This article is part of our The MMA Mashup series.
This PPV edition of The MMA Mashup focuses on DFS platforms exclusively, as we highlight more than a few dog plays that could work to provide leverage against the various fields. These include a UFC veteran returning for his second run with the company and a fighter with the lowest odds to win on the slate.
Plays to Consider on DraftKings
Beneil Dariush ($8,600)
I'll begin here by making a bold (and regrettable) claim: I think the days of Tony Ferguson competing with the better fighters in this division are over. The former interim lightweight champion has always taken damage in fights, but he has looked particularly slow and mechanical of late, which resulted in one-sided contests against Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. Dariush's striking seems to get better with every fight and his pedigree as a wrestler with a strong jiujitsu game could see him mirror the success that "Do Bronx" had over three rounds.
Mike Grundy ($8,200)
Injuries and fight cancelations have seen Grundy get in the cage just twice in the last two years, but the 34-year-old is one to watch, having cobbled together a serviceable striking game to compliment relentless wrestling and strong submissions. Lando Vannata's offbeat striking has produced some highlights, but he absorbs more strikes than he lands per 15 minutes of fight time while sporting just a 58 percent takedown defense rate.
Viviane Araujo ($7,400)
Araujo rebounded in a big way after a surprising loss to Jessica Eye in 2019 with command performances over Montana De La Rosa and Roxanne Modafferi. We saw an improved version of Araujo in those bouts, one who was much less predictable with her combinations and utilized more movement. Katlyn Chookagian's game functions best when she can stick fighters at the end of her shots, but despite giving up five inches of height, Araujo will match "Blonde Fighter's" 68-inch reach. Her jiujitsu black belt should also let her wrestle without having to worry about Chookagian's active guard.
Jamie Pickett ($8,100)
Pickett fell short in his UFC debut against Tafon Nchukwi but was able to deal with his opponent's pressure quite well using footwork and the clinch. That will come in handy against Jordan Wright, who looks to come forward and land big strikes. The upright posture of Wright should help Pickett convert those clinch situations to takedowns, while his three-inch reach advantage will be put to good use against a man who has absorbed an incredible 8.02 strikes per minute in his three UFC outings (one Contender Series Fight).
Andrea Lee ($7,000)
Some viewed Antonina Shevchenko's ability to stay on her feet against the takedown attempts of Ariane Lipski as proof she had markedly improved since being brought to the mat three times by Chookagian, but it must be noted that Lipski has only successfully notched one takedown in her five UFC fights. By contrast, Andrea Lee has used her frame to complete 1.67 takedowns per 15 minutes of Octagon time. Until Antonina shows that she can keep her feet against a competent wrestler, I simply can't pick a fight like this any other way.
Plays to Consider on FanDuel
Priscila Cachoeira ($9)
I am not here to argue that Cachoeira will ever be close to title contention, but I think the perception of her has been a bit unfairly colored by the drubbing she took at the hands of flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. She may be limited, but I think a power striking game built on constant pressure can work at the lower levels of this division, as most of the combatants don't carry that kind of force behind their shots. Gina Mazany should try to wrestle Cachoeira often as a result, but the strength of "Zombie Girl" will likely lead to plenty of stuffed shots.
Sean Soriano ($8)
One could be forgiven for thinking that Christos Giagos gassed out in his last fight due to the fact that he took it on short notice, but the 31-year-old habitually wrestles himself to the point of exhaustion, having shot at least 10 times in three of his last four fights. Soriano's second run in the UFC could prove to be vastly more successful than the first, as he features quick hands, throws in combination, and can employ a wrestling attack of his own.
Matt Schnell ($20)
A finish via light tap on the chin after a brutal slam by Hector Sandoval made it hard for some to trust Schnell, but those fears should be assuaged after the 31-year-old weathered the big shots of Tyson Nam in his latest victory. Rogerio Bontorin is another BJJ ace but got knocked out quickly when forced to stand with Kai Kara-France. Schnell has only been submitted once in 20 professional fights, which gives me confidence that he will be able to survive on the ground to give his fast hands a chance to do work.
Plays to Consider on Monkey Knife Fight
Kevin Aguilar OVER 43.5 Significant Strikes and Tucker Lutz OVER 33.5 Significant Strikes.
Aguilar fights at a slow pace and Lutz looks to wrestle, which may give you a sense as to why this fight was lined so low, but I feel like this is a bit of an overcorrection. Aguilar will head into this contest having exceeded his total in four of six UFC fights. The 87 percent takedown defense rate he carries should ensure this fight stays on the feet where both men will look to throw inside the pocket.
Charles Oliveira UNDER 49.5 Significant Strikes and Michael Chandler UNDER 39.5 Significant Strikes.
These totals are incredibly low for a five-round fight, which means the only question we need to ask ourselves is "will this fight finish?" The answer to that question (in my opinion) is "yes" and with enough room that we feel comfortable about our selection. It's no secret that Chandler likes to get his wrestling game going early, but one has to wonder if he will want to take the fight to the ground, given the high-level jiujitsu of Oliveira. I think this dynamic results in the two men swinging in the pocket until somebody falls, giving us a new lightweight champion.
Plays to Consider on SuperDraft
Andre Muniz – 1.8x Multiplier
Ronaldo Souza has been feared for years as a fighter who can swallow his opponents whole on the ground, but it's looking less likely that this is the case with age. We can point to a few fights to illustrate this, but the one that sticks out in my mind is his bout with Jack Hermansson, in which the credentialed black belt was held in bottom position for a whopping 6:52. Andre Muniz is another wizard on the ground, as evidenced by the 13 submission wins he has logged in 20 professional fights. "Jacare" has looked a step behind in every aspect of combat lately, and I don't have faith that he will be able to pull off his first submission since 2017 against someone like Muniz.
Shane Burgos – 1.75x Multiplier
I want to start by saying that I think rumors of Edson Barboza's demise are greatly exaggerated, as he was robbed of a win over Dan Ige and absolutely housed Makwan Amirkhani in October. So why am I picking Burgos? He has a fighting style that has traditionally worked very well against Barboza: crowd him to take away his kicks and throw hard. Burgos takes far too much damage, but his pain tolerance will be an asset here, as he will almost certainly have to walk through some big shots before wearing "Junior" down.