This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The UFC is headed overseas for a battle between top welterweight contenders, and there’s $100,000 on the line in the $15 Throwdown on DraftKings.
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. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Moves ScoringSignificant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTSAdvance (ADVC): +3 PTTakedown (TD): +5 PTSReversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTSKnockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTSDecision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Scoring NotesSignificant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered “Power Strikes” by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights…
Main Event – Welterweight
Darren Till (17-1-1) v. Jorge Masvidal (32-13-0)DK Salaries: Till ($9,200), Masvidal ($7,000)Vegas Odds: Till (-240), Masvidal (+200)Odds to Finish: TBD
Wins over Stephen Thompson and Donald Cerrone earned Till a shot at (former champion) Tyron Woodley’s UFC Welterweight title in September. He came up short in that one (the first loss of his professional career), but he gets a chance to rebound in another high-profile fight in front of his thousand of screaming fans in his native England.
Facing a stronger and more athletic opponent than anyone he had seen previously, Till struggled to create space for his strikes against Woodley. His three-inch edge in height was rendered useless by Woodley’s ability to quickly close distance. Till’s grappling game is a bit better than most give him credit for, but he is going to make his living by putting together power combinations. A former Muay Thai competitor, this matchup is a far better one for Till than the Woodley fight.
Masvidal is looking at upwards of 16 months on the sidelines by the time he steps into the Octagon on Saturday. His last fight was a unanimous decision loss to Thompson in November 2017. “Gamebred” was apparently healthy during his time away, so the extended layoff comes as a bit of a surprise. He didn’t have a single fight scheduled since his last bout. Masvidal is what he is – a durable brawler who has been fighting some of the best opposition in the world for more than decade and a half.
On paper, this fight should favor Till. Not only will he have the crowd behind him, but Masvidal should be more than willing to engage him in the brawl that he is looking for. I didn’t think any welterweight could defeat Thompson in a kickboxing match and Till proved otherwise. He’s an inch taller than Masvidal and quite a bit stronger. I think Till’s long-term future is at middleweight, but he should be able to get by Masvidal if his weight cut doesn’t wipe him out. Jorge has very good cardio and gets a slight bump with this being a five-round fight. He also hasn’t been knocked out in nearly 11 years, so chances are he will hang around long enough to see the final bell. I just don’t think we wins. He does make for a reasonable underdog play given his salary. Till is really good, but I see no reason for such a substantial gap in price between the two men.
THE PICK: Till
Co-Main Event – Welterweight
Gunnar Nelson (17-3-1) v. Leon Edwards (16-3-0)DK Salaries: Nelson ($7,900), Edwards ($8,300)Vegas Odds: Nelson (+130), Edwards (-150)Odds to Finish: TBD
Fresh off a dominant submission victory over the underrated Alex Oliveira in December, Nelson gets a quick turnaround in hopes of continuing a winning streak that has eluded him for so long. Gunnar won his first four UFC fights from September 2012 to July 2014 but hasn’t won more than two in a row since. Nelson has be plagued by injuries, but he looked fully healthy against Oliveira. Simply put, Gunnar is one of the best submission specialists in the sport. 13 of his 17 career wins have come via tapout, and I have long proclaimed that he has top-five potential if he can get his striking to an average level.
Edwards won’t be an easy mark however. “Rocky” has come out of seemingly nowhere to win six in a row and eight of nine dating back to April 2015. Edwards has defeated Donald Cerrone and Vicente Luque during that run, and his only setback came against recent title challenger Kamaru Usman. While Edwards doesn’t have one standout trait, he’s respectable in all areas of the sport. His fight IQ is high and he won’t beat himself. And although Gunnar will without a doubt have his fair share of supporters from nearby Iceland, the crowd should be firmly in the corner of the Englishman Edwards. He has had more success in the UFC than I ever would have imagined.
While it didn’t happen against Oliveira, Gunnar has a propensity to start slow and you simply cannot do that in a 15-minute fight. I think he has more natural physical ability than Edwards, but I have more confidence in Edwards’s ability to show up ready to fight. That’s not a knock on Nelson, but he is just a bit sleepy sometimes in the early going of a bout. It’s always a good idea to bet on talent and that’s what I’m doing here, but Edwards is a quality opponent and the slight favorite due to his recent run of success.
THE PICK: Nelson
Dominick Reyes (10-0-0) v. Volkan Oezdemir (15-3-0)DK Salaries: Reyes ($9,300), Oezdemir ($6,900)Vegas Odds: Reyes (-265), Oezdemir (+225)Odds to Finish: TBD
In a division bereft of talent, Reyes has a chance to develop into one of the UFC’s brightest light heavyweight stars moving forward. The 25-year-old native of Southern California has scored three stoppage victories and a unanimous decision win over Ovince Saint Preux in his first four bouts with the company. A former collegiate football player at Stony Brook University on Long Island, Reyes is long (6-foot-4), lean, and moves exceptionally well for a guy with a limited amount of MMA experiences. He has power, has a clue on the mat and his fight IQ is high. We’re still dealing with a small sample size here, but there are reasons to be optimistic.
Oezdemir, on the other hand, is trending in the wrong direction. After getting a shot at the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship last August, Oezdemir was smashed by Daniel Cormier in that bout and followed it up with a submission loss to rising star Anthony Smith in October. The concern has always been that Volkan is nothing more than a one-dimensional power puncher and it’s starting to look as if that may very well be the case. There’s no shame in losing to DC and Smith, but the rest of Oezdemir’s game outside of the thunder in his hands is sorely lacking. He’s not great defensively and doesn’t throw a ton of kicks. If he is unable to defend the kicks of Reyes, Volkan has zero chance of winning this fight.
Volkan is going to have to throw a wrinkle into the game plan to win this fight and I can’t begin to fathom what that might be. Reyes is the better athlete and the better all-around fighter. Oezdemir’s power gives him an puncher’s (no pun intended) chance in any bout, but his high ranking is due to the lack of depth in the division more than anything else. He’s a solid fighter and a no doubt top-10 guy, but he’s not a star. His power gives him some underdog DraftKings appeal, but using him in your lineup is nothing more than praying for one-punch knock out. This was an easy pick for me. Reyes is legitimately talented.
THE PICK: Reyes
Joseph Duffy (16-3-0) v. Marc Diakiese (12-3-0)DK Salaries: Duffy ($9,100), Diakiese ($7,100)Vegas Odds: Duffy (-220), Diakiese (+180)Odds to Finish: TBD
Hoping to finally get on track, Duffy returns to the Octagon on Saturday for the first time in 16 months. His four-year UFC run has been marred by inconsistency. While Duffy’s record with the company is strong (4-2), he has beaten nobodies (Reza Madadi, Mitch Clarke, Ivan Jorge, Jake Lindsey) and lost to established opponents (James Vick, Dustin Poirier). Duffy has a black belt in Brazilian BJJ (and 10 career wins via submission) to go along with an undefeated record (7-0) as a professional boxer. He’s a legitimately threat offensively.
Diakiese is an innovative striker who is almost certainly fighting for his job in this one. The loser of three fights in a row dating back to July 2017, Diakiese needs to show continued growth if he hopes to upset a veteran like Duffy. The good news is that he is just 26 years old and it’s reasonable to expect improvement going forward. Of course, if he doesn’t win on Saturday, it probably won’t matter.
Something will have to give in a fight between two men who have struggled to win the big one. Duffy is the better all-around fighter while Diakiese is more explosive, particularly in short spurts. I’m always worried about going against a fighter with his back against the wall, but there’s a significant gap in natural ability between these two men. Duffy should be OK as long as he can avoid a knockout.
THE PICK: Duffy
BantamweightNathaniel Wood (15-3-0) v. Jose Quinonez (7-2-0)DK Salaries: Wood ($9,400), Quinonez ($6,800)Vegas Odds: Wood (-300), Quinonez (+250)Odds to Finish: TBDTHE PICK: Wood
WelterweightDanny Roberts (16-3-0) v. Claudio Silva (12-1-0)DK Salaries: Roberts ($7,600), Silva ($8,600)Vegas Odds: Roberts (+130), Silva (-150)Odds to Finish: TBDTHE PICK: Silva
MiddleweightJack Marshman (22-8-0) v. John Phillips (21-8-0)DK Salaries: Marshman ($8,800), Phillips ($7,400)Vegas Odds: Marshman (-165), Phillips (+145)Odds to Finish: TBDTHE PICK: Marshman
FeatherweightArnold Allen (13-1-0) v. Jordan Rinaldi (14-6-0)DK Salaries: Allen ($8,700), Rinaldi ($7,500)Vegas Odds: Allen (-150), Rinaldi…