This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
There are few sports in which athletes hit their prime in their mid-30s, but that's how it's gone for 34-year-old heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. After picking up four straight wins over ranked opponents, Miocic will get a chance to avenge his last loss – a decision defeat to Junior dos Santos from back in Dec. 2014.
Note: A flyweight bout between Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis had been scheduled to kick off the pay-per-view card, but was cancelled after Cejudo withdrew due to a hand injury. A middleweight bout between Krzysztof Jotko and David Branch will take their place on the main 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. Players get a $50,000 budget to select five fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings has altered their scoring system. The new point values are listed below and the rosters will now expand from 5 to 6 fighters).
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
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
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - UFC Heavyweight Championship(C) Stipe Miocic (16-2-0) v. Junior Dos Santos (18-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Miocic ($8,500), Dos Santos ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Miocic (-135), Dos Santos (+115)
Odds to Finish: -325
The fact that Dos Santos is challenging for the title when he is just one fight removed from getting knocked out by Alistair Overeem tells you all you need to know about the current state of the UFC's heavyweight division. These two men fought in December 2014, a bout won by Dos Santos via unanimous decision that took home Fight of the Night honors. It was a fairly close fight in which both men inflicted plenty of damage on the other.
Miocic has won four fights in a row, including three straight via first-round KO. His most recent victims, Overeem and Fabricio Werdum, were by far the two best fighters he has ever defeated. Stipe has big power, is a terrific athlete, and possesses the foot speed to give large opponents serious issues. He has also been stopped just once in 18 professional fights. Miocic is set to turn 35 years old in August. He should be trending towards the twilight of his career, but he has shown no signs of slowing down. He hasn't taken a ton of punishment over the years and that certainly will help him moving forward.
JDS has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights. He remains one of the top heavyweights in the world, but that isn't saying a whole lot these days. Dos Santos' biggest issue is that he gets hit too much. He can take a beating and generally dishes out as much as he eats, but it worries me moving forward. Miocic is the better wrestler, but JDS has exhibited strong takedown defense (80 percent) in his UFC career, mostly on the basis of his pure strength.
I still think Cain Velasquez is the best heavyweight in the world, but I'd be willing to listen to an argument that Miocic and Dos Santos are numbers two and three respectively. I expect this to be a close, competitive fight and I would be far from shocked if Dos Santos won. That being said, I have more confidence in Miocic's ability to absorb punishment than Dos Santos. Miocic's efforts of late make him my pick, although I acknowledge there figures to be little separating these two men when they meet Saturday.
THE PICK: Miocic
Co-Main Event - Women's Strawweight Championship(C) Joanna Jedrzejcyk (13-0-0) v. Jessica Andrade (16-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Jedrzejcyk ($8,800), Andrade ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Jedrzejcyk (-185), Andrade (+150)
Odds to Finish: +130
This figures to be Joanna's biggest test to date. Jedrzejczyk is 7-0 during her time in the UFC and she has successfully defended her title four straight times. She has beaten all sorts of challengers. Carla Esparza was a very strong wrestler. Karolina Kowalkiewicz was an elite striker. Claudia Gadelha, who Joanna defeated twice, has the physical strength to defeat any opponent in a variety of ways. Jedrzejczyk defeated all of them, yet Andrade figures to present an entirely new challenge for the champion.
The Brazilian was nothing more than an average fighter at bantamweight, but she's a legitimate title contender at 115 pounds. As massive and muscular as she is, Andrade has retained all of her hand speed despite the fact she is fighting down a division. And to nobody's surprise, her power has been even more effective in the lighter weight class. Andrade is going to be as fluid of a striker as Joanna, who is a former World Muay Thai Champion, but I think she hits harder. The big question is how Andrade will be able to defend the laser-quick combinations that Jedrzejczyk throws her way.
On a whole, Andrade absorbs more than two significant strikes per minute more than Joanna. Numbers like that tend to have very little predictive value when you are talking about lower-end fighters, but those are the things to start to look at in championship fights. Still, I'm taking Andrade in an upset. I'm a bit concerned about how her large frame will hold up for 25 minutes, but any victory of the Brazilian figures to be of the swift variety anyway.
THE PICK: Andrade
WelterweightDemian Maia (24-6-0) v. Jorge Masvidal (32-11-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Maia ($7,800), Masvidal ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Maia (+105), Masvidal (-125)
Odds to Finish: -140
Currently riding a six-fight winning streak that includes triumphs over Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Gunnar Nelson and Neil Magny, Maia already has a legitimate case for a title shot. Despite his merits to date, the 39-year-old will put it all on the line here against the dangerous Masvidal. Maia is perhaps the most talented mat specialist in the entire company. The ground clinics he put on against Nelson and Magny were truly embarassing for those opponents, but Maia still struggles with his striking. He is so good on the mat that he doesn't have to land a whole lot in order to be effective, but he has to at least threaten his opponents on the feet.
Masvidal, who was notoriously inconsistent at lightweight, looks far better at welterweight. He is an explosive athlete who can display crazy power at times. The rest of Masvidal's game is strong, but it's his striking that stands out the most. He is going to be in good shape if he is able to stay off of his back. Gamebred's takedown defense is a formidable 79 percent. He figures to have a hard time getting back to his feet if he gets taken down, but he is going to have a significant advantage in the striking game.
Maia is almost certainly going to earn a title shot with a win, and there is an outside chance that Masvidal may be rewarded with one should he prevail. I think Masvidal has the hand speed and power to connect with enough frequency to keep Maia off of him, and there is no way the Brazilian is going to win a kickboxing match here. Give me Gamebred in what should be an incredibly close fight, as least if you pay attention to the betting lines.
THE PICK: Masvidal
FeatherweightFrankie Edgar (20-5-1) v. Yair Rodriguez (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Edgar ($8,600), Rodriguez ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Edgar (-150), Rodriguez (+100)
Odds to Finish: +175
As good as the 24-year-old Rodriguez is, this is a massive step up in competition for him. Yair is 6-0 during his time with the company, but the competition he has faced has been lousy. Heck, his last win was over the washed up BJ Penn. Rodriguez is an elite striker who excels at landing combinations from odd angles. It's impossible to train for him because there isn't a fighter on the roster who fights like he does. Also, at 5-foot-11, Yair is gigantic for the featherweight division.
Edgar has won six of seven, but he no-showed the only fight during that span that truly mattered, his UFC Featherweight Championship fight against Jose Aldo last July. Edgar looked befuddled in the Aldo fight, but he has otherwise looked strong against the best the division has to offer. Edgar is giving up a lot of height and reach to Rodriguez, but he has fought against taller, longer fighters in the past. I don't expect it to be an issue for him.
I'm interested to see how Rodriguez handles the pressure of Edgar. It's difficult to land all sorts of crazy strikes when your opponent is up in your face for the entire fight. I like Edgar's chances of winning, but not by much. Yair is extremely talented and he could easily prevail if he can use his length to keep Frankie off him. I think the DraftKings salaries and Vegas odds for this fight are correct.
THE PICK: Edgar
FlyweightHenry Cejudo (10-2-0) v. Sergio Pettis (15-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Cejudo ($9,300), Pettis ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Cejudo (-400), Pettis (+325)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Cejudo
LightweightEddie Alvarez (28-5-0) v. Dustin Poirier (21-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Alvarez ($8,100), Poirier ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Alvarez (+110), Poirier (-130)
Odds to Finish: -105
THE PICK: Poirier
FeatherweightChas Skelly (17-2-0) v. Jason Knight (19-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Skelly ($8,200), Knight ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Skelly (-130), Knight (+110)
Odds to Finish: +135
THE PICK: Knight
MiddleweightKrzysztof Jotko (19-1-0) v. David Branch (20-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Jotko ($8,700), Branch ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Jotko (-155), Branch (+135)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Branch
LightweightMarco Polo Reyes (8-3-0) v. James Vick (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Reyes ($6,700), Vick ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Reyes (+340), Vick (-425)
Odds to Finish: -205
THE PICK: Vick
Women's StrawweightJessica Aguilar (19-5-0) v. Cortney Casey (6-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Aguilar ($8,100), Casey ($8,100)
Vegas Odds: Aguilar (+100), Casey (-120)
Odds to Finish: +190
THE PICK: Aguilar
FeatherweightJared Gordon (12-1-0) v. Michel Quinones (8-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Gordon ($8,900), Quinones ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Gordon (-150), Quinones (+130)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Gordon
HeavyweightChase Sherman (9-3-0) v. Rashad Coulter (8-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Sherman ($8,300), Coulter ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Sherman (-140), Coulter (+120)
Odds to Finish: -400
THE PICK: Coulter
FeatherweightGabriel Benitez (19-6-0) v. Enrique Barzola (13-3-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Benitez ($9,000), Barzola ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Benitez (-140), Barzola (+120)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Benitez
Light HeavyweightJoachim Christensen (14-4-0) v. Gadzhimurad Antigulov (19-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Christensen ($6,800), Antigulov ($9,400)
Vegas Odds: Christensen (+340), Antigulov (-440)
Odds to Finish: -265
THE PICK: Antigulov