DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 67 DFS Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 67 DFS Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC Vegas 67  takes place Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena, 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 - Light Heavyweight

Nassourdine Imavov (12-3-0) v. Sean Strickland (25-5-0)
DK Salaries: Imavov ($8,700), Strickland ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Imavov (-115), Strickland (-105)
Odds to Finish: -150

The big news here is the fact Strickland is replacing Kelvin Gastelum (mouth) on just five days notice. He and Imavov were scheduled to fight at middleweight, while this bout will now take place at light heavyweight. 

Now 34 years of age, Strickland, the loser of back-to-back fights, needs a victory to remain relevant and may need one to save his job, as well. He had won six straight prior to a knockout loss to (now UFC Middleweight Champion) Alex Pereira and a split decision setback against Jared Cannonier. The Cannonier fight was the main event of the last event the UFC held prior to their holiday break, so Strickland is going to headline back-to-back cards for the company. 

The sample size for Imavov is much smaller. He has just five UFC fights under his belt. He's won four of them, including two via knockout. Imavov's last three wins -- Joaquin Buckley, Edmen Shahbazyan, Ian Heinisch -- are all against decent competition, but nowhere nearly the caliber of opponents Strickland has seen over the years. 

Strickland projects to be a much tougher challenge for Imavov. Gastelum is undersized and extremely aggressive on the feet. Sean is considerably larger and tends to sit back, let his opponent lead the dance and counter with his jab. Strickland always fights the same exact way, so I can't imagine he'll have difficulty after accepting this fight on such short notice. I can't say the same for Imavov. 

Statistically, these men are very similar. Strickland lands more (5.59 significant strikes per minute compared to 4.08 for Imavov), but many of those shots are counter jabs that aren't particularly damaging. Imavov is better at picking his spots and knowing when to pressure his opposition.

From a grappling standpoint, both men average about one takedown per 15 minutes. I would gave Imavov the advantage in the submission game should this fight end up on the mat.

Imavov was scheduled to be a -225 favorite over Gastelum, which seems about right. He would have had a massive size advantage over Kelvin.

As is, this bout is essentially a pick 'em. Imavov has the advantage of having trained for a fight here all along, but Strickland is always in fighting shape. I feel he can employ his style against anyone and doesn't need much notice to pull it off. On the flip side, Sean presents a completely different challenge for Imavov, one that will be difficult to get a read on on just five days notice. Give me Strickland in a (very) minor upset.

UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Strickland

Co-Main Event - Featherweight

Dan Ige (15-6-0) v. Damon Jackson (22-4-1, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Ige ($8,400), Jackson ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Ige (-125), Jackson (+105)
Odds to Finish: +120

A former alum of Dana White's Contender Series, Ige has lost three-straight fights, all via unanimous decision. Going back a bit further, he's 1-4 in his last five bouts dating back to July 2020. Not coincidentally, Ige's struggles began as soon as he started facing better competition. Ige's a perfectly competent featherweight, and his UFC run has been successful considering the low expectations upon his January 2018 arrival, but he's stretched to compete with the best the 145-pound division has to offer. I'd be shocked if he isn't fighting for his job on Saturday (though his propensity for high-octane fights might suggest otherwise).

In the midst of his second UFC run, Jackson has been brilliant since returning. He's 5-1, with his lone setback being a knockout at the hands of top young contender Ilia Topuria. Jackson most recently knocked out Pat Sabatini in 79 seconds in late September just days after his brother suddenly passed away. It was an awe-inspiring performance.

More volume-over-power on the feet, Ige is extremely tough. He easily gets sucked into brawls at times, which is understandable considering they are the type of fights in which he's most successful. He gets hit too much (3.56 significant strikes per minute) and often has no clear path to victory. This doesn't seem to be a great matchup for him.

Jackson's greatest assets are his cardio and relentlessness. He averages 2.62 takedowns per 15 minutes and has 15 career wins via submission. He's susceptible to the takedown himself, defending them at just a 40 percent clip, but he's comfortable fighting off of his back.

Ige, who does almost all of his work on the feet, is going to have to figure out a way to negate a four-inch height edge for Jackson, all while selling out to remain upright. Ige is going to have an edge in a prolonged kickboxing match, but most everything else favors Jackson. 

All in all, that's more than enough for me to back Jackson as an underdog at plus money. 

UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Jackson


Punahele Soriano (9-2-0) v. Roman Kopylov (9-2-0)
DK Salaries: Soriano ($8,500), Kopylov ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Soriano (-150), Kopylov (+130)
Odds to Finish: -175

Now 30 years of age, Soriano likely saved his job with a knockout win over the since-released Dalcha Lungiambula last July. The 30-year-old Hawaiian dropped a pair of decisions (Nick Maximov, Brendan Allen) in his prior two bouts. Soriano has a background in wrestling, but has primarily proven to be a brawler during his three-plus years with the company. 

Kopylov finds himself in an identical spot. His recent knockout win came over the also since-retired Alessio di Chirico. Prior to that, he suffered a unanimous decision defeat to Albert Duraev, in addition to being submitted by Karl Roberson. Roman entered the company in November 2019 with a ton of hype behind him on the strength of a boatload of knockout victories on the European circuit, but that success simply hasn't translated to the UFC.

Kopylov hasn't shown much in terms of wrestling thus far, averaging just 0.37 takedowns per 15 minutes, but this seems like a good fight to use those skills if he has them in his arsenal. Soriano defends the takedown at a woeful 31 percent clip, and that could very easily be the difference in a bout in which both men bring some power to the table and not a heck of a lot else.

This seems like smart matchmaking. It's highly unlikely either Soriano or Kopylov is any sort of long-term contender, so matching them up against each other gives the UFC a chance to see which man truly deserves to continue on with the company. There's a non-zero chance the loser gets cut, especially if the defeat occurs in a lopsided manner. 

I don't have a strong lean in this fight either way. My initial instinct is to avoid it altogether if possible, but this isn't a deep card, and DK players may not have that luxury. Soriano strikes me as the better athlete of the two, which is enough to swing me in his direction, but this is another close fight on a card full of them.

UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Soriano


Umar Nurmagomedov (15-0-0) v. Raoni Barcelos (17-3-0)
DK Salaries: Nurmagomedov ($9,300), Barcelos ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Nurmagomedov (-750), Barcelos (+550)
Odds to Finish: +165

Three fights into his UFC run, Nurmagomedov -- cousin of Khabib -- has been as advertised. He's 3-0, with a pair of wins via submission. The competition level Umar has seen has not been great (Nate Maness, Brian Kelleher, Sergey Morozov), but at 26 years of age, there's plenty of time to push Nurmagomedov.

Barcelos snapped a brief-two fight losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Trevin Jones in October. The Brazilian has eight career wins via knockout compared to just two via submission, but he's actually far better on the mat than the feet. Nurmagomedov isn't the type to overwhelm his opposition with with striking volume, but Barcelos can be beaten on the feet due to his recklessness.

The question in this fight is whether or not Raoni will be able to stay upright. Nurmagomedov is averaging 5.02 takedowns per 15 minutes. Barcelos defends the takedown at at a brilliant 93 percent clip. Something will have to give.

I'm sure Barcelos is supremely confident in his ability compete off his back, but Umar just racked up 10:49 worth of control time in his 15-minute unanimous decision win over Maness. He's not the guy you want laying on top of you for an entire fight. 

Umar's massive DK salary in this fight -- prime Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Demetrious Johnson territory -- speaks to how well-regarded he is around the sport, in addition to his future potential. It also speaks to a complete lack of confidence in Barcelos to keep this fight competitive, let alone pull the upset.

I wouldn't be rushing to blow such a huge chunk of my budget on Nurmagomedov, but there are enough underdogs I like on this card (Strickland, Jackson, Ribeiro) that you might be able to somehow make it work. Barcelos does nothing for me as a punt play.

UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Nurmagomedov

Other Bouts

Women's Bantamweight
Ketlen Vieira (13-2-0) v. Raquel Pennington (14-9-0)
DK Salaries: Vieira ($8,200), Pennington ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Vieira (-115), Pennington (-105)
Odds to Finish: +215

Claudio Ribeiro (10-2-0) v. Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-5-0)
DK Salaries: Ribeiro ($7,900), Alhassan ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Ribeiro (-110), Alhassan (-110)
Odds to Finish: -600
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Ribeiro

Mateusz Rebecki (16-1-0) v. Nick Fiore (6-0-0)
DK Salaries: Rebecki ($9,400), Fiore ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Rebecki (-720), Fiore (+520)
Odds to Finish: -260
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Rebecki

Javid Basharat (13-0-0) v. Mateus Mendonca (10-0-0)
DK Salaries: Basharat ($9,200), Mendonca ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Basharat (-350), Mendonca (+290)
Odds to Finish: -130
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Basharat

Allan Nascimento (19-6-0) v. Carlos Hernandez (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Nascimento ($9,100), Hernandez ($7,100)
Vegas Odds: Nascimento (-350), Hernandez (+290)
Odds to Finish: +115
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Nascimento

Nick Aguirre (8-1-0) v. Dan Argueta (8-1-0)
DK Salaries: Aguirre (TBD), Argueta ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Aguirre (+410), Argueta (-520)
Odds to Finish: -225
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Argueta

Charles Johnson (12-3-0) v. Jimmy Flick (16-5-0)
DK Salaries: Johnson ($9,000), Flick ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Johnson (-340), Flick (+280)
Odds to Finish: -240
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Johnson

Women's Flyweight
Priscila Cachoeira (12-4-0) v. Sijara Eubanks (8-7-0)
DK Salaries: Cachoeira ($7,400), Eubanks ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Cachoeira (+210), Eubanks (-250)
Odds to Finish: -200
UFC VEGAS 67 PICK: Eubanks

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 Vegas 67 with more MMA betting content.

DraftKings MMA Scoring

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 [Name of Biggest DraftKings GPP] with [aformentioned GPP's top prize] 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.

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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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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