This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Fresh off one of its best events of the year, the UFC looks to build momentum in a Sacramento card featuring a former champion, as well as the return of UFC legend Urijah Faber.
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 - Women's Featherweight
Aspen Ladd (8-0-0) v. Germaine De Randamie (8-3-0)
DK Salaries: Ladd ($8,900), de Randamie ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Ladd (-165), de Randamie (+145)
Odds to Finish: -280
This card is actually pretty deep but this is a weird fight to choose as the headliner. While it makes sense from a rankings standpoint, the lack of depth in the UFC's female featherweight division makes it difficult to take any fight at 145 pounds all that seriously.
Ladd is a perfect 8-0 as a professional with three of those victories coming with the UFC. Her most recent triumph was a unanimous decision win over Sijara Eubanks in May. Ladd is probably the division's brightest young prospect. She's young (24 years old), athletic, and has legitimate power. That being said, she remains a work in progress in regards to the finer points of the sport and her tendency to get into brawls is going to be an issue in this fight. I actually think Ladd's ground game is ahead of her stand up game at this point in her young career.
De Randamie has the distinction of being the first UFC Women's Featherweight Champion in company history. She won that title in a fight against Holly Holm in February 2017 and was stripped just month's later after refusing to fight challenger Cris Cyborg. De Randamie made her long awaited return to the octagon in November and took a unanimous decision from Raquel Pennington. "The Iron Lady" recently signed a new six-fight contract with the company. GDR is your traditional striker. She had a perfect 37-0 record as a kickboxer and she presents the size and length to give Ladd trouble. GDR is three inches taller than Ladd and enters with a five-inch reach advantage.
It's imperative that Ladd try to close the distance between the two women. She needs to fight in tight in hopes of limiting GDR's kickboxing skills. A Ladd victory will require her implementing a game plan we are yet to see in her brief UFC run.
THE PICK: De Randamie
Co-Main Event - Bantamweight
A UFC Hall of Famer, Faber ends his self imposed retirement to face Simon on Saturday. "The California Kid" last fought in December 2016 and has just one victory on his docket since December 2015. Faber turned 40 years old in May and although there's really no reason for him to return, Faber keeps himself in excellent shape and he's always around the crew at Team Alpha Male anyways. Betting on aging fighters is never a good idea, but I imagine Faber will have a bit less octagon rust than your average 40-year-old who has spent the past two and a half years on the sidelines.
A product of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender series, Simon has won eight fights in a row including four with the UFC. He's athletic, moves well, and has power, but the vast majority of Simon's knockouts came early in his career against nobodies. Even with Faber being away for so long, this will undoubtedly be the toughest test of Simon's career. He's fourteen years younger than his opponent and he's going to have to remain calm in what is expected to be a very hostile environment.
The UFC have countless washed up veterans on their roster (B.J. Penn, Andrei Arlovski, etc.). There is plenty of depth at 135 pounds and thus I can't generate much excitement regarding Faber's return, but I do acknowledge that he almost certainly has more left in the tank than the couple of the guys I just named. This has the potential to be a fun fight as long as everyone keeps their expectations in check. If Urijah wins impressively, it still doesn't make him a contender. If Simon emerges victorious, he did so against a 40-year-old coming off a two-and-a-half year layoff. I just can't bring myself to bet on Faber after the time away, but it should be exciting regardless of the finish. I also wouldn't touch Simon at that heavy price tag.
THE PICK: Simon
A Team Alpha Male product, Emmett is going to have a significant home field advantage as he goes for his fourth win in his past five bouts. The 34-year-old is coming off an impressive knockout victory over the tough Michael Johnson in March. Emmett has a background in wrestling, but his greatest attribute over the course of his MMA career has proven to be the power in his hands. He is a fighter who absorbs nearly as many significant strikes per minute (3.32) as he lands (3.50), so it is imperative Emmett concentrates on footwork and head movement against the powerful Bektic.
Once viewed as one of the brightest prospects in the division, Bektic's reputation has taken a bit of a hit simply because he hasn't competed very often. His last bout - a split decision victory over Ricardo Lamas, was more than 13 months ago, and he has fought just three times since October 2016. Bektic has pulled out of at least two fights due to injury during his five-plus years with the company. The 28-year-old is a high-level talent. He can win a fight in a variety of different ways, but his biggest strength is his takedown ability. Bektic has averaged 3.59 takedowns per 15 minutes during his time with the UFC, and Emmett's takedown defense is a poor 50 percent.
I like Emmett, but I'm worried he is going to spend a significant amount of this fight on his back, and I feel he displays questionable fight IQ at times. He will be no easy mark in front of his friends and family, but I'm going to take the all-around game of Bektic here. Emmett does have some DK value as an underdog play.
THE PICK: Bektic
The UFC has had all sorts of problems finding opponents for Hall recently and as a result he has just one fight - a submission win over B.J. Penn last December, in the past two and a half years. Hall's style of fighting is not what you would call visually pleasing. He's a world-class mat specialist who has won countless BJJ tournaments over the years. He can tap out any man in the world at 145 pounds, but the fact he has just eight career pro fights under his belt at the age of 34 is a concern. He won't do a whole heck of a lot for the casual MMA fan, but Hall is one of the best in the planet at what he does.
Elkins might not be going strong, but he's still going at age 35. He has lost back-to-back fights to a pair of top contenders in Alexander Volkanovski and Ricardo Lamas on the heels of a surprising six-fight win streak which included multiple upsets over big name opponents such as Mirsad Bektic, Michael Johnson and Dennis Bermudez. Elkins is legitimately one of the toughest men on the planet and his cardio is exceptional but that's about all he has going for him these days. The fact Elkins can absorb a ton of punishment is a necessity considering he has struggled to generate offense in the later stages of his career.
As good as Hall is on the mat, he's not a big takedown guy (0.46 per 15 minutes) and he is going to be at a disadvantage on the feet give Elkins' durability. I expect him to do whatever is necessary in order to find creative ways to get this fight to the ground. I hate going against Elkins because he is one of the toughest men the world, but Hall is literally one of the most difficult guys on the roster to game plan for. Someone will beat him eventually because of their sheer athleticism, but that's not Elkins' strength.
THE PICK: Hall
Karl Robertson (7-2-0) v. Wellington Turman (15-2-0)
DK Salaries: Roberson ($9,100), Turman ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Roberson (-225), Turman (+185)
Odds to Finish: -195
THE PICK: Roberson
Livia Renata Souza (13-1-0) v. Brianna Van Buren (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Souza ($8,000), Van Buren ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Souza (+100), Van Buren (-120)
Odds to Finish: +185
THE PICK: Souza