This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
Editor's Note (10/9): This preview is written as if the main event between Jedrzejczyk and Waterson will go on as planned, but concerns arose early in the week about Jedrzejczyk's weight cut. This led to the UFC offering Waterson a catchweight bout (which she declined), with her alternative being a UFC 244 matchup against Jessica Andrade. After the catchweight option was denied, Jedrzejczyk later came out with reports that she would still attempt to make the weight. Expect this to be a situation to remain in limbo, with Friday's weigh-in representing the next step towards clarity.
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
Returning to the strawweight division following her loss to Valentina Shevchenko at flyweight last December, Jedrzejczyk will once again set out to try to climb to the top of the mountain at 115 pounds. Joanna, who was widely viewed as one of the better pound-for-pound fighters in the world not all that long ago, is 1-3 in her last four fights dating back to November 2017. Her punches are coming slower, and she's getting hit more than ever. She looks like she is lacking confidence and that's an issue for a woman who relies on her Muay Thai game for success. Joanna dealt with another difficult weight cut for this fight and it has reached the point where the UFC must give serious consideration to forcing her to compete at flyweight. She's certainly far less interesting at the higher weight class, but her health is potentially at stake.
Waterson has won three straight following an uneven start to her UFC career. Her most recent victory over Karolina Kowalkiewicz in March was particularly impressive. She's giving up plenty of size to Joanna, but Waterson is the more physical fighter. She has an overwhelming advantage on the mat and should have a significant chance of winning this fight if she can just manage to limit Jedrzejczyk's combinations. Easier said than done, but there is definitely a path to victory for "The Karate Hottie." Waterson has showed me a lot lately. For quite a while I thought she was just too small to compete at 115 pounds – she did her best work in Invicta at Atomweight (105 pounds) – but she seems to have finally found her groove.
Both the DraftKings salaries and Vegas odds here appear to be woefully out of line. Waterson is in the midst of her best run with the company and Joanna's recent performances has been uneven, at best. Add in the weight cutting issues for Jedrzejczyk and you have something closer to a pick 'em than a lopsided rout. I'm still going to give Joanna a slight edge because she's bigger and the far more accomplished striker, but I'd be terrified to use her in my lineup given her hefty price tag. She's worth a look if you are the type to enter countless entries into a tournament, but on the whole, Waterson represents the better DraftKings play in this one.
THE PICK: Jedrzejczyk
Co-Main Event - Featherweight
With Swanson having entered firm "gatekeeper" status, the UFC will go about trying to raise the status of Gracie as potentially one of the company's next greatest stars.
Kron has just five professional fights under his belt despite the fact he turned 31 in July. He has made just one UFC appearance and it resulted in a 2:06 submission win over Alex Caceres in February. The Gracie name is legendary in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Kron is a standout in that area like the rest of his family. He earned his first black belt at age 19 and now spends his days training with the Diaz brothers in California. Gracie's lack of experience relative to his age is a concern, as is the fact we know very little about him other than his submission game, but there is undoubtedly enormous potential here.
Swanson has lost four in a row (Shane Burgos, Renato Moicano, Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega) and is without a win in more than 2.5 years. He's an entertaining fighter and popular with the fans, but the UFC would have been well within their rights to move on at this point. Cub is a tough-as-nails, one-dimensional brawler. He has always been one of the better 145-pounders in the world, but he has never been able to earn that one big career-defining victory. The fact he will turn 36 years old in November doesn't help matters, either.
We haven't seen enough of Gracie to say with certainty he's a future champion, but he should be able to handle Swanson. I would be concerned if he cannot. Cub has always been knocked out once in his career, but he has been submitted seven(!!!) times. That's a bad, bad sign for Cub. Maybe he can make this fight ugly enough to take a decision, but he doesn't interest me as an underdog DraftKings play.
THE PICK: Gracie
A pair of fighters with similar struggles meet here in what has the potential to be a pretty entertaining bout. Both Vick and Price absorb far too much punishment on the feet, and it has been the downfall of both on more than one occasion.
Vick enters having lost three in a row. He's 6-foot-3 and has always had difficult making the 155-pound lightweight limit, so his move to welterweight comes as no surprise. Vick is a talented offensive fighter. He has some pop in his hands and is good on the mat. Unfortunately, his poor defense has held him back. He's definitely long enough to succeed at 170 pounds, but he's not an explosive athlete and I wonder if bigger opposition will give him trouble.
Price has alternated wins and losses in his last four fights dating back to July 2018. His most recent bout was a second-round knockout loss at the hands of Geoff Neal in July. Price is a one-dimensional brawler. He swings for the bleachers with every shot he throws and is more than willing to eat a strike in order to land two. Employing that strategy never works over the long term, and it should come as no surprise that Price has began to struggle when the competition level has risen.
I'm 100 percent confident that Vick is the better all around mixed martial artist, but I always get worried when a fighter is moving to a new weight class for the first time. The extra 15 pounds on his frame should theoretically make Vick fresher and more effective, but there's no guarantee that's the case until we see him in action. I have far more confidence in Price's durability than Vick's, but Vick's discounted Price tag is too much to overlook.
THE PICK: Vick
No disrespect to Elliott, who is a tough guy and a perfectly capable flyweight, but Figueiredo probably deserves a better opponent at this stage of his career. Of course, with the future of the division still uncertain, all these guys pretty much have to take whatever is given to them at this point.
Figueiredo's only pro loss was a unanimous decision setback to Jussier Formiga in March. He has far, far more pop in his hands than your average 125-pounder, and unlike most guys in the division, he actually has shown an ability to finish fights. In addition to his power, Figueiredo is a BJJ black belt. He has an exceptionally well-rounded game and limited MMA miles on his body at age 31.
Elliott has alternated wins and losses in his last four fights. His career record over two stints with the company is 4-6, although he's a bit better than those numbers would lead you to believe. Elliott is tall for the division (5-foot-7) and most comfortable on the mat. He's athletic and moves well, but I'm not in love with his fight IQ. He forces things at times and that has cost him in the past. Elliott has enough talent to remain on the UFC roster for quite a while as useful roster depth if the company decides to keep the flyweight division around, but his ceiling is extremely limited.
Elliott is better than your typical fighter priced at $6900, but the Brazilian has looked virtually unstoppable since stepping on the scene more than two years ago and that makes him an easy choice. Elliott might be worth a look if you plan on submitting ten-plus lineups. He's awfully cheap.
THE PICK: Figueiredo