UFC Daily Fantasy Helper: Fight Night 5/8/21

Combat sports are one of America’s longest-standing active sports to wager on. This was evident throughout the late 1900s as boxing took the sports world by storm. From Muhammed Ali to Mike Tyson, several stars were born, and Americans around the country placed bets on who would win boxing matches. Nowadays, with boxing much smaller than it was throughout the 1900s, mixed martial arts has taken the lead as America’s favorite combat sport.

By far, the largest and most successful MMA organization in North America is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, commonly known as UFC. The UFC lays claim to the best mixed martial artists in the world and is showcased on both cable and pay-per-view events every month. As one of the most unique DFS sweats available, UFC daily fantasy is now live on FanDuel.

numberFire is always the best spot to get you ready for any UFC card. In addition to this helper, Brandon Gdula’s betting guide breaks down where you should be placing your sharp dollars on Saturday’s bouts. I also dove deeper into this slate on this week’s UFC edition of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.

Without further delay, let’s break down UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson, taking place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.

MVP Considerations

Gregor Gillespie ($21): While many love the prospects of the equally talented Diego Ferreria this weekend, the matchup is the only thing to doubt in the former elite college wrestler Gregor Gillespie. Gillespie has posted a card-best 7.02 takedowns per match thus far in the UFC, and while he did get blindsided with a high kick against Kevin Lee, his 60% striking defense overall is incredibly solid given his aggression to wrestle. Ferreria is an ample opponent with submission skills, but his last fight against Beneil Dariush showed a fairly open window to offensively wrestle Ferreria, as Dariush landed five takedowns on the Brazilian. If Gillespie is able to penetrate the defense of Ferreria five times, his control rate in grappling exchanges (99.5%) indicates that Ferreria is unlikely to get away.

Marina Rodriguez ($20): Surprisingly, the -220 main event favorite is getting very little love this weekend. Rodriguez has struggled in her past few fights with takedown defense — her UFC career mark sits at 59% — and her opponents have also spent 17 of 36 minutes of control wrestling in her past three fights. However, she sees the least capable wrestler in that span this weekend in the form of Michelle Waterson. Waterson is projected to struggle on the feet with her 49% striking accuracy and 49% striking defense — both marks well below Rodriguez and the division’s average — so the question becomes if she can expand upon her 1.52 takedowns per match to control Rodriguez. Even spending 8 minutes in control would still leave 17 for Rodriguez to dominate nearly any exchange on the feet, so the pick is for the Brazilian to top “The Karate Hottie” Waterson in a high-paced, five-round fight.

Other High-Salaried Fighters

Marcos Rogerio De Lima ($21): Defense is a virtue at heavyweight, and Maurice Greene has shown very little tumbling down the rankings. Greene has just a 45% striking defense and 28% takedown defense in the UFC to this point, and that is how Greene has been finished in three of his past four fights, and he also got knocked down and nearly lost the fourth. Marcos Rogerio De Lima has also struggled at heavyweight, as the former light heavyweight adjusts to the size of his new division, but he should be the more skilled (+1.25 striking success rate) fighter on the feet waiting for an opening to attack Greene. De Lima has the best odds on the card to win inside-the-distance (+100) because of Greene’s defensive lapses.

Amanda Ribas ($19): Somehow, despite a disappointing knockout loss in January, Amanda Ribas’ sample is getting even more impressive. Up to the point of one wrong punch, Ribas dominated Marina Rodriguez for 3:34 of the opening five minutes and won a 10-8 round. Her combination of brute strength for a strawweight, as well as her incredible striking defense (71%) that leads all ranked 115-pound women, is a challenge for anyone to solve. Angela Hill presents an interesting challenge to Ribas because she is active on the feet with better takedown defense than Marina Rodriguez. But she also has just one knockdown in her last 13 fights, lacking the raw power to put Ribas away with one shot. That mismatch puts Ribas as a -188 favorite to dominate Hill just as she was Rodriguez — but without the surprise ending this time.

Value Fighters

Junyong Park ($14): One of the most underrated fights on this card is between middleweight super prospect Tafon Nchukwi and the stable veteran Park. Nchukwi is a massive man for middleweight who posts a 7.59 signficiant strikes per minute mark through two UFC fights, so there’s a lot to like on his side. However, Nchukwi’s size has limited his athleticism at middleweight so far, and his 1.2% knockdown rate is far, far lower than one would hope when giving up so much speed. Park is a good athlete that mixes reliable, sound striking (+1.34 striking success rate), with a developing wrestling game getting better each fight (3.42 takedowns per match). Given that “The Iron Turtle” has been durable in the UFC thus far, the path to failure for Nchukwi with wrestling or grappling he has not experienced before is definitely there.

Neil Magny ($13): Magny represents the most interesting underdog option on the board against Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal. Both of these middleweights were badly beaten in their fights on opposite sides of the new year, and now may battle here to stay inside the ranks. Neal struggled so badly with the length and movement of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson that Magny’s five-inch reach advantage this weekend could potentially bother Neal. On the other side, Magny is unlikely to get his volume wrestling game, at 2.46 takedowns per match, going against the athletic Neal and his 92% takedown defense. In a fight where both fighters will likely be without their best option, the tested Magny, with a +1.62 striking success rate compared to Neal at just +0.01, has more experience and different methods of finishing than the prospect.


Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.