This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
There is room for immediate advancement in the UFC heavyweight division and the winner of Saturday's main event will be in prime position to take full advantage.
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, including a $333K MMA Throwdown with $100K to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Control Time: +0.03 PTS/SECOND
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
Quick Win Bonus: +25 PTS
(fight is finished in 60 seconds or less)
- Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
- A Significant Strike will count as both a strike and a significant strike and will be worth a total of 0.4 Pts
- Control Time is the time spent in the dominant position on the ground or in the clinch. +0.03 points are awarded per second.
- A Knockdown is awarded to a fighter who knocks his/her opponent down due to debilitation for what the official scorers consider an appreciable amount of time.
- A Quick Win Bonus is awarded to the winning fighter if they win in the first round in 60 seconds or less.
Main Event - Heavyweight
Volkov is the far more experienced and decorated fighter in this matchup, having more than five times as many professional bouts as Gane. A former Bellator and M-1 Global Heavyweight Champion, Volkov has shown far more good than bad through his first nine UFC bouts. His record is 7-2, with the defeats coming against Derrick Lewis due to a last-second knockout, and Curtis Blaydes in a bout in which Volkov has less than no answer for the wrestling of his opponent. I'm a big fan, and I think Volkov has long been underrated.
Gane made his UFC debut back in August 2019 when he had all of three professional fights under his belt. He has won all five of his bouts with the company, including two submissions and a knockout. Gane is known for his massive power. He lands a ton (5.04 significant strikes per minute) and rarely gets hit (1.85 significant strikes per minute). Those numbers, especially the defense, figure to revert to the mean over the long term, but he's been impressive thus far.
To say this will be a step up in competition for Gane is an understatement. Gane's five UFC victories have come against Jair Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos, Tanner Boser, Don'Tale Mayes and Raphael Pessoa. If he can handle Volkov as easily as he took care of those guys, I'll be highly, highly impressed. And surprised.
Gane can mix in a takedown here and there (1.13 takedowns per 15 minutes), but he's a stand-up fighter. I expect this fight to be contested on the feet. Volkov is three inches taller, but Gane possesses a one-inch reach edge. Gane has a massive edge in stopping power, but Volkov is the far more technical striker and much better at stringing together combinations.
This seems like a prime buy-low spot for Volkov. As explosive as Gane can be in the power department, Volkov has easily handled every big time striker he has faced in the UFC. Gane also doesn't have the grappling game to give him consistent trouble. I'll roll with Volkov as what I would term a substantial value play.
THE PICK: Volkov
Co-Main Event - Heavyweight
OSP was originally schedule to face Maxim Grishin here in a light heavyweight bout. Grishin withdrew due to visa issues, and Boser stepped in, thus making this a heavyweight fight.
On a clear downward trend for the better part of the past three years, Saint Preux is 2-4 in his past six bouts. If that's not bad enough, OSP missed weight in his most recent fight against Jamahal Hill last December. He lost via second-round knockout. Saint Preux is an exceptional athlete (he played Division I football at the University of Tennessee) who was simply never able to pick up the finer points of mixed martial arts. He's still managed to carve out a prolonged and somewhat successful career, but I expected more when he first joined the company back in April 2013.
Boser has been up and down over his first half dozen UFC bouts, posting a 3-3 mark. He's coming off back-to-back decision losses (Ilir Latifi, Andrei Arlovski). Boser has very little experience against quality competition. Saint Preux also doesn't fall into that category at this stage of his career, but he's still a high-level athlete with the potential to give Boser trouble.
It's easy to see why Saint Preux is struggling. He relies so much on his athleticism for success that even a minor drop-off in that area could prove disastrous. He made a brief appearance at heavyweight against Ben Rothwell not all that long ago, but that was never a serious long-term option given how undersized he is for the division. He was headed right back to 205 pounds until Grishin withdrew.
The range of outcomes for this fight would appear to be massive. Boser is a direct power puncher, while OSP has evolved into a mat specialist. I'm reluctantly taking Boser. I'm not all that high on him moving forward, but I don't think Saint Preux is useable at the moment. I need to see a bounce-back effort before committing to him again.
THE PICK: Boser
Means endured a tough stretch from March 2017 to February 2020 in which he went just 3-5, but he has since earned back-to-back unanimous decisions wins over Mike Perry and Laureano Staropoli. In an odd coincidence, both Perry and Staropoli missed the 171-pound welterweight limit for those bouts. Means has been around a long time. He's now 37 years old and has been a professional for more than 17 years. While some of his physical skills have faded, Means has always been plenty durable, and I see no real reasonable he can't remain moderately competitive for at least a few more years.
Dalby has had two separate stints with the company, with his biggest moment to date being a majority draw against Darren Till back in October 2015. Dalby possesses a respectable all around offensive game in against to remarkable durability. He has yet to be stopped via strikes in his professional career, and that's saying something considering some of the battles he has been involved in over the years.
I could see a scenario in which Dalby struggles to generate offense here. Means is the taller, longer fighter and tends to be the more active fighter on the feet. The rest of the numbers between the two are nearly identical, but Means lands 5.16 significant strikes per minute while Dalby averages 3.2. That output could be the difference in a bout in which both men are durable.
This should be a fairly close fight. Neither of these men have one single elite trait in their respective arsenals. I don't hate the idea of using Dalby as a underdog because I think he'll keep it competitive, but I'm rolling with Means via decision. This should be a pretty entertaining fight even though it has little to no impact on the rankings at 170 pounds.
THE PICK: Means
This fight was due to take place about a month ago before Hadzovic was yanked at the last minute due to health concerns.
A grizzled veteran who has been with the UFC since April 27, 2013, Medeiros – who has lost three in a row and has just a single victory dating back to December 2017 – will almost certainly be fighting for his job on Saturday. Yancy was a durable fighter with a bunch of power early in his career, but his chin has evaporated of late and that has limited his offensive opportunities. He's always kept himself in great shape and has been in the Octagon with a bunch of quality competition (Dustin Poirier, Donald Cerrone, Gregor Gillespie, Jim Miller), but this appears to be a classic case of a fighter simply losing his skills as he ages.
Hadzovic has been no better of late, having lost his last two fights and without a victory dating back to February 2019. His career mark in the UFC is 3-4, with two of the wins coming via knockout and one via split decision. Hadzovic is generally far less active on the feet than Medeiros, but he is also much better at defending himself. That lack of activity could end up costing him, but the defense should be a major positive in a fight that seems likely to hit the final bell.
Medeiros is only an inch taller, but possesses a five-inch reach edge. Something will have to give in a fight in which neither man projects to do much grappling.
I like the idea of using Medeiros as an underdog even thought I'm not picking him outright. I don't trust his lack of durability, but I also don't think Hadzovic has the offensive arsenal to overwhelm him. Either man makes for a reasonable play.
THE PICK: Hadzovic
Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0-0) v. Michel Prazeres (26-3-0)
DK Salaries: Rakhmonov ($9,100), Prazeres ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Rakhmonov (-250), Prazeres (+200)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Rakhmonov
Marcin Prachnio (14-5-0) v. Ike Villanueva (18-11-0)
DK Salaries: Prachnio ($9,000), Villanueva ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Prachnio (-215), Villanueva (+170)
Odds to Finish: -200
THE PICK: Prachnio