This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC is back at the APEX center, where a dozen fights take the spotlight Saturday, headlined by the return of "The Korean Zombie."
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 $400k 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
The Zombie has been inconsistent since returning from his nearly four-year layoff back in February 2017. His record since then is 3-2, with victories over Renato Moicano, Dennis Bermudez and the ghost of Frankie Edgar, in addition to losses to Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega. The Ortega fight was Jung's most recent (last October), and he was dominated from bell-to-bell. Ortega is good, but it was a highly concerning performance from Jung. He turned 34 years old this past March, so Jung has less runway than some of the other top guys in the division.
A product of Dana White's Contender Series, Ige joined the UFC back in January 2018 as nothing more than roster depth. He has gone on to post a 7-1 record in his past eight fights since dropping his company debut to Julio Arce. Ige can mix in a takedown here and there (1.68 per 15 minutes), but his greatest asset is his quick hands. He is excellent at stringing together combinations and possesses terrific footwork. Ige is also exceedingly durable, having never been knocked out in his professional career. Ige might not be on the same level as the division's top fighters, but he's quite clearly not far off.
This is a bigger fighter for Jung than Ige. Ige is young enough (30 in August) to make a run despite a setback. The Zombie doesn't have that cushion. Of course, Jung has faced considerably better competition over the course of his career. Ige's two biggest wins are against Edson Barboza and Mirsad Bektic, and both of those came via split decision. Heck, Jung has a win over Dustin Poirier on his resume.
I expect a lot of action in this fight. Both of these men are uber-aggressive on the feet, and both are fairly reasonably priced.
I went back and forth with my pick here. I wanted to pick Jung, but what I saw in the Ortega fight really, really got to me. Ortega isn't known as a high-level striker, and he tuned Jung up. Ige is going to blow past him if Jung doesn't display significant improvements. That's enough for me to roll with Ige as a slight DK underdog in what should be a close one.
THE PICK: Ige
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
Set to turn 44 years of age next week and with more than 75 professional fights under his belt, Saturday could very well be Oleinik's final walk to the Octagon. "The Boa Constrictor" has lost two straight bouts (Chris Daukaus, Derrick Lewis) via knockout, but he's been with the UFC for nearly seven years, posting an 8-8 mark over that span. All things considered, that's not a bad record considering Oleinik made his company debut in his late-30's and has been a one-dimensional offensive fighter his entire career.
Spivac's youth (26) gives him far more theoretical long-term upside. Spivac is just 3-2 in the UFC, although he has won two in a row. He has far more power than Oleinik and should have a significant advantage for as long as this fight remains standing. While I'm not all that high on Spivac moving forward, I'll be highly concerned if he is unable to get past Oleinik.
Oleinik is hands down one of the most talented submission specialists in the history of heavyweight mixed martial arts. 46 of his 59 career victories have come via tap out. Spivac averages 3.70 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Oleinik defends the takedown at a horrendous 33-percent clip. Spivac is going to have to be consensus of Oleinik's submission skills at all times, but that doesn't mean he has to get away from his wrestling game.
Ultimately, I can't overlook Oleinik's durability issues. Each of his last five losses have come via knockout. While Spivac isn't exactly Francis Ngannou in terms of power, he's the far more athletic fighter and should be able to land with regularity in the striking game as long as he continues to move his feet. I fear Oleinik's run has just about reached the end.
THE PICK: Spivac
Vera stayed active in 2020, fighting three times. His record was 1-2, with losses to Jose Aldo and Yadong Song, in addition to a knockout win over Sean O'Malley. Of course, Vera was clearly losing the O'Malley fight before the latter suffered an injury that completely turned the tide. Vera has legitimate all-around skills. He's a threat on the mat, in addition to be exceedingly durable. He's never been knocked out in his professional career. The biggest knock on "Chito" is that he has had difficulty winning "big" fights.
Grant is also very good, although he never gets talked about because he seemingly never fights. Since these two fought the first time, Grant has stepped into the Octagon five times. For comparison's sake, Vera has fought 13 times since the first meeting. Grant is coming off three-straight victories, including knockout wins in his past two bouts over Jonathan Martinez and Martin Day. The Vera win was by far the biggest of Grant's career, and it will be interesting to see if he can score another one against a tough opponent.
Octagon rust is real, regardless of what Dominick Cruz says, and the fact Vera has fought far more often than Grant is most certainly something to take into account. That being said, I certainly don't see a $2000 salary difference here. I'd feel much more comfortable with Vera in the area of $8500. He's so overpriced here that I am willing to roll the dice on Grant as a substantial underdog.
THE PICK: Grant
Now 40 years of age and on a clear downward trend for the better part of the past half-decade, Brown almost certainly needs a victory Saturday in order to save his job. "The Immortal" one has lost back-to-back fights and five of his past seven dating back to May 2016. Brown's biggest issue is the fact he fights the exact same way as he did in his prime. He bites down on the mouthpiece and continues to push forward with little regard for his own well being. He possesses neither the chin nor the footwork to employ that type of style at such an advanced age.
Lima had a three-fight winning streak stopped in a lopsided unanimous decision loss to Belal Muhammad this past February. While those previously mentioned, three-straight victories sound good on the surface, it's important to note that two of them came via split decision. Lima competed on two different seasons of The Ultimate Fighter and has fought for the UFC on two separate occasions. He lacks athleticism and has always had a questionable chin. In short, his scouting report reads a lot like Brown's these days.
This isn't a particularly deep card and DraftKings players will have to make their stand somewhere. I would still do whatever I could to make sure it wasn't here. The range of possibilities for this fight appear to be immense.
Brown appears to be completely washed, and Lima's skill set is minimal. I'd never spend $9000 on Lima regardless of opponent. The value is minimal and it's unlikely to pay off in the end, but I'm on Brown as an underdog here even though I don't think he is going to win. I'll roll the dice that his chin holds up and he can land a few power shots and finish Lima. It's not an impossibility.
THE PICK: Brown
Khaos Williams (11-2-0) v. Matthew Semelsberger (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Williams ($8,900), Semelsberger ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Williams (-150), Semelsberger (+130)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Williams