UFC 284 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

UFC 284 DFS Preview and Predictions: The MMA Mashup

The lackluster nature of most of the UFC 284 card can be forgiven, as we will be treated to a main event that features the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the company squaring off for the lightweight championship. We'll pick off plenty of interesting spots to make money along the way, including an intriguing prospect at flyweight, and a heavyweight who hasn't had much love from the DFS community to this point in his UFC career. Our betting lines this week come from William Hill and are accurate as to the post date of this article.

Plays to Consider on DraftKings

Islam Makhachev ($9,500)

I can't pick against Makhachev until I see someone compete with him. That kind of analysis may seem sophomoric, but the fact is that the lightweight champion has completely dominated all comers since being knocked out by Adriano Martins in 2015. It seems as though Makhachev is developing into a finisher as well, as he hasn't seen the scorecards in his last five fights. Alexander Volkanovski will undoubtedly be the best striker Makhachev has ever fought, but we've seen "The Great" get taken down by strong wrestlers in the past. While he has made it a point to always get back to his feet, the featherweight king will be moving up in weight, which will only make a world-class control grappler like Islam seem that much heavier in top position.

Jimmy Crute ($8,600)

All of Crute's troubles in the Octagon seem to occur when he is unable (or unwilling) to get his wrestling going. Excluding his fight with Anthony Smith, which had to be stopped due to a leg injury, Crute has never lost a fight in the UFC in which at least one takedown was secured. This may be because Crute has a fantastic BJJ game, as he holds the distinction of being the only man to submit Paul Craig in 22 professional fights. Alonzo Menifield is incredibly fast and powerful but is wild when it comes to shot placement. This should allow Crute to time reactive takedowns and get the fight to the floor.

Jamie Mullarkey ($8,700)

It's difficult to believe a fighter as well-rounded as Mullarkey has notched just a .500 record in the UFC. Since his 2019 debut against Brad Riddell, Mularkey has shown his slick boxing, grappling, and cardio at every turn. All of this should be too much for Francisco Prado, who sacrifices defense for his aggression, and tends to throw big shots to try and close distance. I expect Mullarkey to light him up on the counter before out-grappling Prado when the fight hits the floor.

Parker Porter ($7,800)

I was a big fan of Justin Tafa in his first UFC stint as a fast and powerful kickboxer, but he has always tended to let his opponent control the action. This occurred most notably in his fight with Carlos Felipe, as the "Bad Man" was content to sit back after a productive first round due to his opponent's aggression. Parker is an extremely high-output fighter (6.50 significant strikes landed per minute) and will work in a wrestling game, which should have the effect of freezing Tafa and allowing the 37-year-old to get ahead on the scorecards.

Loma Lookboonmee ($9,000)

You wouldn't know it from her accolades as a Muay Thai fighter, but Lookboonmee has embraced her inner NCAA champion lately, having secured a stunning nine takedowns in her last three fights. As easy as it should be to win a kickboxing match with Elise Reed, don't be surprised if Loma once again decides to wrestle, as the 30-year-old has been taken down at least once in each of her four UFC fights, including seven in two bouts against Sam Hughes and Cory McKenna.

Plays to Consider on SuperDraft

Blake Bilder – 2.1 X Multiplier

The version of Shane Young that entered the UFC in 2017 was a relentless pressure-fighting pocket boxer who knew how to mix targets. Command performances against Rolando Dy and Austin Arnett even showed a burgeoning wrestling game. For whatever reason, that man vanished in 2020 and was replaced with a low-volume fighter with all the same defensive problems. If the latter shows up against Bilder, he will be able to use pressure and pace, along with a crisp kicking game, to control this fight from the opening bell. I'm not exactly sure where the books found their faith to make Young the favorite, but I hate not knowing which version of a fighter will show up. 

Josh Culibao – 2.05 X Multiplier

Culibao's evasiveness allowed him to get the drop on Seungwoo Choi in nearly every exchange, resulting in two knockdowns and a clear decision victory. Melsik Baghdasaryan has impressed in his first two UFC appearances, but the powerful kickboxer insists on fighting with his hands low, which will give Culibao plenty of openings to land hard counter shots. The toughness was with "Kuya" in the fight with Choi when he needed it, and Baghdasaryan will be open to eat powerful shots if he is unable to meaningfully hurt his opponent.

Yair Rodriguez – 1.95 X Multiplier

Gaps in service time are all that is keeping me from calling Rodriguez an elite fighter. "El Pantera" is incredibly athletic and creative, with a fast kicking game and hands that are improving all the time. Josh Emmett is one of the biggest hitters in this division but is easier to deal with once fighters realize there isn't much more to his standup game than leaping in from the outside with power hooks. It's important to note that Emmett is an accomplished wrestler, and Rodriguez has struggled on the ground in the past, but I can't trust "CCO" to commit to grappling, as he hasn't landed more than one takedown in a fight since grounding Scott Holtzman eight times in 2016.  

Tyson Pedro – 1.9 X Multiplier

Prior to injuries sustained in 2018, Pedro looked unsure of himself. This indecision regarding whether to strike or grapple led to a pair of unnecessary losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Mauricio Rua. After years away, Pedro answered that question demonstratively, knocking out Ike Villanueva in the first round. He followed up a few months later with another first-round finish of Harry Hunsucker. This version of Pedro seems noticeably leaner and more athletic, with a renewed emphasis on boxing and leg kicks. It's the latter which should pay big dividends against Modestas Bukauskas, who stands extremely heavy on his front leg, and tends to wait on his opponent in order to counterstrike. While he does have a BJJ black belt, Bukauskas has never shown competent wrestling in the Octagon, and Pedro should have stark advantages in every facet on the feet.

Plays to Consider on Prize Picks

Zubaira Tukhugov UNDER 2.5 Takedowns and Jack Jenkins UNDER 2.0 Takedowns

The MMA gods will almost certainly strike me down for my hubris, but I see both of these lines staying under quite comfortably. Tukhugov comes from the great tradition of Dagestani grapplers but sometimes chooses to use his athleticism and power to run over opponents. It seems likely he will choose the latter against Elves Brenner, who does little more than awkwardly close distance and try to tie up with his opponent. It's just as likely "Warrior" would be able to out-grapple the debutante, but there's little reason to try to engage on the mat with a man who has notched 11 of his 13 professional MMA wins by submission.

Jenkins will not land two takedowns because he will not have time. As we saw in his UFC debut against Sodiq Yusuff, Don Shainis is an absolute maelstrom in the cage, forcing clinches and throwing himself into bad positions with supreme confidence that he can make something happen. Jenkins has shown a solid counterpunching game and should opt to create space and pick his opponent off where possible.

Bets to Consider

Jack Della Maddalena wins via KO/TKO or DQ: (-115)

It's always a bit tricky to lay chalk on a proposition, but I'm confident in Della Maddalena, who is big, hits like a truck, and mixes his targets well. Randy Brown is always a game competitor, but getting pinned against the fence ultimately got him dropped and finished in his bout with Vicente Luque, and the Australian prospect won't stop pressuring from the opening bell. Brown could opt to wrestle here, but "Rude Boy" sports just a 33 percent takedown success rate, which gives me confidence that "JDM" will be able to stay on his feet.

Kleydson Rodrigues wins via KO/TKO or DQ: (+280)

For as hard as he hits, it seems odd that Rodrigues counts only three KO/TKO victories among his seven wins. The 27-year-old is incredibly fast and creative in the cage, forcing his opponent to keep up with the pace he sets. Meanwhile, Shannon Ross got hit with nearly everything his opponent threw at him during his fight on the Contender Series, getting dropped with a windmill of a right hand in Round 1 before getting stalked and finished off in the second frame. He is the veteran and the hometown fighter, but I don't see what Ross will be able to do against a promising prospect like Rodrigues. I expect this one to take shape early.

For more UFC betting picks, check out our UFC 284 Best Bets for this weekend. For the latest in UFC odds, head to the RotoWire MMA Betting section. 


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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. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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