UFC DFS Picks & Lineup Advice, DraftKings & FanDuel: The UFC Daily Plug, May 8
The UFC Daily Plug is our weekly MMA write-up that highlights the top UFC DFS picks & lineup strategies for DraftKings & FanDuel.
The UFC DFS picks and advice below is provided by Occupy member Jake McIntyre aka jakethesnake, a staple in the Occupy UFC Discord channel and creator of MMADFS.com.
We’ll start by looking at betting odds and core plays, then the Plug will provide actionable information by making specific recommendations on UFC DFS lineup strategies for low-risk and high-risk contests on DraftKings & FanDuel.
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Note: Plug will be updated by 10pm EST the night before most slates.
Ludovit Klein -250
Marina Rodriguez -225
Geoff Neal -200
Marcos Rogerio de Lima -190
Amanda Ribas -190
Highest KO probabilities:
Marcos Rogerio de Lima 48%
Ludovit Klein 42%
Carlston Harris 38%
Geoff Neal 35%
Kyle Daukaus 34%
Tafon Nchukwi 34%
UFC DFS Picks - Core Plays:
Here are our top UFC DFS picks for this week's slate:
TOP LOW-RISK PLAYS
Marina Rodriguez/Michelle Waterson
Rodriguez lands a healthy amount of striking volume and is always a threat to knock opponents out on the feet, but she is a liability in the grappling department. In her last six fights she’s spent 33% of the time being controlled by her opponents, which is the main area of her game she needs to improve on. However, Waterson has a pathetic takedown accuracy of just 34%. If Rodriguez can keep this fight standing up, we like her chances to land an early KO while she’s still the freshest. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Rodriguez scored just 88 DraftKings points in her recent R2 KO of Ribas, and at her top-tier price tag she’ll need to outscore the other high priced fighters on the slate to be useful. Rodriguez also looks like a better play on FanDuel where she has the potential to defend a ton of takedowns. The odds imply she has a 66% chance to win, a 22% chance to get a finish and a 7% chance to win in R1. The Occupy Model loves Rodriguez, especially on FanDuel, where she ranks #1 overall.
Waterson has fought to seven straight decisions and prior to her recent 100 point DK performance hadn’t topped 83 points in seven straight fights. However, if she wins this fight it likely means she had some grappling success as it’s harder to imagine her winning a pure standup battle. It’s also possible that the short notice nature of this match causes some cardio issues for Rodriguez late in the fight that Waterson could capitalize on. So if Waterson wins, she should return value at her low price tag, especially on DraftKings where grappling stats are more valuable. The odds imply she has a 34% chance to win, a 12% chance to get a finish and a 4% chance to end it in R1. The Model prefers Waterson on DraftKings, where she ranks #7 overall.
Neal has finished four of his six UFC opponents as he’s gone 5-1 with the organization. All of those finishes occurred in the first two rounds with DraftKings scores of 98, 114, 105 and 106. All four of those finishes have notably come in the first halves of rounds, but none have come in the first 60 seconds of the fight, so he’s yet to benefit from a late round finish or a quick win bonus, and he appears due for some positive variance to come his way. He’s impressively landed five knockdowns in his last four wins, and has the potential to lead this slate in scoring if just a few things go his way. We love this spot for Neal and think he’s a great play on both sites. His 92% takedown defense should boost his FanDuel score even further, as there’s a good chance Magny will want to get this fight to the mat if it lasts long enough. The odds imply he has a 63% chance to win, a 34% chance to end it early and a 15% chance to get a R1 finish.
Klein is an absolute killer with his head kicks and we expect him to easily win this fight. However, his patient fighting style isn’t ideal for DFS scoring and leaves him reliant on a R1 finish to return value when you account for his price tag. And even with another first round KO, he’s far from a lock to end up in the optimal lineup, as he’ll still need to outscore the other top priced fighters. He’s so hyper efficient that he’ll need either multiple knockdowns, a finish in the first 60 seconds on DraftKings, or for the majority of the other top priced fighters to fail to really pay off in this spot—all of which are entirely possible. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he gets another early finish but doesn’t score quite enough to crack the optimal lineup, just look at his last performance—he landed a near flawless R1 KO and still scored “just” 104 DraftKings points. While that still could be enough to end up in winning lineups, he could easily be left out. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still a really good chance he finishes as one of the highest scorers on the slate and we actually really like him to get a KO in the first two rounds, but he’ll be 40%+ owned and we’re always looking for leverage opportunities. According to the odds his chances for a R1 finish are less than half of his projected ownership. The odds imply he has a 68% chance to win, a massive 40% chance to finish it early, but “just” a 16% chance to end it in R1.
In his six UFC wins, Gillespie has averaged a ridiculous 124 DraftKings points and 120 points on FanDuel. With 11 of his 13 career wins coming early, and massive takedown and control time numbers, it’s impossible to ignore Gillespie’s upside. He’s put up DraftKings scores of 146, 128, 117, 121, 129 and 105 in his UFC wins and his last 6 fights have all ended in the first 2 rounds. However, he recently turned 34 and hasn’t stepped inside the Octagon for 18 months. He also apparently had very limited training available during the pandemic as he lives in New York, where most places were shut down. His one UFC fight to end in a decision scored 105 DraftKings points, largely based on control time, but just 75 points on FanDuel. So at least on FanDuel, he likely needs a finish to pay off, and at his high DraftKings price it’s still no sure thing that a decision would score enough to be useful. Ferreira is a really tough guy to put away and while Dariush laid on a grappling heavy performance in their last fight, it still scored just 95 DraftKings points and 90 points on FanDuel.
Gillespie has also been very fortunate with the timing of his last three finishes as they came with 1, 54 and 14 seconds remaining in the respective rounds, which allowed him to rack up stats while still maximizing his round bonuses. He did have one big score that came earlier in the second round, but that was his one fight where he was able to land both a knockdown and several takedowns. Another one of his finishes came in just 21 seconds, so it was awarded the quick win bonus on DraftKings. So overall, the timing of his finishes has had a sizable impact on why he has been able to put up such massive scores in his last five wins. That’s not to take away from his monster ceiling, it’s just to point out that he’s yet to really see any negative variance come his way. Eventually that’s bound to change.
So in summary, this is a tougher matchup than normal for Gillespie, he needs a finish to put up a really big score (especially on FanDuel), and he’s due for some negative variance on the timing of his finishes, if he does end up getting one. So he can definitely score well, but expecting him to match the 128 point average that he’s put up in his last five wins is likely unrealistic. Don’t get us wrong, he is still a great play. One reason for additional optimism on Gillespie is his opponent, Diego Ferreira, missed weight badly by 4.5 lb and looked terrible at weigh-ins. The odds imply he has a 62% chance to win, a 22% chance to get a finish and a 9% chance to end it in R1. The Model likes Gillespie on both sites, but agrees that he’s a better play on DraftKings.
Hawes put up a big score (obviously) in his R1 KO win in his UFC debut where he totaled 128 DraftKings points and 116 points on FanDuel. He still scored decently on DraftKings in his recent decision where he totaled 96 points largely due to control time and total strikes, but that was only good for 63 points on FanDuel. We don’t see him having such a lopsided grappling result in this next match as he goes against another highly skilled grappler in Daukaus. That leaves him more or less reliant on a first round finish to score well in DFS as he hasn’t landed a finish beyond the first round since his second pro fight in 2014. Despite appearing to be a R1 or bust DFS play, we project Hawes to be the highest owned underdog on the slate and for his ownership to more than triple his implied chances of getting the first round finish. The odds suggest Hawes has a 46% chance to win, a 28% chance to get it done early and just an 11% chance to land a R1 finish. His ownership projects to be above 40%. So he makes some sense in low-risk contests, but looks like a GREAT LEVERAGE FADE IN TOURNAMENTS! The Model much prefers Hawes on DraftKings, where he scored much higher in his last fight.
Get full fight breakdowns and more UFC DFS picks from Jake at MMADFS.com for FREE.
TOP HIGH-RISK PLAYS
Carlston Harris/Christian Aguilera
Making his UFC debut on a three fight winning/finishing streak, Harris has won seven of his last eight fights with finishes in five of those. One of the two decision wins came in a five round fight where Harris won the vacant Brave Welterweight belt in 2017. He nearly finished that fight with submissions at a few points in a smother grappling performance. In his next fight he immediately lost the belt in the first round via knockout. That’s his only loss in nearly five years, and the only time he’s been finished in his 19 fight pro career. He also notably has a three round decision win over UFC crazy man, Michel Pereira, back in 2015.
Harris’ relentless takedowns, smothering grappling style and history of finishes present the potential for a DFS explosion—especially on DraftKings due to control time and ground strikes. He still has the potential to put up a massive FanDuel score as well, his floor is just simply lower if this fight goes the distance. Hopefully the fact that Harris is making his UFC debut will help him to fly under the radar to some extent, but it’s hard to imagine him not getting a decent amount of hype around the industry. We love this spot for him and think he makes for an exceptional play. The odds imply Harris has a 59% chance to win this fight, a 36% chance to end it early and a 15% chance to get it done in R1. The Model loves Harris on both sites, ranking him #2 on DraftKings and #3 on FanDuel.
Aguilera is a perennial R1 KO or bust fighter, who’s brawling fighting style inherently makes for bipolar scoring with a nonexistent floor and spiked weeks when he wins. That makes it fairly easy to come up with an appropriate exposure level in DFS, as you can simply look at his chances to land a first round finish. This week the odds imply he has a 41% chance to win, a 23% chance to end it early and a 10% chance to end it in R1. Clearly those numbers indicate he has somewhat of a chance to finish the fight outside of R1, and at his price, a later finish would still be useful, but he clearly looks the most dangerous in R1 to us. While we really love Harris, it makes sense to hedge with some Aguilera exposure, as if he does win it likely means he landed another R1 KO and will be a lock for the optimal.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima/Maurice Greene
De Lima has scored at least 95 DraftKings points in his last four finishes (108, 95, 130, 113), while he put up 80 points in his lone UFC decision win. This looks like a prime spot for him to land another finish, as he goes against an opponent who’s been finished in the first two rounds in three of his last four fights. De Lima is an aggressive striker who will force the action from the start, and Greene really struggles against that type of pressure. With 10 of De Lima’s 11 UFC fights ending early, including eight in the first round, you can understand why the odds say this is the most likely fight on the slate to end early. The odds suggest De Lima has a 64% chance to win, and a slate-leading 50% chance to end it early and 24% chance to get it done in R1. It will be interesting to see if the fact that he’s coming off a loss keeps his ownership from getting stupidly out of control, in addition to the fact that he’s only scored above 95 DraftKings points in one of his last seven fights, but his finishing odds will surely drive up his ownership. If his ownership does creep into the mid 40’s then this could also be considered a decent leverage opportunity, but a tough one to swallow at that. We’re as much betting against Greene as we are on De Lima, which is always somewhat of a risky proposition, but we really like this spot for De Lima to get the early finish. The Occupy Model is a big fan of De Lima, but especially on DraftKings where ranks #1 overall.
Similar to De Lima, only one of Greene’s UFC fights has gone the distance and his last five have all ended early. In his three UFC finishes, Greene has scored 70, 126 and 94 DraftKings points, while he only put up 59 in his lone decision win. His two usable scores both came in first round finishes, while he only scored 70 points in his most recent win, which ended in a third round submission. He’s never ended a fight in the second round, but at his price that would surely score enough to return value. To be real, Greene is such a gross play, but you pretty much have to have some exposure here since De Lima is a finish or get finished type of fighter. On paper, this looks like a great spot for Greene to get a submission win. Five of his seven career finishes have come by submission as have De Lima’s last five losses. However, Greene has not only never landed a takedown in the UFC, he hasn’t even attempted one. And having any confidence in Greene winning this fight requires you to have not watched any of Greene’s past fights. It’s hard to tell if there’s some sort of Trading Places type situation going on with him, but if that is the case then somewhere out there is the most badass seven-year-old debutante you’ve ever seen. Greene flinches from sudden movements and lets out an audible gasp from loud noises. Nevertheless, the odds imply he has a 36% chance to win, a 24% chance to end it early and a 13% chance to finish it in R1. We MUCH prefer De Lima to Greene, but it makes sense to have some level of exposure to Greene.
At Daukaus’ mid-tier price tag, a grappling-heavy decision win has the potential to still put up a usable score on DraftKings, but he would likely need a large number of takedowns defended on FanDuel to score well in a decision—which is very possible. Daukaus hasn’t landed more than 68 significant strikes in his two UFC fights and DWCS appearance, but does have at least two takedowns in each of those matches. It’s hard to imagine him putting on a striking clinic, so don’t expect him to score well from striking volume alone, but he does have the ability to fill up a stat sheet. A finish would almost certainly propel him into the optimal lineup on each site, and Hawes looks pretty questionable in the later rounds. We also project Hawes to be incredibly popular, which makes Daukaus a great leverage play for tournaments. The odds suggest Daukaus has a 54% chance to win, a 33% chance getting a finish and a 15% chance of getting it done in the first round. The Model loves Daukaus as well, but especially likes him on FanDuel, where he ranks #2 overall.
Other Fighters to Consider:
Alex Morono, Tafon Nchukwi, Jun Yong Park, Amanda Ribas, Angela Hill, Neil Magny, Donald Cerrone
Top Takedown Defenders List (For FanDuel):
Diego Ferreira, Kyle Daukaus, Christian Aguilera, Phil Hawes, Geoff Neal, Marina Rodriguez
Weigh-In Narrative Play of the Week:
Get full fight breakdowns and more UFC DFS picks from Jake at MMADFS.com for FREE.
UFC Best Bets
Our favorite safer bets on this slate are:
Harris/Aguilera ITD -144
Gregor Gillespie ML -176
Ludovit Klein ITD +120
Geoff Neal ITD +155
If you want to take a shot at slightly longer odds check out:
Hill Wins by Decision +220
Marcos Rogerio de Lima R1 Win +300
Carlston Harris Wins by Submission +310
Ludovit Klein R1 KO +420
Geoff Neal R1 Win +430
Marina Rodriguez KO +450
Or if you really wanna get crazy, take a flyer on:
Christian Aguilera R1 KO +850
Gregor Gillespie Wins in R2 +1400
Kyle Daukaus Wins by R2 Submission +1500
Marina Rodriguez R2 KO +2000
*NEW* Parlay of the Week (+2144): Ludovit Klein ITD +120 & Geoff Neal ITD +155 & Marcos Rogerio de Lima R1 Win +300
NOTE: Jake's UFC best bets have returned a 40%+ ROI over the last month, so be sure to get in on the action this week!
UFC DFS Bankroll Recommendation
Bankroll allocation: Use 3-4% of your bankroll for this slate.
For low-risk contests, you generally want to play both fighters from the main event and to capitalize on blatant mispricing or notable line movement. Remember, you don’t need to score first in double-ups, you just need to beat the first loser.
For this slate:
Stack the main event in DraftKings low-risk contests as there’s a good chance this fight goes the distance (65% chance according to the odds), which would allow both women to accrue a solid amount of striking volume.
In high-risk contests, you never want to play both fighters from a single fight. Your goal in large field GPPs is to hit the optimal lineup, not to get 5 out of 6 picks right. You also want to reduce the number of people you split your winnings with when you do hit. On DraftKings, this requires you to leave some salary on the table. The more salary you leave left over, the more unique your lineup will likely be. We recommend leaving at least $200-$300 left over just to reduce the number of splits at the top, and $1000-$3000 if you want to essentially assure a unique lineup in massive field GPPs.
Generally, you want to include 1-2 high-owned plays (~35-40%+), while mixing in 1-2 low-owned plays (under ~20-23%). It’s fine to build around a consistent core of high-owned plays, but if you're building more than a few lineups we recommend mixing in different low-owned fighters.
The general rule in MMA DFS is to include one fighter from the main event, since they have five rounds to rack up points, while everyone else on the slate only has three (unless it’s the rare slate with multiple 5-round fights). However, roughly a third of optimal DraftKings lineups in the second half of 2020 did not include a fighter from the main event. So while they generally do provide a higher floor/ceiling combination, there are still plenty of ways for them not to crack the optimal lineup.
For this slate:
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Rodriguez win with an early KO and still get outscored by the fighters priced around her, which is the primary way we see the main event being left out of the optimal lineup. However, there’s still a decent chance the winner ends up in the optimal lineup. So tone down your main event exposure some, but you’ll still want to have a decent amount.
Start with 1-2 of these low-owned fighters in your high-risk lineups:
Kyle Daukaus, Alex Morono, Christian Aguilera, Maurice Greene, Diego Ferreira, Angela Hill, Michael Trizano
Then, add no more than 2 of these high-owned fighters:
Geoff Neal, Gregor Gillespie, Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Ludovit Klein, Marina Rodriguez, Phil Hawes, Tafon Nchukwi
Finally, fill in your remaining spots with these mid-tier fighters:
Carlston Harris, Amanda Ribas, Michelle Waterson, Neil Magny, Junyong Park, Donald Cerrone
Build your FanDuel low-risk lineups around:
There’s really not much value to build low-risk lineups around on FanDuel, but you can consider Phil Hawes, Tafon Nchukwi or Angela Hill.
On FanDuel large field GPPs, you don’t have to leave salary on the table as long as you roster a low-owned MVP. That typically means avoiding the main event favorite and the highest priced fighters in your MVP spot. However, if you do decide to go with someone in that group at MVP, then you may want to consider leaving some salary on the table in the largest contests.
With that said, the optimal FanDuel GPP strategy is to target mid or even low priced fighters at MVP, who will typically only carry 1-5% ownership—at least barring blatant mispricing or a late opponent swap. Remember, your goal in large field GPPs is to hit the optimal lineup, so whether you play a cheap guy at MVP or in the flex, you still need him to win. We’re only concerned with scoring ceiling performances (and ownership) at MVP, not safe floors. You should be looking for fighters who score well when they win, regardless of how often they win.
For this slate:
Here are some of our favorite high-risk MVPs on Fanduel:
Geoff Neal, Gregor Gillespie, Ludovit Klein, Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Carlston Harris, *Marina Rodriguez, Christian Aguilera, Kyle Daukaus, Phil Hawes, Diego Ferreira, Maurice Greene, Tafon Nchukwi, Donald Cerrone
*If you use a high owned MVP (Above 10-15%), leave at least $5 of salary left over if you want to be sure to avoid dupes. However, on a slate this large and with the contests all pretty small it’s less of a concern than normal.
For smaller field FanDuel GPPs, you generally do not need to hit the true optimal lineup so you can get away with playing more reliable studs at MVP. Look for fighters with the highest R1 win odds in those contests.
For this slate:
In smaller field FanDuel GPPs consider:
Geoff Neal, Gregor Gillespie, Ludovit Klein, Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Carlston Harris, Marina Rodriguez
Note: Plays for this slate are listed in our order of preference.
Building 20, 50 or 150 lineups? You can use our Lineup Builder to speed up the process and make last minute scratches more manageable! It’s available for as low as $4 a week for Occupy members.
In low-risk, focus on H2Hs against opponents without badges and single-entry double ups.
For high-risk contests we’ll break it down by bankroll size:
Single-entry GPPs give you the most bang for your buck and put you on an even playing field with everyone from an entry standpoint. If you still have any remaining bankroll allocation after entering various single-entry contests, check out the 3-max options like the $4 Sprawl on DraftKings. Practice your MME skills using our Lineup Builder on FanDuel with the five cent 150-max contest or on DraftKings with the 20-max Quarter Jukebox. Make sure to enter some satellites, there are tons of options to choose from this week with the upcoming massive 5-15 UFC 262 Special coming up next week. Make sure to win as many tickets as possible!
FanDuel reverted back to 50% of the prize pools from last week, but hey, that’s still double what they were offering a few weeks ago. Look for new contests as we get closer to lock. The options they offer for smaller bankrolls are the 5 cent, 25 cent, $1 SE, $2 SE, $3.33, $5 SE & $10 SE. We’d recommend starting with the single entry options and practicing your MME skills on the cheaper options before working your way up. They also have tons of UFC and cross sport satellites to enter that you NEED TO GET IN as those are often the best options on FanDuel.
You should still make sure to get in all of the single-entry GPPs and satellites, but now you should also be looking to max enter the $3 Haymaker 20-Max on DraftKings.
Fill up the cheaper stuff and then look at their marquee $8.88 contest with a 10K top prize and the $33 contest with a $1K top prize.
Chasing the biggest prizes on DraftKings and FanDuel is generally a high-variance play with prizes heavily weighted at the top. It’s tough to grind out any sort of consistent success in these contests and you’ll likely bleed out your bankroll if you consistently enter with your own money (opposed to tickets) without a top finish. That’s why we recommend our satellite strategy to accumulate tickets to these contests opposed to paying face value for your entry fees. However, bankroll permitting these are the best contests to win life altering amounts of money.
Pipe dreams aside, there are several great contests to enter for the largest bankrolls.
On DraftKings, the $33 Axe Kick 3-Max, $40 Counter Punch Single-Entry, $100 Contender Single-Entry, $150 Triangle 3-Max, and $333 Single-Entry are all solid options. Once you get up to the $100 buy-in level the rake drops considerably down to single digits, so the $100 Contender single-entry contest is a great option.
FanDuel has the big $8.88 MME contest, the $33 multi-entry, $100 single-entry and $333 Monster single-entry contests. The action in the $333 is generally soft and ripe for picking.
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