This article is part of our FanDuel MMA series.
Our final card during this fast-paced week of MMA DFS action takes place on May 16th in Jacksonville, Florida yet again, which means this article series is back in order to help players with their selections. It is important to note that the card now features Irwin Rivera taking the place of Mike Davis to fight Giga Chikadze after Davis had to be pulled from the card due to complications related to his weight cut. As always, fighters will be listed in order from most to least desirable among the given choices.
First, here's a refresher on the scoring. If you're looking for general strategy tips, I wrote a FanDuel 101 article prior to UFC Brasilia on March 14, though there have been a few minor scoring changes since then that I've noted below.
Moves Scoring (MVP 1.5X)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.9 PTS
Takedown (TD): +9 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): +4.5 PTS
Submission Attempt (SA): +7.5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +18 PTS
Moves Scoring (Standard)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.6 PTS
Takedown (TD): +6 PTS
Takedown Defense (TDEF): 3
Submission Attempt (SA): 5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +12 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (MVP 1.5X)
1st Round Win (1stW): +150 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +112.5 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +75 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +52.5 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +37.5 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +30 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses (Standard)
1st Round Win (1stW): +100 PTS
2nd Round Win (2ndW): +75 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rdW): +50 PTS
4th Round Win (4thW): +35 PTS
5th Round Win (5thW): +25 PTS
Decision Win (DecW): +20 PTS
Without further ado, let's get to it.
Oh Captain, my Captain
Best Play: Miguel Baeza ($20)
It may seem a bit risky to trust Miguel Baeza as your captain with just eight MMA fights under his belt, but the 27-year-old has shown fast hands, the ability to throw crisp combinations, and a knack for defensive responsibility you don't always see in fighters at this stage of their careers. On the flip side, Matt Brown stands up very tall and keeps his head on the center line during combinations, which should allow Baeza to work his counter game. It also means that the leg kicks he used to stop Hector Aldana could be in play once again.
Claudia Gadelha hasn't looked like the world-beater she once was, but the former title challenger gave Randa Markos a boxing lesson in their fight and still has quick hands and power to go along with a top-notch wresting/jiujitsu game. Angela Hill has made some strides when it comes to starting fast and generating offense, but it's difficult to forget how fast Markos took her down and subbed her when the two fought last year, and Markos doesn't come close to matching Gadelha's skills on the ground.
Darren Elkins is currently on a three-fight losing streak, but is still an incredibly tough fighter who will wrestle and throw a lot of volume. I particularly like the matchup against Nate Landwehr, as Landwehr has shown himself to be susceptible to counters throughout his regional career, and Elkins stays incredibly composed when he is backed up against the fence.
Best Play: Rodrigo Nascimento ($15)
Another young fighter as my "best option" in Rodrigo Nascimento, but it's really difficult to like what we have seen from Don'Tale Mayes thus far in The Octagon. While he is certainly powerful and can occasionally put combos together, Mayes just doesn't look like a high-level fighter to me. He frequently goes for low-percentage attacks, has trouble finding his range, and seems to lose his composure when pressured, which sometimes results in him turning his back to the opponent. Conversely, Nascimento looks like a solid pressure fighter, who wants to get the fight to the ground to use a submission game that accounts for five of his seven victories.
As much as I love Edson Barboza, he tends to struggle against the skill set of fighters like Dan Ige, who will fight with pressure and look to wrestle. Throw into the mix that this is Barboza's first time cutting to 145 pounds, and this begins to look like an excellent matchup for a grinding, tough fighter like Ige.
Eryk Anders has certainly had his ups and downs in the UFC, but he will be facing a fighter in Krzysztof Jotko who really seems to struggle when opponents bear down on him. Anders should be in his face from the opening bell, and will be able to use his physicality in the clinch, where Jotko usually finds success.
Best Play: Walt Harris ($22)
I decided against recommending Harris for the captain's spot not because he is incapable of putting up a big score, but because we have seen him hang back in fights before, and it's entirely possible that this fight will be a low-volume affair before a finish materializes. I still think he is reliable in this bout, however, as late-career Alistair Overeem seems to only be dangerous in select areas, which should allow Harris to get his game going at some point.
Yadong Song is one of those fighters who simply does everything well. The 22-year-old has a fantastic pressure boxing game, throws fast and with power, and can throw in a bit of wrestling as well. Marlon Vera has made a living out of starting slow before blitzing inexperienced and/or mediocre opposition to get a finish. I have serious doubts that this kind of strategy will work against Song, who is already a veteran of 20 MMA fights.
Cortney Casey's 8-7 record in professional MMA may not look like much, but a pressuring counter game seems like just the kind of style to beat someone like Mara Romero Borella, who often falls short with her strikes, and doesn't seem to have much power. I also expect Casey to be the more physical, skilled grappler here, despite her moving up in weight.
Neither Fish nor Fowl
It was looking as though Giga Chikadze would be left without an opponent after Davis had to withdraw, but late Thursday night we received word that Titan FC champion Irwin Rivera would take the fight in his place. Rivera is very fast and tends to attack by leaping into the pocket with shots, but that seems like the exact wrong way to fight someone who counters as well as Chikadze, as we saw him drop an athletic fighter in Jamall Emmers when he tried to do the same early in their bout. I'm taking Chikadze here, but the strangeness of the situation, as well as the fact that we have seen Chikadze tire in both of his UFC fights, makes this one hard to fit into a specific category. It is also worth noting here that while Rivera is not selectable, Giga IS still rosterable at his original price of $11. This being the case, I would recommend throwing in some fade lineups in GPPs, as most of the field should be on him, and it's not as though he has looked like a world-beater in the cage to this point.
I have a feeling that the heavier ownership will be with Kevin Holland in his matchup against Anthony Hernandez, as both are listed at the same price ($16), but I see two distinct advantages for Hernandez here. Generally, recklessly crashing into the pocket with strikes isn't a winning strategy, but Holland has shown himself to be much more of an offensive fighter, opting to try to evade and slip shots rather than counter punch. I also think that Hernandez's wrestling game will pay dividends in this spot, though it should be noted that Holland is an opportunistic submission grappler in his own right. The price point of these two makes it kind of awkward to place them in a spot above, but I think Hernandez will pour on enough offense to overwhelm his opponent.