UFC 249 DFS Preview, Tips and Advice

Everything you need to know, for beginners and experienced players, before you set your DFS lineups for UFC 249 this Saturday.
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Finally, take a deep breath, we can take a timeout at last from loading up on simulated basketball games, esports and even Korean Baseball in the DFS world. The UFC is back!

UFC 249 takes place on May 9 from Jacksonville, Florida with a stacked card and two title fights, headlined by lightweights Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje⁠—who will not only be competing for the interim title, but dibs on who gets a crack at Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.

Typically, players head on over to DraftKings to jump on into MMA tournaments, but now we have a couple new kids on the block joining the party in FanDuel and SuperDraft! Players will have the opportunity to take their share of more than $2.5 million combined. Before we dive into the card, let's look at what these three outlets have to offer this weekend.

DRAFTKINGS:

Biggest prize pool tourney: $20 buy-in, $1 Million total prize pool with $200k to 1st place.

Lineup Requirements

Lineups will consist of 6 Fighters.

In salary cap contests, participants will create a lineup by selecting players listed in the Player Pool. Each player listed has an assigned salary and a valid lineup must not exceed the salary cap of $50,000.

Contest results will be determined by the total points accumulated by each individual lineup entry.

FANDUEL:

Biggest prize pool tourney: $8.88 buy-in, $300k total prize pool with $100k to 1st place.

Lineup Requirements

Lineups will consist of 6 fighters, which will be configured with a team of one MVP (1.5x) and five additional fighters.

SUPERDRAFT:

Biggest prize pool tourney: $12 buy-in, $10k total prize pool with $2k to 1st place.

SuperDraft is taking a creative spin to their scoring and I had a chance to catch up with Senior Manager, Tyler Davis, who shared with me some detail on their tournaments scoring structure.

While we've been running simulated MMA DFS during the pandemic crisis along with simulated basketball, football, and baseball, this will be SuperDraft's first paid-entry contest for MMA. Our Knockout contest has a $10,000 prize pool along with thousands more in other contests as well as a free-to-enter contest for any and all players to get used to MMA DFS. Unlike many of our competitors' contests that operate on the Salary Cap model, we have a unique system we call Multiplier which allows you to select any Fantasy lineup you may want. Athletes (in this case UFC fighters) are assigned a scoring multiplier based on their value as determined by SuperDraft.

Fighters or athletes that are predicted to be high performers in UFC 249, like Ryan Spann and Fabricio Werdum get little to no multiplier bonus (1X for Spann, 1.05X for Werdum). You're essentially depending on them to score big on their own merit. Conversely, a fighter like Sam Alvey who is not expected to perform as well can get a much higher multiplier (1.75X for Alvey). This format adds an entirely different strategy because you're not constrained by a lineup budget.

This particular contest is also being run in what we call our Champion game mode. Players pick a lineup of 5 fighters with their pre-existing multipliers, but their first pick will get an extra 50% of its multiplier value (another way players can strategize on SuperDraft).

It's up to the player how safe or risky of a lineup they want to select. Many of our players elect to mix high risk/reward picks with high multipliers and a few solid anchors that had comparatively low multipliers to take a more balanced approach. In these multiplier formats, players can take a dive into projections and info found in our app/site's athlete cards and look for value spots where they can.

Here are the specific contest details regarding the $10,000 Knockout Contest for UFC 249:

Multiplier Champion Mode

Draft all of your favorite players based on their multiplier value with NO RESTRICTIONS. Your lineup will consist of a Champion player scoring an additional 50% of its multiplier and 4 FLEX players.

So players have a few choices! Let's dive into some strategy now.

A couple things to consider when playing MMA DFS:

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
  • Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most of the weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
  • Try to always include the main event or title fights. Five round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
  • Don’t get excited and rush a pick based on stats, consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
  • Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in even more, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.

Some specifics to note for this card:

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Some recommendations:

Take a look at the main and co-main, both of which are scheduled for five rounds.

In the main event, it's highly probable this doesn’t make the final bell. Depending on which side you take, this could be key in cashing. I like the value on Gaethje with a low price coupled with potential to score big. The guy has a high finish rate and tons of volume, which adds up quick.

In the co-main, expect to see this one to go into the championship rounds. Cruz is another value play I would consider. He’ll have a low salary, yet will continue to push the pace on the champ, looking to steal rounds on the feet while avoiding the takedowns. Cruz is one of only two fighters on the card that average more than 100 fantasy points per fight. You could also stack this fight and add Cejudo, thought that will be popular.

There are two heavyweight fights on the card and you should look to roster a fighter from at least one. Ngannou is one of the top plays (if not the top play) on the card. I’d look to roster him.

Value plays include Spann, Werdum, Ngannou and Luque when considering fantasy points projected versus average salary cap.

Sample optimal lineups: (popular plays, remember you should be a little different to set yourself apart from the field):

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Good luck everyone and I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night!