This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Set your DVRs for a rare Sunday card, where fan favorite "Cowboy" Cerrone will look to get back on the winning track.
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 - WelterweightDonald Cerrone (32-10-0, 1NC) v. Yancy Medeiros (15-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Cerrone ($8,400), Medeiros ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Cerrone (-160), Medeiros (+140)
Odds to Finish: -215
Cerrone's immense popularity continues to earn him main and co-main event spots, and that's a good thing for him considering his efforts inside the cage are deteriorating rapidly. Once known as a fighter that excelled in constantly battering his opposition and controlling the pace of a fight, Cowboy is currently riding a three-fight losing streak and is getting hit more than ever. I have said on numerous occasions that I think Cerrone, even at age 34, would be best served taking an extended period of time of. Of course, he won't even consider that, and Sunday will be Cerrone's fourth fight in just over a year. To make a long story short, I'm not optimistic about a turnaround for Cowboy. I think all the wars that he has been involved in over the years have finally caught up to him.
I'm not all that high on Medeiros, either, but I acknowledge that he has been impressive during his current three-fight winning streak. A fighter that relies on aggressiveness and his boxing skills, Yancy is the exact type of opponent that Cerrone would have eaten for lunch in the past. Now, I'm not so sure. His recent run aside, Medeiros' UFC career has been the very definition of inconsistent. He is barely over .500 (5-4, 1NC) in his 10 fights with the company. I saw no reason to expect a breakout when his run began and I see no reason for it to continue now.
The fact Cowboy is a fairly slim favorite tells you all you need to know about how it's going for Cerrone these days. I'd probably pick against him against any legitimate welterweight contender at this point, but I don't put Medeiros in that group despite his recent hot streak. The calls for Cerrone to step aside (or at the very least, take a break) will be overwhelming if he comes up short on Sunday.
THE PICK: Cerrone
Co-Main Event - HeavyweightDerrick Lewis (18-5-0, 1NC) v. Marcin Tybura (16-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Lewis ($7,900), Tybura ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Lewis (+125), Tybura (-145)
Odds to Finish: -135
A back injury that caused him severe pain left Lewis contemplating retirement following his KO loss at the hands of Mark Hunt in June. The defeat snapped a 6-fight winning streak for The Black Beast, and was a huge setback in his quest to enter the UFC Heavyweight Championship picture. Lewis, as he himself will admit, is a "fighter" as opposed to a "mixed martial artist". His goal is to knock you out cold and he tries to do so quickly. His cardio is a permanent concern, as if the fact he does little if he isn't striking. Lewis is highly entertaining to watch, but this isn't the skill set of a top-flight heavyweight.
Originally scheduled to face Hunt himself last November, Tybura found himself up against for champion Fabricio Werdrum when Hunt was yanked from the event by UFC brass. The end result for the 32-year-old was a five-round unanimous decision loss. Tybura managed to see the final bell, but he was thoroughly dominated from start to finish. It wasn't a surprise as he isn't remotely close to Werdrum's level, but it did give Tybura much needed experience against a high-level opponent. He gets a completely different type of opponent in Lewis. Tybura is what I call a "vanilla" fighter. He does everything pretty well and is competent in all areas, but has no one discernible skill to hang his hat on. That isn't going to work against someone like Werdrum, but it should be enough for Tybura to be competitive against Lewis.
Any Lewis victory will almost certainly be a quick stoppage. It's extremely difficult to pick him in any fight that lasts more than a round. He has the advantage of both fighting at home and of taking on an opponent in Tybura that can leave himself vulnerable on the feet. I'm not wild about either option, but I think Lewis is the clear selection give both the odds and DraftKings salaries.
THE PICK: Lewis
LightweightJames Vick (12-1-0) v. Francisco Trinaldo (22-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Vick ($9,000), Trinaldo ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Vick (-220), Trinaldo (+180)
Odds to Finish: +115
I have long been a supporter of Vick's and feel he deserves a bigger fight than this one, although he does get the honor of fighting in his native Texas. Vick is 8-1 in his nine career UFC fights and is coming off a vicious KO win over the talented Joe Duffy in November. Vick is ridiculously tall (6-foot-3) for the lightweight division and he excels at using his long limbs to his advantage. His ability to throw kicks from the outside and clamp on submissions is remarkable. He might not be a top-5 lightweight, but he's definitely a top-10 guy and remains one of the most underrated fighters on the entire roster.
Trinaldo is also 8-1 in his last nine fights with his only setback coming at the hands of former title challenger Kevin Lee. Trinaldo is 39 years old and it's difficult to understand where this run came from. He is definitely a better fighter than he was early in his UFC career, but Massaranduba doesn't move all that well and he isn't a great athlete. Still, he seems to find a way to emerge victorious and that's all that matters. And with wins over Jim Miller, Norman Parke, Paul Felder and Medeiros, it's not as if Trinaldo hasn't fought anyone with talent.
Trinaldo has proven to be tough and durable, but in a fight against Vick these days, that's unlikely to be enough. He's giving up six inches in both height and reach and is doing so in enemy territory. My best guess is that he does enough to keep the fight competitive, but Vick takes a clear decision.
THE PICK: Vick
LightweightSage Northcutt (9-2-0) v. Thibault Gouti (11-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Northcutt ($9,200), Gouti ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Northcutt (-290), Gouti (+245)
Odds to Finish: -150
Despite the fact he has seemingly been around forever, Northcutt is still just 21 years old. Sunday will be his seventh fight under the UFC banner, and although the results have been mixed (4-3), Sage's natural ability is evident. He is an elite athlete than possesses explosiveness that few in the sport can match. He does a whole bunch of things well and he is very strong for a lightweight. My guess is that there will be more ups and downs along the way, but his ceiling remains extremely high.
Gouti lost his first three UFC fights and should have been released, but the company gave him another opportunity and he responded with a first-round KO win over Andrew Holbrook. It certainly saved his job and thus earned him an opportunity that he doesn't deserve on the main card here. Gouti relies on his striking despite the fact he has six career wins by submission. Simply put, he isn't very good and is giving up a ton of athleticism to Northcutt.
Sage is still learning the finer points of MMA (I don't think he knows how talented he really is), but I would be shocked if he has any trouble with a fighter like Gouti who is clearly nothing more than roster depth. I will be concerned if Northcutt doesn't win going away.
THE PICK: Northcutt
WelterweightThiago Alves (27-11-0) v. Curtis Millender (14-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alves ($8,600), Millender ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Alves (-170), Millender (+150)
Odds to Finish: +170
THE PICK: Millender
FeatherweightSteven Peterson (15-6-0) v. Brandon Davis (8-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Peterson ($7,500), Davis ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Peterson (+155), Davis (-175)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Davis
LightweightJared Gordon (14-1-0) v. Diego Ferreira (12-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Gordon ($9,300), Ferreira ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Gordon (-255), Ferreira (+215)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Gordon
WelterweightGeoff Neal (8-2-0) v. Brian Camozzi (7-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Neal ($8,900), Camozzi ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Neal (-210), Camozzi (+175)
Odds to Finish: -210
THE PICK: Neal
FlyweightRoberto Sanchez (7-1-0) v. Joby Sanchez (11-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: R. Sanchez ($8,000), J. Sanchez ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: R. Sanchez (+110), J. Sanchez (-130)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Roberto Sanchez
Women's BantamweightSarah Moras (5-3-0) v. Lucie Pudilova (7-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Moras ($7,700), Pudilova ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Moras (+140), Pudilova (-160)
Odds to Finish: +260
THE PICK: Pudilova
WelterweightJosh Burkman (29-16-0, 1NC) v. Alex Morono (13-4-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Burkman ($7,400), Morono ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Burkman (+240), Morono (-305)
Odds to Finish: -120
THE PICK: Morono
MiddleweightOskar Piechota (10-0-1) v. Tim Williams (15-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Piechota ($9,100), Williams ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Piechota (-285), Williams (+225)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Piechota