This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Get your popcorn ready! Saturday's main event figures to be one of the biggest and most action packed fights that the UFC could ever possibly make, and the company deserves credit for looking past all the noise and getting it booked. The fact it is a main event and could possibly go five rounds makes it that much better.
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 - Lightweight
Donald Cerrone (36-12-0, 1NC) v. Justin Gaethje (20-2-0)
DK Salaries: Cerrone ($7,200), Gaethje ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Cerrone (+170), Gaethje (-200)
Odds to Finish: -610
Cowboy had his brief three-fight win streak halted by Tony Ferguson (doctor stoppage) in June. Cerrone looked reasonably effective in that bout against one of the most difficult fighters in the division to game plan for. Cerrone dabbled at welterweight from 2016-2018, but it's quite clear his best chance to win is at 155 pounds. He never has issues making the weight, and he always looks fresh and ready to go on fight night. Cowboy is still getting hit a bit to much for my liking, but part of that is simply the result of his aggressive style of fighting. When you're in the pocket as much as Cowboy is, you're going to take your blows. As long as Cerrone isn't consistently being stopped by one massive shot, he should be fine moving forward.
Gaethje's five-fight UFC run must be hailed as a success, all things considered. While his record is barely above .500 at 3-2, he has earned post-fight bonuses (four Fight of the Night, two Performance of the Night) in each of the bouts. Gaethje has openly stated that he fights to make money and entertain the fans, and he is excelling in those areas. It wouldn't be a stretch to say "The Highlight" is one of the toughest men on the planet. Every single fight Gaethje is in quickly turns into a rabid, all-out brawl, and this will be no different. Gaethje has displayed an ability to absorb superhuman punishment and not only survive, but thrive.
I have no idea what to expected from Gaethje moving forward. I have stated on numerous occasions that you can't beat the best in the world on a consistent basis if you are nothing more than a one-dimensional brawler and I stand by that. Gaethje is going to rack up his fair share of highlight reel victories, but I don't know how you can accurately predict when they will come. Cowboy does a much better job of varying his attacks and game planning towards his opponents.
Gaethje's best chance of winning this fight is to absorb a ton of punishment early and eventually wear Cowboy down. It could certainly happen, but I don't see how or why he is such a hefty favorite and expensive DraftKings play. I'm picking Cerrone outright. I think he's the better all-around mixed martial artist and the fighter who is more willing to alter his game plan depending on what the fight throws his way. This is one of the rare fights in which I would consider stacking both fighters in my lineup. The amount of violence that figures to take place in this one will be off the charts.
THE PICK: Cerrone
Co-Main Event - Light Heavyweight
Glover Teixiera (29-7-0) v. Nikita Krylov (25-6-0)
DK Salaries: Teixeira ($7,700), Krylov ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Teixeira (-110), Krylov (-110)
Odds to Finish: -485
The UFC's 205-pound division isn't exactly overflowing with depth, but Teixeira and Krylov need to continue their winning ways if they hope to remain on the fringes of the title conversation. The loser of this one is going to be in poor shape moving forward.
Glover enters having won two in a row and three of his last four. He is coming off impressive back-to-back submission victories over Ion Cutelaba and Karl Roberson. Teixeira's victory over a high-level athlete in Roberson was particularly impressive. Glover has never been able to win that one career-defining bout, but he has firmly been in that second-tier of light heavyweights for the better part of a decade. Teixiera gets hit a bit too much for my liking, but he has power, his submission game is legit and his cardio is strong for a man set to turn 40 years old in October.
Krylov bounced back from a disappointing loss at the hands of Jan Blachowicz to submit Ovince Saint Preux in April. Krylov is a reasonably effective striker with power (10 career wins via knockout), but he does his best work on the mat. The 27-year-old has racked up 15 career victories via submission, and they have come in a variety of different ways. Krylov can win this fight, but only if he can stay off of his back. Glover is a solid wrestler and Nikita's career takedown defense is a palty 46 percent. Krylov is talented enough to submit Teixeira from the bottom, but having the big Brazilian hovering over him in top position is a worse-case scenario for Krylov.
As the Vegas odds, this is essentially a pick 'em. The DK salaries however, are a little wacky. I really want to go with Krylov given his submission abilities, but I'm really, really worried about his takedown defense. Glover remains in terrific shape for a man his age and I could see him grinding out an uneventful decision here.
THE PICK: Teixeira
Antonio Carlos Junior (10-3-0) v. Uriah Hall (14-9-0)
DK Salaries: Carlos Junior ($9,100), Hall ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Carlos Junior (-245), Hall (+205)
Odds to Finish: -285
Hall's near 14-year professional MMA career has been..... interesting. One of the most boom/bust fighters in recent memory, Hall's last five fights have ended via knockout. He is 2-3 in that span. Uriah's biggest issue is that he can't do anything other than strike. His technique is sound and he definitely has power, but his opposition knows full well what is coming and can game plan for it. I always found Hall to be an underachiever relative to his talent level, but he turned 35 years old this past July and we have to accept that he is what his record says he is: a .500 fighter (7-7) with the UFC.
Carlos Junior had a five-fight win streak snapped by Ian Heinisch in May. The complete opposite of Hall, Carlos Junior is exclusively a mat wrestler. He has eight career victories via submission, and exactly none via knockout. He's a respectable fighter, but he's overrated. He has zero power, obviously, and while he is an elite submission specialists, his 3.78 successful takedowns per 15 minutes is misleading because he lands on less than half (44 percent) his attempts. Carlos Junior looks like a world beater at times, but the truth of the matter is that he is extremely beatable if you can manage to stay off your back.
Can Hall do that? Well, that's the million dollar question. Uriah's takedown defense checks in at a solid 71 percent, and he's strong in exchanges along the fence. Hall knows full well that Carlos Junior is going to do whatever is necessary to get this fight to the mat, and Uriah needs to ensure it doesn't happen or else he is in a world of trouble. I think you have to take Carlos Junior given Uriah's inconsistent ways, but Hall is most definitely a live underdog.
THE PICK: Carlos Junior
Note: A scheduled preliminary matchup between Marvin Vettori and Andrew Sanchez was scrapped on Wednesday afternoon after Sanchez came down with an illness. The card – scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. EST start time – will now proceed with 12 total fights.
Todd Duffee (9-3-0) v. Jeff Hughes (10-2-0)
DK Salaries: Duffee ($7,900), Hughes ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Duffee (+105), Hughes (-125)
Odds to Finish: -300
THE PICK: Hughes
Michel Pereira (23-9-0, 2NC) v. Tristan Connelly (13-6-0)
DK Salaries: Pereira ($9,500), Connelly ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Pereira (-515), Connelly (+375)
Odds to Finish: -275
THE PICK: Pereira
Misha Cirkunov (14-5-0) v. Jim Crute (10-0-0)
DK Salaries: Cirkunov ($8,000), Crute ($8,200)
Vegas Odds: Cirkunov (-115), Crute (-105)
Odds to Finish: -350
THE PICK: Crute
Marcin Tybura (17-5-0) v. Augusto Sakai (13-1-1)
DK Salaries: Tybura ($8,400), Sakai ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Tybura (-120), Sakai (+100)
Odds to Finish: +120
THE PICK: Sakai
Cole Smith (7-0-0) v. Miles John (9-0-0)
DK Salaries: Smith ($7,600), John ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Smith (-110), John (+130)
Odds to Finish: +135
THE PICK: John
Brad Katona (9-1-0) v. Hunter Azure (7-0-0)
DK Salaries: Katona ($8,900), Azure ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Katona (-105), Azure (+145)
Odds to Finish: +195
THE PICK: Katona
Chas Skelly (17-4-0) v. Jordan Griffin (17-6-0)
DK Salaries: Skelly ($7,500), Griffin ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Skelly (+120), Griffin (-140)
Odds to Finish: -175
THE PICK: Skelly
Louis Smolka (15-6-0) v. Ryan MacDonald (10-1-0)
DK Salaries: Smolka ($9,200), MacDonald ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Smolka (-225), MacDonald (+185)
Odds to Finish: -105
THE PICK: Smolka
Kyle Prepolec (12-6-0) v. Austin Hubbard (10-3-0)
DK Salaries: Prepolec ($7,400), Hubbard ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Prepolec (+115), Hubbard (-135)
Odds to Finish: +200
THE PICK: Hubbard