This article is part of our DraftKings MMA series.
The busy UFC schedule keeps rolling with a Saturday trip to Canada, and there's a $25,000 top prize up for grabs in the $15 MMA Throwdown on DraftKings.
If you're hoping to turn the event into an opportunity to build your DFS bankroll, DraftKings.com has you covered with a full slate of contests. Players get a $50,000 budget to select six fighters, and the scoring is distributed as follows:
(Please note that DraftKings altered their scoring system in December 2016 to add a new fighter to the lineup and adjust scoring. The most recent point values are listed below.)
Significant Strikes (SS): +0.5 PTS
Advance (ADVC): +3 PT
Takedown (TD): +5 PTS
Reversal/Sweep (REV): +5 PTS
Knockdown (KD): +10 PTS
Fight Conclusion Bonuses
1st Round Win (1rW+): +90 PTS
2nd Round Win (2rW+): +70 PTS
3rd Round Win (3rW+): +45 PTS
4th Round Win (4rW+): +40 PTS
5th Round Win (5rW+): +40 PTS
Decision Win (WBD+): +30 PTS
Significant Strikes are any Distance Strike or Clinch/Ground Strikes that are considered "Power Strikes" by official scorers.
Advances include: To Half Guard, To Side Control, To Mount, To Back Control
Now, on to the fights...
Main Event - Lightweight
Al Iaquinta (14-4-1) v. Donald Cerrone (35-11-0)
DK Salaries: Iaquinta ($8,400), Cerrone ($7,800)
Vegas Odds: Iaquinta (-130), Cerrone (+110)
Odds to Finish: -205
This fight makes a ton of sense and should be a highly entertaining and physical matchup. Both men are right on the fringes of the title conversation at 155 pounds, and an impressive win for either one could vault them into the championship picture.
Raging Al is coming off his most impressive performance to date: a unanimous decision victory over arch rival Kevin Lee in December. Iaquinta absorbed plenty of damage in that fight, and he once again showed he can win a fight even when his opponent has him on the ropes at times. Iaquinta has improved tremendously over the past several years under the guidance of Ray Longo and Matt Serra. Iaquinta's striking game, once a weakness, is now a major strength. He keeps his hands high and puts together quality combinations. He has good cardio and has always been a solid wrestler. Al deserves more credit for how far he has come than he has received.
Cerrone is coming off back-to-back stoppage victories over Mike Perry and Alexander Hernandez. The Perry win came at welterweight and the Hernandez win at lightweight. Cowboy has the most victories in UFC history (16) and is a future Hall-of-Famer. There was a brief stretch not all that long ago when I thought Cerrone was getting hit far too much on the feet. That didn't happen in his last two bouts due to the fact he got off quickly in both and dominated his competition. Given Iaquinta's traditional boxing base, I'm interested to see if Cerrone can continuously get his head off the center line against Iaquinta.
Both men have excellent cardio, so that figures to be a wash in a five-round fight. Cowboy is the far more accomplished mat wrestler and the bigger man, but I have far more confidence in Iaquinta's ability to survive an onslaught. The price worries me a tad, but I'm picking Iaquinta to win. This projects to be a significantly different type of bout than what Cerrone saw against Hernandez and Perry, and I'm still not entirely convinced he's right. That being said, he has some DraftKings value as an underdog.
THE PICK: Iaquinta
Co-Main Event - Middleweight
Derek Brunson (18-7-0) v. Elias Theodorou (16-2-0)
DK Salaries: Brunson ($8,200), Theodorou ($8,000)
Vegas Odds: Brunson (-120), Theodorou (+100)
Odds to Finish: +145
Things have gone downhill for Brunson over the past 24 months or so. He is 2-4 in his last six fights and is coming off back-to-back knockout losses against Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya. There's no shame in losing to either of those men, but Brunson has had difficulty winning big fights throughout the course of his career. The North Carolina native is an explosive athlete. Not quite on the level of someone like Yoel Romero, but not far off. The trade-off is that his cardio isn't great, and his fight IQ suffers because he can do things inside the Octagon so easily. I think this is a good matchup to help Brunson rebound from his recent struggles, but he turned 35 years old in January, and time is clearly running out.
I've never been all that impressed with Theodorou despite his record. He wins far more often than he loses (8-2 in the UFC), but the victories are rarely pretty and almost always come via decision. The Canadian has little stopping power in his hands and has no discernible advantage over Brunson other than his cardio. Elias has decent size for the division at 6-foot-1, but Brunson is the same height and it's Brunson with the reach advantage.
As long as Brunson doesn't get out of control (like he did against Robert Whittaker back in late-2016), I think he wins. He's the much, much better athlete and has far more power. Brunson's biggest weakness is his chin, but Theodorou doesn't have the power to take advantage of that. Add in the fact that Brunson has never been taken down in his UFC career, and I like his chances of keeping this on the feet and emerging victorious in enemy territory.
THE PICK: Brunson
Cub Swanson (25-10-0) v. Shane Burgos (11-1-0)
DK Salaries: Swanson ($7,400), Burgos ($8,800)
Vegas Odds: Swanson (-150), Burgos (+170)
Odds to Finish: +115
A veteran of 35 professional fights, Swanson could be fighting for his job on Saturday. Cub has lost three fights in a row and has been consistently overwhelmed whenever tasked with facing better competition. Swanson is at his best when he is consistently pushing forward and throwing tons of combinations, but his striking defense tends to be poor, and I don't think his fight IQ is any better than average. Cub is an asset at 145 pounds, but at this point it has become quite clear that he isn't on the same level as the best fighters in the division.
Coming off his first career loss against Calvin Kattar in January 2018, Burgos rebounded to submit Kurt Holobaugh in just over two minutes in December. Primarily thought of as a striker, the victory over Holobaugh displayed a different facet of Burgos's game. I would wager that Burgos will be more than willing to engage Swanson in the brawl that he is typically seeking. Burgos is bigger than Swanson and he has the power to hurt him if Cub's striking defense is disregarded.
Swanson's days of impacting the title picture at featherweight are almost certainly over, but they will be definitely over if he loses this fight. Swanson has some desirable traits and there's definite value at his $7,400 price tag, but I expect this to be a kickboxing match. If that's the case, then Burgos is the selection. He hits harder and has better footwork.
THE PICK: Burgos
Macy Chiasson (4-0-0) v. Sarah Moras (5-4-0)
DK Salaries: Chiasson ($9,400), Moras ($6,800)
Vegas Odds: Chiasson (-700), Moras (+500)
Odds to Finish: -250
Chiasson has been a revelation since her debut on The Ultimate Fighter 28 in 2018. She dominated Pannie Kianzad in the finals to secure her UFC contract and then continued her roll with a 109-second knockout win against an overmatched Gina Mazany in March. Although the sample size is small, Chiasson looks like a legitimate threat in all areas of the sport and she's athletic.
Moras has shown next to nothing during her time with the company and it's quite likely that the only reason she was given this opportunity is because she is a native Canadian. Moras is 1-3 in her last four fights, and a loss to Chiasson could very well be the end of the line. Moras has no noticeable physical traits and her nine-year career has been unremarkable outside of a 2012 victory over Julianna Pena.
Chiasson is the biggest favorite on the card and for good reason. I would be shocked if this was anything other than a walk in the park for her. Moras has no value as an underdog play despite her minuscule salary. Having the crowd behind her isn't going to make a difference here. Don't overthink this one.
THE PICK: Chiasson
Brad Katona (8-0-0) v. Merab Dvalishvili (8-4-0)
DK Salaries: Katona ($7,600), Dvalishvili ($8,600)
Vegas Odds: Katona (+155), Dvalishvili (-135)
Odds to Finish: +190
THE PICK: Dvalishvili
Walt Harris (11-7-0) v. Sergey Spivak (9-0-0)
DK Salaries: Harris ($8,900), Spivak ($7,300)
Vegas Odds: Harris (-160), Spivak (+140)
Odds to Finish: -265
THE PICK: Spivak
Andrew Sanchez (10-4-0) v. Marc-Andre Barriault (11-1-0)
DK Salaries: Sanchez ($8,700), Barriault ($7,500)
Vegas Odds: Sanchez (-155), Barriault (+135)
Odds to Finish: +125
THE PICK: Sanchez
Aiemann Zahabi (7-1-0) v. Vince Morales (8-3-0)
DK Salaries: Zahabi ($9,000), Morales ($7,200)
Vegas Odds: Zahabi (-165), Morales (+145)
Odds to Finish: +180
THE PICK: Zahabi
Nordine Taleb (14-6-0) v. Kyle Prepolec (12-5-0)
DK Salaries: Taleb ($9,300), Prepolec ($6,900)
Vegas Odds: Taleb (-340), Prepolec (+280)
Odds to Finish: +145
THE PICK: Taleb
Kyle Nelson (12-2-0) v. Matt Sayles (7-2-0)
DK Salaries: Nelson ($7,100), Sayles ($9,100)
Vegas Odds: Nelson (+185), Sayles (-225)
Odds to Finish: +130
THE PICK: Sayles
Arjan Bhullar (8-1-0) v. Juan Adams (5-0-0)
DK Salaries: Bhullar ($7,900), Adams ($8,300)
Vegas Odds: Bhullar (+105), Adams (-125)
Odds to Finish: -130
THE PICK: Bhullar
Mitch Gagnon (12-4-0) v. Cole Smith (6-0-0)
DK Salaries: Gagnon ($8,500), Smith ($7,700)
Vegas Odds: Gagnon (-125), Smith (+105)
Odds to Finish: +125
THE PICK: Gagnon