DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 45 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 45 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

The last UFC event of 2021 is set for Saturday, where two heavyweights collide in the main event and several high-profile fights round out the prelims.

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 $300k Year Finale 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.

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 - Heavyweight

Derrick Lewis (25-8-0, 1NC) v. Chris Daukaus (12-3-0)
DK Salaries: Lewis ($7,900), Daukaus ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Lewis (+120), Daukaus (-140)
Odds to Finish: -450

The odds are strongly against Lewis ever fighting for the UFC Heavyweight Championship again, and that's fine, because his popularity is at an all-time high, and he still makes a boatload of money in high-profile or main event fights, such as this one. "The Black Beast" fought for the interim UFC belt in his most recent bout this past July, getting knocked out by Ciryl Gane late in Round 3. Gane is a high-level athlete with excellent footwork, and that is the exact type of opponent which gives Lewis all sorts of trouble. This fight should be considerably more to his liking from a stylistic standpoint.

The early returns on Daukaus have been fantastic, as he's a perfect 4-0 in the UFC with four knockouts. The competition he has gone up against (Shamil Abdurakhimov, Aleksei Oleinik, Rodrigo Nascimento, Parker Porter) has been sub-optimal, but Daukaus deserves credit for parlaying his quick start into his first main event with the company against Lewis. 11 of Daukaus' 12 career victories have come via KO, so he should have no problems engaging Lewis in the brawl he is seeking.

There would appear to be a wide range of outcomes for this fight. Daukaus moves better than Lewis and is much better at stringing together combinations, but we have never really seen his chin tested. He does have a couple of knockout defeats in his career, so it will be interesting to see how he holds up when Lewis unloads. 

We've been shocked before, but I have a difficult time believing the judges will be needed here. Lewis has been doing a better job lately of picking his spots in terms of when to attack. Unfortunately, very few of those spots emerged in the Gane fight. 

I have a difficult time going against Daukaus given the significant athleticism edge he possesses and think he's a fine DK play, but Lewis is most definitely a live underdog. I wouldn't be the least bit surprise if one of his monster shots finishes Daukaus off, but if he can't land one, Daukaus should be able to win with volume and plenty of movement.

THE PICK: Daukaus

Co-Main Event - Welterweight

 Stephen Thompson (16-5-1) v. Belal Muhammad (19-3-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Thompson ($9,100), Muhammad ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Thompson (-235), Muhammad (+190)
Odds to Finish: +165

Set to turn 39 years of age in a couple months and a loser in three of his past fight bouts, Thompson is firmly in must-win territory each and every time he steps into the Octagon. This is especially true in this fight considering he has nothing to gain from a rankings perspective even if he emerges victorious.

Wonderboy remains one of the best kickboxers in the history of the sport. He excels at picking his opposition apart from distance and should be able to continue to do so until he ultimately decides to hang up his gloves. Thompson's cardio is strong and his wrestling is better than it gets credit for, although it will never be a strength of his game. Wonderboy has been fighting the best in the division for several years, and although he has traditionally had difficulty winning the "big" fight, he's an exceptional athlete and should be able to fight at a high level for several more years despite his advanced age.

This is another big opportunity for Muhammad, and he deserves it given his recent strong run. Muhammad got his first UFC main event this past March against Leon Edwards, although an accidental eye poke early in Round 2 left Belal unable to continue. He got right back in the Octagon three months later, taking a unanimous decision from Demian Maia. Muhammad is 9-2 in his past 11 decisions, with the lone setbacks coming against a pair of tough opponents in Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. Muhammad is clearly underrated and could firmly establish himself as a top-10 welterweight with a win here.

While Muhammad is generally content in a stand-up affair, that simply isn't an option here, as Thompson would hammer him in a kickboxing match. He needs to do whatever is necessary to limit Wonderboy's space in an attempt to get him to the mat. Muhammad needs to fire off continued takedown attempts even if the first few fail. Just the threat of this fight going to the mat could be enough to limit Thompson's output in the stand-up and thus give Muhammad a chance of winning. It's a valid scenario, albeit one I would bet against.

THE PICK: Thompson


Cub Swanson (27-12-0) v. Darren Elkins (27-9-0)
DK Salaries: Swanson ($8,800), Elkins ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Swanson (-200), Elkins (+170)
Odds to Finish: +105

To give you an idea of how underrated Swanson was in the prime of his career, this is a guy who defeated Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier – the two men who fought for the UFC Lightweight Championship a week ago – in back-to-back fights in late-2012 and early-2013. It hasn't gone as well lately for Cub, as he has dropped five of his past seven bouts, but the company has been extremely reckless regarding who they match him up against, and this fight against Elkins is considerably more reasonable for all parties involved.

One of the toughest men in the history of the sport, Elkins has won back-to-back fights on the heels of a four-fight losing streak from July 2018 to May 2020. Elkins is 37 years of age and closing in on 40 professional fights, so it's no surprise his speed and overall athleticism – which was never great to begin with – has waned of late. What Elkins does bring to the table is superhuman heart and terrific fight IQ.

Swanson and Elkins are employing almost exactly the same fighting style in the latter stages of their respective careers. They are both extremely comfortable in all-out brawls due to the belief they can outlast their opponent. Cub tends to throw a bit more and get hit a bit more on the feet, while Elkins should have a slight edge in the grappling department.

While I would give a very minor edge to Swanson, all things being equal, I simply don't see a $1400 salary gap between these two. Elkins' ability to survive difficult situations and still emerge victorious is legendary and it's not as if Cub has been a picture of durability of late. There's enough value here for me to roll with Elkins in hopes of an upset.

THE PICK: Elkins


Diego Ferreira (17-4-0) v. Mateusz Gamrot (19-1-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Ferreira ($7,700), Gamrot ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Ferreira (+160), Gamrot (-190)
Odds to Finish: +105

It's not getting a ton of publicity, but this is by far one of the most intriguing fights on the entire card for a number reasons.

It's also last call for Ferreira, who enters having lost back-to-back fights. Diego ripped off a six-fight winning streak from Jan 2016 to January 2020, but has since fell victim to Beneil Dariush and Gregor Gillespie. The obvious immediate concern is that Dariush and Gillespie are considerably better than anyone Ferreira defeated during his winning streak. Diego is far better on the mat than the feet, but he possesses at least average skills across the board. I'm a fan, but the Brazilian turns 37 years of age next month, and his margin for error in a loaded division is zero.

Gamrot is no easy mark. The former KSW Featherweight and Lightweight Champion, Gamrot dropped a split decision to someone named Guram Kutateladze in his UFC debut in October 2020, but has since gone on to earn back-to-back Performance of the Night bonuses in stoppage wins over Jeremy Stephens (submission) and Scott Holtzman (KO). Like Ferreira, Gamrot is an all-around threat. I've been impressed with what I've seen thus far. Gamrot also fought Norman Parke three times in his KSW days, so at least he faced some decent competition before arriving on the scene in the UFC. 

The sample size is very small, but Gamrot is averaging a whopping 5.35 takedowns per 15 minutes. Toss in the fact Ferreira defends the takedown at just a 60 percent clip and that's a potential issue for the Brazilian. Of course, very few men in this sport are as comfortable off of their back as Diego given his BJJ skills. 

It's not yet clear if Gamrot is a top guy, but Ferreira is clearly trending in the wrong direction and that worries me. I've been a supporter for quite a while, but his advanced age combined with his lack of notable wins make him an easy fade here until we see more progress.

THE PICK: Gamrot

Other Bouts

Women's Strawweight
Amanda Lemos (10-1-1) v. Angela Hill (13-1-0)
DK Salaries: Lemos ($9,500), Hill ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Lemos (-380), Hill (+290)
Odds to Finish: +135

Raphael Assuncao (27-8-0) v. Ricky Simon (18-3-0)
DK Salaries: Assuncao ($7,000), Simon ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Assuncao (+220), Simon (-275)
Odds to Finish: +125

Dustin Stoltzfus (13-3-0) v. Gerald Meerschaert (33-14-0)
DK Salaries: Stoltzfus ($7,200), Meerschaert ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Stoltzfus (+185), Meerschaert (-225)
Odds to Finish: 
THE PICK: Meerschaert

Raoni Barcelos (16-2-0) v. Victor Henry (21-5-0)
DK Salaries: Barcelos ($9,300), Henry ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Barcelos (-310), Henry (+245)
Odds to Finish: -200
THE PICK: Barcelos

Justin Tafa (4-3-0) v. Harry Hunsucker (7-4-0)
DK Salaries: Tafa ($9,400), Hunsucker ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Tafa (-335), Hunsucker (+260)
Odds to Finish: -400

Women's Flyweight
Sijara Eubanks (8-6-0) v. Melissa Gatto (7-0-2)
DK Salaries: Eubanks ($8,700), Gatto ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Eubanks (-180), Gatto (+155)
Odds to Finish: +125

Charles Jourdain (11-4-1) v. Andre Ewell (17-8-0)
DK Salaries: Jourdain ($8,900), Ewell ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Jourdain (-200), Ewell (+170)
Odds to Finish: -125
THE PICK: Jourdain

Women's Featherweight
Raquel Pennington (12-9-0) v. Macy Chiasson (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Pennington ($8,400), Chiasson ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Pennington (-190), Chiasson (+160)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Chiasson

Don'Tale Mayes (8-4-0) v. Josh Parisian (14-4-0)
DK Salaries: Mayes ($8,600), Parisian ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Mayes (-195), Parisian (+165)
Odds to Finish: -150

Jordan Leavitt (8-1-0) v. Matt Sayles (8-3-0)
DK Salaries: Leavitt ($8,200), Sayles ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Leavitt (-115), Sayles (-105)
Odds to Finish: -170
THE PICK: Leavitt

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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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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