DraftKings MMA: UFC Louisville DFS Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Louisville DFS Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC Louisville DraftKings DFS Preview and Picks

UFC Louisville takes place Saturday, and Jon Litterine is back to break down the top fights, plus offer his DFS picks and predictions for the key matchups on the card.

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 $300k UFC Throwdown with $100k to first place. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring rules are noted at the bottom of the column. Let's get to the action...

Main Event - Middleweight

Jared Cannonier (17-6-0) v. Nassourdine Imavov (13-4-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Cannonier ($7,600), Imavov ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Cannonier (+100), Imavov (-120)

Cannonier's ability to thrive since moving to middleweight a half-dozen years ago is one of the most underrated MMA storylines in recent memory. This is a guy who began his UFC career at heavyweight. He moved down to 185 pounds in November 2018 and has gone 7-2 since, with victories over Marvin Vettori, Sean Strickland, Kelvin Gastelum, Jack Hermansson and Anderson Silva. Cannonier challenged Israel Adesanya for the UFC Middleweight Championship (he was dominated in that fight) and is still going strong despite turning 40 years of age this past March.

Imavov is 6-2 (1NC) in his nine UFC appearances, although one of the setbacks was a unanimous decision to Strickland in a light heavyweight bout back in January 2023. His win over Joaquin Buckley has aged extremely well, and his most recent victory, a majority decision win over Roman Dolidze this past February, was one of his most impressive performances to date. On the whole, Imavov hasn't faced the high-end competition Cannonier has seen on a consistent basis, but this feels like smart matchmaking. Give the 29-year-old Imavov a solid veteran with a slew of impressive victories under his belt and see how he compares.

I'd be shocked if this developed into anything other than a back-and-forth kickboxing match. Both men average less than a takedown per 15 minutes. I'd give the grappling edge to Imavov if I had to pick -- he has four career wins via submission compared to two from Cannonier -- but that's not a strength of either man.

The interesting thing is how these two go about attacking their opposition on the feet. Cannonier has the edge in terms of pure power, but is a plodding brawler. He's a very strong guy who stalks his prey and is willing to eat a strike at times in order to land two of his own. Imavov, being the much taller man, is far more technical. He prefers to stay and distance and pick his opposition apart from there. All things considered, Imavov's style is much safer.

Imavov's four-inch edge in height is partially negated by Cannonier's two-inch edge in reach, but I always prefer the taller man who gets to punch downwards compared to the shorter man who will have to get in tight to consistently damage his opposition. 

I would like Jared more in this fight if the event was taking place at the UFC Apex. In the smaller Octagon, he would be able to crowd Imavov a bit more and control the pace of the bout. As is, Nassourdine should be able to use the extra space to rely on his footwork in an attempt to pick Cannonier apart at distance. 

From a pure value standpoint, saving $1000 and using Cannonier in your lineup when he's even money on the Vegas line seems like a smart move, and I wouldn't fault anyone for doing it, but I always prefer the technical kickboxer over the pure brawler, making Imavov the pick to win, likely via decision. 

THE PICK: Imavov
 

Co-Main Event - Light Heavyweight

Dominick Reyes (12-4-0) v. Dustin Jacoby (19-8-1)
DK Salaries: Reyes ($7,200), Jacoby ($9,000)
Vegas Odds: Reyes (+190), Jacoby (-230)

Concrete proof of the fact you can never predict what is going to happen next in this sport, Reyes is getting a co-main event slot here despite the fact he enters having lost four in a row, including three straight via knockout. Now, three of those defeats came against current of former UFC champions in Jon Jones, Jan Blachowicz and Jiri Prochazka, and the fourth came against a reasonable opponent in Ryan Spann, so Reyes has been defeated by some of the best in the world.

What makes this all the more baffling if the fact Reyes has been on the sidelines since November 2022. He's fought just four times since his loss to Jones in a title fight, by far the most impressive performance of his career, in February 2020. He was scheduled to face Carlos Ulberg (which would have been a disaster for Reyes) on multiple occasions in 2024, but both ended up being cancelled. 

The good news for Reyes is that this is theoretically a winnable fight for him. Jacoby has lost three of four, so while he's in better shape than Reyes, it's not by much. A former professional kickboxer, things have soured for Jacoby simply because he doesn't possess the all-around offensive arsenal to threaten his opposition. He brings zero grappling skills to the table, and the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to outpoint your opponents on the feet.

Both of these guys are good athletes, especially when you take into account how big both of them are, but raw athleticism is another trait that starts to go with age. Jacoby looks noticeably slower and less effective of late, and I guarantee we would have seen the same things from Reyes over the past year-plus if he had fought. 

This is a difficult pick because I'm not high on Jacoby and remain quite confident he's trending in the wrong direction. That said, I can never go with Reyes at this stage of his career. He's getting up there in age, never fights and is closing in on five years without a victory. I'll pass.

THE PICK: Jacoby
 

Bantamweight

Raul Rosas (8-1-0) v. Ricky Turcios (13-3-0)
DK Salaries: Rosas ($9,300), Turcios ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Rosas (-230), Turcios (+190)

This fight has been a long time in the making. These two were originally scheduled to fight on the Mexico City card in late-February before Rosas withdrew moments before the bout with an illness. Confirming it was a minor issue, the two were re-booked for the following week before the event even went off the air, only to have that fight cancelled. They eventually found their way to this card.

The youngest fighter in the UFC, having turned just 19 years of age last October, Rosas will be making his fourth appearance with the company. Rosas was grounded and overwhelmed by Christian Rodriguez  in April 2023 before rebounding with a 54-second knockout win over Terrence Mitchell in September. Rosas has consistently been matched up against low-end competition, and I expect that to be the case for the foreseeable future. His talent is obvious, but there's going to be bumps in the road along the way. 

It's a low bar, but Turcios is probably the best opponent Rosas has seen to date. He's 2-1 in three UFC bouts, with both wins coming via split decision. Ricky also has a loss on Dana White's Contender Series on his resume. 

Rosas has quickly developed into one of the biggest MMA stars in all of Mexico. With the original matchup scheduled to be held in Mexico City, it felt clear as day that the company was hoping Raul would roll through Ricky and put on a show in the process. I can't help but think this was taken into consideration when this fight was originally booked.

Turcios is a high-volume striker that brings a ton of energy to the table. I wouldn't term him a technical fighter, but he moves pretty well and stays active. Rosas' striking numbers (1.28 significant strikes landed per minute, 1.52 significant strikes absorbed per minute) are irrelevant because he spends so much time on top. 

By far the most likely scenario in that Rosas overwhelms Turcios with his grappling game. Turcios lacks upper-body strength, and I think Raul will be able to force him to the mat repeatedly without issue. 

I have serious reservations about dumping a chunk of my budget on Rosas because he's still young and inexperienced, and there are going to be some stinkers here and there, but he probably wins this fight quite easily.

THE PICK: Rosas 
 

Lightweight

Thiago Moises (18-7-0) v. Ludovit Klein (21-4-1)
DK Salaries: Moises ($7,800), Klein ($8,400)
Vegas Odds: Moises (+105), Klein (-125)

Moises' 7-5 record in a dozen UFC bouts is entirely underwhelming, but upon closer examination, things aren't all that bad. For starters, he just turned 29 years of age in March. He has a handful of decent wins on his resume (Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, Alexander Hernandez) and the vast majority of his defeats have come against some of the best the division has to offer (Islam Makhachev, Benoit Saint-Denis, Joel Alvarez, Beneil Dariush). I don't think Moises is a title contender or even a top-10 guy in a loaded division, but you can't just look at his record and write him off completely.

Klein is another guy who has had his ups and downs. I've always been a fan, but he's been inconsistent. He lost two of his first three fights with the company but has since gone undefeated in his last five appearances (4-0-1). Yet while Moises has been facing elite competition and defeating halfway decent opposition, Klein's best UFC win is over Ignacio Bahamondes. He has victories over guys like Mason Jones and Devonte Smith (who are no longer with the promotion). Certainly not needle-moving wins by any stretch of the imagination.

A BJJ black belt, Moises is entirely reliant on his ground game for success. His most recent win over Mitch Ramirez this past March was his first KO win in a dozen UFC bouts, and it came via leg kicks. In other words, it was a case of him overwhelming an opponent who had zero business being in the Octagon with him. He averages just 2.47 significant strikes landed per 15 minutes. The most he has ever landed in a single UFC bout is 66. Klein typically lands about 60 or so each time out, but that's his average. I expect him to have an edge in terms of volume on the feet, something that could make the difference in a close bout. 

I can't imagine Klein wants to be rolling around on the mat with Moises given that is a recipe for potential disaster, but I think Ludovit is the better wrestler. He's very strong for his size, and he's landed multiple takedowns in his past three bouts. He'll have to make sure he doesn't leave a limb exposed, however, or Moises will make him pay. 

While this is another pick 'em in my eyes, I tend to try to avoid guys that are reliant on their ground game for success. It's much more difficult to predict a submission, as multiple things need to go correctly in order for them to materialize. That makes Klein, the better striker (and wrestler), the selection.

THE PICK: Klein
 

Other Bouts

Middleweight
Brunno Ferreira (11-1-0) v. Dustin Stoltzfus (15-5-0)
DK Salaries: Ferreira ($9,400), Stoltzfus ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Ferreira (-265), Stoltzfus (+215)
THE PICK: Ferreira

Middleweight
Julian Marquez (9-4-0) v. Zachary Reese (6-1-0)
DK Salaries: Marquez ($8,300), Reese ($7,900)
Vegas Odds: Marquez (-130), Reese (+110)
THE PICK: Reese

Welterweight
Miguel Baeza (10-3-0) v. Punahele Soriano (9-4-0)
DK Salaries: Baeza ($8,700), Soriano ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Baeza (-190), Soriano (+160)
THE PICK: Baeza

Welterweight
Charlie Radtke (9-3-0) v. Carlos Prates (18-6-0)
DK Salaries: Radtke ($7,000), Prates ($9,200)
Vegas Odds: Radtke (+195), Prates (-240)
THE PICK: Prates

Bantamweight
Brad Katona (15-3-0) v. Jesse Butler (12-5-0)
DK Salaries: Katona ($9,600), Butler ($6,600)
Vegas Odds: Katona (-600), Butler (+440)
THE PICK: Katona

Women's Flyweight
Andrea Lee (13-9-0) v. Montana De La Rosa (12-9-1)
DK Salaries: Lee ($8,500), De La Rosa ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Lee (-140), De La Rosa (+120)
THE PICK: De La Rosa

Bantamweight
John Castaneda (21-6-0) v. Daniel Marcos (15-0-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Castanada ($8,200), Marcos ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Castanada (-105), Marcos (-115)
THE PICK: Marcos

Women's Strawweight
Eduarda Moura (10-0-0) v. Denise Gomes (8-3-0)
DK Salaries: Moura ($8,800), Gomes ($7,400)
Vegas Odds: Moura (-160), Gomes (+135)
THE PICK: Moura

Bantamweight
Cody Stamann (21-6-1) v. Taylor Lapilus (19-4-0)
DK Salaries: Stamann ($7,300), Lapilus ($8,900)
Vegas Odds: Stamann (+220), Lapilus (-270)
THE PICK: Lapilus

Women's Strawweight
Rayanne Amanda (14-7-0) v. Puja Tomar (8-4-0)
DK Salaries: Dos Santos ($9,100), Tomar ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Dos Santos (-285), Tomar (+235)
THE PICK: Amanda

Note: All odds accurate as of time of posting, and taken from the DraftKings Sportsbook, if available, before searching elsewhere. Stay up to date for UFC Louisville with more MMA betting content.

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DraftKings MMA Scoring

Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.

Moves Scoring
Strikes: +0.2 PTS
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.2 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)

Scoring Notes

  • 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.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jon Litterine plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: JLitterine.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Litterine
Jon Litterine is RotoWire's lead MMA Writer and MMA Editor. He has covered numerous MMA events live. He's also RW's NHL Prospect Analyst. Jon has been writing for RotoWire since 2005. He is a graduate of U Mass-Lowell.
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