This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
While Dana White may have his own plans for the immediate future of the light heavyweight division, Saturday's main event clash in Vegas is sure to give him another quality option when seeking out a top contender.
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, including a$400k November Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
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 - Light Heavyweight
Santos nearly did the impossible in July 2019, dropping a razor-thin split decision to Jon Jones in a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship fight. After the fight, it was revealed that Santos nearly took Jones' belt despite suffering a torn left LCL, PCL, MCL and meniscus, a cracked tibia, and partially torn right ACL. It was a superhuman performance and one that saw Santos' stock go through the roof despite the setback.
Santos is the rare fighter who has legitimately improved as he has aged. The Brazilian – now 36 years old – was 8-1 in his previous nine fights prior to the Jones bout, with seven of those wins coming by knockout. Santos may well hit harder than any man in the division. He throws a ton of kicks, and is remarkably stout defensively, averaging just 2.19 significant strikes absorbed per minute – a shockingly low number for a guy who is a pure striker.
Teixeira has very quietly racked up four wins in a row, three via stoppage. His most recent bout was a knockout win over Anthony Smith in a main event spot in May. Glover destroyed Smith in that fight and only Smith's toughness kept it going as long as it lasted. Glover continues to be effective despite the fact he will be turning 41 years old in late-October. Teixeira keeps himself in great shape and still retains much of the power that has made him successful over the years. I'd be on his next four fights going worse than the previous four, but he has already surprised me in a major way.
I advocate getting a piece of this fight in one form or another. Santos and Teixeira have each been knocked out three times, a low number considering they have more than 65 fights between them. That being said, both are getting up there in age, and there figures to be dozens upon dozens of power shots unleashed in this fight.
Assuming Santos is healthy – and there's no reason to believe he isn't – I think he has to be the pick. He nearly defeated arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time in his last fight, despite not having a single leg that was working properly.
THE PICK: Santos
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
These two were supposed to meet in early-October before an illness to Arlovski caused the fight to be pushed back.
Fresh off a pair of back-to-back knockout victories in a four-week span this past summer, Boser tries to pick up his third victory in four UFC bouts when he goes up against the aging former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Although he has been highly impressive of late, Boser has the look of a one-dimensional knockout artist. Ten of his 19 career wins have come via KO, with another two coming via submission. Outside of a pair of fights against late UFC veteran Tim Hague, Boser fought nobody of note prior to arriving in the company back in October 2019. Of course, he's been with the company just over a year and this will be his fifth fight, so Boser has value to the UFC for his activity level alone. The question at this point is whether or not Boser can continue his success against better competition and whether or not he possesses the all-around game to succeed in the UFC over the long term. The good news – at least immediately – is the fact Arlovski is an extremely beatable opponent.
"The Pit Bull" has alternated wins and losses in his past four bouts, with the victories coming over Lins and Ben Rothwell and the setbacks against Augusto Sakai and Jair Rozenstruik. There have been concerns surrounding Arlovski's chin for years, and they are totally valid given the fact he will be turning 42 years of age in early-February. Arlovski can still land a power shot here and there, but he doesn't possess the footwork to land consistent combinations, and he has difficulty getting his head off the center line when his opposition returns fire. I'm lukewarm on his future with company, at best, but I also openly admit I was fully under the impression he would no longer be fighting for the UFC at this point in his career.
Arlovski would appear to have little value to an opposing company like Bellator, and for that reason I'm surprised the UFC continues to run him out there. Arlovski will turn 43 years of age this coming February.
I'd advocate getting a piece of this fight in some form or fashion, as it appears to be highly unlikely to see the final bell. I'm not particularly bullish on Boser's future, and he's certainly overpriced here, but it doesn't take much to defeat Arlovski these days. I'll be highly concerned if the young Canadian is unable to do so. Matching Andrei up against a young power puncher in the later days of 2020 is a recipe for potential disaster.
THE PICK: Boser
A battle of a pair of former LFA veterans, this fight was originally scheduled to take place on the late-June card which was headlined by Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. Henisch withdrew from that fight due to injury, while Allen remained on the card and took a unanimous decision from Kyle Daukaus.
Heinisch has been up and down over the course of his near two years with the company. He's probably fought a bit better than his 3-2 record would lead you to believe, but consistency has definitely been an issue. Heinisch possesses a respectable all-around offensive skill set, but I'm not in love with his stand-up defense, although he is probably still ahead of Allen in that particular area.
Allen is the former LFA Middleweight Champion. He's a perfect 3-0 in the UFC, with two of those victories coming via stoppage. Overall, Allen enters on a seven-fight winning streak. Allen possesses a far more ground-oriented attack that Heinisch. He's a BJJ black belt, with more than half (eight) of his 15 career wins coming via submission. A prolonged kickboxing match would appear to favor Heinisch, but Allen has yet to be stopped via strikes in his career, and that's important considering he's much weaker on the feet than the mat.
Allen enters with a three-inch edge in both the height and reach department. He's also nearly seven years younger than Heinisch. I actually like both these guys, and think there's potential on both sides, but something will have to give here.
This sets up as a legitimate pick 'em, and when that's the case, I almost always go with the guy who offers a better payout. In this case, that's Heinisch. I expect this to be a close, competitive fight throughout.
THE PICK: Heinisch
This is another fight that had to be pushed back, as a knee injury to Gadelha caused the fight to be moved from UFC 253 in late-September to now.
The picture of inconsistency, Gadelha is coming off a split decision victory over Angela Hill in May in which she was fortunate to get the call from the judges. I thought Hill won that fight. Gadelha has been one of the biggest names around since the UFC launched their 115-pound female division back in 2014, but Claudia has never won more than two fights in a row with the company and lost to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her only championship opportunity. Gadelha is extremely strong and excellent on the mat, but she has always struggled in prolonged kickboxing matches. Claudia lands 3.4 significant strikes per minute, while absorbing 4.53. She's good, but we've seen enough of Gadelha over the years to say that it's a stretch to consider her any sort of legitimate title contender despite her notoriety.
Our exposure to Yan has been small, but she is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC to this point. Included in that span are a pair of victories over Hill and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. All five of Yan's wins have come via unanimous decision. Yan picked up plenty of knockout victories earlier in her career, but she has struggled to land consistent power shots since joining the UFC. Yan wins with volume. She lands a whopping 6.72 significant strikes per minute, a staggering number, or nearly twice what you see land from Gadelha. Yan has also proven to be durable, having never been knocked out in her professional career.
Common sense here would dictate that Gadelha has the advantage on the mat, while Yan should have a significant edge on the feet. Ultimately, I'm concerned Claudia is going to absorb too much punishment. She tends to bite down on her mouthpiece and push forward when she's battered on the feet, and that's a bad idea against a volume puncher like Yan.
Gadelha seems like a perfectly reasonable DK play given her cheap(er) salary and the fact she has fought a bunch of quality competition, but I simply think this is a bad fit for her from a stylistic standpoint.
THE PICK: Yan
Alexander Romanov (12-0-0) v. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1)
DK Salaries: Romanov ($9,000), Rogerio de Lima ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Romanov (-335), Rogerio de Lima (+275)
Odds to Finish: -715
THE PICK: Romanov
Anthony Birchak (16-6-0) vs. Gustavo Lopez (11-5-0)
DK Salaries: Birchak (TBD), Lopez (TBD)
Vegas Odds: Birchak (-175), Lopez (+145)
Odds to Finish: -165
THE PICK: TBD