This article is part of our FanDuel MMA series.
DFS players have only a few days to catch their breath after UFC 251, as the organization will make the quick turnaround and hold its second event on Fight Island in the United Arab Emirates on June 15. While favorites largely dominated this weekend, Wednesday's card looks to be one in which the variance could be much higher, so players should be on the lookout for places to take shots. As always, fighters in this article will be listed in order from most to least desirable among the given choices.
One final note before we begin: here's a refresher on the scoring. If you're looking for general strategy tips, I wrote a FanDuel 101 article prior to UFC Brasilia on March 14, though there have been a few minor scoring changes since then that I've noted below.
Moves Scoring (MVP 1.5X)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.9 PTS
Takedown (TD): +9 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): +4.5 PTS
Submission Attempt (SA): +7.5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +18 PTS
Moves Scoring (Standard)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.6 PTS
Takedown (TD): +6 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): 3
Submission Attempt (SA): 5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +12 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (MVP 1.5X)
1st Round Win (1stW): +150 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +112.5 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +75 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +52.5 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +37.5 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +30 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (Standard)
1st Round Win (1stW): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +75 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +35 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +25 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +20 PTS
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Oh Captain, my Captain
Best Play: Calvin Kattar ($22)
It's easy to become jaded when your job is to research 10 or more fights per week, but I can say without hyperbole that it's a great joy to watch Calvin Kattar work his magic inside the cage. "Boston Strong" might be the best pure boxer in the organization right now, throwing long combinations and mixing up his strikes so the opponent never knows what's coming. With this comes the range awareness you would expect from a boxer, which helps him keep safe inside the Octagon. Dan Ige has more of a traditional wrestle/boxer pressure game but leaves himself open to be hit far too much to pick him to survive in this kind of matchup.
Abdul Razak Alhassan is known for his athleticism and crushing power inside the cage, having finished all of his 10 wins in the first round. Mounir Lazzez has a lot of physicality to his game and swings big, powerful shots in his own right, but his tendency to get backed into the cage should spell disaster in this matchup.
Khamzat Chimaev works a masterful control game once he is able to get the opponent to the ground. Far from a lay-and-pray artist, Chimaev has a perfect record of finishes (three KO/TKOs, three submissions) fortifying the 6-0 start to his MMA career. John Phillips can put down any man on the planet if he catches him with one of his big hooks, but we've already seen a wrestler make quick work of the SBG product in Charles Byrd. While this is a binary fight, I expect Chimaev to find the stoppage more often than not.
Aaron Phillips' game is nothing short of chaotic. He has the semblance of a pressure kickboxing style but doesn't react well to strikes and often finds himself leaping into the pocket and forcing a clinch situation. Unfortunately for Phillips, this is where Jack Shore makes his money. The 25-year-old has finished seven of his 12 wins by submission and landed four takedowns in his UFC debut. It took Shore until Round 3 to get that finish, but Nohelin Hernandez is infinitely more talented than someone like Phillips, who actually fought twice in the UFC way back in 2014. I predict an unwelcome return on Fight Island.
Best Option: Ricardo Ramos ($17)
Save for one spectacularly flat performance against Said Nurmagomedov, Ricardo Ramos has used his size, power striking, and jiujitsu skills to win every fight he's had in the UFC. Lerone Murphy is an athletic fighter with some length who has utilized leg kicks well in the past, but he gets taken down far too often for me to favor him in a matchup with someone so dangerous on the mat.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Cody Stamann is an interesting fight, as Stamann fought just last month, taking a three-round decision against Brian Kelleher. This is notable, as the muscle-bound Stamann has been known to slow down late in fights. Stamann often relies on mixing a wrestling game with heavy shots to scare his opponent out of the pocket, but Rivera is a strong grappler in his own right and good enough defensively that he should be able to use his speed and leg kicks to get the job done.
It's incredibly difficult to watch Liana Jojua's fight with Sarah Moras and doubt that Diana Belbita will be able to use her pressure and physicality in much the same way. Jojua isn't quite dangerous enough anywhere to be able to scare Belbita off of a game plan, which should result in the 24-year-old having a comfortable fight wherever the bout takes place.
Best Option: Chris Fishgold ($15)
Chris Fishgold and Jared Gordon are only separated in price by one dollar, which would usually relegate this fight to the "fish nor fowl" section, but I see some marked advantages for Fishgold here which has me picking him outright. Gordon came into the organization as a cardio and wrestling machine, but we have seen both of those skills dissipate over time. Gordon's current form seems to be that of a some-time wrestler who can have a pace pushed on him, though will still pressure in spots. It must also be mentioned that he tends to be very hittable as he enters the pocket. This should allow Fishgold to work his own pressure boxing and wrestling game with enough power to make Gordon pay for his lack of defense.
Ryan Benoit has had lackluster performances in the past due to his desire to hang back and play a counter striking game, but that's the exact kind of style that should pay dividends against Tim Elliott. Elliott tries to overwhelm opponents with wrestling and pressure striking but has been hit incredibly hard in recent fights due to his lack of defense. Benoit has been submitted in two of his six losses, but has a solid takedown defense rate (64 percent) and should have a strength advantage here.
I'll be the first to admit that Andreas Michailidis is somewhat limited as a fighter, but I can't find a justification for such an exaggerated line in favor of Modestas Bukauskas. To be sure, Bukauskas is light on his feet and looks to throw in combination, but he has also been taken down almost at will in his Cage Warriors fights and backs himself into the fence quite regularly, which should give Michailidis a chance to employ a pressure counter striking game. For my money, this is a fight where neither man is without warts, as Michailidis can be outworked, but it's the kind of fight where value can be found on the dog.
Neither Fish nor Fowl
Molly McCann ($14) has come a long way in her short UFC career. While she has always had terrific boxing skills, she showed in her most recent bout against Belbita that she can wrestle, as well. I just don't see this being a skill she will be able to employ against Taila Santos ($15), a skilled grappler who will come into this fight with a whopping six-inch reach advantage. The smothering pressure of McCann has a chance to negate that length advantage on the feet, but Santos is athletic and powerful enough that I see her taking over the fight at some point.
Here is your fun fact for the day: Jorge Gonzalez ($14) is a 21-fight veteran who has gone to the second round in a professional MMA fight exactly one time. That happened 11 months ago. With a resume like that, it's a veritable certainty that this fight will finish inside the distance, but will he come out on top? Gonzalez isn't exactly flat-footed in the cage, it's more like he just walks after his opponent and throws big hooks. When they connect, he gets a knockout. When they don't, he generally finds himself on the wrong side of the equation. That seems to suggest he will be in trouble against Kenneth Bergh ($17), who will be faster, a better combination striker, and work a dedicated wrestling game. So why am I hesitating? Bergh gets hit far more often than someone with the attributes I just described probably should, and the power of Gonzalez is very real. I'm taking Bergh because skills win fights when it's all said and done, but whoever gets the nod here will almost certainly score well, so choose wisely.