UFC Vegas 39 is a 10-fight card, which is always tricky for our MMA DFS plays, but, as always, the main $18 GPP on DraftKings has a $100,000 top prize, so there is a lot of money up for grabs. In this article we will break down three of the more important fights on this card as they pertain to DraftKings. As always, be sure to tune into the UFC DFS Live Show with Pete Rogers and Jason Floyd.
UFC Vegas 39 DraftKings & FanDuel DFS Picks
Alexander Romanov (-600) vs. Jared Vanderaa (+420)
DraftKings Salary: Romanov $9,200, Vanderaa $7,000
Weight Class: Heavyweight
It never feels great when there is a heavyweight as the highest-priced fighter on a short card, as the heavyweight division has the most variance in the sport. But these odds and Alexander Romanov’s fighting style make it is hard not to back him this weekend against Jared Vanderaa. Romanov comes in 3-0 in the UFC, although his last fight against Juan Espino had some controversy, as a low blow ended the fight in the third round and for some reason it went to the judges’ scorecards. The low blow aside, if the fight had made it to decision, it was probable that Romanov was going to suffer his first professional loss, as he was absolutely gassed in a grapple-heavy fight. It is a concern going forward if any fighter can put a pace on him with grappling, but Vanderaa is not that guy this weekend.
Vanderaa is coming off a decision victory against Justin Tafa in a fun fight, but Vanderaa did not have to worry about anything in the grappling department like his previous fight against Sergey Spivak. In that fight Spivak notched three takedowns en route to a second-round TKO victory. Romanov is a much better wrestler than Spivak, has better ground and pound, and has better submissions. This is going to pose giant problems for Vanderaa, as he showed that once he got taken, he has issues getting back to his feet. Romanov is a massive -600 favorite and -300 to win inside the distance, which is unreal at $9,200. He will undoubtedly be one of the most popular fighters on this card, but with it being a short slate with 10 fights, it is best to go heavy on Romanov and differentiate elsewhere. There is a great chance that with takedowns, control time and a probable finish Romanov will end up in the optimal lineup. Unless he gets knocked out and loses, it is hard to imagine a scenario where he busts in a victory. Vanderaa is a low-owned dart throw. Even if he wins a striking-based decision, he probably will not score more than 80 to 85 points, and the odds are too long to risk that.
Prediction: Romanov by Forearm Choke in Round 2
Mackenzie Dern (-170) vs. Marina Rodriguez (+138)
DraftKings Salary: Dern $8,200, Rodriguez $8,000
Weight Class: Strawweight
In the main event this weekend Mackenzie Dern will be taking on Marina Rodriguez in another classic grappler/striker matchup. Dern wants the fight on the mat, and if she gets it there, she will probably win by submission. Rodriguez will want to keep the fight at range, defend the takedowns and use her striking. The paths to victory are clear; predicting the winner is the tough part. Dern is arguably the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC. The issue, at least early in her UFC career, is she has suspect wrestling. Dern struggled to get Ashley Yoder to the mat and scraped by in a decision in her UFC debut. In her second fight she beat Amanda Cooper by first-round submission, but she got the fight to the mat via knockdown, not takedown, and in her subsequent fight after that she could not get Amanda Ribas to the mat and lost a decision. She has won three of her next four by submission, but she has only landed one takedown in those fights. Dern’s wrestling looks better than it did early in her career, but it is still a massive concern as she ascends to the top of the division.
Rodriguez has grappling issues, but it has not cost her yet. Her only loss in the UFC was to Carla Esparza, a wrestler, who took her down and controlled her for most of the fight. If Rodriguez gets taken down, she has issues getting back to her feet. If Dern has issues getting the fight to the mat, Rodriguez is live to win via stoppage. Dern is -170 to win and is -115 to win inside the distance, which is tremendous for $8,200. A lineup build that starts with Romanov and Dern is going to be popular, but it is going to be hard to ignore. However, getting exposure to Rodriguez as well makes sense. She will also be a popular target, as most main event fighters are, but she will most definitely be lower owned than Dern and provides an extra $200 of salary relief. If Dern cannot get the fight to mat, Rodriguez will score well in a striking-based decision. It will be icing on the cake if she gets a finish, which is not the craziest outcome considering her volume.
Prediction: Dern by Arm Triangle in Round 3
Fade of the Week: Chris Gutierrez
Chris Gutierrez is a -270 favorite this week against Felipe Colares and is priced at $8,900 on DraftKings. He has a +280 line to win the fight inside the distance, which is not great for the price, and he is not a high-output striker. Gutierrez has won four of his six UFC fights, but he has never topped 69 strikes in any of the six fights. So while Gutierrez is a solid favorite to win the fight, he does not have enough output to score well enough to pay off his price tag. On top of that, Colares should be coming in with a grappling-heavy gameplan. If he is willing to grapple for 15 minutes, there will be some clinch exchanges against the fence, which will lower the scores of the fight even more. Colares has a path to victory if he grapples successfully, and if he does find a victory, he is priced down at $7,300 and could potentially be on the optimal lineup. However, neither fighter is desirable.
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