This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
With UFC 249 in the past, the first of two UFC Fight Night events at the same location in Jacksonville is set to take place this Wednesday on ESPN+. DFS sites are once again rolling out the red carpet with MMA being one of the only shows in town.
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, including a $100,000 top prize in the MMA Mid-Week Melee, which features $400,000 in guaranteed prizes. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
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 - Light Heavyweight
This fight was originally scheduled to take place in late-April, so having it happen a couple weeks later shouldn't impact either man in any way.
Smith's rise to a legitimate contender in the light heavyweight division is one of the best stories in all of MMA over the past several years. After bouncing between countless promotions, Smith joined the UFC in February 2016. He racked up a 7-2 record and earned a shot at Jon Jones's UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in March of 2019. Smith was blown out of the water in that fight and only saw the final bell due to super-human toughness, but he rebounded to submit perennial top contender Alexander Gustafsson three months later. Smith openly stated he didn't want to take that fight so quickly, but it was a bout he ultimately couldn't pass it. He made the correct decision.
Teixeira looked just about done as recently as a year and a half ago but has somehow rebounded to run off a three-fight win streak. The victories came against quality opposition (Karl Roberson, Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov), but none of those opponents are in the same class as Smith. Glover's issue throughout the course of his long career has been that he has always struggled to win the big fight. An argument can be made that the five biggest fights of Teixeira's career came against Jones, Gustafsson, Anthony Johnson, Corey Anderson and Phil Davis, and he lost all of them. Glover keeps himself in excellent shape despite being 40 years of age, so he can probably fight for another couple years if he wishes, but this figures to be his last chance to impact the title picture at 205 pounds.
I alluded earlier to the toughness and durability of Smith, and I think that will play a major factor in this fight. Glover still has power and I imagine he will land plenty of those shots due to Smith's aggressive style of fighting, but I have far more confidence in Smith's ability to survive whatever Teixeira throws his way offensively.
Smith's price is inflated, and rightfully so. Still, I wouldn't be crazy about using him at $9K. That being said, I'd rather run Smith out there than Glover. This seems like a bad matchup for Teixeira, and I'd look elsewhere for my salary relief.
THE PICK: Smith
Co-Main Even - Heavyweight
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced opponent changes for both Rothwell and OSP. Rothwell was originally scheduled to face Gian Villante in Brooklyn, while Saint Preux was due to fight Ion Cutelaba on the original card headlined by Smith and Teixeira.
The big news in this fight is the fact OSP will be moving up to heavyweight. Saint Preux had been spinning his wheels at 205 pounds for quite a while, so the move makes sense. OSP began his UFC run with four-straight victories, but he's a .500 fighter (8-8) since. Saint Preux's biggest asset is his athleticism. As a former Division I college football player at the University of Tennessee, OSP possesses the explosiveness you would expect from a high-level collegiate athlete. While that's all well and good, Saint Preux is not an elite mixed martial artist. He will display flashes of brilliance but still makes plenty of mistakes, and he just turned 37 years old this past April.
Rothwell looks like he's just about done at age 38. He could have easily been released following three-straight losses to Junior Dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov and Andrei Arlovski, but the UFC decided to give Rothwell another opportunity against Stefan Struve in December. Rothwell ended up winning via TKO, but he decked Struve with a pair of illegal low blows and was docked a point by referee Dan Miragliotta for the second one. For those who remember, this was the fight in which Miragliotta caught a ton of flack for telling Struve he was winning the fight and encouraging him to continue. He did, and he lost.
I'm worried about OSP moving forward and really don't want to pick him in his first fight in a new division, but he has such an athleticism edge over Rothwell that I'm going to take him. I do have moderate interest in Rothwell as an underdog and I can't believe I'm saying that in 2020. He has such a huge size advantage that it's impossible to ignore entirely. Any Rothwell victory will almost certainly have to come via knockout and OSP has been knocked out just once – by Jimi Manuwa – in the past decade-plus.
THE PICK: Saint Preux
Hernandez made his UFC debut as a late-notice replacement in March 2018 and shockingly knocked out Beneil Dariush in just 42 seconds. He followed that up with a unanimous-decision victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier before being knocked out by Donald Cerrone. He responded to that loss with a unanimous decision win over Francisco Trinaldo. Hernandez is an interesting prospect. He's young (28 in October), fights physically, and has some pop in his hands. He looked overwhelmed in the Cerrone fight but that was probably just a case of being pushed too quickly. I'm still not convinced Hernandez is a top lightweight but there's definite potential here.
Dober has somehow been with the UFC since way back in November 2013. He was wildly inconsistent during his earlier days with the company but is currently in the midst of his most impressive run to date. Dober is 5-1 in his last six fights dating back to July 2017, with his only setback in that time coming against the previously-mentioned Dariush. Dober is your typical Muay Thai specialist. He has some power, but his biggest strength is stringing together combinations. He's always durable. Dober has been knocked out just once in his 32-fight pro career, and that's a remarkably lower number for a guy who often is involved in senseless brawls. I have little confidence in Dober's ability to defend himself and little confidence in his ability to do anything other than strike, but he's really, really good in that one specific area.
I'm actually quite intrigued for this fight. It probably won't do much for the casual fan, but it should be a highly-entertaining bout between two aggressive guys. One of Dober's biggest issues is the fact he hasn't really beaten anyone good to date. For example, his five wins in this most recent run I previously mentioned came against Nasrat Haqparast, Marco Polo Reyes, Jon Tuck, Frank Camacho and Josh Burkman. Hernandez is considerably better than anyone on that list. I'm going to nab him as a slight underdog in what should be a competitive bout that could go either way.
THE PICK: Hernandez
The UFC would have been well within its rights to move on from Johnson in the midst of a stretch in which he has gone 3-7 in his last 10 bouts dating back to August 2015, but the company has elected to give him one more shot. A stubborn, one-dimensional brawler who is either unable or unwilling to change his game plan on a fight-by-fight basis, Johnson needs to do whatever is necessary to secure a win here. He has a background in wrestling but refuses to use those skills. A few of Johnson's losses have come against top-tier competition (Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje), but he has also lost to fringe fighters such as Darren Elkins and Stevie Ray. Johnson will turn 34 years of age this coming June, and it's difficult to see him going on a run this late in his career.
The good news is that Moises is a very beatable opponent. Johnson was originally scheduled to face Evan Dunham – a crafty, hardened veteran – prior to the pandemic, and the switch to Moises should be good news for Johnson on the surface. Moises has seen the final bell and alternated wins and losses in his first three UFC bouts. The victory came against Kurt Holobaugh, while the setbacks came against Damir Ismagulov and Beneil Dariush. Moises has youth on his side (25 years old) but little else. He had bounced around the regional circuit prior to his arrival in the UFC and has shown little since arriving.
In what figures to be a stand-up affair, Johnson is the owner of a one-inch height and three-inch reach edge. I'm going to pick him here – reluctantly – but I still have very little hope for "The Menace" moving forward. It has become quite clear he will not alter his game plan, and his brawling style isn't going to fly against an opponent with legitimate ability. My pick of Johnson is due to a lack of confidence in Moises, as opposed to anything Johnson has done or I expect him to do in the near future.
THE PICK: Johnson
Chase Sherman (11-6-0) v. Ike Villanueva (16-9-0)
DK Salaries: Sherman ($8,400), Villanueva ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Sherman (-160), Villanueva (+140)
Odds to Finish: -275
THE PICK: Villanueva