This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
There's a three-week break in the UFC Schedule following Saturday's Sao Paulo event, so this will be the last chance for a while to take a shot at the $25,000 top prize in the $15 MMA Throwdown on DraftKings.
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 - Light Heavyweight
Jan Blachowicz (24-8-0) v. Jacare Souza (26-7-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Blachowicz ($8,900), Souza ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Blachowicz (-200), Souza (+170)
Odds to Finish: -285
For quite a while there had been rumblings that Blachowicz was next in line for a shot at Jon Jones' UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. So, while no disrespect to Jacare, this fight has to be considered a letdown for Blachowicz. He has put himself in position for a title shot as the result of five wins in his last six bouts dating back to October 2017. Included in that stretch are victories over Luke Rockhold, Nikita Krylov, Jimi Manuwa, and Jared Cannonier. Regular readers of this space are well aware I have never been Blachowicz's biggest supporter, but he's clearly more talented and capable than I ever gave him credit for. Blachowicz doesn't move at a particularly high pace, but he has power and he's an accomplished mat specialist. I still have a difficult time believing he's a top-five guy at 205 pounds, but he very well may be given the lack of depth in the division.
Jacare will be moving up to 205 pounds after spending the first 16 years of his storied career at middleweight. Souza has countless big victories on his resume, but he has never been able to put together a string of solid performances against elite-level competition. I'm not crazy about the move to a new weight class this late in his career. Jacare's ground game remains one of the best in the history of the sport, but he's getting hit too much on the feet and his footwork has noticeably slowed. I would wager Souza has enough natural ability to hang around the fringes of the top-10 in either division for as long as he wishes to fight, but I think the days of him being involved in the title conversation have come and gone.
As much as it pains me to do this, I think Blachowicz has to be the pick here. He's looked like the far better competitor of late and I'm always weary of using a fighter moving to a new weight class. That being said, I'd be terrified to touch him at his inflated salary. I'd argue Jacare is the better DraftKings play. Fighters of his caliber – aged or not – rarely check in at $7300. Toss in the fact Jacare should get a boost from the crowd in his native Brazil and I like him as an underdog play. It's just difficult to pick him outright.
THE PICK: Blachowicz
Co-Main Event - Light Heavyweight
Shogun Rua (26-11-0) v. Paul Craig (12-4-0)
DK Salaries: Rua ($9,300), Craig ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Rua (-260), Craig (+220)
Odds to Finish: -300
This one was scheduled to be Shogun v. Sam Alvey before Alvey was forced to withdraw due to a broken hand.
The bout – both the original and remake – means nothing in terms of impacting the rankings at 205 pounds, but Shogun remains popular in his native Brazil and Craig is always down for a brawl, so matching up these two fighters with extremely limited offensive arsenals does make sense.
Left for dead after sporting a 1-4 record from December 2012 to November 2014, Shogun has somehow won four of his past five fights dating back to August 2015. The fact there are a couple knockouts during that stretch is simply remarkable considering Rua is getting hit more than ever, and his foot work has evaporated entirely. Shogun turns 38 years old later this month, and it's a near certainty that his next five fights are going to go a heck of a lot worse than the previous five, but he's a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and those guys tend to get the benefit of the doubt from the company. I suppose the UFC can continue to run Rua out there if they are careful about who they match him up against. Fights against opponents such as Craig and Alvey do make sense.
Craig has won two of his last three, both via submission, dating back to this past March. A member of the UFC roster for less than three years, Saturday will already be Craig's ninth fight with the company. Craig is the rare brawler who does his best work on the mat. Craig's defense on the whole isn't good and I have questions about his chin, but he is a talented mat specialist. In fact, Craig doesn't have a knockout win in his entire career, but he does have 11 submission victories.
I think Craig is a better matchup for Shogun than Alvey would have been. Yes, Alvey's footwork is non-existent, and he swings for the bleachers with every single shot, but he does have legitimate power and Shogun has a poor chin. An opponent like Craig, who does his best work on the mat, plays right into the strengths of Rua. I REALLY want to pick Craig, but I'm worried about his chin. Three of his four UFC setbacks have come via knockout and that plays into Shogun's hands.
THE PICK: Rua
This is a fun matchup for me, as it features a pair of fighters I have been higher on than the overall industry consensus for quite some time.
Krause still receives no respect, but he has won five fights in a row and hasn't lost a bout in nearly five years. He's solid in all areas of the sport and rarely (and wisely) lets a fight see the judge's scorecards (seven career wins via knockout, 14 via submission). When Krause isn't in training himself, he coaches and trains other fighters in his adopted home of Lee's Summit, Missouri. Krause also has the added advantage of being able to compete at both lightweight and welterweight.
Moraes could conceivably be fighting for his job following back-to-back losses to Anthony Rocco Martin and Warlley Alves. Oddly enough, Krause knocked out Alves in his last bout. Moraes has had a nice run the past several years, but it's fair to wonder if he is simply running out of gas at age 37. The Brazilian is a third degree BJJ black belt and a wizard on the mat, and I always thought he was a bit better striker than the numbers would indicate. Unfortunately, Moraes has just one knockout win in his career and is going to struggle to emerge victorious if submission opportunities don't present themselves against Krause.
While I like both men, Moraes's lack of stopping power in his hands figures to give Krause a significant advantage. The American can take some risks on the feet knowing full well Moraes doesn't have the power to threaten him with significant return fire. I think that may very well end up being the difference in what should be a close fight.
THE PICK: Krause
Over the past half dozen years, you can count on one hand the amount of fighters who have overachieved to the level Trinaldo has. Having turned 41 years old this past April, the Brazilian has alternated wins and losses in his past six bouts, but is still sporting a 13-6 career record with the company. What's even more surprising is the fact Trinaldo has had all that success despite the fact he is a below-average athlete and has little finishing power in his hands these days. The words "toughness" and "grit" get thrown around a lot in this sport, but they both accurately describe what Trinaldo brings to the table on a nightly basis.
Green is hoping to improve on a streak that has seen him go 1-4-1 in his last six bouts dating back to November 2014. He announced his "retirement" following a unanimous decision to Drakkar Klose last December, but is now back 11 months later. Green has been a professional for more than a decade, but he has always struggled whenever tasked with facing better competition. The 33-year-old has some pop in his hands and a surprisingly underrated ground game, but he's never looked comfortable in anything other than an all-out brawl and he has always struggled to make in-fight adjustments. He has better physical gifts than his recent lack of success would lead you to believe, but his fight IQ is poor.
When a fighter announces his "retirement" and then decides to come back, it almost always ends badly. This is a sport where you have to be 100 percent committed to fighting and I'm always hesitant to trust guys who had one (or both) foot out the door not all that long ago. That, combined with the fact I have more faith in the durability of Trinaldo (who has never been knocked out) than Green, makes this a pretty easy pick.
THE PICK: Trinaldo
Ricardo Ramos (13-2-0) v. Eduardo Garagorri (13-0-0)
DK Salaries: Ramos ($9,200), Garagorri ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Ramos (-280), Garagorri (+240)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Ramos
Douglas Silva de Andrade (25-3-0, 1NC) v. Renan Barao (36-8-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Silva de Andrade ($9,100), Barao ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Silva de Andrade (-240), Barao (+200)
Odds to Finish: +110
THE PICK: Silva de Andrade