This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
A new 155-pound champion will be crowned Saturday in front of a packed Toyota Center in Houston, Texas in the UFC's second card in front of a live crowd since the pandemic.
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 $800k UFC 262 Special with$200k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.
Main Event - Lightweight Championship
With former UFC Lightweight Champion and pound-for-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov officially retired, the company will go about crowning a new champion at 155 pounds for the first time since April 2018.
Oliveira has been a member of the UFC roster for nearly 11 years despite the fact he'll be turning just 32 years of age this coming October. During his time with the company, Oliveira has fought, among others, Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Cub Swanson, Donald Cerrone, Max Holloway, Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Paul Felder, Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson. He's won eight fights in a row dating back to June 2018, with seven of those eight coming via stoppage. Oliveira – arguably the best submission specialist in the sport today – has more than earned this opportunity.
On the flip side, Chandler's UFC run has lasted exactly two and a half minutes. The former three-time Bellator Lightweight Champion made his company debut in January and managed to quickly knock out the extremely-tough Dan Hooker. The concern regarding Chandler was that he hadn't faced much in the way of competition over the years, but he blew by Hooker without issue and is firmly entrenched as one of the top lightweights on the planet.
Oliveira's win streak is directly correlated to his improvement in the stand-up. His hands are extremely fast, and he has managed to turn a weakness in his game into a clear strength. Oliveira is so talented on the mat that he has a legitimate chance to defeat any man in the division with the improved striking. I'm a believer and this strong run appears to be entirely sustainable.
I think Chandler would be smart to try to wrestle here given Oliveira's 57 percent takedown defense, with the obvious caveat that Oliviera is a threat to submit any man in the world in an instant. Chandler is giving up two inches in height and three inches in reach, and I don't know if engaging Charles in a prolonged striking battle is a great idea. Of course, he just torched Hooker in that area, and Hooker is known as a high-level striker.
I've been on the Oliveira bandwagon for a while and I'm seeing it through, but he looks overpriced here from a DK perspective. If we're assuming the Vegas odds are correct (which is my opinion), then a $1200 savings on Chandler makes him the much more desirable DraftKings play. This is a close one and I advise getting a piece of both men if you are the type to make multiple lineups. I think it will be a competitive fight.
THE PICK: Oliveira
Co-Main Event - Lightweight
Following back-to-back lopsided losses to both Justin Gaethje and Oliveira, this has quickly developed into an unquestionable must-win fight for Ferguson. Tony won a dozen bouts in a row from October 2013 to June 2019, but a potential fight between he and then-champion Nurmagomedov fell apart on countless occasions, and Ferguson now finds himself in dire straits.
Tony is one of the toughest and most offensively creative fighters in the sport, but he's been get hit far too much of late and appears hesitant to attack as a result. It appears as if he's thinking inside the Octagon as opposed to reacting, and that's always a recipe for disaster. An important thing to keep in mind if that Ferguson turned 37 years of age this past February. He has been one of the rare fighters who has legitimately improved as he has gotten older, but it's fair to wonder if his athleticism is beginning to wane just a bit.
Dariush has been one of the most underrated fighters in the company for years, and it's nice to see him finally get this opportunity. He's won six straight dating back to November 2018, with a pair of knockouts and pair of submissions mixed in there. Watching Dariush fight is generally not a visually pleasing experience. His movements are labored, and he lacks explosiveness. What he does have is an exceptional understanding of distance and the ability to tailor his game plan to his respective opposition. He's also deceptively strong and has done a much better job of picking up the pace earlier in fights.
Dariush has been searching for a signature win for his entire career, and this is his opportunity. Ferguson has never been more vulnerable. Dariush isn't particularly well known, but he's very good. If you would have told me even a year ago that he would have been a -165 favorite over Tony, I would have said you were nuts. Now that it has come to fruition, I agree with it.
I don't see how we can have any confidence in Ferguson until we see an improved performance. He doesn't have to necessarily win, but he does have to remain somewhat competitive. This should theoretically be a good matchup for him because Dariush isn't particularly athletic, but the Tony we've seen the past two fights isn't beating anyone good, let alone great.
THE PICK: Dariush
Chookagian's record over her first dozen UFC bouts is 8-4. She fights often. We saw her three times in 2018, twice in 2019 and four times last year. Chookagian has also fought for a UFC title (she was destroyed by Valentina Shevchenko, as expected), although that was the direct result of the lack of depth in the division in which she competes. Katlyn is a straight-forward, one-dimensional boxer with no stopping power. She's tall (5-foot-9) and well-conditioned, but all eight of her UFC victories have come via decision. She offers nothing in terms of secondary skills and is going to struggle if she is unable to pepper her opposition with volume.
Araujo scored a knockout victory over Talita Bernardo at bantamweight in her company debut back in May 2019 before dropping down to flyweight for her last four bouts. Her record with the company is 4-1, with the lone setback being a unanimous decision loss to Jessica Eye. That's not a great sign, but for what it's worth, Chookagian lost to Eye via split decision.
Araujo offers more than Chookagian in terms of both wrestling and mat skills. She averages 2.33 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Katlyn defends the takedown at a paltry 51 percent. Araujo's biggest issue will be making up the four-inch height edge Chookagian possesses. Although the two women have equal reaches, Katlyn will almost certainly try to stay on the outside and turn this into a kickboxing match.
This is another fight where the DraftKings salaries don't match up with the Vegas odds. You're going to get that on this card because virtually every fight is close from an odds perspective and DraftKings obviously has to stagger their salaries. I was leaning towards picking Araujo from the get-go and this reinforces my choice. I've always been the low-man on Chookagian and that is undoubtedly impacting my decision to some extent, but we have seen enough of Katlyn that it's difficult to believe she will be able to add any new wrinkles to her game at this point.
THE PICK: Araujo
Still firmly in must-win mode, Barboza will be competing at featherweight for just the third time. He snapped a three-fight losing streak last October with a unanimous decision win over Makwan Amirkhani. It should be noted that two of those three previously mentioned defeats came via split decision (Dan Ige, Paul Felder) and the other was a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje. Barboza has been really good for a really long time, but he's now 35 years old and has been in a lot of difficult fights over the years. I'm a believer in his overall talent level, but it's reasonable to believe he has lost a step or two from a physical perspective. That being said, Edson recently signed a new contract, so he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
A native of the Bronx and part of the Tiger Schulmann team in New York, Burgos is 6-2 in the UFC. His defeats came against Calvin Kattar (TKO) and Josh Emmett (unanimous decision) in his most recent bout last June. Burgos is a very strong striker with very, very quick hands. He gets in and out in an instant and excels at stringing together combinations. It's an impressive, intriguing skill set and one that has served Burgos well thus far.
I have two main concerns regarding Burgos. The first is that he's willing to eat a shot in order to land two of his own. He lands 7.31 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 5.81. Both are ridiculously high numbers. That type of strategy tends to fall apart against better competition, which brings me to my second point. That being, Burgos has never really defeated anyone good. He got past a couple of solid competitors in Amirkhani and a fading Cub Swanson, but that's about it.
I expect this to be a 15-minute kickboxing match. These two men are the same exact height with identical reaches, so there is no edge there one way or another. The durability edge definitely goes to Burgos, but he eats a lot of shots and I think Edson can wear him down with his trademark kicks. This is close to a pick 'em for me, so I'll take the discount Barboza provides.
THE PICK: Barboza
This fight was pushed to the main card following the postponement of the Jack Hermansson v. Edmen Shahbazyan bout earlier this week. It was also scheduled to be Schnell v. Alex Perez before the latter was forced to withdraw.
Schnell has rebounded well after being knocked out in his first two UFC bouts. He's won five of his past six, with a knockout loss at the hands of the underrated Alexandre Pantoja mixed in there. The main intrigue surrounding Schnell is his size. This fight will be contested at bantamweight, but he's spent a good portion of his career at flyweight. At 5-foot-8, he's big for both divisions, although he doesn't have hardly any power (two career knockout wins) in his hands.
Bontorin earned his UFC opportunity with a win on Dana White's Contender Series Brazil back in August 2018. He followed that up with a pair of wins over Magomed Bibulatov (split) and Raulian Paiva (TKO) before dropping his last two to Ray Borg (unanimous) and Kai Kara-France (KO). The thing that immediately jumps out when looking at that is that Borg and Kara-France are considerably better than the other two fighters. Bontorin possesses an entirely ground-based attack, which could be a serious issue considering the size he is giving up to Schnell.
This will be a quick turnaround for Bontorin considering the Kara-France loss came a little over two months ago. I don't have a particularly strong feeling on this fight one was or another. Both the DK salaries and Vegas odds seem about right.
The bottom line is that neither of these guys have the requisite skill sets to help fantasy owners. Schnell averages 49.4 DK points, while Bontorin averages 49.1. I'll take Schnell to win, but look elsewhere for your lineups.
THE PICK: Schnell