This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Two title-fight rematches headline Saturday's PPV card in Los Angeles, and DraftKings is offering up $150,000 in total prizes for its largest GPP. With a slow start to the PPV, this week's featured breakdowns include four from the main card, as well as the Munhoz vs. Johns matchup in the FX prelims headliner.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Bantamweight Championship(C) T.J. Dillashaw (16-3-0) v. Cody Garbrandt (11-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Dillashaw ($8,200), Garbrandt ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Dillashaw (-115), Garbrandt (-105)
Odds to Finish: -300
In Saturday's main event rematch from the City of Angels, Garbrandt has the opportunity to avenge the only loss of his professional career, while Dillashaw has the opportunity to prove his dominant win over "No Love" the first time out wasn't a fluke.
T.J.'s only loss in the last five years was a split decision setback to Dominick Cruz in January 2016, which ended his first title reign. Since then, Dillashaw is 3-0 with wins over Garbrandt, Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker. T.J. won all three fights with ease and is fighting as well as ever. Dillashaw keeps himself in phenomenal shape and a five-round fight certainly caters to his strengths.
Garbrandt's win over Dominick Cruz in December 2016 was one of the craziest things I have ever seen in all my years of covering MMA. Cruz was viewed as the quickest and most nimble fighter in the sport, and "No Love" picked him apart with ease. He got off first on virtually every single striking exchange between the two and had no issues hitting the "Dominator" throughout the course of their bout. Dillashaw wasn't half as effective against Dom as Cody proved to be. Yet when Garbrandt stepped into the cage with TJ for the first time back in November 2017, his footwork dissipated and thus T.J. had a clear lane to land power shots.
Cody has always been a fighter that is willing to get hit in order to land strikes of his own. That strategy works just fine when you have a massive talent advantage over your opposition, but it isn't going to fly against a guy like Dillashaw. So while Garbrandt hits harder, I have more confidence in TJ's ability to construct a winning game plan. Cody is going to have to display significantly better footwork on Saturday than he did in the first fight if he hopes to win. It's entirely possible (as both the DraftKings salaries and Vegas odds indicate), but I saw enough from Dillashaw in the first fight to roll with him once again.
THE PICK: Dillashaw
Co-Main Event - Flyweight Championship(C) Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1) v. Henry Cejudo (12-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Johnson ($9,400), Cejudo ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (-470), Cejudo (+375)
Odds to Finish: -155
The rumors of a super-fight between Johnson and Dillashaw never came to fruition, leaving us with another underwhelming rematch for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Mighty Mouse knocked Cejudo out in less than three minutes when they first met at UFC 197 in April 2016.
As everyone knows, Mighty Mouse cleared out the UFC flyweight division years ago. Currently riding a 13-fight winning streak, Johnson is the only champion the division has ever seen. His 11 consecutive title defenses are the most in company history, and he has shown zero signs of slowing down at age 32 (next week).
In Cejudo's defense, he wasn't ready for a title shot the first time these two men met, and he should have a considerably better chance this time around. A former Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, Cejudo has displayed significantly improved striking in his last two wins over Sergio Pettis and Wilson Reis. His grappling game is obviously world-class, but Cejudo, who has limited professional experience, needed his striking skills to improve if he had any chance to beat Johnson and they have. Have they improved enough to call him a legitimate threat? Probably not, but I would be shocked if Cejudo gets dominated as badly as he did in the first fight. In a five-round fight, there might even be a tiny bit of value as a punt play.
Johnson has the best cardio in the sport by a mile and thus the only way to defeat him is to land that perfect shot that leads to a finish. No one – not Cejudo, not anyone – is going to outpoint Mighty Mouse over the course of 25 minutes. Any fighter can be knocked out at any time, but Johnson (who has never been finished in his career) is obviously at less risk than most others. I am on record as saying I will be picking DJ in every flyweight fight until he loses, and that isn't changing here. I think Cejudo keeps it relatively close, but I don't see him winning.
THE PICK: Johnson
Women's StrawweightPolyana Viana (10-1-0) v. JJ Aldrich (6-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Viana ($8,900), Aldrich ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Viana (-275), Aldrich (+235)
Odds to Finish: +115
The first two fights on this card are quite good but I can't even pretend to get excited about this one. I'll break it down to the best of my ability, but I'm telling you right now that the ceiling for both fighters is limited from a DraftKings perspective...
Viana made her UFC debut in January and quickly tapped out "Maia Stevenson". Viana, a high-level mat specialist, has six career wins via submission and nine first-round finishes overall.
The 25-year-old Aldrich is 2-1 in her brief UFC career. She has a background in striking, but hasn't looked particularly impressive in that aspect of the sport thus far. Aldrich is definitely in trouble if this fight goes to the ground and I'm not convinced she has the power to keep Viana honest on the feet.
This figures to be the most difficult test to date for each of these women. Viana has one world-class skill (her ground game) and thus is the selection, but I advise fading this fight in most DraftKings contests. Viana's price is a bit high, and there's no way anyone can accurately predict what is going to happen here.
THE PICK: Viana
FeatherweightCub Swanson (25-8-0) v. Renato Moicano (12-1-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Swanson ($7,100), Moicano ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Swanson (+325), Moicano (-420)
Odds to Finish: +175
Cub continues to do his thing in the UFC's featherweight division. By that, I mean come up short against the best the division has to offer and beat up everyone else. Swanson is 10-4 in his last 14 fights dating back to January 2012, but the four setbacks came against Frankie Edgar (twice), Brian Ortega and UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway. Swanson will turn 35 years old in November, and he's been under the UFC/WEC banner for more than a decade. This is what he is. He is tough, hits hard and has an underrated ground game, but he isn't a top 145-pounder.
One of the divisions up-and-coming fighters, Moicano is 4-1 in his first five UFC bouts with his only setback coming against Ortega. Three of the four wins have come via decision with two being of the 'split' variety. A BJJ black belt, Moicano has five career wins via submission. He has a distinct lack of power in his hands (he has never won a fight via knockout), but the 29-year-old is highly athletic and made a name for himself on the local Brazilian circuit before getting the call to the big leagues.
The breakdown of this fight is fairly simple: Cub will have the advantage on the feet while Moicano has the edge on the mat. Moicano is massive (5-foot-11) for the featherweight division and excels at using his long limbs to his advantage. While I have a hard time picking Swanson outright, he strikes me as an excellent DraftKings value play given his low salary. Moicano is an impressive young fighter, but I see no reason he is such a healthy favorite. Fantasy implications aside, give me the Brazilian for the win, but I advocate rostering Cub as a better value play.
THE PICK: Moicano
BantamweightPedro Munhoz (15-3-0, 1NC) v. Brett Johns (15-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Munhoz ($8,800), Johns ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Munhoz (-270), Johns (+230)
Odds to Finish: +110
Although not on the main card, an argument can be made that this is the best fight going Saturday other than the two title fights. Set to turn 32 years old next month, Munhoz is 5-3 (1NC) in his first nine UFC bouts. Those three setbacks came at the hands of John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assuncao. In other words, three of the better fighters in the game today. A black belt in BJJ, Munhoz has nine career wins by submission. His striking game is far less refined and often reckless, so it's imperative he gets Johns to the mat in a compromising position in order to emerge victorious.
Johns' undefeated professional record came to a crashing halt in April when he dropped a clear-cut unanimous decision to Aljamain Sterling. Johns, who has struggled to make weight in the past, had a very difficult time with the pressure and pace of Aljo. He's facing a different type of opponent in Munhoz, but Johns' conditioning issues are worth monitoring moving forward.
Neither man has much finishing power in their hands, so the winner here will be the fighter that can control the action on the mat. Munhoz is the better submission specialist while Johns is the much better wrestler. Johns' predictability concerns me. He doesn't vary his offensive thrusts all that much, and I think that has the potential to play into Munhoz's hands. Johns likely has a better chance of winning than both the Vegas odds and DraftKings salaries would lead you to believe, so he's not a terrible dart throw, but give me Munhoz by decision.
THE PICK: Munhoz
MiddleweightThiago Santos (17-5-0) v. Kevin Holland (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Santos ($9,200), Holland ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Santos (-350), Holland (+260)
Odds to Finish: -380
THE PICK: Santos
BantamweightRicky Simon (10-1-0) v. Montel Jackson (6-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Simon ($8,500), Jackson ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Simon (-175), Jackson (+145)
Odds to Finish: -135
THE PICK: Simon
Women's BantamweightBethe Correia (10-3-1) v. Irene Aldana (8-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Correia ($7,200), Aldana ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Correia (+275), Aldana (-335)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Aldana
FeatherweightMatt Sayles (6-1-0) v. Sheymon Moraes (9-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Sayles ($8,300), Moraes ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Sayles (-125), Moraes (+105)
Odds to Finish: -155
THE PICK: Moraes
FlyweightAlex Perez (20-4-0) v. Jose Torres (8-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Perez ($8,400), Torres ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Perez (-145), Torres (+125)
Odds to Finish: -105
THE PICK: Torres
BantamweightRicardo Ramos (11-1-0) v. Kyung Ho Kang (13-7-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Ramos ($8,600), Kang ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Ramos (-220), Kang (+180)
Odds to Finish: -190
THE PICK: Ramos
Women's StrawweightDanielle Taylor (9-3-0) v. Weili Zhang (16-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Taylor ($7,500), Zhang ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Taylor (+220), Zhang (-260)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Zhang
BantamweightMarlon Vera (10-5-1) v. Wuliji Buren (10-5-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Vera ($9,300), Buren ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Vera (-440), Buren (+350)
Odds to Finish: +130
THE PICK: Vera