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Inside the Octagon: UFC DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel UFC 266 Volkanovski vs. Ortega | Saturday, 9/25/21




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The UFC is at T-Mobile Arena for an exciting featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. UFC 266 should be an action-packed card full of excitement. Here I will offer the fights that have the most upside for DFS purposes. Let’s dig into some UFC DFS picks and MMA DFS strategy for UFC 266.

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UFC 266 Volkanovski vs. Ortega: UFC DFS Picks

Jonathan Pearce $7,700 vs. Omar Morales $8,500

Jonathan Pearce

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Reach: 71 ins.
  • Record: 10-4-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 55%
  • Betting Odds: +125

Pearce is coming into this matchup off an exciting second-round knockout victory over Kai Kamaka in November. Pearce lands 8.8 significant strikes per minute and can score 5.91 takedowns per 15 minutes. In his previous bout against Kamaka, Pearce landed 113 of 172 total strikes. All of Pearce’s wins since his second pro fight have come by way of stoppage, seven of them via knockout. Pearce will have the clear advantage if the fight hits the mat, with his strong grappling. Morales could cause Pearce trouble with his signature low kicks, but Pearce will set the tempo and push the pace by walking Morales down. Pearce at his price tag of $7,700 is a strong value play for DFS.
Omar Morales

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5-foot-9
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Reach: 73 ins.
  • Record: 11-1-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 37%
  • Betting Odds: -150

Morales is coming into this matchup with an 11-1 record and will be looking to keep his winning streak intact. In his last Octagon appearance Morales battled Shane Young and won via unanimous decision. Morales is landing 3.66 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.01 per minute. In this fight Morales will need to use his signature leg kicks to slow Pearce’s high pace, though Pearce’s toughness and deep gas tank could cause Morales trouble early and often. If Morales attempts to push the pace, Pearce will take over the fight.

The preferred play on DraftKings and FanDuel is Pearce. His high pace, steady takedown attempts, relentless pressure and deep gas tank will carry him to victory.

UFC DFS Pick: Jonathan Pearce via Third-Round KO/TKO.

Dan Hooker $8,700 vs. Nasrat Haqparast $7,500

Dan Hooker

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6-foot-0
  • Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Reach: 75 ins
  • Record: 20-10-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 48%
  • Betting Odds: -155

Hooker is coming into this matchup off a first-round knockout loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 257. He has 10 wins via knockout, seven via submission and three via decision. Hooker is one of the best kickboxers in the lightweight division and does an outstanding job setting up his nasty combinations with feints and leg kicks. He is a veteran fighter who has an impressive resume and exciting fighting style. Hooker excels in the clinch, where he does serious damage to his opponents with his knees and elbows. Hooker’s heart, solid cardio, toughness, kickboxing and devastating knees should prevail in this fight.

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Nasrat Haqparast

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5-foot-8
  • Weight: 155 lbs.
  • Reach: 72 ins
  • Record: 13-3-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 47%
  • Betting Odds: +130

Haqparast is struggling with the recent loss of his mother but has still chosen to fight. That dedication speaks huge volumes of his character and determination. Haqparast is extremely durable, can walk forward through strikes and keeps pressure on his opponents. He is a technically sound boxer with huge power in his right hand, which has carried him to nine wins via knockout. Haqparast improves as the fight prolongs, which could give Haqparast an edge in this fight. However, Hooker will make this fight extremely ugly, which should help Hooker on the score cards.

The lean on DraftKings and FanDuel is Hooker. However, this fight will be an absolute war.

UFC DFS Pick: Dan Hooker via Unanimous Decision.

Curtis Blaydes $9,200 vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik $7,000

Curtis Blaydes

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6-foot-3
  • Weight: 265 lbs.
  • Reach: 80 ins
  • Record: 14-3-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 53%
  • Betting Odds: -300

Blaydes is an extremely explosive athlete. He is coming of a brutal knockout loss to Derrick Lewis in February. That defeat snapped a four-fight winning streak for Blaydes, who happen to be on the verge of earning a title shot. He holds the record for most takedowns in a fight in the UFC, landing an astonishing 14. Blaydes is a National Junior College heavyweight national champion and a NJCAA All-American. He throws heavy punches with big power and has devastating ground and pound when the fight hits the canvas. Blaydes has 10 wins via knockout and four via decisions. Blaydes will look to use his wrestling and dangerous ground and pound to finish Rozenstruik and get back in the win column.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 242 lbs.
  • Reach: 78 ins
  • Record: 12-2-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 49%
  • Betting Odds: +250

Rozenstruik is fresh off a first-round knockout win over Augusto Sakai in June. He was blazing through the competition until suffering a setback with a knockout loss to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249, but he rebounded with a second-round knockout win over Junior dos Santos at UFC 252. Rozenstruik has 10 wins via knockout and one via decision. He was a former professional kickboxer, but his striking is where he does his best work. Rozenstruik has one-punch knockout power, and his counterstriking is on point. Rozenstruik’s inexperience in the wrestling department against a seasoned wrestler in Blaydes will cost him the victory in this fight, even with his 80% takedown defense.

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The preferred play on DraftKings and FanDuel is Blaydes, who will have a dominant bounce-back performance and possibly Fight of The Night bonus.

UFC DFS Pick: Curtis Blaydes via Second-Round KO/TKO.

Nick Diaz $7,900 vs. Robbie Lawler $8,300

Nick Diaz

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 170 lbs.
  • Reach: 76 ins.
  • Record: 26-9-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 42%
  • Betting Odds: -110

Diaz has not competed professionally since a decision loss to Anderson Silva in 2015. However, the fight was later overturned to a no-contest after Silva tested positive for androsterone. His last win came against B.J. Penn in 2011. Diaz looks to be focused and sounds extremely motivated for this fight. He has some of the best boxing in the UFC. Diaz does not throw with big power, but he maintains high output with pinpoint accuracy. On the mat Diaz has a clear advantage over Lawler and will be the more skilled fighter. He should have a clear path to victory with his boxing and high output.

Robbie Lawler

  • Age: 39
  • Height: 5-foot-9
  • Weight: 170 lbs.
  • Reach: 74 ins.
  • Record: 28-15-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 45%
  • Betting Odds: -110

Lawler is coming a unanimous decision loss to Neil Magny in August of 2020 and has lost five of his last six fights. He is a brawler with a high-pressure style and huge power in his left hand. Lawler can absorb an unbelievable amount of damage while continuing to press forward and maintain the same level of aggression. He is a power puncher with a violent brawling style that can rain down damage on his opponents. Lawler will thrive in an all-out war inside the Octagon, and he should make this a war and bring high pressure from the first round until the last bell sounds.

My preferred play on DraftKings and FanDuel is Diaz. However, Lawler is super dangerous with his violent brawling style.

UFC DFS Pick: Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision.

Valentina Shevchenko $9,500 vs. Lauren Murphy $6,700

Valentina Shevchenko

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5-foot-4
  • Weight: 125 lbs.
  • Reach: 66.5 ins.
  • Record: 21-3-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 51%
  • Betting Odds: -1200

Shevchenko is coming into this matchup fresh off an impressive knockout win against Jessica Andrade in April. She is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak. Shevchenko is a well-rounded fighter with speed and precision, and she is a world kickboxing champion with masterful Muay Thai skills. She has seven wins via knockout, seven via submission and seven via decision. Shevchenko is on another level in the flyweight division. She should pick Murphy apart with her counterstriking early and smothering pressure to disrupt Murphy’s rhythm.

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Lauren Murphy

  • Age: 38
  • Height: 5-foot-4
  • Weight: 125 lbs.
  • Reach: 67 ins.
  • Record: 15-4-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 40%
  • Betting Odds: +725

Murphy is coming into this matchup off a unanimous decision win over Joanne Calderwood in June. She comes out hard and extremely aggressive. However, using this approach against a precision striker like Shevchenko will test her chin early and often. Murphy’s gameplan will be to come out aggressive while looking for a striking match and leaning on the clinch when she senses trouble. That said, Murphy will try to control this fight early, looking to land a shot to shake Shevchenko.

The preferred play on DraftKings and FanDuel is Shevchenko. Shevchenko will dominate Murphy in a striking battle or in the grappling realm.

UFC DFS Pick: Valentina Shevchenko via First-Round KO/TKO.

Alexander Volkanovski $8,600 vs. Brian Ortega $7,600

Alexander Volkanovski

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5-foot-5
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Reach: 71.5 ins.
  • Record: 22-1-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 55%
  • Betting Odds: -180

Volkanovski will be defending his title for the third time Saturday night. This fight has played out to be a grudge match, especially since they just battled it out as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. Volkanovski is well rounded and lands at a high rate. He is a relentless striker, and he will utilize brutal leg kicks to control range. Over time, Volkanovski’s grappling has gotten better to the point where he has showed the ability to battle with some of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the division. However, Volkanovski has not faced a unique grappler like Ortega, who is possibly the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the division. That said, this will be an exciting fight and will be interesting to see how Volkanovski has prepared for Ortega.

Brian Ortega

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5-foot-7
  • Weight: 145 lbs.
  • Reach: 69 ins.
  • Record: 15-1-0
  • Striking Accuracy: 38%
  • Betting Odds: +150

Ortega is getting his second chance at the UFC title. He is coming into this matchup on a unanimous decision win over Chan Sung Jung in October. He looked amazing in that fight with a brilliant display of striking. Ortega has developed into a solid counterpuncher and has excellent range. Furthermore, Ortega’s pressure and hard body shots have become a big part of his attack. Ortega has also become excellent at feinting takedowns and turning them into strikes. Ortega to be motivated and ready to get back into the Octagon for this title shot and put that gold around his waist.

The lean on DraftKings and FanDuel is Ortega. If Ortega can get this fight to the mat and test Volkanovski’s grappling, he could possibly get the finish. Although, this will likely be an all-out war for five rounds.

UFC DFS Pick: Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision.

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