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UFC 206 Betting & Fantasy Playbook

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Here's some advice for your gambling and fantasy needs for Saturday's UFC 206 event in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, headlined by Max Holloway taking on Anthony Pettis for the Interim UFC Featherweight Championship on pay-per-view.

MAIN CARD

Interim UFC Featherweight Championship- Max Holloway (16-3) vs. Anthony Pettis (19-5)

Betting Odds: Holloway (-210), Pettis (+175)
DraftKings Salaries: Holloway- $8,800, Pettis- $7,400
Key Statistic: Pettis has never been finished in his career
Analysis: This is a very interesting and high-level fight for the interim championship at 145 pounds. Holloway is on fire, having won nine straight fights, but he fights the toughest opponent he has had since that streak began in Pettis. Pettis is a man who has never been finished in his career, extremely durable and ultra flashy. He presents a different style that Holloway hasn't seen in those nine fights. Holloway has to be prepared for an opponent who will look to finish him in any possible way. Holloway is a pressure fighter whereas Pettis is someone who is patient in looking for openings. Holloway is much improved over his young career, and he throws a lot of volume on his feet. Pettis may try and take this fight to the mat and Holloway has been submitted in his career. This is really a close fight. With it being so close, a bet on Pettis isn't a bad move at all. Holloway is significantly higher in fantasy salaries, and I don't see him finishing Pettis, which limits his value. However, this fight will go 25 minutes if Holloway is ahead, and volume adds up. Both men are good fantasy plays as Pettis can score the finish.

Donald Cerrone (31-7 1 NC) vs. Matt Brown (20-15)

Betting Odds: Cerrone (-290), Brown (+245)
DraftKings Salaries: Cerrone- $9,300, Brown- $6,900
Key Statistic: Cerrone with 16 career wins by submission
Analysis: Cerrone and Brown are ready to throw down in a welterweight slugfest serving as the co-main event on Saturday. Cerrone has been on a tear since moving up to 170 pounds, winning three straight to become a bonafide contender. Brown needs a win badly in this one, but it is a tall order. As exciting as Cerrone is in fights, he is also very smart and calculated, and his best shot at winning is actually getting the mat to the ground. Cerrone has won 16 fights by submission, while Brown has been submitted ten times in his career. Cerrone is better on the feet, but Brown is good at applying pressure, and Brown will have a size edge over him. Cerrone is just too technically good for Brown, and I see a submission win for him. Cerrone has the highest salary value on this card, and is the biggest betting favorite. He is a good play for both.

Cub Swanson (23-7) vs. Doo Ho Choi (15-1)

Betting Odds: Swanson (+190), Choi (-230)
DraftKings Salaries: Swanson- $7,300, Choi- $8,900
Key Statistic: Choi has 12 wins by knockout
Analysis: Swanson is a big-time veteran of the sport, with 12 years of experience at just 33-years-old. Choi is a super prospect at 25-years-old and winner of 13 straight fights. Choi has three wins in the UFC, all by knockout in the first round. This is his toughest test. Swanson is quick on his feet but tends to keep his hands low, and Choi is an excellent counterpuncher with tremendous power. He is also good enough of a defensive wrestler that he will be able to negate any level changes that Swanson comes at him with. Swanson has only been knocked out once in his career, but he does have a lot of mileage on him. If there is a fighter who is going to be the next to finish him on the feet, Choi is the perfect candidate. I like Choi a lot in this fight. However, with all of that being said, Swanson holds some real value at $7,300 in fantasy as he is Choi's toughest fight yet, and there is always that potential for upsets by veterans.

Tim Kennedy (18-5) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2)

Betting Odds: Kennedy (-135), Gastelum (+115)
DraftKings Salaries: Kennedy- $8,300, Gastelum- $7,900
Key Statistic: Kennedy hasn't fought since September 2014
Analysis: Kennedy welcomes Gastelum back to 185 pounds in his first fight in over 26 months. Kennedy is a strong middleweight, and Gastelum is going to be giving up some size. Kennedy has power and is a great wrestler, though Gastelum is a solid wrestler himself. Gastelum is a southpaw, and he might have a slight edge on the feet, but Kennedy is a pressure fighter who isn't afraid to turn a fight into a grind. He is an excellent grappler who knows how to keep opponents on the mat, and he is adept at winning scrambles. This might not be a crowd-pleasing fight, but I'm picking Kennedy to win it by decision. They're close on the betting odds, so you can make some money on this fight. I'm not sure if I would favor either in fantasy line-ups as I don't expect a finish here. Kennedy would be the play there, though, with his ability to score takedowns, which rack up points.

Jordan Mein (29-10) vs. Emil Meek (8-2 1 NC)

Betting Odds: Mein (-155), Meek (+135)
DraftKings Salaries: Mein- $9,000, Meek- $7,200
Key Statistic: Mein coming out of retirement to fight for first time since January 2015
Analysis: Mein makes his return to competition as he welcomes the debuting Meek. It's a tough first fight coming out of retirement for Mein, who is still young at 27, but will be fighting for the 40th time. Mein is a skilled striker with good power, with 16 knockout wins. He has also been finished seven times in his career. Meek has killer instinct as all of his wins have come by a finish, and he has ultra power in his hands, and he is a better grappler. Mein has stayed training during his retirement, but ring rust is hard to shake off. He is the more talented fighter, and that might be enough to get him the win. Meek is an excellent play in fantasy at a $7,200 salary. You'd be foolish to not consider him.

PRELIMS

Nikita Krylov (21-4) vs. Misha Cirkunov (12-2)

Betting Odds: Krylov (+100), Cirkunov (-120)
DraftKings Salaries: Krylov- $8,100, Cirkunov- $8,100
Key Statistic: Krylov has never been the distance in his career
Analysis: This is a rare fight between two prospects at 205 pounds, and it'll determine which one is closer to title contention. Both men are big light heavyweights. Krylov is a proven finisher, having won all 21 of his fights by finish. He also has been finished in all four of his losses. Cirkunov has ten wins by finish, and has been submitted in both of his losses. Krylov is a better striker while Cirkunov is a better wrestler. This is a dead-even fight, both in betting odds and fantasy value. Krylov is the better bet to score a finish, and he would be the fantasy play in this one.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (8-2) vs. Drew Dober (17-7 1 NC)

Betting Odds: Aubin-Mercier (-170), Dober (+150)
DraftKings Salaries: Aubin-Mercier- $8,200, Dober- $8,000
Key Statistic: Aubin-Mercier averages just under three takedowns per fight
Analysis: Two southpaws match up in an interesting bout at 155 pounds. Aubin-Mercier is big and athletic for the weight class and is a strong takedown artist. Dober is more technical on his feet, but he has an underrated submission game. Aubin-Mercier has to work his takedown game as Dober will make him pay on the feet, especially with counters. Aubin-Mercier is just a slightly better fighter, and he has seven wins by submission. I feel like he is getting his eighth, and is a good fantasy play. I would avoid Dober at his salary.

Valerie Letourneau (8-5) vs. Viviane Pereira (12-0)

Betting Odds: Letourneau (-175), Pereira (+155)
DraftKings Salaries: Letourneau- $8,400, Pereira- $7,800
Key Statistic: Letourneau has a 7-inch height advantage
Analysis: Pereira makes her UFC debut boasting an undefeated record, but gets a former title challenger in Letourneau. Letourneau is going to have a huge size advantage, with seven inches in height, five inches in reach, and she cuts a lot of weight to make 115 pounds. She is the better striker of the two. Pereira is going to have to hope for a takedown and some time from the top. I think Letourneau will be able to keep it standing and take a decision. Neither fighter is a recommended fantasy play in your line-ups.

Mitch Gagnon (12-3) vs. Matthew Lopez (8-1)

Betting Odds: Gagnon (-155), Lopez (+135)
DraftKings Salaries: Gagnon- $8,600, Lopez- $7,600
Key Statistic: Gagnon has eleven wins by submission
Analysis: Gagnon returns after being out of action for almost two years. Lopez looks to rebound from his first career loss suffered in his UFC debut. Gagnon is quick on his feet but lacks the true power that Lopez holds. Gagnon is the better takedown artist, and he is more adept at finding submissions. Lopez has seven wins by finish, all in the first round, so he is dangerous. Gagnon has eleven submission wins, ten of which came in the first round. This will be explosive. Lopez is a good value play in fantasy contests at a modest $7,600 salary.

John Makdessi (14-5) vs. Lando Vannata (8-1)

Betting Odds: Makdessi (+160), Vannata (-185)
DraftKings Salaries: Makdessi- $7,500, Vannata- $8,500
Key Statistic: Both men land over five significant strikes per minute
Analysis: This will be a high-volume action fight. Makdessi has probably peaked as a fighter as he fights the same fight offensively and defensively in his recent fights. Vannata has taken notice of that, and he himself is an excellent lightweight prospect. As good as Makdessi has looked, this feels like a fight to get Vannata a win. Makdessi can be tricky on his feet, but Vannata has more tricks of his own, and has a good grappling game to back him up. He is more powerful, more athletic, and better overall, and this feels like a lock for him to win. He is a good bet and a great fantasy play as I see him getting a finish.

Jason Saggo (12-2) vs. Rustam Khabilov (20-3)

Betting Odds: Saggo (+170), Khabilov (-200)
DraftKings Salaries: Saggo- $7,100, Khabilov- $9,100
Key Statistic: Khabilov has 28 takedowns in UFC competition
Analysis: Saggo is a potent striker but he has a huge test in front of him in the form of Khabilov, one of the most-gifted takedown artists at 155 pounds. Khabilov averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes, and we know that will be coming. He is also solid on his feet. The biggest knock on Khabilov is his ability to be completely inactive in fights. It could cost him and Saggo is a decent underdog pick. If he doesn't give away rounds, Khabilov is a safe bet to win the fight. I'm not sure how valuable he will be in fantasy contests, as while takedowns score a lot of points, he isn't a guaranteed finish, something his $9,100 salary will need.

Zach Makovsky (19-7) vs. Dustin Ortiz (15-6)

Betting Odds: Makovsky (-160), Ortiz (+140)
DraftKings Salaries: Makovsky- $8,500, Ortiz- $7,700
Key Statistic: Ortiz has never been finished in his career
Analysis: These guys are mirror images, and this should be a technical flyweight fight to open the action on Saturday. It could also become a very boring fight. Ortiz has never been finished in his career, and I don't expect that to change on Saturday. Makovsky is a more skilled wrestler, and Ortiz may just be a tad better on the feet. Neither man will likely take a lot of chances, but both could be fighting for their roster spot. I would pick Makovsky to win this fight by a decision. I wouldn't play either in fantasy contests, but if I had to, Ortiz has better value at a $7,700 salary.