This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Set your alarms for an early lineup lock Saturday, as the UFC will be making another trip to Russia with a prelim start time of 10:15 a.m. EST.
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 six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
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 - Heavyweight
Alistair Overeem (44-17-0, 1NC) v. Alexey Oleynik (57-11-1)
DK Salaries: Overeem ($8,900), Oleynik ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Overeem (-240), Oleynik (+200)
Odds to Finish: -610
62 fights into his professional career and set to turn 39 years old next month, it's extremely difficult to get excited about Overeem as he competes in enemy territory. Although he is coming off a first-round knockout victory over a thoroughly overmatched and debuting Sergei Pavlovich in November, "The Reem" is getting hit more than ever and his footwork has all but evaporated. Alistair still has plenty of power and in theory, this should be a good matchup for him. He is facing an opponent in Oleynik who looks exceedingly uncomfortable on the feet, but you never know what you will get from Alistair these days.
Overeem's 62 career fights are mighty impressive, but that number doesn't hold a candle to Oleynik's (checks notes) 69 career bouts! Heck, not only does Oleynik have 57 career victories, he has (checks notes again) 45 career wins via submission! Since debuting in the UFC in June 2014, Oleynik is 6-2 with four of the wins coming via submission. He turns 42 years old next month so there is no room for future growth, but Oleynik is still capable of doing damage on the mat at his advanced age.
Spoiler alert: I was picking Overeem's originally scheduled opponent, Alexander Volkov, to beat him. Now I am going to change my pick, but I don't feel comfortable about it. Reem has a massive power advantage and a clue on the mat, and I think there's a decent chance that is enough to win this fight. The only thing I do feel comfortable about is predicting this fight won't go the distance. I don't see how these two monsters will both last 25 minutes. That being said, I'm out on Overeem in terms of picking him against high-level heavyweights. This is not the same guy who fought for the UFC Heavyweight Championship 2.5 years ago. I'd much rather take a flier with Oleynik at his salary than Overeem at his.
THE PICK: Overeem
Roxanne Modafferi (22-15-0) v. Antonina Shevchenko (7-0-0)
DK Salaries: Modafferi ($6,900), Shevchenko ($9,300)
Vegas Odds: Modafferi (+300), Shevchenko (-360)
Odds to Finish: +165
Because her sister is the current UFC Women's Flyweight Champion, Antonina is a well-known name, despite the fact she has just one UFC bout under her belt. That fight came in November and was an easy (30-27 x3) unanimous decision victory over "Ji Yeon Kim". While she should be in for a bit tougher time here against the experienced Modafferi, this is still a bout that Shevchenko should win with ease. Like her younger sister, Antonina is a brilliant striker. She went 39-1 in 40 professional kickboxing matches, and like her sister, she overwhelms her opposition with volume and placement.
Modafferi is one of the true pioneers of woman's MMA. A professional for more than 15 years, Roxi fought Nicco Montano for the inaugural UFC Women's Flyweight Championship in December 2017. She lost via unanimous decision. "The Happy Warrior" has done it all and seen it all in this sport, but this is a big ask of her. She doesn't move all that well, and while she is well trained, she can't match the explosiveness of Shevchenko. Set to turn 37 years old in September, things are going to get worse, not better, for Roxi moving forward.
Modafferi is durable (she's been knocked out just once in 37 pro fights) and won't beat herself, but it's going to take a mistake from Shevchenko for her to win this fight. She is crafty enough to make it to the final bell, but I'd be surprised, bordering on shocked, if she actually won. Antonina isn't on the level of her sister, but she's a legitimate prospect worth keeping an eye on.
THE PICK: Shevchenko
Sultan Aliev (14-3-0) v. Keita Nakamura (34-9-2, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Aliev ($8,000), Nakamura ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Aliev (-120), Nakamura (+100)
Odds to Finish: +175
It's not going to be a particularly technical affair, but this has a chance to be a nice little fight. One of an ever growing number of Dagestani fighters on the UFC roster, Aliev is aggressive and has legitimate power. Although he spent the early portion of his career fighting in Russia, he had a two-fight run with Bellator in 2013, and Saturday will be his fourth bout (1-2) under the UFC banner. Aliev's willingness to stand and bang makes him an intriguing DraftKings play in what should be the friendly confines of St. Petersburg.
In one of the more baffling statistics in UFC history, Nakamura has alternated wins and losses in his first seven fights with the company. His most recent bout was split decision triumph over Salim Touahri in December. Much stronger on the mat than on the feet, Nakamura has really struggled against better competition, and while Aliev obviously doesn't have the upside of someone like Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos or Anthony Rocco Martin, he does have some ability.
On a card in which features a ton of unknown fighters, this seems like a good one to get a piece of. Nakamura's inconsistencies and Aliev's home-court advantage make him a worthy fantasy option, especially as the betting odds have shifted in his favor.
THE PICK: Aliev
Marcin Tybura (17-4-0) v. Shamil Abdurakhimov (19-4-0)
DK Salaries: Tybura ($8,400), Abdurakhimov ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Tybura (-155), Abdurakhimov (+135)
Odds to Finish: +130
As is the case with most mid-level fighters, Tybura has struggled with consistency throughout his three-year UFC run. His record with the company is barely over .500 (4-3). The wins have came against nobodies and washed-up veterans (Stefan Struve, Andrei Arlovski, Henrique da Silva, Viktor Pesta), and the losses have came against decent competition (Lewis, Fabricio Werdum, Tim Johnson). Tybura lacks a standout skill, and that has held him back. He moves fairly well, has a decent amount of pop in his hands and a reasonably effective ground game, but he won't overwhelm his opposition in any one area.
Abdurakhimov also lost to Lewis and Johnson while winning his other four UFC bouts. Shamil is tough and willing to absorb a bunch of damage in order to return fire. It's a terrible long-term strategy, but it can be effective at times on a fight-by-fight basis. Now 37 years old, Abdurakhimov is giving up a decent amount of athleticism to Tybura and would be wise to try to end this fight as quickly as possible.
Tybura needs to make Shamil work for all the offense he lands. If he forces Abdurakhimov to expend energy early and can survive the first round or so, he stands a pretty decent chance of winning. As the records would lead you to believe, Tybura and Adburakhimov are part of a large group of heavyweights with little separating them. It makes for a difficult decision, but on a card with many lesser-known fighters, you will have to make your stand somewhere. I'll bet on Tybura's athleticism, but this one could go either way.
THE PICK: Tybura
Islam Makhachev (16-1-0) v. Arman Tsarukyan (13-1-0)
DK Salaries: Makhachev ($9,400), Tsarukyan ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Makhachev (-370), Tsarukyan (+310)
Odds to Finish: -135
THE PICK: Makhachev
Sergei Pavlovich (12-1-0) v. Marcelo Golm (6-2-0)
DK Salaries: Pavlovich ($9,200), Golm ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Pavlovich (-270), Golm (+230)
Odds to Finish: -195
THE PICK: Pavlovich
Ivan Shtyrkov (15-0-1) v. Devin Clark (9-3-0)
DK Salaries: Shtyrkov ($8,700), Clark ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Shtyrkov (-175), Clark (+155)
Odds to Finish: -205
THE PICK: Shtyrkov
Krzysztof Jotko (19-4-0) v. Alen Amedovski (8-0-0)
DK Salaries: Jotko ($8,600), Amedovski ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Jotko (-190), Amedovski (+165)
Odds to Finish: -185
THE PICK: Amedovski
Movsar Evloev (10-0-0) v. Sung Woo Choi (7-1-0)
DK Salaries: Evloev ($9,100), Choi ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Evloev (-275), Choi (+235)
Odds to Finish: -165
THE PICK: Evloev
Alexander Yakovlev (23-8-1) v. Alex da Silva (20-1-0)
DK Salaries: Yakovlev ($8,300), da Silva ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Yakovlev (-150), da Silva (+130)
Odds to Finish: -140
THE PICK: da Silva
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-5-0) v. Michal Oleksiejczuk (13-2-0)
DK Salaries: Antigulov ($7,400), Oleksiejczuk ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Antigulov (+175), Oleksiejczuk (-210)
Odds to Finish: -365
THE PICK: Oleksiejczuk
Magomed Mustafaev (13-2-0) v. Rafael Fiziev (6-0-0)
DK Salaries: Mustafaev ($8,500), Fiziev ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Mustafaev (-150), Fiziev (+130)
Odds to Finish: -215
THE PICK: Fiziev