This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
A former champion looks to get himself back in the title conversation with a headline fight Saturday in Las Vegas.
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 $350k MMA Throwdown with $100k 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 - Featherweight
Holloway is either the best or second best featherweight in the world at the moment – depending on your point of view – and his greatness was on full display in his beating of Calvin Kattar in his most recent fight this past January. In the Kattar fight, Holloway broke the following UFC single-fight records:
Most Significant Strikes Attempted: 744
Most Significant Strikes Landed: 445
Most Distance Strikes Landed: 439
Most Significant Head Strikes Landed: 274
Most Significant Body Strikes Landed: 117
I could go on, but you get the drift. It was one of the most dominant performances in recent memory, and a victory here should earn Holloway a third fight with current UFC Featherweight Championship Alexander Volkanovski despite the fact he lost first two.
Rodriguez has had his ups and downs with UFC management, but his performances inside the Octagon have been terrific. He's 8-1 (1NC) in his first ten bouts with the company, with a May 2017 setback to Frankie Edgar being the only defeat. A major concern for Rodriguez is all the time he has spent on the sidelines. His last fight was a victory over Jeremy Stephens back in October 2019. Since then, he was scheduled to face Zabit Magomedsharipov and Holloway on two separate occasions. He also picked up a six-month USADA suspension for not being available for testing.
Yair is one of the few featherweights on the roster who can match Holloway's size. Both men are 5-foot-11, while Rodriguez ultimately enters with a two-inch reach edge. It could most certainly come in handy in what projects to be a kickboxing match.
The bottom line is that this seems to be a nightmare matchup for Rodriguez. Holloway is literally the last guy in the division you want to see in an extended stand-up affair, and the fact it's five rounds favors Max because his cardio and output is legendary. I also can't imagine facing him after two-plus years on the sidelines. He's impossible to prepare for because there's no one in the division who can come close to matching his set of skills.
$9500 is a ridiculously expensive price tag for any fighter, but I don't hate paying up for Holloway in this spot. I expect him to land an insane amount of strikes, and I expect Yair's durability to be on full display. That should lead to a massive fantasy score from Max in what I expected to be a lopsided kickboxing match.
THE PICK: Holloway
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
It's rarely pretty, but Rothwell – who turned 40 years of age in the middle of October – is somehow 3-1 in his past four fights dating back to December 2019. The competition level he's faced hasn't been great during that span (wins over Chris Barnett, Ovince Saint Preux, Stefan Struve and a loss to Marcin Tybura), but the opponents Rothwell has faced certainly aren't the worst the UFC had to offer at the time.
Few fighters in UFC history have been as inconsistent as Rogerio de Lima. He has alternated wins and losses in his past 11 bouts, which means he's due for a defeat here, as he is coming off a unanimous decision win over Maurice Greene in May. The Brazilian, at age 36, is no spring chicken himself. Marcos has a long history of coming up short against better competition, but there's no way Rothwell falls into that category at this stage of his career.
As crazy as it sounds, I'm looking forward to this one. These two men fight the same exact way, and I think it will make for an entertaining bout. Both swing for the bleachers with every single shot they throw and possesses zero footwork. Rothwell in particular presents a constant stationary target. The Brazilian is the more athletic of the two, but that won't matter in a slugfest. The winner figures to simply be the man whose chin can hold up the longest.
This is a straight up coin flip for me, so I'm taking Rogerio de Lima in a minor upset given the slight value he provides. I'm always looking for reasons to fade Rothwell at this point, and this seems like a good spot to do so given the little separation between the two.
THE PICK: Rogerio de Lima
Daukaus was scheduled to face Holland for a second straight bout. The two first fought in early October in a fight that was ultimately ruled a no-contest after an accidental headbutt knocked Holland out cold. Kyle's 1-2 (1NC) UFC record doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but he's a high-end mat specialist and has an excellent frame for the division at 6-foot-3. The lack of power in his his hands is a long-term concern, but he can hang with anyone at middleweight from a submission standpoint.
Dolidze is four fights into his UFC run, posting a 3-1 mark. He's a former light heavyweight and this will be just his third career fight at 185 pounds. He's only an inch shorter than Daukaus, and I don't expect either man to have much of an advantage from a physical/strength standpoint. Dolidze has a solid all-around base, although I wouldn't say he excels in any one area. He certainly has more power than Daukaus, however.
This is actually a pretty good fight considering it took two cancellations in order to bring it together on a little over a week's notice. It's a clash of styles, which is typically entertaining. Daukaus should be a comfortable pick to win, but I don't love him at his DraftKings salary. He's never landed more than 64 significant strikes in any of his first four UFC fights, which limits his fantasy ceiling.
THE PICK: Daukaus
Lee was originally scheduled to face Jessica Eye here, and although Eye is bigger than Calvillo, the former likely would have been an easier fight for Lee.
That said, Calvillo is in the midst of a massive slump. She fought in late-September, getting knocked out by Jessica Andrade in less than a round. Prior to that, Calvillo dropped a unanimous decision to Katlyn Chookagian. Cynthia's 6-3-1 UFC record looks reasonable on the surface, but the vast majority of those victories came against lesser competition. Calvillo has zero power in her hands and her inability to at least threaten her opposition on the feet has allowed her opponents to do whatever they want without the fear of reprisal.
Things haven't gone much better for Lee. Entering on a three-fight losing streak, "KGB" almost certainly saved her job with a submission win over Antonina Shevchenko this past May. Lee is athletic and has a good frame for the division at 5-7, but she's struggled to find consistent success. Lee is a Muay Thai specialist, but she too has little knockout power. That means she has to land a ton of volume in hopes of impressing the judges. That's a risky game to play, as Lee has found out, with two of her last three defeats coming via split decision.
I'm a little surprised Lee is an underdog here, even if it's a slight one. She wins with volume, as I mentioned before, and Calvillo is notoriously easy to hit on the feet. She simply bites down on her mouthpiece and continues to push forward, and that's not a recipe for success.
As long as Lee can remain upright, I like her chances of pulling the upset. If Calvillo – who lands 1.77 takedowns per 15 minutes – can get Lee – who defends the takedown at just a 57-percent clip – to the mat a few times, all bets are off.
THE PICK: Lee
Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1-0) v. Da-Un Jung (14-2-1)
DK Salaries: Nzechukwu ($7,900), Jung ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Nzechukwu (+100), Jung (-120)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Nzechukwu