This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The fourth and final event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas features an exceptional fight and one I expect to be highly competitive. These are two of the top lightweights in the world and either man could vault themselves into the immediate title conversation with a strong performance.
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 $600,000 MMA Throwdown Special with $150,000 to first place. 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 - Lightweight
Poirier parlayed a three-fight win streak over Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez into an interim 155-pound title bout against Max Holloway in April 2019. Dustin won that fight in dominating fashion before being routed by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the unification bout five months later. He hasn't fought since. Poirier's move from featherweight up to lightweight back in 2015 may have very well saved his career. He's a big, physical fighter and the extra ten pounds on his frame is a big advantage for a power puncher. Poirier had all sorts of trouble with Khabib's wrestling, but that's not Hooker's game. This should be a stand-up affair, and those are the fights Poirier excels in.
That being said, Hooker is no easy mark. He's massive (6-foot) for the division and has exceptional power of his own. Hooker is 7-1 in his past eight bouts dating back to June 2017, with his only setback during that span being a knockout at the hands of Edson Barboza in a fight in which he appeared out of sorts from the very start. Hooker is coming off back-to-back decision victories over Paul Felder (split) and Al Iaquinta (unanimous). Poirier is the better wrestler of the two (1.55 takedowns averaged per 15 minutes), but Hooker's takedown defense is a solid 78 percent. Dan definitely has a chance for as long as this fight remains upright.
Both of these men excel in brawls, and I think that's where this fight is headed. If that is indeed the case, I think that's a plus for Hooker just a tad. This is a legitimate pick 'em as far as I'm concerned and the massive discount Hooker provides at such a cheap salary is just too much for me to ignore. I'm taking him in an upset. I'd be surprised if either man is run out of the Apex on Saturday. This should be a tight one.
THE PICK: Hooker
Co-Main Event - Welterweight
Perry remains a popular fighter because of his attitude and ridiculous durability, but the results of late have been ugly. Perry is 2-5 in his past seven fights dating back to December 2017 and is fresh off back-to-back losses to Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal. I wouldn't term it terribly likely but there's a non-zero chance Perry could be sent packing if he no-shows against Gall. Perry is a pure striker. He relies on power and his chin to be successful. He's the type of fighter who will eat a strike in order to land two of his own, and that style is unsustainable against better competition. Perry is going to have a clear edge in the power department, but he has no ground game to speak of, and Gall excels in that area.
Gall is quickly aging out of prospect territory. He turned 28 years old this past January, and the results thus far have been mixed. Gall has alternated wins and losses in his past five fights. He hasn't faced great opposition, and some of his performances have been concerning. For example, his knockout loss to Diego Sanchez back in March 2019 was a real issue. I believe in Gall's grappling skills, but I have serious questions about the rest of the package. He enters this one in better shape than Perry simply because he is coming off a victory (unanimous decision over Salim Touahri last August), but I haven't seen much reason to be excited here.
This breakdown is pretty straightforward. Perry is going to have an advantage for as long as this one remains on the feet, and Gall will have the advantage on the mat. I'd actually argue there is a larger gap in the ground games between the two (edge, Gall) than the striking (edge, Perry), but it's much, much harder to predict a submission than a knockout. I'm going with Perry due to Gall's inconsistencies, but I'm not confident about it. He seems overpriced from a DraftKings perspective. I'd feel much better about using Perry if he was $300-$400 cheaper.
THE PICK: Perry
Long on physical ability and short on production, Villante will be moving up to heavyweight for the first time in nearly a decade. It seems unlikely to help. but Villante had completely stalled at 205 pounds, so it's worth a shot. The story on Gian remains the same. He was an All-American wrestler in high school and an All-American football player in college, but he refuses to wrestle, instead preferring to stand and bang against his opposition. If you watch Villante fight, it's nearly impossible to believe he's a world-class athlete. He exhibits zero footwork or movement, and his cardio is poor.
Greene might need a victory to save his job. The soon-to-be 34-year-old began his UFC run with three straight victories but has since fell victim to back-to-back stoppage defeats at the hands of Sergey Pavlovich (knockout) and Aleksei Oleinik (submission). The attractiveness regarding Greene is his sheer size. It's increasingly rare to find any fighter who checks in at 6-foot-7. Greene also has one of the best nicknames in the sport in "The Crochet Boss", but that seems unlikely to help him Saturday night.
Villante is a big dude, but he's giving up four inches in both the height and reach department. Greene doesn't have much power for a man his size, but I don't trust Villante to tailor his game plan to any one specific opponent. I'm really hesitant to pull the plug on Gian completely, but he will be 35 years old in mid-August and it's become quite clear this is the fighter he is. Toss in the fact he's competing in a new weight class, and I'm going to take Greene. I'm not overly confident about the selection, as this fight would seem to have a wide array of potential outcomes.
THE PICK: Greene
Pena has fought a bit better than his 4-2 record with the company would lead you to believe. He has won three of his past four fights, and both of his losses with the UFC have come via split decision. The main concern up to this point is that Pena hasn't faced anyone of note yet in his young career. He also doesn't have one elite trait to fall back on. Pena is fairly athletic and most certainly massive (6-foot-3) for the lightweight division, but he doesn't have a ton of power and he's not a BJJ wizard. He's a prospect due to his size and age (27 years old next month), but I don't see a future top contender at this point.
Worthy made his UFC debut last August, knocking out Devonte Smith in just over four minutes. What you see is what you get with "The Deathstar". Worthy is a pure boxer with legitimate power. Nine of his 15 career victories having come via knockout. Although he has just one fight with the UFC, Worthy has faced far better competition. Over the course of his career. He fought current/former UFC fighters Billy Quarantillo, Matt Bessette and Kyle Nelson on the regional circuit, in addition to facing top lightweight contender Paul Felder in his third professional fight way back in December 2012. Felder won that fight via knockout in 70 seconds.
Pena is four inches taller and nearly seven years younger than Worthy. That's extremely significant in a fight in which Worthy's power is the greatest single attribute either fighter has. This sets up similarly to the Perry/Gall bout for me. I think you have to take Pena given the youth, but I like Worthy at his price tag. That power is real, and Pena has been inconsistent.
THE PICK: Pena
Women's Flyweight Mara Romero Borella (12-8-0, 2NC) v. Miranda Maverick (7-2-0) DK Salaries: Borella ($7,100), Maverick ($9,100) Vegas Odds: Borella (+250), Maverick (-300) Odds to Finish: +100 THE PICK: Maverick