This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Only 10 fights are scheduled for Saturday night at the UFC Apex, so DFS players will need to pick their spots carefully.
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, including a$400k MMA Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.
Main Event - Middleweight
Till has had all sorts of issues making the walk to the Octagon since his last appearance in July 2020 (a loss to Robert Whittaker), being forced to withdraw from scheduled fights against both Jack Hermansson and Marvin Vettori. Now presumably fully healthy, Till will be seeking to halt a streak which has seen him drop four of his past five fights.
Till is a fascinating guy to watch. The advanced numbers say he neither lands (2.27 significant strikes per minute) nor absorbs (2.99 significant strikes per minute) all that much punishment, but it still always feels as if he is involved in back-and-forth brawls. Till's power (10 career knockout wins) is totally legitimate, but I'm not sold on IQ inside the Octagon, in addition to his ability to make adjustments on a fight-to-fight basis. I expected more from him, quite frankly, upon debuting in the middle of 2015.
If you're looking to get out of a funk, which Till is, Brunson isn't the guy you want to see standing across the Octagon from you. The North Carolina native has won four straight dating back to May 2019. Brunson had all sorts of difficulty with over aggressiveness early in his UFC run. His loss to Robert Whittaker in November 2016 was a perfectly example. Brunson had the former UFC Middleweight Champion in all sorts of trouble, but he was reckless and emptied his gas tank in search of the finish, and ended up getting knocked out.
Brunson has looked much better lately, using his explosiveness is shorter spurts and picking his spots in more effective fashion. He's in great shape for a 37-year-old, and I see no reason he can't continue to have success in the second-tier of the middleweight division for a couple more years.
Brunson enters an inch taller and with a three-inch edge in the reach department. He's also the far better wrestler, averaging 3.11 takedowns per 15 minutes. To Till's credit, he defends the takedown at an excellent 82-percent clip.
I was undecided on a DFS pick here until I saw the DraftKings salaries and betting odds. In what sets up as essentially a pick 'em for me, Brunson is way, way undervalued. I don't understand it. Maybe I'd roll with Till all things being equal, but they aren't – not even close. This ended up being an easier pick than I expected it to be. I'm taking Brunson and hoping he can survive the few power shots Till lands and then outmuscle him at the point of attack.
THE PICK: Brunson
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
Aspinall has been unstoppable since arriving on the scene in July 2020, racking up three stoppage wins in his first three UFC bouts. He began his run with knockouts of Jake Collier and Alan Baudot before submitting Andrei Arlovski. Aspinall racked up a ton of stoppages on the regional circuit before arriving in the company, so this doesn't look like a fluke. He hasn't gone up against great competition, but the early returns have been positive.
Spivac represents Aspinall's most talented opponent to date. The 26-year-old began his time with the company with a knockout loss to Walt Harris, but has since won four of his past five including three straight. Spivac has less power than your typical heavyweight, although he's quite proficient on the mat and has been knocked out just once in his professional career. That last part is imperative, because you know Aspinall is going to come at him with the heavy artillery.
This is not a deep card and I advocate getting a piece of this fight in some form or fashion, especially if you're on Aspinall's side, which I am.
His DraftKings salary is more expensive that I would like, but there's an immense amount of value in having a fighter you know is going to come out and hunt for a finish in your lineup. It's imperative you make multiple lineups in order to cover your bases in case Aspinall doesn't produce, but I think he's one of the better plays on the entire slate.
THE PICK: Aspinall
An excellent boxer coming off a knockout win over Cowboy Cerrone this past May, Morono will attempt to string together back-to-back victories on Saturday. A member of the UFC roster for the past 4.5 years, Morono excels in the stand-up. While he has some power, he relies more on combinations and volume to damage his opposition. Morono lands 5.05 significant strikes per minute, which is a very high number. It's an especially impressive number when you take into account he absorbs just 3.69 per minute. Many strikers will eat a punch to land two of their own, but Morono at least attempts to defend himself.
Zawada might be fighting for his job in this one, as he has lost three of his first four fights. The only win was a submission victory over Abubakar Nurmagomedov back in November 2019 in which he entered as a hefty underdog. A native of Germany, Zawada racked up a ton of knockouts on that country's regional circuit before arriving in the UFC, but neither the volume nor that power has manifested itself stateside. I'm not expecting much to change at age 31.
Neither of these men wrestle much, as both average less than a takedown per 15 minutes. Zawada would be wise to try something different against Morono, because engaging him in a kickboxing match up is a recipe for disaster.
Morono has been competitive in every fight he's been in outside of a fluky 27-second knockout loss at the hands of Khaos Williams early last year, and I've seen nothing from Zawada thus far that would lead me to believe he will pull the upset here.
THE PICK: Morono
An underachiever throughout the course of his UFC and the loser of three of his past four fights, this figures to be last call for the 31-year-old Rountree. While he has some impressive knockout wins during his time with the company, Rountree's chin has been trending in the wrong direction, and he's never been a guy with a diverse offensive skill set. In other words, he isn't going to win if those power shots aren't landing.
Bukauskas began his UFC run with a knockout win over Andreas Michailidis back in July 2020 and has since dropped back-to-back fights to Jimmy Crute (KO) and Michal Oleksiejczuk (split decision). Bukauskas made a big name for himself on the regional circuit as a knockout artist, but he too has displayed a very basic offensive game at the highest level. Bukauskas' biggest edge in this one is that he enters with a two-inch edge in both the height and reach department in what is expected to be a kickboxing match.
This is another fight I doubt sees the final bell, so choose your fighter and make a stand.
Rountree should have a big edge in terms of both athleticism and explosiveness, but he's been so inconsistent that I could very easily see him crumbling under one shot from Bukauskas. I ultimately don't have one strong lean either way here, so I'm taking the slight value in Rountree. Try to get a piece of both if you plan on making multiple lineups.
THE PICK: Rountree
Dalcha Lungiambula (11-2-0) v. Marc-Andre Barriault (12-4-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Lungiambula ($7,800), Barriault ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Lungiambula (+135), Barriault (-155)
Odds to Finish: -160
THE PICK: Lungiambula