We’re back with a fantasy MMA previews this week as the UFC returns with a pay-per-view event that has led to some very nice fantasy prize pools for MMA players. The main bout pits perennial pound for pound candidate, and flyweight world champion Demetrious Johnson vs up and coming star Kyoji Horiguchi in a title bout. The rest of the card is a mixed bag of veterans, up and comers and mainstays in the UFC all looking for a win to solidify their spot in the company.
As always, I’m going to break down who I think the best fantasy plays are from this fight. Rather than give you a fight by fight analysis I’m going to focus on who I think the highest potential scorers on this card will be, talk about potential under the radar plays for gpps, and which sleeper/underdogs picks you should use with your higher priced talent.
Both Kountermove and DraftKings have MMA offerings on their site this week and each offers unique lineup opportunities and salary values that you can take advantage of. Make sure you check out both sites if you want to get in on the action.
As you may well know, Demetrious Johnson is a huge favorite in this fight, his Vegas odds have been fluctuating between -800 and -900. I do think Johnson wins this fight, and likely by stoppage of some sort in the third round. Horiguchi is a great young fighter but will likely be in over his head this weekend. Obviously such a dominate fighter will make for a good fantasy play, however there is still the issue of his price. If you can fit him your roster without sacrificing all 4 other spots then by all means you should. But I’m not sure if it’s possible. Look to roster Johnson where you can but don’t be afraid to fade this fight if you think a more balanced approach will suit your overall team better.
Odds to win: -414
One of my favorite plays on this card is young and upcoming Brazlian fighter Thomas Almeida. Almeida has finished 16 of his 17 pro fights and is developing into one of the better strikers in the sport. He has power, likes to throw punches and just generally wants to decide things on his feet. His opponent is Yves Jabouin, a veteran striker who simply doesn’t have the power that Almeida possesses. This is essentially a young talented fighter going against a veteran who may on his last legs. I like Almeida to rack up big points fast in a quick victory.
Odds to win: -192
In a completely old-school match between two veteran fighters I like Patrick Cote to potentially get an early win and continue Joe Riggs’ losing streak in the UFC. Cote is an excellent striker who once fought Anderson Silva for the title way back when. Even though Cote had to endure a long injury layoff after that fight he has managed to fight his way back into some relevancy in the UFC. Given his age, this may be one of Cote’s last chances to fight both in Canada and in his home province. I like Cote as the better striker in this matchup. It’s been a long time since Riggs was of any relevancy in the UFC and it’s more likely than not he gets finished early by Cote who will be motivated to stop his own losing skid and perform well in his home province.
Odds to win: +130
Dollaway is an extremely talented fighter who sometimes looks like he just can’t quite put everything together. He has good power and is an extremely talented wrestler and grappler. His opponent is the better known Michael Bisping who for all his notoriety tends to be one dimensional. A former TUF winner way back in season three Bisping has been mostly dominated by better opposition in his career, and most of his victories have been won through volume of striking. Now on the wrong side of 36 I think Dollaway can and will find a way to get through Bisping’s defense and find a way to end the fight through strikes or ground and pound. For his price he’s definitely one of my favorite lower priced plays of the week.
Odds to win: +156
Campbell is taking on John Makdessi who is returning from an injury layoff. Campbell is also a late injury replacement for in this fight himself. With both of these factors in play there seems to be a lot of question marks surrounding this fight and that is a large part of why I like the underdog Campbell. Both men are pure strikers and we should see lots of significant strikes thrown and landed in this fight. But while Makdessi is the favorite and probably more talented of the two, Campbell’s kickboxing background make him an extremely tough opponent, especially for a non-wrestler. I love Campbell’s price, experience and the fact he’s coming into the fight as a somewhat unknown. He’s my top underdog of the week.
Odds to win: -380
Laprise is one of several Canadian fighters on this card. I think he potentially has the best matchup of all though as his opponent is slower and should be susceptible to his better movement, striking and better ground skills. Laprise actually won a recent edition of the TUF and looks like a legit prospect. I think Laprise gives you a great floor for fantasy purposes as it’s quite likely he will significantly outstrike his opponent. If he can end the fight early that will be a bonus.
Odds to win: -154
Since Kountermove offers the whole range of prelim fights in their games I always recommend one lessor known fighter there you can use to you advantage. This week Valerie Letourneau takes on a much less experienced opponent whom she should be able to dominate. I think there is a strong possibility Letourneau ends this fight early and gets the huge finish bonus on Kountermove. She’s fighting in her home country and will look to establish herself in the straw-weight division with a quick victory over what looks to be an outmatched opponent.