SportGrid Radio SportsGrid
MMA DFS Strategy: Top 5 Attributes to Look for in a Fighter
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Welcome to a new ongoing series of MMA DFS strategy pieces focused on several attributes found in every matchup to help build your MMA lineups. Today I’ll provide a brief overview of each of these attributes and then over the following weeks I’ll dedicate a single article for each attribute so that I can delve into deeper detail on each one. You’ll be able to find all of these articles in the MMA DFS Strategy section on DailyRoto. These five attributes are what I personally always look for in every individual fight. They are essentially the tools that each fighter may or may not use to their advantage to win their respective fights. Some fighters know their exact strengths/weaknesses and can exploit their opponent’s weaknesses, while others suffer from bad fight IQ. The bad fight IQ guys will be another story for another time, as we will focus more on keying specific attributes that could turn the tide in a fight. The attributes we are going to look at for this series are chins, striking offense, take-downs, submissions and countering.


You might be surprised to see chins as the first attribute listed but remember, this is a fighting sport. People get hit, and they get hit HARD. Chins are and will always be an integral part of a fight and how it may turn out. I can’t tell you how many times a “zombie” chin has both saved and haunted my lineups. Same thing can be said for those with a brittle chin. “Everyone gets hit in every fight.” That’s long been my mantra during my time playing DFS MMA, and it’s something I always keep in mind when looking at underdogs. This is not to say the fighters who get KO’d by a great punch/kick have a bad chin. Those kind of knockouts are simply just that, great knockouts. The chins I’m talking about are both chins that can withstand a ton of punishment, including power shots that could in theory rock badly/outright knock out a great majority of the fighters in their respective divisions, and the chins that break after a simple jab or straight, that random WTF moment when a fighter suddenly slumps over and the ref calls the fight. That’s what I look for in every matchup. Here are some examples of both types of chins:


Really simple, right? How does a fighter look standing? Do they string together consistent 2-3 punch/kick combos? Or do they rely on several one punch/kick combos? Telegraph their attacks? Maybe they just don’t look comfortable on the feet, or maybe they look like karate kung fu masters? These are all important questions to answer as I watch/re-watch fights while keeping note of their movements with their head and feet. Stationary strikers tend to get hit more often than not, and constant movement based strikers usually excel at finding great angles to jump in and out while staying elusive. That, in turn, also correlates to each fighter’s striking defense, which I’ll delve into deeper once I get started on the piece specific to striking offense. What we are really looking for is how a striker employs their offensive attack and reacts to certain things. Do they turn fights into firefights and brawls? Are they more comfortable pushing the pace or sitting back? Crack under pressure? Just little things like that go a long way in figuring out who to roster. Here are some quick looks at Carlos Condit’s ability to string together strikes:


If you’ve been reading along with my articles, you may have noticed I use the word take-down quite often. It’s just as important as striking offense, maybe even more so since take-down defense can be a huge part in an upset. It’s how some underdogs who have some decent wrestling skills can get in the surprise upset versus a good/great striker who either just gets overpowered or never really had any take-down defense. There are a wide variety of take-downs from the garden variety single/double legs, to the more advanced clinch take-downs or trips. Those with a Judo background may have stronger clinch take-downs and can get their opponents down in more ways than a normal wrestler would. Wrestlers also usually have a strength/technical advantage over those who depend on trips or clinch take-downs, and that could be all they need to turn the tide into their favor. There are many different styles of grappling when it comes to take-downs, such as Sambo, Judo, Greco-Roman wrestling and many others. What it all comes down to is how do they set up their take-downs and how often do they attempt them. Do they just go for the duck under and try to grab a leg? Can they change levels quickly? Do they just push them into the cage and jockey for position/tire them out into a slam? Exchange strikes a little bit then get into the clinch and toss them? Defending these kind of take-downs can be paramount to a fighter’s success in certain matchups, and it’s why you may often see UFC pit a striker versus a wrestler. They both have their advantages and disadvantages that can make for a thrilling back and forth chess match. It can also give us some really boring fights where the fighter who primarily uses take-downs as a base for their offense simply holds or lays on the striker, chewing clock as they await their inevitable decision win. Either way, take-downs simply cannot be ignored. Here are some of my favorite wrestlers and the kind of take-downs that can change the course of a fight:


Submissions are extremely fun to watch as specialists try to pull them off at any moment’s notice, or you can see how they get defended or even used to pull off a reverse/sweep on the ground. It can also be a huge advantage for the submission specialists if they face a guy who is inexperienced on the ground, especially off their back, or if they happen to have an excellent guard. There are many BJJ black belts in the UFC, and BJJ stands for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the most common type of submission based grappling. There’s also its little brother in Luta Livre, and both Sambo and Judo have their own little subtleties in submission grappling, with Judo having been made famous by the women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey. Granted, I’m still a little fuzzy when it comes to submissions and groundwork in general, but I’ll do my best to keep it simple and easy to understand as far as terminology goes. One of the hardest parts about judging a fighter’s submission skills is how their known skills can translate into an overall MMA game, which is something many BJJ black belts seem to struggle with. In BJJ, and grappling in general, they don’t punch each other. That can have a drastic effect in a negative way to those who aren’t used to striking/getting punched in the face. It can cause even some of the best to forget all the years of grappling experience and render them into a fetal ball of sadness. Those who have evolved into complete fighters and know how to be dangerous on the ground without exposing themselves into punishment they may not be used to are the truly dangerous fighters in the UFC. Charles Oliveira recently proved that his submission grappling is no joke, complementing it with good striking offense and improved clinch work. Submissions is a difficult attribute to quantify, as even the best of the best sometimes cannot dictate the pace of the fight and get it to the ground where they can put their ability to use. Whatever the case may be, it simply cannot be ignored in a matchup. Here are some nice examples of submission grappling by Charles Oliveira and Ronda Rousey:


The final attribute that you absolutely have to keep in mind is a fighter’s countering ability. While countering may be last on my list, it very well could be even more important than the others listed in certain matchups. I have long said that many counter-strikers struggle with one aspect of their gameplan, and that’s falling victim to their very own counter-based offense. Many counter-strikers can be too passive, needing more striking exchanges or just something, anything thrown by their opponent in order to put their countering ability on display. That can cause bouts of inactivity that are both frustrating to watch and cause fighters to lose points in the eyes of the judges. Counter-strikers need to find a balance between utilizing their quick reflexes and immense skill in countering with consistent amount of attacks to stay busy and encourage their opponents to strike back. Those who have perfected that are usually the most dangerous fighters in their divisions, as well as the flashiest. Anderson Silva, long thought as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, is a perfect example of a dangerous counter-striker who found a good balance between staying busy while still having his deadly counters as a part of his extensive striking arsenal. Vitor Belfort (before he got off TRT) is yet another great example of how a counter-striker can be the bane of many fighters’ existence, as they can shut down an offense quickly with one hit of their own. Counter-striking isn’t the only aspect of countering as an attribute. How often does a fighter put himself into a position to get countered can also be a key attribute in a matchup. Wild swinging punches or sloppy striking can open fighters to a counter that leads to their demise versus anyone, even those that didn’t have great countering ability in the past. I chose countering over some other attributes such as ground and pound, cardio and fight IQ simply because countering is more evident in a fight and is more of a game-changer than those other three attributes. I mean, just this past week we saw several counter-strikers get exposed in their match-ups. Here’s Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida doing their countering thing:

See you guys next time with a piece on CHINNY CHIN CHINS! There will be glorious GIFs of people getting KTFO and not….well getting knocked out! Be on the lookout for the UFC 188 article in a couple weeks as well!

What attributes do you look for in a fighter?


MMA DFS Strategy