UFC 196 MMA DFS Picks
UFC 196 takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and Conor McGregor makes his welterweight debut. However, like a handful of recent cards, this event loses a little luster due to injury. The current featherweight belt holder McGregor was to attempt to become the first dual belt winner in UFC history in his bump up to welterweight, but Rafael Dos Anjos (foot) was forced to pull out due to injury. While the McGregor camp cried foul, intimating a fake or lesser injury, Dos Anjos has been fitted with a cast for a broken foot he suffered two weeks ago.
Still, it’s an exciting card. Women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm hits the octagon for the first time since her stunning win over Ronda Rousey, as she puts her belt on the line against Miesha Tate in a bout which is not only easy on the eyes, but should be a very entertaining fight. The light heavyweight battle between Ilir Latifi and Gian Villante should also be a war, and the Tom Lawlor-Corey Anderson match will be nip and tuck and very hotly contested. Top to bottom this card for very few anticipated mismatches and a lot of action.
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(DraftKings.com salaries in parentheses) (all times ET).
Holly Holm ($10,800 vs. Miesha Tate): There is a way to get ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’, as well as Conor McGregor, for a sensation one-two DFS punch. Holm (-270) is heavily favored after her win over Rowdy last time out, but a lot of talking heads are expecting a huge challenge from ‘Cupcake’ Tate. Holm is best on her feet, where she can use her boxing prowess and big-time power to overwhelm Tate. If the latter can get her into a wrestling match, then Holm’s advantage lessens considerably. This bout should not be a short, disappointing and overhyped affair, but look for Holm to score the knockout earlier rather than later.
Conor McGregor ($11,000 vs. Nate Diaz): McGregor is one of the best in the UFC in strike differential, and he’ll rain blows down upon the head of Diaz, who steps in on short notice for the injured Dos Anjos. McGregor ranks ninth in UFC in strikes landed per minute (5.53), while Diaz ranks fourth in UFC history with 1,585 total strikes landed. He has plenty of wear and tear, and he hasn’t fought someone as active as McGregor, even in his long history. Conor McGregor will not be denied in his first welterweight bout, and he’ll patiently have to bide his time and await the full health of Dos Anjos. He’ll do so with a knockout win under his belt over Diaz.
Chas Skelly ($10,100 vs. Darren Elkins): Skelly is a tremendous value as a No. 3 option on a five-fighter roster. He ranks second in UFC with 3.0 submissions per 15 minutes, behind only Rousey. Skelly is also a very good striker, and he’ll be better in the clinch. The rear-naked choke has been his path to victory in two of his past four wins, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see against Elkins here. His last bout against Kevin Souza Nov. 7 ended in the middle of the second round, and DFS players can expect a similar timetable to victory here.
Teruto Ishihara ($8,900 vs. Julian Erosa): Ishihara is an underdog worth keeping an eye on. HE was a knockout machine in his ascension to the UFC ranks, and he made his debut Sept. 26, 2015 in UFC Fight Night with a split decision draw against Mizuto Hirota. The southpaw is power puncher who will be very dangerous for Erosa in a toe-to-toe situation. At this price level, not only is Ishihara essential to squeezing McGregor and Holm into the lineup, he also has the most upside among the lower-tier fighters on the card. Knockouts, especially quick ones, are difference makers in MMA DFS, and Ishihara has the potential to roll up big points per dollar spent.
Nordine Taleb ($9,100 vs. Erick Silva): Silva is a solid striker, so Taleb will need to avoid going toe-to-toe with the Brazilian. Silva has been inconsistent over his career, and he is coming off a loss to Neil Magny. Taleb has won three of his four bouts at the UFC level, and is solid, yet unspectacular. Taleb doesn’t waste a lot of energy, and he makes his punches count, ranking third among the welterweights with a 71.1 percent strike accuracy. Silva is too erratic to rely upon, and Taleb is much more even keel. If he can get this bout to the third round, he is technically sound and could win the judge’s minds with his efficiency.