UFC 257 is headlined by Poirier vs McGregor 2, but there are plenty of other fights to break down. This weekly Fight Analysis article will break down and analyze every matchup. Below you’ll find my data-driven analysis for each match as well as a pick to win, which will help us make UFC DFS picks and lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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UFC DFS Picks: UFC 257 Poirier vs McGregor 2 DraftKings + FanDuel Fight Analysis
Poirier vs McGregor 2
The main event of UFC 257 is a good one, featuring Dustin Poirier against Conor McGregor in a rematch. It’s important to note that both men have grown from the first meeting, which took place in September 2014. Since their first fight, Poirier has collected a UFC record of 10-2 and McGregor is 6-2. Poirier has been the more active man and has shown much improvement since moving to the lightweight division. In their first fight, McGregor stopped Poirier just 1:46 in Round 1. When a fighter is defeated in such a manner, it’s a big psychological test to overcome that in the rematch. I will be targeting the underdog Poirier ($7,100) in a few lineups as a GPP long shot because if this fight hits the later rounds, he will have an advantage. It’s hard for me to get away from McGregor at $9,100 since I think he will likely score an early finish.
UFC DFS pick: McGregor ($9,100)
Hooker vs. Chandler
Next we have an exciting lightweight bout between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler. Chandler has been a dominant force in Bellator and was one of the biggest signings for the UFC. Chandler brings a game consisting of excellent wrestling and crisp striking. He utilizes a lot of powerful punches while mixing in takedowns to solidify rounds. Chandler is one of my favorite fighters in the world but is facing a matchup nightmare. Hooker is a tall, long fighter for the lightweight division. Hooker possesses phenomenal kickboxing and next-level toughness. The strikes that Hooker will throw at Chandler could pose a big problem and could lead to a stoppage here. Chandler has taken a lot of damage throughout his career, and his chin has abandoned him at times. I’m a huge fan of Chandler, but I don’t love this matchup, and I think Hooker will come out victorious. Hooker at $8,500 is a fine mid-play, while Chandler at $7,700 is a proven talent and worth GPP consideration.
UFC DFS pick: Hooker ($8,500)
Calderwood vs. Eye
In the second women’s bout of the PPV, Joanne Calderwood will take on Jessica Eye. I don’t think this fight should be a priority for your lineups. Calderwood is looking to rebound off of a heartbreaking defeat to Jennifer Maia, which ruined her title shot. Eye is looking to rebound from a dominant loss to Cynthia Calvillo. I foresee this fight playing out on the feet and Calderwood coming out victorious. I think the volume of Calderwood will outpoint Eye, as her significant strikes per minute are almost double.
UFC DFS pick: Calderwood ($8,400)
Azaitar vs. Frevola
Don’t blink with this next fight, as Ottman Azaitar faces off with Matt Frevola. Azaitar is a quick finisher who possesses incredible knockout power and has finished 92% of his 13 victories. Frevola is a tough opponent who has a never-ending desire to keep fighting, but he has been knocked out in the past. Frevola has been dropped at a large rate in the UFC and doesn’t have the defensive skills that inspire confidence. Azaitar is a fantastic candidate for the new Quick-Win bonus. The only worry I have is if Frevola is able to withstand damage and implement takedowns. Frevola is a fantastic wrestler, and there are unknowns surrounding Azaitar if he can’t get a finish. Azaitar at $8,800 is a fine play with tons of potential. I will sprinkle in Frevola $7,400 in the unlikely event he can get takedowns and pull the upset.
UFC DFS pick: Azaitar ($8,800)
Ribas vs. Rodriguez
Kicking off our PPV, Amanda Ribas battles Marina Rodriguez. It’s evident that the UFC has classified Ribas as their next potential superstar. She has a charismatic personality and the skills to match. Ribas is a well-rounded fighter with good striking and phenomenal grappling. She trains at a powerhouse gym known as American Top Team, surrounded by talented training partners. Rodriguez is not an easy opponent by any means and arguably has faced the tougher opposition. She is predominately a striker and has shown a susceptibility to get taken down and controlled. I foresee Ribas matching Rodriguez on the feet and mixing in takedowns to solidify rounds and win a decision. Ribas at $9,200 is a little rich for my liking, but she has finished 70% of her 10 victories. I expect her to get a victory here, but you could do worse than rooting for an upset for Rodriguez at $7,000.
UFC DFS pick: Ribas ($9,200)
Tsarukyan vs. Haqparast
The main event of the prelims should not disappoint, as we have Arman Tsarukyan and Nasrat Haqparast. I am thoroughly impressed by both fighters, and I wish they weren’t facing each other on Saturday. Tsarukyan debuted against rising star Islam Makhachev and performed admirably. Tsarukyan can compete in all facets of the game with crisp kickboxing and fantastic wrestling. Haqparast, on the other hand, utilizes a boxing-heavy attack. This match should be extremely competitive, but I think Tsarukyan should be able to disrupt the rhythm of Haqparast. I favor Tsarukyan as the better martial artist, but an upset here would not shock me.
UFC DFS pick: Tsarukyan ($8,900)
Tavares vs. Carlos Junior
Next comes a middleweight bout between Brad Tavares and Antonio Carlos Junior. My initial read on this fight was that Carlos Junior could work towards a submission victory, but the more I thought about his takedown ability, I was scared off. I think this fight will be going overlooked, as Tavares has a finish rate of only 41% and Carlos Junior 80%. Carlos Junior is a live underdog with incredible jiu-jitsu. Carlos Junior has questionable cardio and underwhelming striking. Tavares, on the other hand, has good takedown defense and good striking. If this fight stays on the feet, I think Tavares has a good shot at picking Carlos Junior apart. I’m not in love with the $8,700 price tag on Tavares, even though I think he will get the victory here. Carlos Junior at $7,500 needs to be considered as a GPP long shot.
UFC DFS pick: Tavares ($8,700)
McMann vs. Pena
Here’s where things could get ugly. Sarah McMann is an accomplished Olympian taking on TUF winner Julianna Pena. McMann is clearly the better wrestler but has suffered some defeats due to mental lapses in the submission game. Pena is a good grappler who has battled with submission defeats, but she has proven to be a tough commodity in the cage. Both ladies have been quite inactive over the years and are limited in the striking department. Pena crashes forward too often to avoid the clinch, and in doing so could be taken down repeatedly and controlled from McMann. I will be targeting this fight on both sides because it screams volatility. I foresee top control favoring McMann and finishing ability favoring Pena. I’m slightly leaning to McMann, but please split your exposure.
UFC DFS pick: McMann ($8,200)
Rountree vs. Prachnio
This is a striker’s delight between Khalil Rountree and Marcin Prachnio. Rountree is one of the most aggressive fighters I have ever scene in the cage. He has one of the best killer instincts in the UFC and has phenomenal power combined with excellent technique. Rountree has been rocked and finished at times, but he should be lightyears ahead of Prachnio in every exchange here. Rountree is a good bet for the Quick-Win bonus, as Prachnio has been knocked out in three straight bouts. Outside the UFC Prachnio was racking up finishes left and right, so I guess he should be in a few lineups at $6,900.
UFC DFS pick: Rountree ($9,300)
Muradov vs. Sanchez
Next is one of the best underdogs on the slate, Andrew Sanchez, taking on Makhmud Muradov. Sanchez is the winner of TUF and a proven fighter in the UFC. He has all of the tools to become a ranked fighter in the division if he corrects his cardio issues. Sanchez has adequate striking but excels in the wrestling department. He seems to outclass many of his opponents when he finally decides to utilize his wrestling. Muradov is a name worth circling, as Floyd Mayweather has even signed him to his management team. He has incredible striking with a boxing-dominant approach. Muradov is a highly skilled fighter in the middleweight division, and I think he has enough wrestling to keep this fight on the feet and pick Sanchez apart. HE is capable of finishing his opponent, while Sanchez ($7,600) is one of the best underdogs on the card.
UFC DFS pick: Muradov ($8,600)
Evloev vs. Lentz
In the featherweight division is a talented prospect, Movsar Evloev, taking on proven veteran Nik Lentz. This fight should be fireworks, as both men bring it and Evloev is looking to make a name off Lentz. Evloev is so well-rounded that he can win this fight in many different ways. Evloev has good striking to pick you apart and strong wrestling to wear you out. Lentz presents a submission threat since he hunts the neck extremely well and has a high work rate. If this fight were five years ago, I would probably be picking Lentz to pull off the upset, but at this stage of the game I favor Evloev quite a bit. I think Evloev will dictate the pace and position of this fight from bell to bell. Evloev at $9,400 is pricey since he only has a 54% finish rate, but I do think he has potential to rack up some control time. Lentz is purely a GPP long shot at $6,800.
UFC DFS pick: Evloev ($9,400)
Zhumagulov vs. Albazi
Kicking off the UFC 257 prelims, we have flyweights Zhalgas Zhumagulov and Amir Albazi. Zhumagulov has an impressive regional record against top talent and lost a decision to Raulian Paiva in his debut. I think we could be dealing with a situation of recency bias here, where the public won’t want to roster the underwhelming Zhumagulov and will want to ride the win streak of Albazi. Albazi is a talented fighter who picked up a quick submission victory in his debut over Malcolm Gordon. He has good wrestling and excellent submissions but could run into a problem if he’s unable to get the finish. Albazi has a finish rate at 92%, which screams GPP, but I think he could get outclassed in a bout that goes the distance. Zhumagulov is not an easy opponent. He can wrestle, he can strike, and he is experienced against top competition. I like the leverage pick here and will be targeting Zhumagulov to get the sneaky victory.
UFC DFS pick: Zhumagulov ($8,300)
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