DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 74 DFS Preview

DraftKings MMA: UFC Vegas 74 DFS Preview

This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.

UFC Vegas 74 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 $500k MMA 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 - Flyweight

Kai Kara-France (24-10-0, 1NC) v. Amir Albazi (16-1-0)
DK Salaries: Kara-France ($8,200), Albazi ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Kara-France (-105), Albazi (-115)
Odds to Finish: -175

This card was scheduled to be headlined by Jack Hermansson and Brendan Allen before an injury to the former resulted in his withdrawal and the elevation of Kara-France and Albazi to the main event.

Kara-France has been up and down over the course of his 5.5 years with the company, putting forth plenty of good performances but ultimately struggling to win the "big" fight. KKF's 6-3 UFC mark is quite good, although two of those defeats came against current UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno, including one in an interim title fight last July. Kara-France is a well above average flyweight, but I never got the impression he was a threat to the top guys in the division.

Albazi has gotten a lot of buzz as a sleeper at 125 pounds. He'll be 30 years of age in late-October, so he is by no means a kid, and although he's undefeated in four UFC bouts, all four of those wins (Allesandro Costa, Francisco Figueiredo, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, Malcolm Gordon) have come against poor competition. Albazi has a solid all-around game and some legitimate potential, although Kara-France will be the best opponent he has faced to date by miles.

Kara-France is going to live and die by the power in his hands, but his secondary skills are underrated. His takedown defense is an excellent 87 percent, which is crucial given how much he relies on his striking to be successful. 

It's imperative he remain upright in this fight, as not only is Albazi averaging 2.47 takedowns per minute, but he also is connecting on half of his attempts. Toss in the fact Amir has nine career submission wins, and it's easy to see where he hopes this fight takes place. 

This bout is as close to a pick 'em as you will ever see. Both guys have areas in which they project to have a significant advantage, and thus, a clear path to victory.

Ultimate, however, I have a slight lean towards Kara-France. His takedown defense has been strong, and he's gone up against plenty of high-level competition over the years. 

THE PICK: Kara-France

Co-Main Event - Featherweight

Alex Caceres (20-13-0, 1NC) v. Daniel Pineda (28-14-0, 3NC)
DK Salaries: Caceres ($8,900), Pineda ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Caceres (-175), Pineda (+145)
Odds to Finish: -275

Set to turn 35 years of age in a couple weeks, Caceres is in the midst of his best UFC run to date. He's won six of seven dating back to July 2019, with three of those victories coming via stoppage. For one reason or another, Caceres has faced lesser competition during that streak (Julian Erosa, Sodiq Yusuff, Seungwoo Choi, Kevin Croom, the since-retired Austin Springer, Chase Hooper, Steven Peterson), which is concerning because he has absolutely no history of defeating better competition. Caceres is firmly in "gatekeeper" status at this stage of his career.

Pineda's near-four-year run with the UFC, his second with the company, has been marred by turmoil. He's fought just four times, going 2-1 (1NC). He failed a drug test during that stretch and didn't fight at all from June 2021 to March 2023. Pineda will be 38 years of age shortly and is clearly on the back-nine of his career, which is why it's understandable he's trying to make up for lost time by fighting twice in the past three months.

Caceres is unique and a difficult guy to prepare for. He's big for the division at 5-foot-10 and tends to throw plenty of strikes from awkward angles. Alex is better on the mat than the feet, but he's shown an ability to consistently frustrate opponents in the stand-up.

Pineda has been around forever. He's closing in on nearly 50 professional fights under his belt and has had multiple stints in both the UFC and Bellator, in addition to spending time with PFL, LFA, Fury FC and countless other promotions. 

The size advantage is in Caceres' favor, but Pineda has never been shy about pushing forward on the feet in hopes of making an impact. It's worth noting six of his 14 career losses have came via submission, so he better be careful about leaving a limb exposed, or he could be in trouble. 

I suppose Pineda is a reasonable "punt" DK play given Caceres' issues with consistency in the past, but he's on a great run in terms of taking care of lesser fighters, and I think he gets past Pineda without too much trouble, even if I don't love his salary.

THE PICK: Caceres


Jim Miller (35-17-0, 1NC) v. Jared Gordon (19-6-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Miller ($7,100), Gordon ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Miller (+145), Gordon (-175)
Odds to Finish: +115

This was originally supposed to be Miller v. L'udovit Klein before the latter was forced to withdraw. 

A future UFC Hall of Famer, Miller has the most fights (41) and wins (24) in company history, while his 16 stoppage victories tie him with Donald Cerrone for second-most all time. Set to turn 40 years of age in late-August, Miller is fresh off a unanimous decision loss to Alexander Hernandez this past February, although he won three straight prior, so his roster spot remains secure. Miller is a smart guy who has openly mentioned his career is nearing its end, so enjoy watching him fight while we still can.

Gordon has been all over the place during his near five years with the company, picking up a handful of wins (all via decision), while displaying serious durability issues and no ability to hang with better competition. He'll be 35 years of age this coming September, so it's a near certainty there won't be any significant improvements forthcoming. 

As has been the case for years, Miller isn't going to be particularly competitive in anything other than a grinding, ground battle. His submission skills remain elite, but his athleticism is understandably waning. Two of Jim's last three wins have come via knockout, but that doesn't mean standing and trading with Gordon is a good idea. He has to eliminate Jared's space and try to work from in tight.

Gordon, on the other hand, is sporting a middling 62 percent takedown defense during his time with the company. His striking defense can get lazy at times, but Miller isn't the type of opponent with the ability to take advantage of that. 

This is one of those fights that appears to have a wide range of outcomes, even though both of these guys have been around forever.

Say what you want about Miller, but he hasn't been stopped since December 2018 and hasn't been knocked out since April 2018. Any minor durability edge, combined with the whopping $2,000 in salary savings makes this an easy pick and the correct play, regardless of the result.

THE PICK: Miller


Andrei Arlovski (34-21-0, 2NC) v. Don'Tale Mayes (9-5-0, 1NC)
DK Salaries: Arlovski ($7,700), Mayes ($8,500)
Vegas Odds: Arlovski (+110), Mayes (-135)
Odds to Finish: +115

Now 44 years of age, Arlovski had a four-fight winning streak snapped with a submission defeat to Marcos Rogerio de Lima last October. Of course, he lost his fight prior to Jake Collier, only to be awarded a laughable split decision. The fact Arlovski has any gas left in the tank at his advanced age is remarkable. He has both the most fights (39) and wins (23) in UFC heavyweight history. It can all fall apart in an instant when you're this old, and Arlovski is obviously an exceedingly poor bet moving forward, but the UFC has been extremely careful regarding the level of competition they have put him up against, which is undoubtedly what has allowed him to continue his career.

The rare two-time victor on Dana White's Contender Series, Mayes hasn't shown much in six official fights with the company. His 2-3 (1NC) record is poor, and it would look that much worse if a loss to Hamby Abdelwahab last July wasn't changed to a no-contest after Hamby failed a post-fight drug test. At 31 years of age, Mayes is far too old to be considered a prospect, and he has zero history of defeating anything approaching halfway decent opposition, even on the regional circuit.

Arlovski has fought the same way his entire career. He bites down on the mouth piece and pushes forward, hoping to overwhelm his opposition with power shots. His athleticism was waned significantly as he's aged, to the point that any man facing him will have a better than even chance of winning. The key for any opponent will be to keep their feet moving -- to help ensure Andrei can remain in one spot -- and fire off repeated combinations.

Mayes is going to have an overwhelming athleticism edge in this fight, and he needs to use it. He's also the much bigger man, but his fight IQ has been questionable, and that really worries me. 

Mayes' two UFC victories came over Josh Parisian and Roque Martinez. He lost to Ciryl Gane. Arlovski has competed against the likes of Tim Sylvia, Fedor Emelianenko, Travis Browne, Anthony Johnson, Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, etc... You get the idea. The gap in competition level faced is overwhelming.

Regular readers know I'm typically vehemently against picking Arlovski at this stage of his career, but he's an unquestioned value play this time around.

THE PICK: Arlovski

Other Bouts

Tim Elliott (19-12-1) v. Victor Altamirano (12-2-0)
DK Salaries: Elliott ($9,000), Altamirano ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Elliott (-185), Altamirano (+150)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Elliott

Women's Flyweight
Karine Silva (15-4-0) v. Ketlen Souza (13-3-0)
DK Salaries: Silva ($9,300), Souza ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Silva (-225), Silva (+185)
Odds to Finish: -140

Abubakar Nurmagomedov (17-3-1) v. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (23-7-0)
DK Salaries: Nurmagomedov ($7,900), Zaleski dos Santos ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Nurmagomedov (-110), Zaleski dos Santos (-110)
Odds to Finish: +140
THE PICK: Zaleski dos Santos

Daniel Santos (11-2-0) v. Johnny Munoz (12-2-0)
DK Salaries: Santos ($9,200), Munoz ($7,000)
Vegas Odds: Santos (-200), Munoz (+165)
Odds to Finish: -250
THE PICK: Santos

Jamie Mullarkey (16-5-0) v. Muhammadjon Naimov (5-1-0)
DK Salaries: Mullarkey ($6,700), Naimov (TBD)
Vegas Odds: Mullarkey (-385), Naimov (+285)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Mullarkey

John Castaneda (19-6-0) v. Muin Gafurov (18-4-0)
DK Salaries: TBD
Vegas Odds: Castaneda (-125), Gafurov (+105)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Gafurov

Women's Strawweight
Elise Reed (6-3-0) v. Jinh Yu Frey (11-8-0)
DK Salaries: Reed ($8,600), Frey ($7,600)
Vegas Odds: Frey (-135), Frey (+115)
Odds to Finish: +200

Da'Mon Blackshear (12-5-1) v. Luan Lacerda (12-2-0)
DK Salaries: Blackshear ($7,500), Lacerda ($8,700)
Vegas Odds: Blackshear (+115), Lacerda (-140)
Odds to Finish: TBD
THE PICK: Lacerda

Light Heavyweight
Philipe Lins (16-5-0) v. Maxim Grishin (32-9-2)
DK Salaries: Lins ($7,400), Grishin ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Lins (+110), Grishin (-130)
Odds to Finish: -110
THE PICK: Grishin

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 74 with more MMA betting content.

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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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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