UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega is here, and it is a very strong card from top to bottom for MMA DFS purposes. There will be a lot of money up for grabs including on DraftKings and FanDuel, where the main $25 GPP has $150,000 to first on DraftKings, along with many other great options. In this article, the focus will be on three important fights from a UFC DFS perspective.
MMA DFS Picks for UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega
Jalin Turner (+102) vs. Uros Medic (-120)
DraftKings Salary: Turner $7,800, Medic $8,400
Odds to Finish: -190
Weight Class: 155
Turner – Medic is an important mid-range fight on Saturday’s slate. Turner will be taking on Medic, coming off his impressive UFC debut knockout of Aalon Cruz in the first round. He also finished Mikey Gonzalez in the first round on Dana White’s Contender Series prior to making his UFC debut. This will most be the toughest test of his career, coming from an iffy regional scene in Alaska FC. One of the biggest questions when guys come in from the Contender Series is, can they hold up to actual UFC competition? On top of that he just has not has much cage time, finishing most of his opponents in the first round. It really is an unknown what will happen if he cannot finish Turner in the first because his style is to swarm his opponents and take them out early.
Turner has three career losses by knockout but only one in the UFC, and that was up a weight class on short notice against Vincente Luque. Besides that, the level of competition he has faced at 155 has not been great, most recently beating Brok Weaver by submission, and he is no longer employed by the UFC. Turner is coming into this fight with almost a five-inch reach advantage, which he will need to use to win this fight. If he uses his jab to keep Medic at range and tires him out, he should take over the fight in Rounds 2 and 3. From a DraftKings perspective, Turner is going to be a popular dog almost by default because this is really a 50/50 fight, and he is priced at $7,800. It is also possible that Turner can find a late finish on the mat if Medic is gassed. Turner has grappled in previous fights, and it could be something he can go to later on in the fight if necessary. Medic at $8,400 is an interesting leverage play because he will not be super popular, and he has obvious Round 1 finishing upside.
Prediction: Turner by Decision
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+265) vs. Curtis Blaydes (-350)
DraftKings Salary: Rozenstruik $7,000, Blaydes $9,200
Odds to Finish: -210
Weight Class: 265
When Blaydes fights it is generally a pretty classic grappler-striker matchup, and this one is no different. He will be facing a kickboxer in Rozenstruik in potentially a championship eliminator. Heavyweight fights are always tough to break down because if the fight gets out of the first round, they usually get pretty sloppy. The path to victory for Blaydes is clear here: He has a massive wrestling and grappling advantage. Rozenstruik has not shown much of an ability to defend takedowns, and Blaydes is easily the best wrestler in the division. In the new scoring Blaydes is an incredibly strong play at $9,200 because, even if he does not do much ground and pound with his takedowns, he will still be getting points for control time. If Blaydes decides he wants to ground and pound, he can end this fight.
On the feet Rozenstruik has a pretty big edge in the striking. If Blaydes cannot consistently get the fight to mat, Rozenstruik is live to hurt and potentially put away Blaydes. Blaydes did that in his last fight against Derek Lewis. Lewis timed an uppercut perfectly when Blaydes was shooting a takedown, and it turned his lights off. That is Rozenstruik’s only path to victory here because Blaydes will be relentless with the takedown attempts and will be successful with a lot of them. Blaydes has multiple paths to the optimal lineup; he can score over 100 in a decision or with a finish. Blaydes is viable in all formats. Rozenstruik is a boom-or-bust GPP option. He has massive power, and Blaydes get knocked out by an uppercut. If Rozenstruik wins, it will most likely come within the distance by knockout, and at his price that will most likely make him a contender for the optimal lineup.
Prediction: Blaydes by Round 2 TKO
Brian Ortega (+142) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (-175)
DraftKings Salary: Ortega $7,600, Volkanovski $8,600
Odds to Finish: -110
Weight Class: 145
Volkanovski will be defending his featherweight belt this weekend against Ortega after their first scheduled bout last year got canceled due to Volkanovski getting COVID. Volkanovski is undefeated in the UFC and has been on an incredible run, knocking out Chad Mendes, beating Jose Aldo, winning the belt and defending it against Max Holloway. Ortega returned last October against the Korean Zombie after taking a life-changing beating from Holloway in their championship bout, a fight that Holloway won convincingly. Ortega looked like a much different fighter against Zombie, showing off a much-improved standup game. He stunned Zombie in the second round with a spinning elbow and could not find a finish despite Zombie being a completely different fighter for the rest of the fight after that exchange. While Ortega showed off improved striking it is still hard to favor him on the feet against Volkanovski. The real X factor in this fight is if it hits the mat. Ortega is arguably the best submission grappler in the sport, and if he gets a hold of the neck, it is more than likely over. Volkanovski will not wrestle offensively in this fight, though, and it is unlikely Ortega will be able to get him down at a high clip.
From a DraftKings perspective, the main event is generally the most important fight on the card, especially on a PPV card when a lot of casual players lock in names they recognize into their lineups. Both of these fighters will be two of the most popular fighters on the slate without question. Volkanovski is priced at $8,600, and that price is more than fair. It is just a question of, if he does not finish Ortega, will he pay off at his salary in a striking-based decision? Against Holloway he scored over 100 in a decision, but he landed three takedowns. The counterargument here is that Ortega is more hittable than Holloway, which was evident in their title fight. Ortega is going to be a popular underdog at $7,600 because if he wins it will almost assuredly come with takedowns, control time and a possible submission. That is a viable scenario, but it is not something to rely heavily on.
Prediction: Volkanovski by Round 5 TKO
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