The first UFC PPV of the year is a big one. It marks the UFC’s return to Brazil for the first time in more than three years, and features two title fights. The co-main event between champion Deiveson Figureido and interim champ Brandon Moreno is the first tetralogy in the UFC’s history.
Then there’s the main event, a light heavyweight bout to finally determine a champion after the position has been vacant. Former champion and legend of the sport Glover Teixera takes on up-and-coming Jamahal Hill, an 11-1 professional out of Michigan.
The action begins at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
We have built out a full player-projection model using the FantasyLabs Tools and Player Models to help put together some winning DFS lineups in UFC. You can use our optimizer to build optimal lineups using these projections.
The model, created by our own Sean Koerner, is based on 10,000 simulations of all the fights. He then pulled the DraftKings score from each bout to create floor, median and ceiling projections for every fighter. Here is how he defined each projection:
- Floor: Fighter has an 80% chance of going over this score, 20% chance of going under
- Median: Fighter has a 50% chance of going over this score, 50% chance of going under
- Ceiling: Fighter has a 20% chance of going over this score, 80% chance of going under
These should give us a better sense of which fighters we should target based on the game type – maximizing ceiling in GPPs, for example. We’ve also added ownership projections by yours truly, to help find leverage spots for GPPs.
You can check out the projections for every fighter on Saturday’s card in our UFC Models.
As always, multiple five-round fights are an interesting strategic decision for UFC DFS. Particularly in cash games, where stacking both five-round fighters (when there’s only one) is the dominant strategy. For UFC 283, the main event is -650 to end inside the distance, while the co-main is slightly favored to go the full 25.
For that reason, my plan in cash games is to stack both flyweight fighters while hopefully picking correctly in the main event. With the addition of late swap, though, stacking all four title fighters — but pivoting off one of the main event fighters if you suffer a loss elsewhere in the lineup — is a viable option as well.
Jamahal Hill ($8,400) vs. Glover Teixeira ($7,800)
If all goes well, the UFC will once again have a light heavyweight champion come Saturday night. The belt once belonged to Teixeira, who, at 42, was the oldest first-time UFC champion. He lost it to Jiri Prochazka, who was forced to relinquish it due to a shoulder injury. The first attempt at finding a new champion proved unsuccessful, with Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fighting to a draw.
This brings us to Hill. He was the next man up for a title shot, this time against the former champion. Hill is 6-1 in the UFC with five knockouts and has defeated increasingly stiffer competition on his rise to the top. Hill’s boxing is among, if not the, best in the UFC, and he was excellent striking defense, range management, and underrated kicks.
Teixeira is known more for his grappling, with the bulk of his career wins coming from submissions or ground and pound. He has heavy hands himself, though, which he’s shown more in the later portions of his career.
Ultimately, this is a striker vs. grappler matchup, with Hill as the striker. The biggest question in my mind is will Teixera have the wrestling and athletic ability at age 43 to take down the younger, faster, and longer Hill. If this one stays standing, Hill has far too many weapons for Glover to deal with.
My lean is that Hill — with the benefit of the larger cage on pay-per-view events — manages the distance and keeps this one on the feet. Betting markets agree with me, with Hill moving from -120 earlier in the week to -140 as of this writing. If multi-entering, I’ll mix in some Glover, but Hill is the sharper overall pick here, with a massive ceiling relative to his price.
This one is -650 to end inside the distance, so we should probably make sure every lineup has at least one of the two fighters.
Deiveson Figueiredo ($8,200) vs. Brandon Moreno ($8,000)
As referenced in the strategy section above, this fight is an excellent stacking choice for cash games. These men have met thrice before, with a draw, a Moreno stoppage, and a Figueiredo unanimous decision win. They produced combined DraftKings scores of 148 (without a win bonus from either fighter), 116, and 129. That’s an average of 130, putting lineups with both fighters on pace for just over 400 points.
That’s the cash game outlook. For GPPs, we’re obviously going to need to pick between the two fighters. Which is a tough task, given how close the three fights between them were. Figueiredo arguably looked much better during their draw, but of course, Moreno has the only finish in their series.
Moreno is the better value option here though since this line opened as a pick ’em before Moreno moved to a slight favorite. He should garner higher ownership for all contest types.
However, I slightly prefer Figueiredo. The only definitive win for Moreno followed a brutal weight cut for Figueiredo, who looked much better on the scales this time around. Moreno was also forced to uproot his training camp midway through preparation for this bout because of the James Krause betting scandal.
Either way, this is another high-upside fight for whoever comes away with the win. By definition, the winner will either have 25 minutes to work with or a stoppage victory, so forcing one or the other into GPP lineups is a solid strategy.
The Easy Chalk
This is a unique card in that not only are there seven fighters priced at $9,000 and up, but many of them are projecting as extremely strong options. The confines of the salary cap mean they can’t all be chalk — but we’re expecting most of them to garner some ownership.
The three choices below stand out as the strongest options, though most lineups will be able to roster at most two of them.
Jailton Almeida ($9,700)
“Malhadinho” is off to a tremendous start to his UFC career, bouncing between 205 and heavyweight while recording three consecutive first-round stoppages. He’s fighting Shamil Abdurakhimov ($6,500), a 41-year-old journeyman heavyweight.
This is effectively a showcase bout for Almeida in front of a home crowd, and he’s a ridiculous -1000 favorite. He’s -250 to end this one in the first round, so his ceiling is massive. The only way he stays out of the optimal is if a handful of cheaper fighters post similar scores.
Josiane Nunes ($9,500)
It’s rare that a female fighter with Nunes’ price tag profiles well. Women’s MMA tends to produce fewer stoppages, so the ceiling is too low to justify the expense.
However, Nunes is an exception. Seven of her nine professional wins have come via knockout, and she scored two knockdowns in her UFC decision win. She’s a very safe bet to top 100 points against Zarah Fairn ($6,700). Fairn is 0-2 in the UFC with two stoppage losses and hasn’t fought in nearly three years.
Nunes is a -550 favorite and -165 to end this one early. She’s essentially the female version of Almeida, with the slightly discounted price tag representative of the slightly worse odds to end this quickly.
Gregory Rodrigues ($9,100)
“Robocop” is 4-1 in the UFC, with three of those wins as finishes. Like the other fighters mentioned, he’s a prohibitive favorite of -300 or so for his bout against fellow Brazilian Bruno Ferreira ($7,100). This fight is also -750 to end inside the distance, so betting markets are expecting fireworks.
Rodrigues is the riskiest of these options, though. While the other two should be the superior fighter across all aspects of the game, Ferreira has massive power himself. Rodrigues has been on the hittable side in past fights, with a knockout loss to Jordan Williams in his first Contender Series bout.
I’ll have a heavy dose of Rodrigues in GPPs, but will be staying away for cash games. Rodrigues is also worth sprinkling in if you’re multi-entering. He has scary power, so a quick knockout from the underdog isn’t unthinkable.
The Value Play
Daniel Marcos ($7,600)
Daniel Marcos is meeting Saimon Oliveira ($8,600) in the opening bout of UFC 283 in Brazil. Marcos is fresh off a Contender Series win from last September in which he used excellent striking, leg kicks, and range management to earn a UFC contract with a unanimous decision victory.
His leg kicks were a big part of that victory over Brandon Lewis, over whom he had a five-inch reach edge. While he won’t enjoy quite that much of an advantage over Oliveira, he has three inches in height and two inches in reach over the Brazilian, making this a similar matchup for him.
Oliveira is also a Contender Series veteran who dropped his UFC debut to Tony Gravely last January. His Contender Series win was a split decision as well, which isn’t exactly confidence inspiring.
More so than the results, his fight against Gravely was concerning. He frequently jumped guard for guillotines during grappling sequences, which invariably led to being stuck in the bottom position for extended stretches. He has five guillotine wins on his pro record, but those came against far lower-level competition.
Too often, fighters with weak wrestling jump to guillotines rather than defend takedowns, which could be a problem here. It’s a sign his wrestling is underdeveloped, and Marcos should have the ability to defend his neck in those circumstances. Marcos is also the superior striker – which doesn’t leave a lot of routes to victory for Oliveira.
Marcos was +145 on DraftKings at salary release but has been bet down to +125 or lower as of Friday. That makes him a solid value at his price and a worthy salary-saving option.
The Upside Plays
Warrley Alves ($8,400)
Alves is a powerful, fast starter with major cardio concerns. He’s fighting Nick Dalby ($7,800), a notoriously slow starter who, at 38 years old, has probably lost some of his chin.
That’s a recipe for a quick win for Alves, who has finished six of his eight UFC victories. If he doesn’t get it fast, Dalby probably wins this one down the stretch, though. That’s why Alves is all upside here, with very little safety. He’s GPP only, but a quick win would mean his score compares favorably to the $9,000+ fighters mentioned earlier.
Ihor Potieria ($8,900)
Ihor Potieria will be the last opponent of the legendary career of Mauricio Rua ($7,300), who has announced his retirement following this fight.
We never want to bet on retiring fighters, especially those on the wrong side of 40. “Shogun’s”‘ ultra-aggressive striking style has been greatly diminished by time (and USADA testing), and his only win since 2018 was against fellow aged legend Antonio Nogueirra — himself on the wrong side of 40 at the time.
I have enough doubts about Potieria’s skill set to take him out of the “safe plays” category — he was chosen for Rua here because it’s the closest thing to a winnable fight for Shogun. However, the likeliest option is he puts Shogun away early. Potieria is a solid striker with considerable edges in speed, athleticism, and power at this point.
I won’t be happy about it, but Potieria will be in a solid chunk of my GPP lineups — he’s also excellent leverage off of the more expensive fighters on the card.
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The Swing Fights
Johnny Walker ($8,700) vs. Paul Craig ($7,500)
This fight gives us -750 stoppage odds, with an extremely binary matchup. The favored Walker has striking (and an overall skill set) leagues above Craig’s. However, Craig is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the UFC, with a gruesome broken arm of title-challenger Jamahal Hill to prove it. Walker fought Hill as well — suffering a first-round knockout loss.
Craig’s wrestling is pretty bad, as he showed in his last fight — a unanimous decision loss where his opponent repeatedly declined Craig’s invitations to the ground. If Walker chooses not to engage with the grappling, he should put Craig away fairly easily here.
However, Walker is a highly aggressive/reckless striker who might just dive in after Paul if he thinks Paul is hurt. In that case, he almost certainly gets finished on the ground. I very slightly prefer Paul, but I want one or the other in all my lineups.
Terrance McKinney ($8,500) vs. Ismael Bonfim ($7,700)
In 17 professional fights, McKinney has seen the end of the first round just twice. All four of his UFC fights ended in the first frame, with three going his way and one going against him. In his lone UFC loss, he scored two knockdowns and a takedown before finding his gas tank empty and being put away.
He’s fighting Ismael Bonfim, one of the two Bonfim brothers on the card. Bonfim is the more skilled overall fighter here, but he’ll need to withstand the opening blitz from McKinney. If he does, he should be able to put away his gassed opponent.
This fight is -165 to end in the first round, so the winner should walk away with an optimal-worth score.