This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
In terms of action and high-level striking, Saturday's main event is the best possible fight the UFC could make in the welterweight division. The promotion announced in early-March that Till would be headlining the card, but they never announced an opponent for him. Thompson signed on at the end of the month and here we are.
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 - WelterweightStephen Thompson (14-2-1) v. Darren Till (16-0-1)
DraftKings Salaries: Thompson ($8,400), Till ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Thompson (-105), Till (-125)
Odds to Finish: -150
Thompson failed in his two attempts to win the UFC Welterweight Championship from Tyron Woodley, but he rebounded to decision the tough Jorge Masvidal in November. Thompson looked uncomfortable and confused against the champ, but his elite striking skills were back on display in the Masvidal fight. He is arguably the best and most decorated striker in the company. Thompson was 57-0 as a professional kickboxer and his ability to throw all sorts of kicks and punches from odd angles make it impossible for his opponents to train for him. Despite turning 35 years old in February, Wonderboy is in arguably the best shape of his entire career. Cardio will not be an issue for him in a fight that is scheduled for five rounds.
Coming off a first-round dismantling of fan-favorite "Cowboy" Cerrone, Till gets by far the biggest test of his young career in his hometown of Liverpool. While Thompson's striking is based upon combinations and unpredictability, Till succeeds with power and aggressiveness. He has 10 career wins via knockout including two of his four UFC victories. Till has youth on his side, but he doesn't have anywhere near the experience against world class competition that Thompson does.
I have gone on record as saying I would pick Wonderboy over any fighter in the division in a striking battle and I'm sticking to it. Knowing Thompson's strength is on the feet, it will be interesting to see if Till tries to go for the takedown. Thompson is a cool, unflappable customer and he is going to have to be in this one considering the crowd support Till is going to receive. I'm buying stock on Till moving forward, but I still can't bring myself to pick him over Wonderboy. I acknowledge he does have value as an underdog DraftKings play due to his power and ability to end a fight in an instant. I would be shocked if this doesn't develop into one of the most entertaining fights of the year.
THE PICK: Thompson
Co-Main Event - WelterweightNeil Magny (20-7-0) v. Craig White (14-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Magny ($9,500), White ($6,700)
Vegas Odds: Magny (-550), White (+415)
Odds to Finish: -190
No disrespect to White, but this is quite a step down from the originally scheduled co-main event of Magny and the since-injured Gunnar Nelson. Magny said he would fight anyone to remain on the card and he wasn't kidding.
I keep picking against him and Magny keeps on racking up victories. His latest victim was Carlos Condit via submission in December. Overall, Magny is 12-3 in his last 15 fights dating back to February 2014. Included in that span are wins over Condit, Johny Hendricks, Hector Lombard, Tim Means, and Kelvin Gastelum. Magny is a below-average athlete with limited explosiveness, but he always somehow finds a way to win. He keeps himself in elite shape and his is one of the few fighters in the division with no discernible weaknesses for his opponents to attack. I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but it hasn't happened yet.
White will turn 28 years old in July, but he already has 21 professional fights under his belt. A fighter that does his best work on the mat, White has nine career wins via submission. He is one of the few welterweights that can match the height of Magny, but he has never faced anyone of note since losing to Leon Edwards in November 2012.
White got this opportunity because he is based in England and wouldn't have to obtain a visa to fight. Good for him, but it's a tall ask and one in which you can't reasonably expect him to be successful. I was going to pick Magny over Nelson (he's burned me too many times and I wasn't going to give him a chance to do it again), so I'm clearly taking him over the newcomer.
THE PICK: Magny
LightweightJason Knight (20-4-0) v. Makwan Amirkhani (13-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Knight ($8,300), Amirkhani ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Knight (-140), Amirkhani (+120)
Odds to Finish: +115
This right here is the most underrated bout on the card. The 25-year-old Knight won four of his first five bouts with the company before dropping his last two. Tall for the featherweight division at 5-foot-10, Knight excels at using his long limbs to clamp on submissions. 13 of Knight's 20 career victories have come of that variety. Knight is a below-average striker and often reckless in the standup game, but he is also durable.
Amirkhani is best known for his eight-second knockout of Andy Ogle in his UFC debut in January 2015. He is coming off his first loss with the company – a split decision against Arnold Allen last March. Amirkhani, or Mr. Finland as he is more commonly known, has an interesting backstory and is extremely marketable. There was talk of him as a potential under-the-radar star prior to the loss to Allen. He needs to rebound on Sunday. Amirkhani has a background in both wrestling and Muay Thai and has nine wins via submission. He is one of the rare featherweights that can match the height and length of Knight.
Your pick here should be based upon if you feel Knight can stick to his game plan over the course of the entire fight. He stands a great chance of winning if he slows down the pace and lets the fight come to him, but if he attacks recklessly and repeatedly, Amirkhani will pick him apart. In a fight that is shaping up as a pick 'em, Knight's recklessness and Amirkhani's potential payoff as the underdog make Mr. Finland the pick.
THE PICK: Amirkhani
MiddleweightDan Kelly (13-3-0) v. Tom Breese (10-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Kelly ($7,200), Breese ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Kelly (+220), Breese (-260)
Odds to Finish: +135
Father Time may have finally caught up to the 40-year-old Kelly. After running off a 6-1 record to begin his UFC career, the former four-time Olympian in judo has lost back-to-back fights. Kelly has just 16 fights under his belt despite the fact he made his professional debut nearly 12 years ago. Kelly is uber-tough and an extremely hard worker, but he doesn't move as well as he did a few years ago, and while he is obviously excellent in judo, the rest of his MMA game was never particularly refined.
Breese heads home in hopes of bouncing back from the first loss of his pro career, a split-decision setback to Sean Strickland last June. An underrated striker that has six career wins via submission, the 26-year-old Breese remains a legitimate prospect in the UFC's middleweight division. He has a three-inch height and reach advantage on Kelly and he tends to do a much better job of defending himself on the feet than his opponent.
Unless Breese fights foolishly or takes Kelly lightly, he should win this one easily. Kelly figures to have a hard time avoiding Breese's combinations. Breese has a significant edge in size, athleticism and youth. Should Kelly last the entire 15 minutes, I don't think he will do enough offensively to pay off DraftKings owners as the underdog.
THE PICK: Breese
FeatherweightArnold Allen (12-1-0) v. Mads Burnell (9-2-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Allen ($9,200), Burnell ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Allen (-265), Burnell (+225)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Allen
BantamweightDavey Grant (10-3-0) v. Manny Bermudez (12-0-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Grant ($7,400), Bermudez ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Grant (+185), Bermudez (-225)
Odds to Finish: -175
THE PICK: Bermudez
MiddleweightEric Spicely (10-4-0) v. Darren Stewart (7-3-0, 1NC)
DraftKings Salaries: Spicely ($8,700), Stewart ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Spicely (-190), Stewart (+165)
Odds to Finish: -285
THE PICK: Spicely
WelterweightClaudio Silva (11-1-0) v. Nordine Taleb (14-4-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Silva ($7,100), Taleb ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Silva (+225), Taleb (-265)
Odds to Finish: +115
THE PICK: Taleb
WelterweightBradley Scott (12-5-0) v. Carlo Pedersoli (10-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Scott ($7,600), Pedersoli ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Scott (+160), Pedersoli (-185)
Odds to Finish: TBD (No prop listed, but over 2.5 rounds is currently in the (-145) to (-165) range.)
THE PICK: Pedersoli
Women's FlyweightGillian Robertson (4-2-0) v. Molly McCann (7-1-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Robertson ($7,300), McCann ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Robertson (+190), McCann (-230)
Odds to Finish: +100
THE PICK: McCann
MiddleweightElias Theodorou (15-2-0) v. Trevor Smith (15-7-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Theodorou ($9,400), Smith ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Theodorou (-360), Smith (+300)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Smith
Women's BantamweightGina Mazany (5-1-0) v. Lina Lansberg (7-3-0)
DraftKings Salaries: Mazany ($7,700), Lansberg ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Mazany (+130), Lansberg (-150)
Odds to Finish: +175
THE PICK: Mazany