DraftKings MMA: UFC 273 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC 273 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Belts at 135 and 145 pounds will be awarded when the UFC heads to Jacksonville on Saturday night for its fourth pay-per-view event of 2022.

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 $600k UFC 273 Special with$200k 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.

Moves Scoring
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)

Scoring Notes

  • 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 Championship

(C) Alexander Volkanovski (23-1-0) v. Chan Sung Jung (17-6-0)
DK Salaries: Volkanovski ($9,500), Jung ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Volkanovski (-720), Jung (+500)
Odds to Finish: +110

Volkanovski was scheduled for a third bout against Max Holloway here, but the latter was forced to withdraw due to an injury, giving The Korean Zombie his first shot at UFC gold.

It's abundantly clear to even a novice follower of the sport that Volkanovski and Holloway are the two best featherweights on the planet today. Alex is a perfect 10-0 in the UFC and hasn't lost since May 2013, the only setback of his professional career. He originally defeated Holloway for the title in December 2019 and has since defended it twice, once against Max and once more against Brian Ortega. Volkanovski is somewhat undersized for the division at just 5-foot-6, but his boxing and cardio are exceptional. He hits hard, but has struggled to put away his competition. He's an elite fighter regardless.

Jung is 3-2 in his past five fights dating back to November 2018, which means he probably shouldn't be getting a title shot, but he's tough and competitive so you won't hear too many people complaining about this one. Jung was on the sidelines from August 2013 to February 2017 due to mandatory military service in his native South Korea. He hasn't been overly active since returning to action, fighting once each in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021, and twice in 2019. 

The Zombie has a few things going for him here. Not only does he possess high-end power, but he's better on the mat than he gets credit for. Volkanovski is definitely the stronger, more technical fighter, but Jung is rarely overwhelmed inside the Octagon. It takes an awful long time to get him out of there, if his opposition is able to at all.

Although Jung enters with a one-inch edge in the height and reach department, any prolonged kickboxing match favors the champion. The Zombie is going to have to throw different looks at his opponent or else Volkanovski will consistently pick him apart on the feet. 

I have a very difficult time believing this is anything other than the appetizer for an eventual third bout between Volkanovski and Holloway. Jung was destroyed (50-45 3x) in a main event against Ortega in October 2020, while Alex routed Ortega (49-46, 50-45, 50-44) in a title defense about seven months ago. 

Volk's $9500 salary is a massive number, especially on a deep card. He's a volume guy, so I could see him still paying off, but I'd be hesitant at that price tag. The Zombie is talented and durable enough to keep this fairly close and see the final bell, but I don't see him winning. Give me Volkanovski by decision.

THE PICK: Volkanovski
 

Co-Main Event - Undisputed Bantamweight Champion

(C) Aljamain Sterling (20-3-0) v. (IC) Petr Yan (16-2-0)
DK Salaries: Sterling ($6,900), Yan ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Sterling (+350), Yan (-475)
Odds to Finish: -120

These two fought for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship a little over a year ago. Yan was cruising to a unanimous decision victory and his first ever UFC title when he was correctly disqualified for a blatant illegal knee. Sterling became the first UFC champion to win the belt via DQ, and it was the correct call.

These two were scheduled for a rematch in late-October before Aljamain withdrew with a neck issue. Yan remained on the card, an interim title was added, and he proceeded to take a clear-cut, unanimous decision from the excellent Cory Sandhagen.

I picked Sterling in the first fight and I couldn't have been any more wrong. I thought his strength and physicality edge would be the difference, and while he looked fair in the early portion of the bout, he quickly faded and was non-competitive by the time it was over. Sterling is an excellent wrestler, and his stand-up has clearly improved during his UFC run, but his takedown defense (41 percent) is dreadful and his lack of cardio in the first Yan fight is a serious concern for this one. It remains to be seen if the poor effort was simply an adrenaline dump in a big moment or a sign of future issues.

Regardless, the bottom line is that I underrated Yan. He's 9-1 in his first 10 UFC bouts, with the DQ loss to Sterling being his only setback. Regardless of what is going on around him, Yan continues to push forward, eat everything thrown his way without issue and stalk his opposition. He's more volume than power on the feet, but his technique is exceptional and he's an excellent – both offensive and defensive – wrestler. In short, he has an elite all-around skill set and is a clear-cut, top-ten pound-for-pound fighter at this point. 

I racked my brain trying to come up with a path to victory for Aljamain here, and I have.... nothing. Yan's takedown defense is 89 percent and he's deceptively strong. In short, every advantage I assumed Sterling would have in the opener turned out to not be the case. 

Very few fighters in this sport seem to hold onto their titles for an extended period of time these days, but Yan is clearly good enough to do so. 

THE PICK: Yan
 

Welterweight

Gilbert Burns (20-4-0) v. Khamzat Chimaev (10-0-0)
DK Salaries: Burns ($6,800), Chimaev ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Burns (+375), Chimaev (-510)
Odds to Finish: -225

Fans have been clamoring for Chimaev to face a top-flight opponent since his stunning debut back in July 2020, and they will get their wish here against a former title challenger in Burns.

The UFC attempted to book Chimaev and Leon Edwards on multiple occasions, but Khamzat contracted COVID-19 and suffered lingering long-term effects which cancelled each potential bout.

Chimaev has fought four times under the UFC banner. He's undefeated, with all four wins coming via stoppage and three of the four coming in Round 1. He faced lesser competition in his first couple fights, but his wins against Gerald Meerschaert, and most recently Li Jingliang, are totally legitimate. A former three-time Swedish national wrestling champion, Chimaev's pace has proven to be exceptional, as is his athleticism and explosiveness. The sample size is still small, but the Chimaev we have seen thus far looks like one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.

Burns received a UFC Welterweight Championship opportunity against Kamaru Usman in February 2021. He dropped Usman early and appeared to have a chance to earn a stoppage before quickly fading and being dominated the rest of the way. To Burns' credit, he rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Stephen Thompson last July. The Brazilian is still primarily a mat specialist, but his striking has improved to the point that it's now solid-to-average, which is plenty good enough considering how strong the rest of Burns' game is. 

I'm a big, big fan of Li, but this is unquestionably Chimaev's toughest test to date. Burns has no noticeable weaknesses in his arsenal, and I'm curious how Khamzat will go about attacking him. Gilbert's takedown defense is just 50 percent, but he's so talented offensively from his back that I put less stock in that number than I would with a typical fighter. Of course, Burns is still at risk of getting rag dolled for 15 minutes given how good Chimaev has looked thus far. 

Gilbert is fantastic, and Chimaev's price tag here implies he will be able to hammer a top-five welterweight without any issues whatsoever. That may in fact be the case, and it may even be the result I would wager happening, but I'd be really cautious about using such a significant chunk of my salary cap on Khamzat here. If he wins without issue, the UFC will likely have no choice but to push him into an immediate title shot. 

THE PICK: Chimaev
 

Women's Strawweight

Mackenzie Dern (11-2-0) v. Tecia Torres (13-5-0)
DK Salaries: Dern ($8,200), Torres ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Dern (-115), Torres (-105)
Odds to Finish: +120

Dern has had some exceptional performances during her time with the UFC, but they've primarily come against lesser competition and they have all come on the mat, which isn't the least bit surprising considering she is former world BJJ champion. Her striking skills are lagging behind, and that was evident in a unanimous decision defeat to Marina Rodriguez last October. Dern has improved in the stand-up, but she's at a disadvantage in a prolonged kickboxing match. Mackenzie just turned 29 years of age, so she has plenty of runway ahead of her, but I expect more bumps along the way.

Torres probably should have been released on the heels of a four-fight losing streak from February 2018 to August 2019, but the UFC gave her another opportunity, and she has since run off three straight defeats over Angela Hill, Sam Hughes and Brianna Van Buren. Severely undersized for the division at 5-foot-1, Torres is essentially the exact opposite of Dern in the sense that she does all her work in the stand-up. She's a technical Muay Thai specialist with little power. Torres relies on volume and combinations to be successful.

Dern is bigger and much better on the ground, but Torres is deceptively strong and a much more technical striker. Her takedown defense is just 58 percent, and I'm sure Mackenzie will attempt to exploit that. She better, because Dern's striking defense isn't the best, and Torres could potentially overwhelm her on the feet. 

I think there is a real chance Tecia's stand-up skills are the difference here. Dern's striking game becomes less and less effective the longer she is forced to remain upright. I'm not particularly optimistic about Torres long term simply because her offensive arsenal is so limited, but she should be fine here if she can avoid spending the entire fight on her back. 

THE PICK: Torres
 

Heavyweight

Jair Rozenstruik (12-3-0) v. Marcin Tybura (22-7-0)
DK Salaries: Rozenstruik ($8,600), Tybura ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Rozenstruik (-150), Tybura (+130)
Odds to Finish: -190

This fight was scheduled to take place a little over a month ago before it was pushed back. Neither man suffered an apparent injury, so I doubt the move has any impact on the result.

Jair has alternated wins and losses in his past five fights, with the wins coming via knockout over Augusto Sakai and Junior dos Santos and the defeats at the hands of Francis Ngannou (knockout), Ciryl Gane (unanimous) and Curtis Blaydes (unanimous). The thing that obviously stands out is the fact the three fighters Jair lost to are considerably better than the two he defeated. It's not a huge surprised considering Rozenstruik's one-dimensional offensive arsenal. He has legitimate fight-ending power and is truly tough, but Jair displayed zero footwork and is a pure brawler. It's a skill set that tends to age exceptionally poorly, and I'd wager Rozenstruik's next nine fights will not go as well as his first nine (6-3) with the company.

Tybura had a five-fight winning streak snapped in a unanimous decision defeat to Alexander Volkov this past October. Volkov is a different type of opponent than Jair in the sense that he's very technical on the feet and relies on both head and foot movement for success. Tybura has less power than your average heavyweight, but he's a better athlete than most of the fighters in the division and has a solid ground game. The upside here is pretty limited, but Tybura is a solid professional fighter who should continue to win his fair share of fights moving forward.

There doesn't seem to be much doubt about how this one will play out. Jair will swing for the bleachers with every shot he throws, while Tybura will attempt to get his opponent moving and turn this into something other than a slugfest. 

Tybura's durability is a bit of a concern – he's been knocked out four times as a professional – but I tend to bet on athleticism when a fight appears too close to call, and that's what I'm doing in this one. The seemingly-ridiculous $1,000 salary gap between the two was the clincher. I see no reason for that, even if you think Jair is going to win.

THE PICK: Tybura

Other Bouts

Lightweight
Vinc Pichel (14-2-0) v. Mark O. Madsen (11-0-0)
DK Salaries: Pichel ($8,400), Madsen ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Pichel (-130), Madsen (+110)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Madsen

Welterweight
Ian Garry (8-0-0) v. Darian Weeks (5-1-0)
DK Salaries: Garry ($9,200), Weeks ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Garry (-365), Weeks (+280)
Odds to Finish: -190
THE PICK: Garry

Women's Bantamweight
Aspen Ladd (9-2-0) v. Raquel Pennington (13-9-0)
DK Salaries: Ladd ($7,300), Pennington ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Ladd (+165), Pennington (-195)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Ladd

Welterweight
Mickey Gall (7-4-0) v. Mike Malott (7-1-1)
DK Salaries: Gall ($7,400), Malott ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Gall (+165), Malott (-195)
Odds to Finish: -250
THE PICK: Malott 

Heavyweight
Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) v. Jared Vanderaa (12-7-0)
DK Salaries: Oleinik ($8,100), Vanderaa ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Oleinik (-110), Vanderaa (-110)
Odds to Finish: -400
THE PICK: Vanderaa

Middleweight
Anthony Hernandez (8-2-0, 1NC) v. Josh Fremd (9-2-0)
DK Salaries: Hernandez ($8,700), Fremd ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Hernandez (-190), Fremd (+160)
Odds to Finish: -500
THE PICK: Hernandez

Women's Strawweight
Piera Rodriguez (7-0-0) v. Kay Hansen (7-5-0)
DK Salaries: Rodriguez ($8,300), Hansen ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Rodriguez (-120), Hansen (+100)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Rodriguez

Bantamweight
Julio Arce (17-5-0) v. Daniel Santos (10-1-0)
DK Salaries: Arce ($9,000), Santos ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Arce (-195), Santos (+165)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Arce

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jon Litterine plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: JLitterine.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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