Before we get into picking out a DraftKings dream team for UFC Fight Night 144 I thought I’d take a quick second to introduce myself. I’m Nic (without a ‘k’ just like the legendary actor who stole the Declaration of Independence Nic Cage). I’m a doer of Jiu-Jitsu, a watcher of MMA, and a participator in gambling. I say participator because I’m not a professional, if I was I would be on a beach somewhere right now and not hiding under my covers from this polar vortex sweeping through the American midwest. I think the fairest way to describe it is I do alright depending on what time of year you ask.
Even though I think MMA is typically harder to play for DFS than say Football or Basketball because the success of one player leads inexorably to the failure of another it’s still possible to stack a little cash watching the sport we all love which is exactly what we are going to try and do here. Now that I’ve injected you with that incredible dose of confidence lets get ourselves our first DraftKings dream team.
How I’m Going To Break It Down
I know a lot of people go through fight by fight for these, but I’d rather go tier by tier (spending wise). You could pick all the favorites on the main card and it won’t mean a damn thing if they all cost $9,000. So I’m going to try and break it down into my expensive purchases, middle of the roaders, bargain buys, and then things I’m staying away from entirely if any.
These are going to be the fighters you can go ahead and spend big bucks on without feeling guilty about the price tag.
Livinha Souza – $9,100
If there’s one fighter I’m putting on my squad this week it’s Livinha Souza. She’s only had one UFC fight which she dominated against Alex Chambers. But she’s finished 10 of her 13 opponents overall which you like to see. Her opponent, Sarah Frota seems to be cut from the same rare cloth that Jessica Andrade is in that she punches with power way above her weight class. However, I’m not too worried about that as cardio is going to be the name of the game here. After what should be a wild first few minutes we’ll see Frota fade and look for Souza to wrap this up when she’s tired in the second.
Demian Maia – $8,700
Yup, I’m doing it. I’m putting old man Maia on the roster. Despite him being 41, despite him being on a three-fight losing streak he’s going to be on my team. Lyman Good is a lot of things and defensive chain wrestler isn’t one of them. At least not on the level Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, or Tyron Woodley is. Sure I have concerns about Maia being unmotivated as ever knowing he’s never getting a title shot again. I also have concerns about Good being able to hulk out of Maia’s early takedown attempts in the first few minutes or so. That said Maia knows where his bread is buttered and he’s going to be out of striking range or glued to that single leg until Good hits the mat. From there I think we can all agree it’s just a matter of time before Good gets strangled.
Charles Oliveira – $8,500
This is more of an honorable mention in case you feel uncomfortable with one of the other two. I put ‘Do Bronx’ in here because this fight against Teymur just screams Oliveira taking damage on the feet and out of nowhere opportunistically snagging a guillotine when Teymur gets overzealous. Oliveira isn’t going to get many chances to grapple with Teymur but I don’t think he’ll need many, he’s submitted far more competent grapplers in the past one or two opportunities should about do it.
Middle Of The Pack
The meat and potatoes of the lineup. You obviously hope for big things, but will happily settle for a strong decision win or late finish.
Renato Moicano – $8,300
I’ve gone back and forth on this fight more than Tito Ortiz has gone back and forth on retirement. On the one hand, I don’t think people realize how good Max Holloway is and they are just trying to forget Jose Aldo is still dangerous. On the other hand, Moicano on paper looks stylistically similar to Max. Long frame, straight puncher, pushes the pace, etc. Why I ended up leaning Moicano is all those reasons above plus all this Aldo retirement talk just makes me question him caring anymore. Didn’t want this to be a five rounder because those are hard. I mean I’m all here for laziness and Jose’s fought plenty of fives, but if I had to imagine Moicano isn’t turning down five round fights because they “are hard”.
You’ll hear about how Jose could dominate with body shots from everyone and their mother leading up to this fight and that’s true. The more likely option is Moicano watched two minutes of film from the Holloway fights and is going to come out with a lot of volume at a high pace for 15 minutes to secure the biggest win of his career.
Ricardo Ramos – $8,000
Sometimes I try to draft contrarian anticipating everyone screwing it up and go the other way, this is one of those times. Do I think Ramos is going to ice Khabib’s cousin in the first? No, I don’t. Do I think a ton of people are going to foolishly see the name Nurmagomedov and blindly draft Said? Yes, I do. That’s no disrespect to Ramos either. If anything I thought he would’ve been more expensive here. Ramos can be a wild man. But he’s got both the skills and cardio to compete in this fight wherever it goes. Again I think a lot of people will be riding with the Nurmagomedov name which opens the door for even a Ramos decision to be a massive point swing.
You know when you used to go to Chuck E Cheese you’d always have a couple tickets left over and your parents made you pick out some cheap prizes because you had to spend the tickets right then and there? These are those cheap prizes. Often times simply by these fighters surviving you get a big point swing in your favor. Only because so many people picked their opponent thinking they would get obliterated in a round. These are our budget buys.
Mara Romero Borella – $7,600
Ok I know I just got done saying a lot of times we just want these fighters to survive. However, this is actually a case I think Romero Borella can win. She gave Katlyn Chookagian all she could handle and people are talking about Chookagian being in the title picture. I know that doesn’t count for much at 125 right now, but still. So I ask you to ignore the ugly record she’s sporting and focus more on the competition. That’s what really matters. I mean sure Santos is 15 – 0, but one look at the records of her opponents and you would think she’s beating up concession stand attendants. The step up in competition is going to show and Romero Borella is about to earn that $7,600 price tag and then some.
Justin Ledet – $7,000
Now, this is what I was talking about when I said just to survive. I am not going to besmirch anyone for picking Johnny Walker here. Not one bit. All I’m imploring you to ask yourself is this: is knocking out Khalil Rountree the new benchmark for being Thanos destroyer of worlds in MMA? Because I don’t think it is. Sure it was an impressive win. I’m just not entirely ready to call Johnny Walker Francis 2.0 just yet. So I’ll take Ledet. Hoping he plays a patient and defensive stand up game all the way to a decision win (or loss even). Thereby ruining everyone who drafted Walker’s day.
What I’m Staying Away From
I’m avoiding the main event Saturday like UFC champions avoid defending the belt in their own division. There’s just no reason to spend money on either of them. Assuncao is cheap but basically, the only way he’s going to win this is in a five-round Assuncao style fight which will result in about 30 total DraftKings points scored. Then on the other side of the coin, I can’t justify paying $8,800 for anyone (maybe Jon Jones) against Assuncao because… Assuncao.
There you have it. Our first DraftKings dream team. Realistically I’ll be running Souza, Maia, Oliveira, Ramos, Romero Borella, and Ledet as my go to. Then just praying Ledet doesn’t get murdered in the first 90 seconds and that there’s a boatload of subs on this card.
Thanks for sticking around and we’ll see everyone next week when Bobby Knuckles finally makes his return to the Octagon.