an extending kickboxing match. He possess the upper-body strength to control his opposition in the clinch and along the fence, but he is much more effective at distance.
This has a chance to be an entertaining bout. I'm curious to see if Cutelaba goes away from his biggest strength – his power – because he thinks he will have a significant advantage over Khalil on the mat. Cutelaba has a definite path to victory if his takedowns are landing, but he needs to stick with them even if his first few attempts fail. Rountree is the far quicker fighter of the two and brings significantly more athleticism to the table, so he's my selection.
THE PICK: Rountree
A former winner of The Ultimate Fighter and rising contender, Chiasson has won her first two official UFC bouts via knockout in just over a combined total of four minutes. Macy won her season of TUF at featherweight, but she looks even more comfortable at 135 pounds. I'm really, really interested in seeing what Chiasson can do against a high-level opponent. I'm not quite sure I would put Lansberg in that category, but Lina fights with a physicality that Macy has yet to see during her time with the company. Chiasson, who turned 27 years old in July, is not a kid and has just five pro fights under her belt, so the UFC might want to push her quicker than perhaps they should if she were a bit younger.
Lansberg is fresh off a dominant unanimous decision win over the uber-tough Tonya Evinger in June. The Swede excels in brawls. She's a pure striker and willing to eat a punch in order to land one. It's a questionable strategy for a woman who is now 37 years old and has displayed a questionable chin in the past, but there's zero reason to think Lansberg will change up her style of fighting this late in her career.
Knowing Lansberg's preference to strike, I'm curious if Chiasson attempts to lean on her wrestling. She hasn't displayed much in that area during her brief time with the company, but Lansberg's takedown defense is dreadful (42 percent) and she would be severely limited offensively from her back. Chiasson's massive salary is a bit much for me to swallow given how exceedingly comfortable Lansberg is in a brawl, but this is an easy pick. I have very little interest in Lansberg even at her heavily-discounted price. I just don't see much short or long-term upside to her game.
THE PICK: Chiasson
Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-2-0, 1NC) v. Ovince Saint Preux (23-13-0)
DK Salaries: Oleksiejczuk ($9,100), Saint Preux ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Oleksiejczuk (-230), Saint Preux (+190)
Odds to Finish: -385
THE PICK: Oleksiejczcuk
Siyar Bahadurzada (24-7-1) v. Ismail Naurdiev (18-3-0)
DK Salaries: Bahadaurzada ($7,200), Naurdiev ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Bahadurzada (+160), Naurdiev (-185)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: Naurdiev