UFC 216 DraftKings Picks

It is upon us! UFC 216 is here and the match card is far more interesting than most casual fans would be led to believe. There are several interesting fights to be watched here and because of that, let’s breakdown each fight a bit and get a look into who you should take. The early prelims are on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30pm ET, the lower card starts at 8pm on FX and then the Main Card. All odds are current to the publishing of this article and based on the lines from www.bovada.lv

(I want to note that SPM is for strikes per minute through this article)



UFC 216 Draftkings Fantasy Picks

UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims


Matt Schnell | DFS: $8,200 (10-4-0) -125 vs Marco Beltran | DFS: $8,000 (8-6-0) +105

Kicking off with a fight that I am really interested in here. Beltran is 8-6 and a heavy striker. He strikes 49% of the time with the other 51% going to submissions and takedowns and has a really good defense percentagely speaking. He has a 57% defense rating and absorbs only 1.74 strikes per minute. Really nice compared to his 2.04 strikes landed per minute (SPM). However, he is taking on Schnell who uses a submission focused offense. He lands 3.75 strikes per minute and absorbed 7.25 strikes per minute with a rather rough 30% defensive rating. Takedown defense again favors Schnell at 56% compared to Beltran’s 36%. What this really translates to is if Schnell can get Beltran on the ground then Schnell probably wins. Beltran’s best chance is to stay standing and force this into a striking match. Schnell has a worse striking defense and Beltran should be able to pepper and move, but with how bad his takedown defense is, I wouldn’t count on it working through a whole fight, but Beltran is a better striker on the ground leaving that question to be had. Can he strike hard enough and nail a takedown or two on Schnell, who was taken down 3 times in his loss to Hector Sandoval, to prove effective? I say yes and I say that Schnell takes a third straight Round 1 KO.

DFS Analysis: Beltran is a good pick for this fight and will save you $200 you can put in other fighters.


Thales Leites | DFS: $7,900 (27-7-0) +165 vs Brad Tavares | DFS: $8,300 (15-5-0) -195

If you like a brawling match then welcome to the jungle baby cause this should end up being a good old Jim Ross style slobber knocker. Tavares literally does not care for submissions and instead prefers to beat ass. He strikes 59% of the time with the other 41% going to takedowns where he continues striking. At 15-5 with no submission work, it leads to a one sided offensive affair, but one where he lands a wonderful 3.03 SPM while absorbing 2.47 SPM. Defensively speaking, Tavares’ strength is in his 73% takedown defense which can help him avoid getting into submission situations. On the flipside, Leites is a bit more well-rounded: 45% sub, 20% strike, 35% takedowns are what his arsenal looks like. He absorbs more than he lands though with 2.88 compared to 2.03 SPM and his takedown accuracy is 5% lower than that of Tavares (28% compared to 33%). If Leites wants to win this he needs to get Tavares off his feet and on the ground. Tavares is strong and packs a punch while Leites tends to be more of a ground game type who wants to lock a submission in. If this becomes a strikefest it favors Tavares and it’s up to Leites to get through that strong takedown defense in order to go to his strength in ground game submission. That said I favor Brad Tavares in this bout. His takedown defense is a huge factor here as Leites doesn’t seem to be able to outstrike Tavares despite his 4 inch reach advantage. Tavares has accrued 127 landed strikes in the last 3 decision victories while Leites was outstruck by Jotko in his most recent loss 42-4 in a unanimous decision. Tavares will aim to do exactly what Jotko did and pepper Leites as much as possible.

DFS Analysis: It’s tempting to go Leites here to save cash, but can’t. Tavares should be too much for him and I would be willing to spend the necessary capital to secure him.


John Moraga | DFS: $6,900 (17-6-0) +400 vs Mogamed Bibulatov | DFS: $9,300 (14-0-0) -550

This is a similar situation to Leites vs Tavares. Moraga is more ground and submissions based whereas Bibulatov is a heavy striker. Bibulatov’s stat that jumps out is his absorbed per minute strikes which is only 0.67 compared to Moraga’s 2.24 absorbed SPM. Bibulatov is just a straight up run and gun fighter. He dodges nearly 70% of strikes while landing 3.40 or a whole punch more than Moraga’s 2.31 SPM. What’s interesting though is that Moraga’s 15% takedown percentage is small compared to his 53% submissions. What I can see from here is that if Moraga gets you on the ground it leads to a submission attempt. We, again, have to focus on the takedown work. Moraga only has 26% takedown accuracy which does not bode well for his strategy. Both fighters are about as accurate with strikes, but Bibulatov lands a full 1 significant strike more per minute while absorbing a full 2 strikes less per minute as well. Bibulatov is a strong striker who should give Moraga loads of fits and force him into a more defensive fighting style. If Moraga can counter with takedowns and put himself in the upper position it could lead to a better shot at submission opportunities which seem to be Moraga’s best option in defeating Bibulatov. However, I feel that Bibulatov will prove to be a bit too much for Moraga to effectively ground leading to a Bibulatov victory. Both fighters in their last fights, both getting the wins, landed over 50 strikes each as well as 2 takedowns a piece. That said, I feel as though Moraga has to play a near perfect hand here in my opinion to win and I just don’t see that happening.

DFS Analysis: Invest hard on Bibulatov. I like the Russian in this one to continue his undefeated streak. He is expensive, but absolutely worth it.


Walt Harris | DFS: $9,200 (10-5-0) -310 vs Mark Godbeer | DFS: $7,000 (12-3-0) +250

First off, Mark Godbeer wins the last name battle and his nickname being “The Hand Of” only makes it better. This is an out and out slugfest. This is a pair of big ass power hitters out to beat meat like a 16 year old with his parents out of town for the weekend. Walt Harris is a big bruising 250 pounder that is a lot like Carmelo Anthony in the sense of he’s a volume shooter. He throws a lot of punches which gives him a lower striking accuracy (37.80%). His landed SPM and absorbed SPM are nearly identical. The Big Ticket is more focused on knockouts and aims to volley you to the ground. Godbeer on the other side has a far better strike set up. His SPM is 5.62 compared to absorbing 3.13 SPM with a 54% accuracy with his strikes. Neither man really holds much of an advantage over the other. While Harris is 10 pounds heavier, it doesn’t seem like it will come into play with Harris being more strike focused than ground. The Big Ticket’s real advantage is that he is a lefty, much like myself, which forces orthodox fighters to change their defensive posturing. To the average fan this may not seem too big, but much like in the MLB, a lefty can cause major problems. It forces Godbeer to defend with his primary hand which can limit his offensive opportunities to counter effectively and with enough significance. Both men are rather evenly matched and in this I feel the stronger puncher will take it. Godbeer landed an insane 92 strikes in his recent win over Spitz, but that seems more an outlier than expected for this bout. Harris got a round 1 KO against Asker in June where he out-struck him 21-2 winning by KO. Both men are going to try to swing on each other a lot and this aims to be a fun, entertaining bout.

DFS Analysis: I can’t go against Harris here. He is costly, but worth it. Harris is going to land a load of strikes and to me he will rack up a good score against Godbeer.


UFC 216 Draftkings Fnatasy Picks


Prelims on FX

Pearl Gonzalez | DFS: $8,400 (6-2-0) +115 vs Poliana Botelho | DFS: $7,800 (5-1-0) -135

Botelho comes in as a rather unknown to UFC. What you need to know is that all of her 5 wins are by KO/TKO and her sole loss is via decision, although it was unanimous. What im pointing out here is that she has 3 KO’s via punches, 1 via a spinning back body kick and another due to her opponent getting retired. Botelho looks strong from a striking perspective, but Gonzalez is solid defensively. She takes 3.57 strikes per minute, but still maintains 70% defense. That is interesting, but Gonzalez also lands just over half a strike less than she absorbs. Botelho has the same defensive percentage, but takes on 3.13 strikes per minute which is far lower than Gonzalez. But Gonzalez is more interested, as a fighter, in getting a takedown and going for a submission than standing and going toe to toe in general.

I treat MMA stats similarly to MLB stats. You can tell a lot depending styles as well as percentages and averages. Gonzalez takes more strikes than she dishes out, but it is in part because she is not strike focused and is instead looking for the takedown and submission. Takedowns and submissions take 74% of her offense compared to Botelho who strikes 49% offensively. This seems to be the standard these days for fights. Who wins a striker or a submission artist? It depends on true strengths. I remember both Lesnar vs. Mir fights and how wildly different they were despite being the same fighters. That said, Botelho is a lot like Akuma from Street Fighter, in that she comes in guns blazing all-in on offense. For Gonzalez to win this she has to take strikes, but find her takedown and work into a submission. Botelho needs to keep her defense up and force this into a brawl while Gonzalez wants to slow this down.

DFS Analysis: I really like Botelho in this. Her cost can save you for going big on Mighty Mouse later if you like, but I also feel she wins this one outright.


Lando Vannata | DFS: $8,800 (9-2-0) -210 vs Bobby Green | DFS: $7,400 (23-8-0) +175

First off, I’m mad that Lando Vannata’s nickname is Groovy and not Calrissian. Missed opportunity. Ah, here we have another strikefest to look forward to. Green strikes at 61%, Vannata at a whopping 84%. Both are good takedown defender, Green at 79% and Vannata at 71%. The big difference is in strike percentages. Green at 2.46 SPM, 49% accuracy, 3.15 absorbed SPM with 62% defensive rating. Vannata in corner 2 comes in with 5.25 SPM, 45% accuracy, absorbed 4.21 SPM and a 51% defensive rating. Green has fantastic takedown defense (79%), but I don’t know if that will come into play much against Vennata (takedown D rating is 71%).

Can Vannata keep those landed strikes up per minute or will Green absorb those strikes defensively and in turn land his strikes? That’s the story here to read into. Green’s coming off 3 straight losses, 2 by decision and the last one where he was KO’d by Dustin Poirier in round 1. Vannata has dealt with his 2 losses in his last 3 fights, the win coming via a round 1 KO against John Makdessi. Neither fighter is coming in on a good streak, which could make this fight between them all the more important. The best to me for Green is getting to the ground and taking away the standing strike ability of Vannata. Where for Vannata it is best to keep the fight upright and moving around. Both fighters need a win for momentum and to get out of their current ruts.

DFS Analysis: I actually favor Green here. Cost wise he will save you $7,400 and I think Green has a legit chance to pull off the upset here. This is a good buy low candidate.


Will Brooks DFS: $8,600 (18-3-0) -355 vs Nik Lentz DFS: $7,600 (29-8-2) +285

To me this is a rather lopsided match up and would be a real upset if Lentz wins. Despite having 40 UFC bouts under his belt, Lentz is the heavy underdog in this fight. Lentz is the most definable C+ fighter you could find. Lots of wins, but an average overall fighter. He avoids 49% of strikes and 44% of takedowns. Lentz also strikes successfully 49% of the time with a rather weak 37% successful takedown rate. On the flip side, Will Brooks avoids 82% of takedown attempts, and 56% of strikes. All while maintaining a 58% strike rate. He shares a poor successful takedown rate at 36%, but Brooks lands nearly a full strike more per minute than Lentz. Brooks is coming off a pair of tough losses to Charles Oliveira and Alex Oliveira which broke his 9-0 streak and seems poised to come out hard in order to reignite his career. Lentz needs to focus on getting Brooks to the ground and forcing a ground game matchup. It doesn’t exactly put Lentz in control as much as it takes away the striking prowess of Brooks thus giving Lentz a twinge of advantage to work with. However the issue comes with Brooks strong takedown defense and penetrating that. This seems like a bout that could go the distance simply because Lentz makes it known he will take Brooks down at every opportunity thus limiting Brooks willingness to take chances going in for the kill. This looks to be a fun fight.

DFS Analysis: Brooks is a heavy favorite for a reason. I don’t see Lentz taking this and Brooks is worth the cost.


Tom Duquesnoy | DFS: $9,100 (15-1-0) -165 vs Cody Stamann | DFS: $7,100 (15-1-0) +140

Let me start off with this… Cody as a name invokes literally no fear in me. It is a name that I laugh at. If you change Pennywise the Clown to Cody the Clown the movie takes a whole new turn as the town cannot stop laughing at his name causing IT to die from starvation. That said, Cody Stamann scares the ever-loving hell out of me. Stamann, nicknamed The Spartan, has avoided 100% of total takedown attempts. 100%. Hot. Damn. He also avoids 61% of strikes, lands 59% of his own and is successful with his takedowns 67% of the time. The guy is beastly and is matched up against the French Phenom that is Duquesnoy. The Fire Kid lands 73% of strikes, avoids 49% of them as well and defends against 50% of takedown attempts. The big question here is if he can keep The Spartan at a distance and pepper him with his accurate striking ability. While Stamann has great striking ability and defense he’s going against a fighter who excels in picking his punches accurately and despite his far lower striking defense that gives Duquesnoy a slight advantage there. However, Stamann overall has a better body of work and more versatility as well as better striking on ground.

DFS Analysis: Duquesnoy is highly priced at $9,100, but value ise I have to take Stamann here. He has a good chance in this fight and I could see it going to a decision which to me favors Stamann.


UFC 216 Main Card

Beneil Dariush | DFS: $9,000 (14-3-0) -225 vs Evan Dunham | DFS: $7,600 (17-6-0) +185

To start off here, Beneil Dariush looks like the Iranian version of Ethan Carter III. With that out of the way, this is a weird one. Both excel at takedown defense, Dariush at 75% defended, Dunham at 81% defended, but neither are particularly successful at takedowns either. Dunham has 75 attempts, but a 35% success rate, while Dariush has 35 attempts with a 26% success rate. Not strong for either and it doesn’t turn the tide of the fight. However, of the 1,160 strikes thrown by Dunham, he has landed 84% compared to 65% of 389 for Dariush. That is a staggering percentage for over 1,000 strikes for Dunham and tips me heavily in favor of him for this bout. Both are in the 60% defense against strikes area so it really evens out, but with Dunham having won his last 4 bouts via unanimous decision it speaks to his recent style of landing good strikes and playing the long game. Dunham is extremely accurate and deadly with his striking ability which will force Dariush to attempt to ground him and take him out of his comfort zone. This will prove to be hard, if not impossible for Dariush to pull off.

DFS Analysis: I like Dunham here. I feel the tone of the fight will favor him and that Dariush will be forced into uncomfortable situations. Dunham is great value at $7,600.


Kalindra Faria | DFS: $8,900 (18-5-1) -195 vs Mara Romero Borella | DFS: $7,300 (11-4-0) +195

Borella is the first Italian woman to ever fight in UFC. She’s a variety bag of offense as she has 3 wins via KO and 4 by armbar submission. She’s 5-0 with 1 NC in her last 6 fights and recently won against Milana Dudieva in July. Striking eats up 49% of her offense preference, but it balances her takedown and submissions. Essentially here, and it’s rather boring to say, you have someone who fights in a rather effective manner. There isn’t a clear weakness and isn’t a clear strength. She can strike with the best of em’, but she isn’t overwhelming all the time. She can slap a solid submission and has an effective takedown mixed with a good striking ground game. She’s someone who could be champion soon, but could also be constantly at the door waiting for her shot. There’s very little statistical info I had to work with on either fighter. I usually enjoy picking apart their stats (as you’ve read), but everywhere I have looked it was barren for percentages.

Faria looks stronger to me. I mean that physically and mentally. Faria is comfortable on the ground as well having notched 5 submission wins, 4 being via armbar. She has a 3 fight winning streak, 7 first round finishes and could prove to be a bit too much for the Italian Stallion to handle. Borella however has a lot to work with and could prove that her fuller and more rounded out arsenal takes command of the fight no matter if on the ground or standing strikes back and forth. Both are coming in on winning streaks and neither has a momentum issue to work off. Borella’s kickboxing should allow her to control the distance of the fight, although Faria could take it to the mat, where it most likely will end up being won and lost, to have a good old fashioned submission struggle between the two.

DFS Analysis: I can see this being a round 1 submission win for Faria. Faria is absolutely worth the price tag here.


Fabricio Werdum | DFS: $8,700 (21-7-1) -255 vs Derrick Lewis | DFS: $7,500 (18-5-0) +205

Lewis is coming into this fight after taking a round 4 KO from Mark Hunt. He has two straight fights with no takedowns which is rough on a fighter that has 48% of his successful strikes coming on the ground. He strikes and defends strikes at 51%. Lewis only has a 27% success rate on takedowns which is crazy when you realize that nearly half his strikes are on the ground. It’s like a math problem that doesn’t add up, but is technically correct. It’s like nursing school. So then we look at Werdum and… well… damn. 76% standing successful strikes, 58% of strikes defended, but a porous 34% takedown defense. So this is where it gets interesting. Lewis is below average with takedowns, but has A+ ground striking ability while Werdum is a standing striker who has issues avoiding takedowns and is coming off a decision loss to Alistair Overeem. Werdum defeated Velasquez with a submission 2 years ago, then lost the title to Stipe Miocic when he was KO’d just 2 minutes and 14 seconds into the bout. It’s been up, down, up, down for Werdum which leads me to believe fighting laws of averages will continue here. Werdum needs to avoid the ground while Lewis needs to get to the ground. Interestingly enough though, Werdum could take it to the ground and push for a submission. However you want to view it Werdum has a better arsenal and fewer weaknesses than Lewis.

DFS Analysis: Point blank I don’t see how Lewis wins this. Not saying he couldn’t, but Werdum has a far superior arsenal and is definitely worthwhile to go in on.


Demetrious Johnson | DFS: $9,700 (26-2-1) -1100 vs Ray Borg | DFS: $6,500 (11-2) +750

What do I tell you about Demetrious Johnson that you don’t already know? He’s a bad ass, could easily end up being the performance of the night and can win in all facets. He can submit, win by decision and KO. His last loss is to Dominick Cruz in 2011 where the more aggressive Cruz took Johnson down 10 times compared to 1 for Mighty Mouse leading to the victory for Cruz by unanimous decision. This creates a hell of conundrum for Borg. The Tazmexican Devil, top 5 nickname in MMA today, needs to avoid going to the ground, but also needs to go to the ground. It’s like being in a fight with your husband or wife. You want to talk it out, but need to give space before doing so. Borg has to be extremely aggressive to make a dent in Johnson’s defense and do what he can to take Mighty Mouse down.

Submission is his best opportunity as Johnson is more likely to win by decision. In Borg’s fight with Chris Kelades he had 5 takedowns and went for a submission 4 times. He ended up winning in round 3 by submission. Essentially Borg has to be single minded. Johnson is playing with house money and Borg needs to take chances. If the fight goes to the ground it, in my opinion, favors Borg. Johnson won’t make it easy as he himself has a 54% successful takedown rate while avoiding 65% of them. He avoids 68% of strikes as well while landing 53% of his 2,147 total strikes. Borg lands most of his strikes (60%) on the ground and has had 19 successful takedowns of 40 total. He needs at least 5 successful takedowns in this fight to do the damage he needs while Johnson needs to continue playing the game he normally does. That said, I am feeling Borg. I feel like this is his opportunity and game planning will revolve around taking down Johnson and going for a submission or at least putting him on the defensive to force Johnson into a need for offensive production. I feel it’s about time and Borg has the game plan to pull off this major upset.

DFS Analysis: Ok, be ready for this… I am taking Borg here. Extremely low price and high reward opportunity. You need to take a chance here and there and to me this is a golden opportunity that I feel Borg will take. Borg has the biggest bust chance, but I feel good in hedging it on Borg.


Tony Ferguson | DFS: $8,900 (23-3-0) -220 vs Kevin Lee | DFS: $7,300 (16-2-0) +180

Ferguson has 4 submissions in his last 6 fights and Lee has won his last 3 via submission. Both guys are on big time winning streaks. Lee’s just about 2 years ago and Ferguson’s in 2012. In Ferguson’s last fight he went all 5 rounds, throwing 199 strikes, in a unanimous decision victory while Lee pulled off a round 1 submission win. Lee has been seemingly focusing on using submission far more in his repertoire as of recently and Ferguson hasn’t had a KO victory since 2014 against Katsunori Kikuno. Both fighters are equally accurate, but Ferguson has a better defensive rating at 65% compared to 53%. Ferguson also lands quite a bit more per minute at 5.23 compared to 3.63 for Lee. We could see Ferguson try to push hard and attack Lee forcing him to take a more offensive approach, but at the same time Lee could use that to his advantage to take Ferguson down where he has been excelling in recent fights.

This is a rather even bout in all honesty. Both are solid fighters standing and on the ground. I still give the submission edge overall to Ferguson as Lee has had recent submission spurts, but his wins have been primarily by decision in the last 3 years. This can go either way, but Ferguson to me has the stronger game in both areas. He is a better standing striker and has an edge on the ground to me. Lee would fare better going to the decision and if it makes it to the decision I would see if possibly favoring The Motown Phenom.

DFS Analysis: Motown is about to come to a close. Ferguson is the best buy here to me. He is solid all around and I expect a KO in this fight. I take Ferguson and don’t look back.


Be sure to check us on out Twitter before lock on Saturday, we’ll have final thoughts, picks etc. @bettingtips101

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