Justin’s Pick: Tatiana Suarez
Suarez has been fantasy gold since entering the UFC, as she’s averaging 116.8 fantasy points in her three fights. She relies heavily on her wrestling, giving her a high floor, but her active striking and grappling techniques are what truly make her stand out. She’ll get her toughest test to date against Carla Esparza, but Esparza simply does not have the takedown defense to stop Suarez from scoring. Esparza has successfully stopped 57.14% of the takedowns attempted on her, while Suarez has successfully landed an elite 81.82% of her. She’s consistently looking for advances, as she has needed only five UFC rounds to pile up 17 advances in her career. Esparza is a tough fighter to finish, though, which means could see 15 minutes of Suarez actively scoring fantasy points. Generally, I want high priced fighters who will finish early in the fight, but Suarez potentially comes with more upside the longer this fight lasts.
Jason’s Reaction: I love this pick. If Suarez fits into the lineup, use her. She has a relatively high ceiling with almost no chance of taking the loss. She is great for 50/50 contests and tournaments.
Jason’s Pick: Zabit Magomedsharipov
Zabit Magomedsharipov, who will be referred to as Mag from now on because typing Magomedsharipov 10 times is likely to cause arthritis, is fighting Brandon Davis on short notice. Mag is quickly becoming one of the best in his division, and Davis, despite showing tremendous heart and good defensive fighting skills in his last four UFC fights (one of which was on Tuesday Night Contenders), does not match up well stylistically. Mag, when standing, will be able to keep this fight at range with his long leg reach advantage, and Davis does not have elite takedown defense, which will be his ultimate demise. Mag will likely look for the flashy knockout quick, but if he doesn’t get it, he will wrestle Davis into oblivion. His fantasy upside is huge, even for his steep price tag.
Justin’s Reaction: Magomedsharipov is my second favorite high priced option, and it’s essentially a 1a, 1b situation. He should easily be able to beat Brandon Davis, who is taking the fight on short notice. Similarly to Suarez, Magomedsharipov is another option that can score 100+ fantasy points, even in a decision.
Justin’s Pick: Tyron Woodley
This fight is going to feature plenty of ownership because of the even price tag and five round floor. It seems as if Darren Till will feature more ownership because of the Vegas odds, making Woodley the slightly more appealing tournament option. Till and Woodley are both defensive fighters, although I feel Woodley is slightly more complete. Woodley has a high pedigree wrestling background, although he has rarely used it in the UFC. Till has displayed the ability to stuff takedowns and get back to his feet, but he has yet to face anyone with Woodley’s wrestling ability. Woodley also comes with tremendous power for a welterweight, making him a dangerous fighter on the feet, as well. The striking should be relatively close between these two fighters, while Woodley should be able to edge Till on the judge’s scorecard with takedowns.
Jason’s Reaction: This is one fight that has to be used because it is a five-round contest, and I also believe Woodley will get his hand raised. For more analysis, check out our betting article.
Jason’s Pick: Alex White
Alex White might be the most underrated fighter on the board this week. Jim Miller is known for his long and grueling fights in the UFC, but he is coming to the end of his career, and in his last four fights, he lost every time. Against Dan Hooker, he suffered a brutal knockout in the first round. His chin could be giving out on him after 40 professional fights. Miller deserves all the credit in the world, but White is superior at this point in both of their careers. White has serious finishing potential, both standing and on the ground, as well as fantastic striking defense. If Miller can’t make this fight dirty, White wins easily. As far as fantasy is concerned, White has been racking up the points when winning. In his last win, he scored 129 FPs courtesy of a second-round KO. The upside is there in tournaments.
Justin’s Reaction: I feel Alex White is an underrated fighter, who comes with quite a bit of fantasy points. In three wins, he’s averaging 109.7 fantasy points per fight. His matchup against Jim Miller is also appetizing, as Miller seems to be nearing the end of his career.
Justin’s Pick: Nicco Montano
It’s somewhat crazy that Nicco Montano is the current women’s flyweight champion, but she won The Ultimate Fighter for that honor. It was only a matter of time before Valentina Shevchenko came knocking for the chance to win what is generally spoken as her belt. While I agree that Montano has only a very small chance at winning this fight, I’m willing to take a chance on her for this price tag. Montano is an extremely active fighter, scoring 158 fantasy points in her only UFC bout. She’ll have a much tougher task this weekend against Shevchenko, but Montano could potentially hit value in a loss at this price. With a five round floor, Montano makes an outstanding salary relief option that allows you to get the higher priced options that come with tremendous upside.
Jason’s Reaction: I like the reasoning, but not the pick, specifically because this card has enough variance to allow for someone to pick six winners. Honestly, Montano will not win this fight. She might hit value, but deciding on taking a loss when six wins will almost definitely be necessary for a tournament takedown is not in my gameplan. She does make an interesting 50/50 contest option, though.
NOTE: Nicco Montano was forced from the card due to medical reasons.
Jason’s Pick: Niko Price
Niko Price is, admittedly, the underdog in his upcoming fight against Al Razak Alhassan (ARA), but if the fight goes the distance, Price has a significantly better shot of picking up the win. In three of his last four fights, Price beat Brown, Sullivan, and Jouban, scoring over 80 fantasy points in all of his bouts and over 100 in two. He has serious finishing potential, which gives him upside, but he also has an increased chance of success the longer the fight goes, as well. The only result that does not go Price’s way is an ARA first-round knockout. Luckily for fantasy owners, Price has shown off his great chin, even while struggling defensively against submissions. “The Hybrid” will be a staple of most of my UFC 228 DraftKings’ lineups on Saturday.
Justin’s Reaction: Price is seemingly overlooked in each of his fights. This is essentially a matchup of an elite striker against a well-rounded fighter. I’ll take the well-rounded fighter with a gas tank in this matchup.
By Jason and Justin Bales