This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Update: The scheduled matchup between Francisco Trinaldo and Diego Ferreira has been removed from the card after Ferreira withdrew due to medical issues. Please remember to adjust lineups accordingly.
Rose Namajunas defends her title Saturday on a card also featuring a pair of Brazilian staples in Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo. DraftKings is offering a $30,000 top prize in their $15 MMA Throwdown, along with your typical array of Knockout King qualifiers and other GPPs.
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 - Women's Strawweight Championship
This is a pretty intriguing title fight, but it's not going to do a whole heck of a lot for casual fans of the sport, and I'd be shocked if it lead to a large number of pay-per-view buys. It would seemingly be suited for the main event of an ESPN card.
After defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship in November 2017, Rose doubled down and dominated Joanna once again last April. Namajunas, who is (was) primarily known as a mat specialist, smashed Jedrzejczyk on the feet in both fights. I didn't think it was possible, and Rose did it twice. She's always been tough and durable, so if these advancements in her striking game are the real deal, she has a much, much better chance of making multiple successful title defenses. This may very well be her toughest test on the road to accomplishing that goal.
Andrade, who was nothing more than roster depth at bantamweight, has quickly established a reputation as one of the toughest fighters at 115 pounds. She is a perfect 3-0 in her last three bouts, and all the victories have come against high-level competition (Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Tecia Torres, Claudia Gadelha). Andrade's biggest advantage over Rose (and every other fighter in the division) is her brute strength. Considering her muscular physique, it's almost impossible to believe she can make the 115-pound strawweight limit. She has done so without issue since moving down three years ago, and it's not an issue moving forward.
Andrade has averaged north of three takedowns per 15 minutes over the course of her UFC career, and to be quite honest, it seems like more than that. Because she is so strong, opponents have an extremely difficult time getting up once Jessica has them down. Rose is deceptively strong and very good off her back, but I have a difficult time believing she is going anywhere once Andrade has her pinned down.
I went back and forth on my pick for this fight countless times. It's essentially a pick 'em for me and that's more or less what the odds say. In the end, I decided to go with Namajunas. While I would be far from shocked if Andrade muscled her way to a decision win, Rose has elite cardio and has displayed an ability to defeat all different type of opponents. The fact she comes at a modest DraftKings discount is just a bonus.
THE PICK: Namajunas
Co-Main Event - Middleweight
With Silva's career coming to a close, he stated his desire to fight on this card, and the UFC granted his request. How many fights Anderson has left is not entirely clear, but it's not many and he seems to realize that. Silva did surprisingly well in his unanimous-decision loss to Interim UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya in February. Anderson showed that he can still be a competitive in a kickboxing match, but the issue is what will happen when he faces an opponent that forces him to do something other than stand and throw strikes.
Cannonier has a chance at redemption after knocking out David Branch in November. He had lost two in a row prior to that win, and he might have been handed his walking papers had he come up short. Cannonier has fought as high as heavyweight, and he has a whole bunch of power for a 185-pounder. He would be best served not getting into a kickboxing match with Silva, but grappling has never been Cannonier's strength. He will also be competing in a very hostile environment.
This fight is getting some publicity because of Silva, but it's not of the same quality as your typical pay-per-view co-main event. Silva is 44 years old, and Cannonier has struggled with consistency throughout the course of his time with the company.
Although these are two veteran fighters, I would try to avoid this fight if I could. It seems to have a massive range of outcomes. Any early stoppage would almost certainly favor Cannonier while I imagine Anderson will get the judge's call in any close decision. I give Cannonier a slight edge due to his power, but this is a fight in which seemingly anything could happen.
THE PICK: Cannonier
This is the best fight on the card as far as I'm concerned and it's not close. Both of these men excel in the stand-up game, and given how aggressive both are, I have a difficult time believing this one will see the final bell (though the "odds to finish" mark sits at a meager -130).
Having openly admitted that he is leaning towards retirement in the not-too-distant future, the 32-year-old Aldo turned back the clock to knock out Jeremy Stephens last July. He followed that up with a second-round TKO against the dangerous Renato Moicano this past February. Aldo is getting hit a bit too much for my liking these days, but his offensive game looks as strong as ever. People have seemingly forgotten that despite fighting the best the world has to offer for years, Aldo has lost just three times since 2005. The fighters he lost to: Max Holloway (twice) and Conor McGregor. He may have taken a slight step backwards, but Aldo is still one of the best 145 pounders on the planet.
Volkanovski has quickly developed as one of the UFC's newest breakout stars. A winner of 16 in a row and coming off a starching of former title challenger Chad Mendes in December, the Aussie is now setting his sights on the former UFC Featherweight Champion. Volkanovski has a ton of power. He's aggressive and durable. I think he's being undervalued because he hasn't been fighting on the big stage for all that long, but there's zero doubt in my mind that Volkanovski has the skill set to quickly enter the title conversation at 145 pounds.
Man, this is a tough one to call. I'm still a believer in Aldo. He may not be on quite the same level as when he was arguably the best fighter in the sport, but he has plenty of left in the tank. That being said, I'm all-in on Volkanovski. He hits like a tank and moves well, and Aldo is absorbing a bit too much punishment for my liking. I'm stoked for this one. Don't be surprised if this ends of being one of the better fights of 2019.
THE PICK: Volkanovski
The UFC tends to always push Brazilian fighters whenever they have a PPV in that country, and this card (and fight) is no exception.
Alves has been sliding for the better part of the past four years. He is 4-5 in his last nine bouts and there is no reason for him to be getting any sort of push at this point in his career. Alves turns 36 years old in October, and although he had power in his earlier days, he has just one knockout win in the past 11 years. Alves is a reckless brawler and his chin has gotten worse as he ages.
Staropoli is the unknown in the equation. The 26-year-old has just one UFC bout under his belt – a unanimous-decision win over Hector Aldana in November. He is a legitimate prospect, but he has had just nine pro fight in his career. Alves, even in his deteriorated state, will still be the biggest test of his career.
Alves will have the Brazilian crowd behind him, but Staropoli, a native of Argentina, should have some support as well. We don't know a ton about Staropoli's long-term potential, but I have a difficult time believing Alves can beat anyone halfway decent these days. A bet on him is belief his power hasn't entirely evaporated, and there is no evidence that is the case.
THE PICK: Staropoli
Once you get past Aldo v. Volkanovski, this is probably the second-best fight on the card. Both Trinaldo and Ferreira can take quite a step forward at 155 pounds if they win this one. Few fighters in the sport have overachieved as much as Trinaldo over the past several years. Although he has alternated wins and losses in his past four bouts, Trinaldo is sporting an 8-2 record in his past 10 bouts dating back to 2014. Trinaldo is as tough as they come and has legitimately gotten better as he has aged. He turns 41 years old in August, so this is his ceiling, but his UFC run has turned out far better than anyone could have reasonably expected. Ferreira enters on a four-fight win streak. The only two losses of his professional career came against current Interim UFC Lightweight Champion Dustin Poirier and the underrated Beneil Dariush . Ferreira is a third-degree BJJ black belt and he has more power in his hands than he gets credit for. He missed weight his last time out, but that was a first in Ferreira's career, and I'm going to give him a pass until I see it happen again. Trinaldo is the very definition of durable (he's never been knocked out in nearly 30 pro fights), but his striking defense can be poor at times, and Ferreira has displayed an ability to stop his opposition. I hate going against Trinaldo given how far he has come, but Ferreira is considerably younger and he's a much better athlete. When all else fails, bet on athleticism. Still, I'm a tad worried about the salary gap between the two. I like Ferreira to win, but Trinaldo is a decent value player given his shockingly-low price tag. THE PICK: Ferreira
Irene Aldana (9-4-0) v. Bethe Correa (10-3-1)
DK Salaries: Aldana ($9,200), Correa ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Aldana (-280), Correa (+240)
Odds to Finish: +160
THE PICK: Aldana
B.J. Penn (16-13-2) v. Clay Guida (34-18-0)
DK Salaries: Penn ($6,700), Guida ($9,500)
Vegas Odds: Penn (+450), Guida (-600)
Odds to Finish: -165
THE PICK: Guida
Luana Carolina (5-1-0) v. Priscila Cachoeira (8-2-0)
DK Salaries: Carolina ($8,900), Cachoeira ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Carolina (-170), Cachoeira (+150)
Odds to Finish: +205
THE PICK: Carolina