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Fantasy MMA – UFC DraftKings Picks – UFC on ESPN 9

High Priced

Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern is still considered a top prospect in MMA, although her flaws were on full display in her loss to Amanda Ribas. Dern is a submission specialist, possessing some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the UFC. She struggles with her striking and wrestling, though. Dern is still young, though, and likely to progress as she continues to train. She will never need elite standup because of her BJJ pedigree, but she needs to work tirelessly on her takedown offense. If she can get her fights to the ground, she will have a distinct advantage over any of her opponents. 

Hannah Cifers has quietly performed well in the UFC, recording a 2-2 record through four fights. She has solid Muay Thai and should possess a clear striking edge against Dern. Cifers has struggled off her back, though. She has defended 80% of takedown attempts in the UFC but has still been taken down on multiple occasions. In this particular matchup, Cifers may only need to give up one takedown before she loses. 

Dern is the largest favorite on the slate at -400. She also boasts -160 odds to win inside the distance. This fight is relatively easy to outline, as Dern will have a massive advantage on the ground, while Cifers should win the striking exchanges. The difference is once this fight hits the ground, it’s only a matter of time before Dern finds a submission. She scored 117 fantasy points against Amanda Cooper, and she has similar upside in this fight. 



Tim Elliott

Tim Elliott is an all-action fighter. He has a ton of experience at the highest level, including a decision loss to Demetrious Johnson. This is important, as it shows Elliott’s submission defense, something he is almost sure to need this weekend. Elliott’s pace and willingness to throw caution to the wind give him upside that others don’t possess. He has won only 3 of his last 10 UFC fights, but he scored 109, 176, and 136 fantasy points in those fights. 

Brandon Royval will be making his UFC debut this weekend. He has found quite a bit of success in LFA, but he recently lost to Casey Kenney, who is also on this card. Royval loves throwing wild strikes on the feet and has the potential to catch Elliott. He struggles mightily defending takedowns, though. Royval is confident off his back, as he has consistently found success throughout his career. He isn’t likely to find as much success in the UFC off his back, though. 

Elliott has the cardio and wrestling to consistently takedown Royval. He has to be careful of getting caught but fought 25 minutes against DJ without getting caught. This fight has the feeling that Elliott will consistently shoot for takedowns without controlling Royval on the ground. This could lead to another massive fantasy performance from Elliott. 


Low Priced

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez could be the easiest MMA play in the history of DFS. He was priced at $7.3K as a +180 underdog against Kevin Holland. Rodriguez is now a -305 favorite over Gabriel Green, but his price tag is locked. He’s the fifth cheapest option on this slate with the third-best odds to win. 

Rodriguez finished 10 of his 11 wins with a mix of knockouts and submissions. He upset Tim Means in his UFC debut and will face off against UFC newcomer Gabriel Green this weekend. Green has knockout power but relies heavily on rear-naked chokes. He’s been knocked out twice in his career, including in less than 40 seconds against the UFC’s Jalin Turner. 

It’s easy to overthink things in MMA. Don’t do that here. Rodriguez has -175 odds to win inside the distance. If he were priced up, there would be a conversation, but he’d still be one of the best plays on the slate. Rodriguez can be locked into all leagues. If you’re running a ton of lines, feel free to avoid him on a few to get exposure elsewhere.

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