This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The busy UFC schedule continues with a trip to Norfolk, offering a slate that contains multiple ex-champions and several title contenders, in addition to some of the most exciting veterans on the roster.
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 - LightweightDustin Poirier (21-5-0, 1NC) v. Anthony Pettis (20-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Poirier ($8,000), Pettis ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Poirier (+105), Pettis (-125)
Odds to Finish: -215
This right here is a nice bit of matchmaking by Sean Shelby and it figures to provide an action-packed main event on Saturday. The winner will be in good shape moving forward, the loser, not so much.
We'll start with Pettis. I have been highly critical of Showtime in the past two-plus years. A guy that was viewed as one of the better pound-for-pound fighters in the sport has seemingly forgotten everything that made his successful in the first place. He looked better in his last fight against Jim Miller in July and is 2-1 in his last three bouts, but beating Miller doesn't tell us anything in regards to how Pettis would handle top competition at 155 pounds. Pettis' struggles could be nothing more than a mental block and lack of confidence. I highly doubt that at 30 years of age his athletic ability has suddenly evaporated on him. If he keeps reacting in the cage as opposed to thinking too much, I see no reason he shouldn't have continued success.
The Diamond is coming off a wacky no-contest against former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez in May. Poirier had won five of six fights prior to the Alvarez bout and the one setback was a first-round KO at the hands of Michael Johnson in which Poirier appeared to me to be too amped up and ultimately paid the price for it. Poirier isn't the athlete that Pettis is (few, if any, are), but I would term him above-average in that area and I think he moves well enough to keep Showtime off balance. Poirier excels in brawls. He loves to bang and he has the power to finish fights. If this one gets wild and crazy, it's to his advantage.
The question in this fight is whether the improvements we saw from Pettis in the Miller fight were legitimate or if that was simply a case of facing a weaker opponent. Pettis looked so bad prior that I'm not entirely convinced that he is right yet. A win over Poirier would tell us a ton, but Poirier is not the guy you want to be facing if you are hesitant because he will pick you apart. I'll believe it when I see it.
THE PICK: Poirier
Co-Main Event - WelterweightMatt Brown (22-16-0) v. Diego Sanchez (29-10-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Brown ($9,400), Sanchez ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Brown (-350), Sanchez (+280)
Odds to Finish: -195
If you are looking for a technical, educated fight, this is not going to be the one for you. The UFC is seeking maximum entertainment value in a bout between two guys who have zero regard for their own well being. It should be quite entertaining. And it is made all the most interesting due to the fact that Brown announced he would be retiring after the fight.
Brown has lost three in a row and five of his last six. He actually looked better than he has in quite a while in his loss to Donald Cerrone last December, but he ultimately still ended up getting finished with a vicious head kick. Brown still lands at quite a clip (3.76 significant strikes per minute), but he has shown no ability to defend himself. Part of that is due to his aggressive style of fighting, but at some point a fighter must change up the game plan in order to pick up a win here and there.
Sanchez has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, although he lasted all of 98 seconds in a KO loss to Al Iaquinta in April. Diego has been nothing more than an average fighter throughout the course of his UFC career, but he is popular and is fights are always highly entertaining and thus he has never been at any real risk of losing his job. Sanchez puts his head down, bites down on his mouthpiece, and pushes forward, regardless of the consequences. As long as you don't expect too much in terms of technicality, Diego still has a lot to offer in his fights.
I would be shocked to see this fight go the distance. I'm taking Brown and that's only because he looked better in his last fight than Diego did in his. It's often impossible to pick a winner when both combatants disregard all strategy every single time they step into the cage. I would never use Brown at $9,400. It's an insane salary for a guy that has been far from stellar of late. Perhaps Brown also gets a boost due to the fact he knows he is walking away and can leave it all in the cage, but there is no way to know that for sure.
THE PICK: Brown
HeavyweightAndrei Arlovski (25-15-0, 1NC) v. Junior Albini (14-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Arlovski ($7,300), Albini ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Arlovski (+260), Albini (-345)
Odds to Finish: -460
My apologies in advance because this is going to be more of a rant as to why Arlovski should no longer be fighting for the UFC as opposed to any real analysis. The 38-year-old former UFC Heavyweight Champion is currently riding a 5-fight losing streak in which he has been knocked out three times, submitted once, and dropped a lopsided unanimous decision. Granted, three of the five losses have come against some of the best competition in the world (Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, Alistair Overeem), but there is less than no reason to believe that Arlovski has anything left in the tank. At his best, Arlovski was a technical, powerful striker. He doesn't have the footwork or speed to get into advantageous positions on the feet anymore.
Albini made his UFC debut in July and earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his knockout win over Tim Johnson. The Brazilian is well-rounded, currently riding a 10-fight winning streak and has 11 first-round finishes in his career. Albini is also young enough (26) that it is realistic to expect improvement moving forward. He remains a relative unknown at the highest level, but this sure seems like a positive match for Albini.
I am quite frankly shocked that UFC President Dana White has not pulled the plug on Arlovski. There is enough depth in the division that there is no reason to keep running guys out there who are clearly washed up. My pick of Albini is nothing more than a total lack of confidence in The Pit Bull.
THE PICK: Albini
BantamweightJohn Dodson (20-8-0) v. Marlon Moraes (18-5-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Dodson ($8,300), Moraes ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Dodson (-115), Moraes (-105)
Odds to Finish: +145
This is the fight on the card that I am personally looking forward to the most. This will be Dodson's third fight since moving up to bantamweight. He is 2-1 during the brief run and the loss was to John Lineker via split decision in a fight in which Lineker missed weight. Dodson's biggest asset when he competed at flyweight was his power, and he possess enough thunder in his hands for that to be an impact weapon at bantamweight as well. The downside is that Dodson, at 5-foot-3, is small for the division.
Moraes won the WSOF Bantamweight Championship in March 2014 and successfully defended the title six times before jumping to the UFC in April. He made his promotional debut in June, dropping a split decision to Raphael Assuncao in a fight in which he may very well have deserved to win. Long viewed as one of the top fighters in the world that was not signed to the UFC, Moraes is a Black belt in Muay Thai and a Brown belt in BJJ. He has eight career wins by knockout and five by submission. In summary, he's a terrific fighter who does many things well. I remain optimistic about Moraes despite the setback against a very tough customer in Assuncao
The fact that Moraes has proven to be durable over the years is the main reason he is my selection. The Brazilian has been stopped by strikes just twice in his pro career and they both came in a two-month span in his third and fourth career fights nearly a decade ago. Moraes is the bigger, more physical fighter and if he can withstand the power of Dodson, which is his biggest weapon, I think he stands a good chance of emerging with his first UFC victory. Both the odds and DraftKings salaries, as expected, lead you to believe this will be a close, competitive fight.
THE PICK: Moraes
MiddleweightNate Marquardt (38-18-2) v. Cezar Ferreira (12-6-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Marquardt ($7,100), Ferreira ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Marquardt (+230), Ferreira (-285)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: Ferreira
BantamweightRaphael Assuncao (25-5-0) v. Matthew Lopez (10-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Assuncao ($9,300), Lopez ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Assuncao (-330), Lopez (+270)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Assuncao
LightweightJoe Lauzon (27-14-0) v. Clay Guida (33-14-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lauzon ($8,100), Guida ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Lauzon (+105), Guida (-125)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Guida
Women's StrawweightTatiana Suarez (5-0-0) v. Viviane Pereira (13-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Suarez ($9,200), Pereira ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Suarez (-290), Pereira (+225)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: Suarez
LightweightSage Northcutt (8-2-0) v. Michel Quinones (8-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Northcutt ($8,500), Quinones ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Northcutt (-170), Quinones (+140)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Northcutt
Women's StrawweightAngela Hill (7-3-0) v. Nina Ansaroff (7-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Hill ($9,000), Ansaroff ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Hill (-180), Ansaroff (+165)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Hill
WelterweightCourt McGee (19-6-0) v. Sean Strickland (18-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: McGee ($7,500), Strickland ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: McGee (+200), Strickland (-260)
Odds to Finish: +135
THE PICK: Strickland
Light HeavyweightJake Collier (10-4-0) v. Marcel Fortuna (9-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Collier ($7,600), Fortuna ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Collier (+190), Fortuna (-235)
Odds to Finish: -175
THE PICK: Fortuna
MiddleweightDarren Stewart (7-1-0, 1NC) v. Karl Roberson (5-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Stewart ($7,400), Roberson ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Stewart (+180), Roberson (-220)
Odds to Finish: -170
THE PICK: Roberson