DraftKings MMA: UFC 276 DFS Picks

DraftKings MMA: UFC 276 DFS Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC 276 takes place Saturday in Las Vegas, and Jon Litterine is back to break down the top fights, plus offer his DFS picks and predictions for the key matchups on the card.

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 an $800k UFC 276 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 - Middleweight Championship

(C) Israel Adesanya (22-1-0) v. Jared Cannonier (15-5-0)
DK Salaries: Adesanya ($9,400), Cannonier ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Adesanya (-380), Cannonier (+310)
Odds to Finish: -120

Unquestionably a top-three pound-for-pound fighter in the world at the moment, Adesanya will be making his the fifth defense of his title in a span of about two and a half years. Israel's unanimous decision win over Robert Whittaker this past February was arguably his toughest defense to date, but there was little doubt which man would be leaving with the title. 

Cannonier's UFC run was on life support after he dropped three of four fights from February 2017 to May 2018, but all three of those defeats came at light heavyweight. Since dropping down to middleweight in November 2018, Cannonier is 5-1, with four of the five wins coming via knockout and the lone defeat coming against Whittaker. The vast majority of people still don't seem to think Cannonier is a legitimate threat to Adesanya's throne, but he is currently the No. 2 ranked middleweight and the guy at No. 1 (Whittaker) has already lost twice to the champion. In short, Cannonier deserves his shot.

Adesanya is one of the most creative and gifted strikes we have ever seen inside the Octagon. He's massive for the division at 6-foot-4, and his long limbs allow him to attempt all sorts of unorthodox attacks. It's nearly impossible to imagine any opponent out-pointing him for 25 minutes given his size and skill set. Toss in the fact he has absorbed everything thrown his way without issue, and you have a guy who is primed to rule the division for an extended period of time.

It's difficult to envision a clear path to victory for Cannonier here. His one big edge comes in the pure power department, but Adesanya has never had durability issues in his career. Jared's grappling game is extremely limited, and he's going to have to figure out some way to negate a five-inch height and three-inch reach disadvantage. 

The cardio edge should also be in Israel's favor. While Cannonier has almost always gotten the job done, he's been up and down at certain points during fights. You can't say the same thing about Adesanya, who always appeared to be on top of his game. 

Cannonier's DK salary is really cheap for a guy with his abilities, but you're essentially hoping for a knockout if you use him in your lineups. There are other underdog plays on this card I like considerably more. I think Izzy wins this easily.

UFC 276 PICK: Adesanya
 

Co-Main Event - Featherweight Championship

(C) Alexander Volkanovski (24-1-0) v. Max Holloway (23-6-0)
DK Salaries: Volkanovski ($9,000), Holloway ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Volkanovski (-195), Holloway (+165)
Odds to Finish: +150

This will be the third fight between these two since December 2019, but it's the only bout that makes sense at 145 pounds, and that will continue to be the case until these two settle their differences once again. It was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 272 in March before Holloway was forced to withdraw. Volkanovski remained on the card and obliterated Chan Sung Jung to retain his belt without issue.

Volkanovski enters having won 21 fights in a row, including each of his first 11 bouts with the UFC. The second Holloway fight – which he won via split decision – was the only time he was remotely challenged. Alexander is a throwback in many ways. He has nothing more than average size at 5-foot-6, but his cardio is exceptional, particularly when you take into account the number of strikes he attempts per fight. 

Max enters having won his last two fights via unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez. He was rewarded with a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus for both efforts and looked as sharp as ever. The Kattar fight was among the most lopsided bouts of all time, as Holloway landed (447) and attempted (746) the most strikes in a single fight in UFC history. Max is the only fighter we have seen thus far who has been able to match Volkanovski in terms of both cardio and striking volume. 

So, where does that leave us? The overall numbers say the first bout was considerably closer than the second, but that simply was not the case. Max didn't attempt a takedown in either fight. Alex failed on all four of his attempts in the first fight, but connected on 3-of-9 tries in the second bout. He's the far more likely of the two to try to get this fight to the mat, but Holloway's 84-percent career takedown defense is exceptional. 

The easiest way to attempt to decipher this fight is to assume it will be a stand-up battle and work backwards from there. The size edge definitely goes to Max, but Volkanovski has had no issues consistently landing against bigger opponents in the past. 

This all comes down to value for me. Holloway may have lost the first two bouts to Volkanovski, but he's still one of the best fighters in the world today regardless of weight class. $7,200 is ridiculously cheap and I love him at that price in hopes he can pull what would apparently be a larger upset than I would have first believed. 

Regardless of who you think will win I expect another razor-thin fight that will likely see the final bell. It should be fantastic.

UFC 276 PICK: Holloway
 

Middleweight

Sean Strickland (25-3-0) v. Alex Pereira (5-1-0)
DK Salaries: Strickland ($7,900), Pereira ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Strickland (+100), Pereira (-120)
Odds to Finish: -190

The fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 277 at the end of July, but the company decided to bump it up about a month.

Still just 31 years of age, the winner of a half dozen fights in a row and without a defeat dating back to May 2018, Strickland is legitimately on the verge of title-implicating fights at 185 pounds. He is still getting nowhere near the respect he deserves for a guy who has displayed a pretty complete all-around game. 

Pereira has all of six professional fights under his belt, including three with the UFC. He'll turn 35 years of age just days after this event takes place, so it is imperative he fights frequently in the coming months/years if he hopes of making any sort of run at middleweight. We last saw Pereira in March at which time he took a unanimous decision from another tough customer in Bruno Silva

Pereira is a former Glory Kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion. He's legitimately one of the most talented strikers in the world, not just mixed martial arts. To the shock of no one, Pereira's secondary skills are way behind his stand-up, but his ceiling is massive if he is able to get the rest of his game to just solid-average.

I am almost as excited by this fight as the two title bouts. Like Pereira, Strickland generates virtually all of his offense from his striking. He has perfected the art of simply standing there and beating up his opposition by firing off return jabs. The fact you can hit Strickland with a truck and he wouldn't budge is a necessity in order for him to employ the style we see from him. 

Strickland is the more likely of the two to go to some sort of wrestling-based attack. I doubt it's his first choice, but it might be an option if Pereira starts to dominate on the feet. Alex is going to employ much more movement and look like the more athletic man inside the Octagon. Strickland's counter-punching style is going to be tested here. For starters, Pereira enters with a three-inch edge in both the height and reach department. Strickland is going to have to figure out a way to negate that size differential, and that's difficult from a countering perspective. 

We're going to get a heck of a feel for Pereira's long-term potential here. Not only is Strickland good, but he's difficult to fight against because he lets his opponent lead and counters everything. This pick could look foolish, but at this very moment, I slightly prefer what we have seen from Strickland thus far as opposed to what we might see Pereira.

UFC 276 PICK: Strickland
 

Bantamweight

Pedro Munhoz (19-7-0, 1NC) v. Sean O'Malley (15-1-0)
DK Salaries: Munhoz ($6,900), O'Malley ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Munhoz (+220), O'Malley (-260)
Odds to Finish: -135

O'Malley is up there with Adesanya in terms of creativity and fluidity in the striking game. He's gone 7-1 in the UFC with five knockout victories. The one defeat was a stoppage loss to Marlon Vera in which O'Malley was dominating before a foot injury turned the tide of the fight. O'Malley's grappling is better than he gets credit for, but still miles behind his striking. It seems unlikely to hamper him against a fellow stand-up specialist in Munhoz, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward depending on the future bantamweights he is matched up against.

With a 1-4 record dating back to June 2019, Munhoz is probably fighting for his job Saturday. Yes, those losses came against Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar and current UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling, but Munhoz will be 36 years of age this coming September and competes in arguably the deepest division in the sport today. He would do just fine if he's facing lesser fighters, but a guy with a potentially 1-5 mark in his past half dozen fights has little value. 

From a stylistic standpoint, this seems like a worse-case scenario for Munhoz. He has fast hands but is more of a volume-over-power guy and is also aggressive to the point of recklessness. It's similar to the issue Cannonier is going to face in the Adesanya fight. The technical edge in striking is so large that it's difficult to see how Munhoz is going to be able to compete on the feet. He could go for broke and try to finish O'Malley early, but Sean is so creative that I imagine he will see whatever Munhoz is throwing at him a mile away.

This is considerably better matchmaking by the UFC. Munhoz is a much bigger "name" than the guys O'Malley has beaten up recently, but he also employs a style that "Sugar" should be able to handle without issue. O'Malley is the star here, and although the UFC would never admit it, him winning in a rout is best for business by a long shot. I wouldn't rule out Munhoz hanging around, but this is not a difficult pick.

UFC 276 PICK: O'Malley
 

Lightweight

Brad Riddell (10-2-0) v. Jalin Turner (12-5-0)
DK Salaries: Riddell ($7,800), Turner ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Riddell (+115), Turner (-135)
Odds to Finish: -175

A City Kickboxing product who is teammates with both Adesanya and Volkanovski, Riddell won four-straight decisions to begin his UFC run before being knocked out by the talented and underrated Rafael Fiziev last December. Relative to initial expectations, Riddell's time with the company has been an overwhelming success. I would like to see him display the ability to stop his competition, but he's a solid all-around fighter.

Turner dropped two of his first three bouts with the company, but he's found his range of late. He's won four straight, all via stoppage (two knockouts, two submission). Turner's improvements would appear to be both legitimate and sustainable considering he turned just 27 years of age this past May. 

Turner's greatest asset is his size. In fact, at 6-foot-3, he's one of the largest lightweight fighters in the sport today. He will enter this fight with a massive eight-inch edge in height and six-inch edge in reach over Riddell. Riddell is going to have a big challenge ahead of him in terms of getting inside and landing consistently on the feet. 

The edge on the mat goes to Turner – Riddell doesn't have a submission victory in his pro career – but Brad is also the more active wrestler, averaging nearly two (1.87 takedowns) per 15 minutes. Of course, Riddell is going to be challenged in getting a much bigger opponent to the mat on a consistent basis.

Everything seems about right here as far as I'm concerned. The true talent level of both men is about equal but the size differential is difficult for me to get past. Riddell is a reasonable underdog play if you are struggling to find a lower-priced fighter to fit into your lineup, but I'm taking Turner to win.

UFC 276 PICK: Turner 
 

Other Bouts

Welterweight
Robbie Lawler (29-15-0, 1NC) v. Bryan Barberena (17-8-0)
DK Salaries: Lawler ($8,500), Barberena ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Lawler (-125), Barberena (+105)
Odds to Finish: +120
UFC 276 PICK: Barberena

Welterweight
Ian Garry (9-0-0) v. Gabriel Green (11-3-0)
DK Salaries: Garry ($8,800), Green ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Garry (-165), Green (+140)
Odds to Finish: -125
UFC 276 PICK: Garry

Welterweight
Donald Cerrone (36-16-0, 2NC) v. Jim Miller (34-16-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Cerrone ($7,500), Miller ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Cerrone (+180), Miller (-210)
Odds to Finish: -210
UFC 276 PICK: Cerrone

Middleweight
Uriah Hall (18-10-0) v. Andre Muniz (22-4-0)
DK Salaries: Hall ($7,000), Muniz ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Hall (+230), Muniz (-275)
Odds to Finish: -450
UFC 276 PICK: Muniz

Women's Flyweight
Jessica Eye (15-10-0, 1NC) v. Maycee Barber (10-2-0)
DK Salaries: Eye ($7,100), Barber ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Eye (+200), Barber (-240)
Odds to Finish: +185
UFC 276 PICK: Barber

Middleweight
Brad Tavares (19-7-0) v. Dricus Du Plessis (16-2-0)
DK Salaries: Tavares ($8,200), Du Plessis ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Tavares (+105), Du Plessis (-125)
Odds to Finish: -110
UFC 276 PICK: Du Plessis

Women's Bantamweight
Jessica-Rose Clark (11-7-0, 1NC) v. Julija Stoliarenko (9-7-2)
DK Salaries: Clark ($8,600), Stoliarenko ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Clark (-140), Stoliarenko (+120)
Odds to Finish: +150
UFC 276 PICK: Clark

Note: All odds accurate as of time of posting, but check out the RotoWire MMA Betting section for the most up-to-date odds on all fighters.

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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