The UFC has a free TV card on Fox this Saturday afternoon (3:30pm EST lock) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a very mediocre card compared to previous Fox events, but the Main Event between Lightweight contenders Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta is a solid fight. We are down to 12 fights on the card after Jessica-Rose Clark pulled out of her bout with Andrea Lee and that will result in heavier ownership on the better values but luckily there are reasonable pivots at each price range for tournaments. As usual, I will highlight my favorite plays in each format to help narrow down your decisions.
* Current betting odds and finish props can be found at BestFightOdds.com
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Kevin Lee ($9000)(-335) vs Al Iaquinta ($7200)(+305) – Lee is my top play on the card as a sizable favorite over Al Iaquinta in the Main Event. The two fought almost 5 years ago with Iaquinta taking over late in a decision win after giving up his back earlier in the fight. That was Lee’s first UFC fight and he has improved considerably since then, winning 10 of his next 12 fights to climb into the top 5 in the division. Iaquinta is a bit more of a wild card as he briefly retired back in 2015 and we haven’t seen him in a competitive fight since returning to the Octagon. In those two fights since returning, he made quick work of a shot Diego Sanchez and was dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov as a same-day replacement. He showed a lot of toughness in the Khabib fight as he lasted the full 5 rounds despite getting pummeled the entire time and even managed to stuff multiple takedown attempts. However, he still gave up 6 takedowns to Khabib and was eaten up on the feet in an area he was expected to have an advantage.
I wouldn’t say this is a similar matchup against Lee, but Lee is one of the best wrestlers in the division and Iaquinta should once again have the striking advantage. Lee averages over a takedown per round in the UFC and is an excellent submission grappler who is skilled at taking the back. Iaquinta has shown decent submission defense at times but has been susceptible to chokes in his other two UFC losses (along with giving up his back in their first encounter) and I expect Lee to dominate the fight with his wrestling and eventually take his back. The only concern I have with Lee in this spot is that he has been rocked on the feet in multiple fights and Iaquinta has some power. Iaquinta has potential to pull off the upset on the feet, but Lee will have a massive 7” reach advantage and Iaquinta’s finish prop is only +450 so I wouldn’t go too crazy on him in GPPs. Lee is a definite cash play for me and is underpriced at only 9k as the second-biggest favorite on the card. He has a -135 finish prop and his wrestling gives him an excellent floor and big time upside even in a decision win. There’s plenty of other value on this card so you don’t have to stack the fight in cash, but I don’t hate it as insurance against an Iaquinta upset.
Cash Game Plays
Mike Rodriguez ($7500)(+115) – Speaking of other value on the card, Rodriguez has been bet down to +115 against Adam Milstead and comes in at only 7.5k which makes him one of the best expected point-per-dollar plays on the card. Rodriguez is an athletic striker who struggled against wrestlers but gets a better matchup against Milstead who has shown no tendency to look for takedowns in the UFC. Milstead is a tough guy but is more of a brawler who likes to exchange on the feet and throws a lot of looping shots. Rodriguez fights much longer and will have a sizable 6” reach advantage so he should be able to keep his distance and pick Milstead apart on the feet. He also has very dangerous knees and is capable of hurting Milstead if he gets in close.
Rodriguez is far from a lock, but he has excellent win equity and a decent enough finish prop (+190) for the price so I like him in both formats this weekend. I do expect him to be quite popular in tournaments, so you could consider pivoting some shares in large-field contests to fighters like Joaquim Silva and Gerald Meerschaert. Milstead is overpriced at 8.7k and should come in at low ownership so I don’t hate him as a leverage play either if you’re playing a bunch of GPP lineups.
Dan Ige ($8500)(-175) – Ige is a strong value play in the mid-range as a -175 favorite over the debuting Jordan Griffin. Griffin is an experienced veteran who fights at a high pace and will battle through adversity, but he struggles to prevent takedowns which makes this a favorable stylistic matchup for a good grappler like Ige. Ige is a bit small for the division but he’s very tough and will relentlessly shoot takedowns in order to get the fight where he has the biggest advantage. Cardio can be a bit of an issue for him given how hard Ige works for his takedowns, but his durability and grappling potential give him a solid floor in this matchup. If Griffin can stuff the takedowns, then he could take over the fight and win a decision, but if the takedowns come easy then Ige has a lot of upside and that makes him a solid play in both formats.
Other Cash Options: Juan Adams ($9500), Charles Oliveira ($8900), Jared Gordon ($8600), Rob Font ($8400), Gerald Meerschaert ($7400)
Charles Oliveira ($8900)(-305) – Oliveira is one of the most dangerous submission grapplers in the UFC and 11 of his 12 wins have come via finish. However, he does have a reputation for being a frontrunner and has the tendency to quit when facing adversity. Much like the storyline in the Main Event, Oliveira suffered a loss to Jim Miller very early in his UFC career (8 years ago) and will be looking for redemption. Oliveira has also made big improvements in his game since then, most notably in his wrestling and striking. Miller is a tough out but he’s much older now and has been dealing with Lyme disease for a while so his durability and energy levels are questionable despite a strong showing in his last fight. Miller is a decent grappler himself, but only defends takedowns at low rate of 47%, so whether Oliveira lands takedowns or hurts Miller on the feet, he should have opportunities to finish this fight.
Oliveira has the second-best finish prop on the card at -180 and that makes him a very strong GPP option at only 8.9k. Unfortunately, this is also likely to make him a popular target at that price, so you could consider taking a few shots on Miller as a hedge in case Oliveira quits again, or perhaps pivoting to someone like Hermansson in a few lineups. While Oliveira profiles as more of a GPP play, I also don’t mind using him in cash games this week because of the decent odds value.
Juan Adams ($9500)(-450) – Adams is the biggest favorite on the card, both figuratively and literally, as he is a massive Heavyweight and must cut to get down to the 265lb limit. He’s still inexperienced at only 4-0, but he’s won each of his fights via KO and takes on a low-level HW in Chris de la Rocha in what should be a favorable matchup for the younger prospect. Rocha has shown some durability so far in the UFC, but he is a bit of a punching bag and has been finished in 2 of his 3 UFC fights after withstanding a lot of damage. Adams is more of a wrestler, but he has power in his hands and heavy ground-and-pound, so I like his chances for the early finish. His finish prop is the best on the card at -290 and even if Rocha can prolong the fight, Adams has the much better cardio, so I expect him to be even more dominant if the fight gets extended. Adams makes for a strong play in both formats, but I prefer him slightly in GPPs because of his lack of experience.
Other GPP Options: Dwight Grant ($9400), Jared Gordon ($8600), Edson Barboza ($8000), Joaquim Silva ($7600)
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