This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
UFC Vegas 79 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 $350k 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 - Lightweight
This main event might not do a ton for the casual fan, but it's an excellent fight in a ridiculously-deep lightweight division.
Last time we saw Fiziev, he was dropping a majority decision to Justin Gaethje this past March. It goes without saying there is no shame in losing to "The Highlight." That said, Fiziev can't afford another defeat. He looked just fine against Gaethje -- a guy that is notoriously difficult to fight because of how aggressive he is. My opinion on Rafael has changed in the least despite the setback. He's a fringe top-five lightweight with a high ceiling.
Gamrot is also coming off a close, tightly-contested battle, although he got the call in a split decision win over Jalin Turner two weeks before Fiziev lost to Gaethje. It's abundantly clear through seven UFC bouts (5-2) that Gamrot is legit. He's remarkably well rounded, with seven career wins via knockout and five via submission. He's never been knocked out in 25 pro bouts.
On the surface, this looks like your classic striker v. grappler matchup.
Gamrot is extremely reliant on his wrestling game for success. He averages 4.54 takedowns per 15 minutes, and his four successful tries against Turner were the lone reason he won that fight, as Jalin beat him up on the feet. Gamrot is going to have to figure out a way to slow the striking advances of Fiziev, who connects on a ridiculous 5.06 significant strikes per 15 minutes.
Fiziev's takedown defense is 90 percent, which is exceptional, but it's worth noting each of his last three opponents (Gaethje, Rafael dos Anjos, Brad Riddell) got him to the mat at least once. I don't expect to rack up nearly 7:00 worth of control time like he did against Turner, but one successful takedown could steal him a round here and win him what projects to be a very close fight.
I've gone back and forth here multiple times. I have no strong lean either way.
I mentioned Gamrot's struggles against Turner on the feet, but that was primarily because of Jalin's massive length advantage. Gamrot actually enters with a two-inch height edge over Fiziev. I expect him to look better in the stand-up here, and in a fight scheduled for five rounds, I'll wager his grappling advantage is enough to get the job done at plus money.
UFC VEGAS 89 PICK: Gamrot
Co-Main Event - Featherweight
Mitchell came off The Ultimate Fighter and ran off five straight wins to begin his UFC run, including what was, at the time, only the second successful Twister submission in company history. Yet the good times came to an end in a second-round submission defeat to Ilia Topuria last December. Topuria is very good and possibly elite, so I'm not going to dock Mitchell much for the poor effort, but he needs to rebound here.
Ige looked like a legitimate release candidate following three straight defeats to The Korean Zombie, Josh Emmett, and Movsar Evloev from June 2021 to June 2022, but the UFC ran him back out there, and he has since responded with a knockout win over Damon Jackson and a unanimous decision beat down of Nate Landwehr. Now, it's most certainly worth noting Jackson and Landwehr are a step down competition wise from the three guys Ige lost to, and that Mitchell is much closer to the first group of three names than the last group of two.
Again, here we have another striker v. grappler matchup.
Ige has real power and throws tons of volume on the feet. He's most comfortable in a brawl, which is, oddly enough, the last place Mitchell wants to be. He prefers firing off takedown attempts, racking up control time and trying to finish his opponents on the mat. Ige's 56 percent takedown defense is lousy, and we've seen him pinned to the ground for long stretches at a time, so Mitchell's game plan should be no secret.
I do wonder if Dan will mix things up and try to wrestle Mitchell. He obviously will have to be careful in making sure he doesn't leave a limb or his neck exposed in grappling exchanges, but Mitchell's 33 percent takedown defense is horrendous, and Ige, who averages 1.15 takedowns per 15 minutes, can wrestle in a pinch.
I have plenty of time for Ige as a DK underdog given his cheap salary and has massive advantage on the feet, but my guess is that Mitchell lands a couple well-timed takedowns and racks up enough ground control time to win a decision.
UFC VEGAS 89 PICK: Mitchell
This is a rematch of a May 2021 main event which Rodriguez won via unanimous decision. That fight was contested at 125 pounds.
This would seem to be last call for the 36-year-old Rodriguez, who is fresh off back-to-back losses to Amanda Lemos (TKO) and Virna Jandiroba (unanimous decision) on the heels of a four-fight winning streak. I must admit Marina's UFC run has gone far better than I would have initially envisioned. She is a one-dimensional striker with zero means of generating any sort of secondary offense, but Rodriguez has still managed to put together some reasonable victories (Mackenzie Dern, Tecia Torres, Amanda Ribas) on her resume.
I'm moderately surprised Waterson-Gomez is getting another chance here. She's lost three in a row and five of six dating back to October 2019. Set to turn 38 years of age next January, I have long maintained that Michelle is simply too undersized to consistently compete at 115 pounds. Remember, the most successful run of her MMA career came in Invicta at atomweight. Obviously the UFC doesn't have a 105-pound division.
Waterson-Gomez has a theoretical path to victory here. She's the much better grappler. In the first fight between the two, she landed 1-of-5 takedowns for 3:54 worth of control time. That bout was 25 minutes, meaning Michelle averaged one takedown attempt a round. That isn't going to cut it. Rodriguez's takedown defense is a thoroughly mediocre 64 percent. My concern is that Waterson-Gomez doesn't have the upper-body strength to consistently damage Marina on the mat, even if she is able to get here there with some sort of regularity.
I'm by no means optimistic about Rodriguez's future, but it's simply impossible to back Waterson-Gomez at this time. She's at risk of being overwhelmed on the feet. Her last stoppage victory came against Paige VanZant in December 2016. In short, I think Marina can win this fight without doing a whole heck of a lot.
UFC VEGAS 89 PICK: Rodriguez
It's rare we get a matchup of two competitors who both enter on a three-fight losing streak, but that's where Means and Fialho find themselves, with the man that comes up short here almost certain to be sent packing.
Means will be 40 years old in February. A month later will mark his 20th anniversary as a professional fighter. Means' UFC debut came on a February 2012 card headlined by Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger. He's had some nice wins (mostly against lesser competition) and some ugly losses. Of late, it's been a struggle. Means is 5-7 in his past dozen fights dating back to November 2017. It's worth nothing a handful of those defeats have come against real tough opposition (Belal Muhammad, Kevin Holland, etc.), but it's clear the Oklahoma native is nearing the end of the line.
A member of both the PFL and Bellator rosters prior to his January 2022 UFC arrival, Fialho is 2-4 in six bouts with the company. The two wins came via knockout, as have his last three defeats. The power is legitimate, as is Fialho's lack of durability and inability to generate any forms of secondary offense. He's a brawler, plain and simple. He's also a below-average athlete, and those aren't the type of fighters you want to bet on.
This one could go either way. Means has a massive edge in terms of grappling. Attempting to lean on his wrestling is a smart move simply because it would limit the amount of time he has to stand at distance and avoid haymakers from Fialho.
On the flip side, we've seen Means flat-footed in recent bouts eating a ton of volume from his opposition. That isn't going to fly against Andre. That said, Means has been knocked out just twice in 49 pro fights and just once in his last 46 bouts. He's clearly beatable, but his durability remains excellent, particularly for an aging fighter.
I think there's a real chance Fialho goes in there and starches Means quickly, but if he doesn't, there's zero question the cardio edge is in the latter's favorite. Ultimately, I simply cannot back Andre at such heavy price tag given what we have seen from him lately. His margin for error is minuscule. I'll wager Means can somehow survive some tough early moments and outwork Fialho the rest of the way.
UFC VEGAS 89 PICK: Means
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 89 with more MMA betting content.
DraftKings MMA Scoring
Note: Scoring has been updated as of early-2021! Please review the scoring changes below.
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)
- 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.