DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 49 Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 49 Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

Despite some late main event reshuffling, light heavyweight contender Islam Makhachev remains the heavy favorite in Saturday's main event, with an opportunity to impressive UFC brass and solidify his case for a title shot.

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 $400k UFC Throwdown 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 - Catchweight (160 Pounds)

Islam Makhachev (21-1-0) v. Bobby Green (29-12-1)
DK Salaries: Makhachev ($9.500), Green ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Makhachev (-800), Green (+550)
Odds to Finish: -280

Originally scheduled to be Makhachev v. Beneil Dariush here, the latter was forced to withdraw due to a fractured fibula, and Green accepted this fight on just 10 days' notice.

Lightweight is probably the deepest division in the sport today and plenty of knowledgeable people feel Makhachev – at age 30 – is the best 155-pounder on the planet. A native of Dagestan and teammate and friend of former UFC Lightweight Champion and pound-for-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam has won nine fights in a row and is 10-1 in his first 11 bouts with the company. Makhachev's last lost came in October 2015. He's one of the most gifted and talented wrestlers in the sport today, averaging 3.37 takedowns per 15 minutes and possessing the unique ability to keep an opponent plastered to the mat the second he gets them to their back.

Green will be fighting for the second time in the span of three weeks. He is fresh off a unanimous decision win over Nasrat Haqparast on February 12, his second straight victory. Green lost a pair of bouts prior to his two recent back-to-back wins, but he has appeared to be energized and refocused of late. His body language and activity level is much improved, and he's always had a boatload of physical gifts despite the fact he turned 35 years of age last September. 

As good as Makhachev is everywhere, Green should have a slight edge in the stand-up. He has exceptionally fast hands and possesses the ability to land combinations with regularity. The issue for Bobby will be remaining upright. Green has always been an underrated wrestler, although he rarely uses those skills. His takedown defense over the course of his long UFC career is a solid 72 percent, but Islam is a different animal entirely. Bobby is going to have to sell out in order to remain standing, even if it limits his output on the feet. 

Green deserves this opportunity, and I'm happy he's getting it, but it's far more likely than not he is overwhelmed here. Bobby will fight anyone, anywhere, any time, but Makhachev is about the last guy on the roster any opponent will want to see on short notice.

There's a decent chance Islam proves to be worthy of his massive DK price tag, but it's going to be difficult to construct a reasonable lineup around him at that salary. I don't hate the idea of using Green as a Hail Mary play in hopes he can just outwork Makhachev on the feet and somehow remain upright. Again, it's unlikely and the outright pick isn't in question, but a lot can go wrong when you're donating nearly a fifth of your allotted budget to one fighter.

THE PICK: Makhachev
 

Co-Main Event - Middleweight

Misha Cirkunov (15-7-0) v. Wellington Turman (17-5-0)
DK Salaries: Cirkunov ($8,300), Turman ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Cirkunov (-125), Turman (+105)
Odds to Finish: -170

Cirkunov's physical gifts aren't in question, and I've been a fan of his for quite a while, but he turns 35 years old the day after this event takes place, and he's probably fighting for his job here, considering he has lost two in a row and three of his past four dating back to March 2019. Cirkunov spent his entire career at light heavyweight before dropping down to face Krzysztof Jotko this past October. He dropped a split decision in that one, although I do think he's better off fighting at middleweight moving forward regardless of how this one turns out.

Turman saved his job with a split decision win over Sam Alvey last August, but he tried to give that victory away with repeated eye pokes which resulted in point deductions in the final frame. It was an underwhelming effort from Turman to begin with, although it was a significantly better result than his prior two bouts, knockout defeats at the hands of Bruno Silva and Andrew Sanchez. Turman at least has time on his side, as he won't turn 26 years of age until late-July, but nothing we have seen from him in his first five UFC bouts would lead you to believe there is any sort of positive run forthcoming.

Cirkunov is the much bigger of the two men. He's three inches taller and enters with a massive five-inch reach edge. He should also have an edge in both the power and wrestling department, but Misha's fight IQ has proven to be so low during his UFC run that I wouldn't put it past a fringe roster fighter such as Turman to develop a game plan that will earn him a victory here. 

I wouldn't put it passed Cirkunov to dominate in the wrestling game and then get submitted on the mat, but the salaries are close enough that I'll wager Misha can somehow use his athleticism and speed advantage to secure the win. I don't feel great about it, however.

THE PICK: Cirkunov
 

Women's Flyweight

Ji Yeon Kim (9-4-2) v. Priscila Cachoeira (10-4-0)
DK Salaries: Kim ($8,600), Cachoeira ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Kim (-165), Cachoeira (+145)
Odds to Finish: +130

A loser of two in a row and three of her past four dating back to November 2018, Kim figures to be fighting for her job on Saturday. Kim has been trending downwards for quite a while, and I imagine the pandemic and her ability to get consistent fights hasn't helped matters. Kim fought just once in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and that's not going to cut it if you're a fringe roster fighter. Combine that with the fact Kim is now 32 years of age and has no history of handling better competition, and it's easy to see why the future appears quite bleak.

Cachoeira hasn't been much better, dropping four of her first six UFC bouts. She did mange to string together back-to-back knockout victories over Shana Dobson and Gina Mazany not all that long ago, but all that momentum went out the window following a first-round submission defeat to Gillian Robertson last November. The Brazilian has some legitimate power in her hands, but that is largely cancelled out due to her poor stand-up defense. Cachoeira has difficulty winning anything other than a slugfest, and her submission defense is poor.

This is a very thin card and that leaves DK players with a small margin for error. That said, I wouldn't feel the least bit comfortable investing in either Kim or Cachoeira on any significant level. Both have proven to have too many holes in their game, and I think it's difficulty to predict with any sort of accuracy what will happen here. 

Kim has never been knocked out, which would appear to be Cachoeira's clearest path to victory, so I'm going to take the former. This fight projects to be close enough that I don't mind using the Brazilian as an underdog play.

THE PICK: Kim
 

Lightweight

Arman Tsarukyan (17-2-0) v. Joel Alvarez (19-2-0)
DK Salaries: Tsarukyan ($9,100), Alvarez ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Tsarukyan (-225), Alvarez (+185)
Odds to Finish: -165

This is by far the best fight on the entire card other than the main event, as it features two young, red-hot fighters who have combined to win eight straight, each of whom have legitimate long-term potential. 

Tsarukyan has been with the UFC for all of five bouts, but the early returns are exceedingly positive. He has picked up three unanimous decisions wins and a knockout victory since dropping a unanimous decision to Makhachev in his company debut in April 2019. Seeing the final bell against Islam is an accomplishment in it's own right, and I think it's safe to say Tsarukyan is a better fighter now than he was then. Of course, so is Makhachev.

Alvarez is no easy mark, however. He, too, has won four in a row since dropping his UFC debut, and all of Alvarez's victories – Thiago Moises, Alexander Yakovlev, Joe Duffy, Danilo Belluardo – have come via stoppage (two knockouts, two submissions). Alvarez has long been known as primarily a mat specialist, so it was very nice to see him stop his opposition on the feet in recent bouts. Alvarez has a high ceiling if this recent improvement in the striking game proves to be sustainable.

Alvarez turns 29 years of age next week and Tsarukyan won't turn 26 years of age until October, so both men should have quite a bit of runway ahead of them regardless of the result here. 

I would take Tsarukyan, all things being equal, but Alvarez seems like an exceptional value here. I certainly don't see $2,000 in salary difference between these two, and unlike the previous fight where I thought both competitors were limited from a physical standpoint, Alvarez has real skills. It might not matter if Tsarukyan is as good as some people think he is, but I'll wager Alvarez can keep it close and pull one out late given the massive discount he provides.

THE PICK: Alvarez
 

Other Bouts

Middleweight
Armen Petrosyan (6-1-0) v. Gregory Rodrigues (11-3-0)
DK Salaries: Petrosyan ($7,700), Rodrigues ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Petrosyan (+135), Rodrigues (-155)
Odds to Finish: -450
THE PICK: Rodrigues

Lightweight
Zhu Rong (18-4-0) v. Ignacio Bahamondes (12-4-0)
DK Salaries: Zhu ($7,200), Bahamondes ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Zhu (+180), Bahamondes (-220)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: Bahamondes

Women's Bantamweight
Josiane Nunes (8-1-0) v. Ramona Pascual (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Nunes ($8,900), Pascual ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Nunes (-195), Pascual (+165)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Nunes

Lightweight
Terrance McKinney (11-3-0) v. Fares Ziam (12-3-0)
DK Salaries: McKinney ($7,800), Ziam ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: McKinney (+100), Ziam (-120)
Odds to Finish: -125
THE PICK: McKinney

Women's Strawweight
Jinh Yu Frey (11-6-0) v. Hannah Goldy (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Frey ($8,700), Goldy ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Frey (-180), Goldy (+155)
Odds to Finish: +215
THE PICK: Frey

Bantamweight
Alejandro Perez (23-8-1) v. Jonathan Martinez (14-4-0)
DK Salaries: Perez ($7,400), Martinez ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Perez (+190), Martinez (-235)
Odds to Finish: +130
THE PICK: Martinez

Welterweight
Ramiz Brahimaj (9-4-0) v. Micheal Gillmore (6-4-0)
DK Salaries: Brahimaj ($9,300), Gillmore ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Brahimaj (-350), Gillmore (+270)
Odds to Finish: -170
THE PICK: Brahimaj

Flyweight
Victor Altamirano (10-1-0) v. Carlos Hernandez (7-1-0)
DK Salaries: Altamirano ($8,000), Hernandez ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Altamirano (+105), Hernandez (-125)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Altamirano

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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