DraftKings MMA: UFC Rio Rancho Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Rio Rancho Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

In the event an immediate rematch between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes isn't on the table, Saturday's main event in Rio Rancho could very well decide the next top contender at 205 pounds.

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 UFC 246 special. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:

Moves Scoring
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

Scoring Notes
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

Corey Anderson (14-4-0) v. Jan Blachowicz (25-8-0)
DK Salaries: Anderson ($8,900), Blachowicz ($7,300)
Betting Odds: Anderson (-200), Blachowicz (+170)
Odds to Finish: -150

I've been unduly harsh on both of these competitors for quite and while, and not only have they outperformed by greatest expectations, but there is a realistic argument to be made that the winner of this fight is next in line for a shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship if the UFC decides not to grant Dominick Reyes an immediate rematch against Jon Jones. These two fought back in September 2015, a fight Anderson won via unanimous decision.

Anderson was left for dead following back-to-back knockout losses at the hands of Jimi Manuwa and Ovince Saint Preux in 2017, but he has since run off four wins in a row. The first three came via decision (Ilir Latifi, Glover Teixeira, Patrick Cummins) while his most recent triumph was a shocking 2:07 knockout victory over Johnny Walker at Madison Square Garden in November in a fight in which Anderson entered as a (+155) underdog. The shocking KO of Walker aside, the game plan for Anderson hasn't changed. He relies on his wrestling and a strong gas tank to be successful. The takedown – or threat of the takedown – sets up everything Anderson does inside the Octagon. He looks uncomfortable if forced to stand and trade for a significant amount of time, although his ground-and-pound is impressive. I'm still not a believer, but he's clearly better than I originally gave him credit for.

Same goes for his opponent. Blachowicz is sporting a 6-1 record dating back to October 2017. He's fought often and done so successfully. His only loss in that span was a knockout at the hands of Thiago Santos, and his most recent win was a split decision over Jacare Souza in November. Jan continues to win fights despite what appears to be a somewhat-limited offensive skill set. He tends to be methodical, and his fights aren't always all that entertaining to watch. Blachowicz is certainly competent in all areas of the sport, but I wouldn't say he possesses one single standout trait. Including Saturday, three of his past four five have been main events, so Blachowicz has been training for five-round fights for quite a while. That's a good thing because he is going to have to find a way to match the torrid pace of Anderson. He's also going to have to find a way to stay off of his back despite defending takedowns at just a 65 percent clip. 

This is a difficult pick for me because I've never been the biggest supporter of either of these two guys. I'm going to bet on Anderson to win because of his sheer athleticism and wrestling game, but I think Blachowicz has value as an underdog play. While Anderson is on the best run of his career, he has also always been notoriously inconsistent, and that could give Blachowicz a chance to deliver at a cheaper price.

THE PICK: Anderson
 

Co-Main Event - Welterweight

Diego Sanchez (31-12-0) v. Michel Pereira (23-10-0, 2NC)
DK Salaries: Sanchez ($7.700), Pereira ($8,500)
Betting Odds: Sanchez (+140), Pereira (-160)
Odds to Finish: -190

Sanchez, who turned 38 years old this past New Year's Eve, continues to chug along as we head into the early stages of 2020. Diego hasn't been in the title conversation in any division for the past many years, but his fan-friendly style of fighting has and continues to make him one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. Sanchez dropped a unanimous decision to Michael Chiesa in his last bout in July. That loss came on the heels of a surprising two-fight win streak. Sanchez is among the least technical fighters in the history of the company. His cardio is excellent, he's ridiculously tough, and remains one of the very best brawlers in the history of the sport. 

Pereira is getting set for his third UFC bout. After scoring a massive knockout win over Danny Roberts in his company debut last May, Pereira dropped a unanimous decision to Tristan Connelly in September. For those who have never seen Pereira, he looks like a superhero inside the Octagon. He's built like the Incredible Hulk and has legitimate power. His cardio is a major, major problem and I don't know if he possesses the necessary all-around game to defeat high-level opponents, but there are reasons to be excited about the 26-year-old Brazilian.

It's no secret that this fight does little in terms of rankings implications, but the name recognition and excitement factor make this worthy of a co-main event. Neither man is going to be fast-tracked in the division, even if they score an impressive finish. That being said, this should be a highly, highly entertaining bout. We all know about Diego and some of his legendary fights, and two fights into his UFC run, Pereira has scored a Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonus. 

There's a serious youth and athleticism edge for Pereira, while Sanchez has faced much, much better competition over the years. Ultimately, I find it difficult to pick Diego against any halfway-talented opponent these days, but he should make this competitive and highly entertaining.

THE PICK: Pereira 
 

Bantamweight

John Dodson (21-11-0) v. Nathaniel Wood (16-3-0)
DK Salaries: Dodson ($7,600), Wood ($8,600)
Betting Odds: Dodson (+145), Wood (-165)
Odds to Finish: +245

Having firmly entered "gate keeper" status in the later part of his career, Dodson enters on a two-fight losing streak and could potentially be fighting for his job on Saturday. The 35-year-old is 3-5 in his last five bouts dating back to September 2015. Of course, those setbacks came against Demetrious Johnson (title fight), John Lineker, Marlon Moraes, Jimmie Rivera, and Petr Yan. To recap, that list features the best flyweight of all time and four of the very best bantamweights on the current UFC roster. 

Wood deserves a "name" opponent, and he gets one in Dodson. A perfect 3-0 in the UFC, Wood has earned submission wins in each of his first three appearances with the company. Prior to those three submission victories, Wood had racked up four straight knockout wins. He's a legitimate all-around mixed martial artist. The only potential knocks I can find on Wood are the fact he trains with a small team and has very little experience against top-flight competition. Wood's UFC wins have come against Johnny Eduardo, Andre Ewell and Jose Alberto Quinonez. That's not exactly a murder's row of opposition. 

I'm a little worried about Dodson. The trademark power he displayed at flyweight hasn't carried over since he moved up to bantamweight. At 5-foot-3 with a 66-inch reach, Dodson is easily one of the smallest 135-pounders on the roster. By comparison, Wood is 5-foot-6 with a 69-inch reach. Then there's the fact Wood is nearly nine years Dodson's junior. Yes, he has hasn't fought the competition Dodson has, but he also has far less "MMA miles" on his body. 

I hate the idea of writing off Dodson given everything he has shown over the years, but Wood is talented and I think Dodson is simply too small to make a legitimate impact at bantamweight. Maybe the UFC will give him one more opportunity at flyweight if he loses this fight. I think he could still be an impact fighter in that division given his power and speed. It's just took much to ask at 135 pounds.

THE PICK: Wood
 

Lightweight

Jim Miller (31-13-0, 1NC) v. Scott Holtzman (13-3-0)
DK Salaries: Miller ($8,000), Holtzman ($8,200)
Betting Odds: Miller (+120), Holtzman (-140)
Odds to Finish: -150

Always one of the more active fighters on the UFC roster, Miller has been surprisingly effective over the past year-plus. He is 3-1 dating back to September 2018, and his only loss in that span came against top contender Charles Oliveira. Miller remains an elite submission artist, but he struggles massively in anything other than a prolonged ground battle. He absorbs far too much punishment on the feet and lacks the necessary power and physicality to put together significant combinations in the striking game. Miller is also 36 years old. 

Holtzman is the opposite of Miller in many respects. He's far more comfortable on the feet than on the mat, and he also has legitimate power. He's not the most technical fighter around and he can get sucked into a brawl, but he is durable. Given the striking edge he owns in this fight, I expect Holtzman would be quite comfortable taking his chances in a kickboxing match against Miller. Holtzman is also durable, having never been knocked out in his professional career.

I expect this to be a pretty close fight. While Miller is clearly limited in the later stages of his career, he is so good on the mat than he retains the ability to tap out the majority of the guys in the division. The issue is getting the fight there. Holtzman's takedown defense throughout the course of his time with the company is average (64 percent). Holtzman's biggest issue is that he has always struggled when facing better competition. Miller isn't what he once was, but he's definitely better than some of the fighters (Dong Hyun Ma, Darrell Horcher, Michael McBride) Holtzman has faced of late. I'm going to take Holztman in a tight one, but Miller interests me as a slight underdog on DraftKings.

THE PICK: Holtzman

Other Fights

Women's Flyweight
Montana De La Rosa (10-5-0) v. Mara Romero Borella (12-6-0, 2NC)
DK Salaries: De La Rosa ($8,700), Romero Borella ($7,500)
Betting Odds: De La Rosa (-170), Romero Borella (+150)
Odds to Finish: +190
THE PICK: De La Rosa

Lightweight
Brok Weaver (14-4-0) v. Kazula Vargas (10-3-0)
DK Salaries: Weaver ($9,200), Vargas ($7,000)
Betting Odds: Weaver (-275), Vargas (+235)
Odds to Finish: +150
THE PICK: Weaver

Flyweight
Rogerio Bontorin (16-1-0, 1NC) v. Ray Borg (12-4-0)
DK Salaries: Bontorin ($7,900), Borg ($8,300)
Betting Odds: Bontorin (+120), Borg (-140)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Bontorin

Lightweight
Lando Vannata (10-4-2) v. Yancy Medeiros (15-6-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Vannata ($8,100), Medeiros ($8,100)
Betting Odds: Vannata (-110), Medeiros (-110)
Odds to Finish: -135
THE PICK: Vannata

Welterweight
Tim Means (29-11-1, 1NC) v. Daniel Rodriguez (10-1-0)
DK Salaries: Means ($9,100), Rodriguez ($7,100)
Betting Odds: Means (-265), Rodriguez (+225)
Odds to Finish: -240
THE PICK: Rodriguez

Light Heavyweight
Devin Clark (10-4-0) v. Dequan Townsend (21-10-0)
DK Salaries: Clark ($9,300), Antigulov ($6,900)
Betting Odds: Clark (-320), Townsend (+260)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Clark

Bantamweight
Casey Kenney (13-1-1) v. Merab Dvalishvili (9-4-0)
DK Salaries: Kenney ($7,800), Dvalishvili ($8,400)
Betting Odds: Kenney (+145), Dvalishvili (-165)
Odds to Finish: +220
THE PICK: Dvalishvili

Women's Bantamweight
Macy Chiasson (6-1-0) v. Shanna Young (7-2-0)
DK Salaries: Chiasson ($9,400), Young ($6,800)
Betting Odds: TBD
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Chiasson

Flyweight
Mark De La Rosa (11-3-0) v. Raulian Paiva (18-3-0)
DK Salaries: De La Rosa ($7,400), Paiva ($8,800)
Betting Odds: De La Rosa (+180), Paiva (-220)
Odds to Finish: +210
THE PICK: Paiva

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jon Litterine plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: JLitterine.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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