Here's some advice for who to pick in your DraftKings lineup for Saturday's UFC Fight Night 98 event in Mexico City, Mexico, headlined by a five-round lightweight bout between Rafael Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson on FOX Sports 1.
Top Target: Sam Alvey ($9,100)
Sam Alvey is looking to close out a busy 2016 when he steps into the Octagon for possibly the final time this year, though who knows with him as he could fight again next month. He is fighting for the fourth time in five months as he takes on Alex Nicholson in the UFC Fight Pass Featured Prelim of UFC Fight Night 98. Alvey is 2-1 this year, but he has won two straight, both wins coming by stoppage. With 37 career bouts under his belt, he has a huge experience advantage over his opponent on Saturday, Alex Nicholson.
Nicholson fights for the third time inside the Octagon, and he is looking to score his second straight win after a knockout win over Devin Clark in June. Alvey comes into this fight as the big favorite, and for very good reason. 21 of his 28 career wins have come by stoppage, with an impressive 18 coming by knockout. All five of his UFC wins have come by stoppage, and he has only been finished twice in his career.
Alvey has a huge advantage in this fight in that he is an excellent counterpuncher, and he suckers his opponents into striking battles and picks them apart in return. He isn't aggressive, but that will come into play as Nicholson is an aggressive fighter. Nicholson will likely be on the offensive, and that is going to spell trouble for him. With Nicholson's wild style, it is going to leave him open for a counter, and Alvey will find that opening. Alvey is also solid in the clinch and Nicholson has nothing other than his hard hitting.
This is Alvey's fight to lose, and he is on a solid roll right now. I expect a finish of Nicholson, and Alvey only has the third-highest salary on the card. He is my top play on this card.
Value Target: Tony Ferguson ($7,900)
Tony Ferguson has won a very impressive eight straight fights, and he is one win away from fighting for a title. He gets his first main event slot when he takes on former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos in the five-round headline bout on Saturday night. Dos Anjos is fighting for the first time since being knocked out by Eddie Alvarez in losing his lightweight title in July. Dos Anjos is the slight favorite in this fight, which is surprising given the recent success for Ferguson.
There are a lot of factors that could hinder Dos Anjos. He has left his long-time training camp to start his own camp with new coaches, and that hasn't resulted in a lot of success for other fighters who have done that in the past. He also didn't look all that sharp against Alvarez, and Ferguson is a much more versatile fighter. Ferguson is very unorthodox on his feet, and he is flashy and mixes everything well. He also has good takedowns and a very strong submission game. He is improving as a fighter, while at the same time, Dos Anjos looks to be regressing from his peak as a fighter.
Dos Anjos is still capable of being dangerous, but I'm not convinced he should be the favorite in this fight. That makes Ferguson have great value from a fantasy perspective in this fight. If you couple it with the fact this is a 25-minute fight, and it has every chance of going the full distance, there are more scoring opportunities. I don't believe it will go the full distance, but I sense it going three rounds before Ferguson finds a win by submission.
The biggest key is whether Ferguson's aggression and his tendency to get sloppy gives Dos Anjos an opening to capitalize. I like Ferguson a lot in this fight and he will be on my roster, and his salary makes him extremely valuable.
Target To Avoid: Max Griffin ($8,800)
Max Griffin is fighting for the second time inside the Octagon and he is looking to rebound from a loss in his debut when he takes on Erick Montano on Saturday night. Griffin was stopped in the third round of his UFC debut by Colby Covington, who is an excellent prospect, and he gets a less-tougher opponent in Montano. Montano did win season two of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, but he was stopped in his first fight following the show when he was submitted by Randy Brown in September.
Both men have quick turnarounds in this fight, and that may favor Montano in the high altitude of Mexico as he trains there. Griffin is the better fighter of the two as he has solid wrestling and some good striking, but Montano is a flashy opponent who is solid at everything, but unspectacular at everything as well. Griffin will have the size advantage, but he also isn't a good defensive wrestler, and Montano is good at takedowns.
Griffin is a big favorite in this fight and has a very high salary, and I don't see why. Perhaps it is because he is big, strong and athletic, but he is going to have a tough time in this one. I don't see him finishing Montano, and that should be an almost-given with a fighter that has a high salary. He may get a lackluster decision win, but that isn't going to get you a lot of fantasy points.
There are better options at similar salaries, and with 26 fighters on this card, there is going to be fighters you have to avoid. Griffin is one of those at his price range.
Underdog Target: Beneil Dariush ($7,800)
Beneil Dariush is an interesting fighter to watch on Saturday. He has won six of his last seven fights and is currently ranked ninth in the UFC's lightweight rankings. Yet, he finds himself as the underdog when he takes on Rashid Magomedov in a main card bout at UFC Fight Night 98. Magomedov is 19-1 in his career and the winner of twelve straight fights, including the last four inside the Octagon. He hasn't fought in a year due to a knee injury, and cage rust is a real thing.
Magomedov has also become a more controlled fighter as he only has one finish in his last seven wins. Dariush has beaten the much-tougher competition of the two in the UFC. Magomedov is good and technical on his feet, but Dariush has more power on his feet. He is also more aggressive and is very strong in the clinch. Dariush does have good takedowns, but Magomedov is strong in defending the takedown. Magomedov was able to stay on the feet against Gilbert Burns, who is world-class at getting opponents to the mat. Dariush has been a part of Rafael Dos Anjos' new training team, stepping away from his comfort zone at Kings MMA. I don't think that will affect him as much as it will Dos Anjos, but it is an underlying factor.
Magomedov is a solid counterstriker, but he tends to wait until his opponent begins to engage to do anything. He has to be more aggressive against Dariush. Dariush is a crafty grappler. This is an interesting battle and a toss-up when breaking it down. Magomedov is the favorite and has the higher salary of the two, but whoever had the lower salary would have found himself as my underdog target.
If I were making a prediction, I actually think Dariush is going to win this fight, and I think he has a sneaky chance of getting a submission. At his salary, I see him as a strong underdog target to roll with.
Ryan Frederick: Sam Alvey ($9,100), Polo Reyes ($8,900), Ricardo Lamas ($8,100), Tony Ferguson ($7,900), Beneil Dariush ($7,800), Marco Beltran ($7,700)
I'm going with Sam Alvey, Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush based on everything said above, and I really like all of their chances to score not just wins, but finishes, in their fights on Saturday night. I'm rounding out my team with Polo Reyes, Ricardo Lamas and Marco Beltran. Reyes has scored two big knockout wins in his two UFC bouts, and all six of his career wins have come by stoppage. He has been stopped in his three losses, but Jason Novelli isn't a big finisher, and Novelli was finished in his lone UFC bout. I like Reyes' chances to score another knockout win.
Lamas takes on Charles Oliveira in a very exciting featherweight match-up. Oliveira is taking the fight on short notice as Lamas was preparing for five rounds against BJ Penn. That will affect Oliveira, and that's not to mention the fact he fades late. I see Lamas weathering an early attack and wearing Oliveira out for a third-round stoppage. Beltran is taking on a super late notice replacement in Joe Soto, and they're doing a catchweight bout. Not having to cut that extra weight will be beneficial for Beltran, and while Soto is a tough out, I like his chances to win due to the short notice.
Paul Fontaine: Sam Alvey ($9,100), Marcin Held ($9,000), Rafael Dos Anjos ($8,300), Martin Bravo ($8,200), Beneil Dariush ($7,800), Felipe Arantes ($7,500)
Alvey's M.O. is going into other countries and scoring KO wins and cutting a promo that makes him a bigger babyface than the local guy. Well he's fighting an American here in Mexico but everything else should stay the same. Held is one of the best submission guys in all of MMA and making his UFC debut. He may have to break Diego Sanchez' arm but he'll make him tap. I really like Tony Ferguson .... A LOT.. but I feel he's a bit overmatched against the former champion in Rafael Dos Anjos, who will probably score a 1st round KO.
Martin Bravo is the more accomplished of the two TUF finalists that are fighting here and should score a win. Beneil Dariush is slick and I'm thinking that he ends the UFC unbeaten record of Rashid Magomedov. My last pick is Felipe Arantes who has scored stoppages in 3 of his 5 UFC wins. He should do the same against local hero Erik Perez in Mexico City.
Peach Machine: Sam Alvey ($9,100), Marcin Held ($9,000), Rafael Dos Anjos ($8,300), Ricardo Lamas ($8,100), Beneil Dariush ($7,800), Marco Beltran ($7,700)
RDA is going to rebound and Ferguson is going to fall. Held should be able to dispatch with Sanchez, who took a MONSTER beating at UFC 200. Lamas is going to have a war here and I like him to win by finish. Smilin' Sam just keeps on fighting, and I keep on loving it. Dariush is a real tough guy, and is underrated. Beltran put me right at 50,000. So I took him.